Friday, 19 April 2019

An Easter poem by a Ballyshannon woman and her role in the Independence Struggle

The offices of the Donegal Vindicator were on East Port
but were tossed in recent times

John McAdam founder of "The Donegal Vindicator"
The McAdam family made a wonderful contribution to the town of Ballyshannon since their arrival on East Port in 1889. John McAdam was invited to set up a newspaper, “The Donegal Vindicator” by the Land League and by the supporters of Charles Stewart Parnell. At the outbreak of World War 1 McAdam supported John Redmond and the Irish Parliamentary Party and two of his sons joined the army and fought in the First World War. Eily McAdam, his daughter, was an undergraduate at university in Dublin, in the lead up to the 1916 Rising, and one of her lecturers was Thomas McDonagh, one of the signatories of the Proclamation who was executed in 1916. Her political outlook was different to her father and was influenced by her regard for Thomas McDonagh and the ultimate sacrifice that he and others made. 
Eily McAdam editor of "The Donegal Vindicator" Eily McAdam had a more republican outlook than her father and published a weekly pamphlet called “An Dáil”. Her father later appointed her editor of “The Donegal Vindicator” in December 1921. Eily McAdam was actively involved with Cumann na mBan which was established in the Rock Hall in March 1918. She was courageous in her viewpoints and the offices of The Donegal Vindicator in East Port were raided by the British military from Finner Camp at 7 a.m. on Wednesday 26th January 1921. The premises were intensively searched but Mr. McAdam was absent on business in Derry. Ms. Eileen (Eily) and Kathleen McAdam were closely searched by a female searcher. Before 8 a.m. Eileen D’Alton McAdam , B.A., was arrested and removed to Derry by the 8.15 a.m. train. She was then sent onto Armagh on the same evening for further interrogation. The military subsequently revisited The Donegal Vindicator premises twice on the same day and brought away letters, magazines and piles of papers. No charges were issued against Eily McAdam and she was released a few days later. She maintained the independence of the press in times of great unrest but “The Donegal Vindicator” was in subsequent years raided by the Free State Army and the I.R.A. The raids by different forces reflected the independence of this newspaper and the fears of those who were opposed to its viewpoints. 
Eily McAdam sitting at the front in a 
family group
Eily McAdam Remembering 1916
For the Easter edition of the Standard in 1953 Eily wrote a personal account of her experience of the 1916 Rising and the news of Thomas McDonagh's execution: "Easter Week, 1916, is passing into the region of history. It is thirty-seven years ago, and yet, to those who were then young, when old heroic days seemed to have come back again, it does not seem so long ago. Odd to think that, with teenage eyes, some of us looked at the blackened ruins of the General Post Office, and saw rubble heaped up in the middle of O'Connell Street....Vivid still the memory of those heart-hurting moments when news came of execution after execution. Most vivid, of course, the memory of the moment when the news was of the death by execution of one's own particular hero--reading in a brief newspaper paragraph the name of Thomas McDonagh, crumpling the paper to a ball as if, by crushing it, one could destroy the reality of what had been announced. And yet it was not a sad time. They had failed. Very well, they failed. But one had a sort of defiant pride in the fact that they had tried....."

A talented newspaper writer, author and poet
Eily McAdam in the 1930s wrote extensively for Radio Éireann where her plays were frequently performed. Plays broadcast included “The Prince of the North” based on Red Hugh O’Donnell and “The Story of William Allingham” broadcast as part of the Treasure House series. Eily McAdam also wrote poetry including the poem on Easter below. John Ward was the last editor of "The Donegal Vindicator" until it closed in 1956 and he  subsequently emigrated to Canada and I acknowledge his wonderful memories of his family and of old Ballyshannon. 





Ecumenical Council (An Easter Thought)




Eily MacAdam

 "Who will roll back the stone?" the holy women sighed

Bearing, at dawn, anointing unguents to the tomb

Of the Beloved Master in anxious gloom

That turned to joy, for angel hand had set it wide.

He who was dead is risen--It was Eastertide--

He who had woven with mankind, in upper room,

Fabric of mystic brotherhood, which the loom

Weaves ill to-day--the master-piece all blurred by pride.

Wherefore, from Peter's Chair, comes invitation

That Christian men seek Christ as holy women sought

In bond of love, sad for the world's desolation--

To quest the tapestry of one-ness that He wrought,

Bearing the fragrant spice of charity alone,
What joy if angel hand roll back the sund'ring stone.









A  Local History Book suitable for those at Home and Away



"Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene. It contains the full story of  The Green Lady which  was  performed in Ballyshannon  to great acclaim. The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before. 
Available in  A Novel Idea and Local Hands in Ballyshannon and 4 Masters Bookshop Donegal Town. Also available from Anthony Begley for postal enquiries email anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com
Check out lots of local stories by clicking in the blog archive to the right of this post



Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Invitation to the launch of ÓCléirigh School this Friday


All welcome to the launch in the Sandhouse Hotel Rossnowlagh. There will be a number of short presentations and I will be giving one on "Local Links to The Flight of the Earls and the Ulster Plantation". Refreshments served.  Anthony Begley

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Can you recognise any of the young people in Ballyshannon Band in 1973?

