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Clan Gathering 2009


25th-28th June



Photo from Sam & Elaine O`Driscoll Austalia 2009 Clan Gathering


If anyone would like to see there pics or  even comment on the Gathering please send them to me and I will print them with pleasure for you.

This year was good as are all the previous Gatherings we have had in Baltimore, for me to thank everyone individually for what you bring to the weekend would be like reading a telephone book so to all the people of Baltimore who put up with us for the weekend and for me different times of the year and for letting me and the other O`Driscolls share your lives . To all the O`Driscolls who take the  time and effort to be in Baltimore for that one weekend yearly, old and new many many  thanks. I hope you go home happy and maybe return again.

Dave Driscoll

Thanks once again to Neil for this years report on the Clan Gathering as usual worth waiting for and something I look forward to reading, Thanks cousin very much appreciated.


I remember when I was young, we used to go visit my grandmother on a Saturday morning, after which we would go her sister’s house for a visit as well. Underneath her home she had this old sofa that we would sit on while having a soft drink and listening to the adults having a chin-wag. The feeling I got from this sofa was one of total comfort and relaxation and will remain with me forever. The reason I have started with this story is because when we go to the O’Driscoll Clan Gathering each year in Baltimore , West Cork , and when I take up a seat in front of Bushe’s pub this same feeling comes to me. This part of Ireland has this magnetic attraction for me and it is an attraction that I shall have until the day I die, which I hope is a long time coming. 

The Clan Gathering for 2009 held a myriad of surprises for all of us and it was another huge success. Although we had been in town since Tuesday, 23rd June , the reunion officially began with a boat trip to Lough Ine on the Thursday. This is an evening cruise which departs at 6pm and all those present tend to take this opportunity, as it is where you get to meet some of your new cousins. Although I did not make the journey this year I was informed by all and sundry that it was fantastic. Upon their return, most had dinner and then we all met up in the Algiers Inn at 9pm for our first night of music. Ronnie Carthy, who is our landlord from Fastnet House, plays music on several occasions over the weekend and his considerable talents are really appreciated by all. Joining him was our past Chieftain Dave Driscoll from England . Dave’s music was also appreciated by everyone attending the reunion (and also the locals, who know Dave very well as he visits Baltimore several times each year.) The music was fantastic and the night, as always, was just magic. The night continued and many a conversation took place among the regular visitors to the reunion and the newcomers. Music, laughter and great stories filled the air as the pints filled our stomachs. The night was helped as well by the great service we received from Kieran and Sean, who poured the Guinness and the Murphy's with great expertise. We all know by now that when the bell rings behind the bar one must begin to giving some thought to going to bed, but one can’t rush these sorts of decisions. 

Friday morning we were blessed with extraordinary weather yet again, and the plans were in place for another big day of celebrating the coming together of O’Driscolls. A boat trip took place at 2.30pm to Heir Island in Roaring Water Bay . O’Driscolls from all over the world gather on the boat for this journey, and I was informed by those who did the trip this year that it was excellent as well as very informative. This year the numbers were quite good considering the state of the world’s economy and in attendance were: 8 people from Australia , (which is a huge number), several Americans including our very good friend (cousin) John from Pennsylvania ,  Canadians, (including our Chieftain Bruce and his lovely wife, Marilyn) and a large contingent from England - some regulars and some new. For those of you who have read the latest O’Driscoll E-Bulletin “The Shamrock”, you will be aware of the story of John Driscoll from Yorkshire and the first ever meeting he had just a few months earlier of his lost cousins, who livde not too far away from him for years without either party knowing. All of them were here and all enjoyed the company of not only each other, but of their new “cousins” as well. Also Helen, Peg and their families who have been coming for a few years now, had just as much fun as they did at the first one they attended. Other regulars were there as well, such as Tim and Sheila ( Tim proposed to Sheila at the gathering and she accepted) and many more than I can mention.  

To Dun na Saed castle, we went at 7.30pm. The starting time for this presentation is normally 7pm, but this year there was a program on TV which included a segment about Baltimore with some of the locals taking starring roles. The castle these days is owned by Pat and Bernie McCarthy and they graciously allow us to use their home for our registration night. In the Great Hall of the castle we began to settle and were ready for a talk about our clan. Marion Bushe, nee O’Driscoll, introduced to us this year’s lecturer, Colman O’Driscoll, a teacher of history from Skibbereen. Colman was excellent and had us listening with great interest to some of the things that our pirate ancestors did and achieved. I found it interesting that during our ancestor’s 400 year long battle with Waterford (some won and some lost), the crest for Waterford (which has 3 galleys on it), is actually based on the 3 they took away from our ancestors in one of the major battles. I don’t know whether that is gloating on their part, they could not come up with an original idea, or simply could they not find anything in Waterford that is better than an O’Driscoll galley. Let the battle continue! 

