Upcoming Events

Cork | History and Heritage

no events match your query!

Blog Feeds

Spirit of Contradiction

offsite link What is Dogmatism and Why Does It Matter? Wed Mar 21, 2018 08:10 | Sylvia Smith

offsite link The Case of Comrade Dallas Mon Mar 19, 2018 19:44 | Sylvia Smith

offsite link Review: Do Religions Evolve? Mon Aug 14, 2017 19:54 | Dara McHugh

offsite link Fake News: The Epistemology of Media Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:52 | Gavin Mendel-Gleason

offsite link Officials and Provisionals Sat Apr 01, 2017 22:54 | James O'Brien

Spirit of Contradiction >>

Public Inquiry
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005

offsite link Alison O’Connor and professional deceit

offsite link Educating Marian Finucane Anthony

offsite link Denis O’Brien: Are the sharks closing in? Anthony

offsite link Kathy Sheridan: Afraid to speak truth to power? Anthony

offsite link Una Mullally: The youth of Ireland are on the march Anthony

Public Inquiry >>

The Saker
A bird's eye view of the vineyard

offsite link Interpretations marinated in bias (pre-tense as bias) Sun Dec 16, 2018 13:48 | The Saker
by Denis A. Conroy for the Saker blog ?The cause of laughter is simply the sudden perception of the incongruity between a concept and the real project?. Arthur Schopenhauer. The

offsite link Moveable Feast Cafe 2018/12/16 ? Open Thread Sun Dec 16, 2018 11:30 | Herb Swanson
2018/12/16 11:30:01Welcome to the ‘Moveable Feast Cafe’. The ‘Moveable Feast’ is an open thread where readers can post wide ranging observations, articles, rants, off topic and have animate discussions of

offsite link The Ukrainian Aspect of the Information War ? Russian Perspective Sat Dec 15, 2018 18:30 | The Saker
By Rostislav Ishchenko Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard cross posted with www.stalkerzone.org/rostisl... source: ukraina.ru/opinion/20181214... The joke about two tankmen on the Champs Elysée lamenting Russia’s defeat in the

offsite link Interview with The Saker. Russian-Israeli relations and the conflict in Syria Sat Dec 15, 2018 17:29 | The Saker
START: 15.12.2018, 21:00 EET (you can join the conversation by joining the chat next to the video on the YT channel here)

offsite link The Americans wet their pants because of the Russian Tu-160 in Venezuela Fri Dec 14, 2018 04:04 | Scott
by Ruslan Ostashko Translated and subtitled by Eugenia    

The Saker >>

Human Rights in Ireland
A Blog About Human Rights

offsite link Storms and Winter Damage To Homes Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:08 | Human Rights

offsite link Human Rights Body In Africa Must Set A Better Example Wed Nov 14, 2018 16:13 | Human Rights

offsite link 112 Pro-Biafra Imo Women Arrested Sat Aug 25, 2018 16:30 | Human Rights

offsite link Traveller Community in Galway Fri Aug 03, 2018 16:28 | Human Rights

offsite link US Withdraw From UN Human Rights Council Thu Jul 19, 2018 16:32 | Human Rights

Human Rights in Ireland >>

The Island

category cork | history and heritage | news report author Tuesday September 27, 2005 14:34author by Paul Baynes Report this post to the editors

Storytelling and more on Cape Clear Island in West Cork

Cape Clear Island (or Oileán Cléire) is a small island off the coast of West Cork.
Close by is Mizen Head, the most southerly point of the Irish mainland, and four miles to the southwest is the most southerly point of Ireland: the Fastnet Rock, upon which a lighthouse can be seen flashing its light over the island every seven seconds or so. Cléire itself is the most southerly inhabited point of Ireland.

For the island is still inhabited. Even in this modern, urban age, some people choose to live their lives on this small island. Cléire is 3 miles long, and about a mile and a half wide. Before the famine, Cleire's population had stabilised at over 1,000 inhabitants. Now this population has dwindled to 120, but island life is still surviving.

