Sunday, December 24, 2006

Mary Elsteads Wedding

by Eddie Cantwell

Early in October I was contacted by Donal O’ Connell. He was researching his mother’s people who came from Abbeyside. His mothers name was Mary Elstead. I had carried out some research on the Elstead family for my book ‘The Way It Was’ some years previous. During my research, I discovered a poem in the Abbeyside Reference Archive which was written by Nell Daly and titled ‘Mary Elstead’s wedding’. The poem was featured in the book, but I was at a loss to know who the poem was dedicated to. The picture created in the poem did not seem to fit any of the local Elstead family. The mystery was soon to be unravelled!

(The above photo of Mary’s wedding features well known locals, the bride & groom are easily identified, also present are Nell Daly; front left , the man with the cap is John O’Connell’s father. We have made a stab at some of the others but perhaps if readers contact us with names, that would be much appreciated)

Donal and I corresponded for a period and it was not long before Donal arrived on my door step, he was accompanied by a friend of Italian extraction named Manlio Reina.Both were very impressed with Abbeyside and the town of Dungarvan .The poem was the first thing I produced for the visitor, this knocked him sideways. Everything in the poem made sense to him but he was labouring under the assumption that his parents were married in Cahirciveen in Kerry. The last piece in the puzzle fell into place when we met up with Peg Elstead at her daughter Gail’s house at McCarthy Ville. Having introduced him to Peg, he asked, ‘did you know my mother? ‘Of course I knew her’ replied Peg, ‘sure wasn’t I at her wedding!’ Donal was familiar with the name of Nell Daly; she was a friend of his mothers. Another name he mentioned was Peggy Organ; those were among the names most frequently mentioned by his late mother.

Donal with Seamus O’Brien.

Prior to Donal and Manlio’s arrival, I had spoken with the Murphy Place memory- man, Seamus O’ Brien, who knew all about the Elstead family and despite his full calendar; he agreed to meet with us. For Donal, the meeting proved to be more than he had hoped for, and the story of his mother’s family slowly unfolded. Donal had several puzzling questions which he posed to Seamus and to his surprise, most were answered. Donal’s next call was to Peggy Flynn nee Organ. Peggy was a close friend of Donal’s mother. Speaking to him after the event, he told me that it was a most rewarding evening and he had learned much about his family history. Another good friend of Mary Elstead was the author of the Poem, Nell Daly. Nell was not home when we called but Donal plans to call on her when he returns during the New Year.

Mary Elstead married John O’Connell. The couple had the following children; Ann, Noreen, Donal and Nicola.

Mary O’Connell nee Elstead died in 2000. Donal’s father, John died back in 1971.

Donal’s three sisters live in Kerry. Both Donal and his sister Nicola are Architects. Donal lives in Dublin.

Mary Elstead’s wedding is a lovely piece of work; it records a wonderful day in the life of a young married couple. It will bring back many memories to the people who remember the occasion. It also brings to life the wonderful characters from the Village that made the event such a joyful occasion. It’s a great pity that others like Nell Daly did not put pen to paper and record such events for posterity…Enjoy!

Eddie Cantwell Dec 2006.

Mary Elsteads Is Wedding.

On the morning of June 27th

With the sun shining gloriously on

We all gathered down at the Abbey

For the wedding of Mary and John.

Oh! I tell you the groom had us worried

I’m afraid that he misjudged the time

When we thought we could stand it no longer

He arrived with my partner in crime

Jolla Whelan was coughing that morning

In the church he made both of us laugh

I hope I’m around when he marries

I assure you I’ll get my own back

And then when the wedding was over

Happy that all had gone well

We proceeded across to Dungarvan

For a hooley at Kelly’s Hotel.

To dear Fathers Walshe and O’Regan

A welcome we all did extend

We know that their presence amongst us

Added joy to the party did lend

Benny Honan was there from America

From the land of the Stars and the Stripes

And we all gave a Cead Mìle faílte

To himself and his bonny new bride.

We were all very pleased to see Ollie

Looking so fit and so well

And we know that the time, It was jolly

That we spent there in Kelly’s Hotel

Seamus Crotty we were happy to see there

We would not be there without him

For no celebration or party

Is complete without Abbeyside Jim.

We had Greta from Abbeyside choir

You could see she was timid not- bold

John O’Shea gave the day in the window

How I wish that, that doggy was sold

Very soon, we had Lovey amongst us

The yellow rose of Texas to sing

Mike Daly brought in his melodeon

And the music did merrily ring.

And then when the party got going

Singing and dancing had we

And for keeping the dances in order

We had capable Willie. M.C.

There were some in the party that morning

Who were natives of sweet Skibereeen.

One from the Lakes of Killarney

And a number from Cahirciveen

Through many long hours we made merry

We’ll always remember the day

When the people from far - away Kerry

Met the people from Dungarvan bay

At the end of the Day’s celebrations

Poor Lovey was minus his cap

‘Twas to small for the head it came home on

So I hope it has been given back.

Now I’ve come to the end of my story

There’s nothing more I have to say

But I hope when the season re-opens

The Rossmire will be first at the Quay.