Well, here I am back in the wooded hills of north Mississippi after two weeks in Ireland, one of which spent in the Ballybofey/Stranorlar area. My host was local historian, poet, and writer, Ivan Knox and his lovely wife Letitia. We were up and down the Finn Valley, to Drumboe, on to Whitehall, down to Castlefin, out to Port Hall and StJohnstown, and then over to Donegal Town, etc. all several times over. Our mission was to visit many of the McCains and their kin throughout the district, which we succeeded in doing. A large Howdy to Jonathon McKane and Mrs James McKane in Drumbo, to James and Irene McKane at Whitehall, to Iain and Joyce McKane at Port Hall, and to the many other McCain relations I visited. It was great also to visit McKane’s Corner and see the lads that still come there for the craic.
I was up in Letterkenny briefly to do be interviewed by Shaun Doherty. The highpoint of that visit was getting to meet Fr Shane Gallagher, who was in the Highland Radio studio being interviewed himself. He’s an impressive young priest and the sort of fellow that makes you have hope for our future. In these days of rapid secularisation of society, it takes courage and grit to walk the path less travelled, to stand for something good, yet Fr Shaun has done just that; our prayers and best wishes to him and his family.
Ivan Knox did inspire me. His knowledge and love for Finn Valley people and their traditions impressed me. One focus of his energy has been the bringing back of the Mummer traditions. This I found fascinating, because in my part of the Diaspora we used to also have Mummers. It has fallen off nowadays, the enormous weight of modernity often pushes aside these wonderful folk customs that mean so much when you stop and think on it and also add to our quality of life. I am going to take a page out of Ivan’s book and see if I can awaken a Mummer tradition here in north Mississippi.
Lastly, I’ll leave y’all with a puzzle. The prize of a pint of Guinness here in Mississippi runs around 2.25 Euros. In Donegal it runs around 4.20 Euros. Figure that one out for me please.
Barry R McCain © 2008
Barry R McCain can contacted at; email@example.com