Local Irish History Comes Alive in Cork

All images are copyright of Gerard O’Rourke

A dedicated Cork historian, Gerard O’Rourke, has successfully pinned Donoughmore onto the Irish historical map after the launch of his latest publication ‘Ancient Sweet Donoughmore: Life In An Irish Rural Parish To 1900.’

This exciting 496 page hardcover is packed with over 200 images, maps and anecdotes from a huge variety of sources regaling tales of the Mid-Cork village’s fascinating history. Mr. O’ Rourke launched the book in Donoughmore Community Centre with an audience of 300 people that travelled from as far as Manchester with a connection to Donoughmore.

The book was revealed alongside renowned Irish historian, Micheal Lenihan, author of ‘Hidden Cork’ ‘Timeless Cork’ and ‘Pure Cork’. It includes numerous primary sources of evidence never released before, telling all about the cultural identity stories, The Great Famine, the growth of education, land and economic issues at the time. According to the foreword by Mr. John A Murphy, Emeritus Professor of History UCC ‘the book enhances and enriches our understanding of this storied locality.’

Mr. O’ Rourke is a member of the Donoughmore Historical Society, publishing several books chronicling life in Donoughmore and its surrounding areas in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These include ‘Donoughmore and All Around’ and ‘A History of Donoughmore Hurling and Football Club.’ The avid historian has been researching and recording information for his recent book for three decades, which included many trips to The National History Museum, Trinity College, UCC and several visits to New York and Boston. These were coupled with visits to relations who have grown up in the United States, who provided priceless photographs, stories and first-hand tales of Irish life back in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The book quickly caught the local people’s attention due to the huge variety of stories and tales from long ago. One was the tale of forty thieves who had buried hidden treasure in the townland of Pluckanes under the guidance of a head clan member of the time. The detailed publication also highlights many stories of sad times during The Great Famine. The local rector in Donoughmore at the height of The Famine remarked that the people were “tottering on the brink of starvation, despair and death for want of food.”

Standing stones at Meenachoney, Donoughmore

However, the uplifting stories far outweigh the darker times, such as the agreement during the Franco-Prussian war to send the equivalent of €3000 towards the French relief cause from the people of Donoughmore to Paris. Donoughmore has long been associated with Christianity, as the hand of Patron Saint Lachtin graces the front cover. This symbolises the resilience of the local people over the last few centuries and now it is pride of place on the Donoughmore GAA jersey.

While speaking with Mr. O’ Rourke at the book launch, he mentioned how proud he was of all the local people, living both near and far, that contributed to the book. He also thanked everyone involved that could not make it to the celebratory launch night and to those who attended on the night. They submitted everything from local family pictures, school and famine records to detailed hand drawn maps and sketches of the locality and its surrounds. MC on the night, John O’ Connell, praised the author on his hard work and dedication to self-producing this book of huge historical relevance for Irish records.

This well-researched book has gained a huge amount of praise from national and local historians and scholars alike, including Professor Emeritus of Education National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Mr. John Coolahan. He says it is ‘a very interesting and informative piece of work which is well sourced and referenced.’ According to Michael Galvin, Author and Historian, it is ‘a scholarly and truely monumental body of work that will be treasured for future generations.’

The publication retails at €25 for the softback and €40 for the hardcover in local newsagents around Donoughmore, Ballincollig, Aghabullogue, Iniscarra, Blarney, Mallow and Cloghroe. It is also available in Liam Ruiséils book shop and Waterstones in Cork City.

The book can also be bought online by visiting www.donoughmore.com

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