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By: Patrick McDermott


Pages: 232 Ratings: 5.0
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Life in rural Ireland in any townland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was far from easy. There were few opportunities for any kind of work outside farming. And few were the farmers who could remunerate anybody to help on the farm.
We are in danger of forgetting the struggle these people had to eke out a living from the reluctant soil, which only answered to the best weather conditions and even then, only too frequently in a poor fashion.
By painstakingly tracing the routine of the seasonal tasks like putting in the potatoes, saving the turf and hay, Patrick McDermott gives us a memorable account of their lives in Blackmountain.
But, he does much more than that: he gives us the names of the last inhabitants of the whole area which was popularly known as Dubh; asks why rural Ireland should be left behind; considers the influence of the Catholic Church, the EU, the future of agriculture and a host of other topics.
Blackmountain is also, significantly, the ancestral townland and home of Seán Mac Diarmada, executed after the Easter Uprising in 1916, and the author discusses the often conflicted attitudes of the inhabitants to this great Irish patriot.
This book is a veritable mine of information for everybody, but especially for emigrants who may look back nostalgically on their early days in Blackmountain.

The author, Patrick McDermott, is a third cousin of Seán Mac Diarmada, the 1916 Easter Rising leader who was one of the signatories to the Proclamation of Irish Independence. Patrick was born in the townland of Blackmountain, which is the ancestral townland and home of Seán Mac Diarmada’s people. He grew up doing the same farming tasks as Seán Mac Diarmada’s relatives, namely, John and Bizzie McDermott, who remained in the ancestral home, when other members of the family moved to Corranmore, nearer Kiltyclogher. This is where Seán Mac Diarmada was born.

Customer Reviews
2 reviews
2 reviews
  • Stephen Walsh Blackrock Dublin

    This book “Blackmountain” about the ancestral townland of Seán Mac DIarmada’s cousins, was drawn to my attention. I’ve always been interested in the signatories of the 1916 Rebellion in Ireland but this book is about much more than that. What is rarely mentioned about revolutions is what happens to the relatives of the revolutionaries who have to continue on, often in poor circumstances such as Sean’s cousins John and Bizzie Donald Mc Dermott had to endure in Blackmountain.
    There is a marvelous description of how the people of Blackmountain managed to survive, their attitude to religion, how they were affected by Ireland joining the EU, how they had to emigrate. The author has strong views not all of which I agreed with, he sees no future for farming in Ireland. Apart from afforestation he sees Ireland becoming a wasteland.
    What is also interesting is that all the inhabitants of Blackmountain between 1930 - 1950 are listed. There is only one survivor of that era still living in Blackmountain.
    For anyone interested in early twentieth century Ireland and how the people survived against the odds, this is a great read.
    Stephen Walsh, Blackrock Co. Dublin.

  • Cormac Kavanagh

    I was very fortunate to come across a lovely book in the last few weeks. It’s entitled “Blackmountain, ancestral townland and home of Seán Mac Diarmada’s cousins. As many of us know, Seán was second signatory of the proclamation, after Thomas Clarke. This, in itself, is significant. It shows the high regard in which he was held by his fellow revolutionaries.

    This book deals with his background and that of his relatives in a townland called Blackmountain which I never heard of, but the author, Patrick Mc Dermott, a cousin of Seán, soon enlightened me in that respect. It’s not too far from Cornmore where Seán was born and where his house can be seen now. Still living in the ancestral townland in the early part of the twentieth century were his cousins John and Bizzie Donald Mc Dermott in abject poverty. John was crippled from an accident he had while working with horses in America, but yet he could manage to make it to the bog, a good half mile away on the top of the land, get in on the turf floor and cut turf all day long and he couldn’t sit down because if he did he would not be able to get up because of the nature of physical ailment. Because his legs were crossed, the only way he could walk was with the aid of two sicks and the outer part of his shoes to the front. This must have been tortuous but John never complained. He seems to have been a very spiritual man because the author claims to have heard him reading from “The imitation of Christ” by Thomas A. Kempis. Similarly, while saving the hay for his cows he had to stand up all the time. A protestant family called the Moores lived in an adjoining farm and helped John and Bizzie. Especially helpful was Nixon one of the three brothers who put John up on the cart every Friday to go in to Manorhamilton to collect his pension. These two families, one Catholic and one Protestant , lived in complete harmony all their lives despite the struggle for Independence which was going on in the country

    However, the book is about much more than John and Bizzie Mc Dermott , Seán’s cousins, or, indeed all the neighbours that are listed in the book. The whole way of life of all the people is given in great detail. This book will be sought out in the years to come when people will be trying to trace their relatives from the Blackmountain.

    The author very cleverly places the whole narrative in the evolutionary process which seems to be driving us forward towards some finality which he suggests will be perfect happiness. He deals with the influence of the Catholic Church, the E U and the future of Agriculture in Ireland and even has a chapter on Covid-19.

    I haven’t come across any book which describes life in any townland as well as this book. The author sees no future for farming in Ireland. He says that no longer will the fields be covered with cattle and sheep. Farming, as we know it will disappear.
    This book is a very interesting read – a must for anybody in the farming community. The farming organisations would be well advised to read it and the minister for agriculture.

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