Summer School Picture Gallery 2014-2021

May 2021

2021 Summer School

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


Bridie Mullin

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

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 Mhaoil meeting Queen Elizabeth I at Greenwich

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”

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.

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.

Rockfleet Castle

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. 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.Kelly Fitzgerald is the Head of the School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore as well as the Head of Irish Folklore & Ethnology in the School. She graduated in folklore and early (medieval) Irish at University College Dublin and defended her doctoral dissertation in 2009. It was titled: Literary and Oral Interaction in Irish Folklore. She has written on the intellectual history and development of Irish folkloristics and archives amongst other aspects of folklore studies and oral history. She sits on the editorial board of Béaloideas, The Journal of the Folklore Society of Ireland. She is also Chairperson of ANU Productions and a Director of the National Folklore Foundation. Recently she directed the collecting of oral histories in the development phase of Dublin’s Tenement Museum. She is currently overseeing the collecting of a number oral history initiatives in social housing communities in Dublin.

Friday 7th May

Local Primary School Arts Prizewinners

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 (Kilbarron townlands) by 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.

Tony Lenihan

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’ by Dr Naomi McAreavey

Elizabeth Preston (Ormond Picture Gallery)

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.

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.

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.

Kilkenny Castle

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 McAreavey

Dr Naomi McAreavey is the 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. and was the recipient of UCD’s President’s Teaching Award 2012 in recognition of excellence in teaching. More recently in 2017she received a Teaching Excellence Award from the College of Arts and Humanities. She served as Head of Teaching and Learning for the School of English, Drama and Film in 2016-17

Sunday 9th May

The seventeen-century Boyle women: writing family and voicing the female’ by Dr Ann-Maria Walsh

Lismore Castle, Co Cork

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.

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.

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.

Dr. Anne-Marie Walsh

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 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.


The 2020 Summer School was cancelled due to the lockdown and Pandemic.

2019 Summer School

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

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

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
Some of the art submitted 2019
Waiting in anticipation

Sollus School of Highland Dance

Dancers led by piper Darren Milligan
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

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.

Saturday 11th May- morning session

Local History Events

British migration into west Ulster in the 17th Century

by Dr Paddy Fitzgerald

Dr. Paddy Fitzgerald

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.

Deep in discussion

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’

East Donegal- a story of Migration and Emigration

by 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 Saturday History Talks

by Professor John McCafferty

Director of the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute UCD

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.

Listening attentively

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

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

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.

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.. Blaeu’s world map, Nova et Accuratissima Terrarum Orbis Tabula, incorporating the discoveries of Abel Tasman, was published in 1648. This map was revolutionary in that it “depicts the solar system according to the heliocentric theories of Nicolaus Copernicus, which show the earth revolving around the sun..

Map of Ulster by Joan Blaeu

John Speed

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.

John Speed’s Map of Ulster 1611

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

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.

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

Summer School Tour –

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

Kilbarron Old Church

The ruins of Kilbarron Church
Looking at the ruins of Old 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 Irish 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 “ Church

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

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). 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.

Rathlin O’Beirne

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.

Looking at the monument


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)

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:

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’………

James II of Scotland

(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 over 439 people see

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).


Coxtown Manor

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

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

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.

Wall of Drumholm old church

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 and recent archaeology has revealed that the monastic site covered a much larger area than the current churchyard and ruins would suggest.

The church later became the parish church for the Established Anglican 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

Abbey Mill

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

Summer School May 2018

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 2018 Local Interest Events

Primary Schools Art Competition – Prize-giving

A 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)


The Prizegiving

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

Musical performance by Cór Craobhaigh

Angela Currid

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. She was assisted by her daughter Niamh on keyboard.

Some of the young singers

The Annals- an overview

Professor John Mc Cafferty

John 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.

Listening attentively

Modern Annals

Maura Finnegan introducing the students and their projects

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 like the ancient annals. Whilst others investigated the recycling of rubbish culminating in their making and designing their “junk wear”   The projects were presented by Sinead Keogh.

The gap year students from Coláiste Columchille

Saturday 12th May 2018- Family History Morning

Clan Ua 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 including Mayo, Cavan, Kilkenny and later Donegal where the branch became chroniclers to the ruling O’Donnells .

There was a brief introduction by Fergus Cleary on the of the clan and where around Ireland 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 whose tombstone is one of the oldest found in the Abbey Assaroe graveyard dating to 1666. He was a third cousin of Br. Micheál Ó Cléirigh.

Madeleine Cleary telling the history of her ancestor Flann O’Cleary


Members of the Clan Ua Cléirigh

Genealogy Links by Frank McHugh

Frank McHugh

Many 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 the best 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

Opening of the Summer School

by Professor Emeritus Pádraig Ó Riain

Professor Emeritus Pádraig Ó Riain

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. This was the second time that Professor Ó Riain has given a talk to the Summer School (first in 2015) and in his address he told us about the Annals and their importance to our modern understanding of Irish history.

Padraig Ó Riain speaking at the Summer School about the Annals of the Four Masters

O’Neill & O’Donnell & the war in the west

by James O’Neill UCC

The Battle of the Yellow Ford 1598

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.

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 Civilisation

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. 

The O’Donnells in Hapsburg Vienna- The saviours of an Empire?

by Dagmar O’Riain Raedel UCC

Dr Dagmar Raedel Riain

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.

Contemporary illustration of the attack on Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary

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. 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.

