BLUE BRIDGE WALK EMYVALE

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Jack Johnston, President William Carleton Society, at the Blue Bridge Emyvale  Photo: Michael Fisher

William Carleton’s ‘Blue Bridge’ across the Mountain Water at Inishdevlin outside Emyvale was one of the points of note on a 5m walk this afternoon organised by the Clogher Valley Ramblers. It started and finished in Emyvale village, with cups of tea beforehand and afterwards at John’s Plaice.

William Carleton, a leading Irish writer of the 19thC came originally from the Clogher area. He wrote about life’s experiences and as he used to walk from his relatives’ house at Derrygola to Glennan for his education at the hedge school there (beside Glennan chapel). He always rested at the Blue Bridge. He has written in his Autobiography about its beauty and about the famous Fair of Emyvale.

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Mountain Water at Inishdevlin near Emyvale Photo: Michael Fisher

The Emyvale Development Association organised a festival under the Banner of the Fair of Emyvale for a number of years while money was being raised for the Emyvale Leisure Centre.  On Sunday, August 4th 2013 during the annual summer school, all came alive again as Michael Fisher, Director of the William Carleton Society, unveiled a Plaque commemorating William Carleton’s connections with the Blue Bridge.

This event was organised by Emyvale Development Association. In 1997, Monaghan County Council in conjunction with Emyvale Development Association erected a Plaque on the Bridge but weather conditions eventually rotted the  plaque backing and it came away from the wall. A new Plaque was prepared and is now in place.

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Clogher Valley Ramblers at the Blue Bridge, Emyvale Photo: Michael Fisher

CARLETON ANNIVERSARY

Grave of William Carleton at Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Grave of William Carleton at Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

This is the 146th anniversary of the death of the leading 19thC Irish author William Carleton on January 30th 1869. He is buried at Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin. I left a small floral tribute at his grave there recently.

JJ Slattery oil portrait of William Carleton in National Gallery of Ireland

JJ Slattery oil portrait of William Carleton in National Gallery of Ireland

CHURCH OF IRELAND

Once again I am turning to the Reverend Patrick Comerford for today’s contribution. A very interesting talk about the Church of Ireland: Church, Culture and being relevant. It was part of a series of talks on Anglicanism being delivered by him at the Mater Dei Institute of Education in Dublin.

Map of Sandford Road Ranelagh c.1850 showing Woodville, where Carleton lived (Dublin City Library)

Map of Sandford Road Ranelagh c.1850 showing Woodville, where Carleton lived (Dublin City Library)

He might have added William Carleton (1794-1869) to the list of writers who were members of the Church of Ireland, although he came from a Catholic background and wrote mainly about the poor tenant farmers in the Clogher Valley: ‘Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry’. Carleton died in Ranelagh and is buried at Mount Jerome cemetery in Dublin and he spent most of his adult life in the city. This article on the Life of William Carleton was published in the William Carleton Society summer school booklet 2013 and is also included in a new publication due to be launched in Dungannon next Tuesday (19th November) on the ‘Shared History, Shared Future’ project involving five local historical and cultural societies.

John Slattery portrait of William Carleton from National Gallery of Ireland collection

