The National Clan Gathering was celebrated on the scenic shores of historic Lough Derg near Ennis, County Clare, on the last weekend of July. We
enjoyed the company of members from all four provinces of Ireland, with a particularly strong turn-out from Australia as well as U.S.A. and England.
All attending members received souvenir certificates to mark the occasion.
The festive weekend kicked off on Friday evening at the West County Hotel with the customary ice-breaker where old friends were reunited and new friends were made.
On Saturday morning, we headed out to the lake by coach, and embarked on Teddy Knight's vessel "Ku-Ee-Tu" for a cruise to Castlebawn, where we enjoyed the hospitality of owners Pat & Mary Cody. The sixteenth century castle (known locally as Simon's Castle) was the former home of Simon Flannery, gamekeeper to the MacLysaght family of Raheen, County Clare. Restoration work to the castle has won awards, and it is home to the Cody family in the summer months. Our guided tour of the lakeside fortification was punctuated by homemade refreshments, and we are grateful to the Cody family for their kind hospitality.
Teddy Knight returned us back safely to shore where we had lunch at the Mountshannon Hotel. Thanks are due to Pauline Madden, who owns the hotel, for kindly providing us with the use of the function room. After a hearty lunch we were treated to an entertaining presentation on Biddy Early (The Flannery Witch) by local historian Meda Ryan. Meda also kindly signed copies of her excellent book "Biddy Early: The Wise Woman of Clare" as souvenirs to treasure.
After lunch, we made our way to Knockaphort Pier to be ferried to Inishcealtra (also known as Holy Island because of the seventh century monastic settlement). Local historian Ger Madden gave us an informative guided tour of the island's historic ruins, which included a picturesque round tower and Flannery memorials (including the family of Bishop Michael Flannery, who was Bishop of Killaloe just after the Great Famine). Fr. Michael Flannery (Galway) celebrated our Clan Mass using the Peter Flannery Chalice (1715), and the ancient ruins provided an incredibly atmospheric setting as members of diverse faiths prayed for past and present generations of our family. Many thanks are due to Fr. Cathal Geraghty of Clonfert Museum in Loughrea, County Galway, for the loan of the historic chalice. Ger Madden ferried us back to shore where we made our way to Liam & Teresa Flannery's nearby Woodpark Golf Course & Pitch and Putt for collection and return by coach to Ennis. The day on the lake provided great appetites and thirsts, amply matched by the evening banquet and session! Congratulations to all the raffle winners who took away a wide range of CDs, DVDs, chocolates, drinks and souvenir tee-shirts, and thanks to Tom Ball (Texas) for the use of his stylish hat for drawing the tickets! Special thanks to Helen Flanary (Texas) and Elaine O'Neill (Dublin) for bringing along gifts, and also to Marty Flannery (Queensland) for sharing some very special Bunderberg Rum in the wee hours!
The Heritage Exhibition was displayed on Sunday morning, and included numerous updated exhibits based on recent research. As in previous years, we were privileged to include the two coats of arms (1904 & 1991) as part of the display. The masterpieces were handcrafted in tooled leather and carved oak in 2004 by Marlin Read - our Heraldic Craftsman - and donated to the Flannery Clan for our perpetual use. The exhibition was followed by a brief A.G.M. which delivered reports on membership, finance, and the research programme, and closed with an open forum for members to air their views. Members also received a brief interim report on the Y-DNA Project which has proved to be so successful with over one hundred participants to date. A formal report is scheduled to be published next year.
There were two special presentations made to Maureen Wlodarczyk (New Jersey) and Marty Flannery (Queensland), who each received Certificates of Merit from our Chieftain Martin J. Flannery (Cork) in grateful recognition of their excellent research over the years. Maureen also treated us to an enthralling presentation on her recent book "Past-Forward: A three-decade and three-thousand mile journey home", and sprang a surprise gift presentation on Lorcán J. O'Flannery (Dublin). The formalities of the A.G.M. concluded with the launch of our latest publication (index of all Flannerys / Flannellys recorded in births, marriages and deaths registered in Ireland from 1901 up to 1935). As previously, the publication will be donated to all of the relevant county heritage centres where Flannerys / Flannellys lived.
After the tour, we returned to Ennis and concluded the festive weekend with an absolutely magnificent lunch at The Cloister Restaurant on Abbey Street. This spectacular restaurant is owned by the family of the late Howard Flannery, and we were delighted to be joined for the occasion by his son Cathal and his parents Paddy and Joan, who warmly welcomed us and very thoughtfully laid on a pre-prandial presentation by local historian Jane O'Brien of Ennis Walking Tours. Her engaging talk explained the significance of Ennis in Irish history, and highlighted the achievement of creating a vibrant restaurant within a historic national monument: the only one of its kind. The food was superb and we lingered to chat long into the afternoon before making our fond farewells.
As ever, we are very grateful to our award-winning Clan Photographer, Pádraig Ó Flannabhra (Tipperary), who immortalised us both individually and in groups at a variety of picturesque locations with his customary artistic flair. Copies of his excellent photographs are available directly from the artist at bargain rates and are sure to be prized souvenirs of the celebrations.
We would like to thank all of the members who worked so hard behind the scenes to make the event a memorable occasion, and we look forward to the next gathering provisionally scheduled for 2015 in Sligo (subject to popular vote by postal ballot, as usual).