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26 Jul 2012

Tá CAIRDE Teo ag eagrú féile staire trí lá idir 10 agus 12 Lúnasa le comóradh a dhéanamh ar cheann de na himeachtaí is mó clú agus suntas a tharla i gContae Ard Mhacha. Troideadh Cath Bhéal an Átha Bhuí ar 14 Lúnasa 1598 i roinnt bailte fearainn atá buailte ar chathair Ard Mhacha sa cheantar fán Ghráinseach agus fán Phort Mhór. Chuir uaisle na hEorpa iontas agus suntas i dtoradh an chatha agus d’fhág rialú na nGall in Éirinn san fhaopach.  Troideadh an cath idir arm Shasana faoi stiúir Henry Bagenal agus fórsaí na nGael faoi stiúir an dara Iarla ar Thír Eoghain, Aodh Ó Néill agus a chomhthiarnaí Gaelacha, Aodh Rua Ó Dónaill agus Aodh Mag Uidhir.  In ainneoin an chatha, taobh istigh de naoi mbliana, d’imigh Tiarnaí Gaelacha Uladh, tharla Plandáil Uladh agus d’eascair an stair fhada chorraitheach a bhaineann leis sin.

Maireann cuimhní ar Bhéal an Átha Bhuí i logainmneacha, san fhinscéalaíocht agus sa seanchas agus sna hamhráin. Is minic a fhiosraíonn daoine agus grúpaí ó achan chearn den tír agus den domhan féin an t-imeacht tabhachtach seo a bhí mar chuid de Chogadh na Naoi mBliana a tharla idir Ríthe na nGael agus airm na nGall. Dá thairbhe sin, cuireadh coiste ar bun sa cheantar le stocaireacht a dhéanamh le haitheantas oifigiúil a fháil do thábhacht stairiúil an cheantair.

Cuirfidh Méara Ard Mhacha, an Comhairleoir Sharon Ní Eachaidh tús leis an Fhéile ag Clubtheach CLG Naomh Colmcille ar an Ghráinseach, Contae Ard Mhacha tráthnóna Aoine 10 Lúnasa ag 7.15pm. Ina dhiaidh sin, beidh léacht agus plé ann faoi ‘Cath Cluain Tiobrad – Réamhchath don Áth Buí?’  Is é an seándálaí agus an stáraí Jim O’Neill a bheas mar aoi speisialta don léacht a bheas faoi chathaoirleacht an Dr Antaine Uí Dhonnaile. Beidh seisiún ceoil agus amhránaíocht oíche Aoine le Ciorcal Comhrá Ard Mhacha.

Ar an Satharn 11 Lúnasa, beidh turas bus ó Clubtheach CLG na Gráinsí go suíomh an chatha i gCluain Tiobrad, Contae Muineachán agus beidh Jim O’Neill mar threoraí dúinn thart ar na droimíní stairiúla lenár n-aird a dhíriú ar shuíomhanna tábhachtacha an chatha sin a tharla sa bhliain 1595. Beidh an bus ag imeacht ón Ghráinseach ar 11.00am agus beidh sé ar ais ag an chlubtheach thart ar 3.30pm. Beidh táille £8 don bhus agus don tsiúlóid.

Beidh iomaíocht ghéar ar Pháirc Naomh Colmcille ar an Ghainseach ansin, nuair a bheas foirne iománaíochta agus foirne camógaíochta ag dul sa tóir ar dhá chorn ar leith – Corn an Átha Bhuí agus Sciath an Átha Bhuí. Beidh foirne Ard Mhacha Chumann Iománaíochta Chú Chulainn agus Cumann Camógaíochta Naomh Bríd ag sul san iomaíocht le foirne as Taillte an Choláiste, as Tulaigh Sháráin agus as Béal Feirste. Cuirfear tús leis an chamógaíocht ar 4.00pm agus cuirfear tús leis an iománaíocht ar 5.30pm.

Ar an Domhnach 12 Lúnasa, beidh Cumann Oidhreacht Bhádóireachta Loch nEathach ag cur roinnt currach ar fáil dúinn le turas a dhéanamh ó Mhachaire go hInis Dabháil.  Iarrtar ar dhaoine a bhfuil suim acu teacht le chéile ag Clubtheach CLG an Mhachaire ag 2pm le clárú don turas báid. Tabharfar áiteanna ar bhonn first come, first served agus beidh costas £7 i gceist. Ar an oileán féin, glacfaidh an Dr Antaine Ó Donnaile siúlóid threoraithe ar an oileán stairiúil le béim a leagan ar thábhacht an oileáin do Chlann Uí Néill.

D’ainneoin an chlú idirnáisiúnta a thuill an cath, níl comharthaíocht ar bith fán cheantar inar tharla na gnéithe is suntasaí de Chath an Átha Bhuí. Cuireadh coiste ar bun ina bhfuil daoine ón cheantar agus staraithe le béim a comóradh a dhéanamh ar an chath le heolas a thabhairt do mhuintir na háite agus do chuairteoirí faoi thionchar an lae thábhachtaigh sin a tharla i mí Lúnasa blianta fada siar. Déanfaidh Féile an Átha Bhuí 2012 iniúchadh ar an bhaint a bhí ag an chath in Ard Mhacha a tharla sa bhliain 1598 agus an cath a tharla i gCluain Tiobrad trí bliana roimhe sin.

