WALK IN CARRICKMACROSS (3)

Former Fever Hospital, Carrickmacross  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Former Fever Hospital, Carrickmacross Photo: © Michael Fisher

WALK AROUND CARRICKMACROSS   Northern Standard  Carrickmacross News  Thursday 18th June

3. FEVER HOSPITAL

Leaving the Toll House the guided walk proceeds through the mall of the new shopping centre and takes the road down the hill towards the Shercock Road roundabout.

Stone Plaque above front entrance at former Fever Hospital, Carrickmacross, showing construction date 1842   Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Stone Plaque above front entrance at former Fever Hospital, Carrickmacross, showing construction date 1842 Photo: © Michael Fisher

The first building on the left hand side is the old fever hospital. It was designed by architect George Sudden and according to the stone plaque above the main entrance, it opened in 1842. Like many other buildings on the tour, it was constructed from local limestone. In those days medical staff had very little training and care was primitive. The nurses and doctors were called to deal with infections such as TB, pneumonia, typhoid, and smallpox.

A plaque recalls the occasion when the Inniskeen poet Patrick Kavanagh, then in his 20s, was treated there for typhoid fever and quotes from his prose work “The Green Fool”. One of the three great laughs he had in his life, he says, was caused by a joke told by the night nurse in the hospital. The hospital was in use until the 1950s. In 1962 the building was purchased by the Fane Valley Co-Operative and was used for a time as a jam factory.

Across the road from the hospital is the restored Workhouse building. Opened in 1843 it was one of 157 that were built in the era of the Great Famine. The Workhouse is not included on the walking tour but is open to visitors during the week.

PATRICK KAVANAGH CENTRE

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

BUSY YEAR FOR KAVANAGH CENTRE

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.

 

INNISKEEN ROAD: JULY EVENING

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ARE COPYRIGHT MICHAEL FISHER © MMXIII AND MUST NOT BE REPRODUCED IN ANY WAY WITHOUT PERMISSION

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