Archive of the Month
The Register of the Hon and Revd William O’Grady (1806–1859), Rector of Killinane 1836–59, and his Successors: An Unusual Local History Source
by Gerry Kearney
In July 2020, when I had almost completed an updated history of my wife’s (Taylor) family, I was informed by Dr Susan Hood that the RCB Library had acquired the Killinane Volume, which was initiated and largely compiled by the Hon and Revd William O’Grady and was maintained by his successors. Thanks to the acquisition of this volume and its digitisation, access was possible in spite of the pandemic, allowing me to complete my research. The records contained in the Killinane Volume confirmed many of the conclusions I had reached regarding the Taylor family lineages, and also provided valuable additional information in respect of quite a number of family members.
As a beneficiary of the work of the Revd O’Grady and his successors, I was honoured to be asked to provide this overview of the scope and content of the Killinane Volume, which I can recommend as a very important source of family and religious history. Most importantly, the digitisation of this very unusual and important source now allows the RCB Library to share it with a worldwide audience and a link to the detailed handlist is available here.
To view the Killinane Rector’s Register click here
Gerry Kearney, a native of Cloyne, Co. Cork, lives in Oranmore, Co. Galway, with his wife, Marguerite nee Taylor. During his career with An Post, Gerry served as Head Postmaster in Carrick–on–Shannon, Sligo, and Galway, and, as Retail Operations Manager, Galway Area. Since retiring in 2011, Gerry has penned a number of local/family history books, the most recent of which traces the history of the Taylor families of Kilchreest, Co. Galway. (Available online at www.kennys.ie)
THE HON AND REVD WILLIAM O’GRADY
The Revd O’Grady was born in 1806, the fourth son of Standish O’Grady, 1st Viscount Guillamore of Cahirguillamore, Co. Limerick, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer for Ireland, and his wife, Katherine Waller, 2nd daughter of John Thomas Waller, Esq., of Castletown, Co. Limerick. He was educated at Eton before entering Trinity College Dublin on 1 December 1823, where he graduated B.A. 1827, and M.A. 1830.
A record of the clergy of the diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross states the Revd O’Grady was a deacon in Cork on 11 September 1836. Later that month, church notes published in several newspapers included the following announcement – ‘The Hon and Rev William O’Grady, son of Viscount Guillamore, has been presented to the living of Clonpriest, county Galway, in the gift of the Marquess of Clanrickard‘. Clonpriest was a parish in East Cork, and it is likely the report should have read ‘Kilchreest, County Galway’. The Revd O’Grady’s sister, the Hon Katherine O’Grady (1793–1829), was the first wife of Dudley Persse of Roxborough Estate, Kilchreest. The Revd O’Grady was ordained a priest – ‘letters dimissory from Killaloe‘ on 7 January 1837, on which date his register states he became rector of Killinane. He was appointed rural dean in 1849, surrogate for the granting of marriage licences in 1850, and archdeacon of Kilmacduagh in January 1855.
The Revd O’Grady married Isabella Sabina Hewitt, fourth daughter of the late Henry Hewitt of Sidney Place, Cork, on 7 February 1837 at Monkstown, Cork. Isabella died on 25 December 1854, aged 36, and the Revd O’Grady erected a memorial to her in the parish church; it was subsequently re–erected in the former Loughrea parish church, now home to Loughrea library.
Kilchreest Famine Relief Committee
It is likely that the Great Famine of 1845–52 presented the greatest challenge to the Revd O’Grady, and he was both diligent and outspoken in seeking relief for the local population. The Kilchreest Famine Relief Committee was established in July 1846, with the Revd O’Grady as secretary, and a committee which was representative of both Protestants and Catholics.
The Revd O’Grady regularly brought the plight of the distressed population to the attention of the authorities, and he eventually went public with his concerns in a letter which was published in the Dublin Evening Mail on 1 January 1847:
TO THE EDITOR OF THE DUBLIN EVENING MAIL
Killinane Glebe, Loughrea, December 29, 1846.
MY DEAR SIR – We are in the most deplorable state here. The corn is running out, and prices so much beyond the means of the best paid labourer, that at present we are literally starving. The Board of Works’ staff, expensive as it is, is unable to do the business. The arrangements are bad; instead of district, they have baronial pay clerks, who are crossing each other in all directions, and still leaving many labourers unpaid. In this place, a fortnight’s wages will be due on Thursday next, in consequence of the hurry and inefficiency of their office business.
We hear of the arrival of foreign corn; but still, the prices of corn and meal here are rising, and really, unless government take some steps to open depots, under Commissariat arrangement, we shall, in all probability, be in famine in another month.
