The Cloughjordan Heritage Group was established in 2006* and has been active within the community since that time. The group has a major profile in an area steeped in heritage – Cloughjordan was home to 1916 leader, Thomas MacDonagh and his family, it is on the Beare Breifne way, it in a rich archaeological area and it is the location of the first eco village in the Ireland.
The group’s activities include regular public meetings with guest speakers on a variety of topics including; Emigration from the Cloughjordan area to Canada and New Zealand, Cloughjordan’s Railway station, A Childhood in the Solomon Islands, Reading the Landscape around North Tipperary, Life through the Years in Pimlico and the Liberties in Dublin, and a Report on the Archaeology of Eco-Village site among many others. The group has organised field trips to local heritage sites such as Ardcroney Burial Tombs, the Rock of Cashel and Ashley Park House, and places with local interest such as Kilmainham Jail, Pearse Museum and Rockwell College.
The annual Bawney and Friends evening is a highlight on the calendar of events. This concert presents an array of guests mainly from North Tipperary but surprise guests have generously made an appearance on many occasions. The programme, a guarded secret, includes; song, poetry, drama, dance, music from classical to traditional. The variety of styles and international cultures of the performers contributes to its popularity all produced and presented in a spirit of conviviality by host, Bawney Hayes.
Oíche Ghaelach, creates a special atmosphere of hospitality where traditional music, song and story are enjoyed with time for a cupán tae. Bíonn fáilte fé leith roimh éinne gur maith leo bheith páirteach sna himeachtaí idir ceol, amhrán, filíocht agus scéal.
A series of heritage books had been published between 1985 and 2001 under the initial guidance of the late Canon Edward White. The six volumes were well received in the parish and particularly sought by those who had moved away and held cherished memories of the people and places of their youth. In 2010 the Heritage Group appointed an editorial committee from amongst its members and a further two volumes were added to the Cloughjordan Heritage Series. It is hoped to publish a photographic record of the area soon.
Cloughjordan Honours Thomas MacDonagh has become an annual event organised initially by the Heritage Group, commemorating the legacy of the poet, patriot and native of Cloughjordan at the May Bank Holiday Weekend (first weekend in May). Many organisations contribute to a variety of heritage and cultural events over the long weekend. In 2013 the MacDonagh Summer School was launched. This inaugural seminar presented three speakers – Lucille Redmond, Honor O’Brolchain and David Lawlor, each with a view of events connected with the MacDonagh family. A local field trip followed in what is hoped to be an annual event.
In the past four years pupils of the four primary schools in the parish have been presented with some poems by Thomas MacDonagh. Through the guidance of their teachers each year the children study a designated poem and present an artistic reflection on some lines or theme within the poems. Thanks to kind sponsors these poems can be read on display boards throughout Knocknacree Wood, the place of inspiration for several of Thomas’ poems.
During the year the Heritage Group participates in national events such as Heritage Week, Culture Night and National Tree Week. It is one of the most active local groups in Cloughjordan.
The current focus of the group is helping with the development of the Thomas MacDonagh Centre. This is based around the former home of the MacDonagh family and has been extended to include a museum, library and research facility, art gallery and resource for family stories in the Cloughjordan area.
*(In a pilot project carried out by North Tipperary County Council a number of groups were formed in Cloughjordan. Following three public meetings, with an attendance of up to eighty people each evening, a list of priorities for the community in Cloughjordan was drawn up. The Cloughjordan Community Development Committee (CCDC) was formed as an umbrella group for eight special interest groups; Childcare, Youth Clubs, Woodland Walks, Street Market, Finance, Festivals, Tidy Towns and Heritage).