Saturday, 22 July 2017

Latin Mass in Ballyhea - Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene

We returned to the shores of "gentle Mullagh" in the lea of Ballyhoura today for the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene. There we attended the Traditional Latin Mass celebrated in St. Mary's Church, Ballyhea.  The report of the Mass on Easter Monday can be found here.







Garret Mac Eniry's A Tale of the Munster Peasantry contained in P. W. Joyce's 1911 The Wonders of Ireland (to be found here) contains the following description of the Ballyhoura Mountains:
The Ballyhoura Mountains extend for several miles on the borders of the counties of Cork and Limerick. Commencing near Charleville, they stretch away towards the east, consisting of a succession of single peaks with lone and desolate valleys lying between, covered with heath or coarse grass, where for ages the silence has been broken only by the cry of the heath-cock or the yelp of the fox echoing among the rocks that are strewn in wild confusion over the sides of the mountains. They increase gradually in height towards the eastern extremity of the range, where they are abruptly terminated by the majestic Seefin, which projecting forwards—its back to the west and its face to the rising sun—seems placed there to guard the desolate solitudes behind it.

Towards the east it overlooks a beautiful and fertile valley, through which a little river winds its peaceful course to join the Funsheon; on the west "Blackrock of the eagle" rears its front —a sheer precipice—over Lyre-na-Freaghawn, a black heath-covered glen that divides the mountains. On the south it is separated by Lyre-na-Grena the "valley of the sun," from "the Long Mountain," which stretches far away towards Glenanaar; and immediately in front, on the opposite side of the valley, rises Barna Geeha, up whose sides cultivation has crept almost to its summit. Just under the eastern face of Seefin, at its very base, and extending even a little way up the mountain steep, reposes the peaceful little village of Glenosheen.[2]

Gentle reader, go if you can on some sunny morning in summer or autumn—let it be Sunday morning if possible—to the bottom of the valley near the bank of the little stream, and when you cast your eyes up to the village and the great green hill over it, you will admit that not many places even in our own green island can produce a prettier or more cheerful prospect. There is the little hamlet, with its whitewashed cottages gleaming in the morning beams, and from each a column of curling smoke rises slowly straight up towards the blue expanse. The base of the mountain is covered with wood, and several clumps of great trees are scattered here and there through the village, so that it appears imbedded in a mass of vegetation, its pretty cottages peeping out from among the foliage. The land on each side rises gently towards the mountain, its verdure interspersed by fields of blossomed potatoes laughing with joy, or of bright yellow corn, or more beautiful still, little patches of flax clothed in their Sunday dress of light blue.[3] Seefin rises directly over the village, a perfect cone; white patches of sheep are scattered here and there over its bright sunny face; and see, far up towards the summit, that long line of cattle, just after leaving Lyre-na-Grena, where they were driven to be milked, and grazing quietly along towards Lyre-na-Freaghawn.

The only sounds that catch your ear are, the occasional crow of a cock, or the exulting cackle of a flock of geese, or the softened low of a cow may reach you, floating down the hill side; or the cry of the herdsman, as with earnest gestures he endeavours to direct the movements of the cattle. But hear that merry laugh. See, it comes from the brow of the hill where the women of the village are just coming into view, returning from Lyre-na-Grena after milking their cows. Each carries a pail in one hand and a spancel in the other, and as they approach the village, descending the steep pathway—the "Dray-road," as it is called—that leads from "The Lyre," a gabble of voices mingled with laughter floats over the village, as merry and as happy as ever rung on human ear. Observe now they arrive at the village, the group becomes thinner as they proceed down the street, and at length all again is quietness.

Happy village! Pleasant scenes of my childhood! How vividly at this moment do I behold that green hill-side, as I travel back in imagination to the days of my boyhood, when I and my little brother Robert, and our companions—all now scattered over this wide world—ranged joyful among the glens in search of birds' nests, or climbed the rocks at its summit, eager to plant ourselves on its dizzy elevation. Why did ambition tempt me to leave my peaceful home?

Why did I abandon that sunny valley, where I might have travelled gently down the vale of life, free from those ambitious aspirations, those struggles with fortune that only destroy my peace? But though exiled far from my home, my heart shall never cease to point to its loved retirement; and ever, as release from business grants me the opportunity, I shall return to wander over the scenes of my infancy, to hold communion once again with the few companions of my boyhood that remain, and to think with feelings of kindly regret on those that are gone. And when weary from the incessant struggles of life, I seek an asylum from its turmoil, grant me, oh, kind Providence, to spend my declining years in that beloved valley, and to rest at length my aged head in the grave of my fathers on the green hill of Ardpatrick.[4]

About a century and a-half ago, that part of the valley where the village now stands was almost uninhabited. It was covered with a vast forest of oaks, which not only clothed the valley, but extended more than half way up to the summits of the surrounding hills; and to this day the inhabitants will tell you, in the words of their fathers, that "a person could travel from Ardpatrick to Darra (about five miles) along the branches of the trees." No human habitation relieved the loneliness, save only one small cottage that stood near the base of the hill. It was inhabited, from times too remote for even the memory of tradition to reach, by a family named MacEniry, descendants of that princely sept that once possessed the Ballyhoura Mountains with many miles of the surrounding country. About three acres of land just in front of the house, and a small garden in the rear, had been rescued by some of the early dwellers from the grasp of the forest; the produce of these, with the assistance of a cow or two, and a few sheep and goats that browsed on the mountain side, afforded each succeeding family a means of subsistence; and they lived as happy as the days are long in the quiet of their mountain solitude.

