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
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
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.
Danny Kerr in Australia
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