Surviving walls of the McMahon burial vaults, Inniskeen old graveyard Pic. Mary Kerley/Monaghan Heritage


(Thanks to Joe Callan for the information) Northern Standard Thursday 8th December

Inniskeen Heritage was reformed at a meeting in the Community Centre on Monday last. Great interest has been generated in heritage recently by the publication of Matt Kearney’s book on the McMahon burial vaults in the old graveyard. A heritage plan for the graveyard is being drawn up and the group intends to seek LEADER funding for the conservation of the vaults and the surveying and promotion of the whole village with respect to its early Christian heritage.

The group acknowledges the advice and assistance of the County Heritage Officer, Shirley Clerkin and of Larry McDermott, a member of the original group who now sits on Monaghan Heritage Forum.

At the initial meeting the following officers were elected: Chairperson: Brian Dooley; Vice Chairperson: Tom Lennon; Secretary: Joe Callan; Treasurer: Micheal Magee; Assistant Treasurer: Sean Rafferty and Public Relations Officer: Seamus Mulligan.

It is hoped to stimulate a wider interest locally in the history of the parish. The group plans to hold a public consultation meeting in the near future. You can contact them via email at: or speak to any of the committee members with suggestions or contributions.

Monaghan County Council Heritage Office has sought to commission three conservation management plans and a programme of community engagement for a total of four Early Christian era sites. This action comes under the County Monaghan Heritage Plan 2012-2017. The project is funded by Monaghan County Council and the Heritage Council.

The four sites are:

  1. Inniskeen Glebe: Inniskeen round tower and graveyard (McMahon Vaults).
  2. Clones, Crossmoyle, Clones round tower and graveyard.
  3. Killahear, Corlat, Killahear graveyard (Lough Egish).
  4. Errigal Truagh medieval church.

The sites have a wide range of significance values including archaeological, historical, cultural, religious, social, natural and economic. They are geographically spread, and as a result involve a number of parishes and their associated communities. In all cases local groups exist that are keen to manage and understand these sites more effectively.

Historically, the sites are linked during the early Christian period, as well as thematically using contemporary heritage meanings. Inniskeen and Clones have round towers. Errigal Truagh and Killahear have church ruins. The sites have links to four Irish saints, St Daig (Inniskeen), St Tighernach (Clones), St Ceara (Killahear) and St Maudain (Errigal Truagh).

It’s proposed that three conservation plans in an appropriate and agreed format for the Early Christian sites at Clones, Inniskeen and Killahear should be developed with the communities. A series of evening and/or weekend workshops with the local communities who manage the sites would be held to develop an understanding of early Christian Ireland, monasticism and an appreciation of the wide range of heritage values associated with each place.

According to the County Council, the groups including Inniskeen are very enthusiastic about the project. They intend to help channel that enthusiasm into positive outcomes for the sites. It is intended that the groups will work together on common themes and will focus separately on the site in their own community.


Seamus McMahon in the converted homestead that now serves as a visitor centre at the Brehon Brewhouse, Dunelty  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Seamus McMahon in the converted homestead that now serves as a visitor centre at the Brehon Brewhouse, Dunelty Photo: © Michael Fisher


Michael Fisher Northern Standard  Carrickmacross News  Thursday 11th June

Driving up the laneway to Seamus McMahon’s homestead at Dunelty, Inniskeen, you might think you were entering a dairy farm. On one side there is a large milking parlour for his herd of 120 cows. But a bit further on in what was once a calf shed, there is now an expanding alternative business, the Brehon Brewhouse.

It’s the only brewery of its type on a dairy farm, as Seamus points out. His cows continue to be milked twice daily. But it is beer, rather than milk, which is beginning to bring in more revenue.

The price of milk has continued to fluctuate and milk quotas were abolished two months ago. So this new enterprise was added to reduce the reliance on an income dependent solely on milk.

The Brehon Brewhouse started off as a small-scale venture a year ago, producing four types of bottled beer, crafted by hand. Seamus says their ambition was simple, to produce distinctive beers that reflected the trend towards all things craft and artisan.

After a new roof was put on the shed, along with a roller shutter door, a coat of paint and electrical installation, the space was ready for delivery of plant in April 2014 and the first brew was available in time for the Carrickmacross Festival.

