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Donncha Ruadh

Margaret Aylward Dr Edward Barron Philip Barron Denis Cashman Raymond Chandler Paddy Coad Patrick Comerford Donncha Ruadh Val Doonican Sean Dunne Frank Edwards Alfie Hale John M Hearne William Hobson Dr Thomas Hussey Charles Kean John Keane Edmund Leamy D. P. Moran Gen Dick Mulcahy James Nash Peter O'Connor Jas Louis O'Donnell Pádraig Ó Fainín Gilbert O'Sullivan John Redmond Edmund I Rice James Rice, Mayor Lord Roberts V. C. John Roberts Frank Ryan Thomas Sexton Archbishop Sheehan Susan Smith John Treacy Luke Wadding William V. Wallace Cardinal Wiseman Bullocks Wyse Lucien Bonaparte Wyse



Donncha Rua Mac Conmara (1715-1810)

Rugadh é sa Chreatalaigh i cCo.an Chláir tuairim 1715 ach chaith sé urmhór a shaoil i ndúthaigh Déiseach 'na mháistir scoile agus ar gnóthaí eile.  Deirtear go raibh sé tamall ag foghlaim le bheith 'na shagart.  Bhí eolas ar an Laidin aige.  Ceaptar go dtug sé turas ar Thalamh an Éisc idir 1746 agus 1755 agus gur ann a bhí sé nuair a cheap sé "Bán-chnoic Éireann Ó".  Chaith Donncha tamall éigin 'na chléireach sa Teampall Gallda i Ros Mír (Na Deise).  Fuair sé bás sa bhliain 1810.  Bhí cáil mhór air le Filíocht; go mór mhór ar son "Eachtra Ghiolla an Amaráin", Bán Chnoic Éireann Ó agus "As I was walking one evening fair". 

    Donnchadh Rua Mac Con Mara (1715-1810): was born in Cratloe, County Clare in 1715 and his name may be anglicised as Red Donough McNamara. He left Ireland to study for the priesthood, but he never completed his studies and he spent some time wandering about Europe. 

    When he did return to Ireland, he travelled around the countryside as a schoolmaster, the fate of the 'spoilt priest', as they called his like in those days.  Canon Power described him as a wayward, wandering son of genius.  He was appointed assistant master at the famous classical school at Seskinane, Touraneena, Co. Waterford, in 1741 and he taught there for some years afterwards.  This school opened its doors in the first half of the 18th century, the moment the vigour of the Penal Laws commenced to relax. He was well-known in Sliabh gCua—the district around the Knockmealdown Mountains and the hilly land between Dungarvan and Clonmel. In 1743 he was reported as having travelled on a fishing boat to Newfoundland. It is said that he did so to escape the wrath of a family whose daughter he had made pregnant.

    On a reputed second voyage to Newfoundland or Talamh an Éisc (the land of Fish), as they all called it, he wrote a long poem, Eachtra Giolla an Amaráin (The adventures of an unfortunate man).  It was written under peculiar circumstances.  Donnchadh announced his intention of going to Newfoundland and a collection was speedily made up for him, as well as a supply of foodstuffs for the voyage - remember, at that time the voyage would take several weeks.  Our brave poet duly arrived in Waterford, from which port he was due to sail but, instead of boarding his ship, he commenced to make merry in some local tavern until his passage money was exhausted.  After this he sold his supply of foodstuffs and, having accounted in like manner with the proceeds of the sale, he faced back again to the parish of Newcastle.  To the queries put to him he replied, jocosely, that he had been to Newfoundland and, a short time afterwards, he wrote a poem of 360 verses in which he described his voyage.  The poem describes how the ship was attacked by a French frigate and a fight ensues in which our poet is the hero.  The emigrant ship is captured but, through the strategy of Donnchadh the frigate is overpowered and the emigrant ship returns in safety once more to Waterford. He was a wild person. His conduct was said to have led to expulsion from the seminary, his first voyage to Newfoundland, and now to more trouble with the Roman Catholic church.     

This time he became a member of the Church of Ireland in Rossmire, Newtown near Kilmacthomas (see picture, above). He was appointed church clerk but when the Church of Ireland clergy, and people, discovered how great a rogue was their new convert, he was dismissed, so he crawled back to Catholicism once more.

    He was a happy-go-lucky, reckless individual who was ever welcome to wedding or christening, where he sang songs and joked, singing the praises of some and satirising others with all the acerbic wit of a gaelic poet. Mac Con Mara's escapades, poems and songs were part of the folklore in County Waterford but died with the Irish language.  The tale is told of a handsome young lady who was satirised in a poem by Donnchadh.  She retaliated by burning down the school where the poet-scholar taught.  Following the burning the poet moved on to the parish of Newcastle, near Kilmeaden on the outskirts of the city, where he set up school once more and taught there himself for some years. He travelled far and wide in the county. 

In 1810, at the age of 95, he died in Newtown, where he had been a temporary Protestant and is buried in the Catholic cemetery there. The inscription over his grave in Latin gives the necessary details and also at the end of the text:
'If whatever sins he committed have been wiped out by penance, give him, oh Lord eternal rest in the true motherland.' 

The old rogue could have appreciated the unintended humour of this conditional blessing on his spirit. Needless to remark he wrote a repentance poem, as every Gaelic poet did, before his final departure from where he had enjoyed himself and given pleasure to others .

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