The inaugural International Clan Gathering was staged over the August bank holiday weekend
in the village of Clondalkin which lies on the south-western outskirts of
Dublin City. Clondalkin is a pleasant village with one church, four pubs,
three hotels, and an ancient round tower. The village is five miles from
the Dublin mountains, eight miles from Dublin City centre, and is well served
by railway and bus routes. A total of eighty-six guests attended the event,
and represented the four provinces of Ireland; England; Germany; Canada
and U.S.A. Approximately one third of the members travelled from the
U.S.A., one third from England, and one third from Ireland.
The informal ice-breaker in the Green Isle Hotel on Friday evening was well attended and proved to be an enjoyable session as kindred spirits became fast friends. Many of us were finally able to put faces to names grown familiar through months and even years of correspondence. The evening was, of course, too short!
The new hall at Áras Chrónáin (an Irish cultural centre) in Clondalkin was booked for Saturday, and was the venue for a genealogical workshop in the morning, and a genealogical exhibition + executive meeting in the afternoon. Our guest lecturer, Paul Gorry, excelled as a font of genealogical wisdom and provided a crash-course in Irish genealogy on Saturday morning. The lecture / workshop provided a forum for both general knowledge and personal tuition, and the quality of questions posed by our members showed that they had already done their homework.
The Saturday afternoon A.G.M. barrelled along at a brisk pace. The acting secretary and chairman opened the proceedings with brief welcoming addresses which highlighted their personal and collective goals. Two motions were raised by the acting executive committee and unanimously passed by a show of hands. The first motion dis-solved the Flannery Clan Society and formally ratified the Flannery Clan / Clann Fhlannabhra. The second motion formally adopted the revised Constitution. Following the appointment of the executive committee and the honorary officers, the new clan was blessed in Irish and English by the Clan Chaplains. The newly-elected Chieftain treated us to an entertaining address which recounted his earliest memories of the extended family, and his hopes for the future development of the clan. The formalities continued with brief reports on research and finance, and concluded with the book launch and an informal open session. All attendees received a special commemorative certificate as a souvenir of the occasion. The remainder of the afternoon gave members the opportunity to view the heritage exhibition. The twelve stands provided information on early records, heraldry, artefacts, distribution in Ireland around the Famine, Flannery Bridge, and various aspects of the Flannery Clan. The highlight of the heritage exhibition was the presence of the two chalices: the James Flannelly Chalice 1647, and the Peter Flannery Chalice 1715. These precious artefacts were generously loaned to us by their diocesan custodians, and proved popular with photographers.
The Saturday evening banquet in the Green Isle Hotel was a popular event. Our hosts laid on a lavish spread which was consumed with gusto amid the buzz of animated conversation. The background music was provided by CDs from absent clan members, as James Flannery (GA) warbled, Tim Flannery (CA) twanged, and CJ Studer (Alberta) beat out a lively rhythm. After dinner songs included performances by Cliff Flanary (WA), Bernadette Flannery (Leeds) and Thérèse Flannery (Cork). The evening moved into high gear as we were treated to a display of traditional Irish dancing by the local dance school. In the finish, a number of intrepid souls threw caution to the wind and beat a path to the dance floor to give their own unique rendition of a few classic dances. The raffle was sportingly sponsored and helped to bridge the fiscal deficit. Prizes included commemorative coins, candles, certificates, whiskey, books, prints etc etc. The table quiz elicited some remarkably lucid answers for the lateness of the hour. Ultimately, the team of Ned Studer (Alberta), Mike Flannery (OH), Becky Flannery (OH) and Meghan Flannery (OH) emerged victorious, and the handcrafted trophies (made from fragments of the stone abutments from the 2nd Flannery Bridge in Galway - unique conversation pieces for the mantelpiece!) were carried off to North America.
The Clan Mass on Sunday morning was concelebrated by our chaplains, Fr. Austin Flannery OP and Fr. Michael Flannery PP, using our ancient chalices. Readings by Cliff Flanary and Gail Schweiger (VA) thought-provokingly dwelt on ancestors; and the sermons bound past, present and future generations in the warmth of camaraderie. The service was punctuated by an outstanding solo performance of "Our Lady of Knock" by Bridgette Kathleen Gan (PA) to spontaneous applause. A commemorative oak-tree (generously donated by Seán Flannery of Flannery's Nurseries in Naas, County Kildare) was planted in the scenic grounds of Áras Chrónáin. Relatives of our recently deceased founder, the late Jimmy Flannery (Leeds), commissioned a stone monument to mark the tree and the man. The tree is symbolic of our heritage, and will be a focal point for future generations. The sun emerged on cue for the blessing of our oak-tree, and the unveiling of the memorial stone. A number of group photographs were taken by a precariously perched Pádraig before the assembly adjourned for a long lunch which lasted well into the night for some.
We shall all carry away our own special memories of the event. The old saying "Well begun is half done" inevitably springs to mind, and it was heart-warming to receive so many messages of thanks after the weekend. Hopefully we have laid a solid foundation for the future, and the Flannery Clan will flourish as both a learned research co-operative and a cordial social group - Deo volente.