Great Reaction to The Master’s Collection

The Master in typical pose. ©John Reidy 2003
The Master in typical pose. ©John Reidy 2003

There was a far bigger reaction to Saturday night’s launch of the Michael O’Donohoe Memorial collection that was expected.

Momentum had been growing steadily through last week after invitations had been issued and it is estimated that a crowd of 120 people turned up to the River Island Hotel for the official launch.

The project was officially launched by Minister Jimmy Deenihan. Mr. Deenihan spoke about the importance of local history and said how fortunate Castleisland is to have a collection of this magnitude at its disposal.

He also suggested that the people of the town should keep an eye on 2016 as the year will mark the 790th anniversary of the building of the castle.

Mikey Conway then introduced Island Players Drama group member, Tommy Martin with a ring or two from the original town crier’s bell which belonged to his father. Mr. Martin then read from the diaries of of Robert O’Kelly and entertained the crowd and took us all well back through the pages of time through the eyes of a man who lived through famine times.

Committee chairman, John Roche then gave a rundown on the project and outlined the progress made since the first meeting in May.

The collection is now in the process of being digitised and to say that it is an amazing treasure throve is something of an understatement.

Just by way of introduction  to the man and to get the Facebook page up and running the following is a tribute to the late Michael O’Donohoe NT  which I put together at the time of his passing in June 2008

The Master Passes On 

The thought struck me at the weekend that there’s a great deal of truth in the old cliché that ‘There’s a book in Everyone.’ My thought may not have run parallel with the essence of the cliché but no less a thought for that.

The notion alighted on me from talking and listening to friends and former colleagues of the late Michael O’Donohoe, NT at his removal and burial over the weekend.  It occurred to me that a hefty paragraph from each of them would contribute handsomely to a book on the life of a remarkable character – by any standards.

It would be a richly deserved tribute to one who spent much of his retirement time researching the history of the town and the families within it almost exclusively.

He filled gaps in many a family tree through thorough and weekly research sessions in the county library in Tralee.

Through what I’m doing here each week, I was often summoned to his open ‘office’ in the alcove inside the front window in Skevenas. He was always very encouraging to me and always the múinteoir.

After one of our regular chats on one afternoon a few years ago I headed for the local library. There, I overheard a man – you’d hear him in Kilbanivane anyway – with a loud American accent and he looking for information on his Castleisland roots. The lady at the desk asked me, as a local, if I knew the family the man was trying to trace.

I did but vaguely – but I knew The Master was in his office and it was a challenge he’d relish. I directed the man to him.

Later that evening I happened to meet the roots seeker and his family on the street and he was ‘awestruck’ as he said himself.

“When we found him he told us to sit down and wait for him for a few minutes and as good as his word he returned with a folder with every possible scrap of information we could want.” And that was only one instance.

The Master’s collection is indeed awesome. Over the years he has taken every available record and statistic, roll book, birth, marriages and deaths and electoral and census records and collated them minutely in jigsaw fashion.

Overlay the lot and they produce a near DNA perfect picture of the streets and lanes of the town down through generations.

A keen sportsman, The Master and his team-mates hold a very special place in the sporting annals of St. Patrick’s Teacher Training College in Dromcondra.

This was an event which celebrated a notable anniversary when a group of some 35 people assembled in September 2006 at the Castlerosse Hotel in Killarney.

It was to mark the 50th anniversary of the victory of the college team, Erin’s Hope in the Dublin Senior Football Championship of 1956.  The victory was a particularly memorable one because of its circumstances. Over a fourteen-year period (1949-1962) opponents, St Vincent’s, created an incredible record by winning the title every year – but one: 1956. St Vincent’s fielded at least three-quarters of the Dublin team at the time and they were All-Ireland finalists in 1955 – while the Erin’s Hope team was virtually an U-21 lineout.  The team was Terry McQuinn (Kerry), Mick O’Donoghue, RIP (Kerry), Brendan Keane RIP (Mayo), John Joe Breslin (Roscommon), Tadhg O Siocrú (Kerry), Martin Queally (Clare), Pat Conefrey (Leitrim), Fintan Walsh, Capt. (Laois), Tom Long (Kerry), Dermot O’Donovan (Cork), Mattie McDonagh RIP (Galway), Micheal O Briain (Cork), Tomás McKenna (Kerry), Donal Hurley (Cork), Bertie Towey RIP (Mayo). Subs were: Piaras Ferriter (Donegal), Jimmy Casey (Longford), Gerry Twomey (Meath), John Browne (Clare), Tadhg Garvey (Kerry), Dave McSweeney (Cork) and Paddy O’Toole (Mayo).

My sincere thanks to the college secretary, Theresa O’Farrell for supplying me with the team names and background at short notice on Monday.

The survivors of that team formed a guard of honour as The Master’s remains left Tangney’s Funeral Home on Saturday evening. May he rest in peace.