Tipperary’s Canon Stephen Neill with US President Barack Obama.
Church of Ireland Rector, Canon Stephen Neill, the man who confirmed US President Barack Obama’s ancestral roots with Moneygall, has decided to pull up and relocate his own roots.
The 45 year old has announced he is leaving his Cloughjordan and the Borrisokane Group of parishes to become Rector of Celbridge and Straffan with Newcastle–Lyons. His Service of Institution as Incumbent of the latter parishes will take place on Thursday, February 12th, 2015 next at 8.00pm in Christ Church, Celbridge, Co Kildare.
Canon Neill has ministered to Cloughjordan residents for the past seventeen years and as part of his move, he now relinquishes his Church of Ireland “Canon” status; laughingly admitting “I will be getting €50 less a month in salary, so I’m not going for the money.”
In explaining his desire to uproot, Canon Neill explains that he now seeks new challenges and fears becoming “too comfortable,” latter which has caused “an itch that needs to be scratched.”
Canon Neill admits that leaving the Cloughjordan and Borrisokane Group of parishes won’t be easy for himself, or for his wife Nicola and their teenage son Aaron. He feels a sense of guilt and regret walking away, after such a long time, having secured strong bonds of proven loyalty and tested friendships with those within his community; all of whom have stood together with him, through thick and thin.
The Dublin born Canon, who is also Precentor of the joint chapter of St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick and St Flannan’s Cathedral, Killaloe, made headlines around the world after his research led to the confirmation that US President Barack Obama’s great-great-grandfather Joseph Kearney had been baptised in the parish of Moneygall. Indeed his personal contribution, within the wider midland regions of Ireland to encourage tourism alone, have far surpassed Fáilte Ireland’s derisory attempts at marketing and highlighting this area.
Canon Neill himself is a very keen reader, blogger and writer, contributing opinion pieces on his website and on local and national newspapers. Previously Curate Assistant in Monkstown, Dublin and in Limerick City Parish, he is a committed ecumenist, believing that the future of our Churches is in gaining closer bonds between all Christians of all traditions, while at the same time discovering where God is at work outside the walls of churches.
Rev Ruth Gill, latter who is already familiar with the Cloughjordan & Borrisokane Group of parishes will now serve as interim Priest-In-Charge for the time being.
In a recent Blog Canon Neill wrote:-
“As I write these notes I am conscious that there is still an occasion to come when I will have a chance to say a formal farewell to you my friends in this group of parishes. But for those of you who may not be able to be present may I thank you on behalf of myself, Nicola & Aaron, for the warmth and generosity you have shown us since our arrival in August 1998. It has been a privilege to be your rector and fellow companion on the journey of life. We will always consider this place very special and it is you the parishioners who have made our time here a happy one. We leave with good memories and not a little sadness. May God bless each and every one of you as you have blessed us.”
Moneygall Development Association made a presentation last Monday night in Ollie’s Bar to acknowledge Canon Neill’s contribution to their community; described him as being selfless and having strengthened bonds between faiths which will remain a lasting legacy. Using President Obama’s quote, “We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it” the association whole heartedly agreed that Canon Neill’s presence in their community had definitely shaped a brighter future for the area.
North Tipperary’s loss is most definitely a gain for the Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough and so we wish Canon Stephen every success in his new journey and in the words of the old Irish Toast; “May you have warm words on a cool evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door.”
Gabrielle Ní Mheachair – Author,
Over a twenty-two year period, Gabrielle Ní Mheachair has researched and recently published a detailed history of the Maher/Meagher/ O’Meachair Clan, thus providing for the very first time a well researched history of the Clan. Same publication now provides a valuable asset to any library and more importantly a convenient research tool for any person wishing to research the Maher Clan.
“Ó Meachair -The Story of a Clan” is the most thorough history of the Maher/Meagher Clan possibly ever written. Appreciate the role your Maher/Meagher ancestors played in all the major events of Irish history from the coming of the Celts to National Independence in 1922.
This book is not only a history of the Maher/Meagher Clan but also a simple history of Ireland written for an audience versed or unversed in Irish History.
Gabrielle Ní Mheachair – The Author
Author Gabrielle Ní Mheachair spent the first twenty years of her life residing on a rural farm just outside Templemore, Co. Tipperary, here in Ireland. After four years of teaching in Co. Donegal, she travelled to the United States on an adventure that has kept her resident there ever since.
A renowned historian, folklorist and genealogist, Gabrielle is also the author of several children’s books in the Irish language, together with three genealogical works and is a former columnist for the Mid West Irish Focus, Jefferson City, Missouri; latter which focuses primarily on Irish-Americans in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Arkansas and Oklahoma. She lectures and writes for various genealogical organizations and historical journals throughout the United States and currently resides with her husband and three children in Saint Louis, Missouri. The Tipp FM, Arts and Entertainment Award, was awarded to Gabrielle in 2009, for her valuable contribution to the arts through her various writings.
