This piece about the forthcoming Summer School was published recently by the Irish Centre.

Cathal Goan

Cathal Goan


Is the 16th-century song Róisín Dubh a metaphor for Ireland or about a Franciscan led astray by a woman’s beauty?

Was Róisín Dubh truly a song about Ireland or was it about a friar’s love for a woman! The question will be raised by former RTE Director General Cathal Goan as a keynote speaker at the Micheal O’Cleirigh Summer School in May.

He will examine if the 16th-century song Róisín Dubh – Black Rose – is truly a metaphor for Ireland or a song of a Franciscan led astray by a woman’s beauty.

The song has references to friars out on the brine and to the Erne, which passes through the County Donegal town of Ballyshannon, close to where Franciscan Brother Micheal O’Cleirigh was born at Creevy.

Goan, whose family has links to Creevy, may reveal a unique insight to the song. His wife, traditional singer Maighread Ni Dhomhnaill, recorded Roisin Dubh.

Her aunt, Neili Ni Dhomhnaill, also recorded a version of the song which Mr Goan said gave him the idea for the title of his address: “Roisin Dubh – the story of Ireland or a Franciscan led astray.”

Micheal O’Cleirigh’s role as head of the Four Masters who worked from 1632 to 1636 to produce the all-encompassing annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, is annually remembered at the Summer School.

The fifth school will take place in Rossnowlagh, County Donegal, from May 11 to 13 in the local Franciscan Friary hall and the nearby Sand House Hotel.

The school, whose chairperson is keen historian and Belleek pottery designer Fergus Cleary, includes the first official gathering of Clan Cleary. They will come from families named Cleary, O’Cleirigh, Clery and Clarke.

Theme of the school this year is “Annals and Earls” and there will be focus on the Earls of Tir Chonaill and Tir Eoghain.

James O’Neill, author of best-selling book “The Nine Years War: 1593-1603”, will outline on day two of the school how Aodh Rua O’Neill and the O’Donnell clan, backed by Phillip 11, King of Spain, fought the forces of Elizabeth 1 in one of the bloodiest conflicts in the history of Ireland.

Website details at mocleirigh.ie.

Read more: The incredible life of Ireland’s last bard – Turlough O’Carolan

annals & earlswebsite

The Summer School will be held on the weekend of Friday 11th May until Sunday 13th May- so mark it in your diary! The theme is  ” Annals and Earls, Annála agus Iarlaí” it will explore how the Annals of the Four Masters treated the events of the Nine Years War – the Flight of the Earls and the end of Gaelic hegemony in Ulster. 
A full programme and speakers is finalised see below:

2018 Summer School Programme final march 27th

for updates see: https://www.facebook.com/mocleirighschool/ 

Fáilte chuig scoil samhraidh Mhíchíl Uí Chléirigh

 A Summer School for remembering, for learning, for enjoyment.  We remember a great local man, Mícheál Ó Cléirigh.  We learn from scholars about his story and his times.  We begin to understand what this means for us today.  And we enjoy ourselves.  We travel to local historic sites.  We visit Mícheál’s birthplace.  We walk the beautiful Rossnowlagh beach.  We  talk late into the evening in the local hostelries. Welcome to the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School to a family distinguished by scholarship. His older brother, Maolmhuire (Fr Bernadine) was ordained in Salamanca, Spain, later moving to Louvain, Belgium in 1619 and Michael joined him a few years later. As a lay brother Michael was able to concentrate on historical research and transcription rather than on priestly duties.  In 1626 he was dispatched by a fellow Donegal man, Hugh Ward to Ireland to collect the lives of the Irish saints.  This he did.  But he also did more. For 10 years, Michael travelled the length and breadth of Ireland gathering the ancient manuscripts and histories wherever he could find them.  He and his collaborators transcribed the material into Annála Ríochta na hÉireann (the Annals of the Four Masters). They left us with an incomparable record of the history of Ireland.

The Micheál Ó Cléirigh School Partnership

The Mícheál Ó Cléirigh School has been set up by a partnership of:


Some members of the local organising committee

♦ Local people from Ballyshannon / Creevy / Rossnowlagh in Co. Donegal with a mission to preserve the memory of a great local hero.

4. Friary PicThe Franciscan Friars who established a Friary on Donegal Bay 1474 and played such  an important part in Irish writing and scholarship from their monasteries in Ireland and Louvain.




CaiminWeb♦The Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute at University College Dublin repository of an unparalleled archive of  historical documents and the centre of voluminous research on Irish medieval history since its inception in the year 2000. See: www.ucd.ie/mocleirigh

The Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School At Rossnowlagh

The inaugural programme of the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh School took place on Saturday 17th May, 2014. The main events were held in the Ó’Cléirigh Hall beside the Franciscan Friary at Rossnowlagh, close by the birthplace of Mícheál Ó Cléirigh on lands originally belonging to the Ó Cléirigh clan, prior to 1610. The venue was an appropriate one, as it was built by the Franciscan Friars who returned to Donegal  in 1946. They were, of course, influenced by the association of the area with some of the renowned members of their Irish fraternity, such as  Mícheál Ó Cléirigh, John Colgan and Hugh Ward.

The Second Mícheál Ó Cléirigh School took place at Rossnowlagh on the weekend of 15th  – 17th May, 2015.

The Third Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School was held over the weekend of Friday 27th May to Sunday 29th May 2016.

The Fourth Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School was held over the weekend of Friday 12th May to Sunday 14th May 2017.

See our picture gallery from all four Summer Schools 2014,2015,2016 & 2017.