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Archbishop Mannix Memorial Weekend

Communion in Irish Historiography

Well, we survived it – the Mannix weekend, that is, when two current Kilmainham Tales authors and two future ones took part in the Charleville Gathering event in honour of local son Archbishop Mannix.

We’ve participated in many conferences down the years but this one was a model for all others to follow. For a start, it was planned well in advance, and each speaker’s paper was discussed with him/her to ensure its appropriateness to the Conference theme – this led to a cohesion between the contributions, without repetition or inappropriate lectures. The large audience certainly appreciated this.

In addition, each speaker was well looked after. Those who had to travel a distance (e.g. from Dublin) were accommodated in the excellent Charleville Park Hotel at no cost to themselves. This wonderful hotel was where the conference took place, and this led to the speakers themselves getting together over meals or a drink to continue discussions on the Conference them out of hours! Our congratulations to the staff here, who were so very friendly and helpful.

The Conference was opened on Friday 13th (an auspicious date!) by Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív who pointed out the Gathering allows us ‘to celebrate the opportunities our incredible Diaspora gives us’.

(Click on the photos below to see Ó Cuív speaking)

It was fitting, therefore, that our own MD, Mícheál Ó Doibhilín (‘Anne Devlin’, ‘Joe Poole’, ‘Abandonment to Restoration’), should follow with his paper on the Irish Diaspora Diasporations – the Irish Diaspora – its causes and consequences’. Mícheál covered the broad sweep of Irish history, identified the causes of the Irish Diaspora, and examined the contribution that Diaspora made to the national struggle. As always, his talk was well illustrated, visually supporting his words.

Dr. Shane Kenna  (‘Resistance and Rebellion', ‘The Invincibles’) next spoke on ‘The Land for the People: the Land War in Cork’.

Both papers were well received by the capacity audience, and several insightful questions were asked … and answered.

 After a break for refreshments, Dr. Mícheál Ó hAodha, who has written extensively on the subject of Irish migrants,  gave a fascinating talk titled ‘A harsh way of life: testimonies of migrant workers from the Irish Diaspora of the early 1900s’. He illustrated his talk with many first-hand stories , illustrating their isolation, discrimination and culture.

In the same session Dr. John Borogonovo, lecturer at University College, Cork, recounted a fascinating event in the life of Archbishop Mannix – ‘ireland, archbishop Mannix and the Court-Martial of Father Thomas O’Donnell.

That ended the morning’s sessions and, after lunch, delegates went on a guided coach tour of Charleville and surroundings. Narrated primarily by Historian and author Patrick Mannix, this was a fascinating introduction to this area. Among places visited were the Sisters of Mercy Provincial Heritage Centre. Here one could spend a happy day looking at the hundreds of artefactson display. We also passed the former family home of Archbishop Mannix and visited the Eamon DeValera Museum in the school he attended as a young boy.

That evening, in the Schoolyard Theatre, there was a very interesting show ‘Music and Memoirs: Cork during the revolutionary period 1913-23’, produced by none other than Patrick Mannix! This show combined both pre-recorded material and music and live music and spoken words. Here, some of the conference speakers – Shane Kenna, Liz Gillis and Patrick Mannix – were drafted in to read some significant historical documents.

And so to Day 2. The excellent weather continued  but did not affect the numbers attending to hear Fr. Tom Looney talking on ‘The Foundation of the Irish Volunteers, 1913’ in his own inimitable, intimate style.

Fr. Tom was followed by our own Liz Gillis (‘The Fall of Dublin’, ‘Revolution in Dublin’) who gave a fascinating account of the local IRA during the War of Independence, 'Brothers in Arms', proving that all history, like politics, is indeed local. 

In the second session of the day, chaired by Lorcan CollinsProfessor Dermot Keogh, Professor Emeritus of History, University College, Cork, talked about and reassessed ‘Archbishop Mannix’s Last Visit to Ireland in 1925’., while Patrick Mannix, Archbishop Mannix’s biographer, spoke on ‘Catch 22: Archbishop Mannixand his involvement in the Anglo-Irish Truce Negotiations, December 1920’.

On Saturday morning Her Excellency, Dr Ruth Adler, Australian Ambassador to Ireland, travelled to Charleville to address the conference and she outlined the strong links between Archbishop Daniel Mannix, Charleville and Australia before closing the formal proceedings.

The ambassador listened attentively to Patrick Mannix's paper, and afterwards willingly posed with many of the Conference delegates.

In the afternoon Lorcan Collins (1916 Rebellion Walking Tours) and Donncha Ó Dúlaing of RTE chaired a round table discussion between speakers Patrick Mannix, Dr. Shane Kenna and Mícheál Ó Doibhilín on many of the issues which had been raised during the conference. This was a fascinating discussion, and clearly demonstrated that the speakers were not the only ones who knew their subject!

But it was not all serious lectures. This weekend was planned by Patrick (and his team) as a fun weekend too, to welcome back many local people who had travelled far away, and also the visitor.

Apart from the events already mentioned, the Irish Volunteers Commemorative Society put on an exhibition in Charleville Town Library on the Saturday afternoon (full report with pictures here), and that evening there was a session with Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann in the Schoolyard Theatre, followed by a live broadcast of Donncha Ó Dúlaing’s Fáilte Isteach on RTE Radio 1 (Hear the programme here).

On Sunday there was a Vintage Rally, and a GAA Hurling match at which the Perpetual Archbishop Mannix Cup was presented to the winners.

After a Memorial Mass in the Holy Cross Church a specially-commissioned plaque to Archbishop Mannix was unveiled in the grounds of the church.

One can only describe this Gathering weekend and Conference as a major success. All who attended enjoyed it thoroughly, and even the heavens smiled upon us – the weather was fantastic, although I doubt Patrick arranged that!

He arranged everything else, though, and the weekend was a credit to his dedication and tireless efforts. Patrick had the help of an able Committee, and all should be congratulated on a job well done but, while they were publicly thanked, Patrick could not thank himself, so this was the one thing not done on this wonderful weekend.

So, on behalf of all who took part, speakers, guests and delegates:

'Thank You Patrick. You did the Archbishop and Charleville proud, and we look forward to next year'.

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