Kinneigh Famine Memorial Unveiling

Unveiling & blessing of Kinneigh Famine Memorial

Unveiling & blessing of Kinneigh Famine Memorial

On Wednesday 8th July a large crowd congregated in Kinneigh graveyard to attend the annual graveyard prayers. Fr Myles McSweeney recited the rosary while relatives & friends answered while they stood by the graves of their loved ones. After the prayers everybody moved to a location in the northern side of the graveyard. The chairman of Coppeen Archaeological, Historical & Cultural Society (CAHCS) Colum Cronin then addressed the crowd, explaining that a monument was about to be unveiled to mark a famine burial plot in Kinneigh. Colum stated that between the years 1841 – 1851 Enniskeane parish suffered a fall in population from 10, 442 to 5,679, or 46%, surely a catrostrophie of enormous proportions. “It is important” he continued, “that we do not forget our past & the experiences which have shaped us as a people, & indeed as a nation. In future, as we enter this graveyard, let us try to remember in a special way the forgotten ones, all those whose mortal remains lie here, & it is our hope that this memorial will serve to act as a reminder for us to do just that”

Fr Myles then unveiled & blessed the plaque, which is mounted on a rock of local red sandstone. The inscription on the plaque reads as follows:

“Beneath this hallowed plot lie the mortal remains of many victims of the Great Famine (1845 – 1852) Resting here too are others including children, victims of bygone socio-religious customs. May they all rest in peace.
(C.A.H.C.S. 2009)”

Kinneigh Famine Memorial unveiling

Thanks to the following for making this event possible:

Denis O’Mahony Enniskeane who related the stories of how the famine burials took place in Kinneigh. He was taught about this in primary school by his teacher the famous historian Jeremiah O’Mahony of Castletown. Jerry Falvey (R.I.P.) was also mentioned & appreciated as a source of information. Batt O’Mahony & Michael O’Donovan for their help in supplying, preparing, transporting & erection of the monument. Kearns Memorials of Bandon for supplying & engraving the plaque. Local historian & committee member Michael Galvin for his valued help & advice. All committee members who helped in any way, especially Nuala Lordan.

As with much of the ongoing work of C.A.H.C.S., Cork County Council Archaeologist Catryn Power must be mentioned, as her continued support & advice are pivotal to our work.

21 Responses to Kinneigh Famine Memorial Unveiling

  1. Pádraigín December 17, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    Nollaig shona dóibh!

  2. SíleMurphy October 13, 2009 at 11:13 pm #

    Hi Colum,

    Hope it’s ok to put a note here in case any relatives of anyone connected to the workhouse in Dunmanway between 1851 and 1856 visits here. I’m researching the Workhouse and its place in the local community during this period. I’d love to hear from any who may see this page, to get an insight of any family histories that may have been shaped by experiences of the Poor Law in the immediate aftermath of the famine.

    • columcronin October 13, 2009 at 11:34 pm #

      Absolutely Síle,

      Síle has achieved much, re-connecting people across the globe with long lost relatives through her ongoing diligent hard work regarding this painful era of our past. To further her efforts, she needs your help, so anybody out there who can do so, please post here.

  3. Pádraigín October 5, 2009 at 9:50 am #

    Colum, a chara

    Do you have any information about the Kilmichael Commemoration this year? I would be grateful for your response.

    Slán go foill


    • columcronin October 5, 2009 at 1:22 pm #

      Pádraigín a chara,

      This years Kilmichael commemorations are taking place on Sunday 29th November, beginning with Mass in Castletownkinneigh at 10:30am. We will post full details on in the near future. Hope all is well in Scotland.

      Slán go foill,

      • Pádraigín October 6, 2009 at 9:59 am #

        Dia duit!

        Go raibh maith agat. An Cór is practising hard for an evening of ceol agus craic – “An Deoraí” celebrating 10 years of singing in Glasgow. Have sent you the dvd – the commentator Noeleen is from Donegal – she teachers Irish in Edinburgh – is a wonderful singer – and runs workshops for us in language and singing (we get good support from Dion although this has been cut due to the economic problems at the moment). There is a short clip of An Cór in the dvd – you will also see Seán O’Fiannai – master teacher of Gaeilge. Let me know what you think.

        Hope we can get flights etc. for November – we have kept in touch with some people we met in Cork – they also attended the commemoration – it will be good to meet them again.



        • columcronin October 7, 2009 at 1:23 am #


          You are so kind, thank you. Good luck to “An Deorai”. You certainly value your musical heritage out there it seems. I’ll get details of Kilmichael Sunday up here as soon as I can get the final format.

