Clan Gathering 2005
Thanks to Neil O`Driscoll for report of the 2005 Clan Gathering
Thanks to the organisers for making this year a great one and a special thanks to Vincent and Rosaleen for the trip around Fastnet.
We park right out front of the B&B, Fastnet House, this is to be our home for the next 5 nights. We say g’day to our lovely hosts, Ronnie and Sandra Carthy. Also staying here are John and Barb Driscoll from Pennsylvania, it was here that we had met some 4 years earlier and had stayed in contact since. After unpacking, all of 30 seconds, it is time to have a drink in Bushes Pub and to say g’day to owners and other locals that we have met over the years. This is one of the most beautiful places on the planet and I shall attempt to give you some idea in this report.
As you drive into Baltimore, which there is only one way in and out, and you coming to the main intersection, you can see on your right hand side Fastnet House, this is only 30 metres from the Piazza, which starts at the intersection. Standing right next door is the extremely dominating Dun na Saed, (O’Driscoll Castle), this sits on the intersection over-looking the Piazza and the harbour as well as the whole village, most impressive! On the Piazza, which is triangular in shape, you have the thin end beginning at the intersection and widening as you go towards the Waterfront Pub. All over this area you will find table and chairs as well as large barrels with stools, these are our offices the weekend. As you sit at your stool and view the harbour you have Bushes Pub directly at your back and the Castle off to your right. The view of the harbour can only be shown in the attached photos as I do not believe that I can be descriptive enough to do it justice. ENJOY!
The setting done, we now have some serious celebrating and chin-wagging to do as we catch up with some of the regular overseas visitors who also arrive a little early. It is not long before Dave Driscoll of England appears, he has been coming to the reunions for some 16 years or so. The Bushes themselves are very warm toward us as we catch up on some of the local news. Around the barrel now, we have Lyn, Natalie, Tony, Lauren, John, Barb, Dave and I, and this would be the minimum number one will find around this barrel all weekend. The girls come up with this great idea, and that is for all of us to go for a walk to the Beacon, which is at the entrance to the harbour, and is a good walk, normally. We blokes think this is just the best idea we have heard and we wave vigorously to the girls as they wander off and we stay discuss more the important matters such as world peace, hunger, the falling dollar etc.
The news was broken to us when we arrived at Fastnet House that our current Chieftain, Vincent O’Driscoll, was going to take us out on a boat the next day to see up close, Fastnet Rock. For the uninitiated, this rock has a lighthouse built on it and is in the middle of nowhere in the Atlantic Ocean. It is famous for the Fastnet Yacht Race which takes place every two years, they leave Southampton and sail around this rock and return, it is regarded as one of the world’s toughest and greatest ocean races. The rock is also famous in Irish folklore as when the ships were going to America with all those leaving the Isle this was the last part of Ireland they would see and it became known as “the Teardrop of Ireland”. We were told that there are only 12 tides a year when you can land a boat on the rock. These days the lighthouse is automated and they fly the maintenance people in by helicopter now.
But today I have the matter of organizing spring onion soup to be put on the menu in Bushes Pub for lunch tomorrow and to make sure we do not de-hydrate we should have another Guinness. Late afternoon and Rob McKenna, a mate of ours from Brisbane, arrives on the bus from Cork Airport, and after the introduction more drinks are required. Both Rob and Tony are staying in the B&B opposite ours and next to the Algiers Pub. Vincent shows up during the afternoon and confirms that all we need is calm weather tomorrow and we will see the Rock.
After dinner it is back to the Piazza for more fun and frivolity and a chance to catch up with more locals, such as Adele and Cathal (pronounced Cahill) as well as others. We wander into the Algiers Pub, and there we say g’day to Sean and he informs us that Kieran is out of town tonight but will be back over the weekend, owners. Twilight is something one must experience in their life, as we sit in the Piazza looking over this great little harbour and you see the sun disappearing behind Sherkin Island. You look at your watch and it shows 10.30, just amazing. The night goes on with some singing, drinking, tall tales, drinking and occasionally the truth, and also some drinking. As the pubs close we decide that bed is the only alternative.
