Mannion Clan Gathering 2016, 19-20 August

Mannion Clan Gathering 2016, 19-20 August

*Picture courtesy of "The Tuam Herald" 

The third annual Gathering of the Mannion Clan took place on the weekend of Friday 19 and Saturday 20 August 2016 in the historic village of Abbeyknockmoy, County Galway. The focal point of this year’s rally was the launch of the Mannion DNA Project in The Abbey Inn on Friday night. This landmark event was attended by scores of Mannions and variants of the name, some of the Mannion diaspora having travelled from as far away as Australia, USA, Germany and England to join in the Clan celebrations with their namesakes and kinsmen from all over Ireland.

The evening’s proceedings began with the official opening of the 2016 Mannion Clan Gathering by County Galway Heritage Officer, Marie Mannion. Appropriately, Marie spoke of the importance of the occasion in the annals of the Mannion Clan, and also in the broader context of promoting the rich history and cultural heritage of East Galway.

There followed a lecture by Dr Joe Mannion, who recalled the early roots and royal ancestry of the ancient Clann Uí Mhainnín. Arising from this, Joe outlined the plans of The Mannion Clan Association for the erection of discreet directional and interpretive signage at the principal Ó Mainnín Clan sites, included in The Mannion Clan Historical Trail which was launched at the 2015 Gathering of the Clan. Dr Mags Mannion of the Archaeology Department of NUI Galway then delivered an enthralling illustrated presentation on medieval Gaelic dress and ornament.

This was followed by an introductory talk on the Mannion DNA Project by local genealogist Martin Curley from Guilka. He emphasised the importance of genetic genealogy as a means of connecting the Mannion diaspora with their relatives and their ancestral homelands in Ireland. The recently-established DNA project was then officially launched by Minister of State at the Office of Public Works Sean Canney TD, who delivered an inspiring address on the subject to those in attendance.

The evening concluded with traditional Irish music and song by Celtic Border, interspersed with absorbing storytelling by local seanchaí, Patrick Ward. Refreshments were served while old friends and new mixed and mingled, and recounted the intriguing history of their mutual Ó Mainnín forebears.

Many of the Clan assembled once again the following afternoon in the car park of Mannion’s Bar in Abbeyknockmoy, for a guided tour of The Mannion Clan Historical Trail. After an introductory talk on the ancient Lughnasa assembly site of Knockroe, the remains of Killaclogher, Clooncurreen and Menlough castles in the rich limestone plains of East Galway were visited in turn.

So too was Ramore inauguration and judicial assembly site in Mullaghmore West in the parish of Moylough, where a Brehon law deed was drafted by a MacEgan jurist in 1584 for the Ó Mainnín Clan. In commemoration of this historic event, a translation of the original Irish-language agreement was symbolically read to members and friends of the Mannion Clan gathered on the ancient ceremonial hilltop, some four hundred and thirty-two years later.

The day’s activities culminated at Kilconnell Abbey, where the last recorded Chief of the Name of the Mannion Clan – John son of Malachy – was buried in a tomb dated 1648, with two of his kinsmen from Mionlach Uí Mhainnín, now Menlough village near Ballinasloe. In these impressive and historically significant surroundings, the highly successful and very well attended 2016 Mannion Clan Gathering was brought to a close. The next Gathering of the Mannion Clan is scheduled for the weekend of 18 and 19 August 2017.