A Junior Band in May 1973 at the Vocational School Sports Day
Great interest in the photo of 40 years ago of  Ballyshannon Brass and Reed Band last week. The Band has attempted to engage young people in band music down through the years.  See how many you can recognise in this appearance 46 years ago! Two of the girls  Geraldine McShea and Geraldine Monaghan were the first girls to play in the Senior Band. There are a number of young people in the band in 2019 but it is a constant struggle as many go away to work or take up other pursuits. 

front (l.tor.) Ann Duffy, Christine Gallagher, Kieran McShea, Thomas Downey, Thomas Gallagher, Terence Lawne.
Middle row (l.tor.) Bernard Monaghan, Patricia Fox, Eleanor McLoughlin, Brenda Fannon, Helen Hoey, Niall Tuohy, Patrick McShane (instructor)
Back row (l.to.r.) Eileen Hoey, Geraldine McShea, Liam Thomas, Pauric McMahon, Geraldine Monaghan and Bernadette Gallagher


A  Local History Book suitable for those at Home and Away

"Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene. It contains the full story of  The Green Lady which  was  performed in Ballyshannon  to great acclaim. The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before. 
Available in  A Novel Idea and Local Hands in Ballyshannon and 4 Masters Bookshop Donegal Town. Also available from Anthony Begley for postal enquiries email anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com
Check out lots of local stories by clicking in the blog archive to the right of this post

Saturday, 30 March 2019

40 Years ago the Ballyshannon Band played on

Ballyshannon Brass and Reed Band on St. Patrick's Day 1979 in Sligo
Remembering the Ballyshannon Band of 40 years ago, in its nice new blazers, happy days, good music, absent friends and many family ties. Four of the members of this band still play in Ballyshannon Brass and Reed Band today.  The band has a proud history extending back to playing for Charles Stuart Parnell in the 1880s and is the oldest surviving band in County Donegal. Take a trip down memory lane in this blog.

Front Row: (l.to r.)
Padraig McGarrigle joined the band in De La Salle around 1960
Danny McGeever joined the  band in De La Salle around 1960
Seamus Gallagher (r.i.p.) trombone player whose father Jimmy Gallagher played side-drums in 1929
Bob Gallagher (r.i.p.) played with his brother Jim in the 1940s and their father Jack also played in the band. 

Second Row: (l.to r.)
Jack Grimes (r.i.p.) played cornet in the band
Packie Gallagher (r.i.p.) played alongside his brothers Francis and Tom and Eddie  in the band
Jimmy Rafferty nephew of Seamus Gallagher still plays in the band 
Francis Gallagher (r.i.p.) played side drums like his father Willie Gallagher 
Tom Gallager the longest serving member of the Band who joined in 1943 and played in a group with Danny Gallagher, father of rock musician Rory Gallagher. His children all played in the band.
Anthony Begley joined in De La Salle 1961 and still playing.
James Hoey (r.i.p.) Cornet player and Band leader played with his brothers Bobby and Paddy and his children. James played in the group with Rory Gallagher's father.

Third Row: (l.to r.)
Mickie Gallagher (r.i.p.) a life long and versatile  band member whose sons played in the band.
Fergus Lawlor joined in De La Salle and still playing in the band
Michael Dalton played euphonium in the band 
P.J. Goan (r.i.p.) Considered by many the most talented musician the band produced.
Jim Gallagher (r.i.p.) his father Hughie played in the famous Ballyshannon Band conducted by Mr. Eldon in the early 1900s.

Fourth Row (l.to r.) 
Eamon Gallagher (r.i.p.) followed his father Tommy into the band
Cecil Stephens (r.i.p.) His father was conductor of the band and grandfather a founding member.
Michael Gallagher Band leader today and instructs new members
Eugene McLoughlin (r.i.p.) his son Eugene plays in the band in 2019.
John McGahern (r.i.p.)  Joined the band in De La Salle. The band played recently at John's funeral in 2019. His father Pat and uncle John  played in the band .


A  Local History Book suitable for those at Home and Away

"Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene. It contains the full story of  The Green Lady which  was  performed in Ballyshannon  to great acclaim. The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before. 
Available in  A Novel Idea and Local Hands in Ballyshannon and 4 Masters Bookshop Donegal Town. Also available from Anthony Begley for postal enquiries email anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com
Check out lots of local stories by clicking in the blog archive to the right of this post

Saturday, 16 March 2019

St. Patrick's Well in Ballyshannon, the Stations and the Rag Tree on St.Patrick's Day 2019

St. Patrick's grotto at the Abbey Well


One of the stations that pilgrims prayed at









    Gathering water from the well






Tying rags  in an ancient custom
Catsby Cave near St. Patrick's Well  at Ballyshannon

Listening to the history of the Abbey Well with Anthony Begley 
local historian











The station involved reciting set prayers and moving around beds in a similar manner to Lough Derg at the present time. According to folklore the station at the Abbey Well went as follows: Fifteen pebbles were picked from the river bed or station bed and pilgrims began by saying, one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Creed while kneeling at the well. Then going sun wise they knelt at each bed, saying one Our Father, ten Hail Marys and one Creed. A pebble was tossed into each bed. The round of five beds was completed three times and the station was concluded by taking three sips of water from the well and saying a rosary at the grotto. A rag or a medal was left on the bushes near the well


Rag Tree with the Abbey Bay in the background















The photographs above were taken by Pauline Kilfeather, Coláiste Cholmcille, on a history walk/talk to the Abbey, which  I gave to students  from the local community school .

