Castle Gets Facelift for Clan Gathering (2007)

Excerpt from the Irish Examiner, Reprinted by permission (in Crowley Clan Newsletter July 2007)

Castle Gets Facelift for Clan Gathering

Crowleys from all over the world to meet up

by Mary Hassett

They made their name at the Battle of Clontarf. Brian Boru is said to have given them the title of “Cruadhlaoich”, or “hard warrior”. It was an apt name for the Crowley Clan who battled their way down the country from Rosscommon to West Cork where they eventually settled.

Even then the Crowley warriors were so busy fighting for the O’Mahonys one week and the MacCarthys the next that they had little time to put down proper roots. The Crowley Clan built their one and only castle at Ahakeera near Dunmanway. All that remains now are some ivy covered walls in the middle of a field owned by Kevin O’Neill.

Restoration work is to start shortly on the ruins to prevent the walls from deteriorating any further. The work is due to be completed in time for the Crowley Clan Gathering which will take place from September 14 to September 16 at the Quality Hotel, Clonakilty.

Clan Taoiseach, Liam Crowley, from Clancool Beg in Bandon, admits that many of the Crowleys living in the West Cork area have only recently come to appreciate the significance of the Castle ruins at Ahakeera for members of the Clan living abroad. A few weeks ago Liam met three ladies from Oregon, USA who were trying to trace their Crowley ancestry. “They were overcome with emotion when I brought them to see the castle ruins and one of them even gave me a giant hug,” says Liam.

The importance of the ancestral site for people living abroad prompted the Clan Council to commission Forum Consulting Engineers to survey the site at Ahakeera and draw up a preservation plan. Stone Mason, Robert Rohu from Waterfall is due to start work shortly on removing the ivy from the stonework and consolidating the existing structure. The work is expected to cost €35,000 and will have to be funded by members of the clan from at home and abroad. Kevin Murphy, chairman of the Archaeological Committee, Cork County Council, will provide the clan with valuable advice on how the restoration work should proceed.

Participants in the Clan Gathering next September will be able to visit the Ahakeera site and see the restoration work thanks to the co-operation of landowner, Kevin O’Neill. Open Air Mass will be celebrated at the site on Sunday, September 16, which promises to be a very moving experience for members of the Clan.

Other highlights will be the road bowling event at “The Miles” in Clonakilty and the banquet at which Brian Crowley, MEP, will be the guest speaker. Brian’s father, the late Flor Crowley, TD, was a former Clan Taoiseach. Brian’s sister Deirdre Crowley, who is an artist, has painted the picture of the castle ruins which will be sold to raise funds for the restoration work.

Already members of the Crowley Clan from America, Canada, France, New Zealand and England have registered for the Clan Gathering. Liam Crowley is hoping for a positive response from the Crowley’s scattered throughout Ireland.

Marian Crowley Chamberlain from America will succeed Liam Crowley as Taoiseach in September

Peter Crowley