Farmers who marched on Dublin honoured

Posted on: 5th December, 2016

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

Above: West Cork farmers on the march to Dublin in 1966.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Farmers’ Rights March of 1966, the single most important event in the history of the NFA/IFA. On Thursday, October 27, a special ceremony took place at Wolfe Tone Square in Bantry to mark the anniversary of the March and honour those who took part.

In 1966, prices were low for cattle, milk and other products and farmers had limited means for expansion due to poor export markets. Frustrated and angry with their government, the farmers marched.

Starting in Bantry, the march to Dublin culminated in the silent parade of 30,000 farmers through the streets to Government buildings. When the Minister for Agriculture Charles Haughey refused to meet a deputation, a group of nine members of the NFA maintained a protest outside for 21 days until the Minister agreed to meet them.

One of the surviving march veterans is Jim Morris, originally from Drimoleague but now living in Ballydehob. Chair of the Drimoleague/Drinagh branch of the NFA in 1966, Jim recalls the high tension when Charles Haughey refused to meet the farmers. “The late Sean O’Brien was Chairman of the West Cork Region in 1966. Sean was in the FCA for years, reaching the rank of Commandant. With his authoritative voice, he was able to calm the situation. The Garda Superintendent came to Bantry to thank him years later.”

“Rickard Deasy, President of the NFA was inspired by the civil rights marches in the US. He put the idea of a march to Danny Andrew McCarthy in March 1966. A larger-than-life character, Danny insisted that the march start in West Cork,” says Jim.

“Our group of 16 left Bantry on a Friday and walked for 12 days. I sang ‘Come Along’, a Scottish marching song. The first two days were the longest; we covered more than 20 miles in a day. After that we walked around 15 miles each day. In Cork, we were fed and accommodated in farmhouses. From Cahir onwards, we were provided with caravans. Other groups joined us but we held the front the entire time. Myself with James Jerry Mike O’Sullivan from Coomhola carried the Cork NFA banner into Merrion Square. I remember people hanging out of office windows watching us.”

“We got ten pounds to spend between three of us from our own creamery east of Drimoleague,” says Jim. “I was in charge of the money and we came home with change, three and six pence,” he recalls smiling.

Jim Morris (top right) pictured with his wife Sheila and son William at a special ceremony in Bantry in October.

Jim Morris (top right) pictured with his wife Sheila and son William at a special ceremony in Bantry in October.

Sean O’Brien returned home straight after the march, but remained heavily involved, travelling all over West Cork looking for people to join the NFA, before it became the IFA.

Sean kept a diary of the march and before he passed away he gave it to his grandson Shane O’Brien, along with a flyer about farmer’s rights.

The following is Sean’s diary entry from the day the marchers left Bantry in 1966.

* October 7, 1966 – First day of the Walk.

* Left Bantry at 10.15, arrived at Glandart at 11.40. A huge crowd in Bantry. Total of 28 at Glandart. Two men volunteered here, Sean McSweeney and Christy Cronin.

* Reached Castledonovan at 13.20. School children out to meet us. Garda O’Connor at Crossroads.

* Left Castledonovan at 14.15. Arrived in Dunmanway at 16.30. Meal at West End Bar, very well-treated. Left Dunmmanway at 17.30 accompanied by about 100.

* Arrived Manch straight 19.30.

* Arrived in Enniskeane 20.30, 500 people, huge ovation.

* Stayed at Bernie Forbes, Ballymoney, Ballineen.

As can be seen from Sean’s diary, the march took the shortest route out of Bantry via Castledonovan to Dunmanway and the walkers were fed in Castledonovan in the house across from the school, an event many of the pupils there at the time will remember. John Joe O’Donovan, Counkilla together with the late Vin Carey and their helpers gave out soup and sandwiches. John Joe and many other local farmers would have walked to Dublin but were unable to travel due to work commitments.

John Joe was also presented with a commemorative plaque in October for the role he played in helping with the march.

Jim Morris is married to Sheila and the couple have two children, William and Sinead. William has been running the family farm since his parents retired.

Jim has been invited to attend a National Commemoration event in Dublin in December organised by the IFA to honour the surviving veterans of the march.

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.
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This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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