Summer School Picture Gallery 2014-2021

May 6th-8th-2021

The 2021 Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Virtual Summer School ended on the Sunday evening of the 9th May. We wish to thank all those people who made it a success. The speakers Kelly Fitzgerald, Tony Lenihan, Naomi McAreavey and Anne Marie Walsh. John McCafferty gave us an overview of the objectives of the Summer School and was on hand each evening to facilitate the many questions from the virtual audience. Musical interludes were performed by Aonghus MacAmhlaigh on the Cello. A special thanks to our webmaster Philip Cleary who provided the technical know-how to stage the weekend virtual events.

Thursday 6th May

The Virtual Summer School was opened by Bridie Mullin, Chairperson of the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School who welcomed the virtual audience and gave a brief outline of the background of the summer school and how after the cancellation of the 2020 Summer School weekend and with the possibility of ongoing restrictions due to the Covid 19 health crisis, that if restriction were still in place by May 2021 to go ahead with the summer school but to have it online.


Professor John McCafferty, Head of the Mícheál Uí Cléirigh Institute UCD gave the virtual audience an outline of the theme of “Women in Turbulent Times” and how the history of women had been largely ignored by historians in the past and how new ground was being discovered in the correspondence of the women of the period of the late middle ages and the early modern period. He referred to the fact that Br Mícheal Ó Cléirigh had consulted the Bansheanchas, a book noting many famous Irish women from earliest times up until the 11th Century portions of which are found in the Book of Leinster and the Book of Uí Máine. However he was disparaging of what he read and did not incorporate it into the Annals


Gráinne Mhaoil by Dr. Kelly Fitzgerald UCD



Gráinne Mhaol the Pirate Queen was born around 1530 into the Ó Máille family. Her father was chieftain in Mayo. With her own fleet of ships, she raided the west coast and amassed great wealth. She was one of the last Gaelic Irish leaders to resist English rule in Ireland.


The first talk at the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Virtual Summer School was given by Dr.Kelly Fitzgerald on the evening of Thursday 6th May and she examined the folk stories about the life and times of Gráinne Uí Máile, Grace O’Malley, also known as Gráinne Mhaol anglicised as “Granuaile”


The meeting of Graiine Mhaoil and Queen Elizabeth I (from an 18th Century woodcut)

Without revealing too much about the story of this powerful woman, who was born in 1530 into the seafaring clan of the O’Malley’s who as well as controlling much of the sea trade in the seas around Connacht ruled the coastal territory around Clew Bay.


Surprisingly the deeds of Granuaile are not mentioned in the Annals of the Four Masters and evidence of her exploits come from English State papers.


She took over the O’Malley lordship after her father’s death. Her first husband Dónal an Chogaidh (Donal “of the war”) Ó Flaithbheartaigh brought her greater wealth and influence, reportedly owning as much as 1,000 head of cattle and horses.


Dónal an Chogaidh was killed in a skirmish with the rival Joyces in 1565, later she married Risdeárd an Iarainn (Richard the Iron) Bourke. In 1593, when her sons Tibbot Bourke and Murchadh Ó Flaithbheartaigh (Murrough O’Flaherty), and her half-brother Dónal an Phíopa (“Donal of the Pipes”), were taken captive by the English governor of ConnachtSir Richard Bingham, O’Malley sailed to England to petition for their release.



           Rockfleet Castle, Co Mayo


She met Queen Elizabeth at Greenwich Palace, near London and so impressed her that the queen promised to remove Sir Richard Bingham as Lord President of Connacht and release her family members from captivity.


During the Nine Years War she remained loyal to the Crown in order to preserve her lands, successful for a time but her nemesis Sir Richard Bingham returned and quartered his troops on her lands. She died in 1603 at Rockfleet Castle in west Mayo.










Dr Kelly Fitzgerald

Kelly Fitzgerald, Head of Irish Folklore & Ethnology in the School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore, UCD graduated in folklore and early (medieval) Irish at UCD with her doctoral dissertation on Literary and Oral Interaction in Irish Folklore. Kelly is also on the editorial board of Béaloideas, Journal of the Folklore Society.


Friday 7th May


Local Primary School Arts Winners


Each year since the inaugural Summer School in 2014 there has been a Primary School Art Competition where all schools in the locality, wishing to participate, have submitted art work by their pupils in four categories based on the theme of the Summer School for that year. This year even with the school year being largely interrupted, we had nine local primary schools entering the competition. The winners, runners up and those highly commended prizes and certificates were sent to each school.


Logainmneacha Chill Bharrainn


Tony Lenihan


Did you ever wonder what is the origin of the place name where you live in Ireland? Most Irish townland names come from Gaelic and are usually descriptive of their physical surroundings – at least what its main feature was many centuries ago. Some townland names are commonly found throughout the land and are pretty straightforward for example in Kilbarron parish, Cashelard, An Caiseal Ard –meaning the high cashel (stone fort). Others are more difficult to discern and nobody knows for sure- Knader might be Cnadair (Modern Irish, Cnádán) meaning burdock or could be Cnó dara meaning Oak nuts!


Whilst some of this could lead to a good argument for a whole evening or longer, there is a more serious aspect to this, being the loss of use and knowledge of these names with the modern need for postcodes, rendering townland addresses obsolete. This, as well as the loss of names of townland sub-divisions and field names, that were in common usage until recent times.


As part of our local history section of the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School, Tony Lenihan gave our virtual audience an overview of the origins and meanings of many place names in Ireland with particular emphasis on ones found in the parish of Kilbarron.


Proud Cork man, Tony Lenihan was awarded B.A. in Mathematical Science, Diploma Computer Science in UCC and Nua-Ghaeilge ar Ollscoil na hÉireann Mhá Nuad (Maynooth). Tony worked as a Mainframe analyst/programmer and former IT lecturer at Galway Regional Technical College. He resided in Germany and Watford, England as well as Connacht, Leinster and Ulster, hence his great interest in place names.


Saturday 8th May


The Duchess of Ormonde and the Viceregal Court in Restoration Dublin’


Dr Naomi McAreavey


Elizabeth Butler, first Duchess of Ormonde. Far from being overshadowed by her powerful husband, James Butler, twelfth Earl and first Duke of Ormonde, Elizabeth had very significant power and influence in her own right.



Kilkenny Castle

She was born Elizabeth Preston in 1615, the daughter of Richard Preston, Earl of Dingwell & Desmond and Elizabeth Butler who was the daughter of Black Tom Butler. In the complex dynastic marriages of the late middle ages, after her first husband died, she was destined to marry her cousin James Butler, Lord Thurles, their marriage  would re-unite the vast Butler estates in counties Kilkenny and Tipperary.


Elizabeth Preston came to the marriage as a wealthy heiress having inherited her father’s and grandfather’s estates in both Ireland & Scotland.


James Butler, was favoured by King Charles and the Lord Deputy, Thomas Wentworth, the Earl of Stafford. With the outbreak of rebellion in Ulster in 1641 James Butler became head of the Royal Army in Ireland and in 1642 and was made the Marquess of Ormonde. Elizabeth remained in Kilkenny Castle helping fleeing Protestant refugees until she was reunited with her husband in Dublin later the same year.


In the shifting allegiances of the time, James and Elizabeth Butler remained steadfastly loyal to the monarchy and with the successful conquest of Ireland by the Parliamentary forces of Oliver Cromwell, both departed to the Continent to remain part of the exiled court of Charles Stewart, son of the executed King Charles I. Their estates in Ireland were confiscated and they were penniless. Later in 1652 Elizabeth petitioned Oliver Cromwell for the income of the land she owned and was granted a pension of £2,000 per annum, on the condition that she would not correspond with her husband!


On the restoration of the monarchy in 1661, James Butler was richly rewarded for his loyalty and returned to Ireland as Viceroy and was made the Duke of Ormonde. Elizabeth as Duchess and Vicereine left a wealth of correspondence which gives great insight of political and domestic affairs of the period for the next twenty years.



Dr Naomi McAreavy

Dr Naomi McAreavey, Vice Principal for Teaching and Learning, College of Arts and Humanities UCD having completed doctorate at Queen’s University, Belfast. Specializing in literature and culture of early modern Ireland, particularly women’s writing and memory cultures of 1641 rebellion, specifically Letters of the First Duchess of Ormonde, Elizabeth Butler.