Seamus decided that there was room for expansion and he ordered two large new tanks from China, as the cost was much better. By combining the fermenting and the conditioning processes in the same tank, this will allow the mini brewery to double the production capacity. The new tanks costing €25,000 will make the brewing process a lot more efficient, according to Head Brewer Philip Bizzell from Dublin, who has seven years’ experience of home brew. He said there would be less labour involved and the process would also be more hygienic.

He showed me how they started the brewing process by taking local water and then mashing it with the finest of barley malts.

Some of the malt comes from Germany, some from Britain and some from Ireland. A new malt supplier based nearby in County Louth has just been found. In the copper pans, fragrant hops from around the world are added, depending on the particular beer being produced that day.

The hopped wort is then cooled rapidly through the heat exchanger with chilled water from a nearby lake. After fermentation the beer is filtered and conditioned, if it is to be kegged, or just conditioned if it is to be bottled. One of Seamus’s four daughters Cait was busy working in the bottling area, putting labels on the beer bottles when he showed me the operation. Each blend of beer has a different coloured top, in order to help distinguish it. It usually takes five people two hours to label 3000 bottles when a brew is completed. The beer is left in the bottles to condition, but it can also be supplied in kegs.

Seamus and his wife Siobhán have also converted the old family house just behind the brewery into a visitor centre to host tasting events. Seamus lived there for the first six years of his life. It has its own small bar and some antiques, including the old family range and a vintage bottler and capper. The craft brewery is a potential jewel in the crown for tourism in County Monaghan, according to Bill Cotter of the South Monaghan Tourism Forum.

The beers produced are available in several pubs in County Monaghan, in stores such as SuperValu Carrickmacross and in the Íontas Centre, Castleblayney and the Garage Theatre. They are being distributed nationwide and now the push will be on to export them to the United States and the UK as part of a promotion of Irish craft beers.

The Brehon Blonde is a very pale, golden beer. Ulster Black is a hand crafted Irish stout. Stony Grey IPA takes its name from the stony grey soil of Monaghan. Killanny Red is an Irish ale. A Summer Ale is also available.

This weekend there will be a double celebration for the McMahon family in the old homestead, Coinciding with the expansion and the first year in business, there will be a party to congratulate the couple’s eldest daughter Ellen, who has graduated as a doctor from UCC. They will be joined by Ruth who is studying to be a physiotherapist in Liverpool, Cait, who is training in Dublin to be a national school teacher and by their youngest daughter Bella, a transition year student at St Louis Secondary School, Carrickmacross. It promises to be a busy year ahead for the Brehon Brewhouse.


Leinster and Ulster Schools record-breaking swimmer Cathal Kearney from Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan   Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Leinster and Ulster Schools record-breaking swimmer Cathal Kearney from Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan Photo: © Michael Fisher


Michael Fisher  Northern Standard  Carrickmacross News  Thursday June 11th

It takes dedication to be a record-breaking swimmer, especially when there are no training facilities on your doorstep. 13 year-old Cathal Kearney from Ballintra, Inniskeen, is just finishing his first year at Patrician High School in Carrickmacross, a town which has never had a swimming pool. He belongs to the Aer Lingus Swimming club at Dublin airport and his training schedule has brought him gold medal success in Leinster as well as at Ulster schools’ level.

A typical day for him would involve classes at school until 3:30pm and then a journey of over an hour to Dublin airport. Training at the Aer Lingus 25m pool under the guidance of coach Alan Turner takes up to two hours. This means it’s usually 8pm by the time Cathal returns home and is able to start his school homework. Sometimes his mother drives him and on other occasions he gets a lift with swimmers from Dundalk.

Cathal told the Northern Standard that everyone at the well-run club was very supportive, in particular two of their successful Leinster and Ireland swimmers, Andrew Meegan and Benjamin Doyle.

Two months the Inniskeen student was selected to swim on the Leinster team at the Ulster Age Group and Youth Championship in Bangor, County Down. This is the top swimming competition in Ulster. Cathal won five gold medals and broke five Ulster records in the boys under 13 100m and 200m freestyle, 100m and 200m  breaststroke, and the 200m individual medley. He also came second in the 400m freestyle.

