Clan Gathering 2006
Thanks to Neil once again for his gathering diary, the Baltimore 2000 committee for organizing the weekend, special thanks to Marion Bushe for hosting the weekend, Vincent and Rosaleen O`Driscoll for the trip round the islands and Fastnet, Pat and Bernie Mc`Carthy for sharing their home with us and Ronnie Carthy for his music, hopefully see you all next year.
It was yet another beautiful sunny day in Ireland as we drove into Baltimore around 1.30pm on Wednesday, 21st June. We found a car park in front of our home for the next 6 nights at the Fastnet House B&B. Our host Ronnie was there to let us in and as always made us feel as though this is our home away from home. Sandra was up the road doing some things for the school and would be home a little later with Luke, and Anna would be back later from Cork, as she had been on a school outing. We had our chin-wag with, “ya man Ronnie”, we then unpacked and headed down town, a whole 37 metres, to soak in the view of the harbour, Sherkin Island and the O’Driscoll Castle, Dun na Saed.
Arriving in Bushes Pub for the necessary thirst quenching pint was very important. It is then that the order is placed for the famous spring onion soup which Marion promised would be on the menu the following day. This IS our local pub, not only in Ireland but the world to us as we do not have one back in OZ. Pat, Tom, and Gordon were on this day as well as Richard who was in his corner having a read and it was excellent to catch up with these fine folk.
Being in Baltimore on the Wednesday gives you the time to settle in before the frenetic pace of the reunion begins on Friday. We also get the chance to see a little more of the area and to catch up with the locals that we have gotten to know over the past five years. As the day progresses we get the opportunity to say g’day to Eileen and Aidan Bushe as well as….
John O’Driscoll from Melbourne, Australia appears as he has the past two years and also back in 2002, my first time and John’s, so it is always great to see him. Our new and mighty Chieftain, Dave walks in during the afternoon and we know then, that we are here to meet new cousins from all over the world. Dave explains what he has in store for us over the weekend and it will begin on Friday night at the home of the extremely lovely couple, Pat and Bernie McCarthy, allowing the O’Driscolls to have their registry and talk evening on Friday in the great hall of Dun na Saed. The McCarthy’s had purchased the castle some time ago and the restoration is nothing short of magnificent. If you had been a visitor to this area prior to the time of their purchase you would appreciate the fantastic job they have done to restore the Castle to its previous glory.
We were blessed that evening with some music in the Algiers, which just happens to be directly opposite our B&B’S front door, which helps with the late night return. Also joining us for the music were our very dear friends from Pennsylvania, John and Barb Driscoll, this is their seventh reunion in a row. They had brought with them this year, Aunt Patsy, Cousins Bill and Barbara Cooper and Barry & Maryann Cooper. Being our fine host for the evening, Sean served up the Guinness as we enjoyed the laughter, stories, laughter, music and laughter. It was time for bed when “no” was given as the answer to someone trying to get another round in before closing, thank you Sean, we really needed the rest.
Thursday was a day for some to go sight-seeing around the Glandore area and others waited for more O’Driscoll’s to arrive. We were on our way to Bushes for our soup, when crossing the road, Bruce and Marilyn Driscoll from Canada came driving down. Bruce had brought a CD for me of a famous band called “Bottoms Up”, which was gratefully accepted. On arrival at Bushes Marion had been forgetful about the soup but promised us we would have it Friday. Next to appear in the bar was Denise O’Driscoll from Santa Barbara and this year she had her two step-daughters, Katie and Liz. Lyn and I the year before had stayed in Santa Barbara where Denise had been the most gracious host. We had lunch at the marina and then a BBQ, or cookout as the Americans call it, at her home with Denise’s partner, Sheridon. A stack of their friends were also there for us to meet and it was some unholy hour that Denise dropped me off back at the Motel, this was after we had visited two Irish pubs after the BBQ.
Then our illustrious Chieftain arrived and we could feel the anticipation grow within everyone. As the afternoon continued in the piazza around the barrels the numbers gradually grew as John and his clan returned and finally my daughter, Natalie arrived. Jim and Carol Driscoll from Massachusetts found their way to Bushes and somehow knew that we would be in the piazza.
