Nowadays, the building above of course is the Bank of Ireland in the square.
Since the Presentation Order arrived in Millstreet in 1840 the Sisters have so very generously provided all-important education at both Primary and Post-Primary level for generations of Millstreet people and beyond. (The very fact that I can type this section of our Millstreet website is entirely thanks to the late Sr. Assisi Fitzgerald, a Presentation Sister from Tralee who spent her religious life in Millstreet Convent and who was a true expert in teaching the art of typing!) Their influence has been enormous on our local community as they shared the Christian vision of their renowned foundress, Nano Nagle.
Our pictures relate to a special commemorative day in the 1980s at Ballygriffin near Mallow, the home of Nano Nagle.
We also view Sr. Celestine near the portrait of Nano.
In 1993 the “Cork Examiner” took the picture of the Millstreet Presentation Community as they watched Niamh Kavanagh win the Eurovision Song Contest.
We extend our heartfelt best wishes to the Presentation Community on the Order’s Feast Day which in on Sunday, 21st November, 2004.
We thank Sr. Mercedes for the following text which provides an excellent insight into the spirit of the Presentation Order:
A Little Girl Grew Here
A little girl grew here
For her, brownstone house was home,
Its fireside love and peace.
The blossoming hedgerows sang freedom,
The rivers told stories of places far away,
While beyond, dreaming mountains called.
(R. Consedine 1983)
Nano Nagle, foundress of the Presentation Congregation
on 24th December, 1775
Nano belongs to Ballygriffin, Mallow, Co. Cork, Ireland. We know that she was born there in 1718, the eldest child in a family of seven of Garrett and Ann Nagle. We remember them now. A plaque marks the place where their home stood, looking out on the very beautiful landscape. It is easy to believe that Nano would have been such a child of wonder as she played there and touched, tasted and smelled the various creations of the natural world around her. It takes little effort to discover that, in the gentle care of her parents, she knew the happiness of childhood and by them she was taught to take her first steps in the love of God (T.J. Walsh). She was of an exuberant, enthusiastic disposition, which proved too much for her mother sometimes! Her father had other thoughts and declared emphatically “Poor Nano will be a saint yet” (Coppinger 1974). It was in Ballygriffin also that Nano was nurtured through the uncertainties, sorrows, risks and dangers of 18th Century Ireland. Must not a seed of grief have taken root in her heart, grief that even one of God’s children should be oppressed, deprived or hungry?
Who are you, little girl Nano?
What will you make of your inheritance?
Where will your heart find its pathway?
The seed sown in Ballygriffin and bearing abundant fruit later in her life, attracted Nano totally to the person of Jesus and revealed how sensitively and deeply affected she became by the awful situation of poverty of people around her. Dr. Coppinger (1784) wrote of her: “In her schools, ever laborious, patient, vigilant and judicious, she studied the dispositions of her pupils, the degree of capacity they possessed; she adapted her instructions accordingly; she watched their countenances which long experience had taught her to read, and proceed or turned back, or explained or repeated, as she found them impressed by what she said”. What great gentleness and compassion from a heart with its roots in her Ballygriffin childhood experience! Her way of relating to the children expresses the spirit of a woman aware of God’s love being poured into the hearts of all people by the Holy Spirit.
Presentation Sisters went “to the ends of the Earth” and responded to basic human problems. Nano died on 26th April, 1784. She had led such a life that it can only be done justice to by saying that it was the Gospels perfectly translated to practice.
Let us continue to pray for her Canonization one day.
by JAMES BUCKLEY
Townland: Kilmeedy East, Co. Cork
Barony: West Muskerry
Kilmeedy tower house is situated within the parish of Drishane and situated “on the confines of the baronies of Magonihy, West Muskerry, and Duhallow”. (Lee, P.G. 1914. Notes on Some Castles of Mid Cork: Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. Guy and Co. Ltd: Cork. vol. 20. p. 63). The builders of the castle were the MacCarthys who were in control of the area at that time and were the owners/builders of such castles as Drishane, Carrigaphooca and Downyne (Healy 1988, 58).
There are conflicting reports regarding the exact date of construction of Kilmeedy tower house. The earliest date of construction is 1436 (Lee 1914, 64) while the latest quoted is 1445 (Lewis 1750, 498). It is fair to say that it was constructed in the early to mid fifteenth century at any rate. The castle is supposed to have been built by Dermot MacCarthy in 1436 or by his son Teige in 1445 (Healy 1988, 58). These were the MacCarthys of Drishane and were father and son and Dermot was the brother of Cormac Làidir of Blarney (Healy 1988, 58).
