Every few years, members of the Fitzpatrick - Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan Society meet in Ireland to learn first-hand about their colleagues’ research and to see for themselves the many important sites that have associations with their Fitzpatrick ancestors, especially in Kilkenny and Laois. The first Fitzpatrick gathering marked the millennium in 2000 and was held in Portlaoise. Other gatherings followed in 2002, and 2004, also in Portlaoise; and in 2007, 2010, and 2013 in Kilkenny. Our Seventh International Clan Gathering was held in Portlaoise in August, 2018. These gatherings have been two-day events. The morning of each day is a conference, where researchers make presentations about their research; and in the afternoon of each day, trips to Fitzpatrick - Mac Giolla Phádraig historical sites are arranged. These events are held at a ‘Gathering Hotel’ where those attending are encouraged to stay, and where on Saturday evening there is the Gathering Conference Dinner. These gatherings are truly international and to-date, they have attracted members from New Zealand, Australia, Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, France, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, the United States and Canada. While the original idea of the gatherings was to share research in conference, there have been other benefits too. Shared family trees have identified living related families. Some have used the gatherings to meet recently discovered family for the first time. Far-flung families have met in Ireland to research and locate old family homes and grave sites. For Fitzpatricks whose ancestors left these lands over the past 250 years, this is a special time of returning; to meet with fellow Fitzpatricks from The List and other online groups, and with Fitzpatricks whose ancestors have never left. Lifelong friendships have been forged, and the bonds of living and historic clanship are woven evermore tightly together.
Since earliest Christian times the ringing of a bell has been used to attract attention. St. Ciarán and St. Patrick carried one on their journeys through Ireland and the kingdom of Ossory. Irish round towers were immense bell towers, the tallest structures in Europe during their day, ringing bells as a call to gather and mark feasts. The sound of a bell is universally understood to mark the time of day, to start and end time periods and to mark transition. However, it is more by accident than design that a bell has become part of Fitzpatrick clan gathering tradition. If you've been to a Gathering, then the bell sound is part of the memory.
“The Call of the Bell”
By Ronan Fitzpatrick
More than one hundred Fitzpatricks from around the world attended the first Fitzpatrick gathering in the Killeshin Hotel in Portlaoise in 2000. Such a number presented a challenge when it came to call their attention when departing either the hotel or some historic site. It was important that nobody was left behind anywhere. Using a whistle was my first thought. Then I thought that the hotel might have a gong that I could bash to attract peoples’ attention. “Sorry,” said the hotel manager, “No gong, but this might help,” and I was handed a brass handbell. I tried it to the amusement of all within earshot and for the remained of the weekend the bell could be heard in the hotel lobby and as we travelled from site to site. While settling the account with the hotel manager on the Monday morning I asked if I could keep the bell as a souvenir. “Sorry, you can’t have that, but I suppose you could have this one,” he said, and he handed me an ‘old’ retired bell that I have used at each gathering since. I remember thinking that this one was a better bell than the first. And so it is, that since then at Fitzpatrick gatherings, attention is attracted by the call of the bell.
The bell consists of four parts – bell, screwed connecting dowel, handle and clapper. Except for the connecting down, which is steel, all parts are made of brass. The bell is 3½ inches in diameter and 2¼ inches deep with a ½ inch high spigot on top. This spigot is threaded to receive a ¾inch screwed dowel to which a 3¾inch handle is connected. When assembled the bell stands 6¾ inches high. The clapper is a small brass ball with two connection loops on opposite sides. Ornamentation is simple. There are three turned rims on the bell – one at the bottom and two at the top - three at the base of the handle and a turned knob at its top. The handle is finished with enamel-like decoration in an abstract pattern. At our fourth gathering in 2007, it was suggested that the bell might be engraved with the Fitzpatrick crest and arms.
Since 2000, the Fitzpatrick Nation has been Gathering every few years in Ireland where members from all over the world converge for a weekend of lectures, dining, and tours of the many significant ruins of historic Fitzpatrick castles, abbeys, churches, and gravesites. Many friendships from around the world which were first forged through online genealogy pursuits, later grew as our international membership has the opportunity to meet face to face in Ireland, our ancient homeland. Since 2021, our ability to connect over conference calls allows us to stay connected as a clan around the globe. Click below to learn more about each International Gathering.
