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O'Keeffe Clan

Gathering and Rally

9, 10 and 11 Sept 2016

guided tours, lectures

historical and genealogical exhibitions

cultural and musical events,

buffet banquet Saturday evening
Enjoying the O'Keeffe Clan Gathering Sept 2016

The O’Keeffe Clan Gathering 2016 was a momentous weekend, guaranteed to be remembered with an exciting itinerary of events of Historical, Genealogical and Cultural flavour to whet the appetite of those that attended over the weekend.  It was no small fete, people came from USA, Australia, France, Switzerland and Great Britain to participate. The organisers never envisaged it would grow to the extent of bringing over 350 people through the doors of Dromtarriffe hall. It was Dan Joe O’Keeffe, The Clan Chieftain from Co. Kerry, Mossie Angland and Denis Angland that first planted the seed for organising a gathering. Very quickly a group of  local history enthusiasts joined forces putting their concepts together which culminated in a very interesting convivial weekend for all to enjoy. The O’Keeffe Gathering on the 9th – 11th of September 2016 was a special weekend for all that attended. Strangers did become special friends due to the hard work of a community of volunteers who produced a carefully managed weekend.  Friday afternoon visitors arrived, eager to sign our visitor’s book, one by one they trickled in, overseas visitors are very punctual, a little unsure perhaps but Morty the Chairman and committee members are on hand to answer all quires. Owen and Sandy O’Keefe, Seattle, Washington, USA, were the first people to sign the visitors book. Visitors conversed among themselves whilst immersing themselves in the Dromagh, Cullen and Derrinagree National Schools exhibitions on show. Delightful classical tunes are plucked by the harpist Sinead O’Sullivan in musical celebration of the weekend from her repertoire and she intermittently chatted cheerfully to the guests about her music.

The hall filled up quickly and people began to hook up with other name sakes in the hall, the atmosphere was warm and friendly, chatting about the weekend ahead.
Dan Joe The Clan Chieftain arriveed and is happy to open the weekend’s events. He began by welcoming everybody and took us all down memory lane to the previous gathering some 20 years before. He read a beautiful poem in memory of now deceased Gerard O’Keeffe. He kicked off the weekend with a cake cutting ceremony, Dan Joe sees this weekend as a weekend to offer the Diaspora a chance to walk in the footsteps of their forefathers.
Tea, coffee & confectionery was on offer, bookings for tours and the Banquet were very brisk on the night. The visitors were treated to cultural music, song and dance by Buttons and Strings as they entertained the crowd during the course of the night with short interludes for Leah Murphy Sean Nós singer who broke into song. Local singer Muireann Vaughan ,who participated on RTE 1 Country Wide programme gave, among other songs, a melodious rendition of Isle of Hope. Sean Nós dancing and Irish figure dancing from other members of the band etc and stories. The guests were very happy going home after such a good night of enjoyment all serving only to whet the appetite for what was yet to come on Saturday and Sunday.

The first tour linked to the historical sites lead by David who was very eager to get the show on the road, notes on hand in case he got caught for words but there was no fear, because David is a local history enthusiast with a keen ear listening to the stories of the locality from his parents and the older folk of the parish. David is a man of great knowledge spending a lot of his free time researching local folklore and history. He told us that his tour was “was a one off chance for overseas visitors to visit the Homesteads of the O’Keeffes, Dromagh, Dromsicane and Drominagh Castles and to know what did happen at Knockbrack Battle field all in the one day” David was delighted with his entourage who questioned him and enticing him to tell more.

