Fire on the Mountain – St. Hughs National School, Dowra – Kiss My Arts – Episode 140

This week for Kiss My Arts we’ve gone back to the future with the school children of St. Hugh’s National School in Dowra and their recently published history of Ballinaglera Parish ‘Fire on the Mountain’ which was recently launched by Brian Dobson.

I speak to school principal Padraig Kenny about the school’s second publication after the success of their first effort ‘Scrapbook of Regret’ featuring the regrets of 150 legends of gaelic football. This book is considerably more local and special to the children and their own family and community history came to the fore for some of them during the research and compilation of this compendium.

Daithi McGrail and Orla Ryan share the story of the ‘Sons of the Grabber’ about ‘The Grabber’ Brady who because of a dispute over land was boycotted for basic essentials in shops across Dowra, Ballinagleragh, Drumshanbo and Drumkeerin. When he sent his sons to Dromahair under the cloak of night to get supplies, a mob met the returning boys in Drumkeerin and upended their carts to uphold the boycott. Despite three attempts no local jury every convicted the mob.

Daniel Gilrane, Jamie McTiernan and Emily Woods give us the details behind the disappearance of two young adventurers Kenneth Reed and William Anderson who set off to kayak the River Shannon but ignored the weather warnings of the locals they met and met their demise on the ‘Wicked Lake’ of Lough Allen.

Amy Crawford, Cora Taggart, Emma Rose & Shane Lowe tell us about an amazing woman, Helen Leonard Kerrigan, who after emigrating to America, found herself serving as US Army nurse in World War One in both Serbia and France, being recognised by both Serbia and France for her services before returning to the USA where she spent her days until her death in 1950.

Shane Lowe, Darragh McGourty and Mona Lowe have picked their favourite story as the tale of Charles McMorrow, a local smuggler, who after being convicted, fined and jailed, made a ‘Dash from Court’ in 1937 by swimming across the Shannon in the town and escaping across the Cuilcagh mountains and his freedom. It would be 1979 before he returned to the town after a chance meeting with former Leitrim Observer editor David Walsh who wrote about his exploits. Unfortunately McMorrow passed away within twelve months of this return.

The final story from the book that we hear about on the show was presented by Shannon McTiernan, Claire Feeney, Anna McGreal & Sadhbh Gilrane about the Morley Estate and the scandal of the attempt of locals to buy their land from the landlord Albert Edward Parker but found out that the landlords agent had double crossed them and bought the land himself. Another mob descended to fight for the tenants rights and resulted in further court cases which of course given the history of the area is hardly a surprise.

I wrap up the show speaking to Mr. Kenny about the book and the work put into it behind the scenes from the staff, the students, parents and board of management. We also discuss the recent award won by the school at the FIS Film Festival.

The book “Fire on the Mountain” is available now in most outlets in the area and surrounding towns and also available online at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *