Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Parishes of County Clare

Most of the genealogical and geographical information on Clare County Library’s website is arranged by civil parish. The reason for this is that between the 17th and early 20th centuries, the civil parish was the territorial unit used by government for its land surveys and censuses. Click here for a list of the civil parishes of Clare, and they are mapped here... They are divided into townlands, the smallest territorial unit, and are arranged into Baronies, the largest unit in the county system. Civil parishes are no longer in use for administrative purposes.

The Catholic parish system is a separate system and forms the basis for much of Ireland's social, educational and sporting activities. Catholic parishes are still evolving, with some parishes combining and new parishes being established in densely-populated areas. Clare is divided between the Dioceses of Killaloe, Galway, and Limerick. The Catholic parish registers of Baptism and Marriage are very important for genealogists, and are usually the only source of family information in Ireland before the 1901 census. See this list of Catholic parish records, available on microfilm in Clare County Library's Local Studies Centre in Ennis.

Ewan MacColl and the Clare Connection

Next Sunday, ‘Burns Night’, marks the anniversary of the birth of English/Scot’s folksinger Ewan MacColl and numerous events are taking place in Britain and Ireland celebrate the occasion. This includes two hour-long radio programmes on MacColl’s life and work produced by Clare FM’s Paula Carroll, the first of which is scheduled to be broadcast on Friday, 23rd January at 7.00pm.

Paula has based her programmes on Ewan’s and Peggy Seeger’s long-term working association with two County Clare residents, Pat Mackenzie and Jim Carroll, now living in Miltown Malbay. Both were members of MacColl’s workshop, The Critics Group, and helped to run and to perform at The Singers Club in London; regular guests at the club were Clare piper Tom McCarthy from Sheyan, Kilmihil, and fiddler Bobby Casey of Mullagh.

Pat and Jim have been recording singers in Clare since the early 1970s and have been permanent residents here since 1998; their collection of the older generation of singers is about to go live shortly on Clare County Library’s website for public access.

The first programme deals with MacColl’s early life in Salford, and his move from agit-prop theatre into folk song; it includes part of a long interview they did with Sea Nós singer, Joe Heaney, from Connemara. Programme two will be broadcast at 7pm on Friday 30th January 2015. The photo above was taken of Ewan MacColl by Michael Tigar in 1962.

Monday, 19 January 2015

New Book on Killaloe and Ogonnelloe Parishes

Brisbane author Patrick O’Brien has written a definitive and detailed account of the townland of Carrownakilly (and the adjoining townland of Carrowbaun) in the parish of Killaloe. In the civil parish of Killaloe both townlands are in the Catholic parish of Ogonnelloe. “Looking over my shoulder: life for an O’Brien family from the townland of Carrownakilly in 19th century Ireland” (published by the author, 2014) chronicles the family of Cornelius O’Brien in Carrownakilly, his antecedents and his successors. Cornelius O’Brien left Clare for Australia in 1883. The author was prompted to write his book on his family history and on Carrownakilly in order to find out why Cornelius left Killaloe in 1883, and why he chose Australia. “Were you pushed out of Ireland or pulled towards Australia?” he asks the ghost of Cornelius O’Brien.

Looking over my shoulder” is an exhaustive study of this small part of County Clare. It examines local land-holding patterns from the perspectives of landlords, agents and tenants; farming methods and practices; poverty and survival mechanisms including the local workhouse; evictions and ejectments (“an estimated one in ten persons living in Clare at the time [of the Great Famine] was evicted”, O’Brien writes); social and cultural practices including religion (“throughout the 19th century local families would have set out across the fields through Ogonnelloe on well-worn ‘mass paths’ to attend church … In pre-famine Ireland church attendance was on average only 33%”); folk beliefs and customs (local holy wells, patterns, wakes); and education and local hedge schools (“the space was too crowded to sit down [in the local hedge school, circa 1835]. A middle-aged barefooted man was teaching children in rags”).

The daily lives of our ancestors are also delineated - food and diet, illicit distillation, local fairs and markets, and faction fights (“men typically wore heavy felt hats, partially as a defence against the blackthorn shillelagh”). Patrick O’Brien has written a detailed, engaging and engrossing account of this part of North Killaloe and South Ogonnelloe, a work which also touches on neighbouring families and townlands. At 305 pages, with a seven-page bibliography, “Looking over my shoulder”(ISBN 9780646921815) is a model work of local history and a valuable addition to the scholarship of County Clare. The author has kindly deposited copies of his book in Killaloe Public Library and in Clare County Library’s Local Studies Centre in Ennis.

Children’s Local History Project in Kilrush Library

Fourth class children from St Senan’s Primary School in Kilrush have completed a history project which includes information on the Vandeleurs, the Glynn family and Scattery Island, and models of several historical buildings of the area including the church and town hall. This project can be viewed at Kilrush Public Library until the end of January.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Sharon Shannon and Alan Connor play Lament For Limerick

County Clare's Sharon Shannon and Alan Connor play Lament For Limerick (and a few more tunes as well!) at the Musician Pub in Leicester, UK. Posted on Youtube on the 17th of November 2014 by terry ashton.

Kirsten Allstaff's CD Launch Party in Lahinch

Liscannor based Kirsten Allstaff and friends at the launch of her new album 'Gallowglass' in Kenny's Pub, Lahinch. Posted on Youtube on the 7th of December 2014 by irishmusicacamdemy.

Mary MacNamara and Friends CD Release Party in Boston

Mary MacNamara and friends, including the Tulóg Céilí Band and Réalta Geala, performing at her CD Release Party at The Burren, Boston, USA, on Sunday, 9th of November 2014. Posted on Youtube on the 10th of November 2014 by Concert Window. For more info see

Seisiún hosted by Josephine Marsh at Ennis Trad Fest 21

"Seisiún hosted by Josephine Marsh in Glór at the Ennis Trad Fest 21 on the 7th of November 2014. Musicians include Josephine Marsh (accordion ), Yvonne Casey (fiddle), Caroline Casey (fiddle),Tommy Carew (guitar), Gerry Madden (mandolin), Jo Dengate (flute), Bernard Devlin (fiddle), and Andrew Newland (uilleann pipes and whistle)." Posted on Youtube on the 18th of November 2014 by PRAK14.

Yvonne Casey and Eoin O´Neill play Bluebells in the Glen

Yvonne Casey and Eoin O´Neill play Bluebells in the Glen, a reel composed by Yvonne, in Brogan's Bar, Ennis. Posted on Youtube on 14th of November 2014 by Jon Antonsson.

Ebert Vacation – County Clare and Ireland 2014

The Eberts visit the Cliffs of Moher, Corcomroe Abbey and The Burren on their vacation in Ireland. Posted on Youtube on the 30th of November 2014 by Jeff Ebert.