It's all over for another two years but what a Clan Gathering. 2003 will be remember as the best rally to date and proves that the Sweeney Clan are going from strength to strength.
Mid week was noticeable for the amount of traffic heading to Gortahork and West Donegal to attend the Official Opening at Ostán Loch Altan on Thursday night performed by Minister of State Mr Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher.
Among the special guests for the occasion were Hughie and Éamonn Sweeney of Magheralosk, Bunbeg who were local contestants at the Special Olympics. The hotel was packed to capacity with Sweeney and Sweeney friends from every corner of the globe and very many more watching worldwide on video link.
Visitors from near and far
Old acquaintances and new faces were present and there was an atmosphere of warmth and friendship that has to be experienced to be believed. It was great to see Lorna and George Cyr and Ina Morris present with their friends, Dr and Mrs Rausch, Roger Sweeney and his family back with us once again, Neil Sweeney and his family and extended family, among the very large US contingent of Sweeneys.
Mary Ann Slattery was with us and still no one to sing 'Slattery's Mounted Foot' for her. Don't worry Mary Ann, there is a copy of the record winging its way to you and we will all sing it in 2005 for you…promise!!
From South Australia were Ron and Jacqui Sweeney, while Tom and Steve Murphy were also here from down under. Alex McSwiney was here from N.S.W. Paul and Margaret from Queensland and many more.
Ireland was strongly represented by people like John And Mary Sweeney from Killeshandra, Ann and Dan Sweeney from Cork City, Frank and Margaret Sweeney from Ballinamore and Fr Gerry from Gurteen, Ballinasloe and many more. See the photo gallery for more of our new and old friends from the other side of the world and from US Canada, Nova Scotia, Scotland, England, Wales, and Ireland.
Guests of Honour
Our guests of honour Máire Nic Suibhne Brugha (daughter of Terence McSwiney, see notable Sweeneys) and
her husband Ruaraí Brugha (son of Cathal Brugha) and their son Cathal Terence Brugha and his family again graced us with their presence. Máire speaking at the banquet, gave a lively and amusing speech as usual.
Loughlin MacSuibhne Fanad and his wife Mary were here to represent Fanad while Lawerence Kent Sweeney
from Nova Scotia represented Captain Richard Mingo Mac Suibhne Banagh and our representative for the Doe Branch and overall chieftain for the occasion was George Beckett
from Nashville, Tennessee. George helped the clan association to purchase the Sweeney Museum which is presently on display at Kilcar awaiting a permanent home at Doe Castle when the Great Hall is restored, hopefully in the near future.
His work on the night, holding a silent auction which added to the atmosphere at the banquet, raised a further substantial sum for the Sweeney Clan funds.
Visit to Banagh and Doe
Feda O'Donnell coaches supplied the luxury transport to the Banagh Sweeney territories where the demand was so great that extra coaches had to be laid on. The next day saw the tour of Doe Castle where Gideon Moore was awaiting to entertain the large group with his accordion and for the first time in probably three hundred years, Doe Castle rang to music song and dance.
On the newly finished first floor of the Tower, Loughlin MacSuibhne Fanad recited the poem 'Doe Castle' which goes like this.
The great McSwyne lies buried
Without the castle wall
And silent gloom pervades each room
Beneath those turrets tall
Where Lackagh's peaceful river
Flows past the castle base
Its pleasant shore sees now no more
Chiefs of McSwiney's race.
Instead the rook is monarch
Of all he can survey;
The swallows rest and build a nest
Where chieftains once held sway
No warriors throng the courtyard,
No gallowglass stands guard,
No minstrel plays his grand old lays,
No poet sings, or bard.
Tis vain to mourn past glories
Enshrined in history's page;
Far better pray to see one day
Another golden age.
"That Golden Age has arrived" declared Loughlin and he remarked that yes, Doe Castle was being returned to its former glory and he thanked the Clan Association and the Office of Public Works and in particular the efforts of the area manger John Corcoran for their hard work in achieving so much in such a short time. He added that with this momentum he felt it was only a matter of time until work on the Great Hall would commence and Doe castle would ring to the sounds of past glories when banquets and clan gatherings would be a regular event in the castle.
David Sweeney of Loughanure and Dublin recited the late Creeslough poet Niall MacGiolla Bhride's poem, Dark, Dark the Hills of Donegal.
David was asked many times by members of his audience for the words of this beautiful recitation so we decided to print in full as recited by David. Click here to read it.
A visit to Downings completed the tour where Charlie McClafferty welcomed the Sweeneys at the Beach Hotel where lunch was served.
The Grand Banquet was held in Ostan Gweedore where a packed to capacity crowd enjoyed a great evening. M.C. for the occasion was Fergus Sweeney who did a great job. Fr. Michael Sweeney P.P. Derrybeg accompanied the young Special Olympians Éamonn and Hughie Sweeney to the banquet hall to the strains of the Sweeney Clan march on pipes, followed by Cathal MacSuibhne Chairman Clann tSuibhne, who escorted Mac Suibhne Fanad, MacSuibhne Banagh and Hon. Chieftain and overall Rally Chieftain George Beckett.
