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People of Note with Kerry Roots

*Thomas Ashe hero and patriot died in a 1917 hunger strike
*Tom Murphy Irish patriot, "small de Valera"
*Dick Spring - Deputy Premier of Ireland dspring@mlstrat.com
*Mike Quill - President, Transport Workers Union of America
*Tom Crean - Antarctic Exlorer, born Annascaul near Dingle
*Jerome Connor - Internationally renowned sculptor born in Annascaul
*Daniel O'Connell M.P. - politican, leader of the Catholic Emancipation
*Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty - the Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican
*Gregory Peck - maternal Grandmother, Catherine Ashe from Dingle
*St. Brendan of Kerry c.484-c.578 aka the Voyager or Navigator (More)
*Charlie O'Sullivan - Kerry-born gold prospector
*Andrew Meade - 1690 from Kerry, prominent Virginian

Tom Murphy -A rebel and a patriot who participated in the struggle for Irish independence. At the Thomas Ashe memorial every Easter Sunday, the first speech was given by a member of parliment and it was followed by a bi-lingual fiery speech from Tom Murphy. Due to his involvement with the rebellion, he had to leave his country for America. In later years after his return, he was referred to as "small de Valera", and was seen as the ruler of west Kerry because of his work on widening and making new roads supervising his 300 man crew for the County Council, at a time when there was no other employer in the area. He retired in 1970 and people often say "if he were around today the roads would be looked after." He was King of the Roads and a great man.

Andrew Meade - 1690 from Kerry, settled in Nansemond County, Virginia, 1690, and later became a burgess, judge, and colonel of militia. Among his descendants was General George Meade, victor of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty - O'Flaherty was a principle figure in underground catholic activity by elements in the Catholic Church in the Vatican against Nazi - Fascist tyrrany in Italy during World War II. The Monsignor aided the escape of many political refugees from the evil of the Gestapo and the German SS. The movie; The Scarlet and : the Black was about the Monsignor, it stared Gregory Peck. (Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican book info)

Kerryman Online Newspaper for March 17, 2000:

THE late polar explorer Tom Crean seems to be getting a lot of media attention recently. The latest project in which he features is a book by author Michael Smith; A half-sung song: Tom Crean - hero of Antarctic exploration . The book will be published in September by Collins Press, Cork.

Tom Crean's history has, according to author Smith, been relatively neglected. Smith aims to ``set the record straight and give Crean the full recognition he so richly deserves''. The Annascaul man took part in Antarctic expeditions led by famous explorers Scott and Shackleton, later returning to his Kerry home where he married and had a family.

At a lecture held recently by the author in Cambridge University relatives of the late Crean joined the 250 strong audience to hear the first-ever lecture about the Annascaul man's adventures. The audience included descendants of Crean's fellow explorers.

"Tom Crean played a major role in three of the greatest Antarctic expeditions. On his second trip to the Antarctic in 1911, Crean was a member of the tragic Scott Expedition narrowly beaten in the race to the South Pole by the Norwegian Amundsen. Crean retrieved the bodies of Scott's polar party, frozen only 11 miles from a food depot. In 1914 Crean was back in the Antarctic for a third time, on this occasion with an old friend Ernest Shackleton on the ill-fated Endurance expedition on which this Irish Adventure is based.

Tom Crean was a Kerryman, born in 1877 just outside Annascaul in Gorticurrane townland. At the age of 15 he ran away and joined the Navy as a Boy 2nd Class. Crean was a tall, strong, explorer always assigned to the more demanding tasks and operations. One contemporary wrote "Crean is a man who wouldn't care if he got to the Pole and God Almighty was standing there - or the Devil".

Crean returned to Ireland and opened a pub - The South pole Inn which remains in Annascaul to this day. Photo South Pole Inn He married Ellen Herlihy, had two daughters who are still alive and fiercely proud of their father's exploits. Tom Crean died on July 27th, 1938 at the age of 63. Photo of Tom Crean

"MEN WANTED: FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS, CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL. HONOUR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS. SIR ERNEST SHACKLETON"
Shackleton's Expedition
Irish Antartic Explorers Web Site

Kerryman Online Newspaper April 14 2000 :

Emotional'home-coming' as Gregory Peck meets Dingle relations By Seamus McConville

Gregory Peck, one of the greatest film actors of all time, returned to Dingle this week and after an evening spent with his relatives there said it was like coming home.

"This has been an emotional experience - not a sentimental one," stressed the 84-years-old actor as he bid farewell to a gathering of cousins at the Skellig Hotel where he had enthusiastically greeted them all, signed autographs, posed for photographs for family albums and proudly introduced everybody to his year-old grandson, Parker.

"I expect that every Irish-American coming to Ireland says visiting makes them feel good to be here. But I feel drawn to Dingle, I feel a sense of coming home. For me that is what it is. This is where my grandmother, Catherine Ashe, came from. And I look forward to coming back again."

Mr Peck, who was conferred with an honorary doctorate in literature by the National University of Ireland in Dublin at the weekend, arrived in Killarney on Sunday with his wife, Veronique, daughter Cecilia, her partner, Daniel, and their child, Harper.

