The mysterious woman on the plaque……

Have you ever heard of Annie M.P. Smithson?

I hadn’t until our Guided Heritage Walk on 19th August last brought us past her former temporary residence – a small cottage near Kilnasoolagh Church of Ireland chuch in Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare.

A few of us stopped outside the wall of the cottage as we were intrigued by a concrete plaque which hung on the wall of the cottage which read “Chónaigh ANNIE M.P. SMITHSON Údar agus Banaltra anseo 1907 – 1910”.  For those who don’t speak Irish (or those that have forgotten it from your school days) it reads “ANNIE M.P. SMITHSON Author and Nurse lived here 1907 – 1910”

I took a photo of this plaque so that I could do a little bit of research on this lady and her link to the area. I must admit I was a little in awe when I started doing some research on this lady and her fascinating life.

Annie Mary Patricia Smithson was an Irish novelist, poet and Nationalist. She was born into a Protestant family in Sandymount in Dublin in September 1873.

Her mother and father were first cousins and her father died when she was young. About 1881 her mother married her second husband, Peter Longshaw, who owned a chemical factory in Warrington in Lancashire. As a result Smithson lived for a number of years in England. She disliked her stepfather and referred to him always as Mr Longshaw. There were five children from this marriage.

She was christened Margaret Anne Jane, but took the names Anne Mary Patricia (Annie M.P.) on her conversion to Catholicism.  She converted to Catholicism in March 1907 and became a fervent Republican and Nationalist. She became a member of Cumann na mBan and campaigned for Sinn Féin in the 1918 general election.

Smithson always had dreams of becoming a journalist but abandoned this ambition in order to train as a nurse and a midwife. She trained in London and Edinburgh, before returning to Dublin in 1900. In 1901 she took up a post as district nurse in Millton, Co. Down. There she fell in love with her colleague Dr James Manton, a married man. Deciding that a relationship was impossible, she left Millton in 1906. They kept up a correspondence until her conversion to Catholicism in 1907, when she burnt his letters.

 

She was Secretary and Organiser of the Irish Nurses Organisation from 1929 to 1942. She wrote for the Irish Nurses’ Magazine and edited the Irish Nurses Union Gazette.

In 1917 she published her first novel, Her Irish Heritage, which became a best-seller. It was dedicated to those who died in the Easter Rising of 1916. Smithson published many journal articles but is best known for her romantic novels which have a strong Nationalist tone. In all, she published twenty novels and two short story collections. Other successful novels included By Strange Paths and The Walk of a Queen. Many of her works are highly romantic and draw on her own life experiences, with nationalism and Catholicism featuring as recurrent themes. In 1944 she published her autobiography, Myself – and Others.

From 1932 onwards she shared a house in Rathmines, Dublin with her stepsister and her stepsister’s family. She died on 21 February 1948 of heart failure at 12 Richmond Hill, Dublin and was buried in Whitechurch, County Dublin. What an amazing life she led….and she lived in Newmarket-on-Fergus.

Just goes to show, you never know the history you are passing by when you are out for a walk!

Tulla Famine Walk – back by popular demand!

Join us on 22nd September to walk the places around Tulla associated with the Famine and hear about the effects of the Famine on our parish.
This 7km guided walk will pass some of the buildings that played important roles in the Famine in Tulla and you will hear about some of the people in Tulla who tried to assist those in need.
Following the success of the Tulla Famine Walk in August as part of Tulla Weekend of the Welcomes, we have decided to host this event again as part of the Clare Walks Ltd. walking weekend.
Meeting Point: Tulla Library. Registration from 1:30pm with walk starting at 2pm. Parking is available throughout the village.
The walk will take approximately 90 minutes and light refreshments will be served afterwards.
This walk is free of charge with an optional donation.
All monies raised will go towards the future maintenance and upkeep of the East Clare Way & the Mid Clare Way walking routes.

For further details contact us on 065 683 5912 or 086 358 6293
info@clarewalks.ie

The walk is being organised by Clare Walks Ltd and all research for this guided walk was carried out with thanks to Jane Halloran, Dalcassian Origins & Tulla Reaching Out.

