Claregalway Bliantha Fadó

Qualter's of Gortcloonmore

Bernadette M Redmond, Author

The Qualter House, Gortcloonmore. Home of my great great grandparents, Thomas Qualter and Honor Connell
Bernadette Redmond CC BY-NC-NC
Mary Bridget Qualter–Kearns - Loftus. My Grandmother (1871-1944)
Séameen Loftus and the Loftus Girls. Julia Redmond (my mother), Sarah Madden and May Duggan.
Bernadette Redmond CC BY-NC-ND
Bridget Qualter nee Lenehan 1837-1923. Widowed in 1880. My Great Grandmother, Gortcloonmore.
Bernadette Redmond CC BY-NC-NC
Catherine Fletcher nee Qualter 1859-1948. Widowed 1948.
Bernadette Redmond CC BY-NC-ND
‘Kerins’ 1901-1985
Bernadette Redmond CC BY-NC-ND
Cregboy Duggan’s. May's children
Bernadette Redmond CC BY-NC-ND
Bernadette Redmond
CC BY-NC-ND

 

Claregalway Years Ago

When I was a child the mere sight of the Claregalway Friary ruins coming into view was enough to set my heart racing and tie my stomach in knots of anticipation. Eight weeks of fun and freedom ahead as our car turned at the sign for Cloonbiggen. To call it a road would be a kindness. It was wider than a path and its rutted appearance indicated steady use, but since it petered out back in Gortcloonmore, down the bog, or became a back way into Waterdale and Loughgeorge, asphalting was a long time acoming.

 

I have always loved Claregalway but it was only when I retired that I found the time to appreciate it. I started with the family tree and soon realized that aged female cousins and neighbours were a mine of information about their younger selves. There is never any shortage of lore about men’s doings, but women are a lot more secretive, or perhaps circumspect, is a better description, so asking questions about long remembered times became a priority if I was to record the Claregalway of my childhood and its simple pleasures. The secondary reason I wanted to memorialize my childhood was to dispel the appalling ignorance about life in my youth displayed by my daughter and two grandsons. With luck, what they knew, would fill an iPod screen!. As my Dublin Gran was wont to say ‘You don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.’

 

‘The Summer Children’ is a memoir of long summer holidays spent in Claregalway with my  mother Julia Loftus’ family from 1944 to the mid 1950’s. Following my mother’s premature death in 1947 I lived with my paternal grandparents in an inner city area in Dublin recalled in my memoir ‘I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls’.

 

My annual sojourn to Claregalway was like another world where my two siblings and I ran free and wild ignoring edicts from our elders and betters to keep away from the river stay out of field with the bull in it, not to eat or drink anything from Bina Lenihan’s kitchen and not to annoy the neighbours. In the early years we stayed at my maternal Grandmother, Mary Bridget Loftus’home in Cloonbiggen. My Aunt Sarah (Madden), her brother Séameen and the mysterious ‘Kerins’ lived in the home but were out harvesting all day so we spent most of our days in’Backingart’ over the bog road. It was years before I realized that this was the townland of Gortcloonmore.

 

During this era the Qualter house, the home of my Great-grandmother was occupied by Grandmother’s brother’s family, Martin Qualter and Bid Noone from Cloon. When my grandmother went to her mansion above, our holiday hospitality was taken over by my Aunt May Duggan, my  mother’s sister  in Cregboy.  It was one of the neighbours, Minnie Morris in the then sparsely populated Cregboy, who named the Redmond Children the Summer Children because, with seventeen children of her own, and a dozen neighbours children nearby, remembering three more names was beyond her patience. As it was May Duggan’s seven children were known collectively by Minnie as the ‘Cregboy Duggans’.

 

It was as an 8y old in Claregalway that I learned to hold my ground against bullies.  Tho’ catatonic with fear as I was fairly certain that either God, or, more likely, Canon Moran, whom I was enraging, was going to strike me dead. Ordering me and my young cousin, Winnie Duggan, to fetch golf balls he was whacking down Hession’s field I refused, with the excuse that my Aunt May was waiting for the water we had fetched from the nearby pump. He became more and more apoplectic with rage at each refusal on my part. At some point I realized that I had reached a plateau beyond terror and prepared for death. However I learned that while I might have been ready to die bullies couldn’t kill me, and God did not strike you dead if you stood up to them. Anything else was a bonus!  Granda Redmond’s maxim was that ‘gumption’ was not something you licked off the stones. It should be in your bones. That day I discovered it was, so when the Canon eventually roared at me ‘Cén t-ainm atá oraibh’, Cé as thiú meaning ‘Who are your people’?  I would have been able to tell him back to the third generation if I had not been rescued by Pat Cullinan!

 

The Summer Children Book Cover

Daughter of a Sea Locked Isle Book Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This page was added on 06/06/2016.

Comments about this page

  • I have not read your book Summer Children but having read your comments about Claregalway and especially your reference to Bina Lenihan I do intend to read it. Why now? You may well ask. I will tell you why. I, like you, lost my mother to cancer in 1947. I was 9 years old. Bina Lenihan, who was my mothers sister, took me, my older brother and sister and gave us a home. We ate at her table and have survived!! We all went to college. My brother got a Science degree, my sister got a B. Ed and taught Mathematics in the Mercy Convent, Sec. School. I became a Primary school teacher. Not bad for a family reared in Bina Lenihan s kitchen. May those who have left us rest in peace.

    By Marie Buckley. (19/08/2017)
  • Bernadette, thank you so much for all of your information and pictures relating to our relatives. We were in Ireland the last two weeks of June; but with our family wanting to see so much of Ireland, I didn’t have much time to visit with Margaret and family. Also visited my brother.
    Keep in touch!

    By Helen Wilson (19/07/2016)

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