Last month he was selected to swim on the Ulster Secondary Schools Interprovicial team, based on his performace at the Ulster Secondary Schools Competition last October, when he won the boys 13/14 years freestyle event. He came second in the 100m Breaststroke whilst representing Patrician High.

At the Interpro Championship Cathal won the 13/14 years 100m freestyle and finished 3rd in the 100m breaststroke, swimming a year out of his age in both events and thus helping his Ulster team to victory and claiming the Interprovincial cup.

A fortnight ago Cathal competed in Leinster for his club Aer Lingus in the Division 1 age group Open at the National Aquatic Centre in Blanchardstown. He was up against the best in Leinster as well as the best in Ulster, for whom he had already competed as a Monaghan schoolboy.

Cathal swam in six events over three days, with heats in the morning and finals in the afternoon. He came home to Inniskeen this time with six gold medals claiming the top award in the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle, 100m, 200m breaststroke and 200m IM.

Swimming seems to run in the Kearney family as Cathal’s younger sister Aoife (aged 11), is also competing and achieving at the highest standard. A pupil at St Daigh’s National School, Inniskeen, she currently holds both the Ulster and Irish Minor Schools titles in the Girls’ 50m backstroke. His cousin Shauna McGahon from Killanny is also a swimmer and has represented Monaghan at the community games.

Leinster and Ulster Schools record-breaking swimmer Cathal Kearney from Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan   Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Leinster and Ulster Schools record-breaking swimmer Cathal Kearney from Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan Photo: © Michael Fisher

It was as a 7 year-old taking part in the community games that Cathal first swam competitively. His mother had taken him to Dundalk for swimming lessons as a 5 year-old. At the start, he didn’t like them at all but he gradually got used to the water and has never looked back since. Cathal is the eldest of four children. As well as Aoife, he has another sister Kaitlin, aged 7, who also attends St Daigh’s school. The youngest in the family is 4 year-old Sean. As Cathal left Patrician High School where I met him, the Principal Joe Duffy came across and congratulated him on his sporting achievements. Hopefully he will bring back more medals to County Monaghan in future.


Canon Brian McCluskey (third from left) with his fellow priests including Monsignor Ambrose Macaulay (right)  Photo: Fr Hugh Clifford

Canon Brian McCluskey (third from left) with his fellow priests including Monsignor Ambrose Macaulay (right) Photo: Fr Hugh Clifford


Michael Fisher  Northern Standard  Carrickmacross News  Thursday May 28th

Canon Brian McCluskey, a native of Inniskeen, has returned from Rome after celebrating the 55th anniversary of his ordination. The highlight of his return to Italy was to participate in a private Mass at the Vatican concelebrated by Pope Francis. They were joined by five other priests who were clerical students with Canon Brian at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome in 1960.

The other members of the group were Fr Kevin McMullan (Belfast); Monsignor Jim Kelly (Adare and Brooklyn); Fr Phil Doyle (Tarbert, County Kerry); Fr Brian Twomey SPS (Ashford, County Wicklow and Stirling) and Monsignor Ambrose Macaulay from Cushendall.

Canon McCluskey is a retired priest of the diocese of Clogher, now in his 80th year and living in South Belfast, where he assists the Parish Priest of St Brigid’s, Fr Eddie O’Donnell. Monsignor Macaulay was Fr O’Donnell’s predecessor and five years ago he celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination along with Canon McCluskey. The Mass in Belfast in 2010 was attended by the former Bishop of Clogher, Dr Joseph Duffy, who sent Canon Brian his good wishes on this latest milestone.

Canon McCluskey comes from Blackstaff in Inniskeen. The poet Patrick Kavanagh was a near neighbour. He is a former pupil of St Macartan’s College in Monaghan. After his ordination, he served as a curate in his home parish of Inniskeen from 1977 to 1983. He was a parish priest in Threemilehouse and later Roslea, during the troubles in the North.

He has met three canonised saints, including St Padre Pio and St John XXIII whom he visited while studying for the priesthood in Rome in the 1950s. He met another future saint, St John Paul II, on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee in 1985.


