Up to 200 members of the Browne family gathered last Saturday for a mighty family reunion and an even bigger party.
This was the second Browne Gathering of its kind, building on from the first event in 2013.
Relatives from many generations and from all over the world joined the event at Jackson’s Hotel Ballybofey. Visitors came from Scotland and US states including Florida, North Carolina and New Jersey.
“It was like a big wedding without the bride and groom,” said Seamus Browne, who heads up the organising committee for the reunion.
“We had a sit-down meal, followed by music from the Paul Kelly band and a disco with DJ Paddy Friel. We enjoyed fantastic service from Jackson’s.”
The night was such a success that the family are now considering having the gathering every three years. Is it hoped that relatives from Australia can make it next time, while family members from North Carolina joined the occasion for the first time this year.
The most senior family member was Mary Browne, who at 88 years young, danced the night away! Some new family members have joined the Browne clan since the last event, with the youngest being just two weeks old and a little too young to party just yet.
The event has also created an opportunity to chart the history of the Brownes of Meenticat. Seamus said they have been able to trace back eight generations: “The first Browne man, Niall Mór, looked after 600 acres of farm at Meenticat owned by the Hayes’ of Drumboe. The story goes that he did such a good job that the farm was given to him. He passed the land on to his son, Niall Beag, who divided the farm between his two sons, Paddy and James. Paddy (my great grandfather) got the upper half and James got the lower part. To this day, we are called the Upper Brownes,” said Seamus.
The first family gathering in 2013 was something that had been talked about for 20 years, until a committee was formed to get everything in order. Almost 300 Brownes attended the first, with almost 200 attending last week’s event.
Visitors who travelled from abroad are making the most of their stay in Donegal and exploring the county this week, so the event has an added tourism boost too!
Photos by Clive Wasson Photography