John Slattery portrait of William Carleton from National Gallery of Ireland

William Carleton (1794 – 1869) was born the youngest of a family of fourteen children in the townland of Prolusk (spelled ‘Prillisk’ in his autobiography) near Clogher in Co.Tyrone, on Shrove Tuesday, 20th February, 1794. Although there is little suggestion that the Carletons were upwardly mobile, they did move house frequently within the Clogher area and were established at the townland of Springtown when William left the family home. Carleton obtained his education at local hedge schools which he was to write about, fictionalising the pedagogue Pat Frayne as the redoubtable Mat Cavanagh. From other retrospections of his home district, we learn of Carleton’s delight in his father’s skill as a seanachie and the sweetness of his mother’s voice as she sang the traditional airs of Ireland; of his early romances- especially with Anne Duffy, daughter of the local miller; of Carleton the athlete, accomplishing a ‘Leap’ over a river, the site of which is still pointed out; of the boisterous open air dancing. Initially an aspirant o the priesthood, Carleton embarked in 1814 on an excursion as a ‘poor scholar’ but, following a disturbing dream, returned to his somewhat leisurely life in the Clogher Valley before leaving home permanently in 1817. Journeying via Louth, Kildare and Mullingar, he found work as a teacher, librarian and,  eventually, as a clerk in the Church of Ireland Sunday School Office in Dublin. In 1820, he married Jane Anderson who bore him several children. By 1825, Carleton. who had left the Roman Catholic Church for the Anglican Church of Ireland, met a maverick Church of Ireland cleric, Caesar Otway, who encouraged him to put his already recognised journalistic talents to such prosletysing purposes as satirising the attitudes reflected in pilgrimages to ‘St Patrick’s Purgatory’ at Lough Derg, a totemic site in Irish Catholicism. Further writings in the Christian Examiner & Church of lreland Magazine led in 1829 and 1833 to the publication of what is arguably Carleton’s best known work: Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry. In these stories Carleton returned imaginatively to the Clogher Valley, drawing on comedy, farce, melodrama and tragedy to present a tableau of the life of the country people of the north of Ireland before the famines of the 1840s altered their pattern of existence for ever. Carleton went on to respond to the challenge of the novel, in his tirne a comparatively undeveloped genre amongst Irish writers, and published Fardorougha the Miser (1839), Valentine McClutchy (1845), The Black Prophet (1847), The Emigrants of Aghadarra (1848), The Tithe Proctor (1849), The Squanders of Castle Squander (1852). In these works he addresses many of the issues affecting the Ireland of his day such as the influence of the Established Church and landlordism, poverty, famine and emigration but does so with an earnestness that regrettably often caused his more creative genius to be swamped in a heavy didacticism. Carleton continued to write in a variety of forms, including verse, until his death in 1869, but critics are agreed that the quality of the work is uneven. Despite his prolific output, Carleton never really made a living from his writings and welcomed the pension voted to him by the government following the advocacy of such contrasting figures as the Ulster Presbyterian leader, Dr Henry Cooke, and Paul Cardinal Cullen, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. His last project, uncompleted when he died, was his Autobiography, which was re-issued through the efforts of the Summer School Committee in 1996. Carleton was buried in the cemetery at Mount Jerome in Dublin and over his grave a miniature obelisk records the place “wherein rest the remains of one whose memory needs neither graven stone nor sculptured marble to preserve it from oblivion”.

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AUGHNACLOY RACES

Aughnacloy Races at Ravella Photo: © Michael Fisher

Aughnacloy Races at Ravella Photo: © Michael Fisher

The track might not be as sophisticated as Down Royal or Downpatrick, but the setting is ideal for this annual event. Aughnacloy Horse and Pony Races are now in their eleventh year, held on land owned by the Steele family at Ravella, close to the border with County Monaghan. But the tradition of horse racing in the town is much older: my great grandfather John McCann JP of Hilton House in Aughnacloy was Secretary of the original race committee around 1910-20 (I will have to check my records to get the exact date).

Ready for the Off at Aughnacloy Races Photo: © Michael Fisher

Ready for the Off at Aughnacloy Races Photo: © Michael Fisher

The races had originally been scheduled to take place on June 1st but were cancelled following one of the wettest springs on record. Work was undertaken to get the course ready for the races to be rescheduled a fortnight later, but again the weather defeated the organisers and the event had to be postponed a second time.

Jockeys line up for second race at Aughnacloy Races Photo: © Michael Fisher

Jockeys line up for second race at Aughnacloy Races Photo: © Michael Fisher

This afternoon jockeys and punters converged on Aughnacloy from all over Ireland, with the highlight of the day being the famous ‘Aughnacloy derby’, the fifth of the seven races on the card. Traditionally, the annual race meeting has been a breeding ground for up and coming jockeys, with the likes of Martin Harley, a previous winner at Aughnacloy, having taken the horseracing world by storm.

Martin McCarron, Secretary Aughnacloy Races and Michael Fisher

Martin McCarron, Secretary Aughnacloy Races and Michael Fisher

The committee secretary Martin McCarron was the announcer and when he spotted my presence, called me over to the microphone to do an interview, turning the tables on me! Earlier he had introduced the Mayor of Dungannon Councillor Sean McGuigan. He told him he had already attended sixty events since he assumed office in June. At the start of the month I welcomed him to Monaghan for the opening of the William Carleton summer school along with the Mayor of Monaghan Councillor Sean Conlon.

Mayor of Dungannon Cllr Sean McGuigan and Martin McCarron, Secreyary at Aughnacloy Races

Mayor of Dungannon Cllr Sean McGuigan and Martin McCarron, Secretary at Aughnacloy Races

Committee & Field Management Team: Chairperson Donald Magee; Secretary Martin McCarron; Treasurer Brian McKenna; President Peter McConnell; Assistant PR Officer John Morrison; Vice Chairman Eric Stansfield; Vice Secretary Stephen Watson; Vice Treasurer Benny McKenna; Joint Field Manager Des Sherry; Joe McMeel; Manuel Martins.