[2] See "Sir Donall" and "The White Ladye" in Robert Dwyer Joyce's "Ballads of Irish Chivalry" for all these places commemorated in verse.
[3] Flax was grown there then (1845); but there is no flax now (1911).
[4] All this sentiment was natural enough for a young man, homesick, after leaving his native place; but sixty years or more will bring changes of feeling (April, 1911).

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

National Latin Mass Pilgrimage to Armagh 2017

To mark the 10th Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum the Catholic Heritage Association of Ireland made our second pilgrimage to St. Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh.  A report of the first pilgrimage can be read here.  It was a truly National Pilgrimage with members coming from Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Limerick, Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Wexford and Wicklow - the Four Provinces of Ireland all represented - to assist at Holy Mass and attend our Annual General Meeting held afterwards in the Synod Hall attached to the Cathedral.

However, one element of the pilgrimage above all made it a most blessed occasion, the presence of His Eminence Seán, Cardinal Brady, Archbishop Emeritus of Armagh, to celebrate the Mass.  In his homily, Cardinal Brady reminded the congregation that the Traditional Latin Mass had been the Mass of his Altar service, of his First Communion and Confirmation, and of his Ordination and his First Mass.  He also reminded us that this day, the feast of St. John the Baptist, was his own feast day.  Cardinal Brady is to attend the Consistory on 28th June with Our Holy Father, Pope Francis.  His Eminence was assisted by Fr. Aidan McCann, C.C., who was ordained in the Cathedral only two years ago.  It was a great privilege and joy for the members and friends of the Catholic Heritage Association to share so many grace-filled associations with Cardinal Brady and Fr. McCann and the Armagh Cathedral community.
















Tuesday, 13 June 2017

St. Carthage and Spike Island

The River Lee flows from Gougane Barra through the City of Cork, as a sort of perpetual re-enactment of the religious lift of the great Saint Finbar, whose monastery in Gougane was followed by his monastery and great school in Cork, where he spent the last seventeen years of his earthly life, until his holy death on 25th September, 623.

However, the Lee flows on past Cork into the ocean, just as Finbar's soul flowed on into eternal life - there is deep meaning in the flowing of rivers!  As the Lee passes into its estuary, the harbour of Cork, it passes Spike Island, where Little Nellie of Holy God lived and where her mother died.  Nellie had been born in Waterford, and it was another saint associated with Waterford who first sanctified Spike Island.

St. Carthage was born of a noble family of Kerry.  He founded a monastery at Rahan in Offaly but was forcibly expelled with all his monks on account of the jealousy of local clerics about the year 634.  Travelling south, he obtained a cure for the King of Munster, Cathal Mac Aodh, and was granted the islands in Cork harbour for a monastery.  He seems to have resided there only a year but to have left a small monastic community there, including the three sons of Nascann, Bishop Goban, Sraphan the Priest and Saint Laserian.  He then proceeded to Lismore, where he established his great monastery and school that was to form the basis of the present Diocese. 

For this reason, even at the time of the Synod of Rathbreasail in 1110, it appears that the Diocese of Lismore extended as far as the Diocese of Cork and encompassed the Diocese of Cloyne.  I cannot account for the 'disappearance' of the Diocese of St. Colman Mac Léine (522-604) for the period of four and a half centuries.  There is also some doubt as to whether Spike Island itself was included in the Diocese of Lismore or of Cork at the time.  Certainly, a decretal of Innocent III of 1199 includes Spike Island in the Diocese of Cork.  There was certainly a Bishop in Cloyne by 1148 and the Diocese is listed among the Dioceses of Ireland at the Synod of Kells in 1152.  Even as late as the 16th Century, the collection records include Kilworth in the Diocese of Lismore.

Returning to the Holy Island of Spike, the Martyrology of Tallaght recordes a St. Ruisen or Lappan in connection with Spike Island.  He seems to be one with the Bishop of Cork, second successor of St. Finbar, who died in 685 or 687.  The monastery was still extant in 821, when the death of Sealbhach, the abbot, is recorded.

The church and island of "Ynespic" was granted by Henry II to Milo de Cogan in 1177 and later fell to St. Thomas' Abbey in Dublin and at the time of the despoilation of the Religious Houses of Ireland in 1541, it was under the control of St. Catherine's, the Augustinian House in Waterford.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Cork - The Rebel City

We are familiar with the title of Cork as "the Rebel County" and we don't need to doubt that there are plenty of historical episodes that could have gained that title for Cork. Here is my suggestion.