Keynote Address:

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

by Cathal Goan Director General RTÉ 2003-2010

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

Sunday 13th May 2018

Summer School Tour – Donegal Castle- Lough Eske & Barnesmore Gap


An Ariel view of Lough Eske

The tour left from the Friary front carpark travelling to Donegal town, visiting the restored Donegal 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 including the possible location of the friars refuge after the destruction of the friary in 1600. Travelling onto 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

Seen here on the left is the doorway in the Jacobean annex of Donegal Castle believed to have been taken from the ruins of the nearby Franciscan Friary

Donegal Castle
The tour group outside Biddy of Barnes


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

Friday 12th May

Summer School Official Opening

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

First elected to the Royal Irish Academy in 1991 Professor Mary Daly went onto becoming President of the Royal Irish Academy in 2014 and was the first woEurope of the Regions -man to be elected to that position in the Academy’s 230 year history. 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. She has numerous publications to her name most recently The Slow Failure: Population Decline and Independent Ireland, 1920–1973. (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.)

Europe of the Regions – First Talk

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

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

Dr. Alison Forrestal

Dr Alison Forrestal gave the first lecture at the 2017 Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School. The talk will focus on Europe of the regions giving the perspective of the Irish who arrived in Europe in the 17th Century and how they found friends and allies in their exile.

Dr. Forrestal is a Lecturer in the Department of History at NUI Galway. Lecturer, early modern history University Warwick, 1999—2000. Lecturer, ecclesiastical history Durham University, 2000—2006. Lecturer early modern history National University Ireland, Galway, since 2006. Her interests lie in early modern European history. She has a particular interest in ecclesiastical and religious history of the 17th Century. including such publications as Politics and Religion in Early Bourbon France (Basingstoke 2009) and Catholic Synods in Ireland, 1600-90 (Dublin 1998) Dr Forrestal is a member of the Royal Irish Academy.Dr Alison Forrestal gave the first lecture at the 2017 Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School. The talk will focus on Europe of the regions giving the perspective of the Irish who arrived in Europe in the 17th Century and how they found friends and allies in their exile.Dr Alison Forrestal is a Lecturer in the Department of History at NUI Galway. Lecturer, early modern history University Warwick, 1999—2000. Lecturer, ecclesiastical history Durham University, 2000—2006. Lecturer early modern history National University Ireland, Galway, since 2006. Her interests lie in early modern European history. She has a particular interest in ecclesiastical and religious history of the 17th Century. including such publications as Politics and Religion in Early Bourbon France (Basingstoke 2009) and Catholic Synods in Ireland, 1600-90 (Dublin 1998) Dr Forrestal is a member of the Royal Irish Academy.

Musical Evening

The evening ended with music and song from Senan Brennan and friends, Cór Craobhaigh, the Sheerin family and others led by Angela Currid.

The Sheerin Family

Saturday 13th May

Traders, tricksters and tearaways: the Irish in Europe in the 17th Century

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

Dr Mark Empey

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.
In 2010 Mark was an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at UCD where he worked on the project ‘Protestants, print and Gaelic culture, 1567-1722’. In 2012 was awarded the prestigious two-year National University of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, studying the career of the Irish historian and antiquarian, Sir James Ware (1594-1666). Between 2014 and 2016 he was a postdoctoral researcher at NUI Galway where he worked on the ERC-funded project ‘RECIRC: the Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s writing, 1550-1700’.
His teaching interests include the Tudors in England and Ireland, the reign of King Henry VIII, the Reformation in Britain and Ireland, social and cultural change in seventeenth-century Ireland, and print and national consciousness in early modern Britain and Ireland.

His published works include articles on scholarly networks, the dissemination of books and manuscripts in seventeenth-century Ireland, and the reception of female-authored works in early modern Britain and Ireland. He recently edited Early Stuart Irish Warrants, 1623-1639: the Falkland and Wentworth administrations with the Irish Manuscripts Commission (2015) and he is co-editor of a forthcoming book on the historiography of the Church of Ireland (Four Courts Press, 2017)

Gates to the Irish College in Rome

Brexit- The potential fallout in Political & Constitutional terms

by Deaglán De Breadún, journalist,author & broadcaster.


Deaglán de Bréadún An award-winning journalist who worked for many years with the Irish Times where he held a range of positions including Northern Editor, Foreign Affairs Correspondent and Political Correspondent before taking early retirement at the end of 2012. Currently a columnist with the Belfast-based Irish News and a regular broadcaster in English and Irish, he also worked in 2013-14 as Local Radio Correspondent at the Oireachtas (Republic of Ireland parliament) and in 2014-15 as Political Editor of the Irish Sun newspaper.

He gave his unique take on all the issues surrounding Brexit and the possible implications of this development with Europe, Britain and Ireland both North and South of the border.

Irish Culture today on a global & European stage.

by Dr Alan Titley U.C.C.

Dr Alan Titley speaking at the Summer School

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 primary schools in  Counties, Donegal, Leitrim & Fermanagh submitted artwork in four class categories. Junior/Senior Infants, First & Second Class, Third & Fourth Class and Fifth & Sixth Class.

Waiting for the prizegiving to begin

This event has been held every year since the founding of the Summer School in 2014.

Summer School Craft Events

Proinsias Mag Fhionnghaille

Irish Traditional Costumes –

by Proinsias Mag Fhionnghaille

This talk and demonstration of what was typical Gaelic dress for people in 17th Century Ireland was given by Proinsias Mag Fhionnghaile who 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.


