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The chair Patrick Pearse broke in Gortahork

Local girl Carys McFadden sitting on the famous chair.

Local girl Carys McFadden sitting on the famous chair.


A restored dining table chair that dates back more than 110 years will attract considerable interest when it is put on display during the forthcoming Coláiste Uladh cultural weekend in Gortahork.
The chair was inadvertently damaged by Patrick Pearse during a ‘raking’ night of music and dance in Mhic Dhomhnaill’s house back in the summer of 1907.
Pearse, who worked with Conradh na Gaeilge, was in Gortahork for the new term in Coláiste Uladh in July of that year. This was the first college he visited during his scheduled visit to assess the levels and competency of Irish in use in Irish colleges. Accompanying him were Dr. S.P. Mac Enrí, Tomás Bán Ó Concheanainn and F.J. Bigger.
After returning from a visit to Tory Island, Pearse was invited by Úna Ní Fhlaircheallaigh to attend a night of music and dance in Mhic Dhomhnaill’s house in Gortahork.
During the course of the night Pearse was asked to sing a few verses of a song. He declined but later agreed to recite a poem.
Reciting the poem he stood by a chair while supporting one of his knees on it. There was a loud noise and Patrick Pearse and the chair fell to the ground after one of the legs came off the chair.
At the end of the night he apologised to the man of the house for breaking the chair. The following morning Pearse returned to Mhic Dhomhnaill’s house and offered £3 compensation for breaking the chair. Needless to say the offer was declined.
The chair was placed in a safe place after the execution of Patrick Pearse on the 3rd May, 1916. At the Golden Jubilee celebration of Coláiste Uladh in 1956 the chair – which had been fixed – was used when the then President Seán T. Ó Ceallaigh visited the college.
In more recent times, the chair has been kept under lock and key in McClafferty’s house (formally Mhic Dhomhnaill’s house).
“Two old ladies owned the house before our family bought it and the chair is kept there although it will go on public display in Gortahork during the Coláiste Uladh cultural weekend,” Mr Tommy McClafferty said.
Séamus MacGéidigh, the manager of RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s Derrybeg office, is one of the organisers of the cultural weekend.
“The chair was fixed and remained in the kitchen until after the Easter Rising and Pearse’s execution, when it was put to one side. When the house was sold to Hughie McClafferty the chair formed part of the contents and is still there,” he said.
Pearse is one of three prominent leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916, alongside Joseph Mary Plunkett and Roger Casement, who will be commemorated on the weekend of May 27-29.
The celebrations will be the pinnacle of the Coláiste Uladh Commemorative Committee’s series of events held over the last five months.
Coláiste Uladh was established in Gort an Choirce in 1906 to help foster the revival of the Irish language and culture which was taking place countrywide at the time.
The committee extend an open invitation to everybody, from varied backgrounds, to attend some or all of the events in what promises to be a historical and memorable occasion for the local community.

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