This is the second and final part of the interview with Molly Hartin.

This is an interview with Molly Hartin, in Danmel Reilly’s house, Glascarrick, Co. Cavan, conducted on the 28th December 2007. We covered a wide range of topics in this clip about family history and Molly, even though in her late eighties here, was articulate, lucid, and witty.

Molly is one of the oldest living descendants of Bernard Kiernan, Kilmore, Mullinlaghta, Co. Longford – and my father’s second cousin. It was our first meeting with Molly; in fact I had not seen Danmel and his sister Phylis in forty years. Phylis arranged the meeting, for which we are very grateful.

Trying to understand family history, relationships, context, culture, and all that defines who we are and where we are from, at least in temporal terms, can be a difficult task. Being able to speak with an elder as bright as Molly is a great boon in this search.

My sister Gilíosa did the filming and I tried to keep the conversation flowing – although it was not a difficult task with our lively partner, Molly.

Group photograph taken after the marriage of Mr paul McGovern, solicitor, Enniskillen, to Miss Helen Kiernan, Granard, At University Chapel. Left to Right are - Dr Brian Cusack TD, Miss M Kiernan, Mr Basil McGuckin, Miss D Colye, Bridegroom, Bride, Miss P Delany, Mr Michael Collins TD, and Mr EJ Duggan TD - and behind Dr P Cusack and Mr Kiernan. Irish Independent Photos.

Group photograph taken after the marriage of Mr Paul McGovern, solicitor, Enniskillen, to Miss Helen Kiernan, Granard, At University Chapel. Left to Right are - Dr Brian Cusack TD, Miss M Kiernan, Mr Basil McGuckin, Miss D Colye, Bridegroom, Bride, Miss P Delany, Mr Michael Collins TD, and Mr EJ Duggan TD - and behind Dr P Cusack and Mr Kiernan. Irish Independent Photos.

Jack Kiernan got this press cutting from Cathryn Roche (nee O’Brien), a daughter of Ethne O’Brien (nee Tutty), who is a grand-daughter of Helen’s uncle Francie – (Yes, it does sound complicated). The Miss M. Kiernan mentioned is Maud, Helen’s sister. The Mr Kiernan mentioned is Margot Gearty’s father Larry, Helen’s brother. He gave the bride away in place of her deceased father.

Margot remembers her aunt Helen as a very beautiful woman and a very warm and lovely person. She told me that  she remembers her aunt Helen returning home to Granard, in her early forties, to die.

It is a known fact that Michael Collins fell for Helen when he first met her, as mentioned elsewhere on this blogsite but, because of her marriage, turned his attention to her sister Kitty. To quote from a previous post,

“Frank O’Connor claimed that ‘on the night before her wedding [Michael] went to her hotel and pleaded with her not to go through with her marriage’ and that during the wedding speeches he was so agitated that he shredded his handkerchief.”

None the less he figures prominently in this picture. The romantic among us, which includes Margot, like to think he does not look happy wittnessing his object of affection throwing in her lot with an Enniskillen solicitor. The unsentimental among us think it might just be a case of indigestion. Another consideration could be his reported aversion to cameras at a time when Dublin Castle did not have a good picture of him – Michael being a wanted man at the time.

We owe a great debt of gratitude for this article to Jack Kiernan, son of Larry Kiernan and my father’s second cousin. Jack is a great character with a good recollection of people and places, and a touch of gentle wickedness in his wit. His personal impressions and analysis of  his story, which came out more in conversation, will be a very interesting addition, if Jack will write it. It is an excellent overview,  full of little stories and hints of former times and a vanishing culture.

This is a brief history of the Kiernan family, since their arrival in Aughagreagh in the late 1700s. The title specifically mentions the Larry Kiernan’s, as that is how the family was known in the area, and distinguished from the other Kiernan families, namely the Dan Kiernan’s, the Paddy Kiernan’s, and the Pee (Peter) Kiernan’s.

It will not be a comprehensive account of people or events, as information was not passed down from father to son in the usual way, as such a relationship did not exist in our family for many years. My own father died when I was a few months old and his father died before he was born, back in 1893. The last patriarch to reign in that household was my great grandfather Larry Kiernan during the famine times.

Aughagreagh (Achadh Grach in Irish), meaning “field of the mountain flat” lies, as the name implies, at the foot of a steep hill, this hill being situated as one descends from Molly, through Gelsha and down into Aughagreagh. The town land is 3 ½ miles long, containing 1,145 acres, some of which is bog, the rest being classified as arable land.

Michael Kiernan, my great-great grandfather, came from the town-land of Roose in the neighbouring parish of Clombroney to take over the lease on a 39 acre holding, vacated by the former tenant James Lee. This farm was situated at Hilltown, Aughagreagh lower, 2 ½ miles north of the village of St Johnstown, now called Ballinalee. This is believed to have occurred towards the end of the 1700s.

He married a member of a family known locally as the “Larry Wallaces”. This is how the much used Christian name of Larry or Laurence (or Lorcan, in Irish) within our family came about. Prior to my father’s death in 1938 there were five Larry Kiernans, at this point in time there are four people in our immediate family circle with this name.