The Art of Calligraphy and the Annals

Ann O’Clery at work demonstrating the art of Calligraphy

This was a demonstration and talk about the materials and methods used by the annalists who worked on the “Annála Riochta na hÉirinn” and other manuscripts given by Ann O’Clery. Later those attending got a chance to try some calligraphy for themselves. 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

Trying some calligraphy

The Art of Medieval Book Binding

A demonstration of the materials and methods used by medieval bookbinders was held by 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 Debate

Panellists were l-rJAlan Titley, John Mc Cafferty, Deaglán De Bréadún & Mark Empey.

Moderated by Tommy Graham (centre), 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 moderated his second History Ireland debate in conjunction with the Mícheál Uí Cléirigh Summer School.

Tommy Graham introduced the discussion by setting the parameters, saying that the talk would compare the events of early modern Ireland with the contemporary issues of modern Europe and Ireland.




Keynote Address

From Donegal to Purgatory (and back)

Europe Lough Derg & the Irish Franciscans

by Dr John McCafferty UCD

John McCafferty
Dr 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.

The island on Lough Derg where St Patrick’s Purgatory was sited in the Middle Ages was considered to be a place where one could enter Purgatory. Originally called St Davóg’s Purgatory, it was closed down by the Papacy in 1497 but in 1531 the Franciscans who were given charge of the pilgrimage site in the termon lands, Tearmann Mac Craith managed by the Mac Craith (McGrath) erenachts whose role anciently was to act as land stewart for the church. The Franciscans decided to rebrand the pilgrimage and renamed it St Patrick’s Purgatory.

Early 20th Century picture of Station Island on Lough Derg

Summer School Dinner in the Sandhouse Hotel,Rossnowlagh

The Summer School held their weekend dinner in the Sandhouse Hotel in Rossnowlagh. Musical entertainment was provided by the singers of Bel Canto and later the music of Erdini. Here are some pictures of the evening.




Sunday 14th May

Tour of the Four Masters Historical sites

Four Masters Memorial Mullinaleck Bridge

Mullinaleck Bridge on the River Drowes



Ballyhanna Graveyard Ballyshannon

Tour guide Jim McIntyre

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


The tour ended with a visit to the Abbey graveyard and had refreshments in the nearby Abbey Mill Cafe. The Abbey Mill Cafe is entirely run by volunteers and the restoration was carried out as a community project..

part of a pediment of the abbey
built into the wall of the graveyard







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 Mícheál Ó Cléirigh 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 2016 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

model 1
View of 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 Cléirigh, the last resident of the castle and last Ollamh to the Uí Domhnaills. (O’Donnells) The castle was described as a ruin on the Down’s Survey maps of 1658 and must have been abandoned sometime before that date though it is not known exactly when Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh left but he was granted land for his lifetime in the area of Glenswilly in the barony of Kilmacrennan in the Ulster Plantation of 1609 in compensation of lands in Kilbarron.

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.


Aims and Objectives of the 2016 Summer School

Professor John Mc Cafferty
Professor John McCafferty

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”. This narrative would compel the order to justify this claim by putting together a definitive listing of Irish saints. This then was the basis of the decision to send Br. Mícheál back to Ireland and begin work on the Felire na Naomh nErennach also known as the Martyrology of Donegal.

See: The martyrology of Donegal : a calendar of the saints of Ireland : O’Clery, Michael, 1575-1643 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive



Creevy Mummers

Creevy junior 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

Poet Maureen Boyle  ‘The Work of Winter’

Maureen Boyle

Maureen Boyle is an award winning poet who teaches creative writing with the Open University. She read her very evocative poem 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.

See: Filetoupload,879688,en.pdf (

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 at 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

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Senan Brennan & Claire Gallagher
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Rossa Ó Snodaigh
Musicians of talent

Pictured here is Senan Brennan from Rossnowlagh playing guitar along with fiddle player Clare Gallagher from Kilcar entertained us  with a selection of musical pieces from the local area. They were joined by guest Bóhrain player Rossa Ó Snodaigh, originally from Dublin but now living in Co Leitrim. Both Senan and Rossa play in the band Kila.

The entertainment continued until 10pm after which the various parties went to continue the conversation and chat in the Sandhouse Hotel.

Saturday 28th May 

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

by Dr Declan Downey
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.

Many of the exiled Irish nobility joined the various continental armies and formed Tercios in the Spanish Netherlands. These included one led by Henry O’Neill who was the son of Hugh O’Neill, the Earl of Tyrone. He continued to lead the regiment until his death in 1610. Afterwards the regiment was nominally led by his younger brother John but in effect led by Hugh O’Neill’s nephew Owen Roe O’Neill.

Landing and Combat 17th Century painting by Flemish artist by Cornelis de Wael -1592-1667-


Patterns of Irish Migration 1690-1820

By Dr. Paddy Fitzgerald
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Dr Patrick Fitzgerald

Dr. Patrick Fitzgerald is Lecturer and Development Officer at the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies at the Ulster American Folk Park and an Honorary Research Fellow in History at Queen’s University Belfast. In 2008 he co-authored with Dr. Brian Lambkin Migration in Irish History, 1607-2007.

His talk about Emigration from the Northwest of Ireland including the counties of Donegal, Fermanagh and Tyrone in the 17th and 18th century discussed the movement of people into Ulster and later many of their descendants continued this movement by emigrating to the New World often leaving from such ports as Sligo.