At this juncture I shall set up the next arrivals history. Two years ago a gentleman had tracked me down while searching his family history in Rosscarberry. There the local priest, Father Walsh, had suggested to him that he was searching the same family history as Neil O’Driscoll from Australia, he then gave him my details and he sent off a snail mail copy of what he knew and an accompanying letter asking if it was the same family. NOW THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ALL THOSE ONLY THINKING OF SEARCHING. This gentleman’s grand-mother was my great-grand-father’s sister. You may think that is a long way apart but I can tell you that I NOW have a THIRD cousin, by blood, in the United States, and it was only two years ago I thought we, here in Australia, were the only ones left. I STRESS THIS POINT EMPHATICALLY, THAT ONE SHOULD DO WHAT ONE CAN WITH THEIR SEARCHING. TO ACTUALLY REACH THIS STAGE IS JUST BRILLIANT.
My third cousin, Larry O’Brien, his wife, Ilse and their son Tom and daughter Chris arrive early evening. The few of us that gather on the Thursday always go to dinner at the Mews to celebrate another year of being able to come to this beautiful part of the world that deep down we can call home. The meal put on by Denis and his staff was superb and I know that we are all eager to return next year to revisit the Mews and enjoy the company around the great setting Denis arranged. Thanks Mate! After this excellent meal we were off to the piazza for a cleansing Murphy or Guinness depending on your taste. Our newly found cousins from Yorkshire arrive, that is Paul Driscoll, his wife Polly, father Jim, grand-father John and Paul’s two children, Archie and Libby. The view of the harbour and Sherkin Island is still absolutely breath-taking, no matter how many times you visit this part of HEAVEN you will always be amazed. Our illustrious Chieftain, Dave, and our landlord, Ronnie, had organized more entertainment for us that night and as usual we just soaked it up. Thanks to Sean at Algiers we were able to be in bed an hour or two before sunrise.
Friday has taken on a new perspective as we now get the chance to be taken for a ride around Roaring Water Bay and have a look at some of the islands that make up this lovely part of the world. Our skipper is Vincent O’Driscoll, who was Chieftain for two years prior to Dave, and our guide with all the information about the islands is Vincent’s wife, Rosaleen. The weather was just superb as we spot a seal and Jeremy Irons castle and the sheep on Spanish Island. As it was so calm, Vincent and Rosaleen being such gracious hosts treated us to another sojourn to Fastnet Rock. This unbelievable structure has to be seen up close to appreciate its brilliance. We are hoping this becomes a regular trip as long as the weather will allow. We return to Baltimore via the southern side of Cape Clear which is the island we travel to on Saturdays, however, we only see the north side those days so this gives you a whole new perspective.
The Piazza is filling up as we return to dock and it is time to prepare for the start of the official activities so most of us get ready with a pint or two. Tim Driscoll arrives from England and our old family from the last couple of years is complete. Nearing 7pm and it is time to journey to the Great Hall in Dun na Saed for the registration. Marion Bushe welcomes everyone and introduces our speaker for the night, Sean O’Drisceoll, who was a previous Chieftain. Sean gives a talk on doing our genealogy so we can trace everyone’s family, and a base that will make this easier is what is needed to be set up. It is something that many of us believe is of great importance and any information that one may have needs to be passed on to the websites in the respective countries. After Sean’s talk we head off to the piazza for the official welcoming address by Dave and an introduction to our sponsors, Heineken and Clona Milk. Our Chieftain, Dave, continues the line of short speaking Chieftains and it is then we head on down to the Yacht Club for a spread worthy of a great Irish Clan. The locals bandy together to give us this buffet of some of Ireland’s fresh and delicious seafood and meats and these are washed down with wine or another beverage of your choice. A very special thank you must go to all the locals, sponsors and our Chieftain who are involved in this evening. With our heads full of thoughts of our ancestors and our bellies full of great food and drink it is time to return once again to the piazza for a wonderful night of music. The piazza is rocking madly by now to the sounds of “Open the Taps”, who play here most years, and they keep us hopping well into the night. We get to mingle with the newcomers and find out the tales of their fore-bearers. New cousins and friends are made well into the early hours and the discovery of more West Ham United fans, Larry and Maureen O’Driscoll and son Danny, makes the weekend look even brighter for a young fellow like me. Our evening as usual comes to a close in the Algiers and this time Keiran has returned to look after us as well as Sean. Bed is once again a welcomed companion.
