Aubane comes the Gaelic Abha Ban, white river, which indicates as townland names usually do, an essential topographical feature. The Aubane River flows through the countryside of Aubane. The white refers to the whiteness resulting from the shallowness as it is near its source and flowing over the rocks and stones. But no doubt a very regular feature and it was this flooding that provided the fertile soil for the valley. There is an inexhaustible supply of this soil to be had from its source in Mushera Mountain. The meandering part of the river has therefore in a real sense created Aubane. The Aubane River into a black river, the Blackwater. Aubane is situated three miles from Millstreet Town. The townland is very much a farming community.
The Townland of Aubane can boost many tourist attractions such as the following: -The Kerrymans’s table is a large flat rock situated on the Old Kerry Road or the Old Butter Road as it was previously known, four miles from Millstreet on the road to Rylane exactly mid-way between Killarney and Cork City, 25 miles on either side. It is also about 25 miles from Castleiland, a very important market town for the farmers of Kerry in bygone days. If one were to look at a map you will notice that Castleiland, Millstreet and the top of Blarney Street where the Butter Market wa situated, form a straight line “as the crow flies.”
Long ago people from Kerry travelled this route on their way to Cork with horse and cart taking firkins of butter to the Cork Butter Market. This rock is reported to be the place where they stopped and refreshed themselves and rested their horses. It was also a collection point where people who did not have adequate means of transport brought their living transporting the butter to Cork and returning with hardware for the shops in Millstreet, Rathmore etc.
Before 1736, Millstreet Town consisted only of an Inn, a Mill and five small Cabins. A hundred years later it had one long street with several smaller ones diverging from it and contained 312 houses, the majority of which were small but well built. Situated on the south side of the Blackwater, amidst the lofty mountains of Muskerry, Millstreet derived its principal support from being a great thoroughfare on the road form Cork to Killarney and Castleisland and on that form Mallow to Kenmare.
The advent of the Railway did much to halt the development of Millstreet as the landlords of the time. unsure of its impact, kept the line well north of the town. When roads were developed at the beginning of this century by the first native governments both the Cork-Kerry road and the Kerry-Dublin road bypassed the town and halted its growth as a commercial centre. In May 1998 Mr Michael Kelleher formerly of Aubane and New York unveiled a plaque at the Kerrymans Table during the Butter Road Commemoration Weekend.
St John’s Well Mushera
St John’s Well is 3km from Aubane
Like most holy wells, St John’s Well has a large amount of tradition and legend, which has been passed on from father to son. The well on top of Mushera has always been known as a well for cattle where herdowners prayed for the health and prosperity of their hers. The well on the Kilcorney side has little tradition that we know of except that it moved from one side of the road to the other at some stage in its history. The well on the Millstreet side has been and still is reputed for its cure of warts. These wells like many others are almost certainly of pagan origin and were Christianised over time. Pre-Christian man paid homage to water and in many places it was held sacred to the gods. The early saints in an effort to exorcise any evil forces believed to be active in the water blessed numerous springs and wells throughout Ireland thus consecrating them to the Christian God. However, the pagan rituals never Quite disappeared, instead they were absorbed into Christian practices, and a still evident example of this can be seen in the widespread practice of bringing gifts of offerings of cups, coins, medals etc. to the holy wells.
June 24th is of course Midsummers’s Day, the feast of the nativity of St. John the Baptist. Although it may seem strange that a saint on the Boggeragh Mountains should share the same name and feast day as John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus, it is necessary to remember that the concept of a calender year held little relevance for the pagan or early Christian Irish, and that Midsummers’s Day itself daters back to an era long before Christianity. Midsummer Day, the summer solstice marks the point where the sun turns and retraces its path in the sky, starting the decline, and in doing so beginning the gradual shortening of daylight. The awareness of what the solstice heralded must have filled the hearts of pagan man with fear and terror, and he may have believed that by lighting fires to honour the sun he might prevent its decline of daylight, keeping darkness at bay. Midsummer held a symbolic importance for primitive man, and Christianity absorbed this mystical quality in it’s celebration of the day, the result is a merging of the two beliefs, the ancient pagan ritual of the festival of light, and the Christian celebration of the nativity of St John, both observed on Midsummer’s Day.
In 1954, a mad who is long since dead, Michael Buckley of Aubane bought a picture of St. John and placed it on the grotto early on St John’s Day. The late Sonny Buckley, Tullig, Millstreet who called later in the day to pay his round decided to make a timber altar to protect the picture. Even this did not seem to be enough to provide permanent protection for such a delicate object in such a windswept site. A committee mainly of people from the Aubane area was formed and a few pounds put together for the purpose of building the centre grotto, completely by voluntary labour. The altar containing the picture of St John was placed inside this stone grotto and the picture lasted until quite recently.
In 1958, a statue of St John was purchased and placed in the centre grotto. Again with voluntary labour two side grottos were erected, one contained the altar with the original picture and the other an altar with a statue of the Infant of Prague. The statue of St John was blessed in 1958 by Canon Costello of Millstreet. The first Mass at the grotto was celebrated on 24th June 1974 and has been celebrated every year since.
The late Sonny Buckley had great faith in St John’s Well and often spoke of erecting Stations of the Cross in the vicinity of the Well. When he died in 1979, he left £500 in his will towards the erection.
Many of the old committee including Sonny Buckley were then dead so a new committee was formed with the task of carrying our Sonny’s wishes.
A fund was opened and it would be appropriate at this stage to pay tribute to the very large number of people who subscribed so generously, because without their help it would have been impossible to carry out the job intended. The Forestry Department was very helpful in many ways, indeed we had to have its permission to erect the Stations it the first place! The Stations were designed by Liam Cosgrove of Blackpool in Cork city, but before they could be erected a great deal of work had to be done. First fourteen concrete slabs were made in which the Stations were encased. Then the bulldozer made the ground ready and with limestone from Ballygiblin the work got under way. Voluntary labour again played a very large part with most of the building being done by John Kelleher and Brendan Kelleher. Completing the erection was no easy task because it had to be done in peoples’ spare time, however the stations were completed and all involved felt a great sense of achievement at the result.
Very many people come to the well throughout the year especially on Sundays. A Faith and Light group visited in 1985 and some of them acted out the Passion and Death of Our Lord. It was a very moving ceremony. At St John’s Well there is also a cure for warts, it is believed that warts disappear by cleansing your hand in the water.
Millstreet Country Park is also an attraction situated about 3.5 km from Aubane Cross. Further information. Go to www.millstreetcountrypark.ie
There is also a song about Aubane, which is called The Lane of Sweet Aubane
The Lane of Sweet Aubane
Come all you loyal comrades, come listen for a while
Till I relate the praises of a spot in Erin’s Isle
It’s there I saw the daylights first when around me it did dawn
On the lovely little valley ‘round the lane of sweet Aubane
To leave that spot will break my heart and to cross o’er the raging main
And to leave behind, my parent’s kind whose tears will fall like rain
But when we land on the American shore there‘ll be cheers by each and all
For those young brave young rattling hero from the Lane of sweet Aubane
There’s many a handsome cailin around those pleasant glens
Their voices sweet and melodious you’d hear the valley ring
They will ring the valley from the dark until early dawn
Those handsome pretty colleens from the Lane of sweet Aubane