03 August 2013

Trying to tell fact from fiction among
the books in the big tent in Portrane

Trying to tell the difference between fact and fiction, truth and lies, in between the books at Portrane this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

Not a penny more, not a penny less.

Honour among thieves.

And Thereby Hangs a Tale.

All titles of novels by Jeffrey Archer.

But how appropriate, I thought, that stuck in among these works of fiction by the great perjurer and politician was Bertie Ahern, The Autobiography.

Sometimes, I suppose, it can be difficult in life to tell the difference between fact and fiction, truth and lies. But it galls me that those who would like to think that none of us knows the difference then want to make more money out of us by peddling us their tales between the covers of book.

Despite what Jeffrey Archer says, I doubt whether there is any Honour among thieves.

Oh well, Bertie sat there for most of the afternoon. Until one buyer offered 20 cent ... not a penny more, not a penny less.

I spent the afternoon as a volunteer in the big red and white tent at the annual sale at The Quay in Portrane in aid of Heart to Hand and its projects in Romania and Albania.

The rain held off for most of this bank holiday Saturday afternoon, and in between the sales pitches, I managed to take time for a short stroll on the beach below the Lynders family home at The Quay, looking out onto Lambay Island.

The sale continues each afternoon this weekend, closing on Monday afternoon.

And there are some really good books (honestly) for sale in the bid red-and-white tent. Five for €1 ... not a penny more, not a penny less.

Looking out at Lambay Island from the small beach beneath The Quay in Portrane this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

A new book is launched in Callan

With Professor Pierse Grace, one of the contributors, and Joe Kennedy, editor of the new book, at the book launch in Callan, Co Kilkenny, last night (Photograph: Barbara Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

I was in Callan, Co Kilkenny, last night [2 August 2013] for the launch of a new local history book in Colaiste Eamann Rís (Edmund Rice CBS College).

I am one of the contributors to the new book, Callan 800 (1207-2007), History & Heritage, Companion Volume, which is edited by Callan’s distinguished local historian, Joe Kennedy. The book was launched by Joe Kearney of RTÉ Radio 1’s Sunday Miscellany, a well-known author, broadcaster and documentary film-maker, who is from Callan.

Many of the contributors were present at last night’s book launch too. Professor Pierce Grace, who has written a chapter on ‘The Barony of Callan,’ is Professor of Surgery at the University of Limerick, and also holds an MA in Local History.

Andrew Townsend has written about his family’s eviction after they changed their Church membership from the Church of Ireland to the Roman Catholic Church.

Margaret O’Grady, a tour guide, provides a biography of Humphrey O’Sullivan (ca 1790-1838), the Callan-born diarist and writer whose letters provide an important insight into language and social and political life in Ireland in the early 19th century.

Michael O’Dwyer, former editor of the Old Kilkenny Review and author of The History of Cricket in Co Kilkenny, has written about the O’Shea family, sculptors whose work can be seen in the Museum Building, Trinity College Dublin, the former Kildare Street Club in Dublin, the Museum Building in Oxford, and many monuments.

Una Hogan has edited research by her father, the late Patrick Hogan, on ‘Callan Casualties of the Great War (1914-1918),’

Danielle Doran, who lives in Florida, contributes an interesting account of her long search for her search for her family roots in the Callan area.

Joe Kearney, who launched the book last night, has contributed some ‘Local Stories.’

A 17th century Comerford family monument on the wall of Saint Mary’s Church in Callan, Co Kilkenny, from the new book launched last night (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

My own chapter, ‘Comerford Monuments in Callan and the Search for a Family’s Origins’ (pp 23-39), looks at the Comerford family monuments, tombs and graves in Saint Mary’s Church, the former Church of Ireland parish church in Callan, which the Comerford family often seemed to regard as our own family church.

In this chapter, I also look at the origins and stories of the many branches of the Comerford family in the Callan area, and I include photographs from Saint Mary’s Church, Ballybur Castle, and the village of Quemerford beside Calne in Wiltshire, including a full-page photograph of one of the Comerford tombs.

In all, the book has 19 chapters by both nationally known and local historians. This is 380-page book is a companion volume to Callan 800, which was popular so much beyond the publishers’ wildest expectations that it sold out within a few days sold out within a few days of its publication in 2007.

Coolgreany House near Castlewarren … said to have been built by Richard Comerford in 1653 when he was forced to leave Ballybur Castle (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

We left Dublin for Kilkenny early in the afternoon, and first stopped at Coolgreany House, Castlewarren, which is said to have been built by Richard Comerford in 1653 when he was forced to leave Ballybur Castle.

Ian Comerford showed us around the house and the surrounding buildings, and we peered down into a deep well, which is dry lined and has supplied fresh water to house for over three centuries.

From the lawn in front of the house there are sweeping views across to Mount Leinster – my own branch of the family moved to Bunclody on the other side of the mountain, to the Bunclody area, in the 18th century.

In an antique shop in Rose Inn Street, Kilkenny (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

We parked outside Saint Kieran’s College and spent a few hours in Kilkenny, visiting the book shops in High Street and the antique shops in Rose Inn Street, strolling along Saint Kieran Street, and then through the Butterslip, visiting the Sports Shop which is housed in part of the house where Comerford ancestors had lived before that move to Bunclody.

A street painting, hidden behind hoardings, in Saint Kieran Street, Kilkenny (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

We had a delightful early dinner in Café Sol in William Street before driving south to Callan. On the way, at Cuffesgrange, a full rainbow formed an arch over Ballybur Castle, the Comerford family’s ancestral home.

When we stopped to find directions in Callan, the rainbow was arching above the ruins of the Augustinian Friary on the banks of the King’s River, which gives its name to the Abhainn Rí Festival, which comes to a close tomorrow [4 August 2013].

A rainbow over the ruins of the Augustinian Friary in Callan, Co Kilkenny (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)