CAOMHÁNACH GATHERING 2016
Our Clann pact with the Almighty continues to hold good, providing us with welcome sunshine for the entire 2016 Gathering.
One can summarise by saying that we had a thoroughly enjoyable outing. Longstanding friendships were renewed and new ones made. Above all, the craic was great.
Wednesday 14 September saw Executive members scurrying to make some last minute preparations for the tour. As registrations proceeded we were delighted to welcome a number of familiar faces including those of Fr. (Msgr) Charlie from Scotland, Lorna and grandniece from South Africa, Terry from Australia, Pat from Galway. New faces included Dave from Dublin and Toni & daughter Alexia from California. The finger food accompanied by mead created a very pleasant welcoming atmosphere.
On Thursday morning we headed off on our bus tour. Traffic conditions dictated that our initial visit was to the impressive 1798 Centre in New Ross. The major influence of the “liberty, equality and fraternity” ideals of the 1789 French Revolution on the 1798 Irish Rebellion was emphasised, as was also the importance of the 1775 onward American Revolution.
The contribution of Joseph Cavanagh (described in a contemporary French pamphlet as the “cause premiere” of French liberty) to the attack on the Bastille was brought to the notice of our guide by Clann members. The lifelike exhibits at the Centre, notably that concerning the final battle at Vinegar, were very impressive.
Then we proceeded to the nearby Enniscorthy Castle museum. Of Norman origin, the castle was captured by Art Mac Murrough and remained in Caomhánach hands for a lengthy period.
Further visits included St. Mullins graveyard, where Art is buried plus many other Caomhánach notables, such as Brian na Stróice, who fought at the Battle of the Boyne followed by service in France. Brian’s Wild Geese descendants gained fame and fortune in the Austrian Habsburg armies and nobility.
Following a pleasant lunch by the banks of the River Barrow we continued on our way to Jerpoint Abbey, which was an 1180 Cistercian foundation; this was influenced by the reformist policy initiated by Diarmaid Mac Murrough. Time constraints did not allow a visit to the ruins of the massive Ballymoon castle, initially a construction of the Knights Templars (who fought in the Crusades and provided financial services for pilgrims to the Holy Land). Following the dissolution of this Order (prompted by the greed of the French King Philip IV) in 1312, Ballymoon castle passed into Caomhánach hands.
On Thursday evening we were treated to a wonderful evening of music and dancing by the local Comhaltas Ceoltóirí group (Celtic Roots) in which Lorna Harris’ granddaughter dl (from South Africa) displayed her amazing Irish dancing prowess.
On Friday it was back to serious business. Cathal gave a summary of Caomhánach origins and history. Dr. Gary gave a foretaste of his Clan Pedigree dating back to our ancestor Domhnall. This is a massive scholarly undertaking which was initially the brainchild of our late, much lamented chieftain Germanjim.
Then John proceeded with his very detailed exposé on genealogical sources which are designed to be of great benefit to those endeavouring to trace their individual family histories. Toni from California was delighted to discover that her brother’s DNA results indicated that her family origins coincided with those of the Leinster modal grouping (including John’s etc).
That Friday evening we were again entertained by the Celtic Roots group with participation in the Irish céilí dancing by Clan members, who rapidly became expert in dancing the “Waves of Tory , Walls of Limerick” etc. Jack (Boston & Nova Scotia) & Thomas (Massachussets - expert in Comanche Indian history) accompanied their guitar picking with songs. In the interests of Irish culture, Cathal trotted out a song in Gaelic. The entertainment and the céili dancing was universally enjoyed.
On Saturday morning Cathal discussed the history of Caomhánach Soldiers in Spain as well as the mystery of the 1155 so-called “Laudabiliter” document, allegedly granting Henry II papal approval to invade Ireland. The point was made that not alone did this 1155 Norman démarche indicate their intent to conquer Ireland well before Diarmaid Mac Murrough requested help in recovering his kingdom but that the Laudabiliter document drew, for its pretended legal basis, on a document “Donation of Constantine” which was forged in a French monastery around 900.
In the afternoon we headed off to Ferns for John’s inauguration, preceded by a wreath laying ceremony at the graves of Diarmaid and Domhnall. John’s inauguration ceremony as Clann chieftain was followed by a guided tour of Ferns Castle.
On Saturday evening the Chief’s dinner was celebrated in the Millrace hotel. During the scrumptious meal the very talented Schendl again entertained us with worship dances from well known musical composition.
Sunday morning was given over to tying up various loose ends, agreeing on arrangements for the next Gathering and, most importantly, the unanimous election of Terry (New Zealand & Australia) as our next Clann Tánaiste by the Executive.