2001 O'Driscoll Clan Gathering

Held annually for the last 15 years, the Clan Gathering takes place in the O'Driscoll Heartland, Baltimore, West County Cork, over the last full weekend of June. This year it opened under beautiful sunny skies and warm weather on Friday, June 22nd. The 2001 sponsors were Heineken Ireland and Crona Milk.

Since the Clan Gathering's inception, many Clan members have braved the trip from other parts of the world to visit the birthplace of their forefathers and to take in the wonderful Irish hospitality offered there. The festivities centre around the town square and Bushe's Bar located there. The proprietess of the bar, Eileen O'Driscoll Bushe, is a sister to one of our former Clan Chieftains, Bernard O'Driscoll. As one of our entourage noted, in this town you can't "swing a dead cat" without hitting an O'Driscoll Clan member.

Here, Bruce Driscoll from New Brunswick gathers with his family for a photo in front of Bushe's Bar.

Equally difficult is getting them to stop talking long enough to round them up for the activities taking place. For sure, talking is one of the O'Driscolls' favourite pastimes. It possibly comes in first before singing and drinking Guinness! At one point I commented to one of the Gathering's organizers that it was like "herding cats" trying to get them all going in the same direction at the same time. This Canadian expression was unheard of over there so when I explained what it meant I was told that in Ireland the same expression would be "it's like herding white mice at a crossroads in a snowstorm".

After the registration of Clan members at the boat club, we were entertained and educated by a professor from the university who gave a history of the O'Driscoll name as well as the origins for many other popular Irish names. He then went on to relate a few historical anecdotes about the O'Driscolls who were, at one time, a powerful family in County Cork. Following the historical lecture we convened in the Town Square for the official opening ceremonies presided over by our current Clan Chieftain, Conchubar (pronounced Cruhooar, Irish for Cornelius) O'Drisceoil. Conchubar and his wife Eleanor took turns imparting messages of welcome in both English and Irish(which is still widely spoken and understood in this part of Ireland).

Visiting Driscolls and O'Driscolls gather with the locals at the town square for the official opening ceremonies.

The evening continued back at the boat club where the local Clan members put on a spread to be rivalled by none. The food, wine and talk flowed freely as Clan members from all over began getting acquainted with each other.

Joining the local Clan members were four Driscolls from England, many from the United States, and 10 of us from Canada:

Frank Driscoll - British Columbia
Terri Driscoll - Ontario
Cathy Driscoll- Ontario
Maureen Driscoll Crowley - Ontario
Bruce & Marilyn Driscoll - New Brunswick
Shauna Driscoll - New Brunswick
Jim Driscoll - New Brunswick
Dylan & Shirley Driscoll - Newfoundland

Saturday dawned warm and sunny again! We found ourselves wending our way down the hill to the docks where Conchubar's ferry was waiting to take us to Cape Clear Island for the day. Following a slightly arduous hike through the hills of Cape Clear, guided by a pair of naturalists who made the hike informative as well as fun, we met at one of the Island Pubs for a tasty meal and a lecture on genealogical searches in Ireland. Exploring the island a little on our own we found a lovely old cemetery which, unfortunately, was not able to impart any of its secrets to us as access to these areas had been closed due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the British Isles.

Some O'Driscoll Clan members arriving on Cape Clear Island.

On Cape Clear - the ruins of one of the O'Driscoll castles.

Libby Driscoll from England at our lunch stop. Her Mom and Dad are keeping a close eye on her.

Saying a sad goodbye to Cape Clear from the deck of Conchubhar's ferry.

Returning to Baltimore, Saturday evening was spent in the square in front of Bushe's Bar and La Jolie Brise where, once again, people mingled and explored their common ancestries and stories and created new memories of their own.

Third time lucky!!! Sunday morning also dawned bright and clear for our short ferry ride to Sherkin Island for Sunday Mass in a beautiful old stone church. The locals offered tea and "biscuits" (cookies for us North Americans) after Mass and a chance, once again, to talk - the O'Driscoll family occupation! After Mass and tea, the Clan members were on their own to explore this historical Island. Some chose to wander to the other side of the Island and enjoy some time on the sandy beach found there. Others of us joined a tour of the ruins of a 15th Century Friary located on the Island. For those of us not familiar with buildings more than a couple of hundred years old, the time spent in this old Abbey was truly awe-inspiring. Plaques on the wall in the entrance section depicted the early days of the Abbey and detailed the restoration work currently being carried on there. After this, we met up with several other Clan members who had - you guessed it - found their way to one of the two pubs on the Island. Ah - for a pint of Guinness and good company - this is what the Irish live for!

During the afternoon we spent on the Island, other members who had not made the ferry trip over were entertained by a parade of antique autos and much partying in the town square.

Dylan & Shirley Driscoll from Newfoundland in front of the Sherkin Friary.

Inside the friary there are many plaques such as this telling the story of the Friary and the recent efforts to restore it.

Visitors and locals gather outside the church after Mass on Sherkin Island.

A couple of antique cars in front of Bushe's when we return from Sherkin Island.

Several Canadians find their way to one of the pubs on Sherkin Island after Mass.

An international group in the back room or "snug" of Bushe's Bar after the closing ceremonies of the 2001 Clan Gathering.

The organized portion of the Clan Gathering came sadly to an end on Sunday evening in the town square of Baltimore. There, in his closing remarks, our Clan Chieftain announced he would be staying one more year in office before turning over the chain of office to a new Chieftain at next year's event. Whether this is true or he will be persuaded to stay on again to lead our Clan in the future remains to be seen. I guess we should all plan on attending next year's Gathering to find out!

Our current and some of our past Clan Chieftains gather to bid a fond farewell and officially close the 2001 Clan Gathering. (Unofficially, we went on for hours!)