The Pecks stayed at Kenmare House, the lakeside home of Mr and Mrs Denis Kelleher, but spent most of their two full days in Kerry visiting Dingle.

``Obviously, the places where we have homes are part of us, but Dingle is special to us,'' said Cecilia Peck. ``We are grateful that it is part of our lives. It is a very special place. We feel connected to it.''

Gregory Peck played the part of Kerry born Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty (Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican) in the movie The Scarlet and the Black : Movie Summary - Fr. Hugh O'Flaherty is a Vatican official in 1943-45 who has been hiding downed pilots, escaped prisoners of war, and Italian resistance families. His diplomatic status in a Catholic country prevents Colonel Kappler from openly arresting him, but O'Flaherty's activities become so large that the Nazi's decide to assassinate him the next time he leaves the Vatican. O'Flaherty continues his work in a variety of disguises. Based on a true story.

Gregroy Peck first researched his roots in Kerry in Sept 1868 when he visited cousins in Minard, Lispole "I'm your cousin from America". Peck's grandmother Catherine Ashe emigrated to the US and married a baker named Samuel Peck they had a son named Gregory and lived in Rochester, NY. Samuel died at a young age when Catherine brought the actor's father, Gregory to Kerry to live for a few years. Catherine returned to the states and became a successful sales lady in the undergarment business and Gregory became a pharmaceutical chemist. Locals remember Gregory there as a child and his return to Kerry in 1953 with son Donald (the actor's only brother). The actor also also visited the sacristy in Dingle to pore over the records of births and marriages to see his granny's details and to work out his connection with Kerry patriot Thomas Ashe. A picture of the patriot hangs in the actor's home in Beverly Hills along with a photo of his meeting with 30 Dingle relatives at a reunion at the Skelling Hotel in Dingle. Besides fulfilling an ambition to meet his relatives at the Skelling reunion, Peck afterword took himself over to the Ring of Kerry and made his pilgrimage to Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty's gravesite in Cahersiveen. Peck said he had great admiration for the Monsignor and all that he did to save the lives of thousands during the German occupation of Rome in WWII, and described the visit to the grave like this "that marvelously sunny day on the Ring - was one of the great experiences of my life. I want to buy a little place somewhere around there so that I come back to enjoy the spectacular beauty and peace of the place."

Photo caption: "Actor Gregory Peck in Dingle with Kate Ashe who is holding his granson Harper, and his daughter Cecilia. 'I feel drawn to Dingle. I feel a sence of coming home', he said at a gathering of his relatives from West Kerry."

Daniel O'Connell. Born at Caharn, beside Cahersiveen, Kerry 1775. Statesman and Irish leader in the British House of Commons. Known in Ireland as "The Liberator". By his overwhelming victory in an election he forced the British to accept the Emancipation Act of 1829, by which Roman Catholics were permitted to sit in parliament and to hold public office.

Michael Quill. Born in the village of Gortloughera in Kilgarvan, County Kerry, in 1905. Michael J. Quill, founder of the Transport Workers Union of America in 1934, was also its first International President. Mike Quill was nurtured by the Irish revolt against British occupation. Because of his involvement with the rebellion, he had to leave his country and travel to America where he found work building the IND (Independent) subway in New York City. He held various other jobs until becoming a changemaker on the IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit). Michael J. Quill Centre, Kilgarvan, Co. Kerry (tel. 064-85511). Housed in an old church and dedicated to the memory of a Kerry-born NYC Transport union leader, this unique building offers a wide array of local crafts. All purchases are tax free, since it is operated as a charitable trust to help local disabled children.

Thomas Ashea great Irish hero and patriot 1885-1917 was educated at a Lispole, Kerry school and at the De La Salle college in Waterford. He became a school teacher at Kilduff, Co Dublin, founded the Black Ravens Piper's Club, came to the USA on behalf of the Gaelic League, and then was imprisoned shortly after the 1916 rising. Ashe died on during a hunger-strike in 1917 in trying to secure a free Ireland. During 1917 and 1918 the British raided numerous homes, arrested hundreds and deported eighty national leaders without trial. Upwards of one hundred were wounded in baton charges and bayonet charges and two killed. The murder gangs killed five others and Thomas Ashe died on hunger strike in Mountjoy after a botched force feeding... it revolved around being treated as a political prisoner not a criminal. He was buried at Glasnevin.

More on Thomas Ashe, plus photo

statue of Robert Emmet Sculptor Jerome Connor, born in Kerry, immigrated to the Unites States and established a sculpture studio in Washington, D.C. He later returned to Ireland, where he died in Dublin in 1943. Today, the proud figure of Irish Hero Robert Emmet stands at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and S Street, NW in Washington D.C., a few blocks from the Irish embassy.

This statue of Robert Emmet by sculptor Jerome Connor was commissioned by Irish-Americans wishing to commemorate Ireland's independence and given to the Smithsonian in 1917. A replica of this statue was presented to the National Gallery of Ireland by the United States government in 1922.

Read more on this famous Kerryman: "Jerome Connor : Irish-American sculptor 1874-1943" Giollamuire O Murchu Dublin : National Gallery of Ireland, 1993 ISBN 0903162679


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