Sunday 9th May


The seventeen-century Boyle women: writing family and voicing the female’


by Dr Ann-Maria Walsh


The final talk of the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Virtual Summer School took place on the evening of Sunday 9th May at 8pm.


Richard Boyle was born in Canterbury, England in 1566 and came to Ireland in 1588 and later he obtained an appointment of deputy  escheator to John Crofton in 1590. This role which involved the transfer of property to the Crown left him in prime position to acquire recently confiscated lands in the aftermath of the Desmond rebellion in Munster.  He married Joan Apsley an heiress who brought him an estate worth £500 a year. Joan Apsley died in childbirth in 1599. In 1602 on the same day he was knighted, he married his second wife Catherine Fenton, daughter of Sir Geoffrey Fenton who was the principal secretary of state in Ireland. In the same year bought Sir Walter Raleigh’s estates of 42,000 acres for £1,500 making Lismore Castle his principle residence.


Throughout his career he made a lot of enemies and on occasion ended up in prison but always managed to get himself out of trouble. After the death of Queen Elizabeth he set about planting his estates in Munster with English tenants and founded the town of Clonakilty in 1613.



Lismore Castle

When Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford became Lord Deputy in 1633 he successfully deprived Richard Boyle of much of his privilege and income. Boyle patiently husbanded forces in opposition to Strafford’s Irish program and this successful political manoeuvring by Richard Boyle was an important factor in Strafford’s being found guilty of treason and beheading.


During the 1641 rebellion and Catholic Confederation Richard Boyle successfully held much of Cork for the Royalists and later for Parliamentary Forces.


Richard Boyle had fifteen children by Catherine Fenton, twelve survived into adulthood. Much of the correspondence featured in this talk by Dr Anne Marie Walsh is from Richard Boyle’s seven daughters Alice, Sara, Lettice, Joan, Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary giving us a great insight of the period.



Dr.Anne Marie Walsh

Dr Ann-Maria Walsh, awarded PhD at UCD, teaches at School of English, UCD as well as working as researcher in the University’s cultural heritage collections area. Ann-Maria’s research interests include seventeenth-century women’s letters, diaries, and other autobiographical writings, as well as early modern literature, material culture, and Irish and British history.



We hope that this has gone some way to give a flavour of what our Summer School weekends are like and to make up for the loss of our actual Summer School usually held in Rossnowlagh, Co. Donegal, each year and which we hope can resume as normal once again in 2022.


Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School Committee


Monday 24th May 2021


2019 Summer School


moc fwbsite 2019

The 2019 Summer School took place on the weekend of Friday 10th May until Sunday 12th May-  The theme of the Summer School was “Migration and Plantation” The programme of the weekend explored the events in the first thirty years of the Plantation of Ulster from 1607 to 1637. The latter date denotes the completion of the Annals of the Four Masters

 Friday 10th May


Official opening of the 2019 Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School

 by Linda Ervine

The Summer School was opened by Linda Ervine who spoke of her school days and the fact that she did not learn anything about the history of Ireland. She learned  about British or European history but were kept oblivious of their own history even that of the Ulster Scots who came to Ulster in the 17th Century. Linda told of her fascination with the origins of place names in her native Belfast which led her to becoming interested in the Irish language. She can now converse in the language and has recently passed her GCSE in Irish.

hall attendance 11

Linda Ervine is the Irish Language Development Officer for East Belfast based at the Skainos Centre. Until eight years ago, when she started learning Irish as part of a cross-community project with women from the nearby nationalist Short Strand, Linda didn’t know a word of the language. Now she manages an Irish language project which provides 14 classes of various ability levels per week to over 250 language learners, as well as tin whistle and set dancing classes, children’s Irish dancing and monthly historical bus tours.


Local Interest Events

Primary School Art Competition – Prizegiving


group 2

Junior/Senior Infants winners


art on wall

A section of the art submitted to the competition

The theme for the 2019 Art Competition was ‘Ireland Comings and Goings’ The many awards in the four sections of the Primary Schools Art Competition followed and this year we had the largest number of schools participating with a record number of entries. These included: Scoil Chaitríona, Ballyshannon, Four Masters School, Kinlough; Rockfield School, Ballyshannon; Mícheál Ó Cléirigh School, Creevy; Robertson School, Ballintra; Gaelscoil Eirne, Ballyshannon; St Eunan’s, Laghey; Kilbarron School, Ballyshannon; Holy Family School, Carrickboy, Ballyshannon; St John the Baptist School, Roscor, Belleek and St Macartan’s School, Bundoran.

Pictured here are some of the Junior Senior winners along with organisers of the competition Dearbhla Kelly and Geraldine Thomas along with Fr Feargus, Guardian of  Rossnowlagh Friary gave out prizes at the event.




Sollus School of Highland Dance

piper 2

Darren Milligan leads the group of Highland dancers to the stage


dancers 2

Highland Dancers from the Sollus Group


Sollus Highland Dancers

Led by piper Darren Milligan, the dancers from the Sollus Highland Dance School Bready Co Tyrone gave a wonderful and entertaining display of Scottish Highland music and dance. Here are some pictures of the group. The school of dancing, based in Bready, Co Tyrone was formed in 2001.  Mischa Dodds (Edinburgh)  helped to build up the dance team and trained up the now tutor Georgina Kee-McCarter. The group in their short history have recorded phenomenal success in the competition arena, the highlight being crowned European & Ulster Choreography Champions. Performing in showcases & festivals has seen some of the dancers travel right across Europe to places such as Holland, Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium plus numerous events in Britain including Windsor Castle for the Royal Family. Sollus Highland Dancers currently have now 5 qualified tutors and teach almost 600 young people weekly in local schools and community groups.


Cór Craobhaigh- A musical Performance

cor craobhaigh 3

Cór Craobhaigh

Angela Currid conducting the choir

Angela Currid conducting the choir

Cór Craobhaigh the junior choir formed by Angela Currid back in 1987 has performed at the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School many times since the Summer School was started in 2014.

Cór Craobhaigh has been performing locally and nationally for thirty years. The group has provided hundreds of local children with an introduction to music and contributes hugely to the musical fabric of the locality.

Cor craobhaigh 2

Saturday 11th May- morning session

Local History Events

11.00 am

British migration into west Ulster in the 17th Century

by Dr Paddy Fitzgerald


Paddy Fitzgerald

Dr Paddy Fitzgerald

Deep in discussion

Deep in discussion

Dr. Patrick Fitzgerald spoke about the pattern of migration from England Scotland and Wales to the west of Ulster in the early years of the Plantation. This was a pet project of King James I and he was anxious to know how it was progressing and as a result there is a lot of documentary evidence of its progress or lack of progress. The latter was well documented by Sir Thomas Phillips who felt aggrieved by having to give up some of his grants to the London Companies in the new county of Londonderry created by detaching the commercially valuable Glenconkeyne woodland in the barony of Loughinsholin, from Tyrone and adding it to the former County of Coleraine making the new county.

Paddy Fitzgerald was educated at Queen’s University Belfast. A former curator at the Ulster-American Folk Park he has been teaching a QUB Masters in Irish Migration Studies since 1996.He has published works including: (with Brian Lambkin), Migration in Irish History, 1607-2007 ‘‘Irish Return Migration from the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and ’‘Scottish Migration to Ireland in the Seventeenth Century’

Irish History, 1607-2007 ‘‘Irish Return Migration from the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and ’‘Scottish Migration to Ireland in the Seventeenth Century’


12.00 noon

East Donegal- a story of Migration and Emigration

by Belinda Mahaffy

Belinda Mahaffy

Belinda Mahaffy

Belinda Mahaffy is a retired librarian with a keen interest in local history particularly of the Ulster Scots influence in the period of the 17th and 18th Centuries. A member of Donegal Historic Society, she has served as an executive member of the Federation for Ulster local studies. Belinda will talk about the experiences of those families who arrived in Donegal at the outset of the Plantation and how many later left Ireland for the American colonies where they were to have a major influence in the subsequent events there.


Summer School Events


Introduction to the History talks

By Professor John McCafferty Director of the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute UCD

John Mc Cafferty

Professor John McCafferty

Professor John McCafferty set the context for the 2019 Summer School reminding those attending that history is not always truthful and is told in people’s own experiences that can become embellished over a period of years. Historians must as a result of this examine events from various perspectives to find a fair interpretation but this too can be clouded by the historians own perspectives. Aspects of the period of the first thirty years of the Ulster Plantation were to be examined in the three talks in the afternoon.

