Who Was Denny Lane?
This article was originally published in the Inniscarra Newsletter, October 2000 and was compiled with the help of Tim R Murray, An Sibin, Vicarstown, who provided the information.
“On Carrigdhoun the heath is brown, the clouds are dark o’er Ardnalee
And many a stream comes rushing down to swell the angry Owenabwee
The moaning blast is sweeping fast through many a leafless tree
And I’m alone, for he is gone, my hawk is flown, ochone machree”

His people originally from Dromin in Tower, Denny Lane was born on December 4th 1818 and raised in Riverstown, Glanmire, County Cork. He was educated in Cork City and at 17 he entered Trinity College despite the dictate of the time that no Catholic should attend the college. He completed his Arts degree and proceeded to continue his studies in London where, a few years later, he was called to the Bar.
On October 12th, 1844, the issue of the “Nation” newspaper published his first poem entitled “Kate of Araglen” under the nom-de-plume :Donall na Glanna”. His second and most famous air, “The Maiden’s Lament” (Carrigdhoun) appeared in the “Nation” a few months later on February, 1845 again using the same pen name.
Denny Lane was extremely interested in the political situation of the time and Charles Gavan Duffy records that Thomas Davis and Denny Lane were intimate friends. On the death of his father in 1846, Lane was forced to abandon his career at the bar in order to administer the family business.
His political endeavours were to see Lane, with others, incarcerated in Cork City jail for a four-month spell in 1848 when he was released without trial. He is remembered there today at the audiovisual presentation at the end of the visitors tour.
He displayed a keen interest in enterprises which had, for their chief aim, the development of national industry and the resources of the country. He was also a generous benefactor towards the cultivation and improvement of the arts in the City. He held the office of Chairman of the Cork School of Science and was a member of the Management Committee of the Cork Schools of Art, Science and Music.
He was first Secretary of the Cork Gas Consumers Company and was twice elected President of the Institute of Gas Engineers in 1887 and 1893. On one occasion he addressed a body of French engineers in their own tongue and discoursed on the events of the Irish Brigade and the soldiers of France.
He was director of both the Cork and Macroom Direct Railway and was Deputy Chairman of the Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway.
The funeral oration delivered by Lane at the graveside of his dear friend Joseph Philip Ronayne, MP for the City of Cork from 1872 to 1876, was translated into several languages and published extensively on the Continent. Friends who were close to Padraig Pearse opined that he modelled his famous oration over the grave of O’Donovan Rossa in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin in 1915 on Denny Lane’s oration in St Joseph’s Cemetery over forty years previously.
The Cork Exhibition in 1883 counted Lane amongst its promoters and about this time he established the Silver Springs Starch Works, Glanmire. As proprietor of the Glyntown Distillery he was responsible for the amalgamation of other distilleries in Cork undewr the title Cork Distillers Company.
He was a founder member of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society and also a member of the Cork Harbour Board. At the Father Mathew Centenary Celebrations held in Cork and attended by Church and State representatives from all over the country, in seconding a toast by the Lord Mayor of Kilkenny to Fr Mathew, Denny Lane had the following to say:

“I am old enough to remember Father Mathew. I received religious instruction from him both in his own home and in school. Throughout the land the churches in which our forefathers had worshipped were taken fropm us - the light was extinguished. In the Cathedral, the tombs were made mangers for alien cavalry and the jackboots of foreign troopers desecrated King Cormac’s Chapel.
In many things we may be backward but certainly not in Christian self-sacrifice during the past century - as proved by the renaissance of Irish ecclesiastical architecture. The gold of the rich, the silver of the middle classes and above all the pennies of the poor have flown in to a common purse which has again been exhausted in restoring to us what had been ruthlessly despoiled.
The remembrance of Fr Mathew will remain of one who found his country desolated by famine and fever, of one who, to stay its ravages, reached forth a healing and benevolent hand. He will remain ion the memory of all ages, carrying out the sacred precepts of his ministry, the helper of the weak and the comforter of the afflicted and above all the healer of the sick - sick with a malady more enduring than any pestilence that ever desolated our shores and if that plague was stayed, then after God to Father Mathew let the greater praise belong.”
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Denny Lane was ill for about three weeks and died peacefully on November 29th at his residence 72 South Mall, Cork. A plaque erected in his memory is still to be seen there. The funeral was of huge dimensions, all classes and creeds being represented. It left St Finbarr’s Church, the coffin being borne by horse-drawn carriage and made its way to Matehy in Inniscarra. The family graveside standing on a rocky eminence commanding an extensive panoramic view of the countryside - isolated perhaps but sanctified by the proximity of the church across the way.
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A week later some friends held a meeting and it was decided that, under the patronage of the Mayor of Cork, a fund be opened to allow a suitable gravestone be placed on the grave. A massive Celtic Cross over 8feet high was erected over the grave in Matehy. The inscription reads:

Born December 4, 1918. Died November 29, 1895
“He served his country and his kind”

At the back of the cross is inscribed

Orar an marbhaibh na clanna Ui Eatram
Maurice Lane June 27, 1846
His wife ELLEN LANE 1821
HESTER LANE December 15, 1865

It is a magnificent sculptural work and is a tribute to the high esteem and affection which the Fathers of our City held for him.

“The heath was green on Carrigdhoun, bright shone the sun o’er Ardnalee
The dark green trees bent trembling down to kiss the slumbering Own na Buidhe
That happy day ‘twas but last May, ‘Tis like a dream to me
When Donal Swore, aye o’er and o’er, we’d part no more a stor mo chroidhe”

The song tells the story of Sarsfield’s army of “Wild Geese” who left Ireland in 1691.