Wreath laying by Michael Fisher at Last Post ceremony in Ieper

The highlight of our five day visit to Flanders was to attend the daily Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate memorial in Ieper. Buglers from the local fire brigade sound the Last Post at 8pm. It’s a tradition that was started after the end of WWI in July 1928.

Charles Wills placed a wreath in memory of soldiers from Co. Mayo

One wreath was laid by Charles Wills from Foxford in memory of Irish soldiers in the British Army who were from Co. Mayo.

Laurel wreath in memory of those soldiers from Ireland who died in WWI

I laid a laurel wreath with a tricolour ribbon attached in memory of all those soldiers from the island of Ireland who died in the 1914-18 conflict.

Waiting to lay the wreath

Along with Charles we waited in line behind some former British soldiers and a group from the Orange Order in Scotland for our turn to lay the wreaths at the memorial.

Laying a wreath in memory of those soldiers from Co. Mayo killed in WWI

The wreaths laid at the Last Post ceremony

Placing a wreath at the Menin Gate memorial

Our group at the Menin Gate following the ceremony

It was a fitting end to a very busy day visiting some of the CWGC cemeteries in Flanders around Ieper. We will remember them.


P1180715 (800x141)My job for the next few months is to represent the Northern Standard as Carrickmacross correspondent in South Monaghan while the staff journalist is on maternity leave (congratulations Veronica on the new arrival!). I enclose the first two pages of Carrickmacross news from last Thursday’s edition (January 8th 2015). Pictures are by Pat Byrne. P1180705

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If you have a story from the area you can contact me at standardcarricknews@yahoo.ie or telephone (042) 9663890 on a Monday/Tuesday or contact the Monaghan office on a Wednesday (047) 82188.  P1180710 (777x800)


John Byrne, Killanny  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

John Byrne, Killanny Photo: © Michael Fisher

Around the parish of Killanny and further afield everyone knows him simply as ‘JB’. John Byrne from Lannatt is a former mechanic who used to repair and sell cars. Once it was easy work for him to lift an engine out of a car. But a heart attack thirteen years ago which he was lucky to survive meant he would have difficulty for a time lifting small objects such as a can of peas. He is now doing everything he can to ensure that potentially life-saving equipment is readily available at strategic points throughout the parish such as the parochial hall and a local restaurant.
Chatting to him at his house he told me how he had once been an active sportsman. He played football for Killanny GAA Club and also represented the county mainly at under-21 and minor level. He captained the Killanny side that won the double (championship and league) in 1979 earning them promotion from junior to intermediate and eventually senior level. He went on to become chairman and also manager of the club. But in February 2002 at a time when his work was becoming more and more pressurized he had a heart attack. He was taken to hospital in Dundalk and transferred to Dublin for treatment. Three months later he knew he was beginning to recover when he was able to walk from his house along the laneway that leads to the main road. But it would take nearly two years before he could resume work. His wife Noeleen and daughter Aoife (a keen footballer) were then able to help him in his next project. During his rehabilitation in Dundalk hospital JB noticed there was a need for equipment in a small gym that had been established there. So he helped to raise IR£4500 by asking a number of friends to do a bunjee jump at a parish sports day. Then in 2007 a stroll near the River Glyde inspired him to do a river walk, not alongside but in the water itself. Dressed as James Bond and wearing a dry suit over his tuxedo and bow tie, he managed to walk two miles in the river, ending up by killing off a crocodile-like figure that had been put in the water to introduce a bit of drama. His friends at the Riverbank pub provided sustenance after he successfully completed his task. The money raised was enough to provide six defribrillators which were installed at the GAA pitch and other public areas around the parish. They are kept inside specially marked boxes and cost around IR£3000 each. Now the emphasis is on training people in how to use them. JB’s target is to get two people in every household in Killanny  (population around 1200) trained in the use of these devices. The youngest person trained so far is 15 and the oldest 85. As the man himself put it: ‘the fun part was the fundraising, the work is only starting now’.


