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Stories as told by Riobard O'Dwyer

Author, Lecturer, and Researcher into Family-Trees
of the Beara Peninsula Co. Cork, Co. Kerry Ireland *

... and Honorary Seanchai (story teller) to the IRL-KERRY mailing list.

Copyright © 1999, 2000 Riobard O'Dwyer
Please note: Duplication or reprint not allowed without permission from the author!

IGSI's Bio of Riobard O'Dwyer

Mr. O'Dwyer's Website

Thanks to Riobard O'Dwyer for contributing these stories!


The Strange Case of Mrs. O'Driscoll/Mrs. O'Shea

by Riobard O'Dwyer

When I was a small lad growing up in Ardgroom Village in the Beara Peninsula, 'twas many the story we heard at night from the old people about fairies and ghosts and banshees (especially around All Souls Night and during the long winter), so much so that, on our way home, we would often, on hearing any unusual sound, be looking back over our shoulders to see if there were any white "apparitions" coming after us through the darkness. To give you an idea of the times, here is a story told by an old man, Seamus (or James) Harrington (Caupy) about 60 years ago.

"There was a man there long ago living on the side of the hill of Miskish, which is just over Milleens, Gortnabulliga, Cappaneil, Coulagh, and Coulaghard, in the Parish of Eyeries. His name was Tadhg (or Tim) O'Shea, and he was a very poor man without a wife or a family except for his mother who was getting old and feeble. Tadhg went out one November's Eve night to look after the cows, and he wasn't long outside when he heard a fairy wind coming from the south through Beal na Leapan (from the Castletownbere direction), and he heard the sound of a crowd of horse riders coming towards him. He knew straight away that it was the "Good People/or Fairies", and he had heard that what he should do in a situation like that was to throw anything that would be under his feet in the direction of the fairy wind. He threw some gravel, saying at the same time "In the name of the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Ghost". When he looked down at the ground, what should he see but a woman and she weak and tired and yawning. He got a fright, but when he realised that the woman was alive, he went over to her, lifted her up, & brought her into the house. His mother and himself gave her milk to drink, but she didn't eat anything. She was so weak that they didn't put any questions on her that night. The following day they asked her who she was and where she was from. She then told them her story as a secret".

"Her name was Mary and she was born and reared in Carbery (The area from which she would have come would have been across Bantry Bay from the Beara Peninsula). She was a year married to an O'Driscoll man when she had a baby son, but the baby died shortly after it was born. She herself was very weak & so the "Good People" took her away to their Lios (a cave in the mountain) and left another "being" in the shape of a dead body that looked like her in the bed. The "being" was buried and as far as everybody in the place thought, it was Mary. But Mary was still alive. She was for nine months in the Lios breast-feeding a little baby whose mother had died at its birth. Mary was still grieving for home. So one night the "Good People" told her that they were going on a journey and they enticed her to go with them. They were being carried along in the fairy wind when Tadhg threw the gravel in its direction, and seeing that Mary was still a living being rather than a spirit, the "Good People" were obliged to let her go as soon as the gravel hit the fairy wind. On hearing her story, Tadhg and his mother took great pity on her and invited her to stay with themselves. She stayed with them, and she was a good housekeeper. During the winter the old woman (Tadhg's mother) was very sick. Mary gave her the best of care as if she was her own mother. The old woman died the following March, but as she was dying she advised Tadhg that he should marry Mary. Tadhg took her advice, and so they were married shortly afterwards --- at Easter. A year after that, during the summer, Tadhg and his wife Mary were at a cattle fair in Kenmare, across the county bounds in Kerry. Didn't a man from the Carbery side happen to be at the fair. He saw Mary. His eyes and his mouth opened. How could she be the Mary that he knew ? Sure Mary was buried. And still she was the "stamp" (the "living image") of Mary. How could Mary be dead and alive at the same time? But, looking at her again, he was convinced that she WAS Mrs. O'Driscoll. Back to the Carbery district he went, and headed straight for O'Driscoll's house. Not long afterwards, O'Driscoll made the long journey to Beara to Tadhg O'Shea's house on the side of Miskish Hill on the "pretence" that he was looking to buy a cow. But as soon as Mary came to the door, they recognised one another".