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


Gael Thar Lear san 18ú Aois

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Cliodna Cussen,

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

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Tommy Graham

On Saturday afternoon there was a Hedge School with a panel discussion hosted by Tommy Graham, editor of History Ireland. The panel consisted of Dr. Marion Lyons, Professor John McCafferty, Dr Declan Downey and Dr Paddy Fitzgerald, He invited the audience to discuss Ireland’s  current response to emigration and immigration within the European Union. The desperate plight of the many Syrian and other peoples trying to flee war torn areas of Asia and Africa has led to a fear in many European countries that their identities might be lost, a fear being exploited by far right politicians and parties across Europe. The discussion was lively and many historic precedents were discussed. A fuller account of the proceedings will be published later in the 2016 Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Summer School book.

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 couple, Anthony Begley, who reminded everyone about the great contribution that both of the Emersons gave to local history and to the Donegal Historical Society.

Lucius Emerson

Lucius Emerson (1911-2005) was born in Monaghan town but his family moved to Portumna in Co Galway where he received his early education. He came to Ballyshannon in 1936 as a woodwork teacher in the Ballyshannon Technical School. He had an abiding interest in history and was a founder member, of the County Donegal Historical Society, Trustee and Curator of the Society Museum at Rossnowlagh.

Kathleen Emerson (1920-2004) gave outstanding service to County Donegal Historical Society and filled the role of Secretary for 44 years. She was an outstanding administrator whose meticulous attention to the needs of members and to the needs of the Society, was appreciated by all who had the pleasure to come in contact with her.



The Irish in Europe: Strangers and Citizens

Keynote Speaker -Dr. Marion Lyons

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.

She spoke about the way Irish people began to integrate into society in various European states in the 17th and 18th Centuries. They were not always escaping from political or religious oppression but were as likely to be traders in commodities, sending ships back to Ireland to trade in fish or agricultural produce. Later many of these trade routes were closed by the English government but were often supplanted by illegal trade looked kindly upon by the gentry who continued to appreciate continental fashions and wines.

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Listening attentively to the Keynote Lecture



Conference School Dinner & Entertainment

As 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

Tour of the Four Masters Historical Sites

bus tour 1

A bus tour took place on the morning of Sunday 29th, when many of those attending the weekend conference visited sites in the locality associated with the Four Masters. This year the tour visited places in or around Donegal town including the site of the ruins of Magherabeg Monastery, the ruins of the Franciscan Friary situated along the quay in Donegal town.

Lastly the group was given a guided tour of Donegal Castle the premier castle of the O’Donnells from the 15th Century onwards until the early 17th Century.

Magherabeg Monastery is situated just south of Donegal town. It islocated on private grounds and the group were given special permission by the owners to visit the ruins. The monastery was founded in the 15th Century for the Tertiary Order of the Franciscan, lay brothers who administered to the poor and needy in the local area. After the dispersal of the friars in the early 17th Century the lands of Magherabeg were granted to Sir Ralph Gore.

Doorway at Magherabeg Monastery
Interior of the ruins
Magherabeg Monastery 2
The group outside Magherabeg Monastery

Donegal Franciscan Convent was founded in 1474 at the request of Nuala O’Connor, wife of Aodh Ruaidh O’Donnell, chief of Tír Chonaill, Tír Chonaill was the original name for much of what is now known as County Donegal but it also included parts of Counties Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Leitrim and Sligo. The O’Donnell chieftains had ruled Tír Chonaill for over two hundred years. Nuala sought permission to have an Abbey established in Donegal and made the request to the Franciscan Provincial Chapter meeting being held at Ross Friary, near Headford, Co. Galway in that year. 

donegal fran 1
Ruins of Donegal Franciscan Friary
Donegal Castle

Donegal Castle was built in the year 1474 by Aodh Ruaidh Uí Domhnaill I (Red Hugh O’Donnell I) who intended for it to be his personal fortress. At the same time, he and his wife, Nuala, built a Franciscan monastery further along the river. The castle became the main residence of all the O’Donnell chieftains up until the Flight of the Earls in 1607. The castle was subsequently granted to Sir Basil Brooke who extended the castle by adding a Jacobean styled residence beside the original tower house. The building later became the property of the Earls of Arran. It was sold to the Office of Public Works in the late 19th Century. The Castle was partly restored in the 1990s.

Donegal castle tour
Start of the Tour of Donegal Castle



Saints and Scholars


Friday 15th May 2015

Official Opening of the Summer School

by Minister of State Joe McHugh T.D.


Minister of State Joe McHugh TD opening the 2015 Summer School

First Session:

‘Favourers, intercessors and patrons: why the Irish saints mattered so much to the Irish Franciscans’

By Dr John McCafferty


Professor John McCafferty speaking at the opening lecture.

The first talk of the evening was by Dr John McCafferty, Director of the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute UCD who set out the theme for the weekend talks. There was a hierarchy of Saints in the Europe of the late Middle Ages and to the many Irish friars who fled Ireland in the wake of the Elizabethian conquest, found that the Irish saints that they were familiar with were not known about on the European continent and even those saints that founded monasteries in the far flung reaches of the continent in the ninth and tenth Centuries were often given the Latin name for the Irish “Scotus” which by the late Middle Ages became synonymous with the country Scotland. This caused them great concern and spurred them on to begin work on the Hagiography of Irish saints led by Br Mícheál Ó Cléirigh and begun in 1623 with his return to Ireland.


Dark Daughter – A Play by Soinbhe Lally

Local author Soinbhe Lally’s play telling the story of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill or Iníon Dubh, wife of Aodh Dubh Uí Domhnaill and mother of Aodh Ruaidh Uí Domhnaill (Red Hugh O’Donnell) traces the events in the period after the death of Aodh Ruaidh in Spain in 1602 and when Iníon Dubh “Dark Daughter” commissioned Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh to write the story of her eldest son and his exploits. The book is called Beatha Aodh Ruaidh Uí Domhnaill (The Life of Red Hugh O’Donnell) and was written sometime before 1623.

