O'Leary Clan Gathering.
Once again, the O'Leary Clan held their annual Gathering in their Irish home of Inchigeelagh in County Cork. Old and new friends came from all over the world for the weekend of 11th. to 13th. September 1998, as previously centred on Creedon's Hotel.
The theme this year was Art O'Leary, "the Outlaw", since this is the 225th. anniversary of his death at the hands of the military, instigated by one Abraham Morris, of Hanover Hall. Art was a colourful character, and his untimely death at the age of 26 led to the composing of the beautiful Keen by his wife, Eileen ni Connell. This piece of Irish poetry had been studied in depth at the recent Summer School, and at the Clan Gathering we concentrated on the Historical events.
On the Friday evening there was a Reception and welcoming speeches from the Committee. This was followed by Refreshments and entertainment , with traditional music and airs and songs led by our resident pianist, John Hamilton.
On Saturday we set off early on a bus tour to see the various sites associated with Art. Starting with Carrignanimma we walked across the fields to inspect the leacht set up at the spot where he was shot. This was the work of our colleagues in Carrignanimma, and they have also contributed a fine memorial plaque in Irish to commemorate his death. We were given a rousing talk on the topic at the site by Joe O'Leary, whose farm is close to this monument.
Then we went on to Rathleigh House the beautiful Georgian home of Art and his family near Macroom.
We were given a good reception there and shown round by the present owner, Eddie Vaughan, who also talked to us on the features of this lovely house, still well cared for and in excellent condition although about 250 years old.
Our next stop was in Macroom in the Square in the centre of town, where Art and Eileen first met and fell in love. The town hall is on the same location, but has been rebuilt since those days.
After this our tour took us to Kilcrea Friary, where Art is buried. His tomb is well preserved, and the headstone has been recently restored by Duchas and is easily read. One of Art's sons and a grandson are also buried in this tomb. At this point we were joined by John Sheehan who is currently the President of the Cork Archaeological and Historical Society, who gave us an inspiring talk of the history of the Friary and its associations with the McCarthy and O'Leary families. We also had the pleasure of meeting Lady Elizabeth O'Connell, who is related to Eileen by marriage, and to the last of the O'Leary chieftains.
That evening we were given a slide show by John Sheehan covering many of the topics of the afternoon, and including old photographs of the Friary and the adjoining Castle at Kilcrea.
The rest of the evening passed very pleasantly also, with a Group Photograph, a sumptuous Dinner, and traditional music provided by the well known uillean piper Diarmuid Grainger supported by his musical trio with airs and songs.
On Sunday, the fit and able went on a conducted tour of the village on foot, and were given a historical talk by our host, Joe Creedon. We then convened to hear Peter O'Leary on the topic "The Life and Times of Art O'Leary". This talk covered the history of the events of 1773, the background of the Penal Times, and the subsequent history of his descendants.
After lunch we held the final Clan meeting, and then held our usual outside Mass in the Old Cemetery presided over by Fr.Dan Crowley from Boston. Then we all went home, physically exhausted but mentally refreshed. And now we are all looking forward to next September!
The Life And Times Of Art O'Leary is Here