Thursday, October 29, 2009

As Lucky as a Cut Cat - Liam Clancy

'The Yellow Bittern - The life and times of Liam Clancy'.
Outstanding...Raw. Saw it on RTE tonight.Rather different kind of show. Revealing, but believable tale told by Liam Clancy about the Clancy Bros' (and Tommy Makem's) unlikely yet extraordinary success in Show Business. Brilliant footage, open mike.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mayo and the Titanic - A Tale Worth Telling

My Brother Paul is the local Doctor (GP) in Lahardane, in the parish of Addergoole, in County Mayo, Ireland. It is a 'sleepy hollow' sort of place, an idyllic little village dominated by Nephin mountain to the west and Lough Conn to the east. Aside from his rural GP practice (yes he still does house calls), he has some pretty diverse interests, including volunteering as the Medic on Croagh Patrick each year for the Reek Sunday climb. He is also an avid cross-country walker, hiking up Nephin mountain or re-tracing the pathways of the ancient cattle-drover trails between Belmullet and Newport. Of course, needless to say, his activities have always provided me with plenty of fodder for my 'Blog from the Bog'

Anyway, for more than twenty years now, Paul has been researching a long-forgotten story about a group of fourteen emigrants from his parish, who went to America in 1912. He first heard of it from a very old patient of his, who before he died, recounted to Paul his personal memories of the people involved. He told Paul an astonishing tale of a group of brave young emigrants from Addergoole who just happened to sail to America on the Titanic! Go Figure, what were the odds on that? Only three of the fourteen from Addergoole survived Titanic's sinking and for nearly a hundred years only those families directly involved had any memory of this calamitous event. For the rest of the community, it was just too painful, too tragic and they stoically put it behind them as they struggled to move on with their lives.

Now Paul and a group of like-minded individuals from Mayo hope to commemorate the story of these tragic emigrants and build a fitting memorial to them, in time for the centenary of the Titanic's sinking, in 2012.

I helped them to create a web site to tell this extraordinary story and to provide some background for anyone interested in the history of emigration from Mayo and Ireland. Researching their story transported me to a different Ireland, an Ireland ravaged by famine, poverty, rebellion, politics, land-agitation and persecution, but under-pinned by people whose courage, faith, pride, hope and ambition never deserted them despite the hardships they endured.

Working on this project helped me realise how much Ireland has changed, how really fortunate we are to lead such un-troubled lives nowadays and how much we now take for granted.

I hope you find a moment to look through the web site and read about these fourteen ambitious young people and their eventual sad fate. If you do enjoy a good story and have an empathy to their tale, please pass it on to others who may enjoy it too.

So! Are you up for a challenge?
How many people from Mayo do you know? How many people do you know with at least 1 Mayo Connection? (Parent, Grand-parent, Cousin, Friend, An 'in-law', whatever?) How many of them would be interested to hear about a true tale of Hope, Heart and Heart-break?

A story so moving, everyone who ever left Mayo for a better life abroad should cherish and tell their children and grand-children! Can we put Addergoole and this astonishing Titanic Tale on the map? Can we get a few thousand hits on this week? Please tell your Mayo Connections to visit the web site or to visit their Facebook Page. or both!

You could even join their mailing list and come along and ring the bells in Lahardane on the anniversary each April 15, at 2.20am!

Now that's another story well worth telling!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Death, the leveller

Please say a prayer for the young man who was killed just 300 metres from our front door this morning. A fine young man, just up for the night from Tipperary for a friend's 21st party at the Barna Golf Club. It seems sometime after 2.30am, he walked out on the back bog road, as I have done a hundred times, the better to enjoy the spectacular view across the bay, or perhaps the extraordinary sight of a sparkling Jupiter, reflecting on the bay below, luminescent under a clear sky and a pale, waxing moon...when suddenly, Death, 'the leveller', in the guise of a powerful car driven by an over-confident young driver, on what should have been an empty bog-road, swooped down on our little patch of bog and snatched a boy's future.

Poof, gone in a second, the boreen gouged by parallel skid-marks, a banged-up car in the ditch, two frightened fugitives running from the scene, an ordinary reaction to an unfortunate incident, but for the crumpled body half-hidden in the still-purple heather on the side of the road, patethic, alone, for nought all the time his mother doted on him, his dad dreamed for him, his friends wished for him, bang, gone forever, all for nought, just a void left behind, un-fettered grief for his family and friends, the weight of ramifications yet to come for the driver, and here, in our house, our little outpost on the heights overlooking Lough Inch and Galway bay, a lost innocence tonight and maybe forever.

From the RTE News website. 'Two people who were questioned after a 19-year-old man was killed in a crash in Co Galway have been released. A file has been prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions. The young man was struck by a vehicle on the Moycullen to Barna Road, near the junction of Paddy's Cross. He was pronounced dead shortly before 4.20am. The road was closed for a time closed for a forensic investigation. GardaĆ­ in Salthill have appealed for anyone with information relating to the incident to contact Salthill Garda Station on 091 514720 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.'

Air dheis De go raibh a h-Anam Dilis!