After the talk we moved down to the square where the official welcome took place and our Chieftain, Bruce Driscoll, thanked our good sponsors, Heineken and Clona Milk. We then made our way to the sailing club for a spread befitting the O’Driscoll Clan. All of the food, including salmon, mussels, different types of meat and plenty of various salads are provided free of charge by the locals as well as beer and wine. This is always fantastic and totally appreciated by everyone. We then returned to the square where there was music, dancing, laughter and great stories to be had until late into the night (accompanied by a pint or two as well). The music was by a band we first saw last year, Rubicon, and I can tell you that no one can stand still when they play. You will see some fine dancing by our Chieftain Bruce on Dave’s website. 

Saturday brought more sunshine and more enjoyment for everybody. At 11am the boat left for Cape Clear and all were welcomed to the island by Mary O’Driscoll who arranged buses for those not able to walk up to the  Cape Clear Museum , where there is a wide range of memorabilia relating to the O’Driscolls. Also housed there now are the 11 or so volumes of our ancestors’ exploits which has been documented by Eamon Lankford. After returning to the pub one sits down with a pint and then partakes of a lovely lunch and then entertainment once again arranged by Mary. After this fine day out on the island it was back to Baltimore where the Baltimore Beginners (  they are far from beginners) one of which is Declan McCarthy who runs the annual Fiddle Fair in Baltimore were playing for the crowds in the square. Later that evening there was more great music  from “Open the Taps”, who entertain us every year and are very popular. The night was once again filled with heartfelt joy as we mingled amongst our new found cousins. The night (of course) concluded with a wee drink in the Algiers , as this is the place to have a night cap. 

Sunday morning, we awoke to some liquid sunshine for the first time this year, however that did not deter any of us from having a great time. Mass was at Rath at 11am and then it was off to Sherkin Island by ferry to hear the story about the Abbey, then onto the Jolly Roger for a pint, some talk and some music. After a very pleasant time we then headed back to Baltimore for a fun filled afternoon of music, laughter, more stories and a few pints. At 3.30pm, Marion called upon Bruce to say a few words and he then passed the chain over to our next Chieftain for the coming two years, Maureen O’Driscoll Ahern from Drinagh. Maureen taught school in Skibbereen and knows the Bushe boys and Eamon Lankford very well. 

The last two years have seen Bruce doing a fantastic job as Chieftain and special thanks must go to Marilyn who worked just as hard to make our lives happier at the reunions. They also were the instigators along with my daughter, Natalie, in producing the E-Magazine which keeps us well informed of all things O’Driscoll. 

Finally the Gathering finished as it had begun with Ronnie,Luke and Dave playing the night out.

Another June passes and the reunion was “just mighty”. We believe they can’t get better but they always seem to manage it!  Maybe we just love them all. Thanks to the people of Baltimore and all the O’Driscolls who make this such a great time.


Neil O`Driscoll




Article from Irish Times August 21st 2007 by Rosita Boland

ireland.com - Answering the call of the clan - Tue, Aug 21,2007 Page 1 of 2

Answering the call of the clan

Tue, Aug 21,2007


You don't need to prove blue blood to attend a clan gathering - just the right surname. But the O'Driscolls, when they gathered in Cork, made an exception for Rosita Boland

'Reserved for Chieftain" reads the hand-written sign on an imposing carved chair in the reconstructed Great Hall of Dun na Sead Castle in Baltimore, Co Cork. O'Driscoll chieftains have been coming and going within these historic walls for hundreds of years: the castle, now a private home, dates from 1215. 

The present chieftain of the O'Driscoll clan is Dave Driscoll, from Bakewell, Derbyshire, in England. It's the opening of the annual O'Driscoll clan gathering, and Dave arrives to claim his chair in the garb of a 21st-century chieftain. Instead of being dressed in furs and skins and carrying a shield, he's wearing a T-shirt, chain of office, and carrying a digital camera. He's also grinning; no enemies of the clan here today. Unless, of course, foes consist of anyone whose surname is not either O'Driscoll or Driscoll - in which case I am far outnumbered by 132 to one. 

The O'Driscolls have been having clan gatherings in this part of south-west Cork for 22 years: their name has long been associated with the locality. There was a huge one-off gathering in 1961, when more than 400 people attended from around the world, and the current style of gathering, over a long weekend in late June, has been going since 1986. The patronym "O" part of the surname often got dropped once families emigrated, so it's all the same whether your surname is O'Driscoll or plain Driscoll. Judy Driscoll from East Lawn Meadow, Massachusetts says, "We call everyone cousin."