"Mary told him the story of what happened since she was supposed to have been buried. O'Driscoll told her that she would have to return home to Carbery with him. BUT TheRE WAS ONE BIG PROBLEM. She now had a little baby in her arms whose father was Tadhg O'Shea. Just then Tadhg came in from work, & you could imagine the upsetting scene: O'Driscoll telling Mary to come back, Tadhg imploring her to stay, & poor Mary in the middle of the two with the little baby in her arms. Eventually Tadhg said that they should put the case before the Parish Priest in Eyeries for his judgment (and wouldn't he need the wisdom of Solomon to sort out this one !!). Off went O'Driscoll and Tadhg to the Parish Priest who decided that he would write a letter to O'Driscoll's Parish Priest across in Carbery to find out for sure if O'Driscoll's wife had really died. The Carbery Parish Priest wrote back to say that she HAD died, that he had seen her dead himself, and that he was at the funeral.. After he had read the letter, the Eyeries Parish Priest sent for O'Driscoll and Tadhg, and says he to O'Driscoll "Decent man, I'm afraid you are mistaken. You should be going away home now and not to be coming between Tadhg and his wife". Back went O'Driscoll and Tadhg to Mary, both still pleading with her.At this stage she felt that she should return to her own place in Carbery with her first husband. Poor Tadhg O'Shea was in an awful way. But in the midst of his despair he came up with one last effort at a settlement. "Mary", says he, "O'Driscoll and myself will go outside the doors of the house (& it was night-time by now). We'll decide which door we will each stand outside, & whatever door you decide to come out through, you will go with or stay with whichever of us is beside that particular door". So out went the two men and took up their positions (Mary not knowing of course which door either of them was outside). She was just heading for the door outside of which was O'Driscoll when the baby in the cot woke up and started crying to be fed. Mary ran back to the baby & took it up in her arms. She felt then that the baby waking up and crying at that vital moment had been a sign from Above that she should stay with Tadhg and their child ------- which she did. And so Tadhg and herself lived together in the little cabin on the side of Miskish until they were a great age".

Seamus Harrington (Caupy) never said what became of the baby, but more than likely it later went where most of the Beara people went in those days ------ across the ocean to America.

Copyright © 1999, 2000 Riobard O'Dwyer


A Story of the Difficult Pre & Post Famine Times in the Beara Peninsula.

by Riobard O'Dwyer

Following on "The strange case of Mrs. O'Driscoll/Mrs. O'Shea", I have got many requests for "another story" ---- reminds me of the days long ago when my father, God be good to him, used be telling us children a story before we would be going to bed. We wanted to stay up for as long as we could so, when he would be finished with the story, we'd all say: "Ah, Daddy, tell us another story --- just one ! And we'll all go to bed then !"

This is a true story I collected while doing my genealogical research of the Beara Peninsula.

"Jerry Harrington and his wife Maire (nee O'Sullivan) were married in the Parish of Adrigole, between the Parishes of Castletownbere and Glengarriff/Bonane. But sad times were soon to call their way. Jerry died suddenly leaving Maire with their two very young children, Mary and Jackie. As Maire was now unable to pay the rent, and with no man to work the farm, she was evicted. She headed with her two small children to the townland of Derrincorrin. Down by the sea shore she collected driftwood and, with it, built a little shack. At least here she could get some food from shellfish and rock fishing. She sent her children to a Scoil Scairte (a Hedge School) and paid for their education by giving the journeyman teacher a fish a day. When Mary and Jackie were about 16 years and 15 years respectively, they left home in search of work. They walked to Clonakilty, about 55 miles away, where Mary found work with a wealthy family. Before Jackie continued his journey as far as County Waterford, he and Mary promised each other that they would reunite with their mother for Christmas. Jackie worked on various farms in Co. Waterford for four pennies (four pence) a day. On his way back home for Christmas he bought his mother some clothes, a bit of bacon, a drop of whiskey, and two loaves of bread. He arrived in Glengarriff on Dec. 23rd. Passing the townland of Shrone in the dead of night he heard a voice call "Jackie ! Jackie !" --- but he couldn't see anyone. Strange, this was the exact spot where one of his greatgrandsons settled down in later years. Mary reached the hut in Derrincorrin before Jackie, and also brought clothes and two loaves of bread to her mother who made them a lovely meal of salted hake which she had stored away in an earthen pot for their homecoming. The three of them later went to Christmas Mass which at that time was held in the old Church on the hillside at Massmount. In the New Year Mary and Jackie set off on their travels again. Mary, who got into bad health after moving to Cork City, never again saw Derrincorrin, but she used send parcels of food and clothes to her mother. Jackie returned each year until he eventually married on Feb. 19th 1848 (shortly after the end of "Black '47", the worst year of the Famine) to his 2nd cousin once removed, a widow, Maire (nee Harrington) whose husband Florry O'Sullivan (with three of his brothers) died of a terrible 'flu during the Famine, leaving her with six very young children. Jackie settled down in her farm. Jackie's mother stayed on in her little hut by the seashore in Derrincorrin. Around 1870 she met her tragic death. It was the custom of the time to travel as far as Whiddy Island near Bantry to gather carrigeen moss, a type of sea-grass used for both food and medicinal purposes by the old people. She availed of a lift in a sand-boat that was going to Bantry. She disembarked on a large rock near Whiddy Island where the carrigeen moss was plentiful, and she was to be picked up on the boat's return journey. Unfortunately, before the boat reached the place where she had been left picking the carrigeen moss, a fierce storm had blown up --- and Maire got drowned. Six weeks went by before her body was washed ashore. She was buried in Dromlave Cemetery.

