The hills of Killinkere

Farewell to dear old Ireland,
The spot that gave me birth;
I love to think of her children
Once more upon this earth.
'Twas on a bright June morning
That I first breathed the air,
In a cottage on a hillside
In a place called Killinkere.

It is well I do remember
When my schooldays first began;
I hated pen and paper
And longed to be a man.
I thought of hunting, fishing,
And going to the fair,
Or sporting with my comrade boys
On the hills of Killinkere

But my schooldays soon were over
And my mind was ill at ease
From thinking oft of foreign places,
Of cities grand and fair,
So I bade farewell to those I loved
On the hills of Killinkere.

I started off for England,
Across the Irish sea,
In hopes to make my fortune
And to gain my liberty.
Though troubles I have had but few
The truth I must declare
My heart was ever yearning
For the hills of Killinkere.

I could not forget my boyhood days
Those happy days round home;
Those lazy Summer evenings
When round the hills I'd roam;
Or hear the thrush and linnet sing
And breathe the scented air,
Or stroll along with one I loved
On the hills of Killinkere.

But alas! those days they are now gone,
No more such scenes I'll see;
But I am ever yearning
For to see old Ireland free.
Be sure that day's not far away!
Have courage, don't despair!
And soon you'll see you'll freemen be

On the hills of Killinkere
Killinkere parish Co. Cavan is well known as the birthplace of General Phil Sheridan, Jim Smith and Joe Stafford of GAA fame, and Patrick Farrelly, father of Cardinal Farley Archbishop of New York, amongst others who made their mark on world history. Comprised of forty-eight townlands it is bordered by Mullagh, Lurgan, Lavey. Larah, Knockbride and Killann Parishes, made up of 15958.9 statute acres of which 139.0.17 are water, and 2248 uncultivated. Farming is the main occupation of its residents, dairying, pig and beef production are thriving enterprises.

'Killinkere' translated from 'Cillin Cheir' means 'little church'. Today, both upper and lower ends of the parish have R.C and C of I churches. Saint Ultan the patron saint of the parish is also patron of the Childrens; Hospital Dublin, where his painting hung on a wall at one time, it was stored away during renovations in 1983 and we are not certain if it was ever returned there afterwards.

The modern leisure centre and all-weather football pitch combined with the refurbished Manse within the grounds, offer excellent facilities for many major events all year round. The GAA now field teams in all grades thus providing young people especially, with healthy recreation. The ladies' team-established a few years ago has gone from strength to strength, with maximum support and input.

Many dance halls and schools have provided education and recreation for people in the parish in the past. Local schools closed in 1977 when the new one opened in Lower Killinkere. Buses were employed to transport all children in the parish, and the small schools remained without purpose afterwards. Lurgananure which first opened in 1891 - replacing an older one built in 1862 was recognised as a valuable resource for those in the lower end of the parish. Local initiative came to the fore in repairing, or replacing wooden floors, cleaning the yard and opening a new entrance. It is now used for meetings, set-dancing and other classes. In previous years it became a polling booth at elections.

Last Winter it was decided to commemorate its history and service to education with a roll call of all students who exited its door over its eighty six years in existence, June 22nd and 23rd 2007 selected as a suitable date for this exercise. Initial expectations of a mixed response to the idea were soon put aside as queries from abroad arrived seeking information on programme events! Guided by proposed ideas for keeping the school open on both afternoons, the exhibition of related material took shape, bands, schoolbooks and newspaper-cuttings arrived daily. Some of this material will be included in a major publication coinciding with the event, the remainder for display.

Almost one hundred people are travelling home for the occasion-many on their first visit since leaving the area, together with family members who never set foot in Ireland - let alone Cavan!
Anyone is welcome to the book-launch and variety night in Lisgrey on the night of 22nd. All available accommodation had been booked, maximum three hundred tickets for the banquet meal June 23rd sold out, those unable to obtain tickets may attend the after-dinner dance in Riverfront, 23rd June. We welcome everyone home to our midst for the duration. This gentle and unspoiled rural area of Cavan merits no mention in any tourist literature. As an alternative to over-promoted attractions it would be welcomed by those seeking escape from the stress and strain of life in today's fast-moving world. Whey, then does Failte Ireland refuse any financial assistance to small voluntary groups- willing to devote time, effort and energy in promoting forgotten Ireland - and Cavan - hopeful of repeat visits, which ultimatley benefit the local economy? It must be remembered that large oak grows from small acorn - with a little encouragement!

By Anna Sexton