(I am indebted to Donal Danaher for the following account by Colm Danaher updated by Donal )
IThe Danahers of Athea
By Colm Danaher
*This is a re-print of an article from the Cork Weekly Examiner dated Oct 16 1931
In the middle of the 17th Century two brothers named Maurice and Phillip Danaher came to the parish of Rathronan, nowadays called Athea. Tradition tells that they came gan bróg gan stoca (without shoe or stocking) fleeing from "Brodel's Persecution" who was rounding up hundreds of young people to be dispatched to the West Indies. In their flight they delayed in Rathronan where they ultimately got the tenancy of two holdings from the Earl of Devon. Maurice was allowed to settle at Mothar Glas at the Eastern side of Glenagower. This land was wild heath at that time covered with bushes and brambles, the only clear portion was down by the river. It took years of hard work to break it in. The rent for the first years was low and there was a plentiful supply of peat and bogwood. The old people used to say that the rabbits and the salmon from the river kept them alive the first winter. The next year they had a cow or two. Before Maurice Danaher died he had the makings of a fairly substantial farm which was improved and added to by his descendants.
Phillip Danaher – brother of Maurice – settled at Cnoc a'treasa-bhaile. The land there had been broken in and was one of the two places in the parish which was designated as gniomh or "plough-land". Philip married a Miss McCoy from Cratloe. The McCoy family had settled in that townland long before the Danahers came to Athea. Tradition said that they obtained tenancy from the Earl of Desmond. They had been hired by the Earl as guards, coming from Scotland originally.
By 1690 the McCoys owned all Cratloe but there was no male heir. At that time two brothers called Wolfe came from Limerick where they had been of a well-off merchant family. They came to Cratloe as spailpíní (migrant labourers) and finally married two of the McCoy girls. The surname Wolfe ultimately became registered tenants in five farms in Cratloe and are to this day in possession. Phillip Danaher's descendants are still in possession at Cnoc a'treasa-bhaile.
At Mothar Glas Maurice Danaher's son Daniel became tenant on the death of his father. Among his family was a son by the name of Daniel. He went to Spain where he was studying at Salamanca. We do not know which year he went there but it ids known that he came home to Ireland in 1731. He brought home from Spain several books* and a wife. Soon after coming back to Ireland he settled in Mathúna (at Castlemahon, in the townland of Lios an Uisce). As well as engaging in farming he set up a hedge school. The fact that he could teach was in greater part the reason that he easily got a tenancy as he instructed the landlord's family. He could instruct people in Latin, Greek and Mathematics, French, Spanish and English. Irish was his natural idiom.
Daniel Danaher was followed in Lios an Uisce by his son Patrick who was always called Peatsaí (Patsy). He carried on his father's hedge-school. He married a girl named Scanlon. He was succeeded by his son John who was born in 1788 and carried on the dual occupation of farmer and teacher. He married a lady called O'Brien.
One of John Danaher's sons named Daniel followed the occupation of hedge-master though he didn't occupy the tenancy of the farm at Lios an Uisce. He subsequently got registered as a National Primary Teacher in a country school called Duckstown. He married Mary Ann Moylan of Ballyallinan. Their only son was William Danaher who carried on the family tradition of teaching and learning, as indeed did his son Kevin Danaher.
Addendum by Donal Danaher.
William Danaher was brought up in Rathkeale, Co. Limerick. He became a teacher and returned to Athea where he taught in the local national school, eventually becoming principal. His wife was a woman called Madge Ryan. He built a house called "Sunvale" in the townland of Gortnagross which is still there though it is no longer in the family's possession. He had four children, all sons:
Joe (1900-c.1986)– qualified as a doctor and went to Barnsley in Yorkshire. Married Eileen Nally from Navan, Co. Meath. Five children: Jack, Patricia, Kate, Dermot and Michael..
Kevin (1913-2002) – Folklore collector, Writer, and Lecturer in Irish Folklore in University College Dublin, Author of "In Ireland Long Ago" and many other books about Irish folk tradition. Married Anna Ryan from Galbally, Co. Limerick. Two sons, Donal, author of this addendum, and Seán, also called John Louis. d. 2004.
Martin (1918-1990) – qualified as a doctor and went to Llanelli in Wales. Unmarried. d. 1990
Colm (1922-2000) – Author of the above document. Stayed in Athea until his father's death, then went to England and worked at various jobs, finally chief storekeeper of Tooting Bec hospital, London. Returned to Ireland after retirement, settling in Edenderry, Co. Offaly. Unmarried. d. 2000..
There is a copy of a similar article which appeared about the same time, possibly in the Limerick Leader in my Photo Gallery. IMG_0682.JPG