IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF CARLETON:
The William Carleton Society based in the Clogher Valley and Monaghan came to Dublin 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. Dr Frank Brennan a member of the Executive Committee met us at Castleknock and gave our coach party a guided trip through the city centre, starting with the Phoenix Park with its numerous historical monuments and associations going back hundreds of years. We passed Aras an Uachtaráin, the Polo Grounds, Phoenix Cricket Club, the oldest cricket club in Ireland and Dublin Zoo, also taking in the Wellington monument. We then travelled along Dublin’s quays, with views of Collins Barracks which I have fond memories of, now part of the National Museum of Ireland. On the other side of the Liffey we saw Heuston station and the HSE Headquarters at what was Dr Steevens’ Hospital, with St Patrick’s Hospital and beside it Guinness’ brewery. We saw the Four Courts and crossed Grattan bridge travelling towards City Hall and what was once the headquarters of the British administration In Ireland, Dublin Castle, now in use for the state’s Presidency of the European Union.
On then to the two cathedrals, Christ Church where there was a festival on in the grounds and St Patrick’s Cathedral where the Reverend Precentor Noel Regan from St Macartan’s Cathedral in Clogher provided some useful background about the two buildings. We moved on through the former Jewish area and into Ranelagh which developed as a genteel middle class suburb after the Act of Union. At Sandford Church we were addressed by a local teacher, who is a member of the congregation, on the history of Sandford church and its connection with Carleton. Susan Roundtree, an architectural historian, also spoke about the development of 19thC Ranelagh and brught along an old map of the area from 1870, which showed Woodville, a row of houses along the Sandford Road close to the entrance to Milltown Park, where Carleton had spent his final years.
The residence at Woodville, (beside the entrance to Milltown Park) is now demolished. In his latter years Carleton was friendly with a Jesuit priest Fr Robert Carbery, who was based at Milltown Park. Brian Earls reminded us that 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)
We then went to Mount Jerome cemetery for a short ceremony to commemorate the 144th anniversary of William Carleton’s death, followed by a short tour of the graveyard. We travelled to lunch 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 took us through two Georgian squares (Fitzwilliam and Merrion) and past Leinster House and Government Buildings. Finally after lunch Frank Brennan brought us into Donnybrook and Ballsbridge, passing the British Embassy, AIB and the Aviva Stadium otherwise known as Lansdowne Road. We passed the Grand Canal Theatre, National Convention Centre, and saw some relics of the Celtic Tiger on our route home. Thanks to all who came and I hope you enjoyed the day.
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.