(Crowley Clan Newsletter - November 2004)
By Marian Crowley Chamberlain
From an opening wine and cheese party on 3 Sep to welcome the Clan, through a gala banquet at the Westlodge Hotel, to the closing Mass celebrated at the Mass Rock at Beach, the 2004 Clan Gathering brought together more than 200 guests from around the world for a festival of comraderie, Clan tradition and local history.
Professional photographer and honorary Crowley Todd Parker is pleased to report that his photo CD of the Crowley Clan gathering is now available to purchase. The CD contains 300 plus images, culled from over 600 photos Todd shot during the three day event. Total cost of the CD is $30, including shipping. Todd has graciously offered to donate $10 from each CD to the Crowley Castle Fund. A few of those final images are currently available for viewing on his website, www.toddparker.com. Individual prints can also be purchased. Orders and enquiries should be directed to Todd by email at email@example.com.
Collected Impressions and Memories of the 2004 Crowley Clan Gathering
by the "Crowley Sisters"
Many of us came as first-timers and strangers to each other. We left three days later as friends and family. The opening wine-and-cheese reception, courtesy of local pub owner J. J. Crowley, broke the ice nicely in a casual atmosphere and allowed us all an hour or so to get briefly acquainted with as many people as possible. Over the next few days we would have many opportunities to get to know them well. Welcomes were extended in person by Pat Bono Kelly, the Mayor of Bantry, and Paddy Sheehan, Mayor of Cork County.
The nametags were extremely valuable and helpful, although by the third day, we knew so many people, we almost didn't need them. Some other "Crowley Attire" seen included sun visors, tee shirts, and the wildly popular Crowley Crest pins generously handed out to many by Terry Crowley of Ontario, Canada. Two nights of sing-alongs at J. J. Crowley's pub were enormous fun, with great music, great singing, great pints, and much hand clapping and foot stomping. Although not scheduled especially for us, the Bantry Fair (market day) and the Bantry Agricultural Show occurred the same weekend and were fun and interesting diversions.
Comfortable buses shuttled us around on Saturday to some memorable sites, with interesting commentary and history provided by Seamus Crowley, Dan O'Sullivan and others:
• Cariganass Castle, an O'Sullivan Castle undergoing restoration-- An inspiring talk on the history of the site and the restoration experience was given by Dan O'Sullivan, with many helpful suggestions about how the Crowleys can go about saving and restoring our own castle. Live, outdoor music on the "squeeze box" was provided by Johnny Crowley and Vincent Crowley. In the spirit (literally) of truce between the O'Sullivans and the O'Crowleys, a bracing drink was served to all within the castle walls. It wasn't poteen, but it had its own little kick.
• Gougane Barra, ancient and lovely site of St. Finnbarr's first monastery-- The Crowleys were able to "attend," or at least observe from afar, the two weddings that occurred in a tiny but beautiful chapel on the grounds while we were there. An informative presentation about Gougane Barra and St. Finnbarr's monastery was offered.
• Crowley Castle remains at Ahakeera-- It was incredibly moving and impressive to stand with others of our lineage on these ancient Crowley grounds and proudly watch our standard being borne down the hill to the site. We were transported back in time hearing a mournful hunting horn and seeing a knight in full armor approach the ruins of the Crowley Castle! James and Bill Crowley, brothers from California, demonstrated the armor and fighting equipment of medieval knights, and Michael Patrick Crowley from France demonstrated the ancient horn. Seamus Crowley offered a brief and fascinating history of the castle, and we all came to understand the importance of protecting and maintaining - at the very least - what remains of our family castle.
In the evening over 200 Crowleys from around the world gathered to enjoy food, drink, camaraderie, music, and dancing at the banquet. Taoiseach Tom Crowley of the U.S. handed over the chain of office to new Taoiseach Liam Crowley of Ireland. Accepting the appointment to Tanaiste was Marian Crowley Chamberlain of the US, editor of the Crowley Clan Newsletter. Brian Crowley, Member of the European Parliament, offered moving and inspiring comments. Brian underscored the importance of family roots, history, and the salvaging the Crowley Castle remains to ensure an unbroken connection with our past.
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