The play is produced by Christian Carbin and directed by Arantxa Lopez.


The audience at Dark Daughter

Summer 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 bywho were attending the Summer School.

Saturday 16th May

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

by Dr Dagmar Ó Riain Raedel UCC.

Dr 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. In this talk she told the story of Muirdach Mac Robartaig who in 1067 left Ireland intending to visit Rome. Whilst in Bamberg, Germany, he became a Benedictine monk and he and some companions travelled to Ratisbon or Regensburg in Bavaria where they founded a monastery called Kloster Sankt Peter Regensburg |the monastery of St. Peter) Muiredach became its first Abbot and was known by his Latinised name of Marianus Scotus. He died in 1088 and soon after was beatified his feast day celebrated on the 17th April. He is also known for his work on the scriptures with his calligraphy work of the Codex 1247 of the Imperial Library of Vienna containing the Epistles of St. Paul with glosses, some of which are in Latin and others in Irish.

Schottenportal of Jakobskirche Regensburg

Louvain hagiography and Roman art: links between two Irish Franciscan continental colleges.

by Dr Mícheál Mac Craith

Dr. Mac Craith is the Emeritus Professor of Modern Irish in the National University of Ireland, Galway, and from 2011 to 2017 was Guardian of Collegio S. Isidoro in Rome. St. Isidore’s is the oldest Irish college in Rome. Run by the Irish Franciscans, it was founded in 1625. Fr. Mac Craith is a distinguished Irish scholar and  has published extensively on the Renaissance, Counter-Reformation literature, Irish communities in exile in the early modern period, Jacobitism, Ossianism and contemporary Gaelic literature.

Seen here 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

Doorway of the former Franciscan College of St Anthony’s Louvain (Leuven)

The Plantation in Donegal and Bishop George Montgomery

by Helen Meehan

Helen Meehan
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.

Bishop George Montgomery (1562–1621) was born in Broadstone Castle in Ayrshire, the youngest son of Adam Montgomery 5th Laird of Braidstaine and brother of Hugh Montgomery who along with Sir James Hamilton carried out their private plantation scheme of Clandeboy on the lands of Sir Conn O’Neill situated in South Co Antrim and North Down.

Helen told the story of George Montgomery who was appointed Bishop of Raphoe, Clogher and Derry by King James I in 1605. He lobbied to have free schools set up in Ulster and was instrumental in pursuing the allocation of church lands back to the Established Anglican Church. This pursuit led him into direct conflict with those former army officers who had been granted monastic and other church lands in the period after the Treaty of Mellifont and the completion of the dissolution of the monasteries in Ulster.

Eventually political expediency solved the issue with Bishop Montgomery receiving the more lucrative Bishopric of Meath in 1610 though he retained the Bishopric of Raphoe until his death in 1620. He is buried at Ardbraccan Church near Navan in Co Meath.

Fringe Events

Life and times of Flan O’Clery- Sandhouse Hotel


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.

Madeleine discovered a wealth of information about her ancestor by researching through the archives at Trinity College. The former O’Clery lands at Kilbarron were granted in part to Trinity College and the Anglican Bishop of Raphoe. The O’Clerys now found that they were the tenants and leased back some of the lands from Trinity through their agent Lord Folliott and later through the Conolly estate.

The audience at the talk in the Sandhouse Hotel

Ecological and Historic walk to Kilbarron Castle

led by Ruth Cleary

Ruth explaining about the medicinal properties of Lichens

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.

The Kilbarron Castle and Conservation Group was formed in 2013 and are striving to conserve the ruins of the castle which was a bardic school founded by Diarmaid na dTrí Scoil in the 15th Century and remained a place of learning until the early 17th Century when Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh, the last Ollamh to the Ó Domhnaill (O’Donnells), was compelled to leave his clan lands at Kilbarron and move to Glenswilly in the Barony of Kilmacrennan.

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

A Visit to the ruins of Kilbarron Church and Dedication to the Childrens graveyard

Kilbarron Church
Image of the plaque dedicated on Saturday 16th May

A dedication of a plaque to remember the children buried in the vicinity of the ruins took place. The prayers were led by Fr Vincent Galloghley. Although the church was abandoned sometime after the Plantation of Ulster, the established Anglican church was built sometime around 1625 in the nearby town of Ballyshannon. The ruins were clandestinely used for mass services right through Penal times.

Part of the graveyard continued to be used to bury stillborn and unbaptised babies as the Catholic church at that time decreed that those unbaptised to be buried in un-consecrated ground. The memorial records this time.


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




Workshop in Hall:

The Story of “Dark Daughter” and Lughaidh 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.

The discussion examined the life of Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh who succeeded to the hereditary role of Chief Ollamh to the ruling O’Donnell clan of Tír Chonnaill. The role of an ollamh was partly advisor, lawyer and chronicler to a particular ruling family. With the defeat of the Ulster Gaelic Chieftains at Kinsale in 1602 and the subsequent Flight of the Earls in 1607, families attached to these former rulers found that they were out of work and additionally lost lands bestowed on them by and large in the Plantation of Ulster.