It is with sadness that Australia was beaten by England last year in the Ashes test series in England and I lost the bet to Paul. This years wager was the loser had to wear an outfit of the winner’s choice on the ferry to Cape Clear on the Saturday morning and the one chosen for me this year was a crowd pleaser and of great embarrassment to me, well done Paul and I hope we win this year so I get the opportunity to get even. We boarded the ferry and headed off to Cape. The trip takes about 45 minutes in which time there is always time for some of last night stories to be told. On our arrival at the North Harbour we are greeted by Mary O’Driscoll, who is our hostess for the day, and Jeff Oliver who guides the O’Driscolls on a very interesting walk to the church and local museum as well as some fascinating info about the local flora and fauna. All this happens after we have morning tea at Cotter’s Bar and then on the return from the walk we all meet for lunch and a drink or two at Danny, Ceiran and Mike’s Bar, it is here that we spend the afternoon together listening and singing to music and having a chin-wag with new cousins.
At 6pm we catch the ferry back to Baltimore and gather again in the piazza to listen to “Sangre Latino” playing their music well into the night. Once again the sight of our flag blowing on the pole set up opposite the piazza and also the one flowing from the pole on the Widow’s Walk on the Castle is really, very heart warming. The stories told get better as the night progresses and the singing by us always sounds better late into the night. Algiers is on the way home again, and it is there that we close out the Saturday evening.
Sunday morning is time for mass on Sherkin Island and the ferry takes off at 10am. My cousin Larry and his family decided to go to mass in Rosscarberry with Father Walsh, and I know that this is what I must do next year to have that sense of belonging to this parish. After mass some like to have a little stroll around Sherkin, maybe just to the monastery or to one of the two pubs on the island. By the time everyone has returned the piazza is full of day travelers searching for that lovely place to spend a Sunday afternoon. The young kids from the school are set up and playing traditional music as well as the dancers doing their thing to entertain the O’Driscolls and other visitors. A little later in the afternoon, our landlord Ronnie and two of his friends strike up and we are toe-tapping and singing along to some of the best music of the weekend. The piazza is packed full of people who are jumping out of their skin as they feel as though they have returned to their homeland. With the clown blowing up balloons and making dogs for the kids, some of the O’Driscolls up on the Widow’s Walk and being shown the Castle by the gracious owners, Pat and Bernie, and the rest of us soaking in the harbour view for what will be the last time for another twelve months.
Around 3.30 Marion takes to the stage and once again introduces this year’s speaker, Sean, and after his speech which is done in Irish as well, he then calls on Dave to say his few words. After Dave a local man named Yuen has a few words, Yuen owns one of the pubs on the piazza called the Waterfront as well as the Jolly Breeze and other places around town. Our Chieftain calls upon any one else wishing to say a few words and John O’Driscoll from Australia gets up and tells us that it was decided on this day that he, Dave, Sean and Jim from the States will be working hard over the next twelve months to ensure that we as O’Driscolls can forward information about our families and links could be made to locate lost cousins. John did a magnificent job in thanking ALL the people of Baltimore, especially the Mid Summer Festival Committee who organize this weekend with the help of our Chieftain. Well spoken John! Jim Driscoll promised to have the US website up and going within the next twelve months and Canadian Bruce spoke brilliantly as he always does and made the promise that he and Marilyn will return each year from now on. The afternoon leads us into the evening and a slight tinge of sadness as the realization that most will be moving on the next day to other parts of Ireland, but for now we party well into the night and early morning.
Monday morning and it is time to meet in the piazza for the last time this year and wish everyone the very best, and we all promise to meet again at the same time next year. My daughter, Natalie, has her lift to Cork Airport with her friend, Adele with whom she stayed. John Driscoll loads his mini bus with his tribe and they are off to Kinsale for a few days, Denise is getting a lift with Rosaleen to Kinsale as well. Jim and Carol are heading off towards Shannon as they fly out from there the next morning, so Lyn and I go with them as far as Killarney where we have lunch and then wish them well for their journey as we return to Baltimore for one last night. We find it very relaxing to stay on the Monday night as the town takes on a very different and calming atmosphere. Chieftain Dave and Ronnie arranged to play that evening in Algiers and it is there where Lyn and I spend our last evening in paradise. We say goodbye to all on Tuesday morning and make our way to other parts.
Please search ALL the links on this website and see the photos and read the stories and if you have an ounce of O’Driscoll blood in you we look forward to seeing you in Baltimore next year.
Take care and God Bless.