Hughie Martin, Inniskeen, after his perfect nine in the darts competition at Aughnamullen Social Centre, Co. Monaghan

Hughie Martin, Inniskeen, after his perfect nine in the darts competition at Aughnamullen Social Centre, Co. Monaghan

Inniskeen’s Hughie Martin made history in county Monaghan when he achieved a dart player’s dream last Saturday 18th April. He hit the perfect nine darts in a competition at Aughnamullen social centre. Hughie is the current Monaghan county champion and he says he will never forget this night. 

A nine-dart finish is a perfect leg in the game of darts, using only nine darts, the fewest possible, to checkout from 501. It is notoriously difficult to achieve, even by the game’s top professionals. It is considered to be the highest single-game achievement in the sport, similar to a maximum 147 break in snooker or a 300-point game in bowling.

There are 3,944 possible paths for a nine-dart finish playing a 501 double-out dart leg. A single game (known as a leg) of darts requires a player to score 501 points, ending with either the bullseye or a double. Each shot consists of exactly three darts and 60 is the maximum that can be scored with any one dart. Thus 180 is the maximum score of a shot, and nine throws are the minimum necessary to win.

Scoreboard at Aughnamullen Social Centre confirming the perfect nine

Scoreboard at Aughnamullen Social Centre confirming the perfect nine

Although other combinations are possible, the traditional nine-dart finish requires a score of 60 (treble 20) with each of the first six throws, that is, with the first two shots of three. This leaves 141 to score on the final shot (of three darts), known as the outshot. This outshot is traditionally performed in one of three ways:

treble 20 (60), treble 19 (57) and double 12 (24)

(how Hughie finished: see photo)

treble 20 (60), treble 15 (45) and double 18 (36)
Another way is to score 167 with each set of three darts, scoring a perfect 501 total, in the following way:
treble 20 (60), treble 19 (57) and bullseye (50)

This eliminates the chance of any dart being deflected by an already thrown dart into the wrong scoring area by throwing each dart at a different location on the board. It is only usually seen in exhibition matches, as in tournaments, players are inclined to aim for the triple 20, only switching to the triple 19 for a cover shot.

Arguably the most difficult nine dart finish would be 180 (3xT20), 171 (3xT19), and 150 (3xBULL) – owing to the difficulty of getting all three darts in the bullseye: it is the smallest double on the board. A nine dart finish is also attainable in games which require a double to commence scoring. In such games, throwing for double 20 first can lead to a maximum score of 160 with the first throw, leaving the thrower commonly requiring 180 then 161 (T20,T17,BULL) in their remaining six darts, though other outcomes are possible. It is worth noting that in these games, only throwing for double 20, double 17, or bullseye to start the leg can result in a nine dart finish.

Perfect nine dart finish by Hughie Martin, Inniskeen: Monaghan's first such feat

Perfect nine dart finish by Hughie Martin, Inniskeen: Monaghan’s first such feat

A nine-dart finish, however, does not guarantee success in a game. In December 2014 in the third round of the 2015 PDC World Darts Championship, Adrian Lewis hit his second World Championship nine-dart finish and his third overall. He lost the match 4-3 to Raymond van Barneveld. On Saturday night in Aughnamullen, Hughie was eventually beaten 5-3 in the semi-final by overall winner Graham Unwin.


1946 Ford Anglia: part of the Vintage Display in the Inniskeen Parade Photo:  © Michael Fisher

1946 Ford Anglia: part of the Vintage Display in the Inniskeen Parade Photo: © Michael Fisher

The highlight of the St Patrick’s weekend celebrations in Inniskeen near Carrickmacross in County Monaghan was the annual parade this afternoon. Participants and floats gathered at the chapel and made their way into the village, passing the reviewing stand set up near the community centre.

Corduff Pipe Band at the Inniskeen St Patrick's Parade Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Corduff Pipe Band at the Inniskeen St Patrick’s Parade Photo: © Michael Fisher

All-Ireland pipe band champions Corduff Pipe Band were among three bands in the parade, along with Aughnamullen Pipe Band and the Stedfast Brass Band, which will be in Carrickmacross on Tuesday morning.

