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Archive for the ‘Family Photographs’ Category

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.

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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]

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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.

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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)

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Kiernan family, Toome, c.1919

James Kiernan, Mary Frances Kiernan, Rose Ann Kiernan, Patrick Kiernan (Pat the Rat), Rose Ann Kiernan, Larry Kiernan. The photo was taken outside the Kiernan home, in Toome.

We are very grateful to Phyllis Reilly for providing this picture – only one of two we have showing Patrick and Rose Ann Kiernan.

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Tom Sheridan & Lorcan Kiernan

Tom Sheridan & Lorcan Kiernan

Tom Sheridan told me that this photo was taken by a Dublin street photographer, in 1946 or 1947. They had journeyed to Dublin for a match in Crooke Park,  in which Wexford played.

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Granny Treanor, Padge, Seamus, and Baby Lorcan, 1928

Granny Treanor, Padge, Seamus, and Baby Lorcan, 1928

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