CAIRDE Teo, with support from Irish language body, Foras na Gaeilge, is organising a three day history festival from 10th – 12th August to commemorate one of the most internationally famous and significant events ever to have taken place in Co. Armagh. The Battle of The Yellow Ford, known in Irish as ‘Béal an Átha Bhuí’, was fought across a number of townlands just north of Armagh City, in the area of the Grange and An Port Mór, on the 14th August 1598. The outcome of the Battle sent shockwaves all over Europe and brought the English administration in Ireland to its knees.  It was fought between an English army led by the Queen’s Marshall, Sir Henry Bagenal, and Irish forces led by the 2nd Earl of Tyrone Hugh Ó Néill and his fellow Gaelic Lords, Red Hugh O Donnell and Hugh Maguire.  However, within another nine years, the Gaelic Lords of Ulster had fled, paving the way for the Plantation of Ulster and the subsequent, often turbulent history of our troubled lands.

Memories of the Battle of the Yellow Ford survive in local place names, legend, folklore and song. Enquiries about this tumultuous episode in the Nine Years War between the Gaelic chieftains and the Elizabethan English armies are made regularly by individuals and groups from throughout the island of Ireland and from many parts of the world. This fact has encouraged a local committee to lobby for official recognition of the area’s historical significance.

Lord Mayor Councillor Sharon Haughey will open proceedings at Naomh Colmcille’s GAA Clubhouse in The Grange, Co. Armagh on the Friday evening (10th August) at 7.15pm. There will follow a lecture and open discussion entitled ‘The Battle of Clontibret – A Prelude to the Yellow Ford?’  Archaeologist and historian, Jim O’Neill will be the special guest on the night which will be chaired by Dr Antaine Ó Donnaile. Friday evening will end with music and song from Ciorcal Comhrá Ard Mhacha.

Saturday 11th August will begin with a coach trip from Grange GAA Clubhouse to the battle site at Clontibret, Co. Monaghan where Jim O’Neill will once again be on hand to provide a guided tour of the historical drumlins with observations on the key points of the 1595 Battle. The coach will depart The Grange at 11.00am and return at approximately 3.30pm. A charge of £8 will apply to the transport and walk.

Hurling and camogie teams will then do battle on Páirc Naomh Colmcille in The Grange for two coveted trophies – the Yellow Ford Cup and the Yellow Ford Shield. Local teams Cúchullains and Naomh Bríd will compete with teams from Collegeland, Tullysaran and Belfast for the victors’ prizes. Camogie begins at 4.00pm while puck in at the hurling takes place at 5.30pm.

On Sunday 12th August, a flotilla of currachs from the Lough Neagh Boating Heritage Association will depart Maghery’s shoreline for Inis Dabháil or Coney Island.  Interested parties are requested to assemble at Maghery GAA Clubhouse near the loughshore at 2pm for registration and admission to the boat trip. Places will be offered on a first come, first served basis and the cost will be £7. On the island, Dr Antaine Ó Donnaile will conduct a guided walk of the historic island and outline its significance to the Clann Uí Néill in Ulster.

Despite its international fame and reputation, there is neither signage nor historical interpretative boards to inform visitors to the area where the most significant events in the Battle of the Yellow Ford took place. Surprisingly, the powers that be have not sought to capitalise on the potential of the Battle to develop the local tourist economy. To fill the void, a local committee of volunteers and history enthusiasts was formed to mark the annual anniversary of the Battle in order to educate and inform visitors and locals about the details and legacy of that fateful day in August so many years ago.

The 2012 Yellow Ford Festival will explore the close correlation between events in Co. Armagh in 1598 and those of the Battle of Clontibret three years before. The latter was essentially a two day running fight, as Sir Henry Bagenal’s column was ambushed on its way to and from Monaghan town.

On 27 March 1595, Bagenal set out for Newry in a column, past the townland of Clontibret. The route lay through Drumlin country, which abounded with hills, bogs and woods, making it ideal for an ambush. The column came under fire from the outset, and then fell into a major ambush at a pass near Clontibret. Tyrone’s army – about 4000 strong – consisted of contingents from the O’Neill, MacMahon and Maguire clans, as well as Scottish mercenaries. The Irish leader also deployed a greatly enlarged force of cavalry and caliver-men (musketeers). Bagenal admitted only 31 killed and 109 wounded on the second day of fighting, but his losses were almost certainly higher. The Irish annals claimed up to 700 English killed. Estimates of the confederate losses vary between 100 and 400 killed.

Three years later, Bagenal led an army into another ambush by Tyrone, at the battle of the Yellow Ford. Around 5,000 English troops and cavalry left Armagh City on the morning of battle to relieve a small English garrison besieged by O’Neill’s forces on the Blackwater River. In a feat of extraordinary planning, engineering and execution, O’Neill used his superior knowledge of the local terrain to inflict the greatest ever defeat on any English Army in Ireland. 18 English Captains and at least 1,800 of their men were lost in battle. Famously, Sir Henry Bagenal himself was killed upon momentarily lifting the visor of his battle helmet. This episode is immortalised in the name of a bridge on the Blackwatertown Road – Bagenal’s Bridge.