          Slán go foill,

          • Pádraigín October 7, 2009 at 9:49 am #


            Looking forward to hearing from you soon.


      • Pádraigín June 30, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

        Hello Colum

        Can you let me know when the 2010 commemoration will take place (28 November)?

        Slán go foill

        • columcronin June 30, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

          Hello Pádraigín,

          Looking at the calendar, I am 99.9% certain that it will be held on Sunday 28th November. As you know, the actual date of Kilmichael Ambush was the 28th Nov. 1920. The commemorations have always been held on the Sunday closest to the 28th, so I think we can safely assume that this year’s commemoration will be on that actual date. When I get confirmation on this, I will let you know.

          • Pádraigín July 2, 2010 at 2:01 pm #


            Thank you so much. There is a good service now from Glasgow to Cork – saves the long drive from Dublin. Looking forward to hearing from you.

            Slán agus beannachtaí


  4. Pádraigín September 8, 2009 at 10:51 am #

    Thank you for publishing this article and photos. We have visited Castletown Kinneigh/Crossbarry/Kilmichael many times. We will be visiting the “famine” graveyard on our next visit. Why is the potato blight always referred to as the famine? There was potato blight in Scotland – the people did not starve here! I will say no more ……….

    Many thanks for a great site.

    Le beannacht Dé

    • columcronin September 8, 2009 at 1:25 pm #

      Pádraigín, thank you for your comments. You’ll be welcome in Kinneigh anytime.
      During that period potato blight effected many areas right across Europe, including Scotland. It appears that Ireland was unique because of its over population, an oppressive regime with little understanding or concern for the people, who had a complete reliance on the potato as its staple food = a catastrophe waiting to happen. With 25% of our population decimated through starvation brought about by the aforementioned circumstances, coupled with a continued demand by the ruling aristocracy for payment of rent in the form of grain (in the midst of starvation) what do you think it should have been called? We seem to be straddled with the general term ‘Famine’ whether we like it or not, or whether it’s fitting.
      I’m not very well informed on the circumstances in Scotland at the time, but as I understand it, there were few parallels with the Irish situation existing there.

      Why do you think the potato blight is referred to as the famine? Can you suggest an alternative? Can you sum up the Scottish situation at the time, and what effect the blight had there?

      Thanks for the stimulus to get this discussion going Pádraigín. We are privileged to have the opportunity to sit in comfort, without the pangs of hunger or horrors of oppression which our forefathers suffered, and discuss these issues.

      Le gach dea-ghuí,

      • Pádraigín September 11, 2009 at 9:47 am #

        Colum, a chara

        Thank you for your response. I agree with all of your comments surrounding the causes of “An Ghorta Mhór.” There was no famine in Ireland in 1845 – there was genocide.

        The potato crops had been poor in years before “the great famine” and when the crop completely failed, the Irish people, due to economic policies/ [free trade]/greed/sectarianism (God sent the blight as a punishment?) and a general view by a foreign power that the Irish people were not worth the effort and were simply left to starve to death. There was plenty of food in Ireland – while 2m men, women and children died, food was being exported to England. My great-grandfather survived a crossing on a coffin ship, arrived in a very unwelcoming Scotland, particularly Glasgow, homeless and penniless and we are all familiar with the problems that the Irish immigrants experienced from then on. Irish culture suffered too because of mass immigration – fortunately, Conradh na Gaeilge have worked tirelessly to keep the language alive in Scotland. I do not know a lot about the potato blight in Scotland except that the this crop was not the staple diet and anyway, the Government intervened and fed them! [In schools in Scotland, the curriculum does not contain any Irish or Scottish history]. I would recommend that you read any books you can find by Professor Tom Devine who is regarded as Scotland’s leading historian. His best selling book is “The Scottish Nation – 1700-2007”. Others are: “The Great Highland Famine” and “The Potato Famine in the Scottish Highlands 1840-1860.” I have visited many “famine” graves in Ireland and it is a heartbreaking experience. Please log on to the Carfin Grotto website. In 2001, a memorial to the victims of the “famine” was unveiled in Lanarkshire by Bertie Aherne. There was a lot of controversy surrounding this because of the visit of Bertie Aherne. The Head of the Church of Scotland, who was present at the unveiling admitted that the Protestant churches had campaigned in the worst possible light to have the Irish immigrants repatriated. He said “it was a matter of regret.” Colum, are you the editor of “Coppeen – A Glimpse of the Past”? We bought this book in Clonakilty – it is a great read. Are there more volumes available? We are members of Bandon Historical Society and receive their journal every year. There is a good picture in the book of the CAHHS. Two years ago, we went to Mass in Kinneigh, over to the pub for tea, Commemoration ceremony and then back to Joe Creedon’s for dinner and music. Perhaps you were there? We stayed with Joe that weekend.

