Again, Enniscrone witnessed the arrival of the O'Dubhdas for the fifth rally in modern times on 1st September. From every continent, Australia, the United States, Europe and Africa they gathered to greet each other at the start of a new Millenium. The reception in the Atlantic Hotel brought together "regulars" like Ed from Chicago and Sean from Kerry, and introduced new members, like 7-month old Aimee Louise Stanton from Dubai: her mother is Catherine Dowds.
The Saturday historical tour took in a large part of Tireragh and a number of locations with O'Dubhda associations. In addition to visits to the castles at Ardnaree, Skreen, Castleconor and Easky, this year the trip included Ballymote Castle, where the last Taoiseach, Tadhg Bui, led his troops to join with Red Hugh O'Donnell before the march to the battle at Kinsale in 1601. Many were moved when the O'Dubhda standard was raised to fly alongside that of O'Donnell at the entrance to the castle, as it did over 400 years ago.
Right: The raising of the O'Dubhda standard at Ballymote
A meeting of the Clan Association agreed that the next rally should be in September 2003, and left the Taoiseach and Council to arrange the details. An illustrated talk was given in the evening, by Dr Peadar O'Dowd, where the role of the O'Dubhda in North Connacht was outlined and an explanation given of the power-politics of the early middle ages. There was also an exhibition of the material in the Modern Annals, and members were reminded that all information is most welcome.
On Sunday, the clan foregathered at Cahair Mor, an Iron Age fort that was once the stronghold of the O'Caoimhin family, the hereditary marshals of the O'Dubhda army. From the wall of the hillfort, there are extensive views over most of Tireragh, and across the bay to the hills of Donegal, and it had been decded that this would be an appropriate site for the ceremony of installing the new Chieftain: it would combine a reminder of the antiquity of the clan, with a tribute to our O'Caoimhin ancestors.
Following the Brehon system (as far as this is possible in the 21st century!) the Chieftain-elect climbed to the highest point of the hill and turned round three times to view his territory, and in reminder of the Trinity. The Ollamh, Conor MacHale, read out the duties of the Taoiseach, which Thomas agreed to uphold and then Conor raised the white staff of office over his head in confirmation of his title. As the clansmen shouted out his name, the ceremony was complete, and the cries of "O'Dubhda! O'Dubhda! O'Dubhda!" echoing over the surf gave notice that the O'Dubhda had a Taoiseach for the first time in over 400 years.
Immediately afterwards, Richard from New Jersey, the Tanaiste, climbed up beside the Taoiseach and was hailed as the heir to the chief. In traditional manner, the Taoiseach and Tanaiste exchanged gifts - this time standards, as the usual coats of mail and weapons was felt to be a bit dated! Tom is from Scotland and wore, like his family attendants, Highland dress, with a kilt in the Irish National tartan, while Richard wore a green suit.
Photographs of the Millenium Rally
At the banquet in Beleek castle, Ballina, another tradition was complied with, when Tom presented Conor, the Ollamh, with the first drink. Today's traditions were yesterday's security - it was not unknown for chiefs to be poisoned by rivals! After the meal, presentations were made to a number of guests whose work over the years had been largely responsible for the continuing success of the ralllies. A certificate was also awarded to baby Aimee, grand-daughter of the Taoiseach.