John McCafferty is the Director of the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute, a partnership between University College Dublin and the Irish Franciscans. He holds a PhD in history from Cambridge University and has taught in UCD, where he took his first two degrees since 1994. He has published on the histories of both Protestant and Catholic Churches in early modern Ireland. He has contributed talks to this Summer School every year since its inception in 2014 and gives valuable help and advice to the organising committee in planning the weekend’s historical context and speakers each year.




Music of the Plantation

by Dr Kerry Houston, PhD MA LRSM

Head of the Department of Academic Studies at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama.

Dr Kerry Houston

Dr Kerry Houston

Listening attentively

Listening attentively

Kerry’s research interests focus on source stuydies and especially those of sacred music Ireland 1660–1900 . In addition to the publications detailed here, future projects include the preparation of a complete critical edition of the sacred music of Daniel, Thomas and Ralph Roseingrave and a catalogue of music manuscripts at Saint Patrick’s and Christ Church Cathedrals. Other research interests include editing and stemmatic analysis; harmonic theory and reception history with particular interest in Mendelssohn; theology and number symbolism in music. Kerry is the Chairman of RILM Ireland; a founder member of the RISM Ireland Steering Committee; honorary treasurer of the Irish Society for Archives; and honorary treasurer for the Dublin University Far Eastern Mission. Kerry was a contributor and co editor (with Barra Boydell), Ireland, Music and the Seventeenth Century, Irish Musical Studies, Vol. 10 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2009)




Visualising the Plantation: Surveys and Maps of Ulster 1580-1640

by Annaleigh Margey DIT Dundalk

Dr Annaleigh Margey

Dr Annaleigh Margey

Annaleigh Margey is a Lecturer in History at Dundalk Institute of Technology. Originally from Letterkenny, she studied for her BA and PhD at NUI, Galway. Her PhD research titled ‘Mapping during the Irish Plantations, 1550-1636’, focused on the surveys and maps created in Ireland during the decades of plantation. She subsequently held an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship and a J.B. Harley Fellowship in the History of Cartography to continue this research at Trinity College Dublin. More recently, Annaleigh has worked as a Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen on ‘The 1641 Depositions Project’ and at the Institute of Historical Research, London, conducting research on the property and charity of the Clothworkers’ Company in early modern London. She has also worked as a Research Fellow on a joint project with NUI, Maynooth and the National Library of Ireland focusing on the rentals and maps in the landed estates’ collections in the library’s holdings. She has published books and articles on early modern Ireland, including an edited volume, The 1641 Depositions and the Irish Rebellion, with her colleagues Elaine Murphy and Eamon Darcy. Her book Mapping Ireland, c.1550-1636: a catalogue of the manuscript maps of Ireland will be published by the Irish Manuscripts Commission in late 2018. Most recently, she has been a contributor to The Cambridge History of Ireland, vol. II and has worked on a cross-border project with Armagh Robinson Library and Marsh’s Library, Dublin to digitise, and exhibit, the map holdings of the two eighteenth-century libraries.


John Speed

John Speed

Map of Ulster by John Speed 1542- 1622

John Speed printed this map of Ulster in 1611.On the reverse of the map there is a complete set of text briefly describing the history and topography of the province. To see this map in detail see link on right hand column.


Map of Ulster by Joan Blaeu (1596-1673)


Joan Blaeu











Joan Blaeu

Map making was the new science of the late middle ages. Dutch mapmaker, Joan Blaeu followed his father William Blaeu as a cartographer and published this map of Ulster. It is a hand-coloured, engraved map of ‘Vultonia; Hibernis Cujgujlly; Anglis Vlster’, in the first state as published in the 1654 fifth volume of Novus Atlas. To see this map of Ulster in detail see link on right hand column on this page:


Keynote Address

“I praye God ye may make us all merye”:      

Migrating Women and the Ulster Plantation

by Professor Anne Louise Coolahan NUI Galway

Professor Anne Louise Coolahan

Marie-Louise Coolahan


Listening intently

The keynote address by Marie-Louise Coolahan concentrated on the letters from Susan Montgomery, wife of Bishop George Montgomery who had been granted the Bishoprics of Derry Raphoe and Clogher by King James I in 1605.

Susan wrote extensively to her sister Margaret and brother-in-law George Willoughby. The correspondence is important as it gives an impression of what life was like for a woman who was used to the finer things of 1th Century England coming to a relative wilderness in north-west Ulster.

Bishop George Montgomery

Bishop George Montgomery

Anne Louise Coolahan is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin (BA 1994), Oxford University (MPhil 1996), and Nottingham Trent University (PhD 2000). In 1996 she was awarded a doctoral bursary to work with the AHRB-funded Perdita Project, which was founded to research sixteenth- and seventeenth-century women’s manuscript compilations, and to produce a searchable electronic database comprising bibliographical descriptions and detailed analyses of approximately 400 manuscripts. Her doctoral thesis, ’Gender and Occasional Poetry in Seventeenth-Century Manuscript Culture’, was completed in 2000, since which time she has been a member of the English Department at NUI, Galway. She was a visiting research fellow at the Institute of English Studies, University of London, 2004-5 and a Government of Ireland Research Fellow, funded by the IRCHSS, 2006-7. Marie-Louise was awarded a research fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C., and elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (UK) in 2012.Most recently, Marie-Louise has been awarded a European Research Council Consolidator Grant (Principal Investigator) for her project, RECIRC: The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing, 1550-1700. This project, which will run from July 2014 to June 2019, will produce a new, large-scale understanding of how women’s writing circulated, using the results to analyse how texts, ideas and reputations gained traction in the early modern English-speaking world. It will focus specifically on international correspondence networks, transnational religious orders, and the manuscript miscellany as a mode of textual transmission.

Sunday 12th May

9.00am   Aifreann as Gaelige– Séipéal na mbráthar

Gach bliain le linn na Scoile Samhraidh, tá aifreann speisialta i nGaeilge ann chun cuimhneamh ar shaol agus ar dhíograis Br.Mícheál Uí Cléirigh i leith chaomhnú stair na hÉireann.

Tá fáilte roimh dhaoine de gach creideamh nó gan aon duine freastal orthu.

Each year during the Summer School, there is a special mass in Irish to remember the life and dedication of Br Mícheál Uí Cléirigh to the preservation of the history of Ireland.

People of all faiths or none are welcome to attend.


10.00 am – School Tour –

 Kilbarron Old Church, Rathcunga, Ballintra, Bridgetown, Laghey & Abbey Mill

The ruins of Kilbarron Church

The ruins of Kilbarron Church

Kilbarron utside

Looking at the ruins of Old Kilbarron Church

Looking at the ruins of Old Kilbarron Church


Kilbarron Church

Each year there is a bus trip around local historic sites. This year the tour visited the historic 15th Century ruins of Kilbarron Church situated in just off the main Ballyshannon to Rossnowlagh road. It gives its name to both the civil and ecclesiastic parish of Kilbarron.  “Cill Barrainn”, the Church of BarrainThe name Kilbarron is an Anglicisation of the Gaeilge Chill Barrfionn meaning the church of Barron. St Barrfionn is listed in the “Felire na Naomh na hEreannach” compiled by Mícheál Uí Cléirigh and his scribal team in the 1620s. They write that “

Bairrfionn, bishop, of Druim Cuillin and of Cill bairrfinn to the north of Eas Ruaidh. He is of the race of Conall Gulban son of Niall& C. Didhnat daughter of Meachar was his mother”.


Barrfionn Saint’s Day is given as the 21st May and was a contemporary of St Columcille- some suggest his teacher and of the same Cinéal Connaill tribe. Druim Cuillin is situated in County Offaly where Barrfionn also founded a church.

Whilst St Columcille left Ireland after the Battle of Cul Dreimhne, (at the foot of Ben Bulbin in Co Sligo) exiling himself to Iona in penance to atone for the loss of life over his dispute with St Finian over a book of Psalms which he had copied without the permission of its owner, St Barrfionn remained in Ireland but may have travelled southwards to Cork where controversially it is believed that he is in fact the same person as St Finbarr!

