Dún Bleisce Historical and Literary Society

Report for year 2015

2015 was another good and productive year for the organisation. The annual table quiz was held in Moore’s bar on the 2nd of January 2015. The proceeds from the night were in aid of the Kenyan Education Fund. The quiz will be held again on the 1st or 2nd of January 2016 in Moore’s and we hope for another good night and your usual support.

A good number of plaques have now been erected at different townlands around the parish. There are some more ready to be installed and more in the pipeline to be ordered. It is hoped that in a few short years there will be a sign to mark each and every one of the historic and interstingly named areas of Doon.

The society also continues to sponsor a student for Tony Woods (Kenyan Education Fund). This sponsorship and the erection of the townland plaques are where most of the funds which are raised are put.

On the 27th of June some of our members were delighted to accept an invitation to visit a Garden Party At Áras an Uachtaráin. A report on the day can be read elsewhere in this publication. A great day was had by all and many thanks to Michael Kennedy for arranging.

On the 19th of August our annual outing was held. This year we went to several different amenities in Co.Clare.  Cragganouen, The Burren Centre Kilfenora,  Caherconnell Fort and the birthplace of Michael Cusack founder of the GAA were all most interesting. We also visited Kilnaboy Church to see some interesting architectural artifacts. Many thanks to Margaret Franklin for organising all this. 35 people travelled on the day and a nice meal was enjoyed in Hayes of Cappamore on the way home.

We held our usual regular talks on interesting topics throughout the year. The subjest matter of these ranged from Marriage & Matchmaking,  The History of World War One, The Anglo Norman Landscape of County Limerick, People Coping with the Experiences of War in the Balkans and Divided Loyalties – The Royal Irish Constabulary in Co.Tipperary.

 Many thanks to our speakers Dr Sile De Cleir of Roinn na Gaeilge University of Limerick, Fr.Liam Ryan Cappamore, Marie Taylor Murroe, Tom Ryan Annacarthy and Sgt John Reynolds PHD Templemore.

 These events  were very well attanded and most informative. Admission to these talks is free of charge and open to all. Membership of the historical society is €10 per year and there is a text  service to keep members informed on all events and talks if anyone wishes to join.

Historical Society visit to the Áras  2015

On Saturday 27th June a small group of the society officers and members travelled by minibus to attend the North South garden party hosted by the President Michael  D Higgins and his wife Sabina in the grounds of Áras an Uachtaráin.  About 400 people from different organisations all over Ireland attended the event.

On arrival at the Áras gates, along with other buses, we had a short delay to check credentials before admittance.  There was a certain feeling of euphoria on getting inside the gates and up the avenue as it hit home where one was going for sure.  There was a familiarity about the place on reaching the front of the house, having seen it as the background of so many media pictures of the various presidents, on the occasions of visiting dignitaries and heads of state, and when newly elected Taoisigh and cabinet ministers receive their seal of office there.  Situated within 130 acres of parkland and gardens the original house was constructed in 1751 and served as the Vice regal lodge before 1922.  There have been changes and additions to the building since, before it became the presidential residence in 1938.

First we lined up for some group photographs on the steps.  We then had a look at an army tank, and also an armoured car which was part of the convoy at Béal na Bláth, the day that General Michael Collins was shot, they were displayed nearby under army supervision.  Crowds were arriving all the time, some by Áras shuttle buses from parking facilities provided outside the grounds.  Despite the dress code being smart casual some arrivals were dressed to the nines complete with heels and fascinators.

When we were admitted inside the house to the reception hal we were all welcomed individually by Mrs Sabina Higgins, in the absence of the president who had an engagement in Glencree that morning.  We were then guided through the Francini corridor, which features stucco panals on the walls and where bronze busts of all previous presidents are displayed mounted on marble columns.  We continued in through the state dining room laid for dinner, where large paintings of the previous presidents hang. From there to the great hall where the Killarney landscape paintings of George Mullins are displayed.  In the state drawing room Louis Ryan pianist entertained as we browsed around or sat for a while.  The decor everywhere was fantastic of course from floor to ceiling with interesting mainly antique furniture, fireplaces, and magnificent chandeliers, all enhanced by beautiful  floral arrangements throughout.

Out on the back lawns there were refreshments at an outdoor seated area.  The party atmosphere was warming up with the Donegal Community band entertaining the crowds in one area, and various bands and musicians performed in other areas catering for all tastes.  We passed along the pathway know as the Queens walk which is lined on either side by various species of trees planted by people of note and royalty, who have visited since the 1800’s some when it was the Vice regal lodge before 1922.  This walk led to the Pietá sculpture which was gifted to Ireland by the Italian people in thanks for emergency aid following World War 2.  We visited the upper walled garden which was beautifully laid out with flowers of all colours and varieties with perfectly trimmed hedging making bedding plant areas inside geometric shapes surrounding a central Celtic cross shape.  The peach house there since 1800’s was also very impressive.

Some people got to meet the President on the grounds before we got to the marquee for the food and entertainment, of course aides and security kept moving him on.  In the marquee we were seated at tables of ten.  Delicious sandwiches and plenty of savoury and sweet fingerfood were served with tea, coffee and wine, followed by chocolate dipped strawberries and chocolates which were all very appetising and went down well. The MC introduced the musicians and various bands that entertained throughout.  The president then gave his speech which was interesting and humorous as suited the occasion.  He then had to leave to attend another engagement and the party continued with Sabina getting the dancing going as she went from table to table taking guests out to dance  Many favourite tunes were played as we sang along and danced the evening away.  Before we left the society officers presented Mrs Higgins with framed pictures pertaining to Doon and one composed of a collage of Parish publications.  We had photographs taken with her and said our thank you and goodbyes, before being shown back through the house and out front door to board our bus home having had a very interesting and enjoyable day.

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