July 2022 - Summer letter from An Cathaoirleach

22 July 2022

A chairde,

I am pleased to reveal that, since the announcement at the Annual Summit in April, progress relating to the transcription of Linea Antiqua has surpassed all expectations and is now ahead of schedule. I would also like to record the appreciation of the Board of Directors for the demonstration of enthusiastic support that has emanated from so many members for this project. This categorical support, reinforced by the generous financial subscription of so many, has ensured that this great genealogical source will be available to, not just the members of the clan and family organisations that collectively make up Clans of Ireland, but to all who wish to study Irish genealogy throughout the World.

There has been steadily increasing interest in the Annual Essay Competition over the years and this year there have again been more entries than ever before. In addition, I am reliably informed that the adjudication has been difficult, as many “of the essays were of fully publishable standard”. The winning essay will be announced as soon as the suggested prize-winner meets general panel approval, including, especially, an indication from the Editor of History Ireland that the essay is considered publishable in a forthcoming issue of that scholarly magazine. I expect that the public announcement of the winning essay will be made in late August or early September.

The success of the on-line Members' Forum has provided assurance to the Board that there are members who are genuinely interested in interacting with the Directors. The fact that there were not as many members in attendance as at the Annual Cultural Summit has reinforced my personal belief that our members are generally more interested in attending events in person, where the interaction can be of a more personal nature. Nevertheless, we see the value of both types of events, and I would like to thank those who were able to be with us on the 11th of June. Attendance at the Members’ Forum is free to the representatives of our member organisations and people may choose to make an oral contribution or not, as they wish. The next Forum is scheduled for the 3rd of December at 7.30 p.m. (Irish Standard Time – GMT+1) and, although some time away, I look forward to seeing you then.

I would like to reiterate my central message of the Forum that we all should make and be seen to make a virtue out of who we are, rather than being seduced by those whose foreign ancestry may be attached to a vulgar celebrity status, but whose ancestral claims may not withstand scrutiny. Let us appreciate our own culture above all others and be proud of our ancestry, whether high born or humble, because in Ireland our genealogy does not consist of so many individual family trees, but forests of oak all descending from just a few acorns. 

I recently met a pal from school, whom I had not met for about 50 years, who asked about his ancient clan from one of the most north-westly peninsulas of Ireland. He told me that he would like to be involved in their gatherings, but as they are not registered as a clan with Clans of Ireland, he wondered whether he could rely on the bona fide of the organisers. I told him that I could recall that the clan had gatherings as recently as the 1980s and that the last Chief of the Name, known to me, had died about a decade ago. That chiefly family had emigrated, as Jacobites, following the Williamite conquest, to join the forces of Spain, where they continue to live. It is so sad that the old chief’s son has not taken on the baton, and that none of this clan or historical family has registered with Clans of Ireland. The result could be that the significance of such a great clan will be largely forgotten to all but those who have an interest in Gaelic Irish history.

The overdue redevelopment of the Clans of Ireland Website is in train with an expected delivery date in October. The current website has become difficult to manage, like myself, due to age. Therefore, I hope that you will bear with us and excuse our tired old face during this period of transition.

It is not the policy of Clans of Ireland to endorse any commercial ventures, but this is an exception on every front. It would be remiss of me not to mention the publication of the hugely important contemporary translation of the Annals of Cluin Mhic Nóis as it is likely to be of interest to so many of the members of Clans of IrelandIt could hardly be described as a commercial venture as it has taken its Editor, Nollaig  Ó Muraíle CIOM, twelve years to finish this great work, but the result is a much more accessible work than its predecessor of the same name, translated by Conall Mag Eochagáin in 1627. In 2012, Dr Ó Muraíle was awarded the Clans of Ireland Order of Merit as a result of his unstinting dedication to Irish historical scholarship and now serves on the Clans of Ireland Council of the Order of Merit. Eamon De Burca CIOM is another recipient of the Order of Merit. Mr De Búrca was awarded the high honour in 2016 in recognition of his great service to those who are interested in researching Gaelic Irish history and genealogy. The Annals of Cluain Mhic Nóis is a fine example of the reference works that he has published and may be ordered from www.deburcararebooks.com.

Before I sign off, may I suggest to those who are going to be in Ireland during the middle of August that National Heritage Week will run from Saturday the 13th of August to Sunday the 21st of August. This involves events throughout the country, in every county, that will undoubtedly be of interest to you.

Lastly, I would like to announce that the date for the Clans of Ireland 2023 Cultural Summit has been set for the 5th and 6th of May. We are currently in the throes of planning a spectacular event which we hope will occur on Friday the 5th.  It is at to premature a stage to announce it yet, but I can say that it will be of such significance to Clans of Ireland that all members of Clans of Ireland would wish to be in attendance. We are also speaking to a number of eminent academics and specialist historians about their availability as lecturers on Saturday the 6th. Then, on the Saturday night, there will be the social event of the year for Irish clans men and ladies, so please do not leave it to the last minute to order in your new raiment.

Is mise le meas,

Gearóid Ó Ceallaigh