Thursday and the trip is utmost on our minds as we talk about it over breaky with John. This trip has been 3 years of hints in the making so it is the highlight. We decide that we blokes will take the walk up to the Beacon this morning. The walk in total would be about 3kms and involves a gentle climb. The view is great as you look over the south-east entrance to Baltimore harbour, Sherkin Island and the high, jagged cliffs. On our return to town, John and I show the others around and it also gives us a chance to catch up with all the new developments going on, and there is plenty as people from all over the world are buying up property galore in Ireland and especially on the coastline. We arrive back at the Piazza in time for some spring onion soup and we enjoy this with the beautiful sunshine and tranquility of the blue harbour waters. The water is like glass and the report says we ARE going to the Rock. It was set for 3pm to be our departing time. As we sat in the Piazza, Finn O’Driscoll, whom some of you in Brissie would have met back in April when he came and stayed with Lyn and I, came from his home town of Drimoleague, some 12 mile up the road, and he was prepared for the trip.
Vincent arrives with his new boat, his wife, Rosaleen and their son and dog. We board and we are off into to see this magnificent sight. The trip is about an hour and a half as we pass a stack of islands including Cape Clear, which we will be visiting on Saturday. Vincent circled the Rock as all cameras were madly clicking away, including Finn’s video. There were two men on the Rock and these were a couple of the maintenance men that service this very important lighthouse. On the boat there was, Lyn, Natalie, Rob, Tony, Lauren and myself, all from OZ, Dave from England as well as Vincent, Rosaleen (also her first ever visit to the Rock) and son and dog, so it was an intimate group. Vincent had brought some Heineken along in case we got thirsty, and that we did on the way home. Our Chieftain and his family tried to tell us that this was on them, but Dave sorted them out on our behalf very quickly. We must give a very special thanks to Vincent and Rosaleen for a day that only alzheimers will be able to take away.
It was early evening when we returned, so to the Piazza for a pint was the best idea we could come up with at the time, although someone suggested that we could do that while we discuss what to do next, so we had to have a pint or two to discuss if we wanted to discuss what to do next.
Ronnie and Sandra had booked a table for us early birds at this lovely restaurant called The Mews, which is directly behind the Algiers, this has become a tradition over the last 4 years. We ready ourselves for dinner, which means having another pint or two in the Piazza. There we meet up with Paul Driscoll from Barnsley, his father Jim and his grand-father, John. We then journey to this lovely place for what always has been, and was again, a night of beautiful food, wine and the very best of company. After dinner Tim Driscoll from England appeared on the scene, and once again the group was growing with every shout. Stories from last year’s reunion were abound. Here is one tale, Paul wanted to back England to beat Australia in the rugby so he convinced me that I should take the bet, which reluctantly I did. The game was live on TV in Ireland on Saturday morning so we would be able to watch some of it in Bushe’s Pub before we have to board the ferry for Cape Clear. However, we thought that money is not what we wished to bet and we needed something a little different. I have a bit of a warped sense of humour, so I suggested that the loser had to do an Irish jig at 10.03pm that night in the Piazza with the band. Now things were looking a little grim for Paul as the boat pulled away for our trip to Cape Clear. After England was trailing at halftime and we were on the boat, Paul rang a friend back home in England and asked if he would text through updated scores. Well the trip to the Cape was different as every now and then a cry of anguish came from Paul each time he read and updated score. Being a close knit and loving family us O’Driscolls, almost everyone was suggesting to Paul that he should start limbering up for his dancing debut. To the man’s credit, at 10.03 that night with a packed Piazza, I led Paul to the stage and he danced like he had never danced before (and I think since), well done Paul!
The night continued with other great stories and much merriment. Eventually we agreed with the publicans on a closing time and when they said go to bed, we did.
Friday, and it is day one of the reunion. At breakfast we decide to do a little drive around the area to some of the other beautiful villages and have lunch at Glandore, which is another spot with a beautiful harbour view. Lunch was a bowl of soup with some lovely bread and the view you see in the attached photo. The tables are actually set up ON the road through the village, so if you drop your fork you have to look both ways before bending down to pick it up. All the villages in this area have a character unto themselves and make this yet another beautiful part of this great Isle. After lunch we drove to Michael Collins’s old farmhouse that he lived in from the age of seven. They have some plaques to read as well as a bust of the man and give you some of his life’s story. He was born in Woodfield, the same district as my family, and one of his brothers married one of my great-great grand father’s sisters back in the 20’s. We then went up to this little pub in the middle of nowhere, called the Four Alls, which are “I Rule All”, “I Pray for All”, “I Serve All “, and our family’s motto, “I Work for All”. We thought a pint was in order, however it must have been a heavy night as the publican was not there as yet. There was an elderly gentleman working on the O’Brien’s fence, I had met the owners there back in 1997, so we asked him about opening time and he was surprised that it was not already opened. He was a rather talkative chap and the O’Driscoll story was then discussed in some detail with him. As we were about to leave a car pulled up at the intersection and the driver said g’day to the chap, it was then that I recognized the car as one of Denis O’Hea’s and the driver was his eldest son, Denis, so we chin-wagged a little and then said our goodbyes and went off to Rosscarberry to show everyone the church my family used to go to for services.
