Mannion Clan Gathering - August 2018

Unveiling of interpretive signage by Ciaran Cannon TD, Minister for the Diaspora and International Development

The Fifth Annual International Gathering of THE MANNION CLAN took place on the weekend of Friday 17 and Saturday 18 August in the historic village of Menlough in East Galway. The highly successful event began on Friday evening with the formal unveiling of interpretive signage by Ciaran Cannon TD, Minister for the Diaspora and International Development, at the site of the Mannion castle on the outskirts of the village.

The newly-erected information board details the history of Menlough Castle and associated medieval village, which was established to service the principal stronghold of the Ó Mainnín Clan in late medieval times. The presence of a lochán or ‘small lough’ nearby led to the village being known in the Irish language as Mionlach Uí Mhainnín, ‘the small lough of the Mannions’.

Members of the Mannion Clan from at home and overseas gathered for this historic occasion, as did many from the local community in the Menlough area, who have enthusiastically embraced the history and heritage of their picturesque rural village.

The unveiling ceremony was followed by the official opening of the 2018 International Mannion Clan Gathering in Thompson's Lounge Bar by Galway County Heritage Officer, Marie Mannion. Marie highlighted 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.

Afterwards, Clan historian Dr Joe Mannion gave a presentation on the early roots and royal ancestry of the Mannion Clan in ancient times, before genetic genealogists Martin Curley of Guilka, Co. Galway and Jim Hollarn of San Diego, California reported on the steady growth and development of the Mannion DNA Project and its significance for the Mannion Clan.

On their arrival in their ancestral homelands, the Clan members were treated to a generous helping of traditional Irish music played by brothers Enda and Pat Mannion and their friends Ronan Regan and Tom Howley. Refreshments were served throughout the evening and the attendees mixed and mingled, renewing old acquaintances and making new ones, while sharing stories and recounting the intriguing history of their mutual Ó Mainnín forebears.

Many of the Clan assembled once again at midday on Saturday 18 in the car park of Mannion’s Bar in Abbeyknockmoy, for a guided tour of The Mannion Clan Historical Trail led by Dr Joe Mannion and NUI Galway archaeologist Dr Mags Mannion. After an introductory talk on the ancient Lughnasa assembly site of Knockroe and the scant remains of Killaclogher Castle, the Mannion castle site at Clooncurreen was visited and its medieval history and archaeology discussed.

Ramore inauguration and judicial assembly site in the townland of Mullaghmore West in Moylough parish was next on the itinerary. It was here that a Brehon law deed was drafted by a Mac Egan lawyer in May 1584 for the Ó Mainnín Clan. In commemoration of this historic occasion, a newly-erected information board comprising interpretive text, a copy of the Ó Mainnín Brehon law deed, and a translation of the original Irish-language document was unveiled by Anthony Crowe, owner and guardian of the ceremonial site.

A translation of the agreement was afterwards read to members and friends of the Mannion Clan gathered on the ancient ceremonial mound, some four hundred and thirty-four years after the event. The sub-townland of Ballymannion, which with the modern townland of Cloonmweelaun was the focus of the Ó Mainnín deed, was then visited, as was the Clan’s ancestral village of Menlough where its ancient origins and subsequent history were outlined.

Saturday’s guided tour concluded in the impressive and historically significant surroundings of Kilconnell Abbey in the late afternoon, where the last recorded Chief of the Name of the Mannion Clan – John son of Melaghlin – was buried in a tomb dated 1648, with two of his kinsmen from the Clan’s principal stronghold at Menlough.

Later in the evening, the Clan gathered at Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara for a mouth-watering medieval banquet, accompanied by an eclectic mix of entertainment reflecting the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Ireland. As midnight drew near, the highly successful 2018 International Mannion Clan Gathering was brought to a close by Councillor Eileen Mannion from Clifden, former Chairperson of Galway County Council.

The next Gathering of the Mannion Clan is scheduled for the weekend of Friday 16 and Saturday 17 August 2019, when once again a large contingent of the Mannion diaspora is expected to join with home-based members of the Clan to celebrate the unique history and heritage of their Ó Mainnín forebears.