There is no mention of any other offspring of Michael’s  union except Larry & Tom. Tom married a girl by the name of Monaghan from the “Island.” This so-called island was actually a relatively fertile strip of land in between two bogs. He died a young man, leaving a wife and four children behind (names unknown). His wife was evicted from their small farm for non-payment of rent, which was a common occurrence back then. She died fairly soon after him in the poor-house in Bunlahy.

The children were raised between the Kiernan & Monaghan families on a six month split basis. They later emigrated to America, where none of them were to marry, it appears their former experiences may not have instilled a sense of confidence in that institution. In or around 1942, the last of them died in America at a very advanced age, leaving a considerable amount of money, monies which would seem to have been passed from one to another upon their deaths. There was an advertisement in some of the newspapers here trying to establish their next of kin, (perhaps some of you out there got it).

Tommy Farrell’s wife, who was the daughter of Mariah Kiernan (see below), once came to our house to ask my mother to find out from the more senior citizens around home their names or any information she could about them. There were people well up in their nineties who’d heard of them but hadn’t grown up with them. Having personally been present at these conversations, I gleaned that Larry, my great grandfather, didn’t marry until Tom’s family were raised and ready for export.

Larry Kiernan (Wicked Larry) married a Sheridan girl from Dromard. They had seven children, Larry, Francie, John, Peter, Nannie (Ann), Mariah and Rosie (or Rose, Lorcan Kiernan’s grandmother). Both Francie and John were in the RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary), Peter had a shop in the town of Granard, while Larry inherited the family farm. My father said me that Larry used to pray in the corner of each field that the land would always be owned by a Kiernan.

All were born during or just after the Famine or Great Hunger of the 1840s/1850s. When the potato crop failed completely in 1847, most people sought to diversify. Some grew turnips which was no great substitute for the humble spud. Larry Kiernan had the good sense to grow a small field of carrots which were freely partaken of by the neighbours. The patch of ground referred to by us as “the little field along the lane” was known to previous generations as “the famine garden.”

John Kiernan married a Mulligan girl from Molly. He died a young man and left two children, John & Rose. His wife remarried, Rose was raised in the house of the Kiernans of Toome by her aunt Rosie, while John was raised in nearby Killcogey, by a sister of his mother who was married there. Both later emigrated to America. John was home visiting Larry & Maggie (This Larry is Lorcan Kiernan’s Uncle, or Larry the Rat) in the early 1970s at their place in Leitrim, Dring. Larry and John rode two bicycles to Aughagreagh but as it happened there was nobody there at that time. In 1989 a couple of newly-weds called to the house. The girl said her grandfather, who had a sister called Rose was born there, but she was a generation out. They departed, leaving no forwarding address or way of contact.

Francie Kiernan married Mary Garvin from Littleton, Co. Tipperary. They lived in Hollywood, Co. Wicklow, where Francie served with the RIC. They had two daughters, May and Elizabeth. May was a school-teacher who gave up the teaching job and bought a hotel in Greystones, Co. Wicklow. Elizabeth married Thomas Tutty, they had four children: Sean, Frank, Lil and Ethna. Francie Kiernan died at 59 years of age and is buried in Hollywood. This information comes courtesy of Molly Tutty, who is Sean Tutty’s wife, and Cathryn Roche (nee O’Brien), a daughter of Ethne Tutty, now O’Brien. Ethne O’Brien lives in Clontarf, Dublin and Cathryn Roche lives in Clara, Co. Offaly.

Peter Kiernan, who had a very successful business in Granard Town, was the father of Kitty Kiernan. He was married to Brigid Dawson and is mentioned elsewhere in this blog-site.

Rosie Kiernan (called Red Rose because of her red hair), often referred to as Red Rosie, seemed to have been my father’s favourite aunt. He visited her quite regularly. She married Pat Kiernan and is also mentioned in the blog-site.

Mariah Kiernan also married a Kiernan, (those women didn’t like giving up their maiden names), they had two daughters, one married Tommy Farrell from Mullinalaghta, the other a Gray from Dernafersh, near Gowna, in Co. Cavan.

Nannie Kiernan married Jimmie McGovern, they had three children, Jimmie, Malachy and Annie. All three called to our house in Aughagreagh on the day of their mother’s funeral in the early 1940s. Malachy related a story about almost drowning in our well as a small child, only his uncle Larry rescued him. Some time later, when Malachy was ordained a priest, some people believed the well automatically became a holy well, while others blamed my grandfather for pulling him out.

Frank and Molly Kiernan, courtesy of Jack Kiernan

Frank and Molly Kiernan1928, courtesy of Jack Kiernan

Larry Kieran (my grandfather) married Maggie Smith from Kilcogey, Co. Cavan. He died in 1893. They had two children, Larry (my father, called Black Larry), (b. June 1893), and Frank. Frank was the elder of the two by one year., he wasn’t raised in Aughagreagh but was raised by his Granny Smith in Kilcogey instead, while his granfather, Peter Smith, came to live in Aughagreagh, (some form of prisoner exchange programme ostensibly).When the granny died she left Frank the sum of five hundred pounds, not a lot in today’s terms but quite a bit back in 1910. He came back to live in Aughagreagh at that stage. He had a small grocery shop and two farms of land when he died in 1941, aged 49. He left no family. His wife, who was Molly Keenan from Co. Offaly predeceased him in 1935 while giving birth to their first child.