The scene is Cork City. The moment is April, 1603, the accession of James, King of Scots, to the throne of Elizabeth Tudor. The Desmond Rebellions had been crushed by 1583 and three years later the Plantation of Munster with loyal English Protestants had begun. The Nine Years' War (1584-1603) had see the defeat of the Gaelic Princes, including Donal O'Sullivan Beare of the Beara Penninsula. Cork had been the site of some of the most significant engagements, the Battle of Kinsale (1601) and the Seige of Dunboy (1602), not to forget the martyrdom of Blessed Dominic Collins in Youghal (1602), but Cork City, it seems, was not yet ready to give up the struggle for the liberty of the Catholic Faith.

About the year 1586, William Camden in his Britannia had described Cork for Queen Elizabeth I as: "a populous little trading town, and much resorted to; but so beset with rebel enemies on all sides, that they are obliged to keep constant watch, as if the town were continually besieged ; and they dare not marry out their daughters in the country, but contract one with another among themselves, whereby all the citizens are related in one degree or other."

Speaking of the rebelliousness of Cork City towards the English Crown only a generation later, the historian Charles Gibson writes in his The History of the County and City of Cork, London & Cork, 1861, that: "...there were two other serious causes of discontent; and it would be difficult to say to which the people were most opposed; the one was an attempt of the government to force base money into circulation, and the other to press the Protestant religion upon a people who thoroughly detested it, and held it as corrupt as the coinage."

It is topical, in light of the present difficulties of the €uro to recall the words of Lord Deputy Mountjoy: "And first, whereas, the alteration of the coyne and taking away the exchange in such a measure as that first promised, hath bred a general grievance to men of all qualities, and so many incommodities to all sorts, that it is beyond the judgment of any I can see, or hear, to prevent confusion in the estate, by the continuance thereof... They not only pay excessive prices for all things, but can hardly get anything for their money."

Mountjoy was retained as representative of the English Crown in Ireland when Elizabeth died and was succeeded by James I. He sent emissaries to the Mayor of Cork to have James proclaimed King in Cork. The Mayor replied that the Charter allowed him to take time to consider it.

Gibson continues the account:

"Sir George Thornton, one of the two commissioners of Munster, applied to Thomas Sarsfield, then mayor, who replied that the charter allowed his taking "time to consider of it." Sir George replied that the king, who had a just right to the crown, had been proclaimed in Dublin, and that a delay would be taken ill. The mayor replied smartly enough, that Perkin Warbeck had also been proclaimed in Dublin; and that much damage had come of their precipitation.

"The Chief Justice of Munster, Saxey, who was present, said they should be committed, if they refused. Wm. Mead, the recorder, replied, " There was no one there had authority to commit them." The mayor, and corporation, adjourn to the court-house. Sir George Thornton paces up and down the walk outside, and after a time sends in to know if they have come to a decision. "No." He waits another hour, and is informed by the recorder, in a passionate manner, that they can give him no answer till the next day. Sir Richard Boyle, afterwards Earl of Cork, who was at this time Clerk of the Presidential Council of Munster, requested Mead not to "break out in so unreasonable and choleric a fashion." Mead, who was as smart as the mayor at reply, said, "Though I do not break out, there are several thousands ready to do so." Sir George Thornton requires an account of these words. "Very well," says Mead, "but the city must have three or four days to consult about this ceremony."

"The recorder, who appears to have been the ring-leader of the rebellion, employed the time in arming the citizens, and guarding the gates against the admission of his majesty's troops; but "they admitted several Irish, to whom they gave arms." An attempt was also made to seize Haulbowline, which had been but recently fortified. " About this this time," January, 1602 writes Stafford, "the Lord Deputie and the Lord President went by boate to an island in the river of Corke, called Halbolin, sixe or seven miles from the citie, which upon view they thought fit to be fortified, being so seated as that no shipping of any burden can pass the same, but under the command thereof. Whereupon direction was given to Paul Ive, an ingeneere, to raise a fortification there." Pacata Ililernia, pp. 451, 452.

"Boyle gives us the most circumstantial account of this foolish rebellion, which seems to have sprung up without premeditation, and to have proceeded without plan, or any particular object on the part of the leaders. Sir George Thornton desires the citizens to send, or rather allow some cannon to go from Cork to the relief of Haulbowline. They reply, "We have, as you see, called our brethren together about this business, and we have come to the resolution, that the fort of Haulbowline is a very pestilent impoverishment to our corporation, and therefore think it not meet to suffer any relief to go thither, nor will we." Are we to conclude from this language, that the corporation were at the expense of finding and maintaining this fort? They say again, "This fort was a needless work, and built in their franchises, without their consent, by the Lord President, [Carew] but not for any good to the city." They add, that they will "take the fort, and keep possession of it."

