2003 O'Driscoll Clan Gathering

We're very glad to say we managed to make the trek across the ocean again this year to take part in the O'Driscoll Clan Gathering and Midsummer Festival. The last full weekend in June, every summer since 1986, the little town of Baltimore, West County Cork, fills its streets with fun and festivities for all, and the rekindling of family ties within the O'Driscoll Clan. Each year the Festival attracts a large gathering of O'Driscolls from around the world.

Unfortunately, the weather was definitely uncooperative this year but the O'Driscolls are made of pretty stern stuff. It would take a lot more than a little rain and cold weather to dampen our enthusiasm.

Once again, the Clan Gathering and Midsummer Festival was made possible by the generous support of our sponsors: Heineken Ireland and Clona Milk. Shown left to right are: Aidan Coughlan from Heineken Ireland, Clan Chieftain Conchubhar O'Drisceoil, and, representing Clona Milk, Dan O'Driscoll.

The Gathering got underway Friday, the 28th, with the registration of Clan members at the Sailing Club and a very entertaining talk on the O'Driscoll heritage by local historian, Gerald O'Brien.

Local Historian Gerald O'Brien shown with Chieftain Conchubhar O'Drisceoil after the O'Driscoll talk Friday evening.

The sun is setting over the harbour as we move to the town square to watch the official opening of the Clan Gathering.

Swelling the ranks of the local O'Driscolls, Clan members came from far and near again this year.
Bruce and Marilyn Driscoll from New Brunswick were the only Canadians to attend.

A good representation, as always, from the USA. This list is not yet complete but I will add to it as the final information comes in:

Shirley Howard Curtis
Barbara Munizza
John and Barbara Driscoll
Tim and Norma Driscoll
Mary Driscoll Hypes
Susan Driscoll
Sandra J. Driscoll
Steve and Susan Driscoll
W.M. "Doc" Driscoll
Patricia Driscoll
Washington, D.C.
Amy Driscoll

From Australia:
Neill Driscoll
Natalie Driscoll

From England:
Dave Driscoll, (webmaster of the Driscolls of the U.K. site),
Dave's grandchildren Sophie and Robbie, and their Grandmother Jackie

From Wales:
John Driscoll

Irish members of the Clan also came from other parts of the country:
Sean O'Drisceoil from Galway
Bridie O'Driscoll Murphy from Cork
Donal and Maura O'Driscoll from Cork

The evening continued as all of these and more left the Sailing Club to take in the "offical" opening ceremony in the Town square. Former Clan Chieftain, Bridie O'Driscoll Murphy welcomed everyone to the Clan Gathering and Festival and invited the Clan members back to the Lifeboat Restaurant where a wonderful buffet was spread before us and the accompanying wine did little to curb our enthusiasm.

The large crowd gets acquainted over good food, good wine, and great conversation.

Posing for the camera, L to R:
Dave Driscoll - England; Bruce Driscoll - Canada; John Driscoll - Pennsylvania; Steve Driscoll - Texas; unknown (anyone recognize this fine strapping lad?); Barbara Driscoll - Pennsylvania.

Our bellies full, we headed back to the Town Square where we were entertained by the band, "Open the Taps". Needing no more encouragement than that, we did indeed open the taps!

The weather on Saturday was none too promising as we all trekked down to the dock and our outgoing Clan Chieftain, Conchubhar O'Drisceoil, piloted us all in his ferry, Naomh Ciaran, to Oilean Claire (Cape Clear Island) for the day. The 40 minute crossing was a little rough with the winds cheering on the swells around us but, we were all enjoying being with each other so much that no one really seemed to notice.

A nice shot of the Baltimore shoreline, and of Dun na Sead Castle, as we leave for Cape Clear.

So far, so good - Cape Clear, safe and sound!

We were met at the dock by Mary O'Driscoll and Jeff Oliver, a local naturalist. They led us to the monument of St. Ciaran's Well where Mary gave a short talk on the well, and St. Ciaran before we reconvened at a local pub for scones and tea. Then, gathering folk together, Jeff led a group of willing victims on an energetic walk around the island. Dave Driscoll took a small group in a different direction across the Island to see the ruins of one of the O'Driscoll castles as well as the remains of the old rock lighthouse. The rest of us who had done the walk before spent time looking through the art and craft shops, exploring the ruins of the old church and cemetary, then - you guessed it, warming ourselves up back at Ciaran Danny Mike's while we waiting for the hikers to return.

Mary and Jeff gather us all in front of St. Ciaran's well.

First stop - Tea, coffee and scones!

Steve, Bruce and Susan Driscoll exploring on their own.

While waiting for the others to arrive we were entertained by a couple of talented musicians. Our intrepid hikers returned quite some time and several beers later and joined us at Ciaran Danny Mike’s for a lovely buffet lunch. With bellies full and the chatter and laughter contagious, we had one more pleasant task to complete. Steve and Susan Driscoll from Texas made the occasion even more special by renewing their wedding vows in front of the Clan members after 25 years of marriage. While Steve waited nervously at the back of the room with our Chieftain, Conchubhar O’Drisceoil and the witnesses, Dave Driscoll from England and Marilyn Driscoll from Canada, Neil O’Driscoll from Australia played the part of surrogate father and escorted Susan, smiling and clutching her bouquet of wildflowers picked specially for her by Sophie, Dave Driscoll’s granddaughter, and Aine O’Driscoll, daughter of incoming Clan Chieftain, Vincent O’Driscoll. Our Chieftain had a few welcoming remarks for the occasion before inviting first Steve, and then Susan to renew their vows to each other in their own heartfelt words. After this, Conchubhar gave a beautiful and appropriate reading to mark the occasion and wished the couple well for the rest of their life journey together. The happy couple sealed their vows with a kiss as the crowd cheered and clapped. Conchubhar then presented the couple with a beautiful charcoal sketch of Cape Clear Island’s famous “Trysting Stones” drawn by one of his very talented daughters whose artwork hangs in one of the Island craft stores. After signing the Renewal of Vows certificate prepared for the occasion, the couple turned and faced the crowd for pictures, hand shakes and lots of congratulatory kisses.

Saying a sad farewell to Cape Clear for the day, the group wended their way down to the dock for the return trip to Baltimore. If we thought the crossing over was a little rough, it was nothing compared to the trip back. With the ferry bobbing in the high winds and waves, the O’Driscoll Clan, undaunted by the weather, laughed and talked their way home. With a few less adventurous souls opting for the cover of the inside cabin, most of us were huddled outside, close to the center of the ferry to keep dry. A minority, (okay – just you Tim) decided to stay by the rail to catch a better view of the weather and scenery around us. Below you can see Tim, first responding to his daughter’s admonishment to get away from the rail by telling her he was doing just fine, then, about 15 seconds later when his daughter approached him to pull him away from the rail, both of them look a little bedraggled as the sea decided to teach Tim a lesson. Of course the rest of us were quite amused by this turn of events (Sorry Tim, but it was funny!). Arriving back in Baltimore, the weather wasn't nearly as bad as out on the open sea. We spent the evening in the square raising a few glasses and listening to a band play many well-known popular songs.

Sunday morning found most of us, not so bright-eyed nor bushy-tailed, back at the dock to board Vincent O’Driscoll’s ferry for Sherkin Island for Sunday Mass. The weather was still cool and damp but many of us made our way to the ruins of the old friary after Mass. There, one of the persons involved in the restoration of the Friary gave a very informative tour and explained the work being done to bring this fantastic example of 15th century architecture back to the prominence it deserves. Hopefully the job can be completed before the funding and support dries up!

After leaving the Friary, we reconvened in one of the pubs on the Island for lunch before returning to Baltimore where we prepared for the last “official” part of the Gathering. While both the opening and closing ceremonies often take place right in the town square, the imminent threat of bad weather saw us all down at the sailing club for the afternoon where a country band entertained the adults, a clown and face painters kept the kiddies entertained, and a couple of short speeches were given by former Clan Chieftains Sean O’Drisceoil and Bernard O’Driscoll before Chieftain Conchubhar O’Drisceoil turned the chain of office over to his successor, Vincent O’Driscoll. The gathered Clan members cheered the installation of the new Chieftain and wished him well during his term of office. Vincent gave a short speech thanking everyone for their support and echoing the sentiments of everyone there, that the O’Driscoll Clan continue to grow in numbers and in strength and that this festival provide the focal point for the gathering of O’Driscoll Clan members for many years to come.

After the gathering was “officially” called to a close, many of us wandered back up to Bushe’s Bar where Dave Driscoll brought out his accordion and we all joined in singing our favourite songs. Solos by Bridie O’Driscoll Murphy from Cork, and Neil O’Driscoll and his daughter Natalie O’Driscoll, from Australia were received with great enthusiasm. Bruce Driscoll, from Canada, sang two songs he had composed for the occasion – one about the O’Driscoll gathering, and the other in the style of a traditional “sea shanty”. Before the evening closed out, Clan Chieftain Vincent performed one of his first official duties by presenting Aidan Bushe, Chair of the fund-raising committee for Baltimore’s new Community Centre, with a donation made by the Clan members present at this year’s Gathering for the purchase of some chairs for the Centre.

Many hugs and kisses later, we waved a sad goodbye to each other as the 2003 Clan Gathering came to a close and we all headed in our different directions with visions of reuniting again – for some of us in 2004, others in a couple or few years down the road.