This tower house was built by the MacCarthys as they wanted to defend the pass of Keim between Musherabeg and Claragh Mountains (Healy 1988, 58). The main road (which it is just located off) was originally called the ‘Mail Coach Road’ and was the main road linking Macroom to Killarney (Lewis 1750, 498).
The castle was inhabited by the MacCarthys of Drishane in 1638. (Healy 1988, 58). During the Cromwellian disturbances, the MacCarthys were dispossessed of Kilmeedy tower house but thanks to the intervention of Lord Muskerry, they regained it (Healy 1988, 58). The MacCarthys lost their lands again after the Williamite times but yet again it reappears in the will of Donagh MacOwen MacCarthy (the centarian) of 1728 (Healy 1988, 58).
The castle was attacked in 1713 by the dispossessed Tadhg O’ Keeffe of Ballymaquirke (Healy 1988, 58). The Sliocht Meirgeach O Mahonys, “chief stewards of MacCarthy Mór” are also said to have had possession of Kilmeedy in the seventeenth century (O’Murchadha, D. 1985. Family Names of County Cork. Glendale Press: Dùn Laoghaire. p.232). One final note to add to this brief history is that in 1651, one of the inhabitants of the castle, Charles MacCarthy was shot dead by a “span’d pistol” at the grate of the castle by a Colonel Ingoldsby (Lee 1914, 64). One last piece of local legend associated with the tower house is that “the golden gates of Kilmeedy are reputed to have been thrown in Comeenatrush (lake) in the neighbouring townland”. (Kiely, E. 2003. Seanchas Duthalla, vol. XIII. Duhallow Historical Society: Cork, p. 45).
Healy, J. N. 1988. The Castles of County Cork. The Mercier Press Limited: Dublin.
Kiely, E. 2003. Seanchas Duthalla, vol. XIII. Duhallow Historical Society: Cork
Lee, P. G. 1914. Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, vol. 20 (Second Series). Guy and Co. Ltd: Cork.
Lewis, S. 1750. A topographical dictionary of Ireland: Volume 1. Kennikat Press: Port Washington.
O’ Murchadha, D. 1985. Family Names of County Cork. Glendale Press: Dùn Laoighaire.
Power, D. 1997. Archaeological Inventory of County Cork, vol. 3: Mid Cork. Stationary Office: Dublin.
Church and Graveyard
Townland: Dromtarriff, Co. Cork.
The history of Dromtarriff church and graveyard is fairly sparse. The placename “Droumtarriffe” is derived from the two Irish words ‘drom’ and ‘tarbh’ meaning the ridge of the bull. (O’Muineachain, T. 1976-1977. Seanchas Duthalla. Duhallow Historical Society: Cork, p. 61). Dromtarriff church was “here listed in the Papal Taxation of 1291 (Hickson 1891, 46)”, as quoted from the inventory (Lane, S. Power, D. 2000. Volume 4, Part II, Entry 14419). Dromtarriff church and graveyard are located in the parish of Dromtarriff which is in the Diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe (Lewis 1837, vol. 1, 509).
Dromtarriff church was burnt in 1652 by the troops of Lord Broggill (Lewis 1837, vol. 1, 509). There is a poem which states that the pikemen first hid in Knockbrack wood, and then ran for sanctuary in Dromtarriff Church – there were some fugitives and local people also in the church. (Shine, D. M. 2003. Seanchas Duthalla, vol. XIII. Duhallow Historical Society: Cork, p. 32). There is a commemorative plaque today within the grounds of the church (see fig. 1) which reads:
Here on 27th of July, 1651
(The day after the Battle of Knockbrack)
Dromtarriffe Church was burnt
By one of Cromwellian Lord Broggill’s Officers
Known as Butcher Maxwell
Approximately 400 persons perished in the fire”.
Therefore it can be established that the church was burnt with tragic loss of life during the Cromwellian era. N.B. there is a difference of a year between the date given by Lewis (1837) and by the commemorative plaque (which was erected on the 6th of May 2006). One last point of interest is that there was a church burnt in Kilcorney (a few miles away) also following the battle of Knockbrack by the same people. (Tarrant, C. 1986. Seanchas Duthalla. Duhallow Historical Society: Cork, p. 56). The church is no longer extant but the crossroads is still to this day called the old chapel cross.