"Richard Boyle mentions one "Edward Roche, the brother of Dominick Roche, the priest," and Owen Mac Redmond, a schoolmaster, as taking an active part in this rebellion. " This fellow," continues Sir Richard, speaking of the schoolmaster, " said it was not known who was King of England. That, to his own knowledge, about seven or eight years ago, there was no other mockery in all the stage plays, but the King of Scots ; that no Englishman would abide the government of a Scot; that he was the poorest prince in Europe; that the President of Munster kept a better table than he."

"Stephen Brown," continues Boyle, "was a great director about the ordnance, as also one Thomas Fagan, who fired a shot at Mr. James Grant, when he was returning to Sir Charles Wilmot, who sent him to the mayor. He had before this stripped Mr. Grant of his clothes, was the first man who put on his head-piece, and seized on the king's stores in the city. He said, for his part, no king should rule him, but such as would give him liberty of conscience. He carried a white rod about the city, and was styled their principal church-warden, and never suffered an Englishman or Protestant to pass by him unabused. He had the impudence to revile Sir Gerald Herbert, because he would not put off his hat, and do reverence to the cross, which he was then carrying about in procession.

"Sir Robert Mead, or Meagh, and John Fitz-David Roche, were two priests who fomented this rebellion. Mead ordered Mr. Apsley, the king's storekeeper, to be killed, and his arms taken away. He also ordered the guard, which he placed on Skiddy's Castle, where the stores lay, to throw Mrs. Hughes, wife to the clerk of stores, over the walls and break her neck. He was the principal stirrer-up of the townsmen to take arms, and not only assisted in every sally to take and destroy the forts, but also drove such as were dilatory with a cudgel to the work.

"John Nicholas, a brewer, was also a cannonier to the rebels, and it was proved against him that he shot two soldiers from the walls; he was assisted by John Clarke, a tanner, from Mallow, who very dexterously mounted the cannons upon the walls, when none else knew how to do it. He and Nicholas were both Englishmen. It was proved against Edmund Terry, another rebel, that he advised the mayor to take the key of Skiddy's Castle from Mr. Hughes, the store-keeper, and place the ammunition in Dominick Galway's cellars, and that Hughes should not be suffered to come there without a sufficient guard; all which the mayor complied with. Edward Roche, brother to Dominick Roche, said that the city would fight against the king himself if he came to look for it, and that not only the country, but also the kings of France and Spain would assist them, if he did not give their church free liberty," Sir Richard Boyle continues, " The mayor and recorder imprisoned Mr. Allen Apsley, commissary of the king's victuals, and Mr. Michael Hughes, clerk of the munitions. The recorder, in person, with a guard, carried Mr. Apsley from his own house to the common gaol, and then distributed the king's stores as he thought proper. They demolished the fort on the south side of the city, in which action they killed and wounded several soldiers. The day before they demolished this fort, the recorder, striking himself on the breast, solemnly swore, at the door of Skiddy's Castle, that if the mayor would not take charge of the king's stores he would presently quit the town for ever, upon which he turned about to the crowd, who huzzaed and applauded him for his speech; then Thomas Fagan and Murrough clapped on their head-pieces, and with their swords and targets forcibly possessed themselves of Skiddy's Castle.

"The day before they demolished the fort, the mayor assembled the citizens, and told them, that before forty hours passed, all Ireland would be in arms against the king ; that the crown of England should never more recover Ireland. He also wrote several seditious letters to most of the lords and chief men of this province, desiring them to join the citizens in their cause, which was for liberty of conscience.

"The recorder being asked why the king's fort was broken down by the people answered, it was his act, and that he would justify it ; and said it was the act of the whole corporation, and done advisedly, and that they would make it good, saying, "That the building of that fort cost the queen nothing, it being raised by the citizens," adding, "that the worst that could be done,
was to make them rebuild it.

"Several of them publicly abused the commissioners and the king's officers in this province, calling them 'traitors,' destroyers of the city and commonwealth,' ' base-born fellows,' 'beggarly companions,' 'yeomen's sons,' all of which was proved on their respective trials. Lieutenant Murrough had the impudence to send Sir Charles Wilmot word, that he was a traitor, and would prove it. His brother had been aide-de-camp to Captain Flower at the siege of Kinsale; but he quitted his colours and deserted to the Spaniards, for which he was afterwards executed.

"It only remained for the commissioners to proclaim James the Sixth of Scotland and First of England, outside the walls, as they were not allowed to do so inside.

"Sir George Thornton, accompanied by Lord Roche and supported by eight hundred soldiers, proclaimed the king in the north suburbs, near Shandon Castle, the recorder protesting all the while against such a violation of their "liberties." The commissioners, who appeared to have acted with great moderation, sent to Haulbowline for artillery, when the citizens, under the leadership of William Terry, attempted to intercept them. A scuffle ensued, and several were killed on both sides.

