McGrath Clan Gathering 2019 report

McGrath group photo 2019

International McGrath Clan (Thomond) Gathering 2019 – Dungarvan 

The 6th International McGrath Clan Gathering, hosted by the McGrath Clan Association/Cumman Clann Mhic Craith, took place in the beautiful coastal town of Dungarvan in Co. Waterford, between Wednesday June 26th and Sunday 30th.

On Wednesday 26th, visitors from around the world checked in during the afternoon at Park Hotel, Dungarvan. The official opening was later that evening in the SGC Cinema and the attendance included Mayor of Waterford City & County, Cllr John Pratt. This was followed by a film premiere in the cinema on the life of Archbishop Miler Magrath. A top class traditional Irish Music Session followed that night in Minnie’s Bar.

Thursday 27th started with the first of two heritage tours. It saw the group travel to Cobh, where we visited St Coleman’s Cathedral, Cobh Heritage Centre and the Annie Moore Statue. After Cobh, we visited Youghal and discovered the story of the McGraths and their life in the Clock Gate Tower in the town.

Our next stop was the beautiful village of Ardmore and its famous 10th-century round tower and cathedral. The day’s coach trip ended with a visit to the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) area of Co. Waterford and to the Criostal na Rinne factory, where Eamon Terry, a former Waterford Crystal master cutter, gave a very impressive demonstration of crystal cutting. All three coaches arrived back in good time for our BBQ, during which we had a 25th wedding anniversary vows renewal. The day ended with another Traditional Irish Music Session, this time in The Local Bar on the town’s Main Square.

On Friday 28th, we had two lecture sessions in the SGC Cinema. Lectures were given by Ann Marie Coughlan, William Fraher, Caroline Smiddy and Kevin McCarthy. These were followed in the afternoon by a visit to Dungarvan Castle, Waterford County Museum and the WW1 Memorial Wall.

At 5pm, we had the Clan Photo and this was followed by the Clan Parade, led by our Chieftain Dan McGrath. The parade saw members of the clan walk behind their nations’ flags and the McGrath Clan Flag to the castle. It was an amazing sight to see over 200 people following the flags of the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, England and Ireland. The Pipe Band who had led the parade, played a few more tunes on arrival at the castle gates and ended with the Irish National Anthem.

Later that night, we had the ‘Presentation of Flag Host Certificates’ in Minnie’s Bar. 

The town had a Traditional Irish Music Festival to coincide with the gathering and as a result, there were several top quality Traditional Irish Music Sessions to enjoy in various bars for the duration of the event.

On Saturday 29th, the second heritage tour took place. Its first stop was at Knockmaun Castle. This was followed by a visit to the site of the Battle of Affane, the last Gaelic war.

Next stop was Lismore where we first visited the MacCraith Tomb and the Cotton Library, which was opened specially for the McGrath Clan. It’s normally open one day each year. Then it was onto the magnificent Lismore Castle and the Lismore Heritage Centre.

Our next destination was Sleady Castle, where Joanne gave us a detailed account of its history. Then it was onto the Famine Memorial where we laid a wreath in memory of those lost.

Our final destination was Abbeyside, where we visited Abbeyside Church (built by the McGraths and O’Briens in 1290), a tomb (Donal MacCraith 1470) and the plaque marking the site of the McGraths’ Castle.

That night we enjoyed more traditional Irish music, enjoyed Dungarvan’s nightlife, and some people got the chance to hear one of Ireland’s top Traditional Irish groups, ‘Danu’ in concert in the Park Hotel.

Sunday 30th started off with the Clan Mass in Abbeyside. The final Lecture Session of our gathering took place in the Park Hotel that afternoon. Luke McInerney gave the opening lecture and Dennis Wright gave the second lecture. During the lectures, the Liam McGrath Memorial Research Bursary was presented by Conor O’Brien, Chieftain of the O’Brien Clan and direct descendant of Brian Boru. Also in attendance at the lecture sessions were Dr Joe Mannion, Chairman Clans of Ireland, fellow director Brendan Lynch, and Alice McGrath, widow of the late Liam McGrath.

Later that night, we had the Clan Gala Dinner in the Park Hotel. Dr Joe Mannion, Chairman Clans of Ireland addressed those in attendance and was part of the presentation party with Conor O’Brien, Chieftain of the O’Brien Clan and Dan McGrath, for the presentations of the Medal of Echthighern, the highest honour that the McGrath Clan can bestow on an individual, named after Brian Boru’s brother, from whom the clan originate. These were presented to Dan Patrick McGrath, USA, John McGrath, SA & Ireland, and Steven McGraw, USA.

The dinner finished off with an awesome Traditional Irish music, song and dance show.

Dan McGrath finished the night by thanking everyone who travelled to the gathering and anyone who had contributed to its success and making it the biggest McGrath Clan Gathering in living memory in Ireland.

Before the gathering finished, plans were already underway for the 7th International McGrath Clan Gathering in 2022.