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Sweeney Clan 2005 Clan Gathering

The Clan gathering is over and what a success. We had a great time with all our friends from far and near, some old friends over many years, others new faces who were joining us for the first time.

The Official Opening by Fr Michael Sweeney, Donegal Person of the Year, and standing in as MacSuibhne Fánaid for Loughlin Sweeney of Dublin who could not attend. The Dunlewey Lakeside Centre was packed to capacity and a very pleasant evening was spent getting to know all our new visitors and meeting once again with our old friends.

Monday was Omagh day and a tour led by Ben Sweeney took us to the Ulster American Folk Park, always a great attraction especially to our American friends.

Tuesday we were off to Gola Island with Máirín Ní Fhearraigh who took us ‘home’ for the day. To many this was the highlight of the week. Gola Island was deserted in the late sixties when the educational authority decided to close the national school and so forced the islanders at least those with families to come to the main land to live. But they never forgot their roots and they fought to have modern amenities such as electricity, water and a ferry service for the island. Máirín was and still is one of the main driving forces behind this project which enabled us to visit the island and be entertained to tea and scones in one of the islands recently refurbished houses. The day was warm with sunny blue skies, which added to the enjoyment.

Wednesday the group paid a visit to Doe Castle with John Sweeney as guide. As usual Gideon Moore was on hand to open the castle and provide music on his accordion. Peggy Sweeney, the well-known singer from County Kerry was there with a film crew to record a new album with Doe Castle as the backdrop, which will be well worth watching out for when released. David Sweeney recited his now famous recitation Doe Castle and a good old sign song was had by all as probably took place in days of yore, when the Sweeney Chiefs enjoyed banquets there. Many of the visitors who were here at previous clan gatherings were disappointed that the authorities made no progress on the Great Hall refurbishment which would complete the work on the castle and allow it to open to the public and prove a great boost to tourism in the locality as well as Donegal generally.

On Thursday Cathal MacSuibhne Chairman of the local committee organised a daylong seminar on the Surnames of Donegal, not just of the Sweeney, but all the other clans as well. This always draws great interest and shows that there is a great future for what our local committee are doing in promoting our clan rallies and encouraging other clans to do likewise. People from all over the world contact us searching their roots and the Sweeneys are no different to other clans in this regard.

Friday was the day for the Banagh visit with Lawrence Kent Sweeney of Nova Scotia at the helm deputising for Capt. Richard Mingo Sweeney of Bolgers Park as Mac Suibhne Banagh. The tour took in the Glenties heritage centre, Killybegs fishing port and on to Kilcar home of the Sweeney Museum.

Saturday saw the main event, the Clan Banquet, at Óstan Loch Altán, Gortahork

It was with great pleasure we welcomed Máire Swiney Brugha bestowing on her the title Hon. Chieftain of Doe and overall chieftain of the 2005 rally.

Máire, daughter of Terence McSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork who died on hunger strike in 1920 in Brixton Prison England for the cause of Irish freedom. Máire was very young when her father died and her mother brought her to live in Germany. Her aunt however brought her back to Ireland where she married Ruairí Brugha, son of Cathal Brugha who also gave his life for Ireland back in those troubled days of our history. For many years we awaited Máire’s memoirs and at last she has the book has arrived. Called ‘Máire MacSwiney Brugha History’s Daughter A memoir from the only child of Terence MacSwiney’, we were honoured when Máire introduced her book and signed copies at the banquet even though the book will not be officially launched until October next in Dublin. We can assure you that the book is everything we expected with a terrific insight to those distant historic days. Beautifully presented, it is published by O’Brien Press Dublin ( and can be bought directly from them.

Husband Ruairí could not be with us this time due to illness and we send him our best wishes. Her son Ruairí accompanied Máire.
Those who could not attend and sent messages were remembered, including from USA: Lorna & George Cyr and Ina Morris. Jack and Eileen Nuttal and Evie Naranjo & family, also Damien Sweeney from Australia and Jack Sweeney from Dublin. We look forward to meeting them all again in 2007 with Gods help.

The committee would like to thank most sincerely all the local Sweeneys who came out in large numbers to support the various events and welcome the visitors.

The next clan rally will be held in 2007 but no dates etc. have been decided yet. It is of course the 400th anniversary of the Flight of the Earls from Rathmullan and it is our intention to have our rally and participate in the celebrations to mark the anniversary being planned by the Flight of the Earls committee.

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2005 Sweeney Clan Reunion

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© Sweeney Clan 2007 Web Site by John Michael Sweeney