Book documents the heritage of Midleton

A Facebook group has launched a new volume of a historical book, aiming to raise money for the Ballycotton Lifeboat, says CHRIS DUNNE
Book documents the heritage of Midleton

One of the old photos, showing Cloyne, in the book Midleton. Mainistir Na Corann

THE first volume of Ray O’Brien’s historical book about Midleton raised more than €17,000 for the town’s hospital.

Now Ray has released a second volume of Midleton. Mainistir Na Corann - A Pictorial Journey Through The Ages.

“After the huge success of volume 1, my wife Sheena felt we should go for volume 2,” says Ray.

“We wanted to choose a different charity this year and we decided on Ballycotton RNLI, with all proceeds going directly to them.”

The books came about because of a love for nostalgia among Midleton people. They are a treasure trove of memories and nostalgia with an abundance of photographs. People from home and abroad share their memories of Midleton.

Sheena said: “In a time when technology has moved on, where we no longer need to store photos in albums and we swipe a screen to move onto the next photo, there was a call to preserve the memories of the members of the Facebook group, ‘Midleton. Mainistir Na Corann’.”

The group emerged during the pandemic lockdown and served to connect people from the town and surrounding areas across the globe.

“Thanks to the members, the amount of material shared has been phenomenal,” says Sheena, regarding the content of the two volumes.

“People shared photographs, stories and memories.

“An interesting childhood memory was ‘squirting day’, supposedly unique to Midleton. The discussion about such memories showed camaraderie amongst the people in the Midleton area.

“The group now boasts more than 7,000 members, the majority live in Ireland but there are members living in the UK, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, France, Germany, Canada and Denmark.”

Ray says that Redmond McGuire was pivotal in getting sponsors for the book. “The other two admins in the group, John O’Connell and Conor Flynn, were over the moon when I told them we were going for a second book and they were a great help.”

Volume took several months to finalise the layout,” says Sheena.

The Midleton. Mainistir Na Corann book
The Midleton. Mainistir Na Corann book

“This volume includes the surrounding areas such as the discovery of a land mine in Aghada in 1922.”

The notice says that prisoners were ordered to remove the deadly missile.

“A party of National troops discovered a land mine in Aghada a few miles from Midleton in 1922,” said Sheena. “Two prisoners who were detained at the Midleton Military barracks were brought to the spot and forced to remove the mine. The troops afterwards destroyed it.”

Leamlara Post office features too, in a tribute to post mistress Mrs Sweeney, with lots of local people sharing their memories of her.

Noreen Fitzgerald says: “Happy memories of a gentle lady! Remembering happy nights spent at 110 card game. She was a shrewd player!”

Noreen O’Riordan says of Noreen: “Many is the time my father sent me for 10 woodbines for himself, and the lovely greeting you would get on entry.”

Tom Cashman says: “Some great memories of that post office, especially after 9.30 mass on a Sunday morning, we would all head to Mrs Sweeney, myself, the brother, the Hurleys and the Twomeys and many more, very happy and great times with great friends.”

Local Sinn Féin TD Pat Buckley brought the book to Dáil Eireann to highlight the community spirit of Midleton, as he made the case about the importance of keeping the Owenacurra Centre open.

People re-connect through the book.

Lynsey O’Neill says: “I’m not from Midleton but think maybe my nan was. Unfortunately I know very little about her so I hoped that joining the Facebook group might help me learn a little about her and her early life.

“Her name was Mary Alice Shanahan and she was born in 1924. I’m not sure when she left Ireland, but I’m assuming it was in the 1940s. She came over to England and married Grandad, who was from Dublin. So I guess what I’m asking is, are there any long-standing Shanahan families that might be able to help me out? She’d almost be 100 now, so anyone she knew or who knew her probably aren’t around anymore, but who knows...

“Maybe she (and me even) have relatives here. It’d be lovely and absolutely awesome to find a connection to a family that I never got the chance to know.

“I posted in the group for Whitegate and some lovely people pointed me to Midleton telling me there are Shanahans here.

“Hopefully, someone here can help and I’m really looking forward to hearing from you and learning about her and the place she grew up.”

Audrey Griffin shares favourite school memories.

“Going up to Mrs O’Gorman for a bag of cans for the sand pit straight out of our school uniform! Catching eels at the 1st bridge and swimming in the 2nd one.”

Eve Lynch remembers “the excitement when the GAA gates were opened on the way back from big matches. The rugby festival bands playing in Ryan’s shed. The Beat on the Street. Stamp night. Squirting day. Happiest times.”

Midleton. Mainstir Na Corann is a book of fond memories and photographs that people everywhere can identify with. It is a mine of information of times gone by. Trish Behan had the book landed on her doorstep in Sydney, Australia and she says: “Thanks to my mum in Midleton for posting. Ray and everyone involved, you should be very proud of your achievements. Thanks and know that it’s appreciated.”

Sheena says of the book: “This will be an ideal Christmas present which people would look back on for many years to come, a real keepsake. So far there has been a very positive response from all.”

The book is on sale at McCarthy News, Midleton, Hurleys Supervalu, Midleton, Ballymaloe shop and Ballycotton Lifeboat shop. Price €20.

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