CROWLEY CLAN GATHERING, 2007
by Anne Crowley Ronco
“I think I’m lost,” said the American on his way to the Crowley Clan Gathering to the store clerk somewhere north of Clonakilty. “Well, you’re still in Ireland,” answered the clerk.
Failte: From the lush, rolling hills to the breath-taking coastline, we were, indeed, “still in Ireland” as some 200+ Crowleys from all over the world gathered at the Quality Hotel in Clonakilty for the 2007 Gathering. Taoiseach Liam Crowley welcomed one and all Friday afternoon, September 14. A cheese and wine reception, courtesy of J. J. Crowley of Bantry, was held later that evening, and we were again welcomed, this time by the Lord Mayor of Clonakilty.
Never a family to pass up a chance to sing along to great Irish music, we then piled into two buses, provided by Martin Crowley, and found our way to Jer Crowley’s pub, Crossmahon, in nearby Bandon. There we were privileged to listen to Larry Crowley’s banjo and Chrissy Crowley, 16, who came all the way from Nova Scotia to serenade us with her outstanding fiddle playing.
Taking Care of Business: You would think all of that reveling would have exhausted us, but not so! Saturday morning over 100 cousins showed up at 10:30am for a general meeting of the Crowley Clan. Seamus Crowley gave us a brief history of our ancestors, dating back to the 1500s. Cathy Budd brought us up to date on the DNA project, an exciting way to trace how close our relationships are. A discussion was held regarding the progress made in restoring the Crowley Castle, and there was general consensus that this important effort must continue to move forward. Judging by the questions and comments, there is no doubt that the Crowleys are a pretty intelligent clan.
History Revisited: Speaking of history and the Irish, we broadened our knowledge Saturday afternoon when we visited Michael Collins’s birthplace and heard an excellent speaker, Tim Crowley, tell us about the life and untimely death of this Irish hero. The next stop was the Lis Na gCon ringfort, where John Kehoe, dressed in apparel reflecting the 1200s, told us about this historic site. Brave souls (a clan trait) crawled through the pitch-dark cave, known as a souterrain, there.
The Banquet: Saturday’s banquet, held at the Quality Hotel, saw a gathering of over 200 cousins from Ireland, the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Wales, France, Australia, and England. We were honored by the presence of Brian Crowley, Member of the European Parliament, who spoke about the importance of our history and heritage. The chain of office was passed from Liam Crowley to Marian Crowley Chamberlain, who is our Taoiseach for 2007-2010. Jer Crowley is the new Taniste.
A raffle was held, funds to benefit the castle restoration. Tom Crowley of Arizona and Ohio won the first prize, a painting of the Crowley Castle done by artist Deirdre Crowley. Tom then graciously presented the painting to Council member Anne Crowley, ensuring that it stay in Ireland. Afterwards we enjoyed dancing and camaraderie well into the wee hours. At some point after midnight, MEP Brian Crowley introduced American Marc Lascko, who had just asked Tom Crowley (Taoiseach, 2001-2004) for permission to marry his daughter. Marc stepped to the bandstand and proposed to Kate Crowley, daughter of Tom and Mary Lynn. Kate said Yes…and she has plenty of Crowley witnesses to back her up.
Road-Bowling: The Crowleys rose bright and early Sunday morning for the traditional road-bowling. Two local experts demonstrated the game and explained the rules. The game consists of throwing a small iron ball as far down the road as possible without its leaving the pavement. Occasionally someone would yell, “Car!” and one and all would move to the side of the rain-soaked road to let it pass. The U.S./Canadian team took first place, the New Zealand/Australia team placed second, and the all-women’s team came in third. On the last throw, players were instructed to “aim for the pub.”
Mass at Crowley Castle: The weekend was capped by the moving event of Mass at Crowley Castle, perhaps the first Mass ever held there (or at least in the past 500 years or so.) American Paul Buckley, in Ireland on an internship, carried the Crowley standard down the hill and into the field, followed by his Crowley cousins. Father Liam Crowley officiated, with Johnny Crowley as acolyte. Music was provided by a local choir as well as fiddlers Chrissy Crowley and Lisa Butchert. Many prayers and hymns were in Irish, beautiful and haunting to hear against the backdrop of the castle. We marveled at the improvements so far, done by stonemason Robert Rohu of Waterfall, County Cork. As Mass ended, we left the field to the music of a small girl, Anna Flynn, playing her tin whistle as the sun set behind her. It was a glorious weekend!
The Crowley Clan Newsletter is
edited by Marian Crowley Chamberlain