Aughnacloy Races Programme

Aughnacloy Races Programme

Advertisement for Rossmore Bar, Main Street Aughnacloy beside Ravella Road. This premises used to be owned by my great grandfather, John McCann, a native of Cloonycoppoge, Clogher.

Rossmore Bar advertisement

Rossmore Bar advertisement

CARLETON ON TOUR

Jack Johnston at Draperstown

Jack Johnston at Draperstown

The William Carleton story was told by Jack Johnston at The Shepherd’s Rest pub near Draperstown. The well-attended event was hosted by Ballinascreen Historical Society. It include a reading by the Carleton Players from “The Party Fight and Funeral”, adapted by Liam Foley. William Carleton Society is part of the “Shared History, Shared Future” project financed by the EU Peace III initiative and administered by Magherafelt District Council on behalf of the South West Peace III Partnership. On Tuesday 14th May at 6:30pm at Ranfurly House/Hill of the O’Neill centre in Dungannon we will be launching the programme for the 22nd annual William Carleton international summer school. All welcome.

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WILLIAM CARLETON

William Carleton

William Carleton

Donaghmore Historical Society in County Tyrone concluded its season of talks in The Heritage Centre on Monday, 8th April, when Michael Fisher gave an illustrated talk entitled, “From Prillisk to Beechmount: a Tyrone man’s journey to Dublin: the story of William Carleton.” Born and reared as a Catholic in the Clogher Valley , where his father was a small farmer, Carleton has never had the recognition he deserves, either in his native area or in the ranks of Irish novelists. He spent most of his adult life in Dublin , where his works were written, including the famous “Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry,” the first such significant stories to be published in the English language in Ireland and Britain . When he settled in the capital city, he came under the influence of a Protestant clergyman, who persuaded him to change his religion in order to gain a living as a writer. His stories describe the society he grew up in, which often featured sectarian confrontation between orange and green factions, such as “The Party Fight and Funeral.”

Michael Fisher Talk

Michael Fisher Talk

Michael Fisher is Director of the William Carleton Society’s international summer school. A freelance journalist, he retired from RTÉ. News in Belfast in September 2010, having joined the broadcaster in Dublin in 1979. He is a former BBC. News trainee in London and worked in Birmingham as a local radio reporter. A native of Dublin , Michael has family connections with County Tyrone as well as County Monaghan . He is a graduate of UCD. and QUB., where he completed an MA. in Irish Studies in 2001, including a dissertation on The Big House in Counties Fermanagh and Monaghan. He was introduced to the works of Carleton during his time as a student at University College in Dublin by one of his lecturers on Anglo-Irish literature, Maurice Harmon, who is now a patron of the William Carleton Society.

Michael FisherTalk

Michael FisherTalk

Those who remember Michael’s soft modulated, dulcet tones from his days on our television screens will have a chance to see and hear him in person in The Heritage Centre on Monday night at 8 o’clock, when he will be telling the story of a County Tyrone writer, who, surprisingly enough, is virtually unknown in this part of the county.

