16 August 2013 One Comment by The Northern Standard

Over 70 visitors from the United States and England spent last weekend in Monaghan, Tyrone and Armagh celebrating their Mullan ancestry with locally based descendants of Patrick Mullan, Tynan, Co Armagh and Sarah McCullough, Draperstown, Co Derry.

In a so-called ‘Gathering’ event that has been almost two years in the making, the Mayor of Monaghan Co Council Sean Conlon enjoyed, along with extended family members from Co Tyrone, playing an active part in the preparations that has resulted in the largest overseas attended Clan event to date in Co Monaghan during the year of ‘The Gathering’.

Arriving on Friday afternoon at the Hillgrove Hotel after four days touring the west of Ireland, the visitors spent several hours enjoying local hospitality in Monaghan Town that evening during an informal meet and greet opportunity at An Poc Fada hosted by Mayor Conlon.

On Saturday morning two coaches transported the large clan to locations where Patrick Mullan (1857-1932) established the family home and farm at Turry, Co. Tyrone. The family practiced their faith at Tynan Chapel, and children James, Rose, Joseph, Elizabeth, Mary and Owen attended school at Manooney.

Father Sean Moore PP led prayers at the Chapel and gave a blessing over the grave of Patrick Mullan and interred family members, followed by younger cousin Ciaran McKenna performing on tin whistle the air of ‘Danny Boy’, a tale of immigration and separation which has featured through the lives of the Mullan families for almost a century and a half.

During the tour local historian Joe Jordan of the Tynan/Middletown Historical Society imparted a wide-ranging overview of the family connections and the experience of living in the area over a century ago.

Mention was made of James Mullan, a great-uncle of Mayor Conlon, who penned many songs including the parlour room come-all-ya ‘I Don’t Work For A Living’, as well as a song for Al Smith who ran unsuccessfully on the Democratic ticket in the 1928 US Presidential election, being defeated by the Republicans’ Herbert Hoover. Smith was the first Roman Catholic to run for the office of US President.

Midday refreshments were enjoyed at the restored Caledon Courthouse. Eight avid golfers on the tour made hasty retreat to Rossmore Golf Club and returned with heaps of praise for an excellent course, on ‘par’ with several of the nationally iconic courses they had played on earlier in the week.
A visit to the nearby Cathedral was on the itinerary for some, while others from the group shopped and snacked in the town – remarking it had a unique and original style of its own compared to locations along the south and west coast they had stopped by since arriving at the start of the week.

On Saturday evening the Mullan/Mullen Clan convened for a celebration banquet where 134 of both the local Mullan and overseas visitors met and talked of the life journeys of their ancestors.

The guests were entertained and enthralled by Irish dancers eleven-year-old Maeve O’Hagan (great-granddaughter of Owen Mullan) as well as the Ni Chearra/O’Baolain dancers featuring Leelle Eakins who hours earlier stepped off the plane from Manchester having won the U-16 British Championship in Irish Dancing over the weekend.

After a few words of welcome from Mayor Conlon and a reflection on the previous day’s tour and activities, Jane Gamble (granddaughter of Joe Mullen) spoke of the warm hospitality that greeted all on their arrival to Ireland and how the reunion event, especially the visit to Turry and surrounding hinterland, was a memory to cherish for the rest of their lives.

Special mention of gratitude and appreciation was made to guest of honour and Mullen cousin Colleen Melchiorre, Philadelphia who was thanked by all for creating and acting on the vision for this extensive week -long ‘migration’ of such a large number of siblings, cousins and extended family members from throughout the far reaches of the United States.

Sunday was the last opportunity for sightseeing, and after a number attended early Mass in St. Joseph’s, one coach departed for a day trip to Dublin while the other headed back north to visit Belfast and a trip to the Titanic Museum – following a growing trend where Monaghan is considered a centrally located accommodation base with many high profile sights within an hour-and-a-half journey.

With most farewells made the previous evening and into the early morning, the last night in the Hillgrove was spent by the visitors with a small number of nearby family members who called by to wish bon voyage, and share assurances that return visits back to Ireland, and invites to those travelling from Ireland to the US, would remain a not-too-distant travel priority.

One Comment »

  • Susan Mullan Furey said:

    A brilliant time was had by all! I was honored to be one of the Mullan siblings (from the USA) attending the family reunion who, along with my sisters, Betsey & Kathleen belted out the song penned by our Grandop Mullan, “I Don’t Work for a Living”, after the fabulous dinner gathering in Monaghan.