Lughaidh was summoned to the Inquisition at Liffer (Lifford) in September 1609 where he stated that ” the parish of Kilbarron contains five quarters in all, whereof one quarter is herenach land possessed by the sept of the Cleries as herenaehes, paying thereout yearlie to the lord busshopp of Raphoe thirteen shillings four pence Irish per annum, six meathers of butter, and thirty-four meathers of meale ; and that there is one quarter named Kildoned, in the tenure of the said sept of the Cleries, free from any tithes to the busshopp,” &c. And again, ” That there are in the said parishe three quarters of Collumbkillies land, everie quarter conteyninge sixe balliboes in the tenure of Lewe O’Cleerie, to whom the said lands were sithence mortgaged for fortie pounds, by the said lateEarle of Tirconnell unto the said Lewe, who hath paid there- out yearly unto his Majestie, since the late earl’s departure, four poundes, two muttons, and a pair of gloves, but nothing to the said busshopp.”

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

People arriving at Rossnowlagh Station for the opening of the Friary in 1952

The friars arrived in Rossnowlagh in July, 1946 and their first Church, made from two army huts, was blessed by Monsignor McGinley on July 22nd, 1946. On August 3rd, 1946, Very Rev. Fr. Camillus Courtney OFM. was appointed first superior of the new Franciscan community in Rossnowlagh.

Eventually the present site of the friary was obtained and, on April 23rd. 1950, the cutting of the first sod of the Church foundation took place. October 8th, 1950 is another very important day in the history of Franciscan Rossnowlagh, for on that day Monsignor McGinley blessed the foundation Stone of the new Church. The blessing and dedication of the church took place on 29th June, 1952. Present for this great occasion were President Sean T. O’Ceallaigh, Mr. Eamonn De Valera, Taoiseach, Dr. McNeely, Bishop of Raphoe and Fr. Hubert Quinn OFM., Provincial.

The friars to whom God has given the grace of working should work in a spirit of faith and devotion and avoid idleness, which is the enemy of the soul, without however extinguishing the spirit of prayer and devotion, to which every temporal consideration must be subordinate. Second Rule of St. Francis (5th. Chapter). (Extract taken from Our History – Rossnowlagh Friary )

Fifth Session: Keynote Address 

The Br. Pascal Williamson Memorial Lecture

The Saints of South Donegal

by Dr. Pádraig Ó Riain

At the Saints of South Donegal lecture- Maureen Finnegan speaking about Br Pascal Williamson.
Professor Emeritus Padráig Ó Riain UCC

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

Pádraig Ó Riain is an Irish Celticist and prominent hagiologist focusing on Irish hagiography, martyrdom, mythology, onomastics and codicology. He has spent much of his academic life at the University College, Cork where he became a lecturer in 1964. Between 1973 and his retirement, he was professor of Old and Middle Irish. He has been a member of the Royal Irish Academy since 1989, president of the Irish Texts Society since 1992, Parnell Fellow at Magdalene College Cambridge since 2002.

St Finnian

In his lecture he discussed the overlapping of Saint’s names where often the same person was known by different names giving the example of St Colman who is likely to be the same person as St Canice. He went further to explain that St Barron or Barr Fhionn could be the same person as St Finnbarr of Cork and both names may have been nicknames (as the name means a blond or white haired person) for St Finnian of Movilla founder of that monastery in north Co Down.

This research caused a stir in Cork some years ago and came to the attention of the press who reported the annoyance of some people to the fact that their St Finnbarr might not have been a Cork native! Professor Ó Riain explained that in the middle ages Saints were a bit like pop stars today and attracted a following and churches were often named after a particular popular saint favoured by a church dignitary or a local chieftain and later given a local narrative either by that Saint visiting the area or by him or her being a native of the district.

Listening intently

Conference Dinner

This event was held in the Sandhouse Hotel in Rossnowlagh. There was a large attendance and after the dinner and after a round up of the weekend events was given by committee member Michael McLoone, everyone moved to the stage area where entertainment was provided by the singers of Bel Canto led by their musical director Angela Currid. Afterwards the Summer School Club took place with an opportunity for participants to meet the speakers and others to discuss the issues that arise in the school.

Bel Canto singers, a young musician performing and musical Director Angela Currid on Keyboard

Sunday 17th May 2015

The Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Memorial Mass was led by Father Mícheál MacMícheál MacCraithCraith who said Mass in Irish in the Friary chapel.

Ba é an tAthair Mícheál MacCraith a bhí i gceannas ar an Aifreann Cuimhneacháin Mhíchíl Uí Chléirigh a dúirt Aifreann i nGaeilge sa séipéal Bhrathair.

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.

Gravestones in the grounds
Looking at the cloister
The interior of the friary has been used for burials

Four Masters Memorial on Mullinaleck Bridge

The tour group on Mullinaleck bridge which spans the River Drowes

Members of the group looking at the memorial to the Four Masters on the bridge
The memorial to the Four Masters
The inscription

The memorial to the Four Masters was erected on Mullinaleck bridge on the 10th August 1975 by the Dublin Leitrim Society. The memorial was designed by by Irish sculptor, James McKenna. He was born in Dublin on the 21st June 1933. Growing up in Co. Wicklow, James was educated at Kilcool National School, Bray Technical School and the National College of Art and Design, (now the NCAD) in Dublin from 1950 – 1955. He qualified with a Diploma in Sculpture and won a scholarship to Florence. He was responsible for many public art works including Couple at Ballyrahan Cross, 1798 bronze 1969, Famine Village 1998 and Warriors of Banba in 1999 . He died in the year 2000.