The 1st International Gathering was held on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 July, 2000, at the Killeshin Hotel, Dublin Road, Portlaoise, Ireland.
Every few years members of the Fitzpatrick - Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan Society community meet in Ireland to learn first hand about their colleagues’ research and to see for themselves the many important sites, especially in Kilkenny and Laois, that have associations with their Fitzpatrick ancestors. The first Fitzpatrick gathering marked the millennium in 2000 and was held in Portlaoise at the Killeshin Hotel. A notable outcome of this historic gathering was the genesis of the Fitzpatrick DNA study, started later that year by Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick through Relative Genetics.
The 2nd International Gathering was held at the Killeshin Hotel in Portlaoise in 2002.
The 3rd International Gathering was held at the Killeshin Hotel in Portlaoise in 2004.
The 4th International Gathering was held in Kilkenny in 2007 at the Newpark Hotel.
Gathering 2007 Report
The Fitzpatrick - Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan Society
Fourth International Gathering
Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th July 2007
Newpark Hotel, Castlecomer Road, Kilkenny, Ireland.
The Fitzpatrick 2007 gathering was originally planned to last two days and three nights at the Newpark Hotel but the reality is that it slotted into a three week window of arriving, visiting family and friends, chatting and comparing research notes before departing for home. Most got to see and experience a bit of Ireland while they were here including Ireland’s magnificent traffic problems. Some also visited Trinity College and the Leonardo Codex exhibition in Dublin. Others had sufficient time to do some touring after the event in Kilkenny and elsewhere.
We had two days of great presentations concerning Mac Giolla Phádraig / Fitzpatrick history, folklore and migration together with updates on the Fitzpatrick DNA study and the crests, arms and mottos of the Fitzpatricks.
Tony started the presentations with Mac Giolla Phádraig / Fitzpatrick Historic Sites and explained about castles and burial places associated with our clan. Geoff took the second presentation slot with FITZPATRICKS OF COUNTY DOWN and explained about the migration and distribution of Fitzpatricks in Co. Down in the north of Ireland. After the mid-morning break Colleen updated us on the progress of the Fitzpatrick DNA study.
Brian started the presentations on Sunday morning with My FITZPATRICK SEARCH and explained his continuing changing landscape resulting from the wee p, the big P and the hyphen. Catherine presented on Mac Giolla Phádraig / Fitzpatrick Folklore and especially on the local pronunciation of place names in her neighbourhood. Ronan made the final presentation with an update of the crests, arms and mottos of the Fitzpatricks. Fitzpatrick history, heritage, culture and tradition are now being addressed as clan research topics and listening to conversations I’m certain that some new research topics have been identified for presentation at future gatherings. During the weekend a number of posters were on display. These provide reading about Fitzpatricks and their history, heritage, culture and tradition. There is a section on Ancestral Search and this year a posting from the USA submitted to the 2000 gathering attracted the attention of an attendee who recognised very similar names and naming patterns in his own research. This attendee was also able to share his research about Fitzpatrick migration in Ireland with another attendee’s research about Fitzpatrick migration in Australia.
Tony organised our afternoon site visits and for Saturday afternoon he arranged for a coach to take us on a tour North of Kilkenny into the area of Upper Ossory. We visited Grangefertagh, Cullahill, Agaboe and Ballaghmore Castle. Our convoy consisted of the coach and three cars. For Sunday afternoon he arranged a guided tour of St Canice’s Cathedral in Kilkenny and we then travelled south where we had another guided tour of Jerpoint Abbey. On Monday, Fitzpatrick visitors were still to be seen taking guided tours in Kilkenny. And the weather was kind to us too. It rained a little over the weekend, but we were indoors when that happened and it did not prevent us from visiting the sites we wanted to.
Forty-two Fitzers/Fitzies attended the Saturday evening dinner in Gulliver’s dining room at the hotel. At our previous gatherings Frank Meehan always wore the Fitzpatrick kilt and continued to encourage, but unsuccessfully, others to wear it too. This year he was rewarded when Ryan Fitzpatrick from New York also wore the Fitzpatrick kilt. Might this be the start of a trend? Good conversation was available over evening drinks and at breakfast. Between the Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday some sixty people attended. They travelled from New Zealand, Australia, France, Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, the United States and Ireland. Over the weekend we had visitors and representatives of other clans which included the Maloney, Dalton, and Butler clans.
