The history of a townland is celebrated by time capsules, poetry and heartfelt speeches

Sunday, November 20, was a day of celebration for the residents of Clogher, Barnesmore as they gathered to launch the history of their townland.

Sunday, November 20, was a day of celebration for the residents of Clogher, Barnesmore as they gathered to launch the history of their townland.

The book, Clogher - Past and Present, is a full-colour publication of 230 pages written and compiled by the residents. The book was officially launched in the Barnesmore Community Centre by Tom Conaghan, Mayor of Donegal Town. The Master of Ceremonies was Chris Cassidy, a local musician, who was born and is now raising his own family in Clogher.

The launch got off to a great start with a heartfelt welcome by Seamus Gallagher, a full-time sheep farmer who has spent his entire life living and working in the townland. He said it was a great privilege for him to welcome his fellow residents, their families, friends and invited guests to this special occasion marking the publication of the history of his townland.

Following the launch of the book, Seamus presented Tom Conaghan, Mayor of Donegal Town with a framed photo of the ‘Ring’ – an historic Clogher landmark. The Mayor addressed a packed hall of some 300 people, some of whom had travelled from overseas. He acknowledged the high standard of this publication and encouraged other townland communities to embark on similar projects.

There were seven speakers from the townland who spoke with great passion about their community – past and present. The first speaker was Tommie Gillespie who stated that it was his great pleasure to introduce the three most senior members of the townland. He said that he knew all three ladies and their extended families for many years. He then spoke about each one in turn and invited the Mayor to present each with a complimentary copy of the book. The oldest person born in the townland is Margaret Metcalf (Hone), born in 1919, who had travelled from Liverpool specially for the occasion. She is an annual visitor to the home of her brother, Hugh Hone, and she held the audience spellbound as she vividly recounted her memories of Donegal before emigrating to Liverpool to raise her own family.

The second eldest person born and raised in the townland is Kathleen Thomas (McGettigan), who was born in 1920. Kathleen was unable to attend, but was represented by her son, Barry Thomas, who conveyed his mother’s good wishes and congratulations to everyone involved in the recording of the history of the townland. The oldest person still living in the townland is Bridget Bradley – who was in attendance with her large extended family. Her daughter, Rosemary Myers, spoke on her behalf and expressed her mother’s thrill at seeing Clogher in print. Rosemary also extended the thanks of their extended family that their mother was being honoured on this occasion.

Attention then turned to the three youngest residents in the townland who were introduced by Margaret Crawford. They included her own grandson Gerry Matthews along with Conor O’Donnell and Daryl Pearson- Cassidy. Margaret welcomed each of them as members of the community and wished them every happiness in the future. The Mayor then presented them with time capsules which included family documents from 1911 and other personal items from their parents. These young boys were encouraged to keep the local traditions of hospitality and neighbourliness alive.

Josephine O’Donnell, Chairperson of the Clogher History Group, gave an account of how the various groups and individuals worked together to research and compile their history.

“It was a real community effort”, she said, with a total of 82 people from the townland and relatives living elsewhere having a direct input into the book. She drew attention to the various chapters in the book including: The Geography of the townland; Self-sufficiency of the 1930s and 40s; Emigration; Pastimes and story-telling; The people of the townland; Local churches & schools; Flora & Fauna and Words we use/used.

She acknowledged the Foreword written by Bairbre Ni Fhloinn, University College Dublin; Irish translations by Claire Gallagher and the lay-out and design by Georgina Casey. Special reference was made to the beautiful poem entitled ‘The Stony Place’ written by Chris Cassidy. Chris read his poem to resounding applause. Special thanks was paid to Donegal Local Development Company who funded the project and Brown printers of Letterkenny who printed the book.

John Starrett, Vice Chairperson of Donegal Local Development Company outlined the role of the DLDC in supporting community groups. He congratulated the people from Clogher on bring their venture to a successful conclusion. He encouraged other groups to engage in similar projects.

The contributions of the young people (Aislinn Casey, Holly Roper, Hollie Clinton, Shona Pearson, Emma Boyle, Evan Higgins, Caomhan McCauley, Eoin McCauley, Maeve McCauley, James and Lauren Costello) towards the book was acknowledged by Rose McNulty. She said they added youthful vibrancy and colour to the book – though researching the local wildflowers, garden birds, and family Coats of Arms. The Mayor presented certificates of achievements to those involved.

The most significant changes in the townland over the past 100 years were outlined by Gary Pearson. He referred to changes in terms of population growth, number and types of houses, variety of occupations of residents and how modern technology has transformed ways of living today. As young parents, he and Irene believe that Clogher is a very pleasant and wholesome place in which to raise a family.

Finally, Charles Roper concluded by talking about the future. He drew his audience into an imaginary world of the future. He gave a cheerful and upbeat speech in which he imagined the elimination of barriers to international travel and communication; farsighted potential of technology and even an alternative to money in our lives. It was an inspiring end to a wonderful occasion for those present.

The afternoon continued with refreshments and lively sharing of memories. Those present had great enthusiasm for the project and praised the quality of the book.

Copies of the book can be purchased from any resident of the townland at a cost of €20.