Cill barrainn church would have been a wooden structure originally but was replaced by a stone building in the 14th Century by the Uí Cléirighs, whom in addition to being the Ollamhs to the ruling Uí Domhnaills, were Erenachts to the Cistercian Abbey lands of the parish of Kilbarron. In addition to this they provided the clergy to the parish church of Cill Barrainn and members of the Uí Cléirigh clan served as rectors of the parish almost continuously up until the demise of the Uí Domhnaills in the early 17th Century and when the Abbey was dissolved circa 1605.The last O’Clery Catholic Rector of the parish was one James O’Clery in 1688.

The church then became the Established parish church until the first St Anne’s church was built on Mullinashee hill  at the edge of the newly created Borough town of Ballyshannon in the 1620s, whence after the old church gradually fell into ruin.

The area surrounding the Church ruins were used up until recent times as a burial place for unbaptised babies. In 2015 a memorial stone was unveiled to commemorate this fact.


Monument to St Assicus/Tassic

Monument to St Assicus/Tassic

Racoo Monument was built in 1957 to mark the site of the ancient church and monastic settlement called Rathcunga where St Assicus or Naomh Tassac is buried. In the Triparte of St Patrick, written by Tirecháin, who wrote this some hundred years after the death of St Patrick, it is written that: 

 Bishop St. Assic was Patrick’s coppersmith and made altars, tables, and square bookcases. Besides, he made our saint’s patens in honour of Bishop Patrick, and of them I have seen three square patens, that is, a paten in the Church of Patrick in Armagh, and another in the Church of Elphin, and a third in the great-church of Donough-patrick (at Carns near Tulsk in Co Roscommon).


Rathlin O'Beirne

Rathlin O’Beirne

Now at sometime afterwards he was party to a lie and as penance he removed himself from the relative comfort of Elphin he made his way to west Tír Connaill to the land around Slieve League and to the  island of Rathlin O’Birne remaining there for seven years. The monks of the monastery at Elphin decided to find St Assicus with the hope of persuading him to return to Elphin. When they found him on Rathlin O’Birne they had great difficulty trying to get him to give up his solitary life. Eventually he agreed to return but took ill on the journey back and was buried at the monastery of Rath Cunga. His death is believed to have happened in 490AD.


                                                               View from the hill looking towards Ballintra

    Rath Cunga, now better known as Racoo Hill  is situated on a steep hill in the townland of Ballymacgroarty. As the name suggests it was originally a Rath in a rectangular form probably due to the shape of the drumlin (Ulster Journal of Archaeology Volume 43 1980) the site was obviously chosen for its commanding wide vista of the surrounding area. North of the Rath river was held by a obscure  group called the Lathrú the area called Mag Latrain.

    The southernmost part of Tír Áeda was known as “Mag Sereth” in ancient times and part of the territory of the Cinéal Cairpe up as far a Rath Cunga. In (C)638 Domnall Mac Aedo, King of the Cinéal Conaill seized the nearby fortress of Árd Fothruid (Glasbolie) from the  Cinéal Cairpe thus extending the territory of the Cinéal Connaill southwards to the River Erne. The area south of the Rath River became the territory of the Uí Maoil Doraidh (O’Muldory) and they and the Uí Cannanns (O’Cannon) whose territory extended north of the Rath River alternated the right of being king although not always amicably.

    The monastery at Rath Cunga probably became largely supplanted by the emergence of the monastery at Droim Thuma, Drumholm founded by St Adhamháin, Eunan or Ernan and supported by the Uí Maoil Doraigh. In fact the last Uí Muldoraigh king of Tír Connaill, Flahertaigh, was buried there in 1197.

    Afterwards the tour went through the villages of Ballintra, Bridgetown and Laghey.


    Ballintra Village

    Ballintra Village

    The village of Ballintra ,Baile an tSratha the homestead of the grove, was developed by the Hamilton’s of Brownhall.  Their original residence was at Murvagh on lands they leased from Trinity College. The college was a large beneficiary of the plantation getting estates in each county and parish.  They were given extensive grants in the parish of Drumholm. Henry Ffolliott. created Lord Ballyshannon in 1619 who owned most of the parish of Kilbarron was also given grants of land at Ballindermot and Ballynacarrick.

    The Hamiltons came to Donegal in the 17th Century and are descended from Gilbert Hambeldone. The first Lord Hamilton was a son of Mary, the daughter of James II of Scotland (1430-1460)

    James ii of Scotlan 1430-1460)

    James ii of Scotland 1430-1460)

    As landlords the Hamilton’s had a very good reputation John Hamilton was the owner of the estate during the Great Famine (1847-1849) and he deferred rents and set up food kitchens. Years later in 1882 he built a new home on an island on Donegal Bay calling it St Ernan’s. When he found that there was difficulty getting to and from the island he decided to build a causeway. The tenants came and built the causeway giving their labour voluntarily There is a plaque on the causeway reading:

    Brownhall House

    Brownhall House


    This causeway stands to commemorate the great mutual love between John Hamilton and the people of Donegal both his tenants and others, through a bitter time of famine and pestilence’………

    (Extract from Donegal South of the Gap by Liam Ronayne)


    The group travelled onwards through the village which at the time that Samuel Lewis published his Topographical Dictionary of Ireland in 1837, could boast that it held seven fairs annually and had a population of 439 people see

    Coxtown Manor

    Coxtown Manor

    Notable buildings are the Methodist Church. This building was built to designs by William Fawcett Gilchrist (c. 1863 – 1907/8), a Sligo-based architect. The present building replaced an earlier Methodist church/chapel (c. 1860) at Ballintra, which was located a short distance to the north-west of the present site, which in turn replaced an earlier building of this type in the town (location not known but in existence in 1837).


    Further down the Main street is  Drumholm Parish Church built in 1795.  Beside it is the Robertson Primary School Further out of the village on the old main road is St Brigid’s Catholic Church which was completed in 1845 replacing a wooden structure on the same site.

    Coxtown Manor built by Alexander Hamilton in the early 1840s. He was the land agent for the Hamiltons of Brownhall and also acted as land agent for the nearby Conolly estate (Thomas(Speaker) Conolly bought the Ffolliott estate in 1718) He was responsible for the replacement of the old ‘Rundale’ system of land holdings in the south Donegal area in the 1830s replacing it with the enclosed field system and farms set out in co-extensive holdings.

    Bridgetown Mill

    Bridgetown Mill

    Travelling onwards through Bridgetown which it is hard to believe was once a thriving area of industry with several grain mills sited along the Rath River harnessing its power to turn the mill wheels and grindstones.

    The village of Laghey An Lathaigh –meaning mud or a muddy place, probably referring to the crossing on the river, is not mentioned in Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland and the village grew up along the crossing point where the seven arches bridge stands The Church of Ireland church in the village was originally a chapel of Ease for Drumholm parish and was built in 1834 and altered in 1911 , 1915 and more recently in 1999.


     Drumholm church and graveyard

    Drumholm plaque

    Drumholm plaque

    The wider area around Drumholm Church was an ancient monastic site and is the burial place for Flaghertaigh Uí Maoil Doraidh King of the Cinéal Connaill and who reputedly founded the Cistercian Monastery at Assaroe near Ballyshannon in 1197.

    St Adhamháin born in AD 630 may have been a native of the area but many scholars now believe that he studied at the monastery. He later succeeded St Columchille as abbot of the monastery on Iona.

    Drumholm gives its name to a townland and to the parish. The name in Irish is Droim Thuama  meaning the hill of the tomb. The monastery flourished for many centuries. The church later became the parish church for the Established Church in the early 17th Century but fell into ruin after the present parish church was build in Ballintra in 1795.

    Pierce Ferriter relating to the group the history of Drumholm

    Pierce Ferriter relating to the group the history of Drumholm


    Wall of Drumholm old church

    Wall of Drumholm old church



    The tour ended with a visit to the Abbey Mill where a light lunch of Tea, Coffee and sandwiches was prepared for all.

    Enjoying lunch

    Enjoying lunch



    annals & earlswebsite

    The 2018 Summer School was held on the weekend of Friday 11th May until Sunday 13th May
    The theme was ” Annals and Earls, Annála agus Iarlaí ” it  explored how the Annals of the Four Masters treated the events of the Nine Years War – the Flight of the Earls and he end of Gaelic hegemony in Ulster. 


    Friday 11th May Local Interest Events

    7.00pm Primary Schools Art Competition – Prize-giving

    20180510_214242A record number of primary schools within the area took part in this years Summer School Art Competition . Prizes were awarded in four categories. The theme for the 2018 Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School was “Lords & Ladies” and as well as prizes for first, second and third places a number of pupils in each category received a small prize along with the customary highly commended certificates.  

