On this date one hundred years ago, 25-year-old Margaret Hayes left from the house I was reared in at Clashduve, Drimoleague, and was taken by horse and cart to St. Finbarr’s Church, Drimoleague, to be married. The War of Independence was about to break out as she set out to lose her own!

The groom was Dan O’Sullivan a farmer from Cullenagh, near Skibbereen, but a native of Shreelane, Leap, who at 46 years was nearly twice Margaret’s age. The age gap was not uncommon then. Often, the man inheriting the farm couldn’t get married until his parents either died or were ready to hand on the farm.

There were probably only a few at the wedding. And, curiously, those who were present had probably all met at a similar event a year earlier!

On Feb, 14th, 1919, oblivious to St. Valentine, Margaret’s brother Jacky travelled to the parish church at Leap to marry Maria O’Sullivan — Dan’s sister. Jacky was 28 years and his bride Maria was 26 years.

These two events cemented a connection between the Hayes family and the O’Sullivans since the offspring on both sides were not just first cousins but first cousins twice. On the Hayes side, Jacky and Maria gave life to Tommy, Mick, Sean and Margaret (Madge Dineen). Between them, their offspring numbered 18 (my generation).

Dan and Margaret O’Sullivan gave life to five children in Cullenagh (Paddy, Kit, Ann (Wilson), Mick, Mary (Murphy)). I’m aware of at least 16 cousins that descended from that line. So there are at least 34 second cousins connected because of these events!

My grandparents Jacky and Maria were alive and well when I was born so I knew them: Jacky briefly as he died in 1966 but his wife Maria lived to a great age (98 years) and died in 1981.

Jacky and Maria were married shortly after the first Dáil was established and Sinn Féin went into government for the first time.

Granny Hayes (Maria O’Sullivan) seen in Clashduve in the 1960s.