On Friday, 28 February, the Thomas MacDonagh Heritage Centre was filled to capacity again, as the ninth in the series of books entitled Cloughjordan Heritage, was launched. The launch was held in the Library, as it seemed appropriate to launch a book in a room full of books. Len Gaynor, a former inter-county hurler who won all Ireland medals with Tipperary, was invited to do the official launching of Cloughjordan Heritage Vol. IX and he had evidently read and enjoyed many of the articles in it before the occasion. He praised the research and skill that had gone into producing the nineteen stories and poems it contains, and then presented a copy of the book to each of the contributors, to generous applause.
Although Volume IX is published in the centenary of Thomas MacDonagh’s death, not all the articles in the book are about MacDonagh or the Rising. There is a very wide range of subject matter, and those who contributed are very proud to have been involved with its production. Sadly not everyone who had an article included was able to accept a presentation: Roche Williams has gone from us, but his brother Neil Williams accepted a book on Roche’s behalf, for his article on the MacDonagh family. Other articles include the story of the precursor of the Kilruane MacDonaghs GAA Club, the Lahorna De Wets; on the family of Thomas and Catherine Williams; and a meticulously researched piece full of fascinating little paragraphs from archive editions of the local papers. ‘Schooldays in Cloughjordan’ is illustrated by class photographs from the 1940s and from 1908, each child with ‘shining morning face’ and starched white collar, scrubbed up for the novelty of the school photo.
The stories of the founders of ASTI, of Rathurles and the Brereton family, of the 1966 Commemorations and the history of the Ardcroney Players are informative and entertaining: so too are the autobiographical articles by local men John Shortt, Liam Gaffney and Tom Horrigan. Our natural heritage is represented too, in a short article about local wild flowers.
Our literary heritage is represented here by the inclusion some of Thomas MacDonagh’s poetry, and by a poem by P.F Gardiner, whose family once lived in the house that is now part of the Thomas MacDonagh Heritage Centre.
We were fortunate indeed to have original copies of the Irish Press, April 1956 made available to us and by the very kind permission of Eamon De Valera, Irish Press plc, the editors of Cloughjordan Heritage were able to reproduce the articles written by Thomas MacDonagh’s son, Donagh MacDonagh. These articles, called ‘The Days of the Easter Rising’ give an account of Easter Week 1916, published on the fortieth anniversary.
The whole book is illustrated throughout with photographs, ranging from formal studio photographs such as that of the Brereton family taken in 1862, to 1902 team photographs showing the hurlers dressed in striped ganseys and calf-length “knicks”, to a wonderful candid shot of Jack Ralph at work on a tractor engine, with Modreeny church in the background.
The book is available in shops in Cloughjordan and the Heritage Centre; O’Sullivan’s in Ardcroney; The Book Shop and Easons in Nenagh; Heenan’s in Borrisokane; Centra in Shinrone; Haslem’s in Birr; and Bergins and the Obama Plaza in Moneygall, priced at €10. For details of this year’s Thomas MacDonagh Summer School programme, to be held on the May Bank Holiday weekend, please go to www.MacDonaghHeritage.ie and follow the links.