Samhain and the dark side of the year.

Friday, 31st October marks the end of the bright half of the year – Samhradh or ‘summer.’  At sundown the dark half of the year begins – Geimhreadh or ‘winter, which will last until the 1st of May!  (Don’t worry – we DO have the seasons of spring and autumn in Ireland, but these are really subdivisions  of the two principal seasons.)  We have already put our clocks back (last Sunday) and the sudden darkness in the late afternoon is still shocking, especially after the long, dry, warm and bright summer and autumn.  And it’s worth noting the timing of the time change is a modern co-incidence derived from the British need to increase productivity in arms factories during the First World War.

And, note, I said that summer ends at sundown on 31st October.  This is an ancient idea.  To this day the church (Catholic/Orthodox/Anglican) still starts the sabbath (Sunday) at sundown on the previous day.  This is usually marked by the First Vespers of Sunday which is sung at sundown on Saturday.  The Second Vespers of Sunday marks the end of Sunday at sundown on Sunday – and the same structure is used for major feasts of the church.  This tradition was inherited from the Jewish religion.

Curiously, the ancient Irish seem to have followed the same practice – beginning their four great feast days (Imbolc, Beltaine, Lughnasa, Samhain) at sundown on the previous day.  So at sundown begins the feast of Samhain – the feast that marks the definitive and official end of summer and the completion of the harvest.  Even the name reflects this – samhradh (summer) and samhain (summer’s end).

Ancient calendars attempted to reconcile the phases of the moon (months) with the annual cycle of the sun.  Feast days could moved, depending on the moon.  And Samhain was probably no exception – it probably didn’t always fall on 31st October/1st November.  The fixing of the date came later, under the influence of Christianity.

In ancient times Samhain was a VERY sociable affair, probably lasting three days.  It was a time of gathering and feasting but also marked the end of the season for making war and the end of the season for travelling – the warriors and merchants and other travellers returned home.  Samhain seems also to have been a time for settling accounts – curiously the self-employed in Ireland have to make their tax returns to the Revenue Commissioners by close of business on 31st October – but, despite the horrors it brings, this is NOT a Halloween tradition! (Perhaps the Irish taxman has a morbid sense of humour.) It is worth noting that until the land reforms of the early twentieth century in Ireland, the 11th of November (Martinmas – the feast of St Martin of Tours) was a deadline for paying quarterly rents in Ireland.  One wonders if this is a hangover from the celebration of Samhain.  Settling accounts at Samhain made sense, since much social life would be lived indoors for several months until the weather became warmer and dryer again – it’s much easier to socialize indoors with people when everyone has settled their accounts with each other.

The sociability of Samhain was exacerbated by the presence of not only of family, friends and neighbours, creditors and debtors, but also of the ancestors and the denizens of the spirit world, both good and bad.  On the first night of Samhain after sundown the veil dividing this world of man from the world of spirits was considered to have faded so as to permit the spirits and sidhe (fairies)to enter the world of man.  This weakened veil also permitted the spirits to kidnap men and women and children and take them to the other world – a frightening prospect if you were kidnapped by someone who wanted to settle an old score with you!  Hence the need to don a disguise (preferably of a frightening kind!).

This brings me to a modern Irish gripe.  Many people in Ireland feel that the festival is too Americanized.  Well, pumpkins were not known in Ireland in ancient times – so they have a point there.  They also complain about children dressing up as Power Rangers, Batman, Iron Man, Mutant Ninja Turtles and what have you – but actually the kids have got it exactly right!  The point of the disguise is to protect the wearer of the disguise, not necessarily to scare off the evil spirits.

Fire seems to have played a major part in the festivities of Samhain, as it did in Beltaine (now 1st of May).  This, naturally made sense – fire kept you warm in the cold months of winter.   But it also came to the fore in the making of spooky lanterns – the Jack O”Lantern story is suspect in my opinion since it is probably a relatively moderns story.  But the use of lanterns to illuminate the  darkness and reveal any hiding places for spirits on that night does make sense.

When Christianity came to Ireland, the clergy very sensibly tried to convert the people, their places of religious assembly AND certain traditions.  Pope Gregory I (pontiff 590-604) is usually credited with advising missionaries to Christianize places, customs and feasts, so that the newly converted populace would find some familiar features in their new religion.   In Ireland this led to the tradition of holy wells and adaptations in the calendar – the feast of Imbolc (1st February) became the feast of St Brigid of Kildare.  Eventually, even Samhain succumbed to Christianity – the feast of All Saints (All Hallows) was gradually moved from April or May to 1st November (it was certainly being celebrated at this date by Charlemagne (crowned emperor in 800).  With the addition of the Feast of All Souls (2nd November) the whole festival of Samhain had become a Christian celebration.   Thus, Samhain became fixed as Halloween.