"The religious element in this rebellion was paramount. Though a large portion of the inhabitants of Cork were of Danish, Norman, and Saxon descent, they were sincere Catholics, who hoped for the reestablishment of their own faith at the death of the queen. They had not forgotten, though five-and-twenty years had elapsed, that the Protestant bishop had burned the image of St. Dominick at the High Cross of Cork. They now retaliate, by retaking possession of the churches which they sprinkle in order to exorcise the demon of Protestantism by burning Protestant bibles and prayer-books; by razing out the ten commandments, and substituting the emblems of their own faith. A number took the sacrament to strengthen them in defence of their religion. A legate from the Pope went through the city in procession with a cross, compelling all he met to bow down to it. They not only fired on Shandon Castle, where Lady Carew lodged, but on the bishop's palace, where the commissioners were assembled; they killed Mr. Rutledge, and wounded a servant of Bishop Lyon, and told him, if they had his traitor-master, he should not escape with his life. Such language and conduct is indicative of the detestation in which the Protestant religion was held even in the towns where it had been nurtured for half a century.

"But this state of things could not be long countenanced in a city like Cork; and the mayor and sheriffs knowing the decided character of the Lord Deputy Mountjoy, wrote him saying, they had received the king's proclamation on the 11th of April, but had put off the ceremony till the 16th, that it might be done with more solemnity. They also requested that the fort of Haulbowline might be put into their hands, and complained that soldiers in that fort had shot at some fishermen and boats which had been sent out for provisions. The commissioners, of course, gave his lordship a very different version of the transaction.

"Mountjoy wrote them "a smart letter" in reply, reproving them for "setting up the mass," by their own authority, their insolence in stopping his majesty's stores and artillery from being sent to Haulbowline, and attempting to get them into their hands. At the same time, his lordship wrote to Sir Charles Wilmot and Sir George Thornton, ordering them to send as much victuals and provisions as they could, out of the city, to that fort, and Shandon Castle; to draw some companies into the town; and informed them, that he had assembled five thousand men to correct their insolences; and that as most of the other towns in the province had committed the like disturbances, he intended to begin with Waterford, who led the example to the rest.

"The following is Dr. Ryland's account of the Lord Lieutenant's visit to Waterford : "The Lord Deputy Mountjoy, judging that the situation of affairs of the province, required his immediate personal attention, proceeded with a numerous army into Munster, and on the 5th of May, 1603, came to Grace-Dieu, within the liberties of Waterford, and summoned the mayor to open the gates, and receive him and his army into the city. The spirit of rebellion immediately appeared ; the gates were shut against him, and the citizens pleaded that, by a charter of King John, they were exempted from quartering soldiers. While the parties were thus engaged, two ecclesiastics, Dr. White and a young Dominican friar, came into the camp ; they were habited in the dresses of their order, Dr. White wearing a black gown and cornered cap, and the friar wearing a white woollen frock. When they entered the Lord Deputy's tent, Dr. White commenced a violent religious controversy, 'all of which,' we are told, his lordship did most learnedly confute.' He then severely reprehended the conduct of the citizens; threatened to draw King James sword, and cut the charter of King John to pieces ; and declared his intention, if they persisted in their obstinacy, to level their city, and strew it with salt. His menaces were effectual; the citizens immediately submitted, and received the Lord Deputy and his army within their walls. They afterwards took the oath of allegiance, renounced all foreign jurisdiction, and, to prevent any future disturbance, a garrison was stationed in the city.

"Mountjoy wrote to the Mayor of Cork, from his camp at Grace-Dion, near Waterford, requesting him "to desist from his practices," saying, if he persevered, he must adopt more severe measures than he willingly would ; but many of the citizens, undeterred by this mild threat, were opposed to his admission. Mead, the recorder, strongly opposed it, so did Gould, Fagan, Captain Terry, Lieutenant Murrough, and "an infinite number of mob;" but Alderman Coppinger, John Coppinger, Alderman Terry, the Galways, the Vernons, and the Martels, insisted that the viceroy should be received within the walls.

"He entered Cork on the 11th of May, 1603. The citizens laid plough-shares on each side of the street through which he passed, intimating that the destruction of the growing crops, by the soldiers, had caused so many ploughs to lie idle. As in the fable of the belly and the members, the citizens were at length brought to understand, that their interests were identified with the country. To see the city of Cork, which had been always armed cap-a-pie, against the country, admitting the Irish within its walls, and laying their idle plough-shares before the eyes of the viceroy, was something new in the history of these times. Smith says " the Lord Lieutenant took little notice of this silly contrivance." We did not expect to find Doctor Smith making so silly a remark. A people's cry for bread should sound in a ruler's ears as the roar of a famished lion. But the Lord Lieutenant did notice it; his letter to the English council, from which we have quoted, contains the prediction of a dearth, which would "breed new combinations, and would stirre the townes themselves; " and his mild chastisement of the present rebellion, is something like an admission that the people had great cause for dissatisfaction. Murrough, Butler, and the schoolmaster, Owen Mac Redmond, who had no freeholds, were the only parties executed by martial law. Mead, the recorder, who was the ringleader, was tried by an Irish jury, and acquitted. The grand jury found true bills against Mead, Richard Gould, and others. Gould pleaded, in justification, before Sir Charles Wilmot, and Sir George Thornton, commissioners, Sir Nicholas Walsh, William Saxey, and George Comerford, justices, the injury he had sustained by being compelled to take the mixed or base money. He proved that the late Lord President's steward had purchased twenty barrels of wheat for the Lady Carew, which he, Richard Gould, had purchased in France for nineteen shillings a barrel, of good silver money, and that the steward would give him but twenty shillings of the new standard or mixed money. The Cork jury, by whom he was tried and acquitted for the attack on Haulbowline, must have held that such fraudulent conduct was enough to drive any honest trader into rebellion. Mead, the recorder, appears to have had deeper projects in view. He afterwards got a pension from Spain, and went to Naples, where he wrote a treasonable tract, called, "Advice to the Catholics of Munster" a copy of which is preserved in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. He died in Naples."