Copyright © 1999, 2000 Riobard O'Dwyer


The "Dream"

by Riobard O'Dwyer

On November 12th 1918 five men from the Eyeries Parish in the Beara Peninsula were drowned coming back from seine-fishing (night-fishing for mackerel) when a huge wave broke over a submerged rock outside Pointe Ranna off the Kilcatherine district mainland and threw their boat into the air. They were Sean (a Choill) O'Sullivan of Caolrua, Jer (Murt) McCarthy of Faunkil, two Murphy brothers, John and Patie, from Ballycrovane, and my uncle Robert O'Dwyer (the eldest of a family of 12) from Caolrua. One man, Patie Healy of Faunkil, survived, but he didn't live for very long afterwards. Robert, an accomplished hop,step & jumper, sprinter, and weight-thrower, was Captain of the Ballycrovane Company of the Republican Army in what was then the early stages of the War of Independence. The first that anybody on the mainland knew of the tragedy was when Robert appeared to his great friend and fellow Republican Army man Con Dwyer and told him that they had just been drowned. Con then raised the alarm. A strange thing, but Con himself was dead less than six weeks later. The bodies were missing for a number of days. My grandmother sent my father to the Priest to ask him, for God's sake, if he could do anything to help recover the bodies so that, at least, they could be given a Christian burial. The Priest told my father that he would be at the scene the following morning. Next morning the Priest went to a field near the Point and started praying. When he was finished, he said "Go over to those rocks over there (pointing them out) and ye will find the bodies". The people went over, and there between the rocks under-water in a sandy, clear inlet were 3 of the bodies, including my uncle Robert, lying side by side as if they had been drawn in there. The other two bodies were found shortly after that. Uncle Robert was a very strong swimmer, but when he was found, there was a large gash in his forehead, which must have knocked him out, as he obviously struck the   submerged rock after the boat was overturned.

Not long after my uncle Robert and the four other fishermen had been drowned, my father (Liam) who was the next oldest boy to Robert in the big family, was just about going to sleep one night when he saw what looked like a little light coming from the door of the room towards him. As the light came closer, my father could feel himself becoming more relaxed and peaceful. He heard Robert's voice saying to him not to be worried, that he (Robert) would always look after him and protect him. Then the light disappeared and my father fell asleep.

Later, as the War of Independence got more intense, my father, who at that stage had become Commandant of the Beara Battalion of the West Cork Brigade, had "a price on his head". The "Black & Tans" (British soldiers) were searching for him and had orders to shoot him on sight. He was moving through the hills and had no proper sleep for a few nights, so he decided that he would chance going to Mrs. Healy's house near the main road in Faunkil, between the villages of Eyeries and Ardgroom. She was the woman whose son was the only one to survive the drowning of the fishermen, but who died not long afterwards. It was night by now. My father felt that perhaps the "Black & Tans" might raid a house well into one of the glens or valleys around the Beara area rather than a house beside the main road when they were searching for him, so he asked Mrs. Healy if she would let him try and get a bit of sleep for himself for a while. "Of course, a lao", said Biddy to him. "Go away upstairs and have a lie-down for yourself".

