Clan Gathering Programme of Events
The full programme of events is published on the ‘Baltimore West Cork Festivals’ website: https://baltimore.ie/event/odriscoll-gathering/
The focus of the Annual O Driscoll Clan Gathering is always on people, because all those who do attend are coming home to their O Driscoll ancestral home place. All who bear any form of the name Ó Drisceoil / O Driscoll are descended from an O Driscoll, who at one time lived in West County Cork, especially in the area around Baltimore and the islands of Cape Clear, Heir and Sherkin. In this area are the ruins of seven O Driscoll castles and other buildings and sites associated with O Driscolls. Those who attend the O Driscoll Clan Gathering at Baltimore and the islands are always welcomed as being part of the family. They are in the home place from where one of their O Driscoll ancestors was born and from where a subsequent descendant left.
On the Thursday afternoon and evening of the last weekend in June every year, O Driscoll visitors start arriving in Baltimore Village, Co. Cork, Ireland. They may wish to take a boat trip around Baltimore Harbour, returning at sunset. Music sessions follow in local pubs, where old friends meet and newcomers traditionally introduce themselves to lots of other O Driscolls.
On Friday, all others attending The Clan Gathering will have arrived in Baltimore by mid-afternoon and get settled into their accommodation. At 7 pm. Clan members sign the Clan Gathering Register at the entrance to the restored O Driscoll Castle in Baltimore Village. Arriving in the Great Hall, it is customary for visitors to introduce themselves to those sitting or standing alongside them. They are, after all, among their own, even if their surname is not O Driscoll. A short talk on some aspect of O Driscoll history and heritage follows and then at the Square below Dún na Séad Castle, a formal welcome is extended to all. The current O Driscoll Chieftain then raises the O Driscoll Flag high over the restored O Driscoll Castle. From 9 pm there is usually a Buffet supper at the Baltimore Sailing Club which is located at the edge of Baltimore Harbour. The view of the sun setting over the harbour can be spectacular, while music and good conversation in the Village Square and at local bars and hotels continue late into the night.
A day trip to Cape Clear Island takes place on Saturday when the Clan members have made their way by 10:30 am to Baltimore Pier to take the Cape Clear Island Ferry for the 45 minute trip to the island. On arrival, people can make their way to the museum on foot or by shuttle buses where at noon the O Driscoll Memorial Archive holds the Annual O Driscoll Remembrance Ceremony. Details of the O Driscoll Remembrance Ceremony and more O Driscoll Events are to be found here.
On Sunday morning, most of the Clan go on the short 10 minute boat-trip to Sherkin Island where the O Driscolls had another of their castles at Dún na Long, off which they moored their ships in olden times. There also, they built an Abbey for the Franciscans, the ruins of which can usually be visited during the Sunday morning outing. People can avail of morning coffee/tea etc. on the island. The ferry returns to Baltimore about 2:30 pm.
By 3 pm Sunday afternoon, O Driscolls will have crowded into Baltimore Square in the shadow of the O Driscoll Castle, Dún na Séad, the pride of all their castles. The name of a new O Driscoll Chieftain is announced every two years and there is the formal handing over of the O Driscoll Chieftains Chain of Office. Great excitement and music follow for a number of hours. Most of the visitors from overseas spend Sunday night gathered together in the village, and next day may perhaps continue with their holiday arrangements around County Cork, Kerry and elsewhere.