Carrigdhoun – The Origins Of The Name
Writes John Twomey
A household name steeped with tradition and long associated with the South-East Cork region and particularly the Owenabue River and Carrigaline. The name originated in a poem written in the 1840’s.
In 1924 the GAA in Cork set up regional boards to run the County. The region of South-East Cork was called Carrigdhoun. The City took the title Seandun, Mid Cork too the title Muskerry and so on. This umbrella name covering the towns and villages of the region was to become a legendary name. The founding officers were Henry O’Mahony (Passage) Chairman, Jim O’Sullivan (Castletreasure) Vice-Chairman, Jackie Robinson (Shamrocks) Hon. Secretary and John Wren NT (Carrigaline) Treasurer.
Later the Clubs of The Division formed a Senior team and Carrigdoun fielded some exceptional hurlers over the years. They contested their only County final in 1945 when they played Glen Rovers at The Cork Athletic Grounds on September 17th and lost on the scoreline 4–10 to 5–3. The team was: John Quinn (Tracton), Jerh Crowley (Tracton), Con Murphy (Valley Rvs.), Daithi O’Donovan (Carrigaline), Dan O’Mahony (Passage), Mick Nestor (Kinsale), Joe West (Carrigaline), Bob. O’Regan ( Belgooly), Christy Healy (Passage), Tagh O’Callaghan (Tracton), Robbie Andrews (Shamrocks), Pat O’Connor (Kinsale)
Dave Dunne (Shamrocks), Jack Barrett (Kinsale), Michael O’Herlihy (Kinsale).
The name has also been used very successfully commercially and in the early 1990’s The South East Board set in motion a competition to design a crest. It was done through the schools and the current crest was chosen. There are four images in the crest, a river, a fish, a castle and a sheaf of corn.
In the early nineteenth century there was a well known writer and Poet named Denny Lane who hailed from Riverstown. He was a graduate of Trinity College and was called to the bar. He became a member of the Young Irelanders and wrote articles for their magazine ‘The Nation’. He wrote a number of ballads as well some of which became very popular. One of these was called “The Lament of an Irish Maiden”, and later given the new title of Carrigdhoun.
The area that apparently inspired this ballad was around Ceim Carraige bridge near the Waterworks on the road to Ballygarvan. In that area a stream came rushing down Ballinreesig Glen to ‘swell the angry Owenabue’. In the winter time the rocky high ground across the river was red and brown with bracken. Denny Lane called it Carrigdhoun.
Not far away is the Ballea Castle, former stronghold of the McCarthy Family and where the branches of the trees touch the Owenabue river. In the 17th century many of the McCarthys, having had their lands and holdings confiscated, had to immigrate and fight on foreign fields as was quite common in these days of ongoing persecution. The Poet had the perfect story and location for writing a ‘Lament’ and thus the title Carrigdhoun. It was the only one of his ballads to gain national acknowledgement. Many singers have recorded the ballad but the one that is regarded as being one of the finest is by Cork All Ireland medal winner John Bennett.
In South-East Cork it was hugely popular and wherever there was a good sing-song there would be a rendition of Carrigdhoun. The late Pad Joe Cronin of Ballymartle and former South-East Secretary had it on his repertoire and gave some outstanding performances in Scor competitions. The late Der Brennan of Shamrocks was another great singer of this popular ballad.
Hopefully it will not be lost or go out of favour. Perhaps it would be a an idea worth progressing whereby every National School in South-east Cork would teach their students the lyrics.
On Carrigdhoun the heath is brown
The clouds are dark o’er Ardnalee
And many a stream comes rushing down
To swell the angry Owenabue
The moaning blast is sweeping past
Through many a leafless tree,
And I’m alone for he is gone
My hawk has flown, ochon mo chroi
The heath was green on Carrigdhoun
Bright shone the sun o’er Ardnalee
The dark green trees bent trembling down
To kiss the slumb’ring Owenabue
That happy day, ‘twas but last May
‘Tis like a dream to me
When Donal swore, aye o’er and o’er
We’d part no more, a stor mo chroi
Soft April showers and bright May flowers
Will bring the summer back again
But will they bring me back the hours
I spent with my brave Donal then?
‘Tis but a chance for he’s gone to France
To wear the Fleur-de-lis,
But I’ll follow you, my Donal dhu
For I’m still true to you, mo chroi.