April 2022 - Spring letter from An Cathaoirleach

A chara,

Whether one believes in legends and dragons or indeed whether one venerates saints is a matter of personal choice, but today we mark the 1008th anniversary of the death of one of Ireland’s most renowned celebrities, the soldier, not saint, Brian Boru, King of the Dal gCais.

I am delighted to say that, since the Annual Summit, two weeks ago, the Board has been most gratified by the enthusiastic reaction to the event.  The theme of the event ‘The destruction of so much of Ireland’s historical records 1922’ was incorporated into the two keynote lectures, “Recovering the Past: The 1766 religious census of Ireland and the digitisation of resources for historical research”, by Dr. Brian Gurrin and “The 1641 Depositions and their potential uses in family history” by Dr. Annaleigh Margey respectively. I would like to thank those who participated in this year’s summit, particularly those not normally involved with Clans of Ireland; Dr Gurrin and Dr Margey for their enlightened lectures, the two essayists, Daniel Curley and Declan Keenan for their discourse on their prize-winning essays and Hannah MacAuliffe for her insight into the Linea Antiqua project, which I will address below.

During the Summit, I was delighted to announce that Clans of Ireland has entered into a Participation Agreement of Support with “Beyond 2022: Ireland’s Virtual Record Treasury”. This is an all-island and international collaborative project, funded by the Government of Ireland, to re-create through virtual reality the Public Record Office of Ireland building, which was destroyed in the Civil War. (Beyond 2022 | Ireland's Virtual Record Treasury)

I also introduced an inter-active map relating to the position of and direction in which Clans of Ireland is going. I described how Clans of Ireland is ideologically committed to the development of an objective understanding of Ireland’s cultural philosophies, as well as the promotion and encouragement of historical research into the ancient culture and traditions of Irish clans and historical families.

Modern family names do not necessarily imply association with a clan. A clan involves a kindred group, historically bound together by association with a geographical area – the tuaithe. Some of our member organisations, who have, hitherto, been associations of people of their name, have begun the process of identifying kindred groups and historical families within their organisations. These groups, large and small, who have established an incontrovertible historical connection with their associated geographical area are the essence of Irish clans. This is the direction that Clans of Ireland is concentrated on.

I defined how Clans of Ireland also has a higher purpose than simply uniting historical families and clans, as it can serve all of the people of Ireland, indeed all Irish people across the globe, by bringing an awareness of how our history has a personal relevance for all. In my vision of the future of Clans of Ireland, an increasing emphasis will be placed on creating access to and public awareness of source material that will be available to researchers, historians, and genealogists, either privately or in libraries throughout the world, wherever there is research into Irish history. We want to promote research into historical reality rather than encouraging emotional elasticity and self-inflating illusion.

Clans of Ireland is committed to promoting public awareness of the importance of the historical and cultural material of Ireland through not only our member organisations and, in turn, through their members, but also through our ambition to become more involved in the publication of relevant historical works.

We have been involved over the past decade in awarding prizes to the winners of the Chiefs and Clans Essay Competition in conjunction with the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs and Chieftains and much thanks is due to Dr Katharine Simms of Trinity College for her constant and enthusiastic support in the annual adjudication. It is therefore timely that, on this the anniversary of both the birth and anniversary of William Shakespeare, I should remind essayists and writers that this year’s entries should be e-mailed as an attached MS-Word file to: mksimms@tcd.ie to arrive by 1st June 2022.

The next step in this ambition is being developed and at the Summit, we announced our intention to republish the great medieval Gaelic genealogical tract, Linea Antiqua. This is a further advance of the Clans of Ireland commitment to historical research and is perhaps the greatest undertaking to date, in the third of a century of the organisation’s existence. Led by Luke McInerney, I hope that the manuscript will be fully transcribed by the end of this year and can go forward for publication in 2023. I would like to thank those who have already pledged their financial support and I would like to advise those who have not already done so and who may wish to, or those who wish to make an enquiry, that the closing date for receipt of Subscriber pledges is just three weeks away, on the 14th May 2022.

Last year, following becoming Cathaoirleach, I promised that we, the Board, would constructively listen to the opinions and ideas of each and every member of this continuously developing organisation, so that we can promote those concepts that advance our vision in a cooperative way. Laurie Joyce subsequently undertook the task of organising and coordinating the responses to a Members’ Survey and one of the main findings from this was the fact that you, the members, would like greater access to the Board and its members. The result of this is that we intend to hold two member conferences this year, through a video platform, at which several of the Board will be on hand to take questions from members. The first of these is due to take place on the 11th of June at 7.30 p.m. Dublin time. You will be notified closer to the time with an attendant Agenda. In the meantime, Laurie will invite you to participate in the 2022 Member’s Survey.

The redevelopment of the Website is somewhat overdue, but as a result of the generosity of some members who have become Benefactors of Clans of Ireland, a project run by Vincent O’Carroll, it has now become a real prospect. This will take some time as Seán McGrath and the Website Redevelopment Committee advance the project through the tender, design and build stages. May I ask that anyone with suggestions would contact Seán at post@clansofireland.ie

Both Seán McGrath, who is responsible for the Clans of Ireland social media and Dan Carmody, who is responsible for the traditional media, would be delighted to hear from you regarding any news stories related to the work of your clan organisation. Please contact either at post@clansofireland.ie.

I would like to publicly congratulate Mary Carmody for not only her management of the Treasury during the past year, but also taking on the role as Registration Correspondence Secretary. Her address, should you wish to expedite any Treasury or registration matters is at treasurer@clansofireland.ie.

Laurie Joyce is also currently involved in developing a cloud-based Teams communication and filing system, which will make the management of data much more secure, while being available, on a need-to-know basis to current Directors who require access. This also involves streamlining the annual registration process.

So, much is happening, and much more will happen, including work on confirmation of the fundamentals of Clans of Ireland, involving issues relating to registration and membership ethos, led by Michael O Crowley.

I would like to reiterate my appreciation of my colleagues on the Board, their dedication to Clans of Ireland and its members and particularly their display of trust in me by re-electing me as Cathaoirleach.

Lastly, you will undoubtedly share my sense of deep gratitude toward Cathaoir O Tighearnaigh CIOM for his outstanding contributions to Clans of Ireland in his many senior roles within the Board over the past two decades, most recently as Runai na Cuideachta and Corporate Governance Advisor. He now bows out, with grace, to catch up on his commitment to The O'Tierney Clans Society. I and the entirety of Clans of Ireland will miss his sage advice and suggest to you that, like the legendry soldier who became St George and whose feast day is this the 23rd of April, Cathaoir can be described as a man of the highest distinction whose reputation will endure within and beyond Clans of Ireland.

Is mise le meas,

Le gach dea-ghuidhe,

Gearóid Ó Ceallaigh