    The Categories were: Junior Infants and Senior Infants (A4 size)-First Class and Second Class (A4 size) -Third Class and Fourth Class (A4 size)– Fifth Class and Sixth Class (A3 size



    View of the winning entries in each category


    Presentation of Prizes with Fr Vincent Galloghly assisted by Dearbhla Kelly and Geraldine Thomas

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    2018 O Cleary Friday - 010




    7.45pm Performance by Cór Craobhaigh-


    Cór Craobhaigh

    In 1987 Angela Currid established a junior choir, Cór Craobhaigh. Cór Craobhaigh has been performing locally and nationally for thirty years. The group has provided hundreds of local children with an introduction to music and contributes hugely to the musical fabric of the locality. Their performance at the 2018 Summer School was excellent.

     2018 O Cleary Friday - 1832018 O Cleary Friday - 170










    8.15pm- The Annals- an overview

    Dr John Mc CaffertyJohn Mc Cafferty gave a short talk explaining to everyone what the “Annals of the Four Masters” were and the way the books were constructed and how this was a very radical  development in the early 17th Century. He also remarked that only that this work was undertaken the loss to Irish history would be on the same scale as the loss of material in the Four Courts in 1922 were to family records, as subsequently many of the source manuscripts that they used were lost in the upheavals in the 17th and 18th Centuries.

    Professor John Mc Cafferty is the Director of the Mícheál Uí Cléirigh Institute University College Dublin.




    john speaking

    John McCafferty introducing the Annals









    9.15pm “Modern Annals”


    Coláiste Cholmcille, Ballyshannon


    Maura Finnegan with Sinead Keogh introducing the Modern Annals Event.


    The group of Transitional Year students with their Modern Annals project

    This is the project carried out by the transitional year students of Coláiste Cholmcille, Ballyshannon. The project involved each student recording their activities and interests over a period of their lives. One student studied the history of Manorhamilton writing it in script whilst others investigated the recycling of rubbish culminating in their making and designing their “junk wear”   The projects were presented by Sinead Keogh.


    Saturday 12th May- Family History Morning

    cle 111.00am Clan Ui Chléirigh Gathering-

    Welcoming all O’Clerys, Clerys, Clearys, Clarys, Clark(e)s and Clerk(e)s. The surname derives from the personal name Cléireach meaning a scribe or clerk who was the grandson of King Guaire of Connacht members of the Hy Fiachrach Aidhne tribe.

    This ancient Connacht tribe originally came from the area of north east of Kilmacduagh (Co Galway) but were dispersed to many parts of Ireland in the 13th Century.

    There was a brief introduction by Fergus Cleary on the origins of the clan and where it dispersed to in the 13th Century.

    ,Madeleine Cleary told the story of the Kilbarron branch of this ancient clan and in particular that of her ancestor Flann O’Clery.

     OC Group 2




    12.00 – Genealogy Links by Frank McHugh

    2018 O Cleary Saturday - 068Many of us at school were taught history as an academic subject where we learned about the great occasions in history, wars, battles, invasions and those who were emperors, kings or statesmen. But what of the ordinary folk, our ancestors – who were they and how did the events of history affect their lives?

    Frank McHugh told those in attendance that the first step in finding out about your family’s past is to talk to elderly relatives, show them pictures of family (if you have them) and get as much first hand information as possible.

    He also gave advice and tips on which websites to visit where the information is free.

    Born in Belfast to Fermanagh parents, Frank McHugh has a Postgraduate Certificate in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies from the University of Strathclyde. He is currently a Director of the Fermanagh Genealogy Centre and also works as a freelance Researcher and Genealogist.

    Saturday Afternoon – Summer School Events

    2.00pm –

    Opening of the Summer School by Professor Emeritus Pádraig Ó Riain


    padraig speaking

    Padraig Ó Riain giving the opening addres

    Professor Emeritus Padraig Ó Riain agreed to step in at short notice to step in due to the cancellation of one of the speakers to open the 2018 Summer School. In his address he told us about the Annals and their importance to our modern understanding of Irish history.


    3.00pm -O’Neill & O’Donnell & the war in the west by James O’Neill UCC



    James O’Neill whose book “The Nine Years War 1593-1602” was published in 2017, was unable to attend the weekend due to personal reasons. However James kindly sent his presentation along to the Summer School and it was delivered by Professor John Mc Cafferty.

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    Professor John McCafferty

    John McCafferty is Director of the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute, a partnership between University College Dublin and the Irish Franciscans. He holds a PhD in history from Cambridge University and has taught in UCD, where he took his first two degrees, since 1994. He has published  on the histories of both Protestant and Catholic Churches in early modern Ireland. He has spoken in the 2014 School on The Franciscans in Exile At the 2015 School on Why the Irish Saints mattered so much to the Irish Franciscans the and at the  2016 Summer School on Wanderers How the Friars decided that the Irish “Saved Civilisationjames o'Neills book



    The very interesting aspect of James O’Neill’s research was that both contemporary Irish and English accounts of the war underplayed the sophistication of both Hugh O’Neill’s forces in central Ulster and those of  Aodh Ruaidh O’Donnell’s forces in west Ulster and North Connacht. The English explained their defeats in the field by the excuse that their opponents used unfair and ungentlemanly tactics. Whilst the Irish accounts principally that of Lughaidh O’Clery and written some years afterwards extoll the simplicity of the Gaelic forces against the overwhelming might and modern armaments of the English forces. Nothing could be further from the truth! Both armies employed modern 17th Century battlefield tactics. 


    4.00pm- The O’Donnells in Hapsburg Vienna- The saviours of an Empire? by Dagmar O’Riain Raedel UCC

    Dagmar Ó Riain-Raedel

    Dagmar Ó Riain-Raedel

    Dr Dagmar Ó Riain-Raedel has been a member of the Department of History, University College Cork with a special research interest in Medieval History. She has lectured and published widely on the connections between Ireland and Europe from 600 to the 19th century. She has a special interest in art and architecture, both medieval and modern and, particularly, in the buildings of Cork. In the last few years she has researched the legacy of the architectural family of Hills which contributed many noteworthy buildings to Cork.

     During her presentation, Dagmar O’Riain Raedel talked about the Austrian O’Donnells and how they saved the Hapsburg Empire. It’s a very fascinating story but one small incident can be revealed It happened on February 18, 1853,when the Emperor Franz Joseph was taking a stroll in the palace gardens in Vienna. A disgruntled former Hussar and Hungarian nationalist called János Libényi attacked the Emperor wielding a knife. Count Maximilian Karl Lamoral O’Donnell (a direct descendant of Major General Henry O’Donnell of Newport) stepped between the two helped by one Joseph Ettenreich, a butcher by profession both managing to disarm the assailant.
    Franz Joseph rewarded both men and remained on the Austro- Hungarian throne until he died in 1916. The Empire did not survive the First World War and broke up into many of the independent nations of Austria Hungary Czechoslovakia Yugoslavia and the re created country of Poland in central Europe.


    Contemporary illustration of the assassination attempt on the life of Franz Joseph


    Dr Dagmar Ó Riain Raedel giving her talk on the O’ Donnells in the Hapsburg Em







    5.30 Keynote Address:

    Roisin Dubh-The story of Ireland or a Franciscan led astray?

    by Cathal Goan Director General RTÉ 2003-2010


    Cathal Goan

    Cathal Goan

    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 the  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.

    Cathal Goan speaking










    10.00am – School Tour – Donegal Castle- Lough Eske & Barnesmore Gap


    Lough Eske

     The tour left from the Friary front carpark travelling to Donegal town, visiting the castle and seeing the models of Kilbarron Castle and Kilbarron Church both important landmarks in the life of Mícheál Uí Cléirigh. The tour  continued around Lough Eske seeing the many historic landmarks in the vicinity. Travelling to Barnesmore Gap the group  stopped for tea , coffee and scones at  Biddy O’Barnes. Afterwards returning to Rossnowlagh. Here are some pictures of the trip……………..

    donegal castle doorway

    The doorway in the Jacobean annex of Donegal Castle believed to have been taken from the ruins of the nearby Franciscan Friary

    at donegal castle

    At Donegal Castle


    Bus tour group



    The fourth Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School was held on the weekend 12th-14th May 2017 

    EUROP 2

     Friday 12th May


    2017 Summer School Official Opening

    Mary Daly

    Dr. Mary Daly UCD

    by Dr Mary Daly- President of  the Royal Irish Academy. Professor of Modern Irish History U.C.D.