Dawn Walk on Ballycuggaran

Leaving Two-Mile-Gate (Ballycuggaran Blue Flag Beach), Killaloe at 6:30am, we will follow the Ballycuggaran Looped Walk and climb to a height of approx. 250 metres.
At the highest point of this looped walk with the beautiful expanse of Lough Derg beneath us, we will watch the sun rise.
This walk is being organised to coincide with the Autumn Equinox (There are two equinoxes every year – in September and March – when the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal).
Afterwards we will continue on the looped walk returning to the start point. The looped walk follows forest road, forest track and minor road through dense forest and open hillside. Parts of this walk can be strenuous. Please wear suitable footwear, suitable clothing and bring a torch, fluid and a light snack.

€5 pp.  All monies raised will go towards the future maintenance and upkeep of the East Clare Way & the Mid Clare Way walking routes.

Active Agers head to Connolly

The sun shone down on Connolly last Thursday as our Active Agers descended on the village to walk the newly developed Cloontabonniv Bog.

The walk started at Carney’s Pub, just outside the village. We would like to say a huge thanks to Julie who opened up especially for us and who provided very welcome cups of tea and coffee and sweet treats on our return.

We were joined on the walk by a large number of committee members from Connolly who have been, and are still, involved in the development of this bog walk to make it an accessible amenity and also to preserve it for future generations. It has certainly been a labour of love for this group over the last number of years.  The stories we heard on route, from people who came to this bog as children, to the history of the bog and the families who worked it, made the morning all the more enjoyable for the walkers. A neighbour on the route even picked plums from the tree in his garden for us, and they were possibly the sweetest I have ever tasted.

With stunning views of Mount Callan, surrounded by forestry, with streams running down the side of the road, we crossed over the start of the Inagh River and a even had a quick stop to watch a baby frog crossing the road – this was certainly a walk in nature. We all agreed that it was a very enjoyable walk.

Well done to all involved in the Cloontabonniv Bog.

 

Great turn out for Tulla Famine Walk (& we didn’t get wet!!!)

Over 60 people joined us in Tulla on Thursday evening last for the Tulla Famine Week. This guided historical walk was jointly organised by Tulla Reaching Out and Clare Walks Ltd. to celebrate Heritage Week 2018. Jane Halloran, Dalcassian Origins, provided the historical information for this Famine Walk.

The walk started outside Tulla Library and provided information on the people and buildings associated with the Great Famine 1845 – 1849 in Tulla.

We heard of Fr. Patrick Sheehy, the Parish Priest of Tulla during the Famine and his Church of Ireland counterpart, Rev. Richard Brew who joined forces and seemed to put aside their religious differences to try and ease the suffering of the people of Tulla.

The route took us passed the site of the former Coffin House on Main Street, where coffins for those who died during and after the Famine were made;    The Soup (or Souper) School, a small Church of Ireland school which at its height, had about 160 Church of Ireland and Catholic pupils in 1846 & 1847.  During the Famine, many children attended the school as by doing so, they were also entitled to a free meal; Tulla Courthouse, which was erected in 1838 and was the main judicial building for the Tulla district for almost 163 years.  During the Famine, cases were heard for those accused of stealing.    However, the Courthouse was also used for the meetings for the Tulla Poor Relief Committee; Tulla Bridewell or Gaol (now Minogue’s Bar) throughout the 1800’s was the building where prisoners were often kept overnight to appear in court the following day and also prisoners who were due to be transported to a new country as punishment for their crime would have been held here overnight.

The final part of the walk brought the group down to the  entrance gates of the former Tulla Workhouse. The Workhouse was completed on 22 February 1850 and started to take in the impoverished people of the area  in 1852. Within several months of opening, it was overcrowded.  These conditions continued to persist for several years. The high stone walls and galvanised gates guard the spot where the workhouse once stood – only one small pillar marking a former entrance and a very eerie tree remain inside the gate today.

