7th O’DUBHDA CLAN GATHERING at Enniscrone, Co. Sligo, Ireland
15th – 17th September, 2006
Once again the descendants of ancient Irish kings came from all around the world to visit their ancestral land and celebrate their shared heritage. There were Dowds, O’Dowds, an O’Dubhda and others from the following places:
Australia – ACT, Queensland
Ireland – Antrim, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Mayo, Sligo, and Roscommon
USA – California, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, and New Jersey
FRIDAY was registration day, and at the room provided in Roper’s Pub in the centre of the village those who attended and signed the attendance register were given a newsletter, a copy of the O’Dubhda History, a programme, a lapel pin provided by the Taoiseach Richard Dowd, and a welcoming drink!
They also had the opportunity to view some exhibits from the O’Dubhda archive which adorned the walls and of course mingle and make friends. Among the items on display were: the original manuscript signed by those present at the first gathering in 1990; a copy of a portrait of Baron O’Dowda who was hanged in 1798; copies of manuscript genealogies of O’Dubhda dating to 1160, 1397 and 1650 A.D.; a copy of a book published by Doctor Thomas O’Dowd in 1665; lists of variant spellings of the O’Dubhda surname and lists of streets around the world named after significant individuals – provided by Edward P. O’Dowd.
A presentation of a membership scroll was made to Paddy Tuffy, long-serving (and long-suffering!) local historian and archaeologist without whose help over the years a lot of the enjoyable events we look forward to simply could not happen!
On SATURDAY, two minibuses took their troupe of pilgrims on a day trip to view the following sites:
The O’Dubhda Mermaid Rocks at Scurmore, said to weep every time an O’Dubhda dies;
The ruins of the 13th century Castleconor Castle, where Daithi O’Dubhda was murdered by ‘a soldier of the Queen’ in 1594, and where Thady O’Dowda was born in 1720 before he set off to join the Austrian Army;
The magnificent 15th century ruins of Moyne Abbey, where several O’Dubhda chieftains were buried and where Fr.Sean O’Dubhda OFM was martyred in 1579; it was here that Dominick O’Dowda asked in his will of 1731 that ‘my body be buried in my ancestors’ tomb in Moyne’; however, the earliest tombstone that has been identified is that of Sir George Boyle, who died in 1626, a stone dated 1797 tells a lie about the man it commemorates – Matthew Bellew, who fought in the Rebellion of 1798;
Next stop was at Kilcummin, the little seaside fishing village where the French fleet landed an expeditionary force under General Humbert to invade the British Empire in 1798; for a brief glorious time the French and their Irish allies defeated two British armies and set up the short-lived Republic of Connacht before being overcome by superior forces at the infamous Battle of Ballinamuck in Co. Longford – Colonel Baron James Vippler O’Dowda was a commander at Killala and gave his life for his country on the field of Ballinamuck;
Finally, we visited the Ceide Fields Visitor Centre, to have lunch and to enjoy the experience of visiting the largest Stone Age site in Europe. There was a fine display explaining the context of life in the area during the stone age, a lovely audio-visual presentation and then we trooped out for the guided tour to see the real thing on the archaeological site – unfortunately, the last few minutes found us caught in a downpour of rain quite a way from the shelter! Still, it was all part of the experience.
That night, we enjoyed a lovely meal at Murphy Brothers’ Restaurant overlooking the River Moy in Ballina. A shuttle bus service was provided so that we could all relax and enjoy ourselves. Membership certificates were presented to two of the Canadians who were obliged to leave early the next day. A tribute was paid to Gertie Mac Hale, who was too ill to attend and was missing the event for the first time since 1990.
On SUNDAY morning, Fr. Gerry O’Hora celebrated a memorial mass in the local church for deceased members, relatives and friends of the O’Dubhda Clan. The reader was Nora Kennedy, and the Lord’s Prayer was recited in Irish while the local choir sang the hymns beautifully.
At mid-day, there was a Clan Council Meeting to decide on various items of business – not least that the next gathering would be in 2009. Micheal O’Dubhda (Mike Dowd) of Queensland, Australia, was elected as Tanaiste to succeed the incoming Taoiseach in due course. Conor Mac Hale was presented with a membership scroll in acknowledgment of his work in organising the gatherings and recording the history of O’Dubhda over the years.
After lunch, we all proceeded to the site of Enniscrone Castle, a 17th century structure built on the site of a 14th century original, which has seen its own O’Dubhda escapades. This was where the Inauguration Ceremony was held.
Edward P. O’Dowd of Chicago was inaugurated as next O’Dubhda Taoiseach of Tireragh. His clansmen passed the white wand from hand to hand, and it was held over his head by the outgoing Taoiseach as a symbol of the transfer of authority – a great photo opportunity!
Edward was also presented with the Taoiseach’s flag, while he presented the Tanaiste’s flag to the incoming Tanaiste. After this, there was a closing ceremony in which cards of condolences were presented to those who had been bereaved since the last gathering, cards of congratulation were presented to two newly-married couples, good wishes were sent to those too ill to attend, and membership certificates were presented to those who had come for the first time.
Back at the room in the pub, an informal genealogy workshop was held for those seeking help on searching for personal roots in Ireland.
The final event was a local tour in a minibus to some of the O’Dubhda Castles of Tireragh and some other sites:
Rathlee Tower – formerly used as a Watch Tower in the 19th century, where signals of coastal watchers could be sent to Dublin to warn of a French invasion about 1805. The invasion never happened but the tower found a similar use again during the Second World War.
Roslee Castle – a 15th century tower house that was last lived in about 1791. It was built on the site of the Guest House of Tireragh where Magnus O’Dubhda died in 1414. It was the scene of an incident in 1642 when David O’Dowd threatened to kill the Vicar of Easky with a long knife.
The Split Rock – a glacial erratic that locals believed will close in on those who try to pass through it!
Grangemore Castle – a 16th century building on the site of an ancient grange granted to the monks of Boyle abbey by Aodh O’Dubhda, king of North Connacht, who died in 1143, and which subsequently came into the possession of Sir Robert King after the Suppression of the monasteries.
Skreen – the site of a monument erected over the great well by Benmuman O’Duigenan to the memory of her husband Eugene McDonnell in 1591; it was once the home of Martin Sherlock who toured Europe, met king Frederick the Great and the famous Voltaire, wrote 5 books of letters and essays including a bestseller called “Letters of an English Traveller”, became Vicar of Skreen, and died there in 1797; and also the site of the house where Sir George Stokes was born in 1819 – he was a world famous scientist and mathematician after whom Stokes’ Law is named, it was crucial in the discovery of atomic structure.
Tired and hungry, but with a sense of accomplishment, the travellers found their way back to Enniscrone after 9 that night, where they had a late meal in the Gable End restaurant and decided to call it a day!