On 22nd and 23rd August 2014, a two-day celebration of the ancient O’Meachair clan and their traditional homeland, the Barony of Ikerrin, will be held. This is the first ever celebration of both this beautiful and historic area of North Tipperary and of this unique and ancient Gaelic clan.
Among the events planned are an art exhibition on the theme of the Devil's Bit; an academic conference on the late medieval period; a genealogy workshop to discover your O’Meachair / Maher / Meagher ancestry and a medieval-themed social event that will include music, food, drama and pageantry.
It is hoped that this event will encourage all of those who are O’Meachair descendants, as well as those who originate from the Barony of Ikerrin, to come and join the fun and rediscover their roots.
Proceedings will kick off on Friday, 22nd August, at 7pm in Killea village (near Templemore, Co. Tipperary) with an art exhibition to celebrate the Devil's Bit Mountain, which forms the backdrop to the Barony of Ikerrin and which features strongly in the folklore of the O’Meachairs. The exhibition, entitled 'Marvelous Motif' from a reference to the Devil's Bit by the late Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, will be formally opened by internationally renowned artist Alice Maher.
Later, Alice will join a panel of contributors – including UCC Professor Emeritus, William Smyth, and representatives from the world of history, sport and politics – to assess the contribution of both the O’Meachairs and the impact of this unique landscape on the lives of many at home and abroad. Contributions will also be welcomed from members of the O'Meachair diaspora.
A topographical model depicting features of significance throughout the Barony of Ikerrin has been specially commissioned and will be unveiled on the night.
On Saturday, 23rd August, a half-day conference in Damer House, Roscrea, will focus on the late medieval period in the Barony and the evolution of the O’Meachair clan as chiefs of that terrain. Professor Paul McCotter of University College Cork will deliver the keynote paper on the history of the O’Meachairs and Ikerrin, while other papers will examine the life and times of the Gaelic O’Meachairs, as well as issues of local significance up to the time of the Cromwellian invasion.
Later, professional genealogists Susan Chadwick and Clare Bohan – together with a team of local experts – will host a workshop to help with your ancestry queries. The workshop will include a review of the sources of research available, as well as contributions by other local history experts and individuals who will share their experiences and discoveries. Participants are also invited to submit their queries in advance.
Finally, the celebrations will draw to a close in the picturesque village of Clonakenny, the traditional seat of the O’Meachair chiefs and the site of the remains of the main O’Meachair castle in the Barony. The organisers promise family-focused music, food and entertainment, with everyone encouraged to don appropriate medieval costumes to add to the fun.
Highlights will include a dramatic re-enactment of scenes from the last days of the O'Meachair chiefs as well as a humorous 'apology' from a descendant of the conquering Cromwellians. Over the coming months, more details will be announced, but this evening should be a fitting and light finale to the two days.
According to the organisers of the O’Meachair homecoming, it is important to stress that, while this is an O'Meachair clan event, it is also a celebration of the beautiful countryside that is the ancestral homeland of all who at one time called North Tipperary home. All are welcome!
For further details, log on to www.omeachairofikerrin.com, of follow the O’Meachairs of Ikerrin on Facebook or Twitter (@OMeachair2014).