Lane, S. Power, D. et Al. 2000. Archaeological Inventory of County Cork, vol. 4: North Cork Part 2. The Stationary Office: Dublin (Entry 14419)
Lewis, S. 1837. A topographical dictionary of Ireland, vol. 1. Lewis and Co.: London
O’Muineachain, T. 1976-1977. Seanchas Duthalla. Duhallow Historical Society: Cork
Shine, D. M. 2003. Seanchas Duthalla, vol. XIII. Duhallow Historical Society: Cork
Tarrant, C. 1986. Seanchas Duthalla. Duhallow Historical Society: Cork
Townland: Coolnagillagh Lower, Co. Cork.
Written information on this fort is virtually non existent. Pat Kelliher mentions a fort in the glen, three or fourfeet higher than the surrounding surface and concludes that this is the fort’s surface. (Broker, T. 1937. Sràid an Muilinn: A history of it’s people, by it’s people, for it’s people. Timothy Broker, Millstreet, Co. Cork: Millstreet, p. 47). Broker claims (pg. 42) that the forts were abandoned around 1350 A.D. at the time of the Black Death. The only other information obtained was (from the landowner) that there are three ringforts (including this one) which are supposedly constructed in a line and are linked underground by passageways.
‘Coolnagillagh’ is the anglicised version of ‘Cùl na Coileach’. This translates as Cockhill. (http://www.englishirishdictionary.com/dictionary). The townland Coolnagillagh (Lower) is known locally by its English translation, Cockhill. There was a query lodged in the Cork Memoranda (II) over the townland name, i.e. the surveyor was unsure whether to call the townland Cockhill Upper or Coolnagillagh Upper. Coolnagillagh Upper was chosen as the official name.
Broker, T. 1937. Sràid an Muilinn: A history of it’s people, by it’s people, for it’s people. Timothy Broker, Millstreet, Co. Cork: Millstreet.
Townland: Knocknakilla, Co. Cork.
Barony: West Muskerry
All the information for this section was sourced from the book: (Broker, T. 1937. Sràid an Muilinn: A history of its people, by its people, for its people. Timothy Broker, Millstreet, Co. Cork: Millstreet, p. 27).
The placename Knocknakilla was a source of dispute according to Broker’s book. It is outlined in the below quote:
“The Professor, however states that the name of the townland is Cnoc na Coille, not Cnoc na Cille. Not correct. On the other hand, Borlase who knew it was Cnoc na Cille, said the gallàn group was the Cill. Wrong again. The Cill was in Denis Buckley’s farm where a disused graveyard marks the site of an early Christian foundation”. Today, Denis Buckley’s farm is part of Millstreet Country Park – it is unknown today that there was such a cemetery – a good deal of his farm is in forestry.
The large outlying stone is called ‘Gallan Croum’ and there is supposed to be the print of fingers on it. (Broker, T. 1937, p. 27). Borlase called the large outlying standing stone ‘Dallan-crom-na-thittim’ (Broker, T. 1937, p. 27). “Margaret Kelleher (born 1795) of Ballyvourney, who married into the townland, said it was father and mother (thrown down) and five children” (Broker, T. 1937. Sràid an Muilinn: A history of its people, by its people, for its people. Timothy Broker, Millstreet, Co. Cork: Millstreet, p. 27).
There is a standing stone which measures six foot in height and five/six feet in girth in Con Lehane’s land in Abha Bàn, two miles off – this is said to have been thrown from Gallàn Croum in Knocknakilla by a giant (Broker, T. 1937, p.31).
Broker, T. 1937. Sràid an Muilinn: A history of its people, by its people, for its people. Timothy Broker, Millstreet, Co. Cork: Millstreet.
Townland: Lackdotia, Cork.
Barony: West Muskerry
History and traditions:
Lackdotia in itself is an unusual placename. The most satisfactory sources regarding the origins of the placename were to be found online. The best that can be fournished as regards a translation from “Leaca Doite” is “the flagstone” (http://www.booksulster.com/library/plnm/placenamesVocL.php) “of fire” (http://www.englishirishdictionary.com/dictionary) or “the side of a hill” (http://www.booksulster.com/library/plnm/placenamesVocL.php) “of fire” http://www.englishirishdictionary.com/dictionary).
