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Report on the O'Dwyer Clan
Millennium Clan Rally
Dundrum House Hotel, Dundrum, Co. Tipperary.
29th September-1st October 2000
O'Dwyers from around the globe were re-united for a weekend of clan celebrations at Dundrum, the location of their ancient territorial power base. (Dundrum House stands on the site of the castle of the last O'Dwyer chief - PhilipO'Dwyer of Dundrum).
Presentation on the Clan history
A packed schedule of activities began with the launch of 'The History of the O'Dwyers' by the late Sir Michael O'Dwyer of Barronstown House, Tipperary. Originally entitled 'The O'Dwyers of Kilnamanagh', this classic work on the history of the clan was first published in 1933. This new edition has been enhanced by the welcome addition of photography of the O'Dwyer castles and other items of interest, as well as a much more comprehensive index.
The launch was accompanied by an audio-visual presentation by Tom O'Dwyer, who also wrote the preface to the new edition, and an interesting précis on the author's life. The talk ranged over interesting aspects of the clan history, including the meaning of the surname, the location of its ancient territories and castles, which includes Dundrum itself. The clan fought as allies of the victorious Brian Boru at the watershed battle of Clontarf in 1014, and apparently paid him an annual tribute of sixty cows, oxen and sheep. Unlike many other clans, the O'Dwyers retained their ancient Celtic culture and laws (known as Brehon law) until their downfall at the hands of the Englishman, Oliver Cromwell, in 1654. Also revealed for the first time at a public forum, was the fact that the ancient burial ground of the O'Dwyer Clan chiefs is none other than Holycross Abbey, Co. Tipperary. "It is regrettable," said Tom, "that no memorial exists there yet to commemorate them, but with the help of O'Dwyers from around the world, it is hoped to rectify this sometime in the near future".
Another Tom, Dr. Tom O'Dwyer, Chairman of the National Heritage Council, then formally launched the book. Speaking on Sir Michael O'Dwyer (author of the original work) and his career in the Indian administration, he expressed admiration for his professional advancement.
The launch was also attended by the Morris family from Suffolk, England - Judy, Tim and Chris. Both Tim and Chris are great grandsons for Sir Michael, while Judy represented her late husband, Michael Morris, grandson of the author. For them it was a particularly poignant weekend, as they paid their first visit to Barronstown House, Sir Michael's old home, courtesy of Mr. Dermot O'Dwyer, the present owner.
Also present were Dermot Gleeson, of Ennis, Sir Michael's grand-nephew, and his great grandnephew, John O'Dwyer of Naas, Co. Kildare.
The evening was rounded off by set dancing, music and entertainment into the early hours.
The weekend was accompanied by a display of old maps and memorabilia relating to the O'Dwyers. Among the items were a model display of the castles and Holycross Abbey, and a book of condolences which resulted when Sir Michael was assassinated in London in 1940. It included letters from many dignitaries of the day, including Sir Winston Churchill.
The Saturday tour began with a talk by Donnchadh O'Duibhir (O'Dwyer) on Dundrum House, ancient seat of the O'Dwyers, and en route to the picturesque castle of Ballysheeda, John Kelly pointed out the site of the old church of Kilnamangh, and in Anacarty the Dinny Lacey monument, the Bell Well and the old barracks, scene of the civil war conflict.
The tour group was met by Jessica Roth of Killenure Castle, and the history of the building and its occupants was narrated by Donnchadh O'Duibhir, and Martin O'Dwyer.
In Cashel, Martin O'Dwyer guided the group around his fascinating Folk Village, full of old artifacts and historic memorabilia. Then onwards to the great Cistercian monastery of Holycross Abbey, where Fr. Christy O'Dwyer gave a very informative talk about the building and its contents. He was especially keen to show the famous Relic of the True Cross, and tell of the O'Dwyer connections with the monastery.
Meanwhile back at Dundrum House Anne Moloney of the Tipperary Heritgae Unit was on had to assist those conducting research into their own particular family. She had the Tipperary Diocesan Records on multimedia computer to help with specific enquiries.
The Saturday evening clan banquet at Dundrum House proved very popular. The gathering was addressed by Padraig O'Duibhir, the Clan Chariman, and by an t-Ath. Seán O'Duibhir, Clan President. They were particularly happy to welcome clan members who had travelled from the USA, Canada, England, and Africa as well as those from Wicklow, Clare, Galway, Dublin, Limerick and Tipperary.
Siamsa (Musical Entertainment)
The O'Dwyer Siamsa, produced by Mairín Uí Dhuibhir of Donaskeigh, featured poetry, music, song and dance, which told the story of the O'Dwyers down through the ages, and included such favourites as "Seán O'Duibhir a' Ghleanna", which laments the downfall of the O'Dwyer clan. The entertainment was rounded off by a hilarious tale by an t-Ath. Seán O'Duibhir, who acted as seanchaí, or storyteller, for the evening.
Religious Service and Close
Sunday morning brought events to a close, with Mass celebrated by Fr. Christy O'Dwyer of St. Patrick's College, Thurles, and an t-Ath. Seán O'Duibhir, S.J. the clan president. Proceedings drew to a close in the afternoon, amid much chatting and swapping of information on family relatives. Like their forefathers before them, the O'Dwyers who had gathered in their native place for this special assembly, dispersed like the 'Wild Geese' once more around the globe. From the reaction of one and all, it was a millennium gathering that would go down in history.