        “Had it been possible they would have walked all the way there. Mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, would have thought nothing of walking to the ends of the earth to escape the death and devastation to which their country had been reduced by the Great Famine. But to get to that haven of refuge where they could survive, they had to go by ship. Such was their desperation, they didn’t care what kind of ship, neither did they care that most of them were to be treated by shipowners and masters not as human beings but as mere cargo. Cargo in which there were fortunes to be made, just as there had been with the slaves. They were taken across the wildest of seas in the humblest of vessels. Livestock dealers would have ensured their export cattle weren’t crowded in the way these humans were on some of the crossings to the Clyde. But even taking your chance on a perilous voyage on one of the vessels they called “coffin ships” was preferable to certain death by starvation or the prospect of a lifetime of drudgery. “Irish : The Remarkable Saga of a Nation and a City” by John Burrowes.

        I hope that every community in Ireland will remember and erect memorials to the people who were starved to death. We have an annual Mass at Carfin to honour our forebears who came to Scotland and left us such a rich legacy.

        I will stop now. I can let you have great websites of organisations in Glasgow who are very active in raising the profile of the Irish in Scotland, and who educate and promote the history of the Irish immigrants.

        Let us remember “An Ghorta Mhór.”

        Le beannacht Dé


        • columcronin September 11, 2009 at 11:39 am #

          Pádraigín, a chara,

          Míle buicas for this most informative and revealing text. Its great to know that the Spirit of the Irish is alive and healthy in Scotland with such an able spokesperson as yourself to represent them. Its interesting to know that the efforts of Conradh na Gaeilge have borne fruit in keeping the language alive in Scotland. I’m afraid that the native tongue is under severe threat in its homeland. So much is being taken for granted here in terms of our cultural heritage. I have often noticed that many of our immigrants who have settled abroad have an appreciation of their cultural heritage above and beyond that of their kith and kin who remain on the home sod. It is heart-warming to see that you have such an appreciation of your “rich legacy”

          Our “Famine” / Great Hunger” was such an absolutely horriffic and regrettable part of our history that it inevitably leaves a residue of so many negative feelings. During that period (as you so well touched on above) in too many instances many people were buried where they fell, on the roadsides, in their haggards, and in many instances within their own homes. Whole families who had died together had their “houses” simply pulled down on top of their unfortunate remains. (Note – Gurranareigh Famine Monument, just ‘east the road’ from here, where a whole small town of inhabitants were buried where they starved to death) The famine burial plot in Kinneigh came to light about a year ago, almost by accident when an elderly local man told me of his school teacher (a renowned historian) telling him in detail how the bodies, sometimes whole families were brought by horse and cart to this plot to be buried. Burials in our area are completely undocumented, suggesting a catastrophie of enormous proportions. Hense our humble memorial to ensure that these unfortunates are not forgotten.

          The “coffin ships” were surely the worst nightmare. One thought – at least your great-grandfather had a short journey relative to those unfortunates who headed across the broad Atlantic Ocean.

          Thanks for your compliments regarding our first book “Coppeen a glimpse of the past” and yes I was editor of that publication. In fact, in answer to your query, we are at present working on our second book. Publication date yet to be decided. If you’d like, subscribe (no charge!) to our website & you’ll be emailed updates on most of our activities as they happen, including book launch, availability etc. You are fortunate to be subscribed to Bandon Historical Society – a wonderful bunch of dedicated able members. I was fortunate to have a large group of them as guests one evening during the “summer” when I guided them on a tour of of our local gems including Kinneigh, Cahirvagliair Ringfort and Knockarierk Stone Circle.

          Interesting to note that you were in Castletown for the Kilmichael Commemorations. I think that was the year when Mary Lou did the honours? Indeed I am there every year. By default, I am part of the church choir who perform at the Mass on that occasion each year. I was in the pub afterwards (Cookies) and I photographed Mary Lou with several “local celebrities”. We are constantly probing the story behind the story of Kilmichael, as we are with Beal na mBlath and all other local happenings.

          Please post up those website addresses, as they may be of interest to many others as well.

          Indeed let us remember “An Ghorta Mhór” along with all the rest.

