More than 50 hardy souls gathered in Donaghpatrick graveyard in Caherlistrane last week (April 17 ) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Achill’s Eva O’Flaherty, born just across the fields from her final resting place in Lisdonagh House in 1874.
Now run as a sophisticated, cosy, guesthouse by owners John and Finola Cooke, the beautifully restored Georgian manor acted as a welcome shelter from the elements after Bridie Gannon had unveiled the imposing memorial stone. It was carved by Declan Jennings, organised by Brendan Gannon, worded in Irish by Con McCole and in English by Mary J Murphy, and blessed by Fr Pat O’Brien, PP, Caherlistrane.
Vinny Judge, Paul Walsh, Martin Kennedy, Colm Byrne and Peter Walsh did a magnificent job of renovating the ivy-clad O’Flaherty vault and it is now one of the most captivating features in the ancient graveyard, thanks to all of the sponsors whose financial support enabled the project to go ahead.
Eva O’Flaherty, the subject of a recent book by Mary J Murphy, was an intellectual, a patron of the arts, a milliner, a member of Cumann na mBan, and a businesswoman, and will probably be best remembered for having co-founded Scoil Acla in 1910 and for running St Colman’s Knitting Industries on Achill Island for 50 years. Members of the cheerfully sodden crowd in Donaghpatrick included an enthusiastic Achill contingent with direct links to Ms O’Flaherty – they were retired Dooagh national school principal John McNamara (who revived Scoil Acla in 1985 ) and his wife Mary, also a retired teacher; Diarmuid Gielty, current chairperson of Scoil Acla; and sculptor John McHugh, who now lives with his family in Eva O’Flaherty’s old home on the island. After the ceremonies were concluded the guests retired to nearby Lisdonagh House where they were treated to a delicious, elegant home-cooked repast, an astounding act of generosity that Eva O’Flaherty herself would surely have approved of.
Others in the happily drenched crowd on the day included Anne Tierney from the Old Tuam Society; Margaret Garvey from Tuam Library; a delegation from Castlehackett national school that included Peadar, Marie-Anne, Ciarán, Joanne, and Gráinne Monaghan; Gerard, Morgan, Mason, and Minette Glynn; Aoife Neilan; Martina and Ronan Cunningham; Teresa McHugh, Donaghpatrick; Pattie O’Neill; Billy Connelly; local historian Anna McHugh and Kevin McHugh; Declan Jennings; Vinny Judge; John and Imelda Tierney; Brendan and Phil Gannon; Ann Harrington; brothers Jimmy and Patsy Comer, who helped bury Eva O’Flaherty in 1963; Margaret Kyne, Caherlistrane Community Council; Ann Walsh, Knockroon school; Tom Dowd; Declan Barron from Ennis, an expert on the history of the O’Gormans, Eva’s maternal ancestors; May Keane; Teresa Darcy; Bernadette Murphy, Carnmore; Mike Hyland; Tom McCabe; Mary Margaret McDermott and many others.