The first meeting was held in the Caheragh Community Hall on the 24 October 1995. Catherine Mulhall set up the meeting for all of the neighbours and friends to discuss the erection of a Memorial to Captain Francis O’Neill who was born in the town land of Tralibane in the Parish of Caheragh. It was decided at the meeting that a life size figure of O’Neill would be erected as a suitable memorial to his memory in recognition of the rich musical heritage he published for posterity. A sub-committee was formed which consisted of Catherine Mulhall , Liam Barrett and John Collins. They started the ground work for the project and decided that a company should be set up to enable them to bring the project to fruition. The company was formed in 1996. The Directors were as follows; Catherine Mulhall, Liam Barrett, John Collins, Kathleen Cadogan (RIP), Nora Ni Chroimin, Gordon Shannon, Mary K O’Sullivan, Cecilia Wilcox, Timmy McCarthy and Micheál Collins.
The O’Neill company decided to erect a plaque on the Tralibane Bridge to honour Francis O’Neill on the 150th anniversary of his birth on the 20thSeptember 1998. It was unveiled by the chairman of Cork County Council, Mr Kevin Murphy.
It was here on the Tralibane Bridge that the young Francis O’Neill listened to the Irish airs played by local musicians at the “pattern”. The Tralibane Pattern was also revived on the day. Hundreds of patrons and supporters gathered at the Tralibane Bridge to listen to Irish Traditional Music and partake in the open air platform dancing in glorious sunshine at the bridge.
The dynamic Memorial Committee in the year 1999 acquired a site from Victor and Ursula Kingston of Tralibane. The site is adjacent to the O’Neill Homestead and a life size monument of Francis O’Neill playing a flute was unveiled by Commissioner of the Garda Siochana, Mr Pat Byrne, on the 11th March 2000.
The Boston Police Gaelic Column Pipe and Drum Band, performed the opening by marching around the Monument and the huge crowd responded with enthusiasm and applause.
In August of 2001, a film crew from Chicago who were making a documentary on O’Neill both in Chicago and Ireland ,arrived in Bantry and filmed O’Neill’s Homestead, Tralibane Bridge and The O’Neill Monument. In addition they interviewed members of the Memorial Committee. This documentary was shown in Chicago on the 11th January 2002.
Each year since the erection of the Monument, the Committee organises a mid-summer open air platform dance at the monument in Tralibane on the longest day o the year, the 21st June. They hold the Annual Pattern Day in September each year. On the day, there are two platforms – one for dancing for pleasure and one for competitive dancing. There are competitions for senior and junior set dancing, two-hand dancing, hornpipes and senior and junior waltzing.
Perpetual trophies, plaques and medals are presented or all competitions. The competitors come from the local parish as well as surrounding parishes. Traditional music song and dance for all ages is enjoyed at the meetings.
During the year Ceili classes are held in the Caheragh Community Hall. The Committee organises a number of Ceili and Old Time dances during the year. Patrons come from all over West Cork and parts of Kerry and beyond to enjoy an evening of music song and dance. During the interval, patrons have the chat and are served some tea, sandwiches and sweet cakes.
On the 6th December 2002 the Captain Francis O’Neill Memorial Committee published a book The History of Caheragh Parish. The Author Donal J. O’Sullivan was a native of Clouncuggar, Caheragh. A new revised edition of the book was re-published in 2010 with additional text by Cammy Harley, Dromore, Bantry. Printing of both the original and the revised edition was done by Inspire Design and Print, Skibbereen.
The Captain Francis O’Neill Memorial Committee have taken part in the Saint Patrick‘s Day parade over the years. They were instrumental in the revival of the parade in 2000. The O’Neill’s Committee entry has won the award for the best traditional float on several occasions.
In 2010 the Committee erected a stone wall to secure the site on the roadside. A concrete base was put down for the dance platform. Security hand rails were put up on the steps leading to the Monument, incorporating a bronze plaque in both Irish and English Language. Public Lighting was also installed on site.
The highlight of 2010 was the erection of a Captain Francis O’Neill Commemorative Wall on the site. Commemorative bricks were purchased by people from Ireland, United Kingdom and the USA. Having completed one side of the wall there are still some places left on the second side. Anyone interested in purchasing a brick can contact any one of the Directors listed on the back of the flyer.
Funding has been secured for planting of a hedge on the perimeter of the site. Presently the company is considering the provision of changing and storage rooms with toilet facilities on site.
The Captain Francis O’Neill Memorial Committee has supported several charities over the past years by organising fundraising Ceili and Old Time dances.
Some of the charities which have benefitted are; the Church Building Fund in Kolampo, Zambia per Father John Horgan, SMA. The MS Fund, the Red Cross, Niall Melon Fund, Tsunami Disaster Fund, Jacintha McCarthy Zambia Fund, Saint Vincent de Paul, Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Captain Francis O’Neill Memorial Committee would sincerely like to thank all those who have supported or helped out in any way over the past sixteen years.
Our thanks to Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann and all musicians who have played at different functions. Thanks to all the dancing teachers and pupils who have come to the Competitions on the Annual Pattern Day at the monument in Tralibane each year. Thank you to all the patrons from all over County Cork and Parts of Kerry who have supported our Ceili and Old Time dances throughout the years.
Thank you to all those who gave grants, funding, private donations and who helped carry out the work and projects done at the monument site at Tralibane. Some of those were: Cork County Council, Leader, Ireland Fund, Arts Council, AIB award, Heritage Grant, Biggs and Co, Murnane and O’Shea, McSweeney’s Sand and Gravel, Caheragh GAA, Carbery, Clona and Irish Yogurts, The Boston Police Gaelic Colum Pipe and Drum Band, Toby@fast.net business services and to Patrick Rice Website designer and Cammy Harley Website Adminstrator