          Slán go fóil,

          • Pádraigín September 11, 2009 at 12:45 pm #

            Colum, a chara

            Thank you for your e-mail. Garngad, an [Irish] area in Glasgow has a great historical society – each month they publish “An Sceál” which I will forward on to you. Each St Patrick’s Day, the streets are amblazoned with Tricolours and a gigantic banner “An Ghorta Mhór” flies from one of the high buildings. They have really raised the profile of the Irish in Scotland. I am a member of Conradh na Gaeilge – “tá mé ag foghlaim Gaeilge” – and I sing in the choir. When you visit the cnag site, you will see a certificate awarded to a man called Seán Feeney – he teaches me Irish and has been teaching Irish for over 50 years – I am very privileged to be taught by Seán.

            Earlier this year, the choir sang at the Scottish Parliament as part of the celebrations for St Patrick’s Day (we have never had parades or celebrations except within our own community churches). We sang “Oró sé do bheatha Abhaile” and An tAmhrán Náisiúnta” – can you believe it? We have sung twice at Glasgow City Chambers and recently we launched an historical video about the experiences of immigrants who came from Donegal to Glasgow. (I will obtain a copy for you – you will love it). We sing at “famine” Masses, St Patrick’s Day, St Brigid’s Day, and even this week sang two hymns at the funeral of a great Donegal man who came to Scotland in 1955, and has kept the language and culture of his country alive here – Pádraig Gallagher RIP. I would certainly love to have the next book – my husband has read volume (1) over and over – I look forward to that. Here are the websites that you might enjoy.

   (Photos of St Patrick’s Day Mass in Glasgow, article on revisionism in Irish history (another fiery topic to discuss), photograph of An Ghorta Mhór banner.
   – photo of “famine” memorial dedicated by Bertie Aherne.

            We have met Meda Ryan, Seán Kelleher and have attended talks at The Michael Collins Centre in Clonakilty. Meda Ryan is a great writer – I have her books and have followed with interest and disgust Mr Hart’s comments re. Kilmichael – Meda Ryan has certainly put him in his place.

            Till the next time………..

            Le gach dea-ghuí

            • columcronin September 11, 2009 at 6:35 pm #

              Pádraigín, a chara,

              It seems that you are very fortunate to be located within such an active Irish community. I envy you with your teacher Seán Feeney. I am threatning to tackle my poor Irish language problem one of these winters, but something else always seems to take priority. Its interesting to note our common community musical activity.

              Thank you for those web links, will check these out later when I have time. Yes Meda Ryan has written some great books, & I did meet her at Kilmichael last year. Sean Kelleher did a lecture for us last year at Ahilnane, the spot from where the Boys of Kilmichael set out to march to Kilmichael.

              Slán go fóil,

              • Pádraigín September 14, 2009 at 12:30 pm #

                Maidin mhaith!

                We have seen the stone at Ahilnane. We have two great books – “The White Heather Glen” and “Crossbarry”. In one of the books, there is a good photograph of “Denis Cronin”. Any relation Colum? Seán Kelleher was very gracious to us when we went to the Kilmichael Commemoration – his father was a very brave man. It is great to travel around Ireland now and see monuments erected to people like Charlie Hurley and we love visiting the Republican Plots in towns and villages, especially Bandon. I am sending you some information about the Irish in Scotland – I am sure you will enjoy this – you cannot separate what has and is happening in Scotland as a result of An Ghorta Mhór. I hope to see some interesting comments from others soon. NB: Celtic Football Club has a wonderful history – set up by a Marist Brother in 1880 to feed the hungry Irish in Glasgow – some goods books around that you would enjoy.

                Slán go foill


                • columcronin September 14, 2009 at 2:39 pm #

                  Pádraigín, a chara,

                  You are fortunate to have both of those books – great publications. No, that Denis Cronin is no relation, as far as I know. My father had the same name, but he was just 14 years at the time of the ambush. He remembers hearing the shots though. Our home is not far from the ambush site, ‘as the crow flies’ I am really impressed at how pro-active you folk are at organising retention of your Irish cultural heritage in Glasgow. The website addresses you posted recently are a great insight to your activities & I hope others who may read these will also check them out.

                  Slán go fóill,

      • Pádraigín September 11, 2009 at 10:37 am #

        Dia duit aris!

        I have just heard that the SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) are to include Irish immigration to Scotland in their Higher History Paper. The curriculum will include The Reformation, the War of Independence and the Acts of Union. Professor Tom Devine has welcomed this move. However, the SQA have omitted the Highland Clearances (which were very brutal) and this is causing resentment. The teaching of Irish history will not be welcomed by some parents in the non-denominational schools!! Whilst Irish/Scots children left school knowing all about the feudal system in England, 1066, the great “Empire” etc. they knew nothing of the country of their roots. This is good news.

        Margaret Skinnidder said: “Scotland is my home, Ireland is my country.”

        Slán go foill


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