I could show you men–able–bodied people a few weeks ago–now tottering under the weight of small barrows–full; and, to my own knowledge, many try to work out the day without a meal – and almost all consider themselves well off upon one meal. The small tradespeople, weavers, &c., have no work for their looms, the countrypeople being unable to give orders, and they are necessarily thrown upon the public works. The farmers, who obtained work for their dependants by labour tickets, cannot get them back now. Unless, under judicious selection, some discharges are immediately made, we shall have the land lying uncultivated.
Many for whom meal was obtained last summer, refuse either to pay or work out the amount. This gives rise to the quarter sessions, processes, with its costs: and, in fact, nothing can be nearer a revolution than we are. One of our enquiries here is – “Where is all the silver gone to?” It is quite miraculous how it disappears. The millers certainly get a great deal of it; but do not keep it. I wrote thus far yesterday, but was late for the post; and remain yours very faithfully,
Rector of Killinane, and Secretary to the Kilchreest Relief Committee.
THE KILLINANE RECTOR’S REGISTER
The Killinane Rector’s Register, as I refer to it in my publication, is referenced in the RCB library as follows:
RCB P.0959.28 Miscellaneous Volumes
Rector’s register commenced by the Hon and Revd William O’Grady (1806–1859), rector of Killinane 1837–59 containing his extensive notes and observations on parishioners in the union of Killinane and Kilthomas, covering the various parishes of Kilchriest, Killinane, Kilthomas, Isserkelly, Killigolleen and Killora parishes and individual townlands within. Includes details subsequently lost in the original parish registers such as baptismal, confirmation, marriage and burial dates, and much more besides, such as “Children of Rom. Cath. Parents Baptised”, “Police and Constabulary” and “Converts from Rome”, as well as later draft visitation returns and parish census information for the 1860s and as recent as 1926, presumably completed by his successors, 1859–1926.
The register is held in the Library in the context of a wider collection of parish records and a link is available here. Rectors did not normally keep a register such as the Killinane Register, the scope and content of which provides a rare window into the religious and social history of the parishes of Killinane union. But it is also a valuable source of family history and it will be of particular interest to the descendants of all those who resided in the former civil parishes of Killinane union (and Kilconickny union after 1906), regardless of their religious background.
The register has a table of contents and an alphabetical index of the family names of those recorded therein (but there may be some omissions), both of which greatly facilitate research. The entries by the Revd O’Grady are particularly well laid out in sections, each of which is worthy of mention.
The Glebe House
Here we find details of the residents of the Glebe House, together with the names of those employed there, recorded over time by the Revd O’Grady. Those listed include family members, relations, and a range of employees; lady’s maid, parlour maid, dairy maid, pantry boy, coachman and footman.
During his tenure as rector, the Revd O’Grady recorded details of the parishioners of the six parishes of Killinane union (Iserkelly, Kilchreest, Killinane, Killogilleen, Killora, and Kilthomas), complete with helpful notations, which sometimes refer to the conduct or character of individual parishioners. Very little information on parishioners was recorded by his successors, save for the Revd Robert Bradshaw. On the occasion of his institution on 1 January 1886, the Revd Bradshaw recorded a single listing of parishioners, without indicating in which parish they resided. These parish listings are the most extensive records in the register, and they are a particularly fruitful source of research. However, additional information concerning many of the parishioners will also be found in a range of specific sub–records, and it is recommended to consult all the listings when researching any individual or family.
Foundlings and Deserted Children
The register contains details of a number of foundlings and deserted children and caring for these was one of the responsibilities of the rector and the parish. The impact of the Great Famine perhaps gave rise to many such cases and the Killinane Vestry Minute Book for 1845–1919 (RCB P.0959.05) informs us that from 1845–59, an Overseer of Deserted Children and Foundlings was elected at the annual vestry to see to the care of these children.
Converts of Rome/ Children of Catholic Parents Baptised
The register contains entries for ninety–eight persons who are recorded as ‘Converts from Rome’ and three entries for ‘Children of Roman Catholic Parents Baptised’. Not all the entries have notes confirming the circumstances giving rise to such conversions, and it is obvious from a number of records that there was some movement between both religions. This was certainly the situation in relation to the family of Michael Taylor of Kilchreest, as I discovered in my research. The register confirms that a number of Michael’s children emigrated, and also informs us that a number of his children married Catholics. While the register records a number of these Catholic parents as converts, it is evident that a number continued to ‘live as Catholics’.
The register entries in respect of the marriage of Michael Taylor’s daughter, Bridget Taylor, to the Catholic Lawrence Kelly is particularly interesting in this respect. While the two youngest children are recorded as having been baptised in the Established Church, family folklore tells us that Lawrence and the three older children attended mass. Of their five children, the only one identifiable today is Peter, who became an avowed Fenian and went on to play a significant role in the Land League and served as the third president of the Gaelic Athletic Association from 1889–95. These inter–faith marriages were not uncommon and extended to the landed gentry, as exemplified by a report in the Freeman’s Journal newspaper of 1857.