Even today in Ireland the dead are still commemorated with cemetery prayers throughout the month of November – the month of the dead.  And the Mexican Day of the Dead has echos of this – although its origins are considered entirely different.

As  youngsters in Midleton we had it lucky in late October.  The trucks bringing sugar beet to the Mallow sugar beet factory often dropped beets from the top of their load as they turned a sharp bend on the road near the house.  We gathered these stray beets and made our lanterns out of them, many a decent chisel being ruined in the process.   Before sugar beet was used, the lanterns were made out of turnips – which can give a very spooky appearance.  We went ‘a haunting’ (‘trick or treat’ is an Americanism, it even sounds like a holdup!) in the neighbourhood, but the suburban lights could ruin the effect.  Much better was a trip out the country – just three miles –  to my cousins in Ballintotis, where there was a old ruined castle and very little light.  Visiting Ballintotis Castle on Samhain was eerie fun!   I feel that the whole tradition works better in the countryside than in towns – too many street lights ruin the atmosphere.  And remember, Samhain was also the great feast celebrating the end of the harvest – many of the traditions are linked to food, a feature of harvest festivals.  Daniel Maclise’s 1833 painting ‘Snap-Apple Night’ is the best depiction of the older traditions celebrated on Halloween (in Blarney apparently), but a word to the wise, it has probably been sanitized to satisfy increasingly uptight English sensibilities. Most of the activity in the painting involves activities to predict the future – especially potential marriages (hence the group of young ladies on the lower left foreground).

One other gripe one hears is that Halloween is ‘unchristian’ – that’s a very puritanical view showing up the prejudice of the person who holds such a view – remember it was the devoutly Christian puritans of Salem village in Massachusetts wholaunched an orgy of judicial murder in 1692-1693.  The Salem Witch Trials were a true Halloween horror.  So, have no truck with sour prejudice  this Halloween – .go and celebrate the bounty of nature and have fun.  And light a lantern to scare any sourpusses off – they are the real evil spirits of Samhain/Halloween.

Daniel Maclise’s ‘Snap Apple Night‘ link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween#mediaviewer/File:Snap-Apple_Night_globalphilosophy.PNG

Traditional Irish mask in the Museum of Country Life, Castlebar:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween#mediaviewer/File:Traditional-irish-halloween-mask.jpg

Very spooky traditional lantern made from a turnip (Museum of Country Life, Castlebar):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween#mediaviewer/File:Traditional_Irish_halloween_Jack-o%27-lantern.jpg

 

 

 

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Hurricane Gonzalo blows out – and a Midleton Walking Tour blows in!

Last week I had an email from Grace Fox at SECAD (South & East Cork Area Development).  She asked me to give a tour of Midleton to a group taking a new Tourism and Heritage Programme at SECAD.   Her suggestion was to do the tour on Tuesday 21st October.  I said ‘yes’ subject to the weather – the tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo was due to arrive overnight on Monday and continue into the next day.  Fortunately the worst of the storm went north, and we got away lightly here in the deep south.

I met the group of about twelve people at the Courthouse at the northern end of Main Street (and believe me the wind was bitter – thermal underwear weather!). First we looked around the Fair Green and old Goose’s Acre area with the old Workhouse (now the Community Hospital), Allen’s Mill (now apartments), Neville’s garage (formerly part of the old US Naval Air Station at Aghada – moved here in 1921!), the Courthouse (by George and Richard Pain, 1829), the Munster & Leinster Bank by George Coppinger Ashlin (now the Allied Irish Bank).

Main Street Midleton

Midleton Walking Tour

The northern end of Main Street.  Yes, that is a blue sky in the background!  The red brick structure is the Allied Irish Bank, designed in a Dutch Renaissance style by George Coppinger Ashlin and built for the Munster and Leinster Bank in 1902.  The Courthouse stands directly opposite (out of picture). The yellow building is one half of a structure that once contained the Post Office and was built in 1910.  The building now houses a bookshop on the ground floor and law offices upstairs, convenient for the Courthouse. 

It’s so nice to have an attentive group!