Up the stairs went my father and lay on the bed. He was so worn out from the travelling through the hills, always on edge, and from the lack of proper sleep, that practically as soon as his head hit the pillow, he nodded off.

He wasn't long asleep when, in a "dream", he saw 3 lorryloads of "Black & Tans" leaving Castletownbere and heading out the north road in the direction of Eyeries. He half-woke up, but, then convincing himself that it was only a dream and, being so tired, he lay down again and, once more, fell asleep.

After what would only have been a few minutes, the "dream" came to him again. This time, in it, he could see quite clearly the 3 lorryloads of "Black & Tans" passing Pullincha Bridge, much closer to Eyeries. He woke up, by now quite on edge, and sat up in the bed. But, again, after a minute or so, the sleep got the better of him and down went his head on the pillow once more. It couldn't be anything more than a dream, he thought. Soon he was asleep.

The next thing, within another few minutes, the "dream" about the "Black & Tans" came to him even more vividly than before. Waking up quickly, he jumped out on the floor saying "This is no dream !!" Making his way to the gable window he peered out, and there he spotted the lights of the 3 lorries being switched off near the bad turn on the road about 200 yards from the house. "Flying" down the stairs he headed out through the back door and had just reached the safety of the nearby hill when he heard the banging on the front door and the shouting of the "Black & Tan" soldiers raiding Mrs. Healy's house. Had it not been for the "dream", he would by now have been riddled with bullets. He was convinced through his life afterwards that the "dream" was his dead brother Robert warning him of the impending danger and fulfilling his promise of always protecting him.

Later the "Black & Tans" burned down my father's house.
Copyright © 1999, 2000Riobard O'Dwyer


The German Orchestra Conducter & the "Poc ar Buile*"

by Riobard O'Dwyer

Guest Speaker at the Boston Beara Society Dinner next February will be the very well-known singer, and now retired schoolteacher, Sean O Se whose most famous song was the "POC AR BUILE" (the story of a mad or crazy puck goat that wreaked havoc through Co.Cork and finished up in Dingle, Co. Kerry, where the Parish Priest there thought that he surely must have been the reincarnation of the devil himself). Sean's father was from Adrigole in the Beara Peninsula, where his 1st cousin Morty O'Shea now lives, and he is also a 1st cousin to, among others, Fr. Sean O'Shea of Castletownbere. The singer Sean was Headmaster in a Cork City school and because of the fame he achieved " with the Gaelic song the "Poc ar Buile", he was affectionately known in the Cork City area as "The Pucker". No better man to tell a story against himself, he seemingly one time was up in the balcony of a Cathedral in Germany practising with an orchestra for a forthcoming concert of sacred music and song when two women on holidays there from Cork City happened to be passing by and, hearing the lovely music and singing, they opened the Cathedral door and in they went. During the next song or hymn, one of them thought she recognised Sean's voice. Then the music and the singing stopped. Looking away up towards the orchestra, she exclained to her friend: "Julia, that's the Pucker !" "It couldn't be the Pucker", says Julia. "How could it be the Pucker? Sure isn't he at home in Cork, girl. Didn't I see him there last week. How could he be here in Germany ?" Pointing up towards him, Maggie again assured her friend in an even louder voice that echoed through the Cathedral: "Julia, it IS the Pucker, I tell you. That's him ! Wouldn't I know the Pucker's voice anywhere. That's the Pucker alright !!" Not understanding the Gaelic language, or at least the Cork City version of it, and thinking they were using what sounded to him like a word which rhymes with Pucker, the German Orchestra Conducter turned to Sean very seriously, with a worried look on his face, and says he: "Mr. O'Shea, those two women down there, they say very bad words to you ?!! They do not like you, yes?!!