Irish authors, like Gabrielle, spent years of their lives researching history at tremendous personal expense. They invest thousands of Euros into the travel, research, and self-publication of their works for the benefit of future generations, knowing they can never ever recoup their expenditure. As a result, they rely on the help of our historical societies to promote their work, not for profit, but for educational value and for posterity.
This book is a ‘must have,’ for anyone who bears the Maher/Meagher name.
First RTÉ drama ever commissioned about a political figure includes portrayal by Thurles born actor.
Thurles born Peter O’Meara as Brian Lenihan in ‘Charlie’.
Episode one (Duration: 1hr – 12mins) of the feature-length drama ‘Charlie’; exploring the real events and the emergence of modern Ireland through the rise and fall of Charles J. Haughey, was broadcast last night (Sunday, January 4th) at 9.30pm for the first time. It should be noted that this RTÉ One slot was previously occupied by ‘Love/Hate’ and will continue to air this month for the next two Sunday nights.
The first Episode of ‘Charlie’ seen last night, began with the Fianna Fáil leadership heave of 1979 in which Mr Charles J. Haughey (September 1925 – June 2006), ousted the then sitting Taoiseach Mr Jack Lynch (August 1917 – October 1999) and ended with the formers 1981 narrow election defeat.
This new historical drama stars Aidan Gillen, formally drug trafficker ‘John Boy Power’ in the aforementioned ‘Love/Hate’ drama, as Charlie J Haughey, while Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, formally ‘Nidge‘ in ‘Love/Hate’, plays Mr Haughey’s press secretary P.J. Mara in ‘Charlie’.
However from a Thurles viewing perspective all eyes were on the outstanding performance, once again, by Tipperary and Thurles native, actor Peter O’Meara, who played the part of a young ‘Brian Lenihan TD’ in ‘Charlie’, having been formally cast as ‘Andrew’, latter the dentist who fleeced his clients to fund his love of champagne and low-rent prostitutes, also in the popular ‘Love/Hate’ series.
The Thurles, Co Tipperary 5ft 9in award-winning Irish actor, producer and television host (born Peter Emmanuel O’Meara on October 27th, 1969) is no stranger to stage and screen. Hailed for his work on the London stage he came to the screen in the ground-breaking HBO series ‘Band of Brothers’ playing 1st Lt. Norman Dike. He acquired an impressive following on the US TV series ‘Peacemakers’ as detective Larimer Finch latter bringing the science of the future to the ‘Old West,’ opposite Tom Berenger playing Marshall Jared Stone, and received the Western Heritage ‘Bronze Wrangler’ award.
Peter O’Meara later went on to star on season 4 of ‘Alias’ as the International arms dealer Martin Bishop opposite Jennifer Garner and guest starred on ‘CSI: NY’ with Gary Sinise, and in ‘Without A Trace’ with Anthony La Paglia and of course ‘The Forgotten’ with Christian Slater. He recently returned to the Sky/Cinemax action series ‘Strike Back’ as Major Brian Donoghue.
Peter has appeared in the independent feature films; ‘Haven’ with Orlando Bloom, ‘Resident Evil: Extinction’ with Milla Jovovich and the acclaimed British World War I drama ‘My Boy Jack’ with Daniel Radcliffe and Carey Mulligan.
In relation to comedy roles Peter is friend to Justin Long in the New Line Cinema hit romantic comedy ‘He’s Just Not That into You’ playing Bill opposite Ginnifer Goodwin. He has also taken minor roles in the comedy‘The Grand’ with Ray Romano and the movie ‘Leap Year’ opposite Amy Adams and John Lithgow.
Peter, who is married to comedy and drama writer Kayla Alpert, are both parents to twin 7-year-old boys, Myles and Clive and often take low profile trips home here to Thurles to visit his parents, now living in active retirement.
For those of you who may have missed episode one of this historical drama, his excellent and most believable portrayal of the late Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Brian Lenihan TD (November 1930 – November 1995), can be viewed by clicking HERE, anytime over the next 14 day.
This year’s Christmas video advert from Sainsbury’s, the third largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom, titled “Christmas is for sharing” was made in partnership with The Royal British Legion. It commemorates the extraordinary events of Christmas Day, 1914, when artillery guns fell silent and two armies met in no-man’s land, to share gifts and play football together.
Many people may not be aware that the director of this fine video advert, Mr Ringan Ledwidge, is just ‘four degrees of separation’ from our county of Tipperary. Ringan Ledwidge admits he was intimidated by the sensitivity of this his video subject; indeed his own great-uncle and Slane, Co Meath born Irish war poet, Lance Corporal Francis Ledwidge, died at the Battle of Passchendaele in July 1917, aged just 29, and his paternal grandfather had fought in both world wars.