    When elected as President of the Royal Irish Academy in 2014 she was the first woman to be elected to that position in the Academy’s 230 year history. Professor Mary Daly was educated at University College Dublin (BA, MA) and Nuffield College Oxford (D. Phil.). During her academic career at UCD she also held visiting positions at Harvard Boston College and EUI Florence.




    Alison Forrestal

    Dr Alison Forrestal

    Europe of the Regions –

    The Europe that Br. Mícheál Uí Cléirigh and the Irish Friars encountered after 1607.

    By Dr. Alison Forrestal N.U.I. Galway


    Dr Forrestal is a Lecturer in the Department of History at NUI Galway. Her interests lie in early modern European history. She has a particular interest in ecclesiastical and religious history of the 17th Century.

    The Sheerin Family

    The Sheerin Family

     Saturday 13th May





    Dr. Mark-Empey


    Traders, tricksters and tearaways:

    the Irish in Europe in the 17th Century

                      by Dr. Mark Empey N.U.I. Galway.

    Dr. Mark Empey is a lecturer in early modern British and Irish history at the National University of Ireland, Galway. His research has focused on political and religious British and Irish history in the past.
    He completed his PhD at University College Dublin (UCD) in 2009; with a thesis examined peripheral governments in the early Stuart period by comparing the policies Sir Thomas Wentworth pursued as king’s representative in the Council of the North (Yorkshire) and in Ireland.




    Deaglán De Bréadún



    The potential fallout in Political & Constitutional terms

    by Deaglán De Breadún,

    journalist,author & broadcaster.


    Deaglán de Bréadún is a former award-winning journalist for the  Irish Times. He held a number of positions including Northern Editor, Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Irish Language Editor and most recently Political Correspondent.


    11.45am Irish Culture today on a global & European stage.

    Alan Titley

    Dt Alan Titley

    by Dr Alan Titley U.C.C.

    Alan Titley is a novelist, story writer, playwright and scholar. He has also written and presented documentary films on literary and historical subjects, and has been writing a weekly column for The Irish Times on current and cultural affairs since 2003.

    He was born and raised in the city of Cork, where he studied to be a primary school teacher. His work took him to Nigeria where he taught during the Biafran War. While there he travelled extensively across West Africa through both jungle and desert. He returned and taught deaf children in Dublin while studying for an evening degree at University College Dublin.



    Primary Schools Art Competition- Prize-giving



    Over 800 pupils from local Schools in  Counties Donegal, Leitrim & Fermanagh submitted artwork in four age categories.





    getting rady for the prize giving

    Waiting in anticipation



    Summer School Craft Events


    Proinsias 2

    Proinsias Mag Fhionnghaile

    Irish Traditional Costumes –

    A talk and demonstration of what was typical Gaelic dress for people in 17th Century Ireland was given by Proinsias Mag Fhionnghaille

    Proinsias Mag Fhionnghaile is a writer, historian and tour guide from Ballyshannon. He has received the nominal letters C.I.O.M from Clans of Ireland for his years of work and research in the field of Irish history, in particular surname research and the study of traditional Irish clothing. He is also the historian for the McGinley clan and is the Curator of Ballyshannon & District Museum.





    Calligraphy 1

    Ann O’Clery demonstrating her calligraphy

    The Art of Calligraphy and the Annals

    A demonstration and talk of the materials and methods used by the annalists who worked on the “Annála Riochta na hÉirinn”

    by Ann Uí Clery

    Ann O’Clery is a watercolour painter and calligrapher, has a degree in Architecture from UCD and a Diploma in Calligraphy from CLAS (Calligraphy and Lettering Arts Society). She is a member of CLAS and Peannairi (Association of Irish Calligraphers) and is Past President of the Water Colour Society of Ireland. Her paintings are in collections in Europe, Australia and US.  She has recently undertaken a study of the script of Michael O’Cleirigh


    The Art of Medieval Book Binding


    A demonstration of the materials and methods used by medieval bookbinders was held by Tim Stampton.

    Tim Stampton

    Tim Stampton using his bookbinding device

    Tim Stampton is an artist and illustrator working from his studios in Malin, County Donegal, Ireland. He creates handmade prints from his wood engravings and woodcuts and also produces watercolour illustrations. In 1989, he moved to Ireland with the Irish artist Ros Harvey. Together established Ballagh Studio in Malin by converting old farm buildings. Ballagh Studio now includes personal studios, a printmaking workshop, a framing facility and a showroom that is open to the public.
    His prints have been exhibited internationally, including shows in Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland and the UK. He has illustrated a number of commercially published books (see below for a selection). He has also published several hand-printed, limited-edition books on Irish folklore under his own press, Apple & Wave.



    History ireland 1

    History Ireland Debate









    Panellists were John Mc Cafferty, Mark Empey & Alan Titley, Deaglán De Bréadún.

    Moderated by Tommy Graham, Editor of History Ireland magazine.Tommy Graham, editor and founder of History Ireland magazine and Historical Walking Tours of Dublin, is a native of nearby Ballyshannon and will moderate his second History Ireland debate in conjunction with the Mícheál Uí Cléirigh Summer School.


    Keynote Address

    John McCafferty

    Dr John McCafferty

    From Donegal to Purgatory (and back)

    Europe Lough Derg & the Irish Franciscans

    by Dr John McCafferty UCD




    John McCafferty is Director of the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute, a partnership between University College Dublin and the Irish Franciscans. He holds a PhD in history from Cambridge University and has taught in UCD, where he took his first two degrees, since 1994. He has published  on the histories of both Protestant and Catholic Churches in early modern Ireland.



    School Dinner in the Sandhouse Hotel,Rossnowlagh


    Musical Evening – Bel Canto- Erdini

    Sunday 14th May

    Tour of the Four Masters Historical sites

    Four Masters Memorial Mullinaleck Bridge



    Mullinaleck Bridge on the River Drowes

    on the bridgeThe monumentCIMG5095on the bridge 2

     Ballyhanna Graveyard Ballyshannon



    Looking at the plaque in Ballyhanna

    Jim 1

    Jim McIntyre Tour Guide for the trip










    People were being buried at Ballyhanna, in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, from at least the 12th century. They were laid to rest to the east and south of a small, mortared stone church, which, at the time, stood on the banks of the Erne River, close to the strategic fording-point of Atha Seanaig, a short distance downstream from the low, tumbling rapids known as Cathleen’s Fall. For several hundred years, as the artefacts discovered tell us, people continued to bury their dead at Ballyhanna, with men, women and children being interred in the small graveyard. We do not know when the weary tradition of carrying the dead along the riverbank to that place ended. It is clear, however, that the church and graveyard did ultimately fall into ruin and disuse, and that over the centuries that followed all local memory of the site faded. We cannot be certain whether the church or the burial ground was still in use by the 17th century, when it is recorded in a land audit—the Enniskillen Inquisition. The lack of artefacts from this time suggests that it was not. In any case, Ballyhanna’s fate of becoming forgotten was sealed by the loss of so many souls in Ballyshannon during the Famine through death and emigration, as the last memories of a church at Ballyhanna were spirited away across oceans and into mass graves—that is, until it was rediscovered in June 2003.

    Abbey Assaroe & Abbey Mill

    carved door stone (from Abbey) set into the graveyard wall

    Carved stone probably from a doorway built into the graveyard wall as a stepping stone

    Abbey Well










    Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School 2016

    The third annual Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School was held over the weekend of the 27th -29th May 2016. Here is a brief synopsis and some pictures of the events.


    Banner for the 2016 Summer School

    Refugees and Strangers: being Irish in Europe 1500-1800

    Europe’s mass migration crisis  prompted the theme for this year’s Micheal O’Cleirigh Summer School in Rossnowlagh. To Irish people migration is not new. We have been serial migrants for centuries, a theme discussed at the Summer school from May 27th to 29th under the title Refugees and Strangers: Being Irish in Europe 1500 – 1800. This is the third year of the school which was founded to honour the Principal of the Four Masters, Br. Mícheál Ó’Cléirigh, born close to Rossnowlagh in Creevy, near Ballyshannon.

