Local Poet Honoured
“The Spring has shed her mantle fair,
Around Loughdavan shore,
I hear the songbirds merry tune,
On the hills of Old Drumgore.”
Where is Drumgore or even Loughdavan a reader might ask. Well, they are neighbouring townlands in the northern end of Loughduff in the parish of Mullahoran and their inhabitants and way of life were the inspiration for a local bard. Felix Halton was born in Drumgore in 1915 and lived all his 88 years there. He had a very warm and engaging personality with a unique lyrical gift. He also had a very perceptive mind and an observant eye and would thyme off verses ad lib about everyday happenings without ever putting pen to paper. His home had an “open door” and he recited his compositions to neighbours and friends who were often amazed at his fluency took the opportunity to write down his verses or made audio recordings. Once he made up a poem he never forgot it. Many listeners can easily recite his verses and following research it has been possible to publish them in book form. ’Among The Breffni Hills‛ contains 75 poems all with a local flavour and touching simplicity as they reflect Felix’s wonder in everyday things and his talent to make ordinary life seem extraordinary. There’s wit and humour in his verse with much of it dedicated to family and locals including children and animals which he loved in equal measure. Another favourite was the local River Erne and ’Dogs on Pottle Shore‘ tells of the local beagle hunting – “each man held bound a stalwart hound so eager for the fling”. There’s no doubt that if Felix was around today he would have great scope with the Water debate as he did with the E.S & B. The book was launched by local noted traditional musician Antoin McGabhan in the Pikers Lodge, Gowna on Saturday night last when family and friends and neighbours assembled for this auspicious occasion. Antoin spoke of Felix’s closeness to nature and his obvious contentment with the simplicity of life around him. M.C. Gerry Brady introduced several readings from the book and among them balladeer Matt Murphy from Wexford who sang Sallaghan Road which he adapted to an old Irish air and which he had sung at the Fleadh Cheoil in Cavan. Felix’s grand/nephew Sean Tierney from New York who is a world flute champion player joined the local junior comhaltas group and Antoin for a rousing session. As the night went on there were many renderings of song and recitation all in the spirit of the night as stories were told about visits to Felix and his brother Tommy who were known as “The Whitney Brothers”. While Felix spent his time mainly close to home Tommy was more outgoing in the local community and was very involved with positive Age. This unique book which is good value for €15 is available in all the local shops. Well done to Bridie Halton, cousin of Felix and her back-up team for her research and beautiful publication which is indeed a labour of love and a fine tribute to a humble bard from Drumgore. While Mullahoran has made its name in sporting and entrepreneurship circles in recent times the discovery of a poet is to be celebrated. Long may his spirit and poetry survive.
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Monday last the 8th December was the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady and being on a Sunday the Mass of the feast was celebrated on Monday 9th. Traditionally this was the start of the commercial side of Christmas and it was the day when country folk went to town to do their shopping and it also coincided with turkey markets as a result of which the housewife had her own money to spend. In later years shops are laden with Christmas stock from Halloween onwards so those who shop early have the best choice and all are encouraged to shop locally.
There was a good attendance when the local GFC held their AGM on Sunday last in the John P Wilson complex. The outgoing chairman John Beglan and vice-chairman Gerry Sheridan did not seek re-election. New chairman Gabriel Brennan received a warm welcome and he will be assisted by vice-chairman Aiden Smith. Other Officers for the coming year are as before; Secretary – Brian Cumiskey, Treasurer – Slyvia Galligan, Ass Treasurers – Maureen Fegan, Kathy Donohoe, Registrar – Jim Reilly. Discussion mainly concerned underage matters, membership and sourcing a new team manager.
Draw took place in the Hideaway on Tuesday, 2nd December. Jackpot €2,300, numbers 2,21,22,27. No Jackpot winner. €100 Joe Briody, Clonoose. €25 winners x 4 – Gerard Lovett, Kilnaleck; Niall Gaffney, Ballinagh; Danny & Lily Brady, Drumcorr; Steve Shanaghy, Corduff.
The Mullahoran Comhaltas branch are holding an exciting “Battle of the Bands” event in Micsins, Kilcogy on Sunday 14th from 4pm. The children from ages 6-18 have been working on their performances over the last few weeks, with in excess of 12 different local groups expected to perform on the day. This is an opportunity to share the enjoyment of the Irish traditional culture with our young musicians. Come along and enjoy the music, song and dance as it promises to be a good evening’s entertainment.
Yet another book is to be launched in the parish this coming weekend. The biography ‛Bishop James Moynagh of Calabar‘ by Fr. Colman M Cooke will be launched on Sunday December 14th in the Parochial hall at 3 pm by retired bishop Colm O’Reilly. This unique event is to honour an outstanding native Missionary of our time.
The passing of John McKiernan, Corlesmore marks the end of an era in the area. McKiernan’s was one of the first Post Offices in the area established in 1880 which was run by John’s grandfather and continued down the family line to John. For a long time McKiernan’s store was a landmark local shop which carried a stock of almost anything. In the line of hardware or farming tools or equipment which were not readily available “go down to McKiernan’s, Corlesmore” was often suggested and indeed if you didn’t get what you wanted you never came home empty handed such was the array of goods on show, including groceries. John was of a deeply religious disposition and was closely associated with the Lourdes invalid pilgrimage and other charitable causes. We extend our sincere sympathy to his sisters Kathleen McKenna, and Sr. Mary Prinnsias, S.S.L., his brother Francis, nieces and nephews, relatives, neighbours and friends. May he rest in peace