No matter how much planning, organising and preparing that is done for a gathering all comes to nothing if people don’t attend. So, it is only right to salute all who made the great effort to come from far and near. We must also salute those who planned, organised and prepared to be there but at the last minute had to change their plans. In the words of those who have attended all gatherings this was the “best gathering to date.” In the 1540s Sir Barnaby Fitzpatrick’s native tongue was Irish, his father surrendered and received a re-grant of his lands in Latin, Barnaby was King Edward VI’s ambassador to the French Court and English was the spoken language of many. So, in the languages of Sir Barnaby it is fitting to say,
"Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir; Gratiam habeo; Merci mille fois, Mille fois merci; Many, many thanks to you all."
The Fifth International Gathering of The Fitzpatrick - Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan Society was held in Kilkenny, part of the ancient kingdom of Ossory, on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th July 2010. The venue is the Newpark Hotel, Castlecomer Road, Kilkenny, Ireland.
The 7th International Gathering was held in Killeshin Hotel in Portlaoise, on August 17th, 18th, & 19th, 2018.
Regional Gatherings & Local Events
Discussion about holding gatherings outside of Ireland began in 2018 on the List. While Ireland was always seen as the homeland to visit, there was also strong support for holding local events in other parts of the world where Fitzpatricks had passed through, settled, and contributed. Regional Gatherings allow for greater numbers of Fitzpatricks to meet locally with greater frequency and at a lower cost than the International Gatherings. Regional Events often give the Fitzpatrick – Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan Society wider exposure to the public at large, especially when occurring at Gaelic cultural events. Regional Events were held in Altamont, NY in 2018 and 2019; and Regional Gatherings have been held in Savannah, Georgia, and Albany, New York, in 2019. If you are interested in helping to organize or host a Fitzpatrick - Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan Society Regional Gathering or other event in your area of the world, register on this site, join the List, and start the conversation!
On September 1st, 2018, the first Regional Event of the Fitzpatrick - Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan Society occurred at the 41st Annual Capital District Scottish Games, in Altamont, NY. It was the first Clan Society event outside of Ireland, and the first held in North America. Our Society hosted a tent amongst other clan societies, where visitors could learn about the richness of Fitzpatrick heritage. This was the first Irish clan society to host a clan tent in the history of this annual event. Several members of the Clan Society gathered together, most of whom had seen each other the week before in Portlaoise, Ireland, including W. Dan Fitzpatrick, Ryan and Melissa Fitzpatrick (and family), Paul Fitzpatrick and Melissa Moffatt Ferrara, and Mary Kate and Bruce Prendergast (and family). Members marched in a parade of clans, announced by surname to an audience of several thousand attendees. Ryan was selected to compete in the "Bonniest Knees" contest. A world record was also set by one of the female athletic competitors that day.
The 2019 Savannah Regional Gathering was held on March 15th, 16th, & 17th (St. Patrick's Day weekend) in Savannah, Georgia, USA. It was the first Clan Society Regional Gathering to be held outside of Ireland, and marks the first appearance of a Fitzpatrick clan society marching in a St. Patrick's Day parade.
