O'Driscoll Clan Chieftains

served 1999-2003

Conchubhar O'Drisceoil

For all those who have taken the ferry to Cape Clear in the past, Conchubhar O'Drisceoil's face will be very familiar - he was the owner and Captain for many years. As our captain as well, Conchubhar (pronounced Cróohur - Irish for Cornelius) steered the clan into the new millennium since his investiture in 1999 was overseen by Bernard O'Driscoll of Baltimore and Seán O'Drisceoil of Galway (former chieftains). Though Conchubhar's term ended in 2003 with the investiture of Vincent O'Driscoll as our Clan Chieftain, many Clan members around the world mourned his sudden passing in the fall of 2004.

Conchubhar was born in County Cork and lived on Cape Clear Island with his wife, Eleanor Cogan. He is survived by his wife and their four children: Aisling, Croíona, Verona, and Conchubhar Og.

Like many residents of County Cork, and particularly in the Cape Clear area, Conchubhar was a native Irish speaker as is his wife and children. He loved to promote our beautiful and ancient language and rich culture among O'Driscolls worldwide. He always had an interest in local and family history and, as ferryman to Oileán Chléire (Cape Clear) for 25 years, he had the pleasure of meeting many Clan members - from all walks of life and all corners of the world.

His parents were Finín O'Drisceoil and Máiread Ní Dhrisceoil. Paternal grandparents - Padraig (Pead Máirín Mheachain) Drisceoil and Máire (Máire Phádraig) Ní Dhrisceoil. Maternal grandparents - Cornelius (Inisfada) O'Drisceoil and Cáit Ní Churtáin.

Conchubhar's guidance and friendly, welcoming personality always provided inspiration to all Clan members and beyond! He is sorely missed by all.

As a fitting tribute to a well-loved man, the following article appeared in the Cape Clear International Newsletter, Issue number:2, September 2004:

Concubar, a recent chieftain of the O’Driscoll clan, died on Saturday 25th September shortly after 4pm. That very evening he started his homeward journey back to the island and people he loved, and to the people who loved him. His first stop, after Dunmanway, was at the little church in Baltimore where, the following morning, after a guard of honour supplied by Illen Rovers and Gabriel Rangers, a mass was said in his honour. They say that there was upwards of a thousand people at the church and plenty more who couldn’t get there for the level of traffic. On Sunday he continued his journey from the church and on into Baltimore town. When he arrived outside ‘Bushes,’ the pub of his choice, his family and friends, ably supported by the crew of the local Lifeboat,’ took it in turn to ‘shoulder’ him down the road, along the pier and then on to the Naomh Ciarán II for the last time.

His extended family joined him onboard, and they alone filled the ferry. There were many other boats in the harbour, of differing sizes, small boats and large boats, including all of the other ferries from hereabouts, who were ready and willing to take the rest of the mourners to the island. The smaller boats accompanied the Naomh Ciarán II out into the bay and beyond and then waited as sixteen or more boats continued on the journey. Those of us who remained on the island were waiting for Concubar to arrive. We waited.....but could see nothing due to the mist, and then all of a sudden the flotilla of boats, headed by the Naomh Ciarán II, closely followed by the Karrycraft and the Spirit of the Isles, broke through the mist. There they were, sixteen or more of them, spread across the visible horizon, ravishing to the eye, almost forming a chevron; the shape of a flock of soaring wild geese. You could feel the very essence of the man as necks were craned to see the sight as the flotilla of boats rose and fell with the swell of the sea and forged onwards to the island pier. It was as if Concubar was directing operations once more, as the Naomh Ciarán II, first among ferries, the love of the island, was bringing her captain home.

Wakes are rarer these days, but if a man ever deserved a wake that man was Concubar. The next stage of his journey saw him in a motorcade as he was taken along the pier and on to the south harbour and then on up the steep road to the top of the hill and the house that he built with his own hands. There he was laid out in one of the front rooms, and the rest of that day and night, and the following day too, saw a stream of people and cars as we all went to say our goodbyes. On Monday the day opened with blue skies and the promise of a grand day for the next stage of Concubar’s journey, and it simply didn’t matter when the mist rolled in. It just became a typically ’soft’ island day, the sort that Concubar was used to. In the afternoon he was taken in a motorcade to the island church of St Ciarán for the blessing, and again the church was full. The rest of us gathered outside and, thanks to the large outdoor speakers, listened to the soothing words of the three priests, and Concubar’s favourite hymns, sung so beautifully by the island’s own choir. After the blessing we were all invited down to Club Cleire to continue our celebration of Concubar’s life.

The time scheduled for Concubar's funeral mass, was Tuesday, 1.30pm, and it arrived soon enough. The church was filled again as the ferries struggled to bring the crowds of people who wanted to pay their last respects. Some people who couldn’t get on the main ferry were brought in via the slipway. It was another of those ‘soft’ island days when you couldn’t see the mainland for the mist. We were truly islanded here on Cape Clear, it was as if God was concentrating on us alone. There was easily 300 people outside the church of St Ciarán and we stood and talked of Concubar and what he meant to each of us. Yes we were desperate when first we heard the news of his illness, and desperate while we waited for more news, and desperate still when we heard that he had passed on. But the Wake has helped us to come to terms with our feelings and we are desperate no longer. Instead we remember his good deeds, his funny ways, his sense of humour and most of all his commitment to the people around him. Father Peter Queally led the mass and we listened as Eleanor spoke of Concubar, her husband, her man. Tears were shed while we smiled at the funny and poignant stories told by his children. The music was touching and beautiful and we cried again as we realised we were listening to some of Concubar’s favourite songs.

And then it was over and time for the final stage of Concubar’s journey as he was carried from the little church and out into the waiting crowd. His cortege made their way down into the south harbour and over the Cumar and on to the north harbour where it stopped outside the little island shop. The day was now getting warmer as the sun struggled to break through the mist and the north harbour was filling with the crowds of people who had walked from the church at the top of the hill, and yet there was still a sort of a hush as the lone piper, Fergal Mac Amhlaoibh, primed the bag of his pipes in readiness. Mairtín called out the order of the ten groups of men who would take it in turn to carry Concubar to his final resting place. The sound of the lone piper now filled the harbour as the first group of men moved off with Concubar on their shoulders. They walked along the seafront and stopped and changed to a new group every few minutes, and then they turned and walked along the pier and stopped next to the Naomh Ciarán II. We couldn’t all fit on the pier and so most of us waited in the distance and listened to the songs being sung for Concubar. Then the lone piper started up again and they started back along the pier and on up to the ancient ruined church of St Ciarán. Here Concubar was finally laid to rest at a place which allows a great view of the North Harbour and the berth of the Naomh Ciarán II. Concubar was a man who loved Irish music and he was done proud by the songs which flowed from the hearts of all the singers. God rest the soul of Concubar O’Driscoll.