Opening Speeches
Marius Harkin and Desmond Kavanagh

2 of 5

Desmond Kavanagh

People of Clonmany
Friends of The McGlinchey Summer School
Visitors to this place

Thank you Marius for those kind words. We wouldn't be here today if it were not for Marius. The summer school concept was his original idea. He drew up the original programme and then contacted me about three months ago. The local committee was then formed and his aspiration has been turned into a reality. Marius as chairman will acknowledge the hard work or the people who helped later in the programme. I am deeply honoured to have been asked to open the McGlinchey Summer School. I realise that this is primarily because I am my father's son, and because of his long and fruitful relationship with Charlie McGlinchey. While this relationship culminated in the publication of "The Last of the Name", it in fact extended back to the earlier decades of this century, certainly to the 1920's and when they lived as neighbours in the Meentiagh Glen. Both men realising that Charlie's life span was running out and that his memory would not be improving set out then, in the late 1940's and early 1950's to write down the stories that Charlie had been providing down all the years. One of my earlier memories is of sitting at the bottom of the kitchen table with my father at the top with pen and pad, and Charlie sitting in front of the cooker, with the cooker door open so that he could see the fire and get close to it, like many men of that age he wasn't at ease with a cooker and preferred the open fire. I can remember marvelling at his memory and his ability to recall dates and all the detail he could produce from long ago endlessly. From time to time my father would prompt him in order to get him back on track if his mind wandered for while he was familiar with all these stories he wanted to get Charlie's words and Charlie's rhythm into them. Although it was interesting for me too and I sensed it was important my child's mind wandered, and I often wanted to turn on the radio which was beside me to hear maybe who won between Celtic and Aberdeen, or which horse won the 4.30 race at Kempton Park. I didn't get much encouragement in this direction from either man - their attention was acutely focused on what they were about. When they finished they always walked down the town for a drink, my father the younger man by about 50 years walking in slower measured strides with Charlie shuffling along beside him stick beating out a stacatto pattern as they went down the road.

Master Kavanagh

The publication of "The Last of the Name" in 1985 was I think a landmark in the local folklore and history of this parish, and in turn became the backdrop against which the Summer School was formed. I am delighted to see Brian Friel here this evening. Brian did tremendous work in this skilful editing of the book, and the manner in which he ensured that it became published. Those who were associated with the book, and indeed the people of the area, owe this great man a great gratitude. Thanks, Brian.

The focus of this first McGlinchey Summer School is fittingly the 1938 folklore collection. Marius and Professor Seamus Ó Cathain will deal with this in detail and the scholars of 1938 who wrote the material will rightly be honoured in these proceedings. What a proud night for them, and for all of us! I hope that this evening's experience will encourage many of you to go to University College Dublin, and visit the Folklore Department there and see the material on this area in all its detail. You will recognise all the names and I know you will be deeply touched by what you read. Some of it is serious, and some of it is light hearted, and the material ranges through customs, traditions, descriptions of the town lands lived in, and some details of the way of life intermixed with poems, recitations, songs and jokes.

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