Clare County

Talks, Walks & Tours at Scariff Harbour Festival


Stories of emigrant settlements in the USA, stories of life in a conflicted Northern Ireland, the Aughty Rainforest in the time Brian Boru, are topics of talks to be given during Scariff Harbour Festival over the upcoming Bank Holiday week-end.

A guided group walk on the Slieve Aughty uplands, boat tours on the Scariff River and Lough Derg and kayaking tasters are also available for those who prefer the out of doors.

Professional genealogist, Jane Halloran-Ryan will trace the emigrant journey from local villages and townlands to form settlements in places like New Haven, Connecticut; Washington DC; Detroit, Michigan and San Francisco, California. East Clare emigrants often sought opportunities in industrial areas because of the location and the availability of jobs. She will explore how life was for them or whether they remained there over time.

Chairperson of Clare Roots Society and doctoral student on networks of Irish and Irish American communities, Jane Halloran-Ryan will also provide a visual presentation to illustrate her talk at the marquee beside Waterways Ireland HQ on both the Saturday and Sunday of the festival week-end.

It will be followed by one- to-one free genealogy sessions (20 minutes) for individuals who have queries about their own family trees or would like to progress their own searches through on-line sources, websites or specific repositories. Pre-booking is required by registering name, mobile and date preference to info@scariffharbourfestival.ie. by July 31st. A maximum of 12 people can be accommodated over Saturday & Sunday.

Activist, academic and politician, Monica McWilliams will read and talk at Scariff Library (Saturday 5th August 3pm) about her extraordinary life, from growing up the daughter of a cattle dealer in Co. Derry, to being in a room at the Peace Talks and becoming a signatory of the Good Friday Agreement. From her memoir, Stand Up, Speak Out, she will reveal personal stories and anecdotes, from dispensing payments in her Granny’s Post Office, to dating Liam Neeson and coping with suicide and cancer in her family.

She credits the influence of her parents with who she was ultimately to become. Her mother’s insistence on keeping the peace combined with her father’s advice to ‘stand up for yourself’, stood to her throughout all of her working and personal life. Aside from political involvement, she is most proud of her work on domestic violence and the funding of the breast cancer drug Herceptin, not realising she would need it herself in years to come.

The story of the Great Forest of Aughty will be told by Andrew St Ledger, Native Woodland Specialist and PRO of the Woodland League, a community-based organisation, whose aim is to restore the relationship between people and their native woodlands. He begins with the story of St. Cronan’s Church, the oldest church still in use in the land and the tale of the Aughty Rainforest in the time of Brian Boru, while incorporating his vision and work on the Tuamgraney Community Native Woodland restoration project.

For those who prefer the out of doors, an 11km walk (Sunday 6th August 11am) will be led by experienced local guide, Marie McMahon. It includes stunning views of Lough Derg from the Sliabh Aughty uplands, mixed with folklore and heritage stories and a visit to a mass rock from penal times. Free hourly waterbus tours of the Scariff River and Lough Derg are also available courtesy of Waterways Ireland while the East Clare Paddlers will host kayaking ‘tasters’ at Scariff Harbour.

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