Folklore: Meadow of the Monks
An outline history of Clonmany Parish made in 1978.
Clonmany is a parish rich in historical associations. The late Patrick Kavanagh, who spent many years as a school teacher in the village, was a dilligent researcher into it's lore and legends. The following contains an outline sketch, of earlier times in Clonmany, taken from his recordings of stories, collected in many years of contact with people and perusal of ancient records.
Poteen was the main industry around 1800 -1900. It was made all over the parish, also at Glashedy. The red coats - "the light horse" - often raided for poteen, and after the wars of Napoleon, the Revenue Police often raided. The people of Urris blocked the road at Crossconnell to keep them out, ruled themselves and made all the poteen they wanted. This was the poteen of the "Republic of Urris" - the second republic in Europe. (France was the first.)
Guards or looks outs were posted. They used iron rods as dectectors. They put a plank on the road with the iron rods standing up on it and held their ear to the other end. They could hear horses galloping five miles away.
Poteen at that time was made from malt (1820 - 1880). The barley was steeped in a dam and then left near the fire until it warmed a bit, then spread on the barn floor until it started to bud. As soon as the buds appeared it was kiln dried and ground in a mill and steeped in barrels to ripen.
After 1880 it was made from sugar. Four stone of sugar made three gallons of poteen. Lots of houses had malt houses. In the old house of Grants of Cloughfin (it was the first stone house, built in 1610) there is a malt cellar in the floor of the room, You lift a flag in the floor.
When a still, or worm, or poteen was found, the fine was levied on the quarterland so that people took to the hills or Glasheedy. When the law was first passed in London, the fine was to be levied in the townland. But in these parts there were no townlands, nothing but quarterlands, and the act had to go back again to get the laws changed. Urris is made up of six quarterlands, Minaduff, Rooskey and Ballinabo made a quarterland. Old poteen makers always threw away the first glass to the fairies. If they kept the fairies on their land, they would warn them of a raid. At one time there was a barrack of Revenue Men in Gaddyduff (Lynch's). There was 35 men and a sergeant in the barrack. The inside walls were built of turf. After a seizure of poteen an officer came from Buncrana to see that the poteen was all spilled down a grating. The men had a tub under the grating and as soon as the officer was out of sight, they were enjoying themselves, and had in some of the neighbours they were great with.
"The light Horse" raided Morrisons for Poteen. There was a big party going on. The men came out and left the women inside to hide the poteen. They closed the door and as the soldiers ran their swords through, the women broke the swords with an iron jumper they had. The officer, Dalziel, went up on the roof to go down the chimney. The men shouted " Caith cocha na leapa sa tine". They threw the bed straw into the fire and smoked Dalziel out and burned the clothes of his back. The revenue police were all Protestants and so were the Policemen (or Peace Men) in the beginning