Bernard O'Regan

 

De mortuis nil nisi bonum - say nothing but good of the dead! So ran the Latin quotation which has influenced so many who extol the dead, and possibly explains why panegyrics are so often exaggerated. Yet any eulogy on or appreciation of Bernard O'Regan would fail to do him justice. For Bernard was unique, and with his death West Cork has lost a man whose like we are unlikely to see again.

He was truly a man of many parts. A man of ideas, vision and initiative and like his father William and brother Joe, he also had much business acumen. This was evident when he (with his brother) took over the development of the branch creameries (Kilcoe and Skibbereen) founded by their father, who had won the first prize for creamery butter in the London Dairy Show in 1901. Later, when the Dairy Disposal Board took over, Bernard ran a highly successful fang in his native Aughadown.

To the business acumen that seems to be part of the O'Regan duchas can be attributed the fact that the people of West Cork and the surrounding districts have their own weekly newspaper, the Southern Star. This was founded in 1889, in opposition to the imperialist Skibbereen Eagle, and its proprietor and editor is Mr Liam O'Regan, nephew of Bernard.

His leisure interests included local history, archaeology, the environment (fauna and flora etc.). His knowledge of Aughadown local history and that of the surrounding parishes. including Skibbereen, was unrivalled. No wonder that he was regarded as the leading light in the West Cork Field Club and the Cumann Staire Uibh Cachach. He was also a lifelong member of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, and was very active in its work at one time.

A good deal of the filming for the BBC 2 television documentary The Great Famine, recently shown, was done in Skibbereen. Amongst those interviewed was Bernard who told the story of one Tom Buerin, buried alive in the Skibbereen Abbey famine plot, but who survived.

His life span almost reached the century, and so he saw his Coworkers and friends drop off one by one - one of the saddest experiences of old age. Those included Paddy O'Keeffe, John E O'Donovan, Eoin O'Mahony ("The Pope"), Paddy Madden, John T. Collins, Jim Burke, Wiliam Kingston, Sean O'Murthile Carraig (his cousin) and others like Professor Sean P O'Riordan, Professor M J O'Kelly, Professor Fahy etc., whom he alerted about numerous finds during his lifetime.

The work and example of these men contributed in a great measure to the phenomenal interest that has come about in the history of the environment in the last quarter of a century. It is amply manifested in the proliferation of local journals not alone in West Cork, but throughout the county and country - the Mizen Journal, Bantry Journal to mention but a few.

Codladh samh i nGrasta De go raibh agat, Bernard.