Police and Constabulary
Some 46 members of the Royal Irish Constabulary are recorded in this section. However, entries for many of these men, including details of family members in some cases, will also be found in the individual parish listings. In some instances, the relative parish listings provide additional information in the comments section, and details of some retired members are also recorded there.
Emigrants from Parish
This section of the register records details of seventy parishioners who emigrated, mainly to Australia and the United States. The entries record details of both individuals and complete family units. Many entries have comments attached, providing additional information which will be of assistance to any of their descendants who may be researching their family history.
Harte Family – Kilchreest
John Harte is recorded as an attendee at the Killinane union annual vestry in 1853 and 1854 (RCB P.0959.05). He was a teacher and scripture reader, whom the Revd O’Grady informs us took government assisted passage to South Australia in September 1854 with his wife and three children, and who was – ‘doing well in Adelaide in August 1856’. His emigrant records confirm the degree to which the Revd O’Grady followed the fortunes of his former parishioners and they provide valuable leads for those researching their emigrant ancestors. For example, his notes regarding the Harte family prompted a search of the passenger records of South Australia, which tell us that the family departed Southampton on 15 September 1854 on board the Coromandel, arriving in Adelaide on 8 January 1855. The passenger record provides the following additional information for the Harte family:
• John Harte, born 1811, age 44, agricultural labourer
• Isabella Harte, born 1815, age 40
• Elizabeth Harte, born 1839, age 16, farm servant
• Margaret Harte, born 1852, age 3
• William Harte, born 1854, age 1
The Harte family records confirm the importance of cross–checking entries in subsequent subject headings with the parish listings. The Kilchriest parish entries tell us that John and Isabella had eight children, four of whom died and are buried in Loughrea churchyard.
Taylor Families – Kilchreest and Kilconickny
Of the eight children in the Kilchriest parish listing for Michael and Bridget Taylor, three emigrated to the United States. James, who married Eliza Butler in April 1838, and Maria, who married Robert Howe in March 1839, are recorded in the census for Albany, New York State in 1840. Maria Howe gave birth to a son, William, but she died sometime thereafter. James and Eliza Taylor moved on to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, as did Robert Howe and his son. Pittsfield became the centre of the U.S. woollen industry in the early 1800s, when Merino sheep were imported from Spain; the Pittsfield woollen mills provided employment for many immigrants. John Taylor emigrated to Pittsfield in 1850 with his wife, Bridget Kavanagh, and two children. The Kilchreest siblings were also joined in Pittsfield c.1850 by their cousin, Anne Taylor of Kilconickny, together with her husband, William Power, and two children.
In 1864, John J. O’Donnell, grandson of Michael and Bridget Taylor, emigrated to Salamanca, New York State. Salamanca was an important railway town, serving three railway lines connecting New York to Lake Erie and Chicago. Here, John O’Donnell became the chief clerk in the freight office of the Atlantic and Great Western Railways. In 1881, he was joined in Salamanca by his sister, Margaret and her husband, Samuel Coe.
Heavenor Family – Kilchreest
Charles Heavenor [Hevenor, Heavener – spelling varies] was a son of Harvey Heavenor of Ardcanny, Co. Limerick, whose family ancestors arrived in Co. Limerick in 1709. These early Heavenor family members were Protestant refugees from the Lower German Palatinate (Rhineland–Pfalz region of South–West Germany). While a number of Heavenor family relatives emigrated directly to North America, Charles settled in Kilchreest, Co. Galway, where he was an active member of the Killinane parish from at least 1840, when he married Margaret Gloster, daughter of a long–standing local family. His children began to emigrate to the U.S. from 1863 onward, followed later by their parents.
In 1873, Richard and Samuel Gloster Hevenor (U.S. usage) established the first of a number of successful retail enterprises in Salamanca, New York State, becoming prominent businessmen in the community.
Mahon (Mohan) Family – Ballycudda, Kilchreest
When researching the Revd William O’Grady I found an interesting exchange of correspondence in the Historical Records of Australia, which included a letter written by the Revd O’Grady. A search of the Killinane Rector’s Register located a Mohan family of Ballycudda in the Kilchreest parish listings, and in the record of converts from Rome. The notes attached to these entries helped to provide quite an amount of information regarding this family, who were most likely the Mahon family of Ballycuddy, Kilchreest.
Details of four daughters and one son, children of Michael Mahon and his wife, possibly named Mary, were identified in the register. Anne (Mahon) Goodall, aged 27, dairy maid, and her sister Ellen, aged 18, house servant, emigrated from Plymouth on 1 November 1841 on board the Regulus, arriving in Port Phillip, Victoria, Australia on 19 February 1842. Anne married John Goodall, a former convict, in 1843 at St Mary’s Catholic church, Geelong. They had nine children, of whom only two survived.
Michael Mahon’s wife died, and on 15 November 1852 his daughters Margaret and Maria sailed from Liverpool on board the Marion Moore, arriving in Melbourne on 15 February 1853. In 1855, Margaret married a Peter B. Stout, an American Protestant.
Michael Mahon, his son Patrick and Patrick’s wife, Sarah, emigrated to St John, New Brunswick, Canada in 1853. The census of 1871 for St John records Patrick and Sarah, their children Margaret and Michael, and Patrick’s father Michael, who at that time was aged 91.
The impact of emigration will be seen in a number of records in the register, which show a progressive decline in the Protestant population. The census returns for the parishes of Killinane union from 1852–59 show that the number of Protestants peaked at 221 in 1855. The return for 1859 shows this number had reduced to 196, and to 110 by 1880. On the occasion of his institution on 1 January 1886, the Revd Robert Bradshaw recorded details of 86 parishioners.
Following the retirement in 1906 of the Revd Charles. E. Mills, Kilconickny union was joined with Killinane. The census of 1919, recorded by the Revd Robert Bradshaw, shows a decline in the Protestant population of both unions to 68.
Protestants Residing Near Kilchreest
Many residents of Kilconickny union resided within a short distance of Kilchreest and would have worshiped at Killinane church. Details recorded of those families indicate a number were related to families in the Killinane union.
Record of Communicants
A record of communicants was maintained by the Revd Robert Bradshaw in the period Sep–Nov 1888. A number of the entries also have comments attached.
Record of Visitations
The final section of the register contains details of the visitation of 1861, and the triennial visitations of 1862 and 1865. The triennial visitation of 1865 contains a number of detailed questions and responses in relation to the administration of Killinane union.
DEATH OF THE REVD O’GRADY
While he came from a privileged background, the Revd O’Grady was known to be a humble man who took particular interest in the welfare of his parishioners, as evidenced by the entries in his Rector’s Register, and a number of testimonials published following his death. He died at Fortfergus, Ballynacally, Co. Clare, the home of his brother–in–law, William Hawkins Ball. His date of death varies in a number of newspaper reports and publications; one informed its readers that he had actually died at the Glebe House in Kilchreest. However, a detailed report in the Waterford Mail newspaper suggests he died on 17 July 1859:
He arrived in time to dress for dinner, of which he ate heartily, and was most cheerful in his conversation during the repast. On his adjourn to the drawingroom he sat down in the armchair and fell asleep. After sleeping for some hours his friends tried to awake him, but found he remained insensible. They sent for two doctors, who applied leeches and put his feet in warm water, but all was of no avail. Thus he continued until six o’clock on Sunday morning, when he smiled and died. [Friday was 15 July and Sunday 17 July, in 1859]
(Waterford Mail, 30 July 1859 and others)
He seldom left his parish, and since his appointment had expended all his time and the greater portion of his income on the education and spiritual welfare of his parishioners, by whom he was greatly loved and respected. It will not be an easy task for his successor to walk in the ways and to emulate the bright example of this excellent Christian.
(King’s County Chronicle, 27 July 1859)
THE REVD O’GRADY’S SUCCESSORS AND CONTRIBUTORS TO THE KILLINANE REGISTER
The Revd Francis Hassard Burkitt
The Revd Burkitt was born in 1822 or 1823, the fifth son of James Burkitt, MD, Waterford. He served as rector at Killinane from 1859 to 1881. His son, Robert Scott Bradshaw Burkitt, served as a curate at Killinane in 1889–81. The Revd Burkitt died on 1 March 1894 at The Rectory, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford, where he had been C–in–C from 1881.
The Revd William Henry Morrison
The Revd Morrison was born c.1854 in Co. Roscommon and was ordained in 1881. He served as rector of Killinane from 1882–85 and was rector of Kilcullen in Kildare before becoming rector of Errigal in Derry. In the census of 1911, The Revd Morrison is a widower, residing at Mettican Glebe, Garvagh. He died on 12 June 1929.
The Revd Robert Bradshaw
According to the census of 1901, The Revd Bradshaw was born c.1850 in Co. Louth. He served as rector at Killinane from 1885 until his retirement in 1933. The Revd Bradshaw was Dean of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh from 1920, and Provost of Kilmacduagh from 1931. Following his retirement, Killinane was joined with Loughrea in the Clonfert Diocese. The Revd Bradshaw died on 11 January 1935 at Ashfort, Templemore, Co. Tipperary. Ethel Bradshaw, the youngest daughter, married Benjamin (Sonny) Taylor of Raheen and Kilchreest on 25 October 1910.
To view the Killinane Rector’s Register click here