Plenty of vintage displays at Inniskeen St Patrick's Parade  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Plenty of vintage displays at Inniskeen St Patrick’s Parade Photo: © Michael Fisher

The organising committee encouraged all small firms and businesses in the area to participate with a float depicting their crafty ideas and efforts (advertisements etc). There is a prize on the day for the best float.

Monaghan SF Cllr Noel Keelan flying the national flag on his vintage tractor in Inniskeen Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Monaghan SF Cllr Noel Keelan flying the national flag on his vintage tractor in Inniskeen Photo: © Michael Fisher

In conjunction with the weekend celebrations, the committee organised an art competition for the children of Blackstaff National School and Inniskeen National School with prizes for the best three entrants.  Any children who took part in the St Patrick’s parade were being encouraged to wear home-made or fancy dress costumes to illustrate the theme of leprechauns and fairies. There is a prize for the best costume.

Sean Conlan T.D. at the Inniskeen Parade Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Sean Conlan T.D. at the Inniskeen Parade Photo: © Michael Fisher

A Leprechauns Hunt was held on Sat 14th and there was an Art competition run through the local schools, St.Daigh’s National School and Scoil Cholmcille National School, Blackstaff, Inniskeen. In the Art Competition there were three categories – Jnr/Snr – 1st/2nd/3rd – 4th/5th/6th. There was a winner and runners up from each category. There were a great many entries for the Art competition, and Sarah Leddy (who herself, won the Overall Credit Union Art Competition) had a difficult task of choosing from all the entries. All winners from the Art competition, the Leprechaun hunt (Saturday) and winners of the fancy dress theme “Leprechauns and Faeries” who we hope will take part in the parade also will be announced on Sunday.

Slurry Spreader: part of Inniskeen's St Patrick's Parade Photo: © Michael Fisher

Slurry Spreader: part of Inniskeen’s St Patrick’s Parade Photo: © Michael Fisher


HAPPY-~1Happy Ugadi Images on

HAPPY-~1Happy Ugadi Images on

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona dár gcairde agus teaghlach! Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to friends and family! I will be in Birmingham on the feastday, Tuesday, which has now become a national festival in Ireland. The parade in Birmingham takes place tomorrow, Sunday, having survived a funding crisis this year following council spending cuts. Meanwhile in County Monaghan and neighbouring areas, various towns and villages will be celebrating over the next few days. Here is a list of some of them:

BALLYBAY: The parade organised by the local Chamber of Commerce sets off from Gerry Traynor’s shop at 5pm. There will be live music and dancing from 3pm. A prize of €500 is offered for best float, with the runner-up receiving €300 and third place a prize of €200.

CARRICKMACROSS: Parade at 3pm. See my report last Sunday.

HAPPY-~1Happy Ugadi Images on

HAPPY-~1Happy Ugadi Images on

CLONES: A parade with a difference takes place in the town on Monday 16th March. Participants are being asked to come along at 6:30pm to Páirc Naomh Tiarnach with glow-sticks and lights, to light up the route. The parade will begin at 7:00pm along Church Hill and Fermanagh Street to The Diamond, where a fireworks display will be held at 8:30pm.

INNISKEEN: The celebrations in Patrick Kavanagh country will be tomorrow, Sunday 15th March. The parade in the village will be at 1:00pm. Today they were hunting leprechauns in the area!

MONAGHAN: The parade in the town will be the biggest in the county. The parade starts at 3:00pm and the route begins at the Lower Courthouse car park. It then goes along Broad Road, Park Street, Heaton’s Corner, left along North Road, Glaslough Street and then proceeds past the reviewing stand in The Diamond, continuing on to Dublin Street. British rally champion Daniel McKenna from County Monaghan is this year’s Grand Marshall. Participants have been asked to incorporate the theme ‘There’s no place like home’ into their parade contributions.

Following the parade the ‘Gig Rig’ will host peformances from several local acts from 4:00pm until 10:00pm.

HAPPY-~1Happy Ugadi Images on

HAPPY-~1Happy Ugadi Images on

NEWBLISS: The parade in the village is at 2:00pm tomorrow, Sunday 15th March, led by Daniel McKenna, the British rally champion, who comes from the area. There will also be a car boot sale on the day from 12:30pm.

