Cape Clear island placenaming book launched in Cork

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By Leo McMahon – Southern Star, Jan 2013

An Logainmníocht in Oileán Cléire ( ‘Placenaming in Cape Clear Island’) by Éamon Lankford, was officially launched by Emeritus Professor of Irish at University College Cork, Seán O Coileáin at a very well attended function recently in The Flying Enterprise Lounge and Restaurant, Cork.

Speaking in Irish Prof Ó Coileáin said that in addition to being a comprehensive and detailed listing of over 2,200 placenames, plus maps and colour photographs, the 350 page book focused on how and why features of the natural and cultural landscape of the island of Cape Clear were named down through the centuries and what could be learned from these. He also noted that Éamon had been collecting and mapping placenames since the mid 1970’s from older generations who were native speakers, information that would otherwise be lost and he congratulated the author and everyone associated with the book.

Born and reared in a bilingual household on the northside of Cork, Éamon pointed out that he didn’t step on to Cape Clear until 1975, having heard a lot about it from his wife Máirín who spent time visiting there in the ‘sixties. Initially, on behalf of Comharchumann Chléire, the island Co-operative they established a summer course in Irish for student teachers and subsequently founded the museum and heritage centre on the Gaeltacht isle where the family had a holiday home for some years.

Having got to know the local community, especially older people who had a deep knowledge of it’s fishing and farming methods, its fields, coastline, boreens, lanes, wildlife, its rich heritage, folklore, way of life and other features, he started collecting and mapping placenames not alone on Cape Clear , but on other islands as well and eventually throughout the whole of County Cork and County Kerry.

Prof. Seán Ó Coileáin (right) with author Éamon Lankford after he officially launched his book An Logainmníocht in Oileán Cléire. (Photo Billy McGill)

Éamon thanked Seán Ó Coileáin, Monsignor Pádraig Ó Fiannachta, Maynooth and Canon Mícheál Ó Dalaigh who encouraged him to make his work at Cape Clear the subject of a PhD which he completed in 1995; Dr Fionnghula Sweeney who drew the maps, Fintan O’Connell of Inspire Design and Print, Skibbereen; the Heritage Council and Bord na Gaeilge, UCC for funding support; his wife Máirín and family and especially the people of Cape Clear and those who supplied and helped him compile the names, including Pádraig Ó Céadagáin, Donnchadh Shéamais Ó Drisceoil, Eireamhoin Ó Drisceoil and Bill Curtin.

A welcome was extended by Cecilia O Drisceoil, former principal of the island’s primary school. She pointed out that Éamon is also author of ‘Cape Clear Island – its People and Landscape’; ‘Naomh Ciarán, Pilgrim Islander’; ‘Bealach Oidhreachta /Cape Clear Island Heritage Trail’; ‘Fastnet, An Charraig Aonair’; ‘O Driscolls, Past and Present’ and of course the Cork County Place Names Survey Collection of 120 volumes housed in the County Library and launched as the Cork Place Names Archive by former President Mary McAleese in 2009.

Thanks were expressed to Finbarr (Inchigeela) and Dolly (Drinagh) O’Shea, daughter Fionualla and staff of The Flying Enterprise at the reception where Eamon presented a copy of the book to Séamus Ó Drisceoil, Cathaoirleach, Bord Bainistíochta, Scoil Inis Cléire.

The large attendance included Éamon’s wife Máirín, daughter in law Jenni and grandson Adam; nieces Siobhán and Maeve Lankford, nephews Séamus and Pádraig Lankford, David Browne, Canon Micheál Ó Dálaigh, Fr Liam O’Regan, Fr Patrick Hickey, Prof Gearoid Ó Crualaoi, Prof Breandán Ó Conchúir, Dr Roibeard Ó hUrdail, Dr. Colin Rynne, Dr Paddy and Anne Cronin, Pádraig Hamilton of Gael Taca, Cork County Library staff; the Hegartys and Fordes from Drinagh and a large contingent of Cape Clear islanders, while busy selling books were Michelle Higgins, Claire Daly and Lorraine Hurley of Logainmneacha Chorcaí – the Cork Place Names Survey office.

Loraine Murray, Michelle Higgins, Claire Daly at the launch of the book about placenaming in Cape Clear island, at the Flying Enterprise Complex Cork, 15 November 2012 (Photo Billy McGill)

The history, lore and daily life functions which brought about the creation and preservation of so many of the island’s names is explored. A listing of all documentated sources consulted is provided as is an index to all names in the compilation. Some interesting colour photos of old stone built housing add considerably to ones appreciation of the landscape of the island and its placename heritage.

The book is now on sale priced €28, direct from Book Shop Or Logainmneacha Chorcaí, Áras, 13, Dyke Parade, Cork (Tel 021-4274110) and at Liam Ruiseal’s Bookshop, Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork.

O Driscolls: Past and Present

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Book Launch at O Driscoll Clan Gathering, Baltimore, County Cork, Ireland, 7.30pm, Saturday 25th June, 2005, in Baltimore Sailing Club.

The author of this excellently researched and attractively produced 193 page book is Dr. Éamon Lankford founder / director of Cape Clear island Museum and Archive. It is beautifully illustrated with maps, drawings, plans, genealogical charts, 70 B/W and colour photographs.

The O Driscolls have, for over 1,500 years, been anchored in the ancient district of Corcu Lóegde, now known as Carbery, in West Cork, Ireland. They can boast of their connection to the early Christian pilgrim, Saint Ciarán, born in Cape Clear island , who became, the patron saint not alone of Ossory, but also of Cornwall.

From the twelfth century, O Driscolls were confined to an area consisting of poor land and a long and dangerous coastline, from Castlehaven to Baltimore and the islands of Sherkin, Heir and Cape Clear. Here, from their many castles, they established themselves as great mariners on the south coast , engaging in piracy, feuds, warfare and controlling some of the richest fishing grounds in Europe.

The seventeenth century Fínghin Ó Driscoll, Fineen the Rover, although famous in song and story, set in train a series of events and land deals which were to reduce the O Driscolls to poverty and cause their leaders and many of their descendants to emigrate to England, Canada, America and Australia. They went as ‘Wild Geese’ to France and Spain and other places where they made a name for themselves in military, religious, economic, medical, cultural and political life of many countries. In time, in Ireland, they adapted to new ways and became merchants, journalists, authors, poets, educationalists, religious and legal figures.

Also treated is, the tantalizing mystery of who today should be called ‘The O Driscoll’, the hereditary chieftain of the clan. The story of some who form the international family is told in the chapter titled The O Driscoll Diaspora. Today, there is a new spirit among O Driscolls worldwide which owes much to the Annual O Driscoll Clan Gathering which takes place in June each year at Baltimore and the islands. O Driscolls:Past and Present tells some of the ever evolving O Driscoll story worldwide. It makes an ideal present for anyone remotely related to an O Driscoll.

Available from Book Shop

Bookshops in Cork, Skibbereen, Clonakilty, Caseys of Baltimore Hotel, Cotters of Baltimore etc. Price: Euro 15, plus 3 Euro packing and postage to Europe. 26 US Dollars per copy including postage. Bank drafts in Euro currency or bank cheque cashable outside the USA etc (will speed dispatch). ISBN 0 9534898 4 1

Commodore John J. Kavanagh (Retrd) Irish Naval Service who launched O Driscolls:Past and Present at the O Driscoll Clan Gathering 2005 at Baltimore and author Éamon Lankford.

O Driscolls at the 2005 O Driscoll Clan Gathering prior to the launch of O Driscolls:Past and Present.