According to Broker, “Gallàn, 4 feet high and 5 feet in girth. A couple of feet outside it were 6 or 7 smaller stones arranged in a circle. Smaller stones were removed by James Kelliher in 1915 when ploughing. Smaller stones were like flags, 2 feet under and 2 feet over the ground. Circle was 6 or 7 feet in diameter”. (Broker, T. 1937. Sraid an Muilinn: A history of its people, for its people by its people for its people. Timothy Broker, Millstreet, Co. Cork: Millstreet. p. 28). The fact that there was a circle of flagstones around the standing stone links in with the first suggestion for the origin of the placename (the fire aspect may link to the idea of the gallàn as a sundial) but that is open to interpretation.
Broker, T. 1937. Sraid an Muilinn: A history of its people, for its people by its people for its people. Timothy Broker, Millstreet, Co. Cork: Millstreet
Townland: Mushera, Co. Cork.
Barony: West Muskerry
“Two wells in commonage of Mushera mountain – one at the top (for cattle) and one at the foot (for Christians). Not many go to the top well but five or six hundred come to the foothill well…Both wells are called ‘Tobar na bhFaithní’, warts being cured by washing in them”. (Broker, T. 1937. Sràid an Muilinn: A history of its people, by its people, for its people. Timothy Broker, Millstreet, Co. Cork: Millstreet. p. 35).
St. Johns Well was founded by Michael Buckley of Aubane in 1954 (O’Brien, 1987, p. 8). It is said locally that when Michael Buckley died (1956), a light travelled down from the site of the well along the path he took (when travelling to it) and came to rest on the bridge in front of the house. The light then disappeared – a lot of people in Aubane are said to have seen it.
St. John’s Well has been a place of worship since pre Christian times according to O’Brien. According to a legend, this St. John had one brother and three sisters; Lasair, Inghean Bhuide and Latiaran (of Cullen), and St. Berihert (who founded a monastery at the defeated stronghold of druids at Tullylease) (O’Brien, M. 1987. St. John’s Well. St. John’s Holy Well Committee: Aubane, p. 7/8). According to O’Brien, their feast days more or less match those of the pagan celtic deities, St. John’s being Midsummers day, the 24th of June. This would suggest that the well may have had significance in pagan times.
There was a pattern day held up to the year c. 1940 – it consisted of tents set up about a mile and a half away from the well on the Macroom side in the townland of Moulnahourna. There is said to have been entertainment (e.g. three card tricks), sweet and cake stalls, porter stalls and even fights, sometimes involving factions. (O’Brien, M. 1987. St. John’s Well. St. John’s Holy Well Committee: Aubane, p. 8).
To sum up the recent history of the well, (as already mentioned) it was founded in 1954 by Michael Buckley. In 1958, there was a statue of the Infant of Prague placed at the well and it was blessed by Canon Costello of Millstreet. Mass was first celebrated at the well in 1974 and has been celebrated annually ever since. The Stations of the Cross were erected and blessed in the eighties. (O’Brien, M. 1987. St. John’s Well. St. John’s Holy Well Committee: Aubane, p. 8/9). The site is continuously been kept to this day by the St. John’s Well Committee.
Broker, T. 1937. Sràid an Muilinn: A history of its people, by its people, for its people. Timothy Broker, Millstreet, Co. Cork: Millstreet
O’Brien, M. 1987. St. John’s Well. St. John’s Holy Well Committee: Aubane
Megalithic Tomb (Wedge Tomb)
Townland: Carrigonirtane, Co. Cork.
Carrigonirtane: from the Irish Carrig an Fheartàin which means ‘Rock of the little vault or trench’. (O’ Connell, 1988. p. 143).
As well as giving the name to the townland, the monument has given its name to the field which it is located in, i.e. “Phile a’ Chalir”. (O’ Connell, 1988. p. 140). This (according to O’ Connell) has something to do with the fact that the megalithic (wedge) tomb is shaped like a table.
O’Connell, D. 1988. Tales of the Foherish Valley. Kerry’s Eye Printing Works: Tralee.
