Mánus Ó Creag (1880–1945) of Townawilly, Co Donegal
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According to the information recorded on the Doegen speaker questionnaire in September 1931, Mánus Ó Creag was born at Townawilly, and was aged 50 at the time of recording. Both his parents came from Townawilly, where his father was a farmer. In response to questions, he stated that he had always lived in Townawilly, apart from two years in Scotland (before the age of 20, according to the report). He attended primary school at Townawilly. His occupation is given as farmer. Irish was his mother language, and he could also speak English. He could read and write both languages. The recording team noted "strong clear voice".
Townawilly — Tamhnach Mhullaigh – is a district of twelve townlands around Lough Eske, particularly to the north and east of the lake:
Cornaveagh, Goladoo, Corracramph, Garvagh, Townagorm, Ardatowel, Ardnableask, Ardeevin, Milltown, Townaghlaghan, Ardanawark and Friar's Bush.
It lies directly across the Blue Stack Mountains from the Cruacha. Craig and Martin were two of the most common surnames in the area, and the personal
name Manus was particularly popular among the Craigs. The district was frequently mentioned in the Gaelic press around 1900, as this list shows:
Seosamh Laoide, "Cuairt ar Thamhnach Mhullaigh", Fáinne an Lae 1:2 (15/01/1898) p 3
Seosamh Laoide, "Litir", Fáinne an Lae 1:5 (05/02/1898) p 6
"Gaelic competitions in Co Donegal", Fáinne an Lae 4:87 (02/09/1899) p 71
Máire Máirtín, "Feis Thamhnach Mhullaigh", Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge 10:113 (01/1900) pp 466–8
Seosamh Laoide, "Notes and queries 405, 406, 407", Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge 10:113 (01/1900) p 473
Máire Máirtín, "An Cogar", Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge 11:123 (12/1900) pp 13–4
"Feis Uladh," Irish News (03/12/1900) 8: Six year-old Bride Martin sang a song in Irish, written by her mother, in the Ulster Hall (Belfast) on 01/12/1900
Máire Máirtín, "Dubhshlán lucht an Bhéarla", Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge 11:130 (07/1901) pp 118–20
Pádraig Ó Sléibhín, "Bean na táibhirne", Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge 11:130 (07/1901) pp 122–3
Pádraig Ó Sléibhín, "Athbhaisteadh Chaoilte", Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge 11:131 (08/1901) pp 137-8
Mr Gallagher, "Colum Cille agus an duine bocht", Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge 11:132 (09/1901) p 149 (also in Cruach Chonaill)
Tuathal Ó Sléibhín, "Sgoil Thamhnach Mhullaigh", Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge 12:139 (04/1902) pp 51–3
Máire Máirtín, "Fá choinne chruinnighthe Dhúin na nGall", Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge 12:144 (09/1902) pp 132–3
Máire Máirtín, "Séamaisín Mhac an Bháird", Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge 14:171 (12/1904) p 700
Máire Máirtín, née Máire Nic Fhionnlaoigh in the parish of Inver, was married to Pádraig Máirtín, and they lived in Garbhach. In 1900 they had 13 children including a daughter Brighid, and the grandmother was also resident. Pádraig Ó Sléibhín was from Edergole, and Mr Gallagher from Mountcharles. Pádraig Ó Sléibhin (died 1900), Éamonn Ó Sléibhín and Proinnsias Tomas, all from Eadarghabháil, contributed to Laoide's Cruach Chonaill (1913).
The Schools Collection from Townawully (1935–1938) contains a remarkable amount of material from the local area, as well as from Na Rosa and Gaoth Dobhair. It was assembed by teachers Antoin Ó Dochartaigh, a native of Oileán na Cruite, and his wife Siubhan Ní Cheallacháin. Included are two items collected from the present speaker by members of his family, Mar tháinig an t-ainm ar Loch Béal Séad and Cur i gCéill na mBan. The song An Tailliúr Aerach is also there, but not collected from our speaker. There are the words of two further songs composed by Máire Ní Mháirtín, Nuala and Amhrán Thamhnach Mhullaigh, and also a version of Amhrán Mholta Ghleann Domhain. It may not be coincidental that the singing in Gaelic of James Martin from Tannawilly provided the tune of a "Lament on leaving Glendowan", published by Charlotte Milligan Fox in the Journal of the Irish Folk-Song Society 1:1 (1904?) p 16.
Coming to the present speaker, he is certainly one of the clearest in the entire Ulster Doegen collection. He was born on 25/02/1880 to John Craig and Mary Martin of Cornaveagh (civil registry). The same birth is recorded in church records but dated 19/02/1880, no place is given, and the mother's surname is given as Craig. Another Manus had been born to the same couple on 09/04/1873 (civil records, church records), but had died in 1879 aged 6 (civil records). There is also Mary, born 23/10/1877 (church) or 12/11/1877 (civil); Margaret, born 20/06/1882 (civil); and Bridget, born 25/12/1884 (civil).
In the census of 1901, the Craig family in Cornaveigh was headed by Mary Craig, a widow aged 59, her husband John Craig having died early in 1901 aged 62. Unmarried children were Kate (25, sprigger), Ellen (22, sprigger), Maggie (18, sprigger), Bridget (14, scholar) and Manus (12, scholar). All the family were bilingual. The ages given here for the children are wildly incorrect, not least for Manus. Also puzzling is the fact that Kate and Ellen were absent from civil and church records. In 1911, the family was reduced to Mary (widow, 72, farmer) and Bridget (unmarried daughter, 26), both bilingual.
Manus is found in 1911 in Scotland, at Shettleston, aged 31, unmarried, described as a crofter, a "visitor" in the home of his sister, Ellen McLaughlin, a widow aged 39 with two young children. Also visiting at this address is Patrick Hilferty, 21, unmarried, a railway labourer, probably from Corracramph. Ellen and both the visitors spoke Gaelic and English. On 20/07/1906 at Donegal town, Ellen Craig had married Bernard McLaughlin. A daughter Mary Ellen was born at Shettleston on 26/06/1907, and a son Bernard jun. was born there on 30/10/1909. Ellen died at Shettleston on 18/02/1941, and her death was registered by her son Bernard, who himself died in Glasgow in 1980.
At St Agatha's, Clar, on 19/02/1912, Manus Craig married Cassie Martin of Goladhu; her father was Donald Martin, a farmer. They had eight children:
Nan, who married Michael Hone of Finadoos in 1947
Dan, d 10/05/2001
Bridie, d Birmingham 28/03/2012, aged 87; m Tommy Sweeney, Glasgow, 1957; family Margaret, Bryan (died at birth), Thomas, Sharon and Patsy
Patrick, d 27/06/1947
Manus had been politically active in Sinn Féin around 1920, and later in Fianna Fáil. He has been described as "a seanchaidhe who gave so much material to the Folklore Commission" (Derry People 1953/10/24 p3). Cassie died aged 41 on 17/11/1928, and Mánus, the speaker, died aged 65 on 27/11/1945
The stone in Clar graveyard reads:
Recent references to Mánus Ó Creag include:
Thanks are due to Tommy Sweeney, Peter Hughes and Séamus Mac Giolla Easbuig for some of the information on this page.
Reilig an Chláir
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