The clan is coming together in Kinsale from September 13th and 15th and has put together an impressive line-up of events set to attract Crowleys and their friends from near and far.
Details were outlined at an enjoyable launch in clan taoiseach Jerry Crowleyâ€™s Crossmahon Bar near Bandon recently by PRO Liam Crowley and among the guests, all the way from Paris, was tanaiste Michael Pat Crowley who has written a book about the clan.
The Crowleys, said Liam were a branch of the McDermotts from Connacht whose bravery in the the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, according to The Annals, was seen by the High King of Ireland, Brian Boru himself. He was so impressed by one that he gave him the name â€˜O Chruadhlaoichâ€™ meaning â€˜Hardy Warriorâ€™.
The Oâ€™Crowleys, Liam continued, were noted for their fighting skills, mainly as mercenary soldiers on the side of clans along the west of Ireland and by the mid 1400â€™s settled and became well established in West Cork. The ancestral castle and tower at Ahakeera, four miles north of Dunmanway is believed to date from the 16th century. It is located in a beautiful setting at the bottom of the valley instead of on high ground, which would indicate their self confidence. The O Crowleyâ€™s were allies of the McCarthyâ€™s and Oâ€™Mahonyâ€™s.
All changed at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601, which effectively heralded the end of gaelic Ireland and Lord President George Carew ordered that every Oâ€™Crowley be killed. As a result, the clan disintegrated and following subsequent uprisings against the English, penal laws and plantations, many fled to continental Europe and the Americas. Others were transported as prisoners or emigrated to Australia or the farmlands of New Zealand to avoid starvation or persecution. It was during Cromwellâ€™s rule, weâ€™re told, that clans were compelled to drop the â€˜0â€™ and â€˜Macâ€™ prefixes from their names in a bid to wipe out traces of Irishness.
â€˜We can be very proud of our origins and what we stand forâ€™, said Liam Crowley who pointed out that the first clan gathering took place at Kilbrittain Castle and the Pink Elephant in 1967. It was held every year, then faded for a time but thanks to Tom Crowley in the USA and others in the Crowley Clan Council, was revived in the late â€˜eightes and held every three years since at different places with great success. The previous clan gathering in Kinsale in 2010 was attended by over 200.
â€˜The ruins of the castle tower at Ahakeera is the Mecca for Crowleyâ€™sâ€™, said Liam who acknowledged the support and co-operation of Cork County Council and landowner Kevin Oâ€™Neill with the clan council in getting it saved and secured over the past 13 years. He also thanked clan members who raised around â‚¬32,000 to make this happen, adding that very specific archaeologicial and works had to be carried out. In support, taoiseach Jerry Crowley urged everyone to visit this special place saying it was â€˜just like Heavenâ€™ where Mass will be celebrated in September.
Looking ahead to the 2013 gathering, Liam said â€˜We need to get the information out there and would particularly like as many Cork and Irish Crowleys to come to Kinsale in September, bring along their family trees and re-connect with fellow clan members from overseas We are also planning to stage a special event in 2014 to mark the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarfâ€™.
Mayor of Bandon, Gillian Coughlan said it was very important to know oneâ€™s history because if we didnâ€™t know where we came from, we wouldnâ€™t really know where we were going. It was also important to have a sense of identity and in that regard commended the Crowley Clan Council for its very hard work in organising the gathering where people from all over the world could meet and celebrate, and for the launch itself.
Cllr Coughlan (nee Oâ€™Mahony), who is a member of Bandon Walled Town Festival taking place in August, pointed out that Brian Boruâ€™s daughter came to Bandon to marry a Cian Oâ€™Mathuna. Enniskeane is named after Cian.
County Cllr Veronica Neville voiced full support for the â€˜calling to arms of Crowleysâ€™. At a time of emigration, such gatherings played an important role in reinforcing links between families at home and abroad and she congratulated all concerned.
Past taoiseach Dr John Crowley welcomed the idea of a first ever launch and also paid tribute to the organisers. He specially welcomed Michael Pat Murphy from Paris.
County Cllr Kevin Murphy added his best wishes and assured everyone of a warm welcome to his native Kinsale stressing it was so important in the year of The Gathering to bring visitors to Ireland and boost tourism and the economy. Indeed, said Jerry Crowley, the Trident Hotel and other venues were already booked out for the weekend in mid September.
Cllr Murphy pointed out that Crowleys continued to reside in and around the battlefield of Kinsale while the late Representative Paul Crowley was a major driving force in the twinning of Kinsale with Newport, Rhode Island, USA. A notable member of the clan today is Bandon based MEP Brian Crowley.