    Mícheál, along with many thousands of young people from Donegal and from the rest of Ireland, emigrated after the Flight of the Earls in 1607. School cathaoirleach Brian McAuley said: “We sometimes trace the tradition of emigration from Ireland to the terrible situation in which people found themselves during the Great Famine. “The truth is that throughout history, Ireland has witnessed many migrations. We know that monks  ‘brought civilization to Europe’ during the Middle Ages; soldiers (Wild Geese) left Ireland from 1500 onwards to join the great armies of Europe; monks and clerics left Ireland during the same period to found colleges in Europe; and today many young people leave our shores to find work in England, in Australia and in Canada.”

    Friday 27th May

    Local History Project- Hosted by Dr Kelly Fitzgerald UCD


    Dr Kelly Fitzgerald

    Dr Kelly Fitzgerald: Céitinn Leabhar an tSeanchais: Literary and Oral Interaction in Irish Folklore (UCD School of Irish, Celtic Studies, Irish Folklore and Linguistics) This was the culmination of work begun at the 2015 Summer School where the reminiscences of people from the locality were recorded and will be stored in the Archive of UCD.



    Official Opening of the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School

    – by Marion Harkin MEP


    Marion Harkin MEP

    Marion Harkin opened the 2016 Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School. Born in Balintogher, County Sligo she serves as an Independent Member of the European Parliament for the constituency of Midlands North West, previously serving as MEP for the North West Constituency since 2004. Prior to that she served as an Independent TD for the constituency of Sligo Leitrim (2002-07) It is  perhaps significant, given the theme of the 2016 Mícheál Ó Cleirigh Summer School that the person opening the school has been active in her work as an MEP in Brussels in seeking help for those most disadvantaged in the European Community whether they be a small farmer or fisherman in the west of Ireland or someone escaping from war or persecution in the Europe of 2016.
    In a very powerful speech she reminded everyone of the tragic events unfolding in southern Europe presently and the poor response- too little too late from the various EU member states who are reacting rather tan being proactive in this human crisis.

    Marion Harkins speech

    Marion Harkins speaking at the opening of the Summer School








    Kilbarron Castle Model

    A scale model of Kilbarron Castle has been re-constructed using the ground plan made by F. W. Lockwood in 1903. The buildings have been interpreted using research into buildings of a similar age and style used in Irish Tower Houses built in Connacht in the 15th Century. The finished model was unveiled by Madeleine Cleary,who traces her ancestry back to Flann O’Clery a cousin of Lughaidh Uí Cleirigh, the last resident of the castle and last Ollamh to the Uí Domhnaills. (O’Donnells)

    model 1

    View of Kilbarron castle model

    This model of the castle was the brainchild  of Madeleine and has been sponsored entirely by her. It is part of the on-going project by Kilbarron Castle Conservation Group to conserve the ruins of Kilbarron Castle the ancestral home of Mícheál Uí Cléirigh, Cú Coigcríche Uí Cléirigh and Conaire Uí Cléirigh.

    Professor John Mc Cafferty

    Professor John McCafferty



    The Talks

    The Mícheál Ó’Cléirigh School lectures opened on Friday evening with a talk from Professor John Mc Cafferty, Director of the Micheal O’Cleirigh Institute at UCD. Professor McCafferty reminded his audience how the Franciscan Friars had decided that the Irish “saved civilization”.

    2016 O Cleirigh Summer School Friday - 402Creevy Mummers

    The Creevy Mummers were once a familiar sight in the locality on the run up to Christmas each year. Creevy National School decided that they would revive the long tradition but give it a more contemporary look. Although a bit out of season, the youngsters gave the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School attendees a flavour of their superb performance.


    2016 O Cleirigh Summer School Friday - 386

    Enjoying the performance


    2016 O Cleirigh Summer School Friday - 478

    Maureen Boyle reading her poem ” The work of Winter”

    Poet Maureen Boyle  ‘The Work of Winter’

    Maureen Boyle is an award winning poet who teaches creative writing with the Open University. She read a series of evocative poems called ” The work of Winter” in which she imagines Mícheál Ó Cléirigh in Louvain at the end of his life thinking back over it- from his childhood in Kilbarron to his life’s work on the great Irish manuscripts.


    Here is a small excerpt of two verses from the poem that reminds Mícheál of his childhood and his home. The complete poem can be found in a book of poetry called “The Yellow Nib” No 7 Spring 2012.

    Those nights I would often long for home, for the white nights
    of Donegal
    and for Kilbarron, when the sky beyond the mountains would
    never go completely dark 
    and I would sleep to the rhythm of the sea and wake to the
    smell of oats bubbling
    in the porridge pot and the glimpse of chimney sky as I helped
      my mother, Honora Ultach,
    Check for birds before the lighting of the morning fires.
    We were a perching house, set in the very edge of things,
    the castle walls contiguous
    with the cliff precipitous, seeming set one day to tumble into
    the waves below.
    It was never silent since the sea was always speaking: shushing
    us on quiet nights,
    thundering in storm, sending spumes of white waves nipping
    at the castle’s ankles
    like terriers and sometimes showering us with foam. 

    Traditional music from the local area.

    2016 O Cleirigh Summer School Friday - 509

    Senan Brennan & Claire Gallagher

    2016 O Cleirigh Summer School Friday - 530

    Rossa Ó Snodaigh

    Senan Brennan, pictured here with fiddle player Clare Gallagher entertained  with a selection of musical pieces from the local area. They were joined by guest Bóhrain player Rossa Ó Snodaigh.

    Saturday 28th May 

    Irish Integration into the  Continental  Nobilities,  c.1600-c.1900 (Consciousness of Origin & Cosmopolitanism)


    Dr Declan Downey

    On Saturday morning Dr. Declan Downey, lecturer at the School of History and Archives, UCD, talked on Irish Integration into the Continental Nobilities, c.1600-c.1900 (Consciousness of Origin & Cosmopolitanism) relating how the Irish found themselves in prominent positions in the Royal Courts of Europe.

    Patterns of Irish Migration 1690-1820

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    Dr Patrick Fitzgerald

    Later in the morning Dr Patrick Fitzgerald QUB  gave a talk about Emigration from the Northwest of Ireland including the counties of Donegal, Fermanagh and Tyrone in the 18th century in a talk titled Patterns of Irish Migration 1690-1820



    Schools Art Competition 2016- “Leaving Home”

    Where is my picture

    Where is my picture?

    The primary school art competition has become a very popular and exciting part of the summer school.  It provides an opportunity for the young people in the area to take part in the school’s activities. The subject of this years competition was “Leaving Home” which evoked a very diverse series of images from the pupils who took part in the competition. The work of the pupils was displayed in the Franciscan Friary Hall, Rossnowlagh, during the weekend. Prizes were awarded to those successful in the four categories. First, Second & Third places with a number in each were awarded Highly Commended Certificates.

    assembled for art winners

    Proud parents and families assembled for art winners



    2016 more OCleary school - 210

    Cliodna Cussen,






    Gael Thar Lear san 18ú Aois

    Don chéad uair a Bhí an Scoil Samhraidh gné seisiún as Gaeilge, an teanga ina tháirgtear Mhichíl Uí Chléirigh Annála na gCeithre Máistrí. Bhí dealbhóir Cliodna Cussen labhairt faoi a “Gael Thar Lear san 18ú Aois”

    For the first time the Summer School  featured a session in Gaeilge, the language in which Mícheál Ó Cléirigh produced the Annals of the Four Masters. Sculptor Cliodna Cussen, spoke about The Gaels abroad in the 18th Century


    Refugees Today – History Ireland Hedge School Panel Discussion

    2016 more OCleary school - 264

    Tommy Graham facilitating the Hedge School

    On Saturday afternoon there was a Hedge School with a panel discussion hosted by Tommy Graham, editor of History Ireland. He invited the audience to discuss Ireland’s  current response to emigration and immigration within the European Union.


    The panellists

    The panellists in discussion.








     The Lucius & Kathleen Emerson Memorial Lecture


    Anthony Begley

    The school this year  remembered in a special way the major contribution to local history of the late Lucius and Kathleen Emerson. The introduction to the lecture was given by local historian and close friend of the Emersons, Anthony Begley who reminded everyone about the great contribution the Emerson’s gave to local history and to the Donegal Historical Society.