Michael Fisher speaking at the William Carleton Summer School, Emyvale, August 2013

Michael Fisher speaking at the William Carleton Summer School, Emyvale, August 2013


Thanks to all those readers who have continued to peruse my blog pages while I took a pause for eight months. I am delighted to see that all the various articles were receiving around 60+ hits per day. My next target therefore is to bring my total views beyond the current 49,350 to over 50,000. With your support this can be achieved. If you like the content of these pages please feel free to submit a comment using the link provided. Spread the word among your friends and give them the link to www.fisherbelfast.wordpress.com. Many thanks. Michael Fisher November 19th 2014



New Publication Compiles Work of Noted Tydavnet Literary Figure

New Publication Compiles Work of Noted Tydavnet Literary Figure: Northern Standard 19/07/13

“Memories Amidst the Drumlins: Cavan and Monaghan”, a compilation of  the stories and poems of the late Terence O’Gorman of Tullyvogey, Tydavnet, will be officially launched at a function in Monaghan’s Four Seasons Hotel on Friday, August 2nd next. A well-known North Monaghan personality, Mr O’Gorman, who passed away in 2003, had some of his literary contributions published in the columns of this newspaper over the years.

His daughter Patricia Cavanagh, the current President of the ICA in Co. Monaghan, has now brought together dozens of poems and stories penned by her father in a volume that will be launched by the Director of the William Carleton Summer School, Michael Fisher. Over the past two years Patricia has carefully compiled and edited what amounts to a wonderful record of the lifestyle of South Ulster from the 1930s until the turn of the century.

Memories Amidst the Drumlins: Cavan & Monaghan

Memories Amidst the Drumlins: Cavan & Monaghan

Some of the poems were written to mark special occasions such as birthdays and weddings of family and friends and there were also tributes to those who had passed away. This collection is a wonderful tribute to Terence, who came from Lavey in Co. Cavan and who was a familiar figure in and around Tydavnet and Monaghan, where he worked at St Davnet’s Hospital for many years. The book includes a number of poems he wrote for his friends and work colleagues on their retirement from St Davnet’s.  He died in 2003. The 340-page book will retail for €15.

The launch will be performed on the opening day of the William Carleton Summer School events taking place in Monaghan and Emyvale from August 2-4. Terence was a regular visitor to the annual Carleton event as well as attending other literary festivals throughout the country. Patricia Cavanagh spoke about the book at the launch of the William Carleton Summer School programme at the Writers’ Centre in Dublin in June.


William Carleton

William Carleton

Donaghmore Historical Society in County Tyrone concluded its season of talks in The Heritage Centre on Monday, 8th April, when Michael Fisher gave an illustrated talk entitled, “From Prillisk to Beechmount: a Tyrone man’s journey to Dublin: the story of William Carleton.” Born and reared as a Catholic in the Clogher Valley , where his father was a small farmer, Carleton has never had the recognition he deserves, either in his native area or in the ranks of Irish novelists. He spent most of his adult life in Dublin , where his works were written, including the famous “Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry,” the first such significant stories to be published in the English language in Ireland and Britain . When he settled in the capital city, he came under the influence of a Protestant clergyman, who persuaded him to change his religion in order to gain a living as a writer. His stories describe the society he grew up in, which often featured sectarian confrontation between orange and green factions, such as “The Party Fight and Funeral.”

Michael Fisher Talk

Michael Fisher Talk

Michael Fisher is Director of the William Carleton Society’s international summer school. A freelance journalist, he retired from RTÉ. News in Belfast in September 2010, having joined the broadcaster in Dublin in 1979. He is a former BBC. News trainee in London and worked in Birmingham as a local radio reporter. A native of Dublin , Michael has family connections with County Tyrone as well as County Monaghan . He is a graduate of UCD. and QUB., where he completed an MA. in Irish Studies in 2001, including a dissertation on The Big House in Counties Fermanagh and Monaghan. He was introduced to the works of Carleton during his time as a student at University College in Dublin by one of his lecturers on Anglo-Irish literature, Maurice Harmon, who is now a patron of the William Carleton Society.

