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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)


Patrick Pacey in Carlow

By kind permission of Michael Purcell  2011


The history of Patrick Pacey in Carlow and later in Australia is well documented. Relatives from Australia came to Carlow some years ago. The story was published in the Nationalist. Patrick was encouraged to commit perjury at Carlow Courthouse in the Watson / Vignoles trial (there was a book on this case) by none other than the legendary Father Maher of Graigue (who told him that he was swearing on a Protestant Bible and therefore it did not matter if he took the oath on it and then lied. (heaven awaited him!). For this poor Patrick was transported leaving his wife and children in Graigue where he had a shoemaker shop in the building where the Sacred Hall was later established at Graigue Bridge (now Graiguecullen) As far as I remember he remarried in Australia and started another family. His descendants are legionary and at least a half a dozen of them have contacted me over the years Another one contacted Pat Purcell back in the 1940s Unfortunately at present time due to refurbishment all my notes on this are in storage but this observation may give you a pointers.

A little piece I done on Father Maher mentions Patrick Pacey.

Who was Father James Maher?

Coming from what has been called "the Catholic Clerical Aristocracy of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin" Father James Maher had several nephews who were ordained priests, two sisters and at least 18 nieces who were professed nuns, one of his nephews was Cardinal Cullen and his grand-nephew was Cardinal Moran of Australia., (in theory I suppose there should not be very many descendants of this celibate family?).

During the Great Famine 1845-1850 various evangelising groups attempted to convert Ireland to Protestantism by distributing food, soup, clothes and bribes of all kinds.

Father Maher became a leader in the fight for Ireland's soul. According to P. J. Kavanagh "Maher became a first-class pest, endlessly composing fierce pamphlets in his study at Saint Patrick's College Carlow".

This he was to continue to do for the remainder of his long life. Debating with the Protestant clergy in letters to various newspapers, fighting against Landlords and their system, condemning gambling, drunkenness and secret societies such as the Free Masons, the Whitefeet and the Blackfeet.

He became involved in numerous elections and court cases. One famous case (involving Thomas H. Watson and Captain S. Vignoles), was that of Patrick Pacey, who was encouraged by Maher to commit perjury. Maher told him that he would be taking the oath in Court on a Protestant Bible so it would not be perjury if he lied... Pacey was later transported to Australia for so doing.

Father Maher died in 1874. In the 1930s his remains were dug up by the firm of undertakers Purcell's of Tullow Street to be re-interred in a new grave on the grounds of St. Clare's Church in Graiguecullen. His body was found to be in a perfect state of preservation (one of the signs of a Saint?). His coffin was cut up by Pat Purcell and carved into little crosses and were distributed among the faithful. One of the crosses hangs on my wall as I write!.

Michael Purcell January 2010.

Patrick Pacey married Ann Cowell in Carlow in 1820 and lived in Graigue.

Their children:

Five of the seven children travelled to Australia on the "Panama" in 1849 after Patrick obtained his ticket of leave but wife, Ann, did not. Little is known of what happened to her. Children were Mary (1822); James (1824); Patrick (1827); Margaret (1830); Anne (1832); Ellen-my g grandmother (1834); Robert (1837). Any information on Pacey / Cowell kin appreciated.

From Danny Kerr in Australia


The information contained in these pages is provided solely for the purpose  of sharing with others researching their ancestors in Ireland.
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