 

We then proceeded down Main Street looking Old Bank House, the predecessor of the Munster & Leinster Bank, the older of the two Market Houses in Midleton (the town is unique in having TWO Market Houses), the different building plots on Main Street, and then on to Connolly Street to look at Midleton College (founded 1696).  This is a secondary school (boarding and day school) not a third level institution. It was also the site of one of the earliest known experiments in medical anesthesia in Ireland in the 1830s.  The wind dropped and the temperature seemed more pleasant once we had the shelter of the buildings in Main Street.

From there we returned to Main Street, crossing over to Church Lane, to view St John the Baptist’s Church (Church of Ireland) and the oldest cemetery in Midleton, going back to the seveneeth century – I have ancestors buried there.  This was also the site of the Cistercian Abbey of Chore (Mainistir na Corann in Irish, meaning the Monastery of the Weir, the weit being the most valuable asset of the monastery at the Dissolution).  At one period the settlement was known as Corabbey, until the charter of King Charles II in 1670 gave the town an official corporate identity and a new name – MIDLETON.  Even the spelling is by royal appointment!  St John the Baptist’s Church is the third Anglican church on the site since 1670 and was also designed by George and Richard Pain (1825).

Moving on to Main Street, we stopped to look at the library which is now housed in the ‘new’ Market House.  Well, it was new in 1789 when it was built – just in time for the French Revolution!  It later became known as the ‘Town Hall‘ – that is, a place used by the town as a reading room (how appropriate that it houses the library) and as a place of assembly for public meetings, dinners and even dances.  Bear in mind the shambles was on the ground floor (the butchers’ market)!  I’m sure this added a delightful aroma to the genteel proceedings upstairs.

We moved on further to look at a building designed by Augustus WN Pugin but executed under the supervision of his son Edward – now called McDaid’s Bar, but known to long established Midleton residents as the former Midleton Arms Hotel.  This structure was originally two houses (with shops on the ground floor, but Viscount Midleton didn’t have the money to complete the rebuilding of the entire street in the same fashion.  Main Street would have looked spectacular if the project had been completed.  The building was occuppied by Crown Forces during the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921).  There are still traces of bullet marks on the building where the IRA had fired on the British troops who were stationed there to secure the southern end of the street (the Royal Irish Constabulary were based at the Northern end of the street).

From there we went on to Brodrick Street or Coolbawn as locals call it.  In fact Coolbawn refers to the area in which Brodrick Street stands.  And no, there’s no ‘e‘ in Brodrick – despite the official street sign!  The Brodricks were the family who developed Midleton into the town we see today.  Crossing Main Street (it’s a LONG street, about eight hundred yards) we entered the old Coppinger brewery.  I had some funny looks when I told them this!  Midleton is noted for distilling whiskey, not for brewing beer.  However the Coppinger family had closed down the brewery by the time the first Ordnance Survey map of Midleton was surveyed in the late 1830s.  The business almost certainly failed because of Fr Theobald Mathew’s spectacularly successful campaign against the demon drink – the Famine drove us back to drink!  We then gathered at Distillery Walk (it should really be called Distillery Drive given all the cars parked there) to discuss the Coppingers and their importance in Midleton, with their house on the other side of Main Street. (More about that house below!)

midleton walking tour

Midleton walking tour

Holding forth about the Coppinger family at Distillery Walk, with Lewis Bridge in the background (beyond the railings).  The scene is dominated by Ashlin’s Holy Rosary Church (1896 & 1908). Just visible over the parapet of the bridge is the former  Lewis Place, now called Midleton House, one of two houses with that name in Midleton.   Later, I realized that I had forgotten to tell them about General John Joseph Coppinger (1834-1909), who fought on the Union side in the US Civil War – he’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery (yes, the one across the Potomac from DC!).  

Note the attentive note taking by most of the group.  There were plenty of questions too!

Then crossing over Lewis Bridge (which traverses the Roxborough River) we turned off to look at one of the two houses called Midleton House.  There I explained that this house was originally called Lewis Place (queue shock and surprise in the group – NOBODY had EVER heard called THAT!).  This house was probably built around 1760 (perhaps earlier!) and only later acquired the name Midleton House.  People in the town believe this is the ONLY house entitled to that name, whereas, in fact, the house directly across the Roxborough River was also called Midleton House from the 1890s.   That house was the home of the Coppinger family that I noted above.  The Coppingers were prosperous brewers, maltsters, grain merchants and bankers, and were the most important, and wealthiest, Catholic residents of Midleton in the nineteenth century.  We also considered the 1867 Fenian ‘incident’ in Midleton (I refuse to call it a rebellion, it was plain murder!) and the buildings of the area called the Rock (from a large rock that had to be cut away to create the road to Youghal).  Among the buildings there are Bank House – built by the Coppingers as the Midleton branch of the National Bank of Ireland in the 1830s, as well as Rock Terrace (1861) and some earlier terraces and a lovely pair of late Georgian townhouses to complete the scene.   We didn’t do the Holy Rosary Catholic Church because we could all see it from where we stood – this was also designed by George Coppinger Ashlin in 1894 and built in two years, opening in 1896!  The spire was added to Ashlin’s original design in 1907/08.  They knew how to build them back then!  So, curiously, the Main Street and Rock are bracketed by George Coppinger Ashlin’s buildings.

In all the tour took just over two hours – and it was the first component of the group’s tourism studies.  I hope they learned more about Midleton in those two hours than they had expected. A huge  ‘thank you’ to the group for their enthusiastic attendance on  a very chilly afternoon.  And the best of luck to them in their course.

Images of Cloyne Cathedral.

Ooops!  Silly me!  I really should add some colour to this blog – so, as a bonus, I want to show some images of St Colman’s Cathedral in Cloyne to illustrate what I said in my previous blog.

Cloyne Cathedral is a thirteenth century building (1201-1300) with later amendments (east window and western facade). We don’t know which bishop built it but its location is very precisely related to the Round Tower across the road – this was the original belfry of Cloyne.  Forget that stuff about monks taking refuge there from the Vikings – round towers make excellent chimneys so the monks would have risked asphyxiation if the uninvited guests lit a fire at the foot of the tower!    The first image shows the cathedral from the north with the high triple lancet windows of the north transept facing us.  The chancel is on the left with the vestry protruding northwards, and the nave and aisles are on the right.  There is a debate as to whether the cathedral had a central tower, the join in the roof between the nave and chancel suggest this, but there is no such evidence on the interior. In fact, given that the Round Tower was used as a belfry into the twentieth century, why would they have bothered with a central crossing tower?

Cloyne Cathedral from the North

Cloyne Cathedral from the North

The Round Tower at Cloyne was actually built over a thousand years ago to house a bell – the locals called it a cloigteach into the 18th century – cloigteach means a bell-house, or in Italian, campanile!   It even leans a couple of centimeters out of vertical despite being over thirty meters tall – it lost a couple of meters when the conical cap was struck by lightening in the eighteenth century.

Cloyne Round Tower General

The third image is a general overview of Cloyne Cathedral taken from the top of the Round Tower – the image is a few years old because those fields in the background are now filled with houses.  Note the cruciform shape and the proximity to the road as well as the odd positioning of the gate – this gate faces the door of the Round Tower.

Cloyne Cathedral Overhead

The interior is remarkably simple, some would say bare, but I love it because it reminds me of the best Cistercian architecture.  Mind you Cloyne wasn’t built by the Cistercians, it was strictly a secular, that is to say diocesan, establishment.  The nave is empty of seating (as it was in the medieval period) and is now used mainly for concerts.  The Chancel is now the functioning church, but originally the laity would never have been admitted beyond the tall arch at the east end of the nave.  Indeed this arch would have been blocked by a painted and sculpted wooden screen with a crucifix above it.

Cloyne Nave General

The Chancel is laid out in ‘cathedral form’ as we say in Ireland – that is, while some pews at the western end face towards the altar, most of the seating follows the antiphonal arrangement of medieval choirs.  Antiphonal means that the seats face each other – one side can sing one verse, and the other side can sing the next verse, and so on.  The furnishings, roof and stained glass are all nineteenth century.

Cloyne Cathedral Chancel

 

In the north transept is a magnificent Renaissance tomb built for Sir John FitzEdmund FitzGerald, Dean of Cloyne.  He was the illegitimate son of the previous dean, Edmund FitzGerald, and there is no evidence that Sir John was even ordained!  Despite the fact that he remained a Catholic until his death in 1612, Sir John was a loyal subject of Queen Elizabeth I – how do you think he became SIR JOHN?  He was knighted on Elizabeth’s orders and he used that fact to his advantage.  He looted the church lands by giving estates to his own sons, and he even managed to keep the Protestants out of the cathedral until his death! Frankly, he was one of the biggest crooks in sixteenth century Ireland!   I’ll come back to him in a later post.  However, Sir John FitzEdmund FitzGerald’s tomb deserves a mention, for it is one of the great renaissance treasures of Ireland, yet is virtually unknown!   This large tomb of polished limestone is topped by a  huge slab of red (Midleton?) marble – the biggest I’ve ever seen.  The front of the tomb is decorated with panels representing military trophies, clearly copied from a print.

Fitzgerald Tomb Cloyne

The stones on top of the red marble slab are the remains of sculpted figures that stood on the tomb, and they are all shown dressed in armour. There isn’t a cleric among them.  No evidence whatsoever of any religious feeling intrudes into the tomb of this Dean of Cloyne!

 

Irish Genealogy and Finding Places.

Cloyne Cathedral

Cloyne Cathedral

Since my last post the autumn has hit us with a bang!  Literally!  We had a thunderstorm on Wednesday of last week (8th October). The storm lasted the whole afternoon and our internet connection went!  (Doh!) Finally, eight days later, we’re back online!  The thunderstorm was the latest in a series of downpours and delayed equinoxal storms that make us appreciate any calm, warm, sunny weather we get from now until winter sets in.  Really, we were spoiled by the long, warm, dry summer this year.  And the plants are still growing!  In the middle of October!  We’ll have a splendid leaf show in the next couple of weeks – if any gales don’t blow  the leaves away.

The Family History Course that I am presenting is going well – I’m trying to keep it practical, with a workshop and case study element.  This is, I believe, what people doing family history/genealogy really want.  It can be a lonely business when tracking your ancestors and I would encourage people to join organisations like the Cork Genealogical Society (of which I’m a member).

Last Friday (10th October) I visited Cloyne Cathedral to examine something there at the invitation of a member of the Cathedral Vestry.  This is a lovely, small, cathedral set in a pleasant little town or village in lovely countryside.  Most medieval Irish cathedrals were small – we had too many dioceses with too few resources to build on the scale of English or Continental cathedrals.   The charm of St Colman’s Cathedral is that is looks like a large parish church, but does not soar above the small town of Cloyne – that is the privilege of the older round tower, situated just across the road from the cathedral.   I hadn’t been to the cathedral for some years and had actually forgotten its homely and charming atmosphere.  The very small Church of Ireland (Anglican/Episcopalian) congregation and the Friends of Cloyne Cathedral struggle manfully to keep this gem intact.  The philosopher George Berkeley was the bishop here in the eighteenth century, and his memory is still cherished locally because of his generosity to the poor.  Berkeley College in California is named for him, as are a number of other US educational institions.

Cloyne Cathedral from the north

Cloyne Cathedral from the north

Cloyne is nowadays given the Irish name Cluain on road signs, but it should really be Cluain Uamha – the ‘meadow of the caves,’ a name it had long before modern road signs came into use. Cluain Uamha refers to the caves that penetrate the limestone on which the town stands.  Near Dublin is a place called Clontarf where exactly a millennium ago an army of Irish (mostly from Munster) with Viking allies crushed an army of Vikings (Dublin, Isle of Man and Norway with some from Denmark) with their Irish allies (from Leinster).  The battle was fought on Good Friday 1014 and that date is, like 1690, 1798 and 1916, one of the more popularly remembered dates in Irish history.  Clontarf, is derived from Cluain Tarbh, appropriately, ‘the meadow of bulls.’

One of the questions raised by those researching their Irish ancestors is this subject of place-names.  In Ireland this seems tricky, but when I eventually explain it, believe me it will seem very clear.  Let me give you an example from my tour of Midleton during Heritage Week in August.  There is a street in Midleton called Brodrick Street (the street sign says Broderick – but that’s wrong!  There is no ‘e‘ in Brodrick!)  Yet in Midleton, the locals refer to ithis street as the Coolbawn!  Until very recently this latter name did not appear on any map – but the building of Coolbawn Court (a square of houses at the end of the street) put it on the map.  What’s going on?   Coolbawn is derived from two Irish words cul meaning ‘back’ and ban meaning ‘white’ or ‘meadow between two streams’ (perhaps the latter meaning is derived from the white flowers of the meadowsweet herb?).  But culbhain can also mean, more precisely, a watermeadow.  And the Coolbawn in Midleton is indeed located between the Roxborough or Dungourney River on the south and the Owenacurra River (abhainn na corra – river of the weir) on the west.  The other boundaries are the Main Street on the east and the south wall of St John the Baptist’s churchyard on the north.  As you can imagine, the group was intrigued by my explanation that Brodrick Street was a street built in an area called the Cooibawn but it was not actually the Coolbawn itself. Attempts some years ago to change the name of the street to ‘Coolbawn’ were simply incorrect.  Note that I used the definite article when discussing the Coolbawn – because the name is also a description of a place and the area does flood in very high tides when the wind is blowing from the wrong direction!

And before anybody gets too excited – the Coolbawn is NOT a townland (in Midleton, at least!)…..which will bring on the subject of our next post!    To keep you amused until then you may wish to consider the following terms: ploughland, townland, civil parish, parish (and no, they are not exactly the same!), union (as in Poor Law Union), district electoral division (DED), barony, riding (those from Yorkshire should get that one!), county, diocese, province, and (for good measure) we’ll add in: borough (with its appendage corporation) and manor.  All of the above were ways of dividing up the land of Ireland and locating a place very precisely within it.

The system had its charms but it worked – you really couldn’t get lost, at least not until the advent of the late, and unlamented, Celtic Tiger, which unloosed a rash of ‘development’ in the country.  I blame the property developers. They had us bamboozled with very strange placenames and addresses!  Sadly the Irish government is now compounding the problem by spending about 25 million Euro on introducing a nationwide postcode system that apparently doesn’t work!  Not very charming, in my opinion.

More soon – if I don’t get lost in the post!

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A Busy September

September was an interesting month, which included setting up material for an adult education course I’m now delivering in St Colman’s Community College in Midleton.  Researching Family History takes place every Wednesday evening from 7.30 pm to 9.30pm.  It’s a nice class of ten from beginners to fairly advanced students.  The course is a practical but intensive six weeks of work and last night was the first session.

On Saturday 13th September we had a wonderfully warm and bright sunny day for the Midleton Food and Drink Festival, with the Main Street closed to traffic and given over to pedestrians and a mouth-watering selection of food stalls.  A member of the Red Cross told me that some people had even passed out in the heat!  In SEPTEMBER!  Surely not!  (Note: we’ve actually had an ‘absolute drought’ in September, according to Met Eireann!)  It seems a pity that nobody in Midleton was aware of Dr Charles Smith’s comment of 1749 that Midleton was even then a ‘good market for flesh and fish.’  Vegetables were well down the pecking order in those days!  (Pun intended!)

That was followed by a lecture I gave to the Cloyne Literary & Historical Society – the opening lecture of their Autumn/Winter season on the topic of Bishop Cornelius O’Dea’s mitre and crozier of 1418 in Limerick.  A few days later came the Youghal Celebrates History Conference 2014 – ‘A Circle of Friends.’  This celebrated the Quakers of Youghal and Cork.  This was a two day affair, with an international attendance, which included a trip to the Ballymaloe Cookery School at Kinoith House and a look at Shanagarry Castle,  This was William Penn’s Irish estate before he obtained permission to colonise Pennsylvania.  (Penn also owned the townland of Knockgriffin in Midleton.)

Sunday, 21st September, saw the All Ireland Senior Football Championship Final between Donegal and Kerry – which the Kingdom (Kerry) won by superb play.   I watched it in the company of a Kerryman – which added to the excitement!

That was then followed last Saturday, 27th September, with a conservation and archives workshop in University College Cork held by the Cork Decorative and Fine Arts Society.  After which we decamped to watch the replay of the Hurling Final between Kilkenny and Tipperary.  This time, quality showed up – Kilkenny won in fine style.

Our splendid summer is over, and our Indian summer may be a thing of the past as the weather has broken and is becoming more unsettled.  Ah well – we had a good run and the ground has been parched for want of moisture. (A very Irish way of putting it!) The leaves are beginning to assume their autumn raiment and we could just be on the verge of getting a splendid show of colour to see us into Halloween.

The local authority has just put up two signs on the main approaches to Midleton giving two dates of major importance to Midleton.  The first date commemorates the foundation of the Cistercian abbey in 1180, giving rise to the ancient Irish name Mainistir na Corann (Monastery of the Weir), and the other date commemorates the granting of a charter to create the borough of Midleton in 1670.  Of course King Charles II couldn’t spell – he left out the second letter ‘d’ in the new name of the town!  Hence, Midleton with one ‘d’!  By royal appointment!