Storytelling on Cléire
I first visited Cléire a year ago, and always intended to go back. And so it was that on the first weekend of September, I made my way to Cape Clear Island for the 2xth Annual Storytelling Festival to be held on the island.

This is a beautiful festival. It may not be headline news, but the tradition of storytelling is alive and well. You may have thought the seanachaí was a thing of the past, but we were entertained for this weekend on Cléire by four expert practitioners of the art of storytelling. Ireland was represented by Joe Brennan, who came from Wexford via Donegal. Joe was once a teacher, and held a storytelling workshop for children over the weekend. He told stories in the Irish folklore tradition, a Russian folk tale, and others. Christine McMahon and Shonaleigh came from the UK. Christine tells traditional English stories, and has a belief in the therapeutic power of the arts. Shonaleigh is a Drut’syla – an storyteller in the oral Yiddish tradition, and her stories were infused with plenty of humour. Finally, from the USA, and telling stories in the French Canadian tradition, was Michael Parent. His stories were bilingual in French and English, and in the finale he illustrated one of his stories with a great display of juggling and circus tricks.

It is difficult to do justice to the storytellers and their stories: it is impossible to get a sense of them without hearing them. There was great diversity in the tellers, but each had a masterful delivery that was all their own. One was not left so much with a memory of any particular virtuoso performance, but more of a sense of a group of people weaving a magical atmosphere through a combined effort. There was a spirit of generosity about the festival. As well as their original compositions, each teller told many stories that they had heard told elsewhere, and it was as though each teller was merely passing something on to the audience. There was a certain feeling that their performance was not about them, but about a combined effort to keep these stories and the art of their telling alive.

These tellers were joined by musician and singer-songwriter Pól O'Colmáin. Pól played guitar and harmonica, and entertained with a selection of well known songs such as Raglan Road and The House of the Rising Sun (dedicated to the people of New Orleans), and some of his own songs. Some of his 'rants' went down particularly well - including 'Catch a Tiger by the Tail', about some of the social problems that remained when the Celtic Tiger arrived, but were swept under the carpet . Pól was also important from my point of view because he did some speaking and singing in Irish. After all, though it was an international storytelling festival, Cléire is a Gaeltacht area and it was nice to have the Irish language represented. I am sure that even those who do not follow Ireland's mother tongue enjoyed his Irish language Elvis impersonation during his rocking number, 'Siúl Amach an Doras'.

Storytelling links:
- More info on the festival and the tellers: http://indigo.ie/~stories/

- Recent indymedia story: New narrative arts club for Dublin: http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=71918

Nature on Cléire
The storytelling weekend also included a guided walk through the island, focussing on the archaeology, history and flora and fauna of the island , culminating with a visit to a passage grave at the highest point of the island. This is by far the furthest south of any passage grave in Ireland, and the grave on Cléire is something of an isolated incidence of the phenomenon in the area. The walking tour was conducted by Diarmuid O’Drisceoil and biologist Geoff Oliver. Most of the information below is courtesy of these two gentlemen, and I also found much of interest in Éamon Lankford's "Cape Clear Island: Its People and Landscape”.

As for flora and fauna, it appears that Cléire has much to offer. Because the island is further south than the rest of Ireland, the conditions are slightly warmer than other parts of the country. Therefore, certain species of plant life are found on Cléire that are particular to areas of the Mediterranean. The old red sandstone of which Cléire is comprised is acidic, which supports the gorse and heather which can be seen flourishing on the island.

Cléire also boasts a bird observatory, which grew out of the island's history as a popular destination for bird spotters and ornithological experts. The Cape Clear Bird Observatory was established in 1959. Cléire seems to attract vagrant birds of many species rarely seen through the rest of Ireland. Recent sightings included the rare warblers, the Bonelli's Warbler and the Melodious Warbler.