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Ballyshannon 2019
St. Patrick's Day Parade in Ballyshannon 
Sunday 17th March at 2 p.m.





A  Local History Book suitable for those at Home and Away

"Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene. It contains the full story of  The Green Lady which  was  performed in Ballyshannon  to great acclaim. The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before. 
Available in  A Novel Idea and Local Hands in Ballyshannon and 4 Masters Bookshop Donegal Town. Also available from Anthony Begley for postal enquiries email anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com
Check out lots of local stories by clicking in the blog archive to the right of this post







Friday, 8 March 2019

On this day 9th March Falgarragh Park (St. Benildus Avenue) and the East Rock houses were opened in Ballyshannon

Opening of Falgarragh Park (now St. Benildus Avenue) on 9th March 1936. Sean T. O'Kelly,  later President of Ireland , seen here on the right,  under the umbrella,  in the centre, officially opened the housing scheme. Cecil Stephens, Town Clerk, is the man  carrying a folder beside Sean T. Ó Kelly. Dean McGinley P.P Kilbarron  parish is further back under the umbrella.


The second largest housing scheme in the Ulster counties of Cavan, Donegal, and Monaghan was opened at Falgarragh Park Ballyshannon by Sean T.O’Kelly, Minister for Local Government and Public Health  on Monday 9th March 1936. Mr. O’Kelly had played an important role in the 1916 Rising, twenty years before, and was later to become the second President of Ireland. On his visit he firstly inspected the new housing scheme at East Rock which had recently been built on the site of the Rock Barracks. Fr. Timoney blessed the houses and the Minister inspected and complimented the workmanship in their construction. He then visited the Mall Hosiery where the proprietor Mr. Swan presented him with a beautiful cardigan made in the factory. He also visited the Mall Quay and surrounding areas where he praised the new seating, shelter and dance platform recently completed as part of the Town Improvement Scheme. He also visited the Mall Laundry where he was welcomed by the proprietors Mr. & Mrs. M. Ward.
Official Opening of Falgarragh Park (now called St. Benildus Avenue)
At 12.30 Sean T.O’Kelly attended the official opening ceremony of the 80 houses at Falgarragh Park which he described as “the most beautiful he had yet seen”. The Minister remarked on the numbers of houses that needed to be replaced all over Ireland to stop the spread of tuberculosis and infant mortality and welcomed this new housing development in Ballyshannon.  Present with the Minister were local clergy Dean McGinley, Fr. McMullin and Fr. McGroarty who blessed the houses. Also present were Cecil Stephens, Town Clerk, Mr. Lysaght Commissioner in charge of the Town commissioners, M.F. Irwin C.E. Clerk of Works, W.J. Doherty architect of the scheme, reps. of contractor Kilcawley, Maloney and Taylor Ballisadare Co. Sligo, Dr. Gordon, Major Myles T.D. and Brian Brady T.D. The tape of number 77 was then cut by the Minister who inspected the house.

A fuller account of the housing schemes at  Falgarragh,  East Rock , Erne Street, Abbey View Terrace and Cluain Barron are contained in the book “Ballyshannon Genealogy and History” available in local shops. It also contains the biggest housing changes ever in Ballyshannon in the 1930s which I call the Ballyshannon Clearances.  See below for book details. Read also about local incidents in the independence struggle and the forerunner of the backstop in the 1920s,

The following is an extract from a poem which has twelve verses and a number of verses are parodies of William Allingham’s “Adieu to Ballyshanny”. The poem was written by Dan McCauley who had fought in World War 1 and whose family, were one of a number of families, who left condemned houses in places like Bachelor’s Walk and the Back Street to live in the new houses which had all modern amenities.


 The Flight to Falgarragh

‘Twas in an old thatched cabin

With its walls as white as snow,

Where mother dear, (God rest her soul),

Some forty years ago-

Told me of some noble deeds,

How the great Red Hugh did turn

The Saxon from Tirconaill

On the Winding Banks of Erne.



I’ve trod the world ever since,

I’ve ploughed the seas afar,

I’ve seen Killarney’s lakes and fells,

And historic Castlebar.

From County Down to Cavan Town,

Through Fermanagh’s leafy fern,

Till I landed at Falgarragh

On the Winding Banks of Erne.


And now we have a Housing Scheme

To brighten up the town:

We’ll clear out all slum dwellings

And pull the old shacks down,

A brand new house they’re giving us,

              And its Finn Hill turf we’ll burn,

Away in grey Falgarragh

By the Winding Banks of Erne.


"Ballyshannon Genealogy and History" available  in A Novel Idea and Local Hands in Ballyshannon. Available also in Four Master's Bookshop in Donegal Town. For postal details contact anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com