2013 in Ireland is all about ‘The Gathering’. In our family ‘The Gathering’ happens annually. Without fail! This coming Easter Sunday is going to see the amalgamation of the annual Lafferty clan at Tullynavin, Redcastle. Coming from such a large family it is an occasion that myself, my husband, my siblings, my children and the extended family look forward to every year. The family all return home for the Easter weekend and congregate at the Lafferty homestead in Tullynavin. The mad, crazy, wacky Uncle Packie comes home and welcomes the whole family with an Easter get-together that is memorable more and more as each year goes by. Everyone helps organise the day but we just let Packie think it’s all down to him!!! (Here’s hoping he doesn’t read this)

At approximately 3pm on Easter Sunday for over 40 years the Lafferty family get together at the homestead and catch up on the year gone by. Originally I recall it being just a few of us cousins and the aunts, uncles, Granny and Granda. I even recall the bottles of tea! The family has grown unbelievably in recent years and the get-together just keeps getting bigger and better.


Sadly Granda Lafferty passed away in 1984, and Granny almost 13 years ago now, but they are both here in spirit every year. Stories are told annually and they are both always at the heart of them. I’m particularly privileged in that my three boys remember Granny Cassie very well. She was a big part of their lives and its great knowing that they got to know their Great Granny so well. Sadly our youngest Uncle, Philip, passed away almost 4 years ago. He was, and still is. very much a part of the day. This year also we will remember Philips grand daughter Emmie Kate who sadly left this world in January. Like her granddad, she was meant for greater things and heaven acquired another angel.


As my mother (twin with Ann) is the eldest of 11 children and me and my sister the eldest of 48 cousins, (sis being the eldest!), the family is extremely close and all keep in regular contact. Easter Sunday has always been the core of our year and we all look forward to the day. The family is now extended with cousins marrying and the next generation of children enjoy coming to the ‘gathering’. Young and old wait patiently for the day every year. I remember when my own three boys were younger, they would finish lunch on Easter Sunday and for two hours after I would get, ‘Mum are we going now. The match will be starting. We need to go’.


The ‘match’ they talked off was the on-going football match which now takes place in Uncle Brian’s garden. His garden is turned into a football pitch for the day, goal posts and all! He and his wife Yvonne are saints for allowing such, but it is so appreciated by all. Whilst the cousins, kids and mad uncles are playing footie, the ladies (yes we’re all ladies) are in the homestead sipping tea and coffee and having a good old gossip. We do join in on the game every so often and once a kick is had, it’s off we go…

The complete wacky Uncle Packie makes the trip from Meath every year and comes with a fortune of goodies and wit, and the ultimate sarcasm! Races are held later in the day and more recently karaoke, thanks to Denis McGuiness, is in the marquee at the top of the garden.

An egg hunt gets underway at some stage during the day and a treasure hunt is normally thrown in too. Mind you, we’re still seeking the treasure!!

A game of Bingo takes place in the house around early night-time. Prizes can be pretty cool. Depends on the mood Packie is in, and just how pleasant you are to him!


Liam Moyne and Billy Grant light the Easter fire during the day and eggs are boiled, and eaten just as quickly as they’re boiled. Tradition lives on in so many ways.

Throughout the day, memories are recalled and made. Family bond, and banter throughout the day. Muck is spread on wet days and skin is tanned on good ones! (More muck than tan)


Some cousins won’t be with us this year. Scotland, England, Australia, New Zealand and more recently Canada, have kept a few away. But we know you’ll all be with us in spirit.


Come night time, the cousins meet in McGowan’s bar in Redcastle where Uncle Brian and Cousin Mark entertain not only the family, but the locals as well.  It always proves to be a night no one wants to end. But all good things must come to an end and we await the next one in twelve months time.


This family isn’t perfect. We don’t pretend to be. But we are a FAMILY and it is ever extending. As Jane Howard said ‘Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family.  Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.’  And thankfully WE have ONE…..So all you Lafferty’s, McCauley’s, McLaughlin’s, Moyne’s, McGuinnesses, Grants, the now extended McCool’s, McConnalogue’s, Messengers, Bradleys, O’Donnell’s, Gibbards and all those I’ve left out, here’s to yet another memorable and fun Easter Sunday. Let’s be having ye….