Larry Kiernan (my father) married Mary Dermody, (b. 26 May 1891) they had five children, namely Peggie (28 January 1931), Larry (5 June 1932), Nancy (Anne, July 1933), Jim (3 November), and Jack (25 August 1937). My father was said to be a tall, broad-shouldered, strong and extremely fit man. He was suspected of having the cure of the chin-cough (whooping cough) because he never saw his father – which, if true, would have been a small recompense. He was leaving Aughagreagh at the time of his death. He had exchanged the farm there with the Land Commission for a bigger farm at Legan, in South Longford and was due to leave at the end of September 1938.

Nancy and Jack Kiernan, the author himself with herself to add the charm

Nancy and Jack Kiernan 1958, the author himself, with herself to add the charm

It often seems as if the whole world can conspire to create events in time. Before my father’s death there was an outbreak of scarlet fever, which adults as well as children contracted. Strangely he was the only one that died from it after three short days illness, and he did leave Aughagreagh permanently but under very different circumstances from those he had imagined. He died on the 5th August 1938, at 45 years of age, when I was 11 months old.

It has been said that the Kiernan’s were bad marriage material. The saying goes that they marry today and die tomorrow.

A feature among the Kiernans was red hair, my grandaunt Rosie was red haired, her brother Francie also, and my father’s brother Frank was red haired. There were redheads in the Granard faction also. Lorcan Kiernan’s two brothers in Enniscorthy had red hair. They say a rogue or a redhead can break out in a family up to the seventh generation, while both traits can be common to some. We have a redhead here in Mullingar, as well as a Larry.

I met Lorcan Kiernan & Mairín in Arklow in 1959. I was at a dance the evening before and danced with Norín Kennedy. While talking to her we realised that I may be related to her sister Mairín’s husband. We arranged to meet at the Kennedy family home the next evening, where I was well received and fed. Lorcan told me about the other Kiernan, a Kitty Kiernan from Mullingar, that Lorcan and Mairín had hosted lavishly at their home in Wexford, only to find out that she was not related at all. He jokingly wondered if our meeting would end the same way. We soon established that we were related but he had not realised that his grandmother, Rosie, was also a Kiernan. When I told him his grandfather was a Kiernan married to a Kiernan he said, “so, you’re not from the paternal side of my branch of the family and it appears neither are the Kiernans of Granard.”

This is written from the perspective of the paternal line, which is all about perpetuation of the name, and where it seems women don’t figure very prominently- although making their presence felt does not seem to have been a difficulty for Kiernan women.

A Singular Education

Another wonderful offering from Margot Gearty.

In November 1908 four young Granard sisters were called to the parlour in the Loreto Boarding School, Bray, Co. Wicklow. They were informed by the Mother Superior that they were to return home immediately as their mother had died. “But it’s our father who was ill!” exclaimed Chrys, the eldest. Three months later their father also was dead. The loss of their parents was a devastating blow for the girls and their only brother Larry. The previous year, their nineteen year old twin sisters had died of tuberculosis, Lily at home in Granard and Rose a lonely death in a sanatorium in Davos, Switzerland, where she had been sent in the hope of being cured. Now the remaining five teenagers had only each other.

They were placed in the charge of their uncle, Andrew Cusack, a draper in Granard. He took Larry, who was sixteen, out of St Mel’s College, Longford in order to run the family hotel, grocery and hardware business. Chrys was also kept at home to help. The three younger girls, Kathleen, Helen and Maud returned to the Loreto Convent in Bray.

But after the summer holidays of 1910 there was to be another change for the younger girls. Their guardian, an autocratic and

P H Pearse. My father carred his surname as his middle name

P H Pearse. My father carried Pearse's surname as his middle name

unconventional man, had decided to send them, together with his own daughter, Mary Cusack, to a new experimental school for girls at Cullenswood House, Ranelagh in Dublin. The school was called St Ita’s. The director was Padraig H. Pearse, B.A., Barrister-at-Law, a gentle idealistic visionary. His objective was to attempt for Irish girls what had been so successfully achieved for Irish boys at St Enda’s College in Rathfarnham.

From the prospectus I quote:

The primary aim of St Ita’s will be to foster the elements of character. It will endeavour to ground its pupils in sound moral and religious principles; to train them in practical Christianity and to awaken in them a spirit of patriotism and a sense of duty and obligation to their country.

The house-mistress was Mrs Bloomer, a Cambridge graduate. Others on the staff included Louise Gavan Duffy and the writter and critic Mary Maguire who would later marry Longford poet Padraig Colum. Willy Pearse was the Art Master. There were three teachers of music – for Irish Harp, strings, piano and singing. A wide variety of subjects appear on the school curriculum, including the sciences, classics, English, French and German while retaining an Irish tone to the school which would be bilingual.

Thomas MacDonagh

Thomas MacDonagh

Again from the prospectus I quote:

The grounds, which command a delightful view of the Dublin mountains, include a tennis lawn, a beautiful flower garden with vinery and conservatories, a well stocked orchard, a playing-field and an open-air gymnasium. The house is large and the rooms spacious and airy. The school will maintain that private and homelike character which has made St Enda’s so beloved of it’s pupils.

Small wonder that the three young Granard orphans and their cousin settled in quickly and happily to their new environment. Kathleen was appointed school captain while her cousin Mary Cusack became school secretary and co-editor of the Annals. In this booklet a photograph of Kathleen shows her wearing spectacles, looking studious and serious. She wears a high-necked broderie-anglaise dress and has quite an elaborate hairstyle. From the Annals also, one discovers that the school opened with only forty pupils – small in numbers perhaps but rich in experience. There were visits to the Municipal Art Gallery, to the Botanic Gardens and to the Abbey Theatre. The students had visiting lecturers, among them Sir Shane Leslie and a Miss Laird of London who spoke on Botany. They were addressed regularly every fortnight by Mr Pearse himself.

Visits were exchanged with the boys of St Enda’s for ceilidhes, debates and discussions. All Saints’ Day 1910 was celebrated by a fancy dress ball of major proportions with the girls making all their own imaginative costumes. Among the guests for the evening were the Pearses, Thomas McDonagh and Longford Poet Padraig Colum.

An entry in the school Annals dated the 6th of December records:

Five of our older girls went to a debate at St Mary’s University College, Eccles Street. The paper was read by Miss Askins on the topic ‘Self Government for Ireland’. We are all invited to a debate in University College on Wednesday the 14th of December which we hope to attend in a body. We also intend going to the Aonach to buy our Christmas presents.

St Ita’s closed it’s doors after only two years and with it ended this extraordinary experience for our young Granard friends. They went on to receive some business training before returning home to help their sister and brother in running their family business. They took their work seriously, stayed close as a family and started their own musical ensemble with which to entertain their many friends. They loved country life and went on long walks absorbing the beauties of their surroundings. They often took their visitors to climb the Granard Moat, just as we do today. St Ita’s had greatly enhanced their lives and instilled in them a love of nature their home and their country.

The story of Padraig Pearse would play a central role in the evolving Irish nation, while our little friend Kathleen, later known as Kitty, would become legendary simply because of Michael Collins, the man she fell so heart-breakingly in love with and who was to die at Beal na Blath on 22nd of August, 1922.

Death of Mr Lorcan Kiernan

The People Newspaper, Wexford, January 1977

A legion of friends and acquaintances, deeply mourn the death of Mr Lorcan Kiernan, “Loma”, Newtown Road, Wexford, which occurred at Ely Hospital, Wexford, on Thursday of last week.

Lorcan Kiernan at his desk, County Hall, Wexford

Lorcan Kiernan at his desk, County Hall, Wexford

Aged 48 years, Mr Kiernan was born in Dublin. He was son of the late Peter and Ellen Kiernan, and lived in Enniscorthy. He was a student of the local Christian Brothers’ schools. He commenced work in the County Hall, Wexford as clerical officer, with the County Council 30 years ago.

He first worked in the Housing section, then following a period in the Morter Taxation office, General Purposes, Rates, and he had been Housing Officer for 18 years.

In 1956 he was promoted to Staff Officer, and here he proved himself to be a most capable and able officer.

He served in various capacities, on the Officer Board and the Committee of the Wexford Branch of the Local Government and Public Services Union.

In 1965, he secured the Diploma in Local Administration of the Institute of Public Administration.

Mr Kiernan had a great interest in history, and when in Enniscorthy was secretary of the Local National Monuments Advisory Committee, working in close co-operation with that wonderful historian, the late Rev Joseph Ransome.

He found that the Wexford County Council Staff’s Social Club and took an active part in the social and charitable activities of the group.

Many times he visited the hospitals in Wexford and Enniscorthy, with the County Hall carol singers and around Christmas time this year he was rewarded when the singers came to the gate of his residence to cheer him with songs and hymns traditional of the festive season.

Lorcan was a leading member of the County Hall, “Tops of the Town” group and was well known for his performances in drama and variety shows in Dun Mhuire, with his equally gifted colleague Billy Ringwood. He wrote many brilliant scripts for the variety shows and on a couple of occasions he helped his group to carry off the premiere award. Last year the group reached the all Ireland “Tops of the Town” semi-final, and on that occasion, the great comedy team of Lorcan Kiernan and Billy Ringwood played in a brilliant sketch entitled “Electionitis”.

One great love in the late Mr Kiernan’s life was acting. At the age of seventeen he founded the “St Patrick Players” in Enniscorthy, and produced many plays, the proceeds of which went to the CBS Building Fund. These plays usually entertained the patients of St John’s Hospital.

He was president of the Wexford Parish Drama Group for the past four years and was an active member for many years previously, participating in several drama festivals. For some years he did the make up of the Wexford Light Opera Society.

Mr Kiernan was a lovable character, kind and unassuming and was greatly devoted to his wife and family to whom numerous friends offer sympathy on the severe blow they have sustained.

Lorcan and Mairín with their first born, Lorcan, in Arklow 1956

Lorcan and Mairín with their first born, Lorcan, in Arklow 1956

There was an extremely large attendance at the removal of the remains to the church of the Immaculate Conception, Wexford. Rev Denis Doyle, CC, Rev John O’Brien, St Peters College, and Rev W. Howell, do., officiated.

Mass of The Resurrection was celebrated on Saturday by Rev Fr Doyle. Amongst the other clergy in attendance were – very Rev Declan Cleary, PP, Castelbridge, very Rev Seamus de Bhal, PP, Oulart; Rev Michael Funge, CC; Rev P O’Brien, SPC, and Rev H Sinnott, CC Caim.

The readings were taken by Billy Ringwood, County Hall, and Tomas Murray of the Wexford Parish Drama Group.

Interment took place afterwards, in St Ibar’s Cemetery, Crosstown.

Chief mourners – Mrs. Mairin Kiernan, (widow); Lorcan, Peter, Timmy, Colm, Giliosa, (children); Mrs Dympna Doyle, 25 St John’s Villas, Enniscorthy (sister); Padge Kiernan, London; Seamus Kiernan, Dublin (brothers); Mr and Mrs Timothy Kennedy, Arklow (parents in law); Mark Doyle, Thomas Kennedy, USA, John Grogan, USA, Maurice Byrne, and Noel Gavin (brothers in law); sister Nuala Kennedy, Mercy Order, Coolach, Dublin; sister Caroline Kennedy, Mercy Order, Goldenbridge, Dublin. Mrs Aideen Gavin, Longford; Mrs Maurice Byrne, Templeogue, Dublin, Mrs Padge Kiernan, London (sister is in law); uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and other relatives.

Rev Denis Doyle CC officiated at the graveside, and many other clergy were in attendance. RIP.

An Appreciation

To some men is given the capacity, temperament and personality to enrich our lives simply by their friendship. They are good to know and a joy to have as a friend. Such a man was Lorcan Kiernan.

One outstanding quality of life which endures above all others is good humour, and God bestowed Lorcan with this great quality and generous measure. Add to this an equal measure of loyalty, humanity and an amazing artistic talent, and the total person. That was Lorcan comes into focus. To all who knew him well these wonderful qualities made him stimulating companion and a loyal friend.

Lorcan had another profoundly attractive asset – he never grew up, and never lost his incredible sense of boyhood fun. When the occasion demanded seriousness, Lorcan had to work at it.

During his memorable years in the County Hall, while the rest of us pondered, frowned and worried over work problems, Lorcan instantly saw the inherent humour in them, adopted a light-hearted approach to their solution and then proceeded to solve the problem with an elegance that few could match. To his quick-fire mind, and with his unique descriptive talents, a programme of work became a military operation, a mundane occurrence was material for instant wit, a simple episode became an hilarious adventure. He had a startling capacity to argue, but none to quarrel.

Outside of his working life, to the people of Wexford, Lorcan will probably be best remembered for his talents on the stage. Excelling in either drama or a variety, a fierce love for the stage which he developed in his boyhood years never faltered and for many years he was the powerhouse of St Patrick’s Players, Enniscorthy and subsequently, Wexford Parish Drama Group.

In recent years, his priorities for his family and his profession left him insufficient time to devote to the dramatic stage, but he continued to delight Wexford audiences in his inimitable fashion. As an outstanding performer in “Tops of the Town” and variety shows, invariably performing for charitable causes. His reward was the roars of laughter from a packed Dun Mhuire Hall, which was heady wine to him.

His death in the fullness of life has left all who knew him well with a profound sense of personal loss. Above all, our hearts are with his wife, Mairin, and his family, who mourn him as a gifted husband and father but who must rejoice that they knew and loved him during the previous years.

I know you would want his final curtain call to resound with the words of the immortal Bard whose works he loved and interpreted so well:

Now cracks and noble heart, Goodnight, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Ar dheis De go raigh a anam dilis.

– BR  [Billy Ringwood]

In December 2007 Mary Duffy sent me the following inquest report into the death of Patrick McCarthy, my great great grandfather – and Mary’s great grandfather. He was also my father’s great-grandfather, on his mother’s side.

Northern Standard Saturday 25th of June 1890

Fatal accident at the Cathedral

Wednesday evening – at half past four – death of respectable, quiet and inoffensive workman named McCarty – constantly employed as a mason at the building for the past 25 years. Deceased was 52, and leaves behind a widow and nine children to mourn him. Much sympathy for a wife and family who have lost a most affectionate and thoughtful husband and father and who are in consequence, left in a very miserable and helpless condition.

It appears that McCarthy was engaged with another man named Conlon on a partly erected scaffold, about 11ft high, holding up planks to a third workman who was on a platform higher up again over where, they were standing. An open space in the centre of the scaffold and which they stood was left for the purpose of passing up planks through, and it appears that McCarthy, while in the act of assisting to raise one of them to the man above triped on one lying at his feet and fell through the aperture. Conlan made an attempt to catch McCarthy as he fell, and in consequence, he too was precipitated to the ground, but his feet touched the ground first, and he was uninjured. McCarthy’s head struck the ground first, and on an alarm being raised, it was found that he was fatally injured.