Youngest Clan member
The youngest member of Clann Suibhne Mary Margaret Sweeney from Seattle received her membership certificate as did her parents David and Maggie Sweeney, enjoying their first Clan rally.
Moving speeches were given by Loughlin MacSuibhne Fanad and Lawerence Kent Sweeney acting as MacSuibhne Banagh. Loughlin referred to the early days when he and several others laid the foundations for the present association which was going from strength to strength.
In his address Lawerence Kent called for a redoubling of effort to spread the Sweeney gospel and have a clan that would flourish in peace and friendship with one another and with other clans.
George Beckett Hon. Chieftain of Doe for the occasion and acting as overall for the rally asked everyone present on their return home to contact more Sweeneys in their area and ensure that the clan would have even a bigger attendance in two years time. He paid tribute to the organising committee for their hard work in succeeding to attract such huge numbers from all over the world.
His silent auction proved very popular on banquet night and raised a considerable sum for the clan.
Cathal MacSuibhne Chairman of Clann Suibhne addressing the large gathering welcomed everyone to this the sixth bi-annual rally. He remarked on the increase in numbers from Australia, Canada, Britain and Ireland and despite the dip in tourist numbers to Ireland since Sept 11th 2001 from the United States, there was an increase in the numbers who travelled from there to the rally. It showed that Sweeneys were eager to get to the rally despite the overall downward trend in tourism from the US.
Thanking those present he went on to mention those who for one reason or another could not attend, and had sent messages of good wishes to the committee.
James and Eunice Weixel USA.
Mary Lou McSeveney Dunn Virginia USA.
Evie and Milo Naranjo MD USA.
Emalee Sweeney USA.
Kathleen (Kay) Ann Sweeney Madison WI USA.
Professor Alan Garfield Iowa.USA.
Lt.Col. Matthew J. Sweeney IN USA.
Marjie Tomter WI USA.
J.Rivett Isle of Lewis, Scotland.
Colleen Mackay Alberta.
Paul Sweeney Toronto Canada.
Owen Sweeney NJ USA.
Anne Stibor WI USA.
Louis Sweeney Wynes IL USA.
Thomas J. Sweeney Penna #104 USA.
Rose Sweeney AZ USA.
Sandra Eastridge FL USA.
Leslie Sweeney England.
Laura Sweeney Monroe, Georgia USA.
Connie Thomas FL USA.
Katherine Sweeney Kelling, Georgia USA.
Brendan J. Rush Baton Rouge, USA.
Scott Sweeney MS USA.
Mary Helen Loudon OH, USA.
Anne Sweeney Sloan CO.
Matthew and Nicole McSweeney Reno NV USA.
James D. Sweeney MA USA.
Carl Burghardt VA USA.
Clarence Swinney TX USA.
W. Sweeney NY USA.
Edwin & Rochelle Sweeney MN USA.
Gloria Sweeney Martin TX USA.
Dorothy Sweeney Penna USA.
William Sewell Bartlett Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Drs. John and Margaret Godsey MS USA.
Elizabeth Eileen McSweeney Hutton CA.
Margaret Sweeney Thurles Co Tipp & Jack.
Dr. Peter (Dodo) Sweeney Dungloe
Cathal sent best wishes to all and expressed the hope that they could join us in 2005.
Video Link and Photographs of the 2003 Clan Rally.
For the first time there was a video link from Ostán Loch Altan Gortahork of the Official Opening and from Ostán Gweedore of the Banquet. There were over one thousand hits at the Official Opening and a staggering 2700 hits at the Banquet, as word got out that it was 'live worldwide on the web'.
This idea was the brain child of John Michael Sweeney, who designed and maintains the clan website and who has recently started in the website design business. Several other examples of his work can be seen by visiting www.donegalislands.com
or Eoin McGarvey's website www.emgphoto.com
. Eoin is a well know journalist and photographer and was the official photographer for the occasion and from whom photographs of the occasion can be ordered. Check out his website for more information on how to order photographs of the Reunion.
The three sites listed above give a good example of John Michael's versatility and talent and Sweeneys, whether business or private, in Ireland or anywhere in the world, looking for something different for their websites might find it an attractive proposition to try out his talents and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or through this, the Sweeney Clan website.
There was a fine selection of Sweeney merchandise available at the rally and was in brisk demand. Clann tSuibhne have succeeded in sourcing a first class supplier of tartan and other goods (see merchandise page for full details). Most items are available by return post but where necessary to order in, it should be available within 14 days. The Merchandise page helps keep the show on the road and we appreciate the business and we know that you the clan members appreciate the opportunity to purchase the Sweeney related merchandise.
Finally, I would like on behalf of the committee to wish all our visitors to the rally a safe journey home to whatever part of the world you journey and with a heartfelt hope that we will all meet again in 2005. Keep watching our website and keep in touch by email.
God Bless you all
Slán agus Beannacht
John Sweeney PRO
Click Here To See Photographs Of The Reunion