On our return to Tulla we were treated to a welcome rest in Minogue’s and an even more welcome cup of tea and biscuits.We would like to thank Minogue’s bar for making their facilities available.

Again, we would like to say a huge thank you to all who joined the Tulla Famine Walk and we are already looking at ideas for future historic walks on the East Clare and the Mid Clare Way walking routes, so make sure to keep an eye on this website or follow us on Facebook.

 

A fantastic day on one of our newest Looped Walks

It’s not often in this country that we are worried about walking 7km in such heat but this happened us recently with our Guided Walk for Active Agers from Tulla on 28th June.

Despite the heat, even at the early start time of 10:30am, 12 brave walkers joined us at our office in Tulla armed with sun-cream and bottles of water to walk the Cloondorney Looped walk. This loop took us from Tulla along the banks of Cloondorney Lake and we returned  to Tulla on a track which was previously only used to get access to the bog.

Up until recently this track was waterlogged and impassable by foot in some parts. However, with grant funding through the Outdoor Recreation Scheme administered through Clare County Council, we were able to do some repair work to this route which has now created a fantastic 7km looped walk which follows quiet county roads, forestry and bogland. We were glad of the gentle breeze while walking along the banks of Cloondorney Lake, which is 40 acres in area and holds most species of coarse fish.

Welcome cups of tea & coffee and some fresh baked scones from Flappers Restaurant in the Clare Walks office on our return gave us a great opportunity to have a chat and cool down.

The next Guided walk for Active Agers will take place on Thursday 26th July @ 11am (Route TBC).

 

 

Beautiful weather, beautiful scenery and tea & scones for €3.50!

What a beautiful day we had for our Active Agers walk yesterday in the lovely village of Whitegate in East Clare.  22 walkers took off from The Half Barrell following the Auld Road, a 7km looped walk, towards Dereney Bridge, with a brief stop at the ancient burial ground here, which was used up until 1943.

Continuing on from here, we were out of the shade previously provided by the trees and we were starting to get hot. But it was well worth it to be out on such a beautiful day. We concurred that we have seen enough rain this year to give out about the heat.

We were treated to tea/coffee and scones in the Half Barrel on our return which was very welcome, and we all agreed, was great value – a cup of tea or coffee (including a top up) and a scone with jam and cream, all for €3.50. I think we’ll be back to Whitegate for another walk soon.

Thanks to the staff in the Half Barrel for allowing us to use their facilities before and after the walk.

The next walk is planned for Thursday 28th June in Tulla.

See you then!

 

 

Active Agers head to Kilmaley

The rain did not stop the 20 enthusiastic walkers who headed off from Kilmaley GAA club last Thursday for a 7.5km looped walk, taking a brief detour to see the stunning cascades.

A huge thanks to our group member Gerry O’Malley for helping to plan the walk and also a huge thanks to the Kilmaley GAA club for allowing us to use the complex for a much needed hot cuppa on our return.

Our next walk will take place on Thursday 31st May in Whitegate in East Clare.

 

“Heaven on Earth”

16 eager walkers put on their hiking boots last Saturday, 21st April, to ‘Battle Ballycuggaran’ – a 6km looped walk along part of the East Clare Way.

This guided walk was organised to highlight and promote the activities available on/near the Lough Derg Blueway. The Blueways in Ireland are a set of multi activity trails and sites which are closely linked with the water. The Lough Derg Blueway encompasses a series of Blueway paddling trails with many complimentary walking and cycling trails.

The Ballycuggaran Looped Walk  starts at Two-Mile-Gate, just outside Killaloe. The walk follows forest road, forest track and minor road through dense forest and open hillside on the shoulders of Feenlea Mountain and Crag. The beautiful expanse of Lough Derg lies below you.

It would not have been possible to have better weather for this walk. The sun shone down, there was hardly a cloud in the sky and the views were spectacular.

It was such an enjoyable walk that I think we will have to organise another guided walk at some stage during the Summer months, so watch this space! However, if you would like to try this walk yourself, here is a link to a map of the walk.