St.Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan

St.Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan

Express messages were dispatched at once by the doctor and the clergy. Both arrived while the poor man was breathing and remained with him until steps were taken to have him removed to the county infirmary. He expired, however, before reaching that institution.

The Inquest

On Thursday morning at half past eleven, Dr Stewart, coronor for the Northern Division of Co Monaghan, held an inquest. Mr DC Rushe solicitor attended the inquest on behalf of the most Rev Dr Donnelly. Mrs Elizabeth McCarthy was sworn and stated: I am wife of the deceased. He was employed working at the cathedral. He was a mason. On Wednesday morning he left to be in the cathedral at seven o’clock. He returned at nine o’clock is breakfast. He was then in good health. After taking his breakfast he left. I never saw him alive again. He was about 52 years old.

John Doran was the next witness examined. He stated: I am clerk of works at the cathedral. I knew deceased Patrick McCarthy. He was employed here it as a mason. He was at his work on Wednesday. Part of the day he was working at Mason work, but from about 11 o’clock in the day he was engaged in putting up scaffolding. There were four others with them. I was on the scaffold with him and was assisting with the work. I was working with my back to the deceased. The scaffold was about 11 feet from the ground. At about four o’clock in the evening I heard some of the men shout suddenly. I could not say whether it was the deceased that shouted. I turned quickly around and deceased was just striking the ground as my eyes caught him. I am almost sure that his temple struck the ground first. No portion of the scaffold broke our gave way. The men were engaged in sheeting, the scaffold at the time of the accident. None of the plank fell with him. Nothing fell, nothing broke. He was in the act of sheeting at the time .

Hugh Gormley stated: I remember Wednesday last I was working in the cathedral that day as a labourer. I was employed at putting up a scaffold along with others. I knew Patrick McCarthy. He was also assisting at putting up the scaffold. I was higher platform – about 6 feet higher than the one the deceased was on. Patrick Conlon and the deceased were engaged in passing up a plank to me. This was about four in the evening. While they were doing so, the deceased tripped by some means on the edge of the plank and fell towards Conlon. Conlan endeavoured to catch deceased could not hold him. He fell between the planks and Conlon fell after him. I think by the way deceased fell, his head struck the ground first. Conlan fell on his feet. He was not hurt. When I got down from the scaffold deceased was bleeding from the temple and the nostrils. He was not dead at the time. He was breathing. (Note: Conlan gave similar evidence).

Dr Teevan was sworn and stated: At about a quarter to five in the evening in question, a boy came to my house telling me to come immediately to the cathedral, that a man had fallen and was injured. I went at once and I found the injured man lying in a room in the cathedral. He was on his back on the floor. He was alone at the time and presented the appearance of compression of the brain. There was a small cut on the frontal bone and another at the angle of the eye. There was no bleeding from the nostrils as far as I could see. His breathing was stentorious. The pupils were both dilated. The eyelids were closed, and he was completely unconscious. I would say death resulted from compression of the brain due to fracture at the base of the skull. I had deceased carried to the county infirmary. I understand he died before he reached the place.

The jury returned a verdict to the effect that deceased Patrick McCarthy had died of a fracture of the skull following a fall from a scaffold on the 22nd of June 1890. This concluded the inquest.

Gorey Gaurdian, Wednesday March 18 2009

KILMUCKRIDGE and Wexford Drama Groups were the big winners at the culmination of the Wexford Drama Festival.

A packed Dun Mhuire theatre enjoyed Bridge Drama Group’s production of ‘Same Old Moon’ on Friday night, which brought to an end the eight night run of the very successful 47th Wexford Drama Festival.

The first award, the Audience Cup, was presented to Paul Walsh of Wexford Drama Group by patron, Dick Trappe for their production of ‘Holy Day’.

The Tomás Murray Award for best newcomer, was presented by Mary and Aoife Murray to Kilmuckridge Drama Group’s Peter Corboy for his role as Johnny Boyle in ‘Juno and the Paycock’. The Lorcan Kiernan Cup for Best Performance by a Wexford actor went to Fergal Kelly, of the Bunclody/Kilmyshall Drama Group.

Wexford Drama group got an Adjudicators Award for Lighting, Sound and Costumes, as did Kilrush for a wonderful scene in ‘A Skull in Connemara’ and Kilmuckridg e for ‘Juno and the Paycock’.

In the Confined section Best Set went to Castlebridge’s Bridge Drama Group, while overall Kilrush came third with ‘A Skull in Connemara’, the Bridge Players came second with ‘Same Old Moon’ and Kilmuckridge were crowned Confined champions with Andy Doyle also winning Best Producer for ‘Juno and the Paycock’.

