Dr Lynch & The Origins of the Feis
The retention and promotion of the Irish language case was very successful under the direction of an Dochtúir Dómhnall Ó Loingsigh. He started to organise small competitions firstly between the young people of the area and then between the adults. With these small competitions there came about a great attendance at Feiseanna, not only in Muskerry but throughout County Cork.
It was in the Ballyvourney locality that the first Feis was organised under the stewardship of Conradh na Gaeilge. The doctor was very interested in music and songs, so at the feiseanna he held competitions for instruments such as violin, accordion, concertina, tin whistle, the uileann pipes and the harp. He also held competitions for the old songs of the 18th and 19th centuries, the songs of the day, and for newly composed songs.
At the Ballyvourney Feis in the year 1900 Donnacadh Ó Laoire from Doire an Chulin won 1st prize for a newly composed song named “Baile Mhuirne”, a song that is regularly sung by local singers 100 years later.
The following are links to articles from 1902 and 1903 which contain reports of the Ballyvourney Feis, mentioning how instrumental an Dochtúir Ó Loingsigh was in organising these events and his describing his passionate enthusiasm in promoting the use of the Irish language amongst the people of Ballyvourney and further afield –
An Dochtúir Ó Loingsigh attended the first Oireachtas in the year 1897. During his life he supported every aspect of the lives of the people in Coolea and Ballyvourney especially language and culture, and he also travelled to do so.
At the third Oireachtas, which took place in Dublin in June of 1899, an Dochtúir Ó Loingsigh gave a short podium address in Irish to represent the spoken language of Munster. During the event he was followed by two further speakers, each also giving a short speech in their native dialect – Thomas Concannon, an Organiser of the Gaelic League, representing Connacht; and P.T. MacGinley, Belfast representing Donegal.
Because of his work there was a great demand for the youth and the scholars of this area. From that time on many of them were called to the colleges throughout the country, so that they could teach their native language, and due to that many of them obtained work as teachers and professors, which they would not have if it was not for an Dochtúir Ó Loingsigh!
This is how Ballyvourney came to be the number one place in the new Gaelic Life that was growing throughout the New Ireland.
According to Dónal Ó hÉalaithe, a story was told about an Dochtúir Ó Loingsigh judging at the Ballyvourney Feis 4-5 years before he died. The first prize was won by Paddy McCarthy, the schoolteacher at Slievereagh school.
When an Dochtúir Ó Loingsigh was presenting the prize to Mr McCarthy this is what he is supposed to have said –
“Paddy is an authority on Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur French, on Deutschland German and on Oxford English, he is also an authority on Slievereagh Irish and it is in this final trait on the Slievereagh dialect of Irish that he wins first prize”.