But why would you want to travel many miles - from Australia, Canada, the US, and Britain - to Ireland, just to meet lots of other people who have the same name as you, but to whom you are not closely related? 

"It's tribal, literally," explains Carol Driscoll, also from East Lawn Meadow, Massachusetts, who is married to Judy's brother, Jim. "Other people don't get it. It's like being part of a community. Ever since I married into the Driscolls, I feel I belong somewhere."

"We say we're Irish-American even if we're fourth or fifth generation," Jim says.

For Neil O'Driscoll, from Brisbane, Australia, this is his sixth time at the clan gathering. In 1880, his great grandfather emigrated from the nearby townland of Woodfield. "Our annual holiday is built around this now," he explains. "These days, we usually start out in America, and we visit the people we've met the previous year at the gathering."

"Somewhere down the line, all of us here originated in this place," says Larry O'Driscoll, from the East End of London, who is here for the second time with his wife Maureen. "You reach an age when you want to know who you are." Larry (75) has roots here that are much closer to the surface of time than many others at the gathering: his father was born on Cape Clear.

The schedule for the clan gathering weekend is like that of a festival; showcasing the area's natural beauty and involving the local community. There are boat trips to the nearby islands of Sherkin and Cape Clear, as well as a sail around Carbery's Hundred Isles. There's a visit to the museum on Cape Clear, music every evening, and a knees-up in the square on the last day, with face painting and entertainment for children. Actually, there is no square in Baltimore, but in the Irish way, that's what the road fronting the harbour is referred to by everyone.

After a while, it strikes me that in many ways, a clan gathering is rather like a large and slightly unruly wedding. There's that celebratory, party atmosphere of family and friends meeting up who don't see each other too often, but who are aware of who's who. There's the exchange of stories about others not present this time. There's a mix of ages: some clan members bring their children with them. There's dancing and drinking and singing. There are speeches. And, like all typical weddings, there are some people present whom it quickly becomes evident are a little less popular, a little more overbearing, and a lot more vocal than others.

There are even two people at the centre of attention - the incoming and outgoing chieftains, Bruce Driscoll from New Brunswick, Canada and Dave Driscoll. A chieftain is elected every two years and is chosen by the local committee that organises the clan gathering. As Marian Bushe (nee O'Driscoll) explains: "We try to choose someone who is interested in the history of the clan."

This is Bruce and his wife Marilyn's fourth time at a gathering. His great great grandfather went from Cork to Nova Scotia in 1850. "The gathering is a chance to swap information, trade stories, come back to our roots," he explains.

One of the incoming chieftain's duties is to make a presentation to the rest of the clan. Bruce's presentation, which he makes in Dun na S6ad Castle on the history of O'Driscolls in Newfoundland, is outstanding and haunting.

Using archive footage, he tells the story of how the ancestors of many O'Driscolls (and other families) who emigrated from Ireland to Newfoundland were displaced twice over: once, when they left Ireland; and again when they were forced to resettle by the government, from remote fishing communities to newly created, centralised towns. Some of them took their houses with them

To illustrate this, he shows clips of a documentary made in the 1960s, which depict the extraordinary sight of two-storey houses being towed across the sea from one side of a remote fjord to the other, slightly less remote side. The residents of the house sit in the prow of the boat, their faces immobile as stone. After the presentation, there is a short and sombre silence.

At the clan gathering, everyone is looking for stories about their namesakes.

"I'm not looking for money, just stories," quips Eamon Lankford, director of the Cork placenames survey, who has done a considerable amount of work on the Cork O'Driscolls, despite not sharing their name. He tells the clan that he recently got a letter from the grandson of a woman who had the unfortunate distinction of being the first person to be killed by an automobile in London: "She was an O'Driscoll. I don't know, would you call that a claim to fame?"

Later that evening, when the moonlight is gleaming on the bay, there is an official opening in the square that is not a square. The "official" opening is also very Irish, since the clan gathering actually began the evening before. The speeches are a model of succinct brevity, and the welcome extended to the O'Driscolls gathered in Baltimore's-road-cum square has both integrity and warmth.

"I thought it was either going to be terribly formal or terribly informal and I've found it to be comfortably in the middle," confides Margot O'Driscoll, who is from Birmingham and whose first clan gathering it is. She's come on her own, and she stands among people she does not know, but whose name she shares. For one weekend at least, it does feel as if these people are connected to each other. There's no other word for it, they're truly being, well, clannish.


© 2007 The Irish Times