Fáilte Romhat

  Clonakilty C.Y.M.S. Society

The Clonakilty Branch of the C.Y.M.S. in common with all local organisations, has had its ups-and-downs, its lean years and its prosperous ones, even its "schism" or rift in the ranks.
That it has survived all these and is today a thriving, active organisation - catering primarily for the spiritual welfare and advancement of its members but also playing an active part in the social life of the town - is a tribute to the Very Rev, Presidents, Spiritual Directors and Committees who have guided its affairs over the years.

Today its membership at 150 stands higher than for many years past. At different times various causes had a serious effect on membership, but once again the youth - and the not-so-young - of the town and district realise that membership of the C.Y.M.S. is good value. For an annual subscription of 25/-, members can avail of the Reading Room, Card Room, Billiards, Snooker, Darts, Rings and Handball Alley, while an annual week-end Retreat at La Retraite, Cork, and a weekly Mass Crusade are part of its spiritual activities.

Over the years many lectures, debates and film shows have been held in the Society's Rooms and at any time requests for new or extra activities will be carefully considered by the Committee. Increased membership means extra activities.  Unfortunately the records available date no further back than 1896.As far as can be ascertained the Society was founded about 1880 - one of the first branches to be formed in West Corkwith Revd. T. O'Hea as President.Its first rooms were in the Town Hall (McCurtain Hill) until 1903 when the Temperance Hall, adjacent to the Parish Church, was used and finally in 1905 the present premises in Emmet Square were occupied.

For the position of caretaker of the new premises there were 12 applicantsfrom Cork, Cobh, Dublin, Skibbereen, Courtmacsherry, Kilcrohane and Clonakilty - of whom Mr. Michael O'Neill of Clonakilty was appointed by a majority of one vote. Commonly known as "Mac" O'Neill was a great favourite with the members and remained caretaker until his death in 1928. His terms of  employment were as follows: Use of three upper rooms, with fire and light, use of garden at rear plus 5/- per week.

The highlight of 1896 - the first year for which records are available - was a Dance called by the grandiose name of a "Soiree" and dance organisers of to-day may be interested in the financial account: Supper, 4 8s. 6d.; programmes, 15/-; piano, 10/-; men at door, 4/-; timber and nails, 1/1; waxing floor and removing piano, 8/2. Total expenses amounted to 6 6s. 9d. while the revenue from tickets sold at the door amounted to 3 5s., leaving a nett loss of 3 1s. 4d. Evidently "Soirees" in 1896 were no more profitable than Dances in 1959.

The Debating Society was active towards the end of the last century.
If we judge by the subjects listed for debate a very keen interest was then taken in Irish History.
"Merits of Grattan and O'Connell,"
"Whether it would have been better for Ireland if the French succeeded in the Revolution"
"Whether protection or Free Trade best suits Ireland

Of the 106 members of the Society in 1906 there are five still alive, three of whom are faithful and interested members still: Mr. T. Bennett, Mr. B. O'Keeffe and Mr. J. Cahalane (all of Pearse Street). Jerome Moloney (The Mount), and James O'Keeffe (Cloheen) are the others.

As already mentioned a rift occurred. In 1917, the Committee resigned and appointed Mr. Denis O'Keeffe as liquidator to dispose of properties and pay debts. At a meeting held in the Town Hall it was unanimously decided "that as the C.Y.M.S. is now a non-existent body that a club be formed in Clonakilty named the 'Clonakilty Commercial Club' and that the assets, liabilities and interests in the late C.Y.M.S. premises be purchased from the liquidator for the sum of 7 10s."
The "Clonakilty Commercial Club" was short-lived as at the next meeting it was decided to name it "Clonakilty Young Men's Club," the old rules of the C.Y.M.S. were adopted and membership fee increased by 1/- to 3/6 per quarter

In 1924; with Rt. Rev. Mons. Hill as President, the club was re-formed as the C.Y.M.S. with a membership fee of 1 per year. One of its first ventures was a raffle for a Ford car, which left a nett profit of 28 2s. 5d.

During the past 80 years raffles, carnivals, dances and socials organised by the Clonakilty Branch of the C.Y.M.S. have been loyally supported by the townspeople and to-day the support is greater than ever - an indication of the esteem in which the Society is held by business people of all classes and creeds. Were it not for the generosity of the business people who purchased advertising space, this magazine could not be published.

Clonakilty C.Y.M.S. Member.




Clonakilty District Past & Present  - A Tourist guide to the area -[158 pages, forward dated 1959] The guide was published by the Southern Star Ltd for the Clonakilty C.Y.M.S.

My thanks to Henry McFadden for providing this information.