The second tour was an all day tour with Raymond O Sullivan Newmarket. His tour to Newmarket had an air of expectancy about it for Raymond is Newmarket’s Historian & Folklorist. He is passionate about Duhallow’s history as it is his area of expertise. He led his group out to the larger bus which was packed galore when they set off. His schedule took in Kanturk Castle, the scenic views of Duhallow whilst visiting the place of the Chalice Tree, O’Keeffe houses and the Church of Ireland in Newmarket to name a few. Raymond took it all in his stride as he spoke quite candidly about the beautiful places that were close to his heart.
Raymond said of the tour that he “really enjoyed the bus tour organised by the O’Keeffe Clan committee to the Kanturk/ Newmarket area. Even though we were outside the ancestral lands of the clan along the north bank of the Blackwater we found the O’Keeffes have made a lasting impression in the territory of their Duhallow neighbours the McCarthys and McAuliffes. The people were interested and attentive with lots of questions and observations. Of particular interest were the graves of the last of the chieftains in the Church of Ireland graveyard in Newmarket and their homes in Mountkeeffe and Scarteen.  They were also very much engaged with the discussion on the folklore and facts of the Mountkeeffe Chalice at the Chalice Tree in Scarteen. The chalice, made for the O’Keeffes in 1590, is now on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London”.
The tours took a break for lunch in the IRD, Newmarket, afterwards they set off to take in some more legends and history with our two volunteer guides David and Raymond, listening to their magical stories bringing the past to life in the minds of their captive audiences.

It was a great honour to be invited as Guest Speaker at the O’Keeffe Gathering. I was really delighted to see so many O’Keeffe family members attending from both near and far. Everybody was eager to explore the great depth of history which resides in the area.
(Maurice O’Keeffe)
On Saturday afternoon, when the tours finished, an audio presentation by Maurice commenced. His stories of history which were heard on the tapes kept people spellbound!
Maurice said that ”my contribution was rendered more interesting through the use of audio clips during my presentation. Fourteen years ago, I recorded people in the Duhallow area who had great knowledge of the O’Keeffe Clan. Indeed, these people could be referred to as local scholars".
To be able to introduce those voices from our Irish Life and Lore archive ( was a valuable way to articulate the incredible story of the O’Keeffes.

Meanwhile back in the hall while our tour guides were busy out on the road, the hall was very busy with guests attentively waiting their turn to consult with our genealogist Catherine Culloty, Newmarket who effortlessly helped one and all, giving advice and equipping people with the tools for tracing their ancestors.
To these people she was the "diamond" in the weekend as she went over and above the call of duty in volunteering information on how to trace their roots and how to find that missing link in the family tree. Catherine generously facilitated those from abroad also because of the challenges they may face with the Irish system of ancestry recording. She showed them how to trace their roots without incurring huge expense. She also made herself available on Sunday to help more people with their inquiries.
Catherine told me that "The recent and very successful O’Keeffe Clan Gathering highlighted the interest and importance of family history to people at home and abroad. Making connections with the past in places of heritage, tracing family trees and gathering information in stories and records brings us all together to focus on a common interest and bond for all generations". And she is so right because O’Keeffes travelled from all parts of the world to find out about their own roots over the weekend.

Sean Radley and Maurice O'Keeffe
  • Sean Radley and Maurice O'Keeffe

At another space in the hall, one could see Sean Radley of Millstreet Museum fame. Sean set up stall with many marvellous momentos of times past on display, all of which were on loan from the very interesting museum. From the display, it’s certainly worth a visit !
He could be seen moving quietly but quickly around the hall speaking to visitors and locals alike.
He is a dab hand at becoming inconspicuous while gathering the many stories of interest, as they unfolded over the week-end.
When people "volunteered" to be interviewed by him, one could hear the gentle way he asked the probing questions.
What interested them most over the week-end ?
Was it tracing their roots and ancestery ?
Was it the local history ?
Was it the history of the O’Keeffes ?
As he collected his information for future generations, he could be seen taking the perfect photograph !
After all , a picture paints a thousand words .

He is a silver tongued devil indeed !
Sean said after the week-end that “I was delighted to share in recent O’Keeffe Clan Gathering with it’s headquarters in Dromtarriffe Hall. It was a truly magnificient experience for everyone but very especially for the many enthusiastic international visitors who were clearly hugely impressed. Thankfully we’ve recorded the entire week-end ,and in time the highlights will be shared worldwide illustrating the truly historical Gathering of the great O’Keeffe Clan.

