The National Clan Gathering was staged in the picturesque town of Ballina, on the banks of the River Moy in County Mayo, on the last weekend of July. We enjoyed the company of members from all four provinces of Ireland, as well as England, U.S.A. and Australia.
We were privileged to display the two coats of arms (1904 & 1991) as part of our heritage exhibition. The masterpieces were handcrafted in tooled leather and carved oak in 2004 by Marlin Read - our Heraldic Craftsman - and donated to the Flannery Clan for our perpetual use.
There was a special presentation made to Bernard Flannery of Belfast in gratitude for his generous donation of a case of red wine to the assembled members at the last Clan Gathering in Nenagh in 2004. Bernard was presented with a complete set of bound newsletters.
The main business of the A.G.M. included reports on membership, finance, and the research programme, and closed with an open forum for members to air their views. Members then received an interim report on the Y-DNA Project which has proved to be so successful with nearly sixty participants to date.
The formalities of the A.G.M. concluded with the launch of our latest publication (index of all Flannerys / Flannellys recorded in births, marriages and deaths registered in Ireland since records began in 1845/64 up to 1901). As previously, the publication will be donated to all of the relevant county heritage centres where Flannerys / Flannellys lived. The Mayo Heritage Centres (North and South) were in attendance to personally receive their copies from our Chieftain Martin Flannery.
After the A.G.M., we enjoyed two great lectures by Prof. Nollaig Ó Muraile (Dubhaltach Mac Fhiribhisigh and ancient Irish genealogy) and Mary B. Timoney, M.A. (Flannelly stone masons of County Sligo). Both lectures were recorded.
After a quick lunch we enjoyed a showery excursion to the Ceide Fields - the largest stone age monument in the world - for a guided tour.
After the trek along the coast, we returned to the hotel and the feasting and celebrations lasted well into the night for many! Poignant scenes of reunion with sparkling eyes and foaming tankards ushering in epic sessions of tall tales and one-upmanship!
The raffle was generously supported, and the spot prizes were gamely received. One of the spot prizes - a book of Irish ballads - was immediately pressed into service as the traditional musicians obligingly punctuated their intended repertoire with special requests by the more talented singers. In that vein, special mention must be made of Enda Flannelly for leading the charge, and to Julie Bastow for responding with ducks that fly backwards!
We are grateful to Fr. Michael Flannery PP who very kindly made the long trek from Connemara to celebrate the Clan Mass on Sunday morning. Thanks are also due to Fr. Tommy Towey, parish priest of Bonniconlon, for the use of his church, and to Bishop John Fleming, for generously lending us the James Flannelly Chalice (1647) for a very special bi-lingual service.
Regrettably, our Clan Photographer, Pádraig Ó Flannabhra, was unable to make the trip this year but the assembled members were immortalised under the church bell (see below) by his understudy.
After Mass, we wound our way to scenic Pontoon Bridge nestled between Lough Conn and Lough Cullin for a leisurely Sunday lunch at the Pontoon Bridge Hotel. The excellent food and convivial company were a match for the previous evening and rounded off the festive weekend.
We would like to thank all of the members who worked so hard behind the scenes to make the event a memorable occasion, and we look forward to the next gathering provisionally scheduled for 2008 in Limerick (subject to popular vote by postal ballot, as usual).