“In the aftermath of unusually strong winds and rain that caused flooding in many parts of Ireland, on the morning of October 29th, 2004, a hardy group of individuals assembled in the lobby of the main hotel in Glendalough, County Wicklow, for the Gathering of the Clan. Last-minute cancellations and bad driving conditions limited the number assembled to about 15. Nevertheless spirits remained high as those assembled greeted each other and exchanged family stories.
Introductions over, Judith, our Clan Chief, briefed us on the day’s events: a guided tour of the Glendalough monastic site, a bus tour of the local area with lunch in between and, in the evening, a gala dinner. Our tour guide was Chris Stacey of Footfalls Walking Holidays and, after having made him an honorary Nolan for the day, we promptly departed for our tour of the Glendalough monastic site that bordered the hotel grounds.
Chris explained that the site had been founded by St. Kevin, a religious hermit, who, in the 6th century, had attracted others to live with him in the wilderness of the Wicklow Mountains. Walking through the main archway of the site on old pathways and past the ruins of early churches one could not help but feel a sense of oneness with the past.
Following our walking tour we all piled into a small bus and ‘headed for the hills’ stopping at local sites of interest to stretch our legs, to admire the view and to take in a bit of history. Despite the lingering mist, the hills were magnificent and, in their relatively unchanging grandeur, helped to form a bond with our ancestors who probably traveled these same hills in some distant past. Stops included a visit to the Avoca woolen mill, oldest in Ireland and Britain, …, the area of Glenmalur where Michael Dwyer, the 1798 rebel, hid out and where we also had lunch,
and the spot along the Avon river where the Irish poet Thomas Moore wrote his famous poem, entitled ‘The Meeting of the Waters’ which Eamonn Fitzsimons, Mary’s husband, interpreted for us in song.
In the evening, clan members assembled in a meeting room of the hotel for a General Meeting …
Having put our house in order, at least for now, we all sat down for a wonderful Gala Dinner in the hotel dining room.
Having wined and dined we retreated to a cozy lounge where I made a presentation on early Nolan emigration to Canada. The festivities over, Eamonn raised the Parting Glass and, as he sang “I will gently rise and I’ll softly call, ‘Goodnight and joy be with you all!’” we knew that the time had come to part company for another day, another year.
Although we parted with sadness in our hearts we resolved to remain of ‘one heart’ united in our bonds of family and friendship.”
Roger Nowlan, webmaster (Email)
and Nolan Clan member since 1997