Cullen pipe band played on the street welcoming the guests to the Wallis Arms Hotel, Millstreet before the banquet giving off a lovely warm welcoming feeling about the night ahead. Very fine food was served, followed by light entertainment of song, music and dance by Sliabh Luachra, interjected by entertainment from the talented guests.
The Sliabh Luachra group featured the renowned accordion player Timmy Connors from Toureendarby and the acclaimed musician Billy O’Keeffe from Ballydesmond.
It was a glorious night of fun as one by one guests stepped up to the microphone for their chance to delight, stimulate and captivate us with their talents which were all very impressive indeed.
Laughter & banter could be heard throughout the room as various participants perform their own unique piece.
There was something mystical yet magical going on, it was as if the guests from overseas and across the country were all great friends with many a year, a good sign of the night.

Lone piper Con Houlihan playing a Lament in remembance to the Victims of 9-11 at Mass on Sunday, especially to the O'Keeffes whom were known to be members of the first responders.

We had a substantial turn out to the O’Keeffe memorial Mass with O’Keeffes and their friends and parishioners from the local community.
Sunday Mass was concelebrated in Dromtarriffe Hall at noon, Fr John O’Keeffe from Boherbue was commemorating O’Keeffes, assisted by Fr. Tommy O’Keeffe from Ballydesmond. Joseph O’Keeffe aged 19 from Kansas, who fought and died in World War 1 and is burried in Normandy was also especially remembered.
It was a very moving and beautiful religious dimension with marvellously colourful floral arrangements, the splendid prayers and glorious music that all contributed to an engaging ceremony that all appreciated” according to Sean Radley of Millstreet Museum.
A lone piper played a lament as he led in Tom and Ann O’Keeffe, New Hampshire, USA. into the hall to light a commemorative candle to all the nine eleven victims. (Tom and Ann were the first to register for the Gathering)



At 2pm Sunday we had Lorna Moloney, Professional Genealogist give us an illustrated talk on O’Kief Coshe Mang Sliabh Luachra, 16 Volume Collection by Albert Casey.
She told us of the O’Keeffes origins and their movements from Glanworth to Duhallow.
Her talk included historic clan maps from the 14th and 16th century showing that O’Keeffes were indeed shown among the important clans on these maps. She told the large gathering about the Author, Albert Eugene Casey, connections to Knocknagree “she continues on by telling us of Albert Casey’s excellent initiative on the Casey Coshe Mang and indicative of the interest in the clans and surnames of Ireland”.
The Presentation then closed after a short lively discussion.


Our weekend was brought to a close by our chairman Morty with a synopsis of the weekend,
It was amazing to witness the effect of an Irish community welcome on visitors from all over the world. I was never more proud to be Irish or more aware of the power of kinship in bringing people together
( Morty O’Keeffe, Chairman)

Sean Radley of Millstreet Museum states that “the enormously successful three day truly memorable Gathering was due to the superb preparation, promotion and coordination by the wonderfully dedicated organising Committee. Above all, the heartfelt welcome, the delicious refreshments, the excellent talks, the most interesting guided tours, - all contributed to a most amazing happening which was deeply appreciated by all. Coordinating Committee - take a richly deserved bow - you achieved success of the very highest level through your Trojan work.  Míle, míle buíochas”.

Morty thanked all those who made The Clan Gathering possible. He thanked all those who travelled long distances and those closer to home.
He wished everyone a safe journey home and was already talking about the next Gathering !!!!

Committee Members - 2016 O'Keeffe Clan Gathering

Morty O Keeffe, Newmarket, Chairman.
Sheila O'Keeffe, Boherbue, Secretary.
Mossie Angland, Newmarket, Treasurer.
Patricia O' Keeffe, Newmarket, PRO.
Dan Joe O'Keeffe, Rathmore, Clan Chieftain.
Billy O'Gorman, Boherbue, Website Design.
David O'Keeffe, Dromagh.
Sean O'Keeffe, Ballydesmond.
Denis Angland, Dromagh.

Thank You from the Committee.