It was late afternoon when we returned to Baltimore and the Piazza was beginning to fill, so we changed and joined the throng of folk basking in this lovely summer’s sun. I purposely wore my Guinness shirt with the O’Driscoll name on the back, this was to make new O’Ds comfortable and create a chin-wag or two, and this it did. It also created an immediate interest from Aidan Bushe, and as seen in the attached photo he stuck a Murphy's coaster over the Guinness logo as the weekend was sponsored by Murphy's. We were having a great afternoon waiting for 7pm and the official beginning of the reunion when a lady introduced herself and asked if I would come over to meet her father. This man in my eyes drew a remarkable resemblance to my father of some 15 years ago. We chin-wagged for some 30 minutes, he was introduced to me as Ted O’Driscoll, from South Carolina. When I returned to the barrel where we had gathered I explained to everyone what had just happened and Tony, Lyn’s brother, said that he had been tapping me on the shoulder before I went away to say that there was a person who looked liked my father just seated some 10 metres away. When I showed this photo to my family back home they could not see this at all, amazing what the eye beholds. Our barrel was surrounded by many an O’Driscoll by this time, including Jim and Carol from Massachusetts and their entourage of sister, sons, daughters and bar manager, Julie, also Finn had arrived along with Paul, Jim and John, Dave and his family of five our landlord, Ronnie and of course the six of us from Brisbane and more.
It soon was 7pm and time for us all to head down to the Yacht Club for our welcome to this year’s reunion. This year was something extra special as a book launch was taking place during our weekend of festivities. The book is titled, “O’Driscolls Past and Present” and written by Eamon Lankford, who is a well published author in Ireland. A very short history of my family is on page 171 of this book. We normally sign in at the club and then hear some stories involving our ancestors. This year, after Marion Bushe welcomed us, Eamon gave a talk on the book and some of the characters in it, including some who were present on the night. We were then asked to move to the Piazza where a public welcome would be made to all the O’Driscolls. Our Chieftain, Vincent, is a man of few words, well one should say, very few words. With the speeches over in quick time we then returned to the Yacht Club for a spread that is always spectacular. The local community of O’Driscolls, Bushe’s and others put this on every year along with Heineken and Clona Milk, this one has always surprised us! We had mussels, oysters, salmon, all sorts of meat and salads as well as Guinness, beer and wine. This is always a great time to meet up with more O’Ds, in search of family. After an hour or so we sojourn to the Piazza to listen to the music and enjoy the evening. Well into the evening a few of us wandered around the corner to the Algiers as they had some traditional music, including the interesting string instrument as in the photo. It was another of those nights that we agreed with the publicans as to what was the best time for us to go to bed.
On Saturday we traditionally catch the ferry to Cape Clear Island, it is here where we are greeted by Mary O’Driscoll and Jeff Oliver and we are informed of the history of St. Ceiron, who came from the island and was the first to be preaching Christianity in Ireland. We then move up to the pub, owned by Mary where we have a pint and lunch and then it is off with Jeff for a walk around part of this island including the museum. We normally spend the afternoon here singing some songs and then catch the 6pm ferry back to Baltimore. This year however most were eager to leave on the 4.30 ferry as they wished to be back in the Piazza for the entertainment which started at 3pm, and this is what we did this year and seemed a far better idea. Baltimore was full of fresh faces as we returned and we were able to find a barrel as our base. Time elapsed rather quickly with the band playing into the night and the Guinness going down very well.
