Select Flynn Miscellany

Here are some Flynn stories and accounts over the years:

Ardagh Castle

Ardagh castle stood on a hill between the town of Skibbereen and the fishing village of Baltimore in the southernmost point of Cork and indeed of Ireland.  The O'Flynns were in ancient times resident there as chiefs of the barony of Ibawn.

The castle is just a ruin now.   But the name has been preserved by a group of artisan food producers in the area.  Judy Wotton's Ardagh Castle cheese has a local reputation. 

Father O'Flynn

A.P. Graves, an Anglo-Irish poet and songwriter and father of the poet Robert Graves, was the author in the 1880's of the popular Irish jig Father O'Flynn.  The words ran as follows:

"Of priests we can offer a charming variety,
Far renowned for learning and piety;
Still, I’d advance ye widout impropriety,
Father O’Flynn as the flower of them all.

cho: Here’s a health to you, Father O’Flynn,
Slainte and slainte and slainte agin;
Powrfullest preacher, and tenderest teacher,
And kindliest creature in ould Donegal.

Don’t talk of your Provost and Fellows of Trinity,
Famous forever at Greek and Latinity,
Dad and the divils and all at Divinity
Father O’Flynn d make hares of them all!

Come, I venture to give ye my word,
Never the likes of his logic was heard,
Down from mythology into thayology,
Truth! and conchology if he’d the call.

Och Father O’Flynn, you’ve a wonderful way wid you,
All ould sinners are wishful to pray wid you,
All the young childer are wild for to play wid you,
You’ve such a way wid you, Father avick.

Still for all you’ve so gentle a soul,
Gad, you’ve your flock in the grandest control,
Checking the crazy ones, coaxin onaisy ones,
Lifting the lazy ones on wid the stick.

And tho quite avoiding all foolish frivolity;
Still at all seasons of innocent jollity,
Where was the playboy could claim an equality,
At comicality, Father, wid you?

Once the Bishop looked grave at your jest,
Till this remark set him off wid the rest:
"Is it lave gaiety all to the laity?

Cannot the clergy be Irishmen, too?"

Father O'Flynn became well-known in England as well at that time because a horse of that name won the Grand National steeplechase in 1892.

John Flynn and the Flying Doctor Service

The Flying Doctor Service began as the dream of the Rev John Flynn, a minister with the Presbyterian Church.  ‘Flynn of the Inland’ lived in the outback for most of his life, setting up hostels and bush hospitals for pastoralists, miners, road workers, railwaymen and other settlers.  He witnessed the daily struggle of these pioneers living in remote areas where just two doctors provided the only medical care for an area of almost two million square kilometers.

In 1917 he received an inspirational letter from Lieutenant Clifford Peel, a medical student with an interest in aviation. The young airman and war hero suggested the use of aviation to bring medical help to the outback.  For the next ten years, Flynn campaigned for an aerial medical service.  His vision became a reality when his long-time supporter, H. V. McKay, left a large bequest for ‘an aerial experiment.’  This enabled Flynn to get the Flying Doctor Service airborne.

The first flight occurred in 1928.  The DeHavilland plane could carry a pilot and four passengers at a cruising speed of eighty miles per hour for a range of 500 to 600 miles.  In those days, not much territory was charted and so the pilots were forced to navigate by river beds, fences, telegraph lines and other familiar landmarks. 

Despite those obstacles, the Flying Doctor Service flew 50 flights in its inaugural year to 26 destinations and treated 225 patients.  The following year the installation of a radio receiver would enable people living in isolation to call on the Flying Doctor to assist them in an emergency.  Flynn’s dream had become a reality.

Flynns and O'Flynns in Ireland Today

A telephone directory survey in Ireland in 1992 revealed 5,250 Flynns and O'Flynns, of which:

  • 4,450 (or 85%) were Flynns
  • and 800 (or 15%) were O'Flynns.
Dublin, due to migration over the years, accounted for the main numbers, about a third.

But the traditonal origins of the name were well represented, one in Cork and Waterford and the other in Roscommon, Leitrim and Cavan.  There was also a prominent cluster in Westmeath.

The O'Flynn spelling was concentrated in county Cork.  In fact O'Flynns outnumbered Flynns by three to two in the county.

O'Flynns, Sausage Makers of Cork

O'Flynns have been making sausages in Cork since the early 1900’s.  William O’Flynn earned the company its first gold medal in the 1920’s.  But the business had faltered by the time that his grandson Declan, an ex-chef, and two of his brothers David and Stephen decided to make a go of it in 1994.

They started small, keeping to their father’s old customers.  Declan summoned his family to find his grandfather’s old recipes, tucked away in attics and kitchen drawers in Cork.  Gradually they expanded their array of sausages.  Today they operate a thriving business at the English Market in Cork

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