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Fourth Annual O'Leary Clan Gathering. September 1999 in Inchigeela Co. Cork, Ireland


As in previous years, the Fourth O'Leary Clan Gathering was held in Inchigeelagh, with it's centre at Creedon's Hotel.  A few old and many new friends came from all over the world for the weekend of 10th. to 12th. September 1999, and a good time was had by all.

This year's theme was Major Michael O'Leary VC who was born in Cooleen, Inchigeelagh in 1888, and won his VC for conspicuous bravery during the Great World War in France in 1915.  Michael married a local girl, Greta Hegarty from Ballyvourney, and they had six sons and a daughter.  After the War, the family moved to Canada, and later to England.  Michael himself died in 1961 at the age of 73, so special efforts were made to find his family so as to invite them to our Gathering as our guests.  We were successful in having the remaining four sons, one wife and one daughter, who attended and took a lively part in the proceedings.

On the Friday evening there was a Reception and welcoming speeches from the Committee.  Refreshments and entertainment, with traditional music and airs and songs led by our resident pianist, John Bennett, followed this.  As usual this evening gave all the attendees a good opportunity to meet and get to know each other and

On Saturday our first Talk was given by a guest speaker, Mr. Frank Robinson, from Dublin, and Secretary of the Irish Guards Association. Poor Frank had to get up at five o'clock to get to Inchigeelagh by 9.30 but this did not seem to affect the quality of his Talk, the text of which is included in this Journal.  We like to provide something contentious and this was no exception. It is always wise to let time pass before considering the Historical importance of such recent events.  Perhaps the 85 years, which have elapsed, allow us to do so in this instance.  The discussion, which followed Frank's talk, was lively but no blood was spilt.  We considered whether Michael was a brave man fighting in the wrong Army.  Should his bravery have been used as a weapon to whip up enthusiasm for the War, and for Recruitment?  Was it successful in so doing?  And so on.  It was a fascinating debate and was contributed to by Frank of course, but also by a Panel consisting of the four sons of the VC.  A further valuable contribution came from John O'Connor, who comes from Fermoy, and who has been researching Michael O'Leary for a Historical thesis, and who joined us and led this discussion.

On Saturday afternoon we went on a bus trip to see some of the local places associated with Michael O'Leary.  The first and main stop was at the house in Cooleen where he was born.  This is now the property of Mr.Tadhg Carney who has been working for some time on it's reconstruction.  Tadhg kindly allowed a small party, including the VC's sons, to inspect the interior of the house while the rest of us stood around watching with pleasure and amazement the skill of our driver turning his bus around in the narrow boreen.  This latter event took some time, and curtailed our tour, which we had intended to include a visit to the remains of the house where the VC's family lived, close to Kilbarry Post Office. 

Instead, we went on to Carrignacurra to allow the members to see the work which has been done on the Castle by Mr.Maxim Gormanov.  This is also covered in a later article.

Finally the bus party had a tour of the South Lake road, including the Mass Rock and a view of the Crannog, then returned to Creedons for a leisurely change for Dinner.

Before Dinner we had our usual Group Photograph which annually manages to produce apparent harmony and peace out of a chaotic and undisciplined refusal of our membership to line up, face the same way,  and smile all at the same time. 

The Annual Dinner took a new form this year.  First we sampled a starter, then we had a musical interlude performed by "The Canovee Orchestra" which turned out to be the musicians and singers led by Anne Dunne.  This was a great success, and quite apart from some lovely singing from Anne and Brendan O'Brien, was much enlivened by the antics of our own members, especially William O'Leary from Canada, the VC's son.

This auspicious start was followed by one of Creedon's usual high class Dinners, a raffle for a bottle of whiskey, and further merrymaking  which seemed to go on until the small hours of Sunday.

Sunday morning started as usual by a tour of Inchigeelagh, on foot, led by Joe Creedon.  This has become an annual event much looked forward to by young and not so young.

Then followed a meeting to discuss the possibilities of creating an O'Leary Website.  Much thought has been given to this possibility, and no doubt our discussions will eventually lead to one being formed.  We now have plenty of experts available to tell us how, and the opinions of many members, not all so expert, to goad us on.

The second meeting of the morning was to discuss the new situation arising from the purchase of the Castle by Mr.Gormanov, and the reconstruction work that he is doing.  The events leading up to the purchase, and since our last meeting, were explained and accepted.  Members were in particular; relieved to hear that it is Mr.Gormanov's intention to reconstruct with sympathy and exactly as originally built, but of course making allowance for new features required to meet modern conditions.  They were also pleased to learn that they, and other interested members of the local community, will be given access at certain times to view the work, in progress and when finished.  There were many questions and opinions expressed, but the general overall view was that they were pleased with progress to date, but would want to watch further work to ensure that the present quality was kept up.

The usual final Mass followed lunch but on this occasion, because the weather was threatening, we had to hold this in the Parish Church instead of outside.  Fr. Crowley from Boston was our chief concelebrant.

Following Mass the meeting was concluded and all went on their various ways.  The general conclusion seemed to be that this had been a very happy and successful Clan Gathering.  It was agreed that we will meet again next September 15th - 17th , 2000, and this time with a Millennium theme.
Contact Peter O'Leary, Derryvane, Inchigeela, Co. Cork, Ireland.
e-mail   peteroleary@eircom.net