A few of us strolled around to the Algiers for a change of scenery and music. While there I happened to notice Pat and Bernadette (Bernie) McCarthy sitting at the bar enjoying a quiet time together. These lovely folk are the ones who have renovated the O’Driscoll Castle into something quite special. I joined them for a drink and a chin-wag and after a while I introduced them to Dave Driscoll, who tomorrow was going to become our new Chieftain, this bit of news I had only just found out while it seemed everyone else knew all weekend, good work Dave! Others joined in and we were soon discussing all the world problems. I came up with a genius idea that at the presentation and handover of the Chieftain chain to the next Chieftain it would be a magnanimous gesture by the McCarthy’s if they were to allow our new Chieftain to raise our O’Driscoll flag and let it fly from their flagpole during the hour they were allowing the clan members entry into the castle on the Sunday afternoon. Both were kind enough to go along with the idea but my second idea was not as well received, where I suggested that our new Chieftain take the flag up to the flagpole and have a fake wrestling match with Pat and then they both duck down behind the rampart a dummy in similar clothes as Pat would be thrown over the side and then our Chieftain would raise our flag. One idea out of two at this late hour was enough, so we will have to wait for another vulnerable moment. Pat and Bernie then asked if we wished to see the renovations now, approx 1.30am, and Dave and I were to invite any others that may wish to join us. Well there would have been about 10 of us still floating about and we went with Pat and Bernie into their home. They live downstairs and have done the great hall up similar as to what it would have been centuries ago and set it up as a museum. We then went onto the walk way which runs along the roof line facing the harbour, this was known as “The Widow’s Walk”, and was where the O’Ds wives would walk and wait for their pirate husbands to return. Bernie poured the red wine from their collection and we feasted on great stories in the great hall. Dave asked and received a very positive reply to having the opening night in the great hall next year, this would not only add to the reunion, but also give a very special feeling of belonging. After a million jokes and tall tales all of us agreed on a mutual time for bed again, this is very common in Ireland, so we said goodnight to our beautiful hosts and headed off. Thanks to Pat and Bernie.
The last day of the reunion and the first thing on the agenda is mass on Sherkin Island, so most are on the ferry and heading off for the 10 minute ride to the island. I overslept somewhat this year and missed the boat, and mass for the first time. It gave me and a few others time to read a little and to absorb the view of the harbour for the last time for another year. By the time everyone returned things are beginning to liven up in town as the numbers grow and the entertainment prepares to start.
The afternoon gets going with our landlord, Ronnie and Dave playing music around our barrel, and Ronnie’s son Luke joins in on the Bodhran. Natalie practices a new Irish song each year and this year's song was performed in the Piazza with Ronnie and Dave. Finn borrowed Dave’s squeeze box and played some old Irish tunes with Ronnie playing along on his guitar and Luke on the Bodhran. Dave did get his box back at some stage. It was 4pm and that is when the new Chieftain presentation takes place. Vincent hands over the Clan Chain to Dave and they in turn say a few words.
Marion has organized our flag and it is presented to Dave, and he, Pat and I go to the castle to hoist it, this receives a great cheer from all the O’Driscolls and was also the signal for all to enter and see the castle as it is today. Lyn had run around and got many people to sign our copy of the O’Driscoll book and some nice words were added to the signatures, which is very pleasing. Thanks, Lyn. The afternoon melds into the evening and one pub becomes another as the drinks in our shout have reached a stage where Paul has them written on his right arm and whoever’s turn it is to shout has to take him with them to the bar to get the order right. We got to know a Scott O’Driscoll from Sydney better on this day and he fitted into the group like an old stager, which meant that Paul had to add another drink to his arm for ordering purposes. There was face painting and a man on stilts to keep not only the little kids happy but also the slightly bigger ones, good stuff Natalie and Lauren! A local school band begun the entertainment for the afternoon before the rock’n’roll music was played into the night. We decide with the publicans again on our closing time and we head off for our last night’s rest in Baltimore until June 2006.
A very special thanks to Ronnie and Sandra for making us feel at home, this year and all of the others.
O'Driscoll Summer Festival
Over sixty O'Driscolls attended on the first day of the recent festival, travelling to Baltimore, West Cork from all over Ireland, some from Australia, others from the United States and from the U.K. The packed programme of events included a trip to Cape Clear on Saturday which was enjoyed in brilliant weather. Commodore John J. Kavanagh, (retired) of the Irish Naval Service, officially launched the book, by Dr Eamon Lankford, O'Driscolls Past and Present, which studies the O'Driscoll fortunes down through the centuries, through feuding, fishing, piracy and boatbuilding tradition of O'Driscolls, not alone in West Cork, but in many other places throughout the world. The book is dedicated to the memory of two former Chieftains of the O'Driscoll Gathering, the late Bernard O'Driscoll and to Conchubhar Ó Drisceoil of Cléire, Taoiseach and island leader, who steered a safe course on the island ferry Naomh Ciarán II for over thirty years. Following a Clan Mass celebrated on Sherkin Island on Sunday morning, and a performance by Skibbereen Silver Band in The Square, Baltimore, the new Chieftain, Dave O'Driscoll, from the U.K. accepted the chain of office for the next two years. Dave O'Driscoll has been coming to Baltimore to the Clan gatherings for the past sixteen years and he is wished every success in his role as O'Driscoll Clan Chieftain