ORAM: Near Castleblayney and home of country music legend Big Tom has built up a reputation for the smallest parade in Ireland. There will be live country and Irish music outside Rooney’s with Paddy King on the stand at 11:30am and the parade on Tuesday will start at 12:30pm from the Oram Centre. There will be a vintage display and a number of floats. Lady Mayor Margaret Ward will deliver a welcome address along with Big Tom McBride at 1:00pm. There will be jigs and reels from All-Ireland and world champion dancers from the Karen McMahon School. The celebrations will continue late into the evening.

COOTEHILL in County Cavan has a parade at 3pm. There are also annual parades in Kingscourt and Shercock.

DUNDALK and Ardee in County Louth will also be celebrating. Have a good day, wherever you are around the world! You are welcome to post greetings below in the comments section, especially if you have a Monaghan connection.

St Patrick's Day greeting card from USA Photo:

St Patrick’s Day greeting card from USA Photo:


Art Agnew, Rosaleen Kearney and Patsy McKenna at the Patrick Kavanagh Centre, Inniskeen  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Art Agnew, Rosaleen Kearney and Patsy McKenna at the Patrick Kavanagh Centre, Inniskeen Photo: © Michael Fisher


Art Agnew has taken on the mantle of Patrick Kavanagh. The former English teacher who was Principal of the St Louis school in Carrickmacross until 2005 is one of a team of volunteers behind the Kavanagh Centre in the former Catholic chapel in Inniskeen. It was officially opened by President Robinson in June 1994. Twenty years later President Higgins visited the building for the Kavanagh weekend in September 2014. He said the poet brought the Ireland of his and our times, with both its beauty and its savagery, into our consciousness. Now Art is hoping some of the initiatives they have taken as a committee will bring tangible results to boost this area of South Monaghan.

Patsy McKenna, Rosaleen Kearney and Art Agnew at Patrick Kavanagh's grave, Inniskeen  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Patsy McKenna, Rosaleen Kearney and Art Agnew at Patrick Kavanagh’s grave, Inniskeen Photo: © Michael Fisher

An annual poetry award for secondary school students in the border area first presented in 1984 is to be expanded and will now be open to secondary school students throughout the island of Ireland. It is being sponsored by Cavan Monaghan Education and Training Board. Noel Monahan will be one of the adjudicators. Art explained that in the past, if a student or school from Dublin or Waterford had submitted an entry, then it would have to be sent back, albeit very reluctantly. Now they are hoping they will receive entries from throughout the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Billy Brennan's Barn: Inniskeen Road, July evening 2013  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Billy Brennan’s Barn: Inniskeen Road, July evening 2013   Photo: © Michael Fisher

Towards the end of last year, the Patrick Kavanagh Centre team were among the first to show an interest when ‘Billy Brennan’s Barn’ at Drumnanaliv near Inniskeen that featured in one of Kavanagh’s poems was put up for sale through a local auctioneer. The barn was used for unofficial dances in the 1930s and 1940s. The poem ‘Inniskeen Road: July evening’ is well-known among generations of Leaving Certificate students as it featured in the Irish curriculum since the early 1970s. Art is very hopeful that some form of state funding can be obtained to preserve this building. But one of his main concerns is the future of the visitor centre.

"The bicycles go by in twos and threes..."  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

“The bicycles go by in twos and threes…” Photo: © Michael Fisher

Talking to him and administrator Rosaleen Kearney in the small office at the centre, it is clear that 2015 will be an important year for their plans. First, they are hoping to reconfigure the layout of the building in order to display its contents in a more exciting way for visitors. But it will be necessary to make this old church dating to 1820 watertight. A conservation expert has just completed a survey of the building. He has found that the existing physical environment is not suitable at present in order to house the material in the exhibition. So capital investment is needed to make the display secure and safe. The accommodation for staff and visitors also needs to be improved, according to the report.

In the past the centre received support from the International Fund for Ireland and is hoping that other sources of support can now be found. The committee would like to see the material they have stored made available in a library for postgraduate students in particular. They are hoping to establish a lecture space and audiovisual area. If their plans succeed, they hope it will give a boost to tourism in South Monaghan.

