McGrath Clan Gathering 2016 Report

The 2016 McGrath Clan Gathering held in the beautiful coastal town of Dungarvan has been hailed as the best gathering ever. Members of the clan from eight countries attended the event and sampled some wonderful Irish hospitality, visited a number of sites of McGrath heritage, enjoyed great traditional music and made friends for life.
There was a great atmosphere around the town as the clan were made feel very welcome. You could feel the excitement in the town's Park Hotel as registration time drew close. No one was a stranger, just cousins who hadn't met.
The first event of the gathering was the BBQ is The Enterprise Bar. This was a great icebreaker as people mixed and got to know each other. Connections started from the buzzer, as people spoke about their family trees.
Next stop was The Local Bar where our host was none other then Donnacha Gough, of the very popular traditional band Danu. We were treated to an very enjoyable traditional session by the musicians led by Seamus Connolly.
Friday's business started with a Mayoral Welcome from Cllr John O'Leary, Deputy Mayor of Waterford City & County Council, in the Council Chambers in Dungarvan. The Deputy Mayor welcomed everyone to Dungarvan and was high in his praise of Dan McGrath and his team, who had put the event together. He informed those present that his mother was a McGrath and told a bit of his own family history.
The much awaited launch of our DNA Project followed in the Waterford County Museum. This was carried out by Bernadette Guest, Council Heritage Officer. Also present were members of the project team, Chuck Real, Ann Marie Coughlan and Jill Hotchkiss. After looking around the excellent exhibits on display in the museum, we made our way to the Memorial Wall and King John's Castle.
The afternoon was taken up with lecturers. First up was John Collard from Australia, who spoke about tracing his family, who left Ireland in the 1850's, they are now 450 His book County Clare, Axedale & Beyond : An Irish Clan Downunder received it's Irish launch later in the afternoon.
Dermot Power gave an interesting talk on Joe McGrath, politician, businessman and racehorse owner. A key figure in Irish history for many years.
The evening talk sessions began with Ann Marie Coughlan, who gave an insight in genealogy and answered many questions from those in attendance.
The final speaker was Fr Paddy Ryan, who spoke on the infamous Bishop Myler Magrath. Fr Paddy had spend many years researching Myler and launched his book, Myler Magrath - The Enigma of Cashel, last year in Cashel.
On Friday night, we were entertained in Minnies Bar, where there was a wonderful traditional session. An impromptu singing session followed, where a few clan members displayed great singing voices.
Saturday was the day of our heritage tour. This was eagerly anticipated as people looked forwarded to seeing the various sites around West Waterford. Due to the nature of the roads and the time available, there was only so many places which could be visited.
One of the highlights was the visit to Sleady Castle, from where many of the McGraths in the area could trace their family tree. One of Ireland's gems, Lismore Castle was also on the tour and we were fortunate to gain access to the castle's award winning gardens. Lots of beautiful photos were taken, many of which made various newspapers.
The day ended with visits to the Round Tower in Ardmore and to the An Rinn Gaeltacht, where we got a demonstration in the cutting of crystal. Saturday night was a free night and most people enjoyed excellent food in one of the many award winning restaurants in the town. Several people made a return to The Local Bar and they weren't disappointed as there was another excellent traditional session.
Sunday was the final day and it started with mass in Abbeyside church where we were welcomed by Fr Hassett. Visits to the plaque which marked the site of McGraths castle and the tomb in the ruins of old church followed mass.
The afternoon was taken up by a talk on DNA and a Q&A. A short meeting followed and a number of issues were discussed. Some were side tracked, due to the matter of a soccer game in France.
There were a number of offers of help to increase our network and let people know about our events. After some discussion about the next gathering of our clan, it was decided that two years was too short a break and that the next gathering of the clan would take place in 2019 in Dungarvan.
The final event of the weekend was the Clan Gala Dinner. This was one of the highlights of the gathering with some top class entertainment. Special Guest was Cllr John O'Leary, the Deputy Mayor and his wife. He spoke of the value of our gathering, the friendships made and looked forward to seeing everyone back in Dungarvan at some time in the future.
Presentations were made to Ann Marie Coughlan and John Collard, plus a special award to Seamus McGrath, the Canadian Olympian.
Dan McGrath thanked everyone who had attended the event. He spoke of the huge support which he received from the businesses in the town. The Clan Chieftain thanked the members of the local committee for their help and the Park Hotel, which proved to be an excellent base. He asked those present to help spread the word of our clan gatherings to other members of the clan around the globe. Before he finished, he thanked Waterford City & County Council for their continued support of the event. He finished by wishing everyone a safe trip home and hoped to see them back in 2019.
It brought to an end a wonderful few days in the beautiful coast town in Co Waterford, which had made our clan welcome from the minute they arrived.
Clan members were high in their praise of the local area's hospitality and the warmth of the Irish welcome.
Despite the event starting on Thursday, visitors started arriving in the town from early in the week, with many staying two weeks. Members of the clan stayed in local hotels, B&Bs and rented out self catering accommodation. They enjoyed a true irish welcome from the town of Dungarvan. Such was the success of the festival of McGrath heritage, it was decided to return to the town in 2019 for the next International McGrath Clan Gathering. Further information;