[First Published on the St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Blog in May, 2010]

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Latin Mass in Ballyhea for Easter Monday

Ballyhea lies just south of Charleville, Co. Cork, in the lea of the Ballyhoura Mountains and along the waters of the Awbeg River, the tributary of the Blackwater once immortalised by Edmund Spenser as "gentle Mullagh".  On Easter Monday morning, some members and friends made their way to the Parish Church of St. Mary for the offering of the almost monthly Traditional Latin Mass there.










Tuesday, 11 April 2017

And Symbols Glorious Swinging Uproarious...

"...On this I ponder where'er I wander and thus grow fonder, sweet Cork, of thee; with thy bells of Shandon that sound so grand on the pleasant waters of the River Lee..."

So runs one of the most famous hymns of the Corkonian faith and the Easter Vacation brought me back within the sound of Shandon bells. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the Lenten preparations in some of the Churches in the centre of Cork City. As you would expect, most of them have retained the loss of the striking symbolism of veiling statues from after the second last Sunday of Lent (Passion Sunday). However, there are signs of a change in the air.

Cork, of course, led the way in the restoration of the Latin Mass with a daily Mass, albeit very discreetly, long before the election of Pope Benedict XVI. Today, the City boasts not only the Sunday Mass in Ss. Peter and Paul's but even a daily Mass during Lent supplemented by Tenebrae each of the three days of the Triduum and the full Holy Week Ceremonies.

However, it is more interesting to see the veils assumed in two other Churches in the City. The Dominicans of Pope's Quay also had the Office of Tenebrae, partly in Latin, with the hearse of fifteen candles left in the centre of the Sanctuary. They also veiled the Altar Cross. This beautiful Church is one of the first that I meet as I come into the City. It contains the tablet: "The Dominican community of Cork inscribe this stone in testimony of their gratitude to Kearns Deane Esq., architect, who with unexampled generosity and public spirit designed this building and directed the progress of its erection, 1832.” The consecration in October 1839 was attended by Daniel O'Connell, barrister and statesman, who had spearheaded the campaign for Catholic Emancipation only ten days before. The crisp ionic portico stands in contrast to the high gothic flourish of the Capuchin Holy Trinity Church on the South Channel of the Lee.



The Franciscans on Liberty Street may have built in the Byzantine style but they veiled the crosses of both the high altar and side altars very much in the Roman manner this year. The Church has the greatest area of mosaics of any church in Europe outside of Rome. The central dome has the feel of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. The Church is famous for the gifts of wedding rings by the women of Cork for the tabernacle.






Finally, I took some shots of Ss. Peter and Paul's. The gorgeous Gothic Church hidden away behind Patrick's Street is the first collaboration of George Ashlin and Edward Pugin.


Sunday, 19 March 2017

St. Lachteen and the Boggera Mountains

In a previous post I wrote about the sights and sites of the valley between the Boggera Mountains and the Nagles Mountains through which the Martin River flows south to Blarney and the Clyda River flows north through Mourne Abbey towards Mallow.

In this post I'd like to take you on a visit to one of the valleys of the Boggera Mountains to the north and west of Blarney. The Martin River meets the River Shournagh at St. Ann's just west of Blarney and shortly thereafter their mingled waters join the River Lee near Ballincollig. One branch of the old Muskerry Railway (1893-1934) used to follow the line of the River Souragh to Donoughmore and it is effectively in the traces of that line, going upstream from Blarney, that I am going to take you today.

Just north of where the Shournagh flows through St. Ann's, it passes through the townland of Loughane West, the site of the old Parish Church of Matehy. I don't mean the present St. Joseph's. One story of this site relates to the long era of the Penal Laws, when Catholicism was illegal and persecuted. As the Priest was celebrating Mass, a soldier entered and, before any of the congregation could react, drew his sword and cut off the Priest's arms. He rushed out of the Church and rode away down the hill. The horse stumbled beneath him, threw him to the ground and he was killed. A companion buried him in the grave yard of Loughane. The following morning, the people found that the dead soldier had left the grave yard, crossed the River, mounted the hill and lay buried instead in the grave yard of the Church at Matehy.