The island has a fascinating history. Indeed, it is impressive to think how people could have eked out a year-long existence on any of the islands around Ireland. Cléire was populated mostly by farmers and fishermen. Cléire fishermen were renowned as the most skilled sailors in the area. It was said on the stormiest nights that 'even the men from the Cape wouldn't go out to sea today'.

Shipwreck
Cléire seamen have a history of involvement in rescue operations after shipwrecks in the area. Just one example occurred in 1917, when the 6,000 ton Leyland liner Nestorian went ashore in thick fog and severe weather. Con Cadogan of Cléire set out in his fishing boat and reached the scene, but his boat was unable to approach the wreck. So it was that two Cadogans and two Dalys got into a small, frail punt and rowed towards the doomed ship. These brave men repeatedly risked their lives and took one man after another off the liner. 46 out of the entire crew of 47 were saved - one man got caught up in the wreckage and was either killed or drowned.

There are many more examples of disaster and rescue in the seas around Cléire, including during both world wars. On one occasion a crew of fishermen was attacked by a U-boat; on another four men were killed in the explosion of a stray mine. The famous sinking of the Lusitania, in which 1,500 went down with the 32,000 ton liner, also happened near to Cape Clear Island.

Some history
The ferry to Cléire sails in to Trá Ciarán, or Ciaran's beach. St. Ciarán was born on the island of Cléire, and it is said that Cléire was the first place in Ireland to have been reached by Christianity. Overlooking the harbour is a small graveyard which includes a ruined church. Before the graveyard was walled off from the beach, tidal erosion meant that bones from the graveyard occasionally made their way onto the shore, giving the beach the nickname "Trá na gCorp", meaning the 'beach of the bodies'.

Also of interest on the island is the old lighthouse and signal tower. This signal tower was first used to send signals by a semaphore system of flags, later to be replaced by a French system of shutters. These signals would be sent from tower to tower to warn of enemy attack. The French were often at war with the British, who were in control of Ireland at the time, and it was largely to warn of French attack that the towers were used. One of the more famous such attacks failed due to foul weather in Bantry Bay in 1796. This signal tower was built of local stone.

The lighthouse was built of Cornish granite, imported onto a pier built especially for the purpose. It turned out that the location was too high above sea level for the lighthouse to be effective: if it was not a clear day the lighthouse would be obscured by fog. This lighthouse was replaced by that on Fastnet Rock in 1854. The Fastnet light was modernised in 1906 and since then the same building and mechanism has been in place. I originally had photos but I think I've lost them...

author by Séamus Ó Drisceoil - Cape Clear Island Residentpublication date Wed Jul 18, 2007 09:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yes, I often kayaked around the Island and in 1989 remember divers from a boat moored directly above the Nestorian shipwreck recovering some of the iron ore from the wreck. I beleive that this happened for two years. Another time someone brought a pair of brass binoculars to my office, which had been presented to one of the Cadogans involved in the rescue and which I later passed onto the Island museum. Knowing these waters and this inhospitable coastline it is difficult to imagine how they performed this rescue in gale force conditions on a lee shore, every time I pass by in kayak or under sail I wonder how they did it at all. One of the men involved drowned the following year 1918 in another sinking, that of the Thomas Joseph which struck the Catalogues which are between Sherkin and Heir Islands.

author by Shipseapublication date Tue Sep 27, 2005 23:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Many of my ancestors came from Cleire and I live nearby now - Ill be sure to post some pictures as soon as I can. Nearby, Sherkin Island was in fact the point of departure during the famine for thousands of Irish people going to America. The records often show that people left from the village of Baltimore but in fact the ships were usually moored at Sherkin, at that time.
There is a thriving Irish college on Cape Clear in summer time as well.

 
© 2001-2018 Independent Media Centre Ireland. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Independent Media Centre Ireland. Disclaimer | Privacy