I am in Dublin today with a group from the William Carleton Society based in the Clogher Valley and Monaghan to mark the 144th anniversary of the death of the famous 19thC Irish author from County Tyrone. Carleton grew up as a Catholic, but would later convert to Protestantism in the Anglican church. He was the youngest of fourteen children born to a small farmer in  Clogher.  He came to Dublin in 1819 with 2s 9d in his pocket and after trying various occupations, became a clerk in the Church of Ireland Sunday School Office.

Our coach party departs from Enniskillen at 7:30am and is picking up passengers at Maguiresbridge, Clogher, Aughnacloy and Monaghan (at the entrance to St Macartan’s College. 8:15am) for the trip to Dublin. Dr Frank Brennan a member of the Executive Committee will be our guide on reaching Castleknock.

“Frank Brennan will conduct a tour through Phoenix Park with its numerous historical monuments and associations going back hundreds of years, travel along Dublin’s quays, Four Courts, Guinness’ brewery, Dublin Castle, the two cathedrals, Jewish area and into Ranelagh which developed as a genteel middle class suburb after the Act of Union. At Sandford Church we will be addressed by a local teacher, who is a member of the congregation, on the history of Sandford church and its connection with Carleton. The Ranelagh Arts Society will then provide a talk by Susan Roundtree, an architectural historian, on the development of 19thC Ranelagh and the connection with the Plunkett family, who played a major role in Irish history.

We then go to Mount Jerome cemetery for a short ceremony (2pm) to commemorate the 144th anniversary of William Carleton’s death. A member of the Ranelagh Arts Society will then conduct a short tour of the graveyard. We travel to lunch (4pm) at O’Briens at Sussex Place, Upper Leeson Street, one of Patrick Kavanagh’s haunts, which as a 1900’s grocery and bar reminded him of Carrickmacross. The journey to lunch will take us through Dublin’s two Georgian squares  and past Government Buildings. Finally after lunch (which participants will pay for themselves) Frank Brennan will bring us past the Grand Canal Theatre, National Convention Centre, and some other of the better relics of the Celtic Tiger before our return home.”


Sandford Church, Ranelagh

Sandford Church, Ranelagh

Those joining the event in Ranelagh should assemble at the church at Sandford Road Ranelagh (junction with Marlborough Road) around 12:30pm. The group from the bus is hoping to walk from the site of Carleton’s now demolished former residence at Woodville, Sandford Road (beside the entrance to Milltown Park) to the church, weather permitting. In his latter years Carleton was friendly with a Jesuit priest Fr Robert Carbery, who was based at Milltown Park.  In the last weeks before his death in January 1869, the priest offered through Carleton’s wife Jane to give him the last rites of the Catholic church. In response, in one of his last communications, the author told the Jesuit:

“For half a century & more I have not belonged to the Roman Catholic religion. I am now a Protestant and shall will die such”     (LA15/319 DJ O’Donoghue papers, UCD Archives)

Milltown Park looking towards area where Carleton used to live

Milltown Park looking towards area where Carleton lived

Our thanks to the Reverend Sonia Gyles, Rector of Sandford and St Philip’s Milltown, for making the church available. Admission to the talks is FREE but membership of the William Carleton Society (€5) will be available for those interested. There is no charge for the tour at Mount Jerome cemetery. Participants will pay for their own lunches.

Woodville Ranelagh

House at Sandford, in which Carleton died

It promises to a be stimulating and interesting day.  The coach will return to Enniskillen by 9pm.  The William Carleton Society is a partner in the Shared History, Shared Future project run by Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council through the EU funded South West Peace III Partnership Programme and this activity is being delivered through it.

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