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Clann Gathering 2008

Clann reunion at Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow, Ireland


Due to the international financial problems, the number of attendees at the gathering was smaller than usual. We had an average of 50 per day and on the Inauguration and Banquet day 64 attended. Our visitors came from ten different countries. The smaller number made the gathering much more personal and very easy to meet and greet everyone. Everyone stayed in Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow, in either the Lord Bagenal Hotel or the Garrison House. This close contact for the full duration of the four days was exactly what was wanted by our visitors, creating a greater feel of family unity.

The basic theme of the lectures was the Famine, its causes and effects on the people and country and the subsequent impact of the mass emigration on the adoptive countries. All the lectures and discussions were well presented and judging by the interaction were very well received.

The Coach tour was through the Kavanagh hearth land, to Ballymoon Castle, Ferns and St. Mullins. The first stop was at Ballymoon and its famous ruin, a fine example of a Knights Templar Castle, which was never completely finished, due to the disbandment of the Templars. The second stop was in Ferns, with its ancient wealth of historic ruins and close association with the McMurrough and Kavanagh Families. A wreath was ceremoniously layed at the grave of King Dermot McMurrough and his son Donal Caomhánach, who was the first to bear our family name. On the route to St. Mullin we included Mount Leinster and the Blackstairs mountains. St. Mullins is a hallowed, beautiful place of great importance to the Kavanaghs. There are more Kings of our name buried here, than in any other graveyard. One of the most famous was Art Óg McMurrough Kavanagh, King of Leinster. He became so powerful that he could exact a “black rent” from all the larger towns of Leinster including Dublin and also from the English Crown. In 1394 and again in 1399 King Richard II landed in Waterford with an army of 35,000 with the intention of controlling the rebellious Irish King. Art adopted a hit and run attack system which suited the woodland countryside and avoided direct open battles. By cutting off food and supplies to Richard’s huge army, Art had a demoralising effect on his enemies. When the humiliated Richard returned to England to defend his seat on the throne, also without success, he was assassinated. After 50 years reign, Art Óg was poisoned in 1418, while trying to negotiate peace, and was buried in St. Mullins.

The Inauguration of the new Chief of Clann Chaomhánach was beside the Black Castle, on the banks of the river Barrow, in the village of Leighlinbridge. It was a really beautiful scene, in glorious sunshine, many wearing medieval costumes and carrying the ten national flags of the countries of those attending the gathering. With much pomp and ceremony and in keeping with the ancient Caomhanach customs, Fergus Kavanagh of Dublin, was inaugurated as Chief of Clann Chaomhánach. Traditionally, the Inauguration of the Chiefs of our clan was performed by the Nolan Clan and on this occasion we were honoured to have Pa Nolan, the Chief of the Nolans to do the good deed. In 2010, after Fergus’ term of office is completed, the Tánaiste, Jimmy Kavanagh, our webmaster, will have the privilege of becoming the next Chief of our Clan.

The Gathering finished with the Banquet in the Lord Bagenal Hotel with good food, music, old and new friendships renewed and made, with lots of memories that will last a lifetime. It was a perfect ending to a very enjoyable and successful gathering.