Monday, November 4, 2013

A Visit to Pallasgreen, Co. Limerick

After Kells, the next of my ancestral hometowns that we visited on our trip to Ireland was Pallasgreen, Co. Limerick, where the Mulcahys were from. My 2x great-grandfather Michael Mulcahy had emigrated from Pallasgreen, likely in the 1880s, and he had returned for a visit with two of his sons, including my great-grandfather Joseph Mulcahy, in 1905. As a result, we have a somewhat closer connection to Pallasgreen than to Kells - I grew up knowing that my family came from Pallasgreen, but had to do the research to learn that we also came from Kells.

I had visited Pallasgreen once before, when I visited Ireland as an adolescent with my parents. We had been told that our family's old home was "the first house outside of town, on the road with the school." When asking for directions, we had this exchange with a local:
Dad: We're looking for the house where the Mulcahys lived. We were told it was the first house outside of town, on the road with the school."
Local: I know the house you're talking about, but there's no school on that road.
Dad: Can you tell us how you get there?
Local: Just stay straight on this road until you pass the school, and it will be on your left.
During our brief stop (in 1998), we had a bite to eat at the local pub; stopped by what we thought was the old Mulcahy house, though we were a bit unclear on that (no one was home); and my dad talked for a few minutes with the local town historian, who was since passed away. He brought my sister along for that conversation, and I kick myself regularly for not having joined them. I wouldn't have taken notes or anything, at that age, but I might have remembered something. I was at an age, however, when the embarrassment of knocking on a stranger's door and introducing ourselves far outweighed my interest in hearing what said stranger might have to say. That local historian has since passed away.

This time, the town seemed somewhat larger and more developed than I had remembered it, but I don't know if that was perception or reality. My husband Ben and I stopped and had lunch in the local pub, where I took a picture of an old handbill hanging framed on the wall, advertising 1869's fairs and pig markets. 

Before we left, I asked at the bar where we could find the graveyard where I'd been told the Mulcahys were buried - the graveyard "with the old church." They sent me down the road to the Old Pallas Cemetery. I'm pretty sure that on the way we would have passed the house where my family had lived, but I didn't recognize it from either our first visit or the photo I'd seen. It certainly was no longer the first house outside of town - a couple of new developments seemed to have sprung up just outside the main area of town. I already had a picture of the Mulcahy headstone, but I wanted to visit in person and look around the graveyard some more, and I was glad I did.

I'd been warned that this area of Ireland was overrun with Ryans - Michael Mulcahy's mother was a Ryan - or I might have been more excited when we entered the cemetery and noticed that every 2nd or 3rd stone seemed to have the name Ryan on it. I found the Mulcahy gravestone relatively quickly - it helped that I'd already seen a photo of it.
Mulcahy headstone, Old Pallas Graveyard, Co. Limerick

Mulcahy headstone, Old Pallas Graveyard, Co. Limerick

The people listed are my 3x great-grandfather James Mulcahy; his wife Margaret Ryan Mulcahy; two of their children, Ellen Mulcahy O'Brien