The 2019 Capital District Scottish Games was a total success this year. Many thanks to Daniel Fitzpatrick, Paul Fitzpatrick and Melissa Moffatt Ferrara, Kevin Fitzpatrick with Angel Kaehl, James White, and most of all Melissa Fitzpatrick and kids; plus anyone who attended the event, marched in the parade of clans, dropped by the Fitzpatrick Clan tent, and made the day a roaring good time. The administrators of the Games were quite glad to have an Irish clan society amongst them, and Chuck Tarbay, the event organizer expressed his desire for greater inclusion of other Irish clan societies. Our tent featured a map of Ireland listing a host of other surnames with coats of arms and their traditional county of origin which proved to be a huge draw for people to our tent. Many people of Irish heritage attend these Scottish games, and I can't tell you how many visitors stopped by to gaze at the map and locate the surnames in their family trees. People inquired about the history of the Fitzpatricks and many an engaging discussion was had about our name, our different Fitzpatrick clusters around Ireland, and Irish history in general. Kids were given paper "passports" to get stamped by each Clan in attendance, and our lion & dragon crest was a big draw for the kiddies. People looked at Ronan Fitzpatrick and Steve Zalewski's pedigree book, and saw images of Sts. Patrick and Ciaran of Saighir, and learned about the 2nd Lord Castletown. We had a game called "Fitzpatrick or Not?" where visitors could look at various coats of arms and guess which were authentic Fitzpatrick arms. The athletic competitions were amazing, and the bagpipes were everywhere. There were an estimated 12,000 people in attendance on Saturday based on ticket sales and parking, so our Clan Society received excellent exposure. I was able to hand out a few registration packets for our upcoming Northeast Regional Gathering in October. So much activity crammed into one day, with so many stories; it was a day of greatness for our Society. Plan on coming next Labor Day weekend if you can make it!
Why host an Irish clan tent at a Scottish games event, surrounded by a host of other clan societies seen by roughly 12,000 people? Read our Society's stated Aims; especially:
A4. To bring together as members of the Fitzpatrick - Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan Society all those individuals worldwide who have any interest whatsoever in the Fitzpatrick - Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan; either through having the Fitzpatrick surname or any surname associated with the Fitzpatrick name, or who are related in any way to the Fitzpatrick 'family ', or who are otherwise interested in this ancient Irish clan.
A5. To provide a focus and a forum for creating a worldwide awareness of the Fitzpatrick - Mac Giolla Phádraig dynasty and for communicating Clan Society information worldwide.
A10. To promote, organise and operate international Fitzpatrick - Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan gatherings or other events in Ireland and to promote and assist Fitzpatrick - Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan regional gatherings or other events elsewhere.
A11. To liaise with international, national and local authorities and other bodies in matters of interest to the Clan.
The Fitzpatrick - Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan Society cordially invites all people with an interest in Fitzpatrick genealogy, history, clanship, and genetics to join us for the first Northeast Regional Gathering in Albany, NY, on October 12th & 13th, 2019. The weekend includes presentations on Irish immigration, Fitzpatrick genealogy, history, and more, held at the New York State Museum; a genealogy workshop at the New York State Library, a Clan Dinner at a fine restaurant, and a visit to the Irish American Heritage Museum.
Friday Hilton Meet & Greet ● Saturday NYSM Lectures & NYSL Genealogy ● Sunday Breakfast & IAHM Tour
Friday, October 11th, 7:00 PM: Informal Meet & Greet at Albany Hilton. People will be informally gathering in the main lobby bar (Sessions Lounge) of the Albany Hilton to meet up, socialize, share family history, and discuss the weekend’s events. The Albany Hilton is the choice location for those looking to book a hotel in Albany for the weekend. See details below.
Saturday, October 12th, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM: 1st Northeast Regional Gathering begins at the New York State Museum’s Huxley Theater; admission free to the general public. Presenters will deliver information on subjects relating to Fitzpatrick ancestry & history, Irish immigration to the Northeastern USA, genealogical research, and any other related subjects. Participants will break for lunch, followed by a private genealogy workshop upstairs at the New York State Library at cost for pre-registered participants only. Public access to the New York State Museum and Library is free. People are encouraged to actively search the vast NYSL records available to the public, which extend beyond New York to New England, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Saturday, Oct. 12th, 7:00 PM: Pre-registered guests will gather at Jack’s Oyster House down the street from the Hilton for a Clan Society dinner, drinks, warm conversation, and a raffle. See details about Jack’s below.
Sunday, October 13th, 8:00 AM: Informal breakfast at the Hilton Sunday morning. Potential wrap-up of lectures if needed; to be determined.
Sunday, October 13th, 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM: Meeting at the Irish American Heritage Museum for a presentation of “The Irish in New York”, and self-guided tours of their Erie Canal, Immigration, & Ancient Order of Hibernian exhibits. The IAHM also holds a collection of religious artifacts and a small library.
The Fitzpatrick - Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan Society Events Calendar
Watch this calendar for updates and events.