Farther up the river about half a mile north of the village of Donoughmore is the site of St. Lachteen's Well. The Holy Well is said to have dried up and appeared instead at Ballyglass near Lyradane because a woman once washed her clothes in it. The original well was the site where St. Lachteen preached to the people of the area, using the dripping waters of the well to illustrate the dropping down of God's mercy. The Corkman Lachteen had been directed by his guardian angel, Uriel, to the monastic school of St. Comgall at Bangor, where he studied for the Priesthood. The Saint lived near Donoughmore at the beginning of the 7th century. His pattern day is 19 March, on account of which the present well is known interchangably as St. Joseph's Well or Tobar Laichtin. The unfortunate modern Parish Church at Stuake is named for St. Lachteen. Built in the 1990s, it replaced a beautiful Church from the 1830s. It is certainly my least favourite Church in the County.

St. Lachteen also founded another monastery at Kilnamartyra about 8 miles to the west, set between the Sullane and Toone Rivers. Cill na Martra is actually the Church of the Relic, referring to St. Lachteen's hand was venerated. The 12th century 'shrine' or reliquary of his hand, Lámh Lachtaín, was kept locally by the Healy family until the 19th century, when it was sold and came to the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin and I think it's now in the National Museum of Ireland. As you can see, it is in the form of an arm with a fist, which is very worn on account of the custom of taking oaths on it. The beautiful old Church of Kilnamartyra (1839) is also dedicated to St. Lachteen.


Passing on through Gowlane Cross, you pass Uctough Mountain, which is the source of the River Shournagh. Next it passes through a very wide moorland, which is probably about 1,000 feet above sea level and as the road turns west to Nad, on the north face of the Boggeras, it passes the great Bweeng Mountain. The River Nad becomes the River Glen and, at Fr. Murphy's Bridge, you suddenly leave the mountains and enter the broad valley of the River Blackwater that sweeps eastward towards Mallow and Fermoy, then on to Lismore and Cappoquin, before turning sharply south and into the ocean at Youghal.

[First Published on the St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Blog in March, 2010]

Saturday, 11 February 2017

St. Gobnait of Ballyvourney

Twin towns fascinate me. I don't mean towns twined with foreign towns but two towns that are so close to each other that as they grow, they grow until they are almost one town. In Cork we have two good examples, Enniskean and Ballinkeen on the road to Bandon (where even the pigs were Protestant, it used to be said) and Ballyvourney and Ballymakeery that lie along the Sullane River and on the road thatt takes you from Macroom by way of Coolea over the top of Coom towards Kilgarvan in Kerry.

Bandon was a plantation town. That is, in the 17th century the native Catholic Irish were dispossessed of their lands and Protestants were planted in the locality instead. Over the gate of Bandon the following words were placed by the Planter inhabitants that "Turk, Jew or Atheist may enter here, but not a Papist". It wasn't long before native wit wrote the reply. "Whoe'er wrote this/ hath written well/ for the same is writ/ o'er the gates of hell".

St. Gobnait, another 6th century Saint, lived just to the south of Ballyvourney. Every year on this day and also at Pentecost there are large pilgrimages to do the "turas" or rounds of the beds of her church and to drink the water and a medieval wooden statue of her is displayed for veneration in the Parish Church.

Go mbeannaighe Dia dhuit,
a Ghobnait Naomhtha,
Go mbeannuighe Muire dhuit
is bheannuighim féin dhuit.
Is chughat-sa a thánag ag
gearán mo scéil leat,
Is a d'iarraidh mo leighis
ar son Dé ort.

That means in English:

May God bless you,
Holy Saint Gobnait,
And may Mary bless you,
And I bless you myself.
For it is to you that I come,
To plead my case with you,
To request my healing,
From you on God's part.

She made her foundation in fulfilment of a prophesy. She had fled from home to the Aran Islands to escape persecution but she was told that "her resurrection" was not to take place there but only in the place where she found nine white deer grazing. She returned to the mainland and began her pilgrimage. It is said that at various places she saw white deer grazing along her path but never nine together until she crossed the Sullane River at Ballyvourney and so she settled there and was buried there to await "her resurrection".

It is told of her that when a plague threatened, she marked the boundary of the Parish with her stick and the people of Ballyvourney were spared.

The beehive is the symbol of St. Gobnait because, when a pagan chief was attempting a cattle raid, she took up one of the beehives of the convent and directed it at the raiders. The thieves fled and the cattle were saved.

In the ruins of her church there is a smooth round iron ball set into the wall, known as St. Gobnait's Bowl. It is said to have been used to destroy a fort built by a pagan chief on the hills north of Ballyvourney and was said to have returned to the Saint each time she threw it. Those who have grasped the bowl in the wall will know the miraculous nature of this feat. The grave of Séan O'Riada, the famous musician of Coolea, is here.

A few miles north of Ballyvourney, close to the Foherish River that feeds into the Sullane near Macroom, is Liscarrigane where 'An tAthair Peadar' or Canon Peter O'Leary was born in 1839. His great purpose was to revive the Irish language that he knew as a living language (and which remains a living language in that part of Cork to this day). He wrote "Séadna" and the autobiography "Mo Scéal Féin" which give a vivid impression of the countryside around Liscarrigane and Muskerry.