    Keynote Speaker

    Dr Marion Lyons

    Dr. Marion Lyons, co-author of works on early Irish migrants in Europe, gave the keynote address on how the Irish found themselves as strangers in Europe but also became citizens. Dr Lyons is a professor of History at NUI Maynooth or Maynooth University



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    Listening attentively to the Keynote Lecture



     2016 last O Cleary weekend - 070As in previous years, there was a conference dinner, known as the School Dinner and musical evening at the Sandhouse Hotel, Rossnowlagh, on Saturday evening, 28th May. Here are some pictures of the evening.





    Sunday 29th May

    bus tour 1A tour on Sunday 29th  visited sites associated with the Four Masters in or around Donegal town.These included the site of Magherabeg Monastery, Franciscan Friary along the quay in Donegal town and were given a guided tour of Donegal Castle the premier castle of the O’Donnells.


    • Magherabeg Monastery 2

      Magherabeg Monastery


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      Ruins of Donegal Franciscan Friary

    Donegal castle tour

    Start of the Tour of Donegal Castle


    The Full









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     Friday 15th May 2015


    7.00 p.m. Opening by Minister of State Joe McHugh – Ó Cléirigh Hall


    Professor John McCafferty speaking at the opening lecture.







    7.30 First Session:

    ‘Favourers, intercessors and patrons: why the Irish saints mattered so much to the Irish Franciscans’ Dr. John McCafferty, Director of the Mícheál Ó’Cléirigh Institute in University College Dublin – set out the theme for the school.CIMG3361

    8.30 ‘Dark Daughter’ –  by Soinbhe Lally

    Local author Soinbhe Lally’s play on Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh is produced by Christian Carbin and directed by Arantxa Lopez.


    10.00 School Club – Sandhouse Hotel Following the play the ‘School Club’ was held in the Sandhouse hotel where participants met and discussed the evenings events with those who were attending the Summer School.


    Saturday 16th May 2015- Ó Cléirigh Hall

    10.00 Second Session:

    From Tír Conaill to Bavaria: the extraordinary career of Muiredach mac Robartaig’

    by Dr Dagmar Ó Riain Raedel UCC.

    Dagmar Ó Riain-Raedel

     Dr Dagmar Ó Riain Raedel Dr Dagmar Ó Riain-Raedel has been a member of the Department of History, University College Cork with a special research interest in Medieval History. She has lectured and published widely on the connections between Ireland and Europe from 600 to the 19th century.


     11.30 Third Session


    L-R Brian MacAmhlaigh, Padraig UíRiain, Mícheál MacCraith

    Having a good chat about the finer historic points of view are l-r Bian MacAmhlaigh, Chairperson of the Scoil Samraidh Mhíchíl UíCléirigh, Dr Padraig Uí Riain, keynote speaker and Dr Mícheál MacCraith who gave a talk on Louvain hagiography and Roman art: links between two Irish Franciscan continental colleges. by Dr Mícheál Mac Craith Dr. Mac Craith guardian of St. Isidore’s in Rome and emeritus Professor of Irish at University College, Galway.Link to Mícheál MacCraith Interview Saturday 16th May, Ó Cléirigh Hall, Rosnowlagh.

     12.30 Fourth Session:

    Helen Meehan

    Helen Meehan

    The Plantation in Donegal and Bishop George Montgomery by Helen Meehan Helen Meehan is a former President of the Donegal Historical Society and was born in Frosses Co Donegal Helen is a retired primary School teacher and in n 2012 was awarded an Honorary Masters Degree by National University of Ireland, Galway in recognition of her work in the genealogy, folklore and local history of County Donegal.


     Fringe Events Saturday 16th May

    Life and times of Flan O’Clery- Sandhouse Hotel

    Madeleine 2

    Some of the people who attended the talk on Flan O’Clery

    madeline talk

    Madeleine Cleary

    Pictured here is Madeleine Cleary giving the talk on the life and times of Flan O,Clery who was a cousin of Lughaidh UíCléirigh, author of the “Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhomhnaill”. The talk was the culmination of extensive research into the story of Flan Ó Clery whose tombstone is one of the oldest in the Abbey Assaroe graveyard outside Ballyshannon


    3.00 Ecological and Historic walk to Kilbarron Castle

    led by Ruth Cleary.

    Everyone met at the  Creevy Pier Car park where the walk was led by Ruth Cleary. Ruth Cleary had recently completed an Ecological report on the ruins of Kilbarron castle-part pf the recently completed Conservation Report on the castle. She is very familiar with the flora & fauna of the area.

    Some pictures of the event….


    The group that participated in the Ecological & Historic Walk to Kilbarron Castle


    Ruth explaining about the medicinal properties of Lichens


    At Kilbarron Castle

    4.00 Visit to the ruins of Kilbarron Church

    A dedication of a plaque to remember the children buried in the vicinity of the ruins took place.

    Some pictures from the event……………………………….


    The ruins of Kilbarron Church


    At the dedication of the Childrens graveyard.


    Image of the plaque dedicated on Saturday 16th May


    Molly Reynolds saying a few words at the dedication of the childrens’ graveyard






    3.15 Workshop in Hall: The Story of “Dark Daughter” and Lugaidh Ó Cléirigh.



    A number of people including the author of “Dark Daughter” Soinbhe Lally discussed the historic background to the events portrayed in the play seen on the previous night.

    4.00 A Panel discussion was held in the hall after seeing a short film on The coming of the Franciscans to Rossnowlagh in 1952



    5.30 Fifth Session: Keynote Address 

    The Br. Pascal Williamson Memorial Lecture

    The Saints of South Donegal  

    by Dr. Pádraig Ó Riain

    Padraig O Riain

    Dr. Pádraig Ó Riain is Emeritus Professor of Early and Medieval Irish at University College, Cork


    At the Saints of South Donegal lecture- Maureen Finnegan speaking about Br Pascal Williamson.

    20.00 School Dinner –  The dinner was held in the Sandhouse Hotel, Rossnowlagh.

    21.00 Musical Interlude – Sandhouse Hotel A delightful pot-pourri of music and presentations in the ‘School Club’ performed by local artists.


    21.30 School Club – Sandhouse Hotel An opportunity for participants to meet the speakers and others to discuss the issues that arise in the school.




    Sunday 17th May 2015

    09.00 Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Memorial Mass was held in the Friary Chapel.  An tAthair Mícheál MacCraith said Mass as Gaeilge.

    Tour of Four Masters Sites in Ballyshannon, Bundoran, Tullaghan  and Donegal town

    Pictures from the Sunday morning bus tour led by Jim McIntyre

    The tour left from the Rossnowlagh Friary. The tour visited the ruins of the Franciscan Friary in Donegal town. Then travelled southwards to Ballyshannon onwards to Kinlough stopping at the memorial to the Four Masters erected on Mullinaleck Bridge. Then to Tullaghan where the Bundoran Historic Society hosted a reception and the group will saw the ruins beside the Drowes reputed to be the site where the Annals were written by  Br Mícheál and his collaborators.


    Ruins of the Franciscan Friary in Donegal

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    Group standing on Mullinaleck Bridge the boundary between Ulster & Connacht an site of the “Four Masters” Memorial


    Mullinaleck Bridge


    Group being given a presentation on the history of Bundoran and Tullaghan


    Harpist playing at the reception by the Bundoran Historic Society


    Enjoying the Harp playing


    Listening to the welcome by the Bundoran Historic Group



















    12.00 Display of Primary School Projects and Prize-giving

    The display and awarding of prizes to Primary School pupils took place on Sunday 17th May. The theme of the competition this year was “Saints and Scholars” and the interest and participation among all the schools in the locality has been a great success. Taking part are Primary schools from three counties Donegal, Leitrim and Fermanagh.

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    banner mocThe inaugural Summer School was held on Saturday 17th May 2014 at the Mícheál Uí Cléirigh Hall at  Rossnowlagh. The day long event had talks in the morning and a field trip to the ruins of Kilbarron Castle in the afternoon. There was also a Schools Art Competition and a School’s Dinner in the Sandhouse Hotel in Rossnowlagh. Here are some pictures of the day long event.

    admiring the artwork

    Admiring the Art work

    art competotion winners

    Display boards with winning Art work


    Awarding the Prizes for the Art Competition

    Speakers at 2014 school

    Speakers at the Summer School


    Brian MacAmhlaigh introducing Bernadette Cunningham- the Keynote Speaker

    Bernadette Cunningham

    Bernadette Cunningham