McGrath Clan Association
Newsletter October 2019
Successful McGrath Gathering
The 2019 International McGrath Clan Gathering, hosted by the McGrath Clan Association/Cumman Clann Mhic Craith, took place in the beautiful coastal town of Dungarvan in Co. Waterford, in June. Members of the clan from around the world arrived for the event, many in Ireland for the first time.
The official opening was in the SGC Cinema and the attendance included Mayor of Waterford City & County, Cllr John Pratt and Dungarvan & West Waterford Chamber President Joe Roche. It was followed by a film premiere in the cinema on the life of the infamous Archbishop Miler Magrath.
The five-day festival of heritage, history and culture included heritage tours to various site associated with the McGrath Clan, including Lismore Castle, Sleady Castle, Abbeyside Abbey and the MacCraith tomb. It also included visits to Cobh, where many of the clan emigrated from in the 19th century, Youghal, Ardmore Round Tower and the Gaeltacht.
There was also a series of lecture sessions. Speakers included Dennis Wright, an authority on the Dal Cais DNA, Luke McInerney, an expert on medieval studies, William Fraher who gave a talk on McGrath Castle Abbeyside, Kevin McCarthy who spoke on the ‘Battle of Affane’, Caroline Smiddy on the MacCraith bardic School and Ann Marie Coughlan, Genealogist.
Needless to say, due to the location of the clan gathering, there was top class traditional Irish Music Sessions each night. The social side of the gathering included a BBQ at the Park Hotel, during which a 25th wedding anniversary marriage vows renewal took place.
One of the highlights of the gathering was the Clan Parade, led by Clan Chieftain Dan McGrath. The parade saw members of the clan walk behind their nations’ flags and the McGrath Clan Flag to Dungarvan Castle. It was an amazing sight to see over 200 people following the flags of the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, England and Ireland. The Pipe Band who had led the parade, played the Irish National Anthem at the Castle gates.
During the gathering, there was also a visit to the very impressive Waterford County Museum and the WW1 Memorial Wall.
One of the more solemn moments of the 5-day event was the laying of the wreath at the Famine Memorial located just outside of the town.
The planning for the gathering started three years previously and saw a specially designed flag travel around the world. Members of the clan hosted the flag in towns and cities, at festivals and in heritage centres everywhere from LA to Melbourne, Boston to Johannesburg.
The Liam McGrath Memorial Research Bursary, in memory of a clan member who undertook years of research and organized the first gathering 20 years ago, was presented by Conor O’Brien, Chieftain of the O’Brien Clan and direct descendant of Brian Boru, to Caroline Smiddy, who is also a clan member. In attendance for the presentation were Dr Joe Mannion, Chairman Clans of Ireland, fellow director Brendan Lynch, and Alice McGrath, widow of the late Liam McGrath.
The McGrath Clan are descendants of Brian Boru’s brother Echthighern.
On Sunday morning, the Clan Mass took place in Abbeyside Church, where the original church was built by the McGrath and O’Brien Clans in 1290.
The final event of the gathering was the McGrath Clan Gala Dinner in the Park Hotel. Dr Joe Mannion, Chairman Clans of Ireland addressed those in attendance and was part of the presentation party with Conor O’Brien, Chieftain of the O’Brien Clan and Dan McGrath, for the presentations of the Medal of Echthighern, the highest honour that the McGrath Clan can bestow on an individual. The 2017, 2018 and 2019 medals were presented to Dan Patrick McGrath(USA), John McGrath (SA & IRE) and Steven McGraw(USA).
The Clan Gala Dinner finished off with an awesome Traditional Irish music, song and dance show.
Dan McGrath, Clan Chieftain, finished the event by thanking everyone who travelled to the gathering and anyone who had contributed to its success and making it the biggest McGrath Clan Gathering in living memory on Irish soil.
Before the gathering finished, plans were already underway for the 7th International McGrath Clan Gathering in 2022.