Billy Brennan's Barn: Inniskeen Road, July evening 2013  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Billy Brennan’s Barn: Inniskeen Road, July evening 2013 Photo: © Michael Fisher

For the past two years with the support of Carol Lambe of Monaghan County Council, an Inniskeen Road, July Evening festival has taken place, with visitors encouraged to tour the sites associated with Kavanagh on High Nellie bicycles. So thanks to Art Agnew, Rosaleen Kearney and an active committee, a lot is being done to keep the memory of Kavanagh alive.




Bikes on the road to Billy Brennan's Barn, Inniskeen

Bikes on the road to Billy Brennan’s Barn, Inniskeen Photo: © Michael Fisher

The bicycles go by in twos and threes –
There’s a dance in Billy Brennan’s barn to-night,
And there’s the half-talk code of mysteries
And the wink-and-elbow language of delight.
Half-past eight and there is not a spot
Upon a mile of road, no shadow thrown
That might turn out a man or woman, not
A footfall tapping secrecies of stone.
I have what every poet hates in spite
Of all the solemn talk of contemplation.
Oh, Alexander Selkirk knew the plight
Of being king and government and nation.
A road, a mile of kingdom, I am king
Of banks and stones and every blooming thing.
Patrick Kavanagh Inniskeen Road: July Evening 

Bikes on the road to Billy Brennan's Barn, Inniskeen

Bikes on the road to Billy Brennan’s Barn, Inniskeen Photo: © Michael Fisher

This was an enjoyable visit to Patrick Kavanagh country in Inniskeen, South Monaghan. The Patrick Kavanagh Centre organised a Gathering event based on Kavanagh’s poem quoted above, Inniskeen Road: July Evening. So it was a chance to get the High Nellies back into action over a 7.5km route through and around the village. I joined the walkers. The weather was really hot, so plenty of liquid was required en route to prevent dehydration, including a welcome cup of tea at Billy Brennan’s Barn. A great idea for a festival.

Tea and a hooley at Billy Brennan's Barn, Inniskeen

Tea and a hooley at Billy Brennan’s Barn, Inniskeen Photo: © Michael Fisher


Faith Matters page 28 Irish News Thursday 13th September 2012.

Six Siblings Achieved More Than 350 Years Service to the Catholic Church

AS THE Poor Clare Order marks its 800th anniversary, a Co Monaghan family has celebrated its own milestone of service to the Catholic Church, writes Michael Fisher. It’s a record of service to the Church in Ireland that must be unique — three priests and three nuns from the same Inniskeen family who between them have achieved more than 350 years in the religious life. Two of the McCluskey family — a priest, Fr Peter, and a nun, Sr Ethna — held their diamond (60) and platinum (70) jubilees respectively earlier this summer at the St Louis Convent in Dundalk. Mass was concelebrated by Fr Peter and their youngest brother, Canon Brian, a priest for 52 years who served in Roslea, Co.Fermanagh and other parishes in the diocese of Clogher. Sr Ethna is a former superior of the St Louis convent in Kilkeel, Co.Down. Patrick Kavanagh was a near neighbour of the McCluskey family at Inniskeen and Canon Brian recalls how the poet used to borrow books from his mother’s private library at the local national school where she taught. Six of the McCluskeys gathered at the convent in Dundalk for the Mass. Fr Peter now lives at Inchicore in Dublin and Sr Ethna at the St Louis Convent in Dundalk. Canon Brian now lives in Belfast with his sister Maire — who used to work for the Northern Ireland orthopaedic service — and celebrated his golden jubilee two years ago. He still says Mass at St Brigid’s Parish in Belfast. They were joined by two other sisters — Una McMahon, a retired nurse living in Belfast, and Sr Nuala, a St Louis nun for 57 years and now retired and living at the convent in Dundalk. Two members of the family, both with 59 years in religious life, were unable to be present. Fr Gerry McCluskey is a Kiltegan priest in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Sr Aileen is a Mercy nun who is in Dublin and, like her brother Fr Gerry, is just one year short of her diamond jubilee. The contribution of the McCluskey family to religious life so far is 357 years — Sr Ethna SSL (70 years); Fr Peter OMI (60); Sr Nuala SSL (57); Fr Gerard SPS (59); Sr Aileen RSM (59); and Canon Brian (52).

Faith Matters column

Faith Matters column