This window was in the old church. It consists of two sections which coalesce to form one scene – the Ordination of a priest. The window is in remembrance of Rev. Jerome Harding who died on 16 Nov. 1876, aged only 28 years. He was curate in Cahirciveen but his people were from Millstreet. His remains were brought to Millstreet for burial and it was a massive funeral. The inscription at the foot of the window reads: “in memoriam reverendi jeremiae harding: obiit die novembris decimasexta mdccclxxvi” (“In memory of Rev. Jerome Harding; he died 16th Nov. 1876”). [read more …] “Stained Glass Window – Ordination of a Priest”
Oliver Plunket (East Aisle – first window on left up from door): St. Patricks Church, Millstreet
Oliver Plunket (1625-1681) was appointed archbishop of Armagh in 1669. The special cross he is holding in his left hand is a patriarchal or archiepiscopal cross. He was one of only two Catholic bishops in Ireland at that time and as a result he had a huge work-load – within the first few months of his appointment, he confirmed 10,000 people. He had good relations with the Protestant clergy and gentry. However, the panic caused by the false allegations of Titus Oates in 1678 resulted in his arrest. He was charged in Dundalk with plotting to bring 20,000 French soldiers into Ireland. He was imprisoned in Newgate in England until 1681. There was no basis whatever for the allegations brought against him but he wasn’t given time or opportunity to defend himself. He wrote a most interesting letter from prison a few days before his execution: “Sentence of death was passed against me on the fifteenth. It has not caused me the least terror or deprived me of even a quarter of an hour’s sleep. I am as innocent of all treason as the child born yesterday. As for my character, profession and function, I did own it publicly, and that being also a motive of my death, I die most willingly. And being the first among the Irish, I shall, with God’s grace, give good example to the others not to fear death. I expect daily to be brought to the place of execution where my bowels are to be cut out and burned before my face, and then my head to be cut off.” This is the barbaric death he suffered in Tyburn on 1st July 1684 – it is indicated in the lower part of the window. When this window was made, Oliver Plunket was “Blessed” but he was canonized in 1976 and his feast is on 1st July.
(The inscription at the foot of the window reads: “Erected to the memory of Denis and Margaret Crowley of Millstreet by their son Cornelius. 1944”)
by Msgr. M. Manning, P.P., V.G.
The stained glass window was made by Clement Watson & Co of Youghal, one of three Watson windows in St.Patrick’s Church [ref]
The stained glass window was erected by Cornelius D. Crowley (1879-1972), of Finnstown House, Lucan, Co Dublin, Roscrea, Co Tipperary, and originally from Coole House, Millstreet. He was anxious to be remembered in his native Millstreet, and so in 1944 erected this window (and another at the same time) to his parents, Denis and Maria Crowley, in Saint Patrick’s Church, Millstreet, in 1944.
“At that time, Finnstown House was the home of my Great Uncle Con and Great-Aunt Hannah. Cornelius D. Crowley (1879-1972), of Finnstown House, Lucan, Co Dublin, and Roscrea, Co Tipperary, was originally from Millstreet, Co Cork. He was one of my great-uncles, a brother of my grandmother, Maria (Crowley) Murphy (1882-1953) of Millstreet, Co Cork.
For many years Con Crowley was a director of the Roscrea Meat Company with his brother Jeremiah D. Crowley of Wallstown Castle, Castltownroche, Co Cork – the other directors included Robert Briscoe TD and G Fasenfeld. After World War II, Con Crowley” – by Patrick Comerford
On Sunday 27th August, IRD Duhallow hosted a Heritage Information Trail on the side of Mushera mountain in conjunction with the National Heritage Week. It was unfortunate that the timing clashed with a number of other events in the area, but all the same a nice but truthly interested group showed on what was a lovely sunny afternoon. It was a really simple but effective idea to stop at a local place of heritage, discuss, and move onto the next one. We visited the Kerrymans Table and Jack Lane talked about the Butter Road, it’s past history, it’s current working role and it’s role for the future. From there we moved to St Johns Well where Monsignor Manning and Jack Roche talked about it’s history, importance and a few stories of its past. Then onto the Country Park where Donie Howard led the group through the walk that remembers people of local and national importance, and the effect they had on the area. Finally, enough of the history and there were plenty of refreshments provided in the visitors centre of the Country Park.
Thanks especially to Helen O’Sullivan who organised and and sponsored the day on behalf of IRD Duhallow.
*Monsignor Manning, John Kelleher and John Sheehan listening to Jack Lane
*Jack Lane talks about the history and the hopes for the future of the butter road.
*Some of the intestered audience on what was actually a lovely sunny day
*Jack Roche from IRD Duhallow who organised the information trail
*Jack Lane spoke about the origins of St Johns Well and also the other two wells on the mountain. There were other stories of interest told also.
*Donie Howard speaking in the Country Park
*Jack Roche outlining the achievements and importance of TK Whitaker
The Aubane National School, which is now Aubane Community Centre, was built in 1912 and was opened in 1913. It was one building with four separate rooms divided into a girls’ and boys’ school. The school closed in 1974 due to falling numbers. The school was then taken over in 1975 by the Aubane Social Club. The Community Centre now holds many different events like the weekly set dancing on Monday nights.
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