In the Open Section Wexford Drama Group won Best Set, while overall Bunclody/ Kilmyshall Drama Group came third with ‘The Wake’, the Estuary Players came second with ‘The Last Days of Judas Iscariot’ and the overall Open section winners were Wexford Drama group for their production of Andrew Bovell’s ‘Holy Day’, with Wexford’s Paul Walsh also winning Best Director.

The Granard Connection

I rang Margot Gearty today, the daughter of Larry Kiernan, Granard, who was son of Peter Kiernan and brother of Kitty Kiernan. Peter’s sister, Rose Ann was my Great-Grandmother, and my Grandfather was called Peter. We had a lovely chat and it was good to make the connection between these families again after so many decades. Margot is very bright, articulate, and awake to family history. After our call she very kindly wrote the following peice to help our understanding.

The Granard Connection

Every family has its own unique history. My own particular connection to Granard began the day my grandfather Peter Kiernan walked to Granard in the early 1870s to seek his fortune. Being a younger son, he left his home in the townland of Aughagreagh which is about five miles west of Granard. His family had worked a small farm there for many generations and continue to do so up to the present day.

Within ten years of learning his trade in the grocery/hardware business in Granard, Peter was ready to fulfil his dream of owning his own place. But meanwhile, and most significantly, he had met the woman who would be his wife, his friend and support for the rest of their lives together. Bridget Dawson, of Cloncovid, and Peter Kiernan were married in the old church of Mullahoran, Co. Cavan on October 4th 1886.

Business flourished in their new premises ‘The Corner House’ Granard.  Bridget, the Cavan woman, was shrewd and diplomatic while Peter was popular, respected and had a flair for business. A photograph from the Lawrence Collection (late 1890s) shows a thriving and lively three-story premises in a busy town.

The Kiernan family (from left) Lily, Helen, Bridget, Maud, Catherine, Peter, Rose, Christine, and Larry's foot in stirup

The Kiernan family (from left) Lily, Helen, Bridget, Maud, Catherine, Peter, Rose, Christine, and Larry's foot in stirup

Having lost their first baby at birth in December, 1887, Bridget gave birth the following year to twin girls Lily and Rose. After them came Christine, Lawrence Dawson, Catherine (Kitty), Helen and Maud in quick succession. The family remembered nothing but happiness from the years that followed. Twenty years later (1921) Kitty would write to her ‘very dear Micheal’

I’d love to feel you wanted me always beside you just the way Daddy and Mother used to be (Extract from Dermot Keogh and Gabriel Doherty. Michael Collins and the Making of the Irish State. Cork.1998. P.38)

Family folklore has it that after a busy day in the shop, the money counted and the children in bed, Peter would take Bridget into ‘the snug’ for a nightcap together. On the night of the 31st March 1901 he must have felt a happy and fulfilled man as he recorded on his census form that seventeen people resided in his home – his wife and seven children, six shop assistants and two domestic servants. He was also in 1899 elected as a member of Longford County Council.

The porch of the Greville Arms Hotel from an old photograph

The porch of the Greville Arms Hotel from an old photograph

Peter and Bridget purchased the Greville Arms Hotel after it’s proprietor William Mullen died in 1903. He also bought the shop next door which later became Kiernan Stores which stocked everything (according to adverts) ‘from a needle to an anchor’. Despite all these advances however, there was great cause for anxiety. In 1907 nineteen year old Rose was sent off to a sanatorium in Davos, Switzerland in the desperate hope of a cure for her tuberculosis. It was not to be. She died there in a strange land, while her twin sister Lily, too ill for treatment, died at home in Granard on 27th November 1907. Exactly a year later, their mother Bridget died suddenly – her life cut short at only forty five years. Two months later Peter himself died on January 19th 1909.

Their only son Larry (my father) had to return home from St. Mel’s College, Longford to take over the running of this little empire at only seventeen years old. His older sister Chris stayed at home in Granard to help him while Kitty, Helen and Maud were sent by their guardian – their uncle Andrew Cusack – a draper in Granard (where Durkins reside now), to a new experimental school for girls at Cullenswood House, Ranelagh, Dublin. This school was St.Ita’s ,(a sister school to St. Enda’s school for boys in Rathfarnham) – both of which had as their director Padraig H. Pearse, BA, Barrister-at-Law. Sadly, this school closed down in 1912 and the girls all returned home to Granard. Each took responsibility for one or other aspect of their expanding business. A new era for the family had begun.

The following few years have been well documented. Suffice to say that the family settled down to hard work and a variety of social activities bringing with them the creative skills and broad education they had had both at Loreto and at St. Ita’s.  Many suitors came on the scene for the four girls but it is Kitty’s blossoming romance with Michael Collins that concerns us here. This was a high profile love affair with hundreds of letters being exchanged between the two – the first being written by Collins in February or March 1919 – the last from Kitty on 17th August 1922.

For the purpose of this article I have included two letters from Michael Collins which have references specifically to Granard and County Longford. Despite the great affairs of State with which he was involved these letters show that he could still take time to show his interest not only in Kitty but in the minutia of life and business in a small midland town.