The monument was strategically sited on Mullinaleck bridge as it is not known for definite which side of the River Drowes, the boundary between Donegal and Leitrim, that was the site of the scriptorium used by the annalists. In the early 17th Century the area was heavily wooded and gave easy escape routes with the nearby Lough Melvin. On the Leitrim side of the river is an area jutting into Lough Melvin known as Ros Brathar or Rosfriar (Friars point). Whilst on the Donegal side of the river in the townland of Ardfarna is an area reputed to be the site of the temporary monastery. It is perhaps worth noting that the nearby lands of Drumacrin(which likely included Ardfarna) were granted to the Ua Cléirigh clan by the O’Donnells in the 15th century and would have been familiar to the O’Clery members of the Franciscans at that time.

Bundoran Historical Society Reception

The group were invited to refreshments and entertainment by the Bundoran Historical Society in Val Kelly’s house in Tullaghan where the group saw the possible site of the castle erected by the O’Conors of Sligo in the 14th century and later destroyed by the O’Donnells.

After the Treaty of Mellifont in 1603 Henry Folliott was charged with maintaining the castles at Ballyshannon, Drowes and Beleck(Belleek) at his own expense but was granted the Abbey Assaroe lands south of the River Erne. Later he would purchase the Abbey lands north of the river from Auditor General Sir Francis Gofton .

Group being given a presentation on the history of Bundoran and Tullaghan
Harpist playing at the reception by the Bundoran Historic Society
Listening to the welcome by the Bundoran Historic Group







Enjoying the Harp playing

Display of Primary School Projects and Prize-giving

The display and awarding of prizes to Primary School pupils took place at 12 noon 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.

Junior/ Senior Infant winners
First/Second Class winners






Third/Fourth Class Winners
Fifth/Sixth Class winners


banner moc

The inaugural Mícheál Ó Cléirigh School was held on Saturday 17th May 2014 at the Mícheál Uí Cléirigh Hall situated behind the Franciscan Friary at  Rossnowlagh. The day long event had several talks in the morning including the keynote address by Dr Bernadette Cunningham and a field trip to the ruins of Kilbarron Castle in the afternoon. Later that evening there was a School conference dinner in the Sandhouse Hotel, Rossnowlagh. Here are some pictures and information on the day long events.

Primary Schools Art Competition

admiring the artwork
Admiring the artwork

The Primary Schools Art Competition in which primary schools in the locality were invited to take part, The theme of the competition was for the children to imagine what Mícheál Ó Cléirigh might have looked like as there are no known contemporary images of him.

There were four categories for the competition reflecting the different art abilities of the pupils. These included Category1: Junior and Senior Infants; Category 2, First and Second Years; Category 3, Third and Fourth Years and Category 4, Fifth and Sixth Years. The size of the paper for the first three categories was A4 whilst Category 4 could use A3 paper if they so wished.

Some pupils even sent three dimensional work which added to the variety of work. The standard was high and the judges had many difficult decisions to make. Prizes were allocated in first, second and third with a number of Highly Commended Certificates being issued in each of the four categories.

Some of the prize winning artwork
The Art Competition prizegiving

2014 Theme “Micheál Uí Cléirigh”

Speakers at 2014 school
Speakers at the Summer School

The chosen theme for the inaugural Mícheál Ó Cléirigh School was to discover as much as we could about the man and his background. To find out more about the times he lived through, the events that influenced his work on the compilation of the many manuscripts he laboured on. To find out about his collaborators and what external forces influenced his editorial decisions. In this the following academics would strive to give the assembled school the most recent thinking on these matters.

The speakers at the school were Dr Marc Cabal, John McCafferty, Director of the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute UCD Fr Joseph McMahon OFM, and Dr Jeffrey Cox

The Louvain Project: The Franciscans in Exile

by Dr 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.

In his talk he set the scene why the Franciscans set up the various seminaries on the Continent to train the Franciscan priests at Louvain in the Spanish Netherlands, Douai in France, Salamancha in Spain and St Isadore’s in Rome.

Woodcut showing St Anthony’s College Louvain/Leuven

The Irish Franciscan college of St. Anthony at Louvain was granted a bull of foundation by Pope Paul V on 3 April 1607. This small house in what is now Leuven, Belgium, became one of the most intense centres of Irish engagement with Europe. Its history, both that of the friars who inhabited the college itself and that of the soldiers, diplomats and merchants who supported it, is also the story of Ireland’s decisive step into Europe.

Florence Conry / Fláthri Uí Mhaoil Conaire
St. Anthony’s College owed both its foundation and location to Florence Conry, a Franciscan friar and future archbishop of Tuam. Conry, a native of the townland of Figh, part of the civil parish of Tibohine, barony of Frenchpark, Co. Roscommon, belonged to the learned family of the Uí Mhaoil Chonaire and had been trained in seanchas or traditional learning before leaving to study in Salamanca. He later entered the Franciscan order and, apart from a short return to Ireland as ‘confessor, adviser and favourite’ of Red Hugh O’Donnell just before the battle of Kinsale in 1601, spent his Iife in the Spanish dominions. The combination of Gaelic sensibility, Spanish courtiership, political astuteness and Latinate scholarship found in Conry, helps explain the choice of Louvain as a novitiate-in-exile and house of studies for the Irish Franciscans.