Carleton's Cottage, Springtown

Carleton’s Cottage, Springtown

William Carleton                    1794 – 1869

William Carleton was born the youngest of a family of 14 children in the townland of Prolusk (‘Prillisk’ in his autobiography) near Clogher in Co.Tyrone, on Shrove Tuesday, 20th February,1794. Although there is little suggestion that the Carletons were upwardly mobile, they did move house frequently within the Clogher area and were established at the townland of Springtown when William left the family home. Carleton obtained his education at local hedge schools which he was to write about, fictionalising the pedagogue Pat Frayne as the redoubtable Mat Cavanagh. From other retrospections of his home district, we learn of Carleton’s delight in his father’s skill as a seanachie and the sweetness of his mother’s voice as she sang the traditional airs of Ireland; of his early romances- especially with Anne Duffy, daughter of the local miller; of Carleton the athlete, accomplishing a ‘Leap’ over a river, the site of which is still pointed out; of the boisterous open air dancing. Initially an aspirant o the priesthood, Carleton embarked in 1814 on an excursion as a ‘poor scholar’ but, following a disturbing dream, returned to his somewhat leisurely life in the Clogher Valley before leaving home permanently in 1817. Journeying via Louth, Kildare and Mullingar, he found work as a teacher, librarian and,  eventually, as a clerk in the Church of Ireland Sunday School Office in Dublin. In 1820, he married Jane Anderson who bore him several children. By 1825, Carleton. who had left the Roman Catholic Church for the Anglican Church of Ireland, met a maverick Church of Ireland cleric, Caesar Otway, who encouraged him to put his already recognised journalistic talents to such prosletysing purposes as satirising the attitudes reflected in pilgrimages to ‘St Patrick’s Purgatory’ at Lough Derg, a totemic site in Irish Catholicism. Further writings in the Christian Examiner & Church of lreland Magazine led in 1829 and 1833 to the publication of what is arguably Carleton’s best known work: Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry. In these stories Carleton returned imaginatively to the Clogher Valley, drawing on comedy, farce, melodrama and tragedy to present a tableau of the life of the country people of the north of Ireland before the famines of the 1840s altered their pattern of existence for ever. Carleton went on to respond to the challenge of the novel, in his tirne a comparatively undeveloped genre amongst Irish writers, and published Fardorougha the Miser (1839), Valentine McClutchy (1845), The Black Prophet (1847), The Emigrants of Aghadarra (1848), The Tithe Proctor (1849), The Squanders of Castle Squander (1852). In these works he addresses many of the issues affecting the Ireland of his day such as the influence of the Established Church and landlordism, poverty, famine and emigration but does so with an earnestness that regrettably often caused his more creative genius to be swamped in a heavy didacticism. Carleton continued to write in a variety of forms, including verse, until his death in 1869, but critics are agreed that the quality of the work is uneven. Despite his prolific output, Carleton never really made a living from his writings and welcomed the pension voted to him by the government following the advocacy of such contrasting figures as the Ulster Presbyterian leader, Dr Henry Cooke, and Paul Cardinal Cullen, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. His last project, uncompleted when he died, was his Autobiography, which was re-issued through the efforts of the Summer School Committee in 1996. Carleton was buried in the cemetery at Mount Jerome in Dublin and over his grave a miniature obelisk records the place “wherein rest the remains of one whose memory needs neither graven stone nor sculptured marble to preserve it from oblivion”.           (Summer School handbook 1998)

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Donaghmore Sunset

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CARLETON AND IRISH

William Carleton

William Carleton

The historian John Paul McCarthy immediately caught my attention in his column in the Sunday Independent p.16 10/02/13 with his mention of William Carleton in the sub-heading. He is writing about the poet Liam O Muirthile from Cork. Under the heading “Language of love and friendship”, he says that Liam’s latest collection of peoms is in the humane Carleton tradition. He goes on to make a very interesting comparison of the works of both men.  I am therefore publishing his comments here because of my interest in Carleton.

It is good to see the work of Liam O Muirthile getting recognition. I worked with him in the RTÉ newsroom in Dublin, where he was part of the Nuacht team. After he left RTÉ, he devoted his time to literature and he used to have a regular column in The Irish Times.

Liam O Muirthile, file (poet)

Liam O Muirthile, file (poet)

Liam’s latest work is called An Fuíoll Feá – Rogha Dánta or Wood Cuttings, new and selected poems, published by Cois Life and there’s more about it on their blog. Gabriel Rosenstock has translated the poems. The book is available in harback and softback (€30/€20). It also comes with a CD of O Muirthile reading some of his work.Fuíoll Feá - Rogha Dánta

Here is an edited version of what John Paul McCarthy has to say on the subject:-

In his essay on Irish swearing, the great Victorian chronicler of Gaelic Ireland, William Carleton, said “the Irish language actually flows with the milk and honey of love and friendship”. Irish for him was the medium of prayer and domestic tranquility. That aspect of Irish has struggled to get a hearing in our time, if only because of the relentlessly political focus that has disfigured large parts of modern Irish letters. The introspection of the Gaeltachtai has not helped matters either. Liam O Muirthile’s latest collection of poems, An Fuioll Fea-Wood Cuttings (Cois Life), is very much in the humane Carleton tradition though.

O Muirthile’s Irish is the Irish of the city street, the factory floor and the urban tavern. His focus is on what Patrick Kavanagh once called “ordinary plenty”….

Like Carleton again, O Muirthile found politics to be inescapable. He translates parts of Wolfe Tone’s diaries in a series of poems before tending to the Guildford Four. The Firing Squad suggests some fundamental ambivalence about revolutionary aristocrats, especially the ones who plague people with their consciences in pubs.

The last poem of this collection then, Thuaidh (or North) draws these disparate threads together. The poet is commemorating an ancient IRA ambush, and proceedings are rather hijacked by an abrasive northerner. “‘Daoine boga sibhse theas,’ arsa cara. ‘Muidne thuaidh cruaidh.'” (You lot are soft down south, we’re hard in the north)”.