Michael FisherTalk

Michael FisherTalk

Those who remember Michael’s soft modulated, dulcet tones from his days on our television screens will have a chance to see and hear him in person in The Heritage Centre on Monday night at 8 o’clock, when he will be telling the story of a County Tyrone writer, who, surprisingly enough, is virtually unknown in this part of the county.

Carleton's Cottage, Springtown

Carleton’s Cottage, Springtown

William Carleton                    1794 – 1869

William Carleton was born the youngest of a family of 14 children in the townland of Prolusk (‘Prillisk’ in his autobiography) near Clogher in Co.Tyrone, on Shrove Tuesday, 20th February,1794. Although there is little suggestion that the Carletons were upwardly mobile, they did move house frequently within the Clogher area and were established at the townland of Springtown when William left the family home. Carleton obtained his education at local hedge schools which he was to write about, fictionalising the pedagogue Pat Frayne as the redoubtable Mat Cavanagh. From other retrospections of his home district, we learn of Carleton’s delight in his father’s skill as a seanachie and the sweetness of his mother’s voice as she sang the traditional airs of Ireland; of his early romances- especially with Anne Duffy, daughter of the local miller; of Carleton the athlete, accomplishing a ‘Leap’ over a river, the site of which is still pointed out; of the boisterous open air dancing. Initially an aspirant o the priesthood, Carleton embarked in 1814 on an excursion as a ‘poor scholar’ but, following a disturbing dream, returned to his somewhat leisurely life in the Clogher Valley before leaving home permanently in 1817. Journeying via Louth, Kildare and Mullingar, he found work as a teacher, librarian and,  eventually, as a clerk in the Church of Ireland Sunday School Office in Dublin. In 1820, he married Jane Anderson who bore him several children. By 1825, Carleton. who had left the Roman Catholic Church for the Anglican Church of Ireland, met a maverick Church of Ireland cleric, Caesar Otway, who encouraged him to put his already recognised journalistic talents to such prosletysing purposes as satirising the attitudes reflected in pilgrimages to ‘St Patrick’s Purgatory’ at Lough Derg, a totemic site in Irish Catholicism. Further writings in the Christian Examiner & Church of lreland Magazine led in 1829 and 1833 to the publication of what is arguably Carleton’s best known work: Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry. In these stories Carleton returned imaginatively to the Clogher Valley, drawing on comedy, farce, melodrama and tragedy to present a tableau of the life of the country people of the north of Ireland before the famines of the 1840s altered their pattern of existence for ever. Carleton went on to respond to the challenge of the novel, in his tirne a comparatively undeveloped genre amongst Irish writers, and published Fardorougha the Miser (1839), Valentine McClutchy (1845), The Black Prophet (1847), The Emigrants of Aghadarra (1848), The Tithe Proctor (1849), The Squanders of Castle Squander (1852). In these works he addresses many of the issues affecting the Ireland of his day such as the influence of the Established Church and landlordism, poverty, famine and emigration but does so with an earnestness that regrettably often caused his more creative genius to be swamped in a heavy didacticism. Carleton continued to write in a variety of forms, including verse, until his death in 1869, but critics are agreed that the quality of the work is uneven. Despite his prolific output, Carleton never really made a living from his writings and welcomed the pension voted to him by the government following the advocacy of such contrasting figures as the Ulster Presbyterian leader, Dr Henry Cooke, and Paul Cardinal Cullen, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. His last project, uncompleted when he died, was his Autobiography, which was re-issued through the efforts of the Summer School Committee in 1996. Carleton was buried in the cemetery at Mount Jerome in Dublin and over his grave a miniature obelisk records the place “wherein rest the remains of one whose memory needs neither graven stone nor sculptured marble to preserve it from oblivion”.           (Summer School handbook 1998)

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Donaghmore Sunset

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