Fláthri Uí Mhaoil Conaire

Founded in 1425, Louvain’s medieval university had developed into one of the intellectual powerhouses of Europe. Given its short distance from the border with the Protestant Netherlands the university had become one of the key centres of counter-reformation thought which, when combined with its proximity to the vast printing presses of Antwerp made it an ideal training ground for priests for the Irish mission. Finally, and crucially, Louvain was situated within the Spanish Low Countries ruled by the Hapsburg Archdukes Albert and Isabella. Their court was deliberately modelled as a centre of robust counter-reformation piety and deeply influenced by Franciscan spirituality. When Albert died in 1621, his wife assumed the habit of the nuns of the Franciscan Third Order. Her court in the style of the Escorial Palace of Spain, became a convent and many women of her own entourage, which was quite deliberately composed of Irish, English, Scots and Danish exiles, went on to become nuns. In 1606, King Philip III of Spain wrote to his brother-in-law Albert: ‘Friar Florence Conry, provincial of the Irish order of St. Francis has represented to me that by reason of the persecution of heretics, there has been a great diminution of the order in that kingdom’. He went on to declare that he would allocate 1,000 ducats per annum for the support of young Franciscan students at the university of Louvain. While the friars would experience many frustrations in procuring the royal grant in the future, Philip’s letter combined with Pope Paul V’s bull, began a particular Irish presence in Louvain that would endure for several centuries.

 Gaelic Learning

by Dr Marc Caball

Dr Marc Caball

Dr Marc Caball is a senior lecturer in UCD School of History and Archives. is a historian of early modern Ireland with particular expertise in the cultural history of Gaelic Ireland. He has recently begun to publish on the long neglected history of print and the book in early modern Ireland. A former research scholar of the Dublin Institute of advanced studies, he holds a D. Phil from the university of Oxford and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He is a council member of the Irish Texts Society and was the director of the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) between 2001 and 2005.

The Plantation of Ulster 1609-1622

by Dr Jeffrey Cox

Dr Jeffrey Cox

completed his bachelors in History at Millersville University of Pennsylvania and taught at secondary level in both the United States and Northern Ireland. Jeffrey completed his MA in Early Modern History at UCD n 2011 and his current PhD research is a comparative study of religious change in Kildare and Sussex between 1560 and 1640. He tutors occasionally at UCD  School of History and Archives and currently serves on the organising committee for the Tudor and Stuart Ireland Conference.

Map of Ulster Plantation -Escheated Counties

The Ulster Plantation was devised by Sir Arthur Chichester, the Lord Deputy and Sir John Davies the chief law officer in Ireland. They originally planned to leave the majority of the native Irish where they were living and give lands to Servitors who would live on estates close by the Irish and who could keep an eye on their loyalty. However King James I saw this as a superb way to integrate the English and Lowland Scots into a venture that would help cement the union of the two crowns. As a result each county was divided into Precincts based on the newly created baronies with each precinct been allocated by lot to either English, Scottish or Deserving Irish Undertakers. The deserving Irish were to leave their present lands and move to their new allocation in the barony reserved for them. The English and Scottish Undertakers were offered estates of 2,000, 1,500, or 1,000 Irish acres. Their rent from the crown was £6 6s 8d per 1,000 acres each year.

Keynote Speaker

Dr Bernadette Cunningham- “The Annals of the Four Masters”

Chairperson Brian MacAmhlaigh introducing the keynote speaker Dr Bernadette Cunningham
Bernadette Cunningham
Bernadette Cunningham

Dr Bernadette Cunningham is a graduate of University College Galway and University College Dublin, and is Deputy Librarian at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. She is the author of The world of Geoffrey Keating (Dublin, 2000); The Annals of the Four Masters: Irish history, kingship and society in the early seventeenth century (Dublin, 2010); and Clanricard and Thomond: 1540 –1640: provincial politics and society transformed (Dublin, 2012). She is current editor of Irish History Online, the national online bibliography of writings on Irish history (

The talk featured the background story behind the decision to begin work on the annals.

Field Trip to the Ruins of Kilbarron Castle

Ruins of Kilbarron Castle

The tour party met at the carpark beside Creevy Pier and walked along the coastal path developed by the Creevy Co-Operative Group. The castle lies on a promontory jutting into Donegal Bay and its steep sides on three sides made it a very defensible site from earliest times. The recent Conservation Report commissioned by the Kilbarron Castle Conservation Group and funded by the Heritage Council, in its archaeological section suggested that the site dates from the Iron age part of a string of defensible places dotted along the west coast of Ireland.

The site may have been a defensible stronghold for the Ua Maoil Doraigh clan who were the rulers of Tír Connaill before the ascendency of the Ua Domhnaill clan in the 13th Century. At some point the site was granted to the Ua Scíngín family of chroniclers who came from Moylurg near Lough Key (Roscommon) to serve as Ollamhs to the ruling Ua Domhnaill clan.

The stronghold later passed through marriage to the Ua Chléirigh clan who went on to occupy the site and it is recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters that in 1391 it was burned in a raid by the Ua Conchobhair clan of Sligo. The castle was rebuilt and other buildings added becoming a bardic school. It is not known exactly when it. was abandoned but possibly at the end of the Nine Years War 1592-1601. It is recorded in the Downs Survey maps of 1658 as “ruins of a house”

Listening to the talk on the history of Kilbarron Castle

Conference Dinner & Entertainment

Sandhouse Hotel

Later in the evening there was a conference dinner held in the Sandhouse Hotel in Rossnowlagh where guests enjoyed a three course meal. After speeches the party were entertained by local singer Shauna Mullin accompanied by Aongus MacAmhlaigh. Caoimhin MacAodha played some wonderful tunes on violin including one air called “Kilbarron” Songs from Fr Tomás Ruiséal and from some of the members of the Bel Canto choir.

The day long events were considered by all those participating to have been a success and the organising committee hope to stage it again in 2015

Bel Canto Singers

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