Volume 7, Winter 2020-2021
Compiled by Maurice O’Keeffe and Jane O’Keeffe
Volume 7 of The Old Kerry Journal includes an excerpt from a previously unpublished work by the late Russell McMorran on 19th century Kerry historian and genealogist, Mary Agnes Hickson. She is best remembered for her two volumes of Old Kerry Records, an invaluable source for Kerry historians.
In his article on the visitors book at Kilmorna House, Listowel, Tom Dillon provides fascinating detail about the life of Pierce Mahony of Kilmorna. A constitutional nationalist, politician, horticulturalist and agriculturalist, and a renowned philanthropist, he led an extraordinary life. Kilmorna was also home to his half-brother, Sir Arthur Vickers, Ulster King of Arms who had an illustrious career until it ended in scandal in 1907, following the theft of the Irish Crown Jewels. He was shot by the IRA in 1921 on suspicion of spying.
On the 175th anniversary of the first appearance of the potato blight in 1845, Dr Helene O’Keeffe contributed an article entitled “Black ’47 in Tralee Union”. She delves deeply into the facts and figures relating to this terrible time in the history of Tralee and its environs, “when winds of hunger howled at every door”.
In about the mid 1700s, Sir Thomas Mullins, 1st Baronet and MP for Kerry, built Beaufort House around the three remaining walls of Coolmagort Castle, the west wall of which was demolished in 1652 by Edmund Ludlow, Commander in Chief of the Cromwellian army in Ireland. Over the centuries, ownership of the property passed through many hands and, since 1962, Beaufort House and estate have been in the ownership of the Cameron family. Donald Cameron provides a fascinating history of the Beaufort House and estate for the Journal.
Tom O’Neill, assistant manager on Spike Island in lower Cork Harbour, has contributed an article entitled “Kerry, Spike Island and the War of Independence” which enhances our knowledge of the Kerry connection to those imprisoned at Spike Island during the War of Independence. The island was purchased by the British military at the end of the 18th century, and in February 1921, the fort on the island was opened by the British authorities as a “Military Prison in the Field” for male IRA Volunteers.
Stephen O’Sullivan and his family run Molly Gallivan’s Visitors Centre in Bonane, Kenmare. He has a fascination for local history and archaeology and in his article he describes his deep-rooted love of his home place and the archaeological remains which may be seen in the local area, including the multiple bullaun stone “The Rolls of Butter” which has always captivated him.
The Kiskeam Brass Band and the Thomas Ashe Banner is the title of the article submitted by Sheila O’Sullivan, in which she outlines the history of the band and its connection to Kinard-born patriot, Thomas Ashe. The strong connection to Seán Keating’s painting ‘Men of the South’ which hangs in the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork is also explained.
Anglo-Swiss academic couple, Sylvia and Paul F. Botheroyd, teach the Irish language and Irish cultural studies at the Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany. They have visited Kerry on many occasions, exploring its landscape, culture and mythology and taking knowledge back to Germany for the benefit of their students and readers. Their article, entitled “Owls to Athens?” explores their unique connection with County Kerry.
Dr Patricia O’Hare, Research and Education Officer at Muckross House Research Library, writes about the long and varied history of Muckross House and estate and its owners, in particular the Bourn Vincent family. The present Muckross House was completed in 1843 for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, Mary Balfour, and it was purchased by San Francisco born William Bowers Bourn in 1911. It is believed that William and his wife Agnes presented the property as a wedding present to their daughter Maud and her husband Arthur Rose Vincent.
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