Lance Corporal Francis Ledwidge was dismayed by the news of the Easter 1916 Rising, and was court-martialled and demoted for overstaying his home leave and also for being drunk in uniform. However on his return to the front, he received back his Lance Corporal’s stripe in January 1917; when he was posted to the Western Front, joining the 29th Division, 1st Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
On July 31st 1917, a number of soldiers, including Ledwidge, were involved in road-laying in preparation for an upcoming assault during the Third Battle of Ypres, close the village of Boezinge, northwest of Ypres. While Ledwidge was drinking tea in a mud crater with his comrades, a shell exploded, killing the poet and five others. Rev. Francis Charles Devas, (S.J., D.S.O. 1917; O.B.E. 1919) latter a chaplain who knew him, recorded “Ledwidge killed, blown to bits.”
Francis Ledwidge – His Tipperary Connection
It was Francis Ledwidge, latter also a friend of W.B. Yeats, who wrote the ” Lament for Thomas MacDonagh.” Thomas MacDonagh, as we are aware, was born here in Cloughjordan, County Tipperary and educated at Rockwell College near Cashel. MacDonagh had grown up in a household filled with music, poetry and learning and was instilled by both his parents, (both teachers), with his love for both English and Irish culture from a young age and became a signatory of the Irish Proclamation.
Lament for Thomas MacDonagh – by Francis Ledwidge
“He shall not hear the bittern cry in the wild sky, where he is lain,
Nor voices of the sweeter birds above the wailing of the rain.
Nor shall he know when loud March blows thro’ slanting snows her fanfare shrill,
Blowing to flame the golden cup of many an upset daffodil.
But when the Dark Cow leaves the moor and pastures poor with greedy weeds,
Perhaps he’ll hear her low at morn, lifting her horn in pleasant meads.”
A small section of this Christmas Day, 1914 happening will be recreated during the “Carols By Candlelight,” service in St Mary’s Church, Thurles, on December 14th next at 8.00pm. (But more on that upcoming Thurles Christmas event very soon.)
While our present government currently continues to ignore Co Tipperary’s economy and history, one wonders will the memory of Thomas MacDonagh be included in any proposed future 1916 commemorations, since after all, we do reside outside of Dublin.
This year’s Upperchurch-Drombane Historical Journal will be officially launched in Upperchurch Hall this Sunday December 7th at 11.30 a.m. This is the fifth edition of the popular local publication and has the usual complement of historical records, articles, poems and photographs.
(Left Click on Image Left for larger magnification.)
Guest of honour this year will be Mr. Con Ryan of Glown, Upperchurch, whose record of activity in community affairs down through the years, is immense. Con will be joined by Mr Jimmy Duggan of Thurles, an equally tireless contributor to local activities. Jimmy will give a short talk on the history and ecosystem of bogs. The new one kilometre bog walk beside the community centre was opened just this year and excellent new interpretive signs have now been erected. Weather permitting, this talk will be given while walking around the bog. All are welcome to attend this event.
New contributors to this year’s journal will include Mr Eamon Ryan who has an interesting article on home butter making. Ms Evelyn O’Regan writes on the lives of two nuns from Drombane who were part of a group of some forty who left the Borrisoleigh area to go to Kansas in 1895. Br. Thomas Moynihan went in the opposite direction to India and his story is recounted by his nieces Margaret Hassey and Geraldine Duggan. Locals; Mr Ned Harrington and Ms Maura Armstrong have both contributed poetry.
The old reliable contributors are again led by Mr Eugene Shortt who takes us through a personal summary of parish history from the Ice Age to the new GAA dressing rooms. He also provides a list of the 133 families who lived in the towns-land of Drombane back in 1835. His brother Frankie trawls through the Civil and Down Surveys of the mid 17th century to examine the many place names no longer in use. Mr Paddy Dwyer has researched the history of the many local forges with the help of Mr Tom Stapleton and Mr Billy Clancy.
Part of the parish of Upperchurch-Drombane once belonged to the Castlefogarty estate in days gone by. Mr Thomas Fogarty explores these links and tells the tale of a member of the Fogarty family who fell foul of the Hastings born Titus Oates, latter the English perjurer who fabricated the “Popish Plot”, a supposed Catholic conspiracy to kill King Charles II. Titus Oates also inspired anti-Catholic hysteria that claimed the life of St. Oliver Plunkett.
Mr Eddie Kennedy was a world class race walker, who came from the Shanballyduff area and his remarkable story is told by Mr Tom Quinlan.
Last year Ms Joan Ryan gave an account of all the parish Priests to have ministered in Upperchurch and this year the complete list of curates is added. There are local people who can recall fifteen of them!
Mr Andy Byrne gives a history of music and musicians and also reminds us of local events held 50 to 100 years ago.
The Interment Lists relating to the local cemeteries are again added. Those who enjoyed the “Eamon an Chnoic” play two years ago will be pleased to note that the script is being published, (Act One this year and Act Two next year).
As the 2010 journal is now completely sold out it will be made available for viewing shortly in pdf format at www.upperchurch.ie.
Extra copies have been printed from subsequent years, however these are unlikely to be put on the website in the foreseeable future.
Remember the Date:- Sunday Next December 7th at 11.30 a.m.