In one such letter, written on 8th November, 1921, having just arrived back in London for the Conference on the Treaty, he tells Kitty he has just been to at 8a.m.Mass and lit a candle for her. He continues

How did you get on yesterday?. Granard Market is held on an ill-chosen date.Monday – how could anyone be in a proper mood or manner for buying or selling on Monday morning? Of course this is the real explanation of the late hour of starting – isn’t it? Anyway I hope the day was not very strenuous for you and that you got through all right. Let me know please. ( Leon O’Broin. In Great Haste .The letters of Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan. Dublin 1983)

Then in reply to a letter from Kitty written on May 22nd 1922 telling him of the death of Joe McGuinness (of Longford) whom she describes as “a very genuine sort of man and I liked him very much and got on well with him” Collins writes:-

He is a great loss to us, but apart from that I feel the personal loss much more keenly.He was the one responsible for the recent peace. (ibid)

In Great Haste: The letters of Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan, Leon O’Broin. Dublin, 1983

In Great Haste: The letters of Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan, Leon O’Broin. Dublin, 1983

Towards the end the letters become more somber. Collins and Kitty write to each other of Harry Boland’s death – each stricken by the tragedy and thinking back without bitterness on happier times. Kitty prays all day and goes with Larry to the funeral. Then came Arthur Griffith’s death. Someone has told Kitty, she writes to Collins ‘that if you go to the funeral to-morrow you will be shot, but God is very good to you, and we must do Lough Derg sometime in thanksgiving.

But it was not to be. The awesome tragedy of Collins death at Beal na Blath on August 1922 was the final grief for Kitty, her devastation total. Instead of the planned double wedding – Maud married Gearoid O’Sullivan in October of the same year – Kitty sat by her sister dressed in black from head to foot. My parents Larry and Peggy married in January, 1923 but Kitty does not appear in any of the photos. She lived with them in Granard for a few months, sitting in the drawing-room responding to the thousands of letters she received from Ireland and abroad. When she left to stay with Maud and take up a small government position, she seldom returned. The Pain of the memories was too great. In 1925 she married a friend and colleague of Collins – Major General Felix Cronin and had two sons.

I was born into the Greville Arms in 1933, the youngest of four children of Peggy and Larry. While having a rich and vibrant childhood we were touched by the spirit of the past. As we ate our meals in the coffee room, the framed eyes of Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith looked down upon us from handsome framed portraits on the walls. We children had black-bordered mortuary cards of Michael Collins in our prayer books. When we had measles and mumps the two impressive volumes of ‘Michael  Collins’- by Pieras Beaslai were eagerly read.

Book in which Margot's fuller article appears

Book in which Margot's fuller article appears.

Old family friends from ‘the Movement’ some by now government ministers or people in high office in the new state – called regularly and spoke of ‘the girls’ in hushed tones. ‘The girls indeed came themselves with their children, bringing excitement and glamour as ever. In 1940 Helen came back to Granard to die –aged only forty, elegant and lovely to the end. Six months later Maud died of the same ailment. Kitty lived only a few more years (1945) and was buried near the grave of Michael Collins at Glasnevin Cemetry. We watched sadly as our parents grieved for ‘the girls’ but on the 22nd December, 1948, a few days before Christmas, my father Larry died suddenly at home and with him the little empire that had been Kiernan’s Stores virtually came to an end. The depression of the 1950s took its toll and the next generation followed other paths. The Hotel changed hands in the early 1960s.

I lived near Granard up to 2004 but still return regularly, sometimes to have lunch in the Hotel or to take my visitors  to climb the Moat. I tell them of Collins letter to Kitty written from Cadogan Square Gardens,London SW, on his birthday 16th October 1921, during the treaty negotiations:

and how I wish I were there now – on the Moat. Last time I was on the Moat, early morning,. Do you remember?  I looked across the Inny to Derryvaragh over Kinale and Sheelin (and thought of Fergus O’Farrell) and turning westward saw Cairnhill where the beacons were lighted to announce to the men of Longford that the French had landed at Killalla. (Ibid)

Margot contributed a fuller article called, ‘the Granard Connection’, to an edited volume, Michael Collins and the Making of the Irish State, edited by Gabriel Doherty and Dermot Keogh. The collection also includes an article about Gearoaid O’Sullivan, friend of Collins and husband of Maud Kiernan.

North Longford Flying Column, 1 May 1921

North Longford Flying Column, 1 May 1921

This photograph comes from Margaret McGuinness’ photostream on Flicker. Thankfully there is a list of the participants, including a Kiernan – maybe Johnny, son of Bernard, who was an IRA Captain at the time.

The accompanying text is as follows:

The North Longford Flying Column on Crott Mountain, 1 May 1921, following an ambush at Reilly’s house at Fyhora, in which two B&Ts were killed.

Rear L-R: Frank Davis, John (Bun) McDowell, Seamus McKeon(bro. of Gen Sean McKeon), Michael Tracey, Paddy Lynch, Tom Reilly, James (Nap) Farrelly, Frank Gormley, Hugh Hourican.

Front L-R: Kiernan(not a member of the column but ‘on the run’ & staying at Reilly’s house), Pat Cooke, Paddy (Bug) Callaghan, Tom Brady, Tom Reddington (Brigade O/C)