Copyright © 1999, 2000 Riobard O'Dwyer

* "You may wish to note for your records however that the trad song "An Poc ar Buile" was composed by my great grand uncle Dónal O Mulláin, Kilgarvan Co. Kerry he added the words to an even older traditional tune from the area. Seán O Sé who acknowledges this, made the song famous and more power to his elbow!" Mícheál O Mulláin


"Charity begins at home"; Dan Kelly and the Pope.

by Riobard O'Dwyer

Today I had a Kelly family from Seattle, Washington State, here doing research on their ancestors, one of whom was Jim's ancestor Dan Kelly who lived to be 102 years of age. There is no doubt about it, but the people of the Beara Peninsula in the olden days sure had no shortage of wit ---- even on their death bed. Dan never needed glasses to read. He never drank a "drop". And he was never sick a day in his life until two days before he died. Anyhow, when the Parish Priest of Eyeries, Fr. O'Callaghan, had finished annointing him, he turned to Dan. "Goodbye now, Dan", says he, "and don't forget to pray for the Pope". Looking him straight between the eyes, Dan replied in no uncertain fashion. "I'll pray for myself", says he !! Obviously, Dan was a firm believer in the old dictum "Charity begins at home".

He was going to look after himself first ----- and let the Pope solve his own problems !!
Copyright © 1999, 2000 Riobard O'Dwyer


The Judge Held His Court Sitting on a Boundary Fence!!

by Riobard O'Dwyer

Dick (or Richard) Adams was no ordinary Judge. His wit was a mixture of humour and acerbity; his method of solving problems was unorthodox, to say the least. Born in Castletownbere in the Beara Peninsula in January 1843 to a father Brian who was a Customs Officer and Port Surveyor there, and to a mother Fanny who was a sister of Doctor O'Donovan of Skibbereen, Dick was first educated in the local Brandy Hall Primary School where one of his teachers was my great-grandfather's first cousin Master William O'Dwyer, a master teacher, who taught his pupils not alone the usual syllabus subjects, but also geology, astronomy, Latin, Greek, trigonometry and navigation. Master William was described as "a thin, hardy, bony, cutting man with springy legs and a great span" and wore a goatee beard. He moved through his class like a Caribbean hurricane and was known to all and sundry as "Fury the Goat" !!

Dick, like a number of Master O'Dwyer's pupils later, could have gone on to become a sea-captain or master mariner, but he decided that his career lay on "terra firma" (or firm ground). After passing through Queen's College (now University College) in Cork City, he spent some time as a journalist with a Cork City newspaper and with "Freeman's Journal". He then studied Law and was called to the Irish Bar in 1873. Shortly after that he went on the Munster Circuit and very soon became noted for his quick wit and humour.

One time a Magistrate with whom Dick "did not see eye to eye" remarked:

"Mr. Adams, I cannot see your point", to which Dick promptly retorted: "No Sir ?! Perhaps the sun is in your eyes !"

In 1892 Dick was made County Court Judge for Limerick. He once refused to hold a sitting of his court on Good Friday, remarking: "I don't want to emulate the example of Pontius Pilate who held his court on Good Friday !"

At one Quarter Sessions in Limerick he received a report of an alarming increase in the number of cases of drunkeness. "Alas", said Dick, "Limerick is no longer to be called the City of the Broken Treaty. It is now the City of the Broken Pledge !"

On another occasion he held part of a court case sitting on a boundary fence in Co. Limerick. News of this extraordinary happening spread to many countries of Europe, and from there to the United States and Australia. The climax came when Dick received an Australian paper in which was a cartoon representing a villainous -

looking ruffian with a caubeen (or cap) on his head, a dudeen (or clay pipe) in his mouth, his legs straddled across a fence, and an inscription underneath: "How Justice is Administered in Ireland !!"

Copyright © 1999, 2000 Riobard O'Dwyer


The Blessed Candle

by Riobard O'Dwyer

Mike Goggin came across Kenmare Bay from Ballinskelligs, near Waterville, Co. Kerry, to Cahirkeem in the Eyeries Parish, Beara Peninsula. He married a local girl Julia (or Sheila) Foley in the Eyeries Church on Nov. 20th 1851. They settled in the townland of Cahirkeem and had three children (1853 to 1860).