The Glendav of "Séadna" is to be found at the head of the Foherish valley where Mullaghanish Mountain rises to a height of over 2,000 feet, towering over the Derrynasaggart Mountains that shelter Cork from Kerry but are now punctuated by wind turbines just as a broadcasting mast stands atop Mullaghanish.

He was an outstanding member of the Gaelic League and received the Freedom of buth Cork City and Dublin as well as an honorary Doctorate from the National University of Ireland. He died away to the north east of the County as Parish Priest of Castlelyons just a few months before the achievement of Independence at the height of the Black and Tan persecution.


Devotion to St. Gobnait was given international standing in 1601 when Pope Clement VIII granted an indulgence for pilgrims to her shrine and in 1602 he published a proper office for her feast.

These dates are not coincidental for they mark the last stands of the Irish princes against the English with the help of the Kings of Spain. In 1602 the Irish princes were defeated at the Battle of Kinsale. It spelled the end of the Catholic cause in Ireland for more than three centuries and the end of the the power of the native Irish princes forever. Donal O'Sullivan Beare held out in his castle at Dunboy on the Beara Penninsula for another year but was finally starved into retreat. His famous winter march brought him to the territory of the princes of Ulster, O'Neill and O'Donnell, who were themselves forced into complete exile on the continent in 1607.

O'Sullivan Beara continued to uphold the honour of Ireland while in exile in Spain, where he was assassinated in 1618 by an Englishman. He founded the Irish College at Santiago. His nephew Philip O'Sullivan Beare was both soldier and scholar, publishing Historiae Catholicae Iberniae Compendium, a Catholic History of Ireland in 1621 among other works in an attempt to reply to the English writers who attacked the Irish, just as their compatriots attempted to destroy our native culture and its texts.

[First Published on the St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Blog in February, 2010

Another splendid account of St. Gobnait can be found on the blog Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae here.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

St. Senan and Inniscarra

In Cork, talk around the cottage fireside during the Christmas vacation inevitably turned to Inniscarra, as the waters released from the hydroelectric project there washed down into Cork City.


As you drive from Coachford to Cork City the road makes the acquaintance of the River Lee in a way that it hasn't in the upper reaches of the River. Just to the west of where the River Dripsey meets the Lee is the hill of Cronodymore, once known as Cronody of the sweet apples on account of the orchards that once were to be found there. Cronody is now better known as the origin of many classic greyhounds. Upon the hill are the remains of a large circular tower that appears to have been a dovecote built by Elizabeth Cross or Crosse (née Baldwin of Mount Pleasant) in the 18th cent.

Close by, now covered by the waters created by the Inniscarra dam was the reputed site of a monastery known as Innisleena founded by St. Senan in the 6th cent. as he returned from a trip to Continental Europe on his way back to Scattery Island in Clare. The site had been considerably altered by later building, when it was the subject of an archaeological survey that preceded the hydro-electric project. It would appear that all traces of St. Senan's monastery had disappeared except fragments of a later building and the graves of the Fitzgibbon family. Some notable carved stones were noted and perhaps the remains of a window and what was reputed to be a stone baptismal font. The rainwater which gathered in it was said by the people of thereabouts to have curative powers for warts on fingers if you used it for three mornings before you broke the midnight fast. When Inniscarra dam flooded the area, all trace of the Fitzgibbon family, including 'Fitzgibbon Bridge' were obliterated by the waters just as all trace of St. Senan had disappeared centuries before. His feast day is 8 March.

Also covered by the waters of Inniscarra were the remains of Castle Inch about a mile further east. What remained to be covered was merely the stump of the castle, stronghold of the Barretts, who were vassels of the MacCarthaigh family of whom I spoke before. Five progenitors of the Barretts of Cork came to Ireland with Strongbow in 1169. In the 13th cent. they are recorded to have held a castle at Glandore. In 1436 they bought a stronghold at Ballincollig. Ballyburden, Carrigrohane, and Kilfinnane were also in their possession at various points. The townland of Coomavarodig or 'Glen of the Barretts' near Baltimore is also a trace of their presence. However, the family's power came to an end when Colonel John Barrett was dispossessed of his lands in 1691 for having dared to raise a regiment in the cause of the Catholic King James II. From that time, Castle Inch was allowed to fall into ruin but even in the 1950s the footprint was sizable. Near the castle was a double holy well known as Sunday's Well and St. Mary's Well but their waters now mingle with those of the Inniscarra Reservoir.

From Inniscarra Reservoir the Lee passes through what is known as Inniscarra Gap between two hills, Scornagh to the west and Garravagh to the east, a spot favoured by fishermen for salmon and trout, and moved into its final stage before reaching the City along a syncline of limestone that reaches over the Youghal and is met by the River Bride. Here is the site of Inniscarra Anglican Church built in 1819 that reputedly marks the site of another monastery of St. Senan.

[First Published on the St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Blog in March, 2010]