The Captain Francis O’Neill Memorial Company
The Captain Francis O’Neill Memorial Company is made up of ten people who have achieved a great deal since the company was formed in 1995.
On September 20th 1998, the O’Neill Company was responsible for erecting a plaque at Tralibane Bridge commemorating the 150th anniversary of Captain O’Neill’s birth. On that day also, the crossroads pattern dancing at the Tralibane Bridge was revived after an absence of many years.
A site was then acquired in the townland of Tralibane where O’Neill was born, and on March 11th in the year 2000, a life-sized bronze memorial depicting Captain Francis O’Neill playing a flute was erected on a rock on the site.
At around the same time, the O’Neill Company was instrumental in the revival of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Bantry and its members invited the Boston Police Pipe & Drum Gaelic Column Band to come over to Bantry to honour the great O’Neill.
Since the year 2000, the company has held an annual Pattern Day in September, weather permitting. At this event, they have open-air platform dancing for pleasure, and dancing competitions are held in various different categories on a separate platform. An O’Neill Walk is also held on this Pattern Day, starting from different venues each year and ending at the monument in time for the dancing.
A Midsummer Dance is organised each year on June 21st, and open-air platform dancing takes place at the O’Neill Monument. If the weather is unsuitable, the festivities are transferred to Caheragh Community Hall.
In 2002, the Captain Francis O’Neill Memorial Company published a book entitled The History of Caheragh Parish by Donal O’Sullivan, a native of Clouncuggar, Caheragh. A new Revised Edition was re-published in 2010 by Inspire Design & Print, Skibbereen, and the new edition of the book includes a substantial additional text written by Cammy Harley, a freelance writer and journalist living in Dromore, Bantry.
The group also established an official website at www.francisoneill.ie
Other achievements over the years include the installation of electricity on the site, the building of stone walls, the planting of a hedge surrounding to give shelter, the installation of safety hand rails leading to the monument, and the erection of a plaque on site.
In 2010, a commemorative wall was built on the site, and people from far and near have their names engraved on commemorative bricks on this wall in honour of Captain Francis O’Neill. To find out more about the possibility of purchasing a commemorative brick, please contact the Memorial Company.