Mike was later drowned with four others (one was saved) coming home one night from seine fishing when their boat went over a "breaking" submerged rock. Mike's wife sent for the Priest to try and help find his body. The Priest went out in a rowing boat on a flat-calm day to a place near where Mike had been drowned. He lit a blessed candle and stood it on a sheaf of straw which he let drift away with the tide. After a while, the sheaf of straw with the blessed candle in it started spinning around in the water. Some of the old people told me that Mike's body was then seen coming up towards the blessed candle before disappearing out of sight again. The Priest told Mrs. Goggin not to worry, that what happened with the blessed candle was a sign to him that the body would be found. Sure enough, Mike Goggin's body drifted down Coulagh Bay and was found a few days later about a mile away in the seaweed beside Travara Strand. The other four bodies were never again seen.

Copyright © 1999, 2000 Riobard O'Dwyer


The Boatload of Timber

by Riobard O'Dwyer

Pats Fenton (son of Thomas Fenton), a Boatbuilder, came to the townland of Cahirkeem, Eyeries Parish, Beara Peninsula (Diocese of Kerry), Co. Cork (South-West), from straight across the Kenmare Bay in Cahirdaniel, Co. Kerry. He and his wife Mary Fitzgerald (daughter of James Fitzgerald, also from Cahirdaniel) had 12 children (from 1899 to 1921) in Cahirkeem. The children later emigrated to places like Cleveland (Ohio), New York, Indianapolis, in the States, & also to Corsham, Wiltshire, England. On March 4th 1924, Pats Fenton and a neighbour of his in Cahirkeem, Dan (the Strand) O'Sullivan, were coming home from Lauragh, Co. Kerry, and travelling up Kenmare Bay in a snowstorm with a boatload of timber. The boat got swamped and sank as they were crossing between Inisfernard Island and Kilcatherine Point at the entrance to Coulagh Bay. A local man, Paddy Hanley, found the remains of the boat washed up in the Allihies Parish near Claonach, but the bodies of Pats and Dan were never found. Pats' son Tade, who had travelled down with them to Kilmackillogue (where he was working), near Lauragh, was kept there, luckily, and later emigrated to New York. The two youngest of the sons, Nealie & Paddy Fenton went back to Cahirdaniel after their father got drowned. Paddy was only about 4 years and 7 months at the time. The baby, Bessie (or Elizabeth), was only two and a half years. She later crossed the Atlantic to the Bronx.

Copyright © 1999, 2000 Riobard O'Dwyer


The Carpenter's Coffin

by Riobard O'Dwyer

Darby Uonhi and his wife Johanna O'Sullivan (Suonish) lived close to the present Grotto in Cahirkeem around the time of the Famine. Darby was a Carpenter, and a man with a great sense of humo(u)r. Having made a coffin, he said to himself that he would try it out for size and comfort. He carried the coffin outside the door of his shed, lay down full length in it, and started smoking his pipe. Johanna never saw him going to lie down in the coffin, so when she saw the smoke rising, she thought that the coffin was going on fire. She ran into the house, rushed out with a bucket of water, and nearly "drowned" Darby in the coffin. By a remarkable coincidence, the next person put into the same coffin was Darby himself ----- this time dead !!

Copyright © 1999, 2000 Riobard O'Dwyer


Mary's Search Story "Adversities of Fortune"

Date: Sat, 8 Jan 2000 16:46:20 -0000
From: "Riobard O'Dwyer"
Subject: Mary's search story "Adversities of Fortune"

Dear Kerry Listers,

'Twas not until this evening that I had a chance to read Mary's search story "Adversities of Fortune" in her personal Dingle site. It is absolutely gripping and brilliantly put together, and I could well imagine people, especially in the States and far from home, crying at their computers as they read it ---- and very especially those who are still crying out in near despair to try and find their roots. This is inspiring stuff. Not only is Mary an excellent writer but she is an excellent, folksy story-teller as well. It is like a detective story ---- the slow, but gripping, step-by-step-keep-at-it, determined efforts to find her roots, and eventually her sheer joy and exuberance when she finally got there. If that wouldn't inspire people of Irish ancestry in search of their roots, nothing could. It reminds me of the moral of the story of King Robert Bruce of Scotland and the Spider on Rathlin Island off the coast of Co. Antrim, which I often told to my pupils in school when I too was researching the ancestry of every Parish in the Beara Peninsula ----- and that is NEVER GIVE UP (a lesson not alone for genealogy but for life itself). I hope that Mary will publish "Adversities of Fortune", and I wish her deserved success with it.

Copyright © 1999, 2000 Riobard O'Dwyer

Note: Mary = Thanks so much for your kind words Riobard!


* If you are interested in knowing more about the area Riobard is an expert in, here is some information he provided to the IRE-KERRY mailing list to help us understand the Bonane area:

Tracing Ancestry

"For the past 40 years I have been researching the Family-Trees of the six Parishes {Adrigole, Allihies (Copper Mines, & incl. Dursey Island), Bere Island, Castletownbere, Eyeries, and Glengarriff} of the Co. Cork section of the Beara Peninsula. As the BONANE district, CO. KERRY (between Kenmare, Co. Kerry, and Glengarriff, Co. Cork) and Glengarriff happen to be a joint Parish, I have also researched the Family-Trees of the BONANE district back to the earliest Parish records and, in many cases, much further back. The townlands in the BONANE district are (there are often variations in the spellings):- BAUREARAGH, CRINAGORT, COOLNAGUPPOGUE, COOMEENSHRULE, COORLEIGH, CURRAGRAIGUE, DEELIS, DROMAGORTEEN, EARNEEN, ESK, GARRYLETTER, GARRYMORE, GEARHA (incl. FAURDORAS and GERAHBUE), GERAHNAGOUL (& LEAP), GORTNABINNY, GORTNAGAPPUL, GURRANES, INISFOYLE (incl. SCHLISS and CUDADUCH), KILLABONANE (incl. CANTEEN and DERRINAHOUN), KNOCKDUVE, LETTERDUNANE, MILLEENS, RATH, RELEAGH, TULLIG, and TULLOHA. So if any of this rings a bell with anybody with BONANE or any of the other Parish connections, they can contact me at :- Riobard O'Dwyer (Genealogist), Eyeries Village, Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork, Ireland. My email address is:- However, I have confined my research ONLY to the Parishes I have mentioned. For anybody with ancestry in the Tuosist Parish (Lauragh, Glenmore, Ardea etc., areas), Co. Kerry, alot of that Parish has already been indexed. Communications, in this case, to the Parish Priest, the Presbytery, Lauragh, Kenmare, Co. Kerry. Hope this will be helpful to anybody with ancestry from the above areas. Best wishes, Riobard (which is the Gaelic for Robert ------ a name traditionally associated with our family)."


(Here's a lesson in creativity for our other Kerry listers... check out these townlands spelling from the townland database compared to what Riobard wrote... just so you are aware of how creative you must be in trying to locate those illusive townlands!...:

Baurearagh Coolnagoppoge Coorleagh Crinagort Cummeenshrule Curragraigue Deelis Dromagorteen Erneen Esk East Esk West Garranes Garryletter Garrymore Gearha Gearhanagoul Gortnabinny Gortnagappul Inishfoyle Killabunane Knockduff Letterdunane Milleens Rath Releagh Tullaha Tullig
slan, mary listowner, Irl-Kerry)

About Bonane

"Up to 1839 Adrigole and Glengarriff in Co.Cork and Bonane in Co. Kerry made up the Church Parish of Kilcaskin in the Diocese of Kerry. (The three areas skirt the Cork/Kerry border along by the Caha Hills.) This year Kilcaskin South (or the Parish of Adrigole) is 160 years old, having been established a seperate Parish from Kilcaskin North (or Bonane, Co. Kerry, and Glengarriff, Co. Cork) in 1839. Prior to that, Clan Lawrence (or the Adrigole district) was served from St. Fiachna's, Bonane, which lies about 10 miles from Glengarriff on the road to Kenmare, Co. Kerry. The Priest used come on horseback across the Sugar Loaf and Caha Hills from Bonane to the ancient Church at Massmount in Adrigole. Taking lodgings in a neighbouring farmhouse, he attended to the spiritual needs of the faithful, and after a few days he would mount his steed to travel back across the hills to his Presbytery. In the same way, when the Priest was wanted on a sick call, or on any urgent business, a messenger was dispatched across the rough hills to Bonane, a distance of over 12 miles. The journey was not an easy matter for Priest or peasant, especially in winter when travel on the hills was difficult and extremely dangerous. There was also a very ancient Church in the Adrigole district townland of Kilcaskin, the ruins of which can still be seen surrounded by the old Kilcaskin Cemetery. It is thought that this ancient Kilcaskin Church goes back to the early days of Christianity. During the days of the terrible Penal Laws, Mass was celebrated mainly on rocks on the hillsides. When the fury of the persecution subsided a little, the old Church in Massmount (Mons Missa ----- Mons = mount; Missa = Mass ----- as the townland was written in the old Church Records) was erected. It was built roughly, as the workers hadn't much time for elaboration or decoration. The Church stood on a high altitude which gave a superb view of the "roads" on which the "Red-Coats" (or soldiers) would travel on a raid, & would give the Priest and people time to escape to the hills if such were to happen. Likewise, the ancient Church of St. Fiachna in Bonane was situated in a place that had a good view over the surrounding countryside. There is a townland called Killabonane/Kilbonane in the overall district known as Bonane. Kill comes from the old gaelic word Cill which means a Church.

The Bonane area is beautiful and rugged, with mountains, rivers, and valleys. To get to it from the Co. Cork side, you have to travel through the big mountain tunnel that seperates Co. Cork from Co. Kerry on the present scenic road from Glengarriff to Kenmare.


Surnames of the Bonane, Co. Kerry, District

These are the Surnames I came across in my research of the many townlands in the BONANE district of the Bonane/Glengarriff Parish.

*(& the many branch-names, including O'Sullivan Morgan, now known as Morgan)



I have received a number of queries about KILBONANE, but the ancestors in question were not from the townland of Kilbonane/Killabonane in the district of Bonane that I research. I have a very large atlas printed in Philadelphia in 1901 called "Memorial Atlas of Ireland", with a massive index, and within it I have come across two Kilbonane Parishes (as they were at that time). Within one of them is the present village of Aherla, near Macroom, Co. Cork. The other lies in Co. Kerry between Milltown and Aghadoe, and close to the present Firies Parish.


Beara Peninsula Parishes; Cork/Kerry boundaries.

All the Catholic Church Parishes in the Beara Peninsula are in the Diocese of Kerry. What is known now as the Parish of Eyeries, Co. Cork, was one time known as the Parish of Kilcatherine (the Church of Catherine ---- not the load of rubbish that somebody came up with in fairly recent years that it was a "St. Kentigern", a seemingly Scottish Saint, who was never known or heard of by the old people of the Parish until this joke of a theory came up. The people traditionally celebrated St. Catherine's Day on the 31st of January at a Holy Well, "Tobaireen Beannuithe", at the back of the present village of Eyeries). Between the Parish of Eyeries and the Parish of Kenmare is the Parish of Tuosist, Co. Kerry (which takes in the Lauragh and Ardea areas). What are now known as the Parish of Castletownbere and the Parish of Bere Island, both in Co. Cork, were all one, known as the Parish of Killaughaneenigh (& various spellings of it) until about 1890. What is now known as the Parish of Allihies (which also includes Dursey Island), Co. Cork, was once known as the Parish of Kilnamanagh. The present Parish of Adrigole, Co. Cork, and the combined Parish of Glengarriff, Co. Cork, and Bonane, Co. Kerry, were all one Parish ---- the Parish of Kilcaskan ---- until 1839. Adrigole then became Kilcaskan South, & Glengarriff/Bonane became Kilcaskan North. The Co. Kerry boundary with Co. Cork is about two and a half miles on the Kenmare side of Ardgroom Village, Co. Cork; on the top of the Healy Pass between Adrigole, Co. Cork, and Lauragh, Co. Kerry; and as you go through the big tunnel in the Caha Mountains on the road between Glengarriff, Co. Cork, and Kenmare, Co. Kerry. The Parishes of Eyeries and Adrigole follow the County boundaries; the Cork/Kerry border splits the combined Glengarriff/Bonane Parish. The Bonane side of that Parish runs for a number of miles on both sides of the road beyond the tunnel in the Caha Mountains until it meets up with the Kenmare Parish. Parts of the Bonane district/area are also very close to the Parish of Kilgarvan, Co. Kerry.


Copyright © 1999, 2000 Riobard O'Dwyer
Riobard O'Dwyer


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