The Chairman and members of the committee wish to thank the following people , and would like to commend all participants and volunteers in a very special way.
First and foremost, our sponsors.
Our main sponsor, Mr Jim O’Keeffe of SuperValu, Newmarket, Millstreet and Bantry. His very generous , financial contribution enabled us to launch the now very popular website , This gave a marvellous kick-start to our Clan Gathering preparations and promotion.

We would not now be celebrating the wonderfully successful Clan Gathering, were it not for the valuable support of all our sponsors. Your support is not something we take lightly and it’s very much appreciated by everyone in the committee.

On behalf of all who attended the Clan Gathering ,we would like to say a special “Thank You” to you all.


Dromtarriffe Hall Committee who gave us access to the hall over the whole week-end.

Ronnie and Annemarie O’Leary, for allowing us access to Dromagh Castle.

Seamus and Joan O’Keeffe ,for allowing us access to their farm in Scarteen and also Connie Hickey likewise.

Dromagh, Derrinagree and Cullen Primary Schools for their very educational projects/exhibitions. We acknowledge the huge amount of work put in by the pupils and their teachers. Thank you.

Sean Radley, our award winning Silver Surfer and of Millstreet Museum, for his attendance all week-end and for his video recording and photography.

Sheila Fitzgerald (contact details) and Eileen O’Connor for their photography.

Maurice O’Keeffe, Irish Life and Lore ,for his very interesting lectures and bringing us voices from the past, on Friday and Saturday. He left us wanting to hear more and more !

Catherine Culloty, our local Genealogist who was a permanent fixture in the Hall on Saturday, helping people .She was so busy ,she may have forgotten to eat !!!

Lorna Moloney, Genealogist, who gave us the talk on O’Kief Coshe Mang Sliabh Luachra,16 Volume Collection by A Casey.
Her presentation closed with a short question and answer session.

Fr. John O’Keeffe and Fr. Tommy O’Keeffe for concelebrating a beautiful mass and for Binding us all together.

Teresa O’Keeffe for her beautiful singing and music at the mass.
Cliona Broderick for her flute playing and Sinead O'Sullivan harpist.

Buttons and Strings, local traditional group from Dromagh for the wonderful entertainment on Friday night.
Muireann Vaughan, Kanturk for taking part in RTE 1 Countrywide and entertaining us on Friday night.

Jack Roche and Ceoltóirí Sliabh Luachra, for their variety show and traditional music in the Wallis Arms Hotel on Saturday night.
Nigel Scourer and his very attentive staff in the Wallis Arms Hotel, Millstreet.

Noel C Duggan for loaning us sign-boards.

Jeremiah and Mary Dennehy ,Brogeen Crafts, who so kindly sponsored our main prize of a beautiful O'Keeffe Crest.
DanJoe O'Keeffe who sponsored the Painting
Denis Angland ,who sponsored the Wine.
Maurice Angland , who sponsored the Cheese Hamper.

Maura Walsh and the staff of IRD, for sponsoring the lovely confectionary and sandwiches over the week-end. .
Maura for her tour of the James O’Keeffe Institute, and for allowing free use of the building for our meetings over the last 2 years.
Staff for their courtesy and attention to lunch on Saturday.

Our very well prepared ,energetic, ever ready, friendly and local tour guides/historians, Raymond O’Sullivan, Newmarket and David O’Keeffe , Dromagh.

Maurice Angland ,for his tour of The Cultúrlann, Newmarket.
Sheila O’Sullivan ,Clonfert, for her assistance and advice .Also for her wonderful help over the week-end .

Sean O’Keeffe, Ballydesmond, who was a valuable trouble -shooter in the hall over the week-end.

A special thank you to the families of the committee members who gave so freely of their time to man the tea/coffee and refreshments, make the floral arrangements, decorate the hall and set up for the various events. We couldn’t have done it without you !!!

Billy O’Gorman for his excellent website design. It is easy to browse and it certainly attracted many people to the event. He kept it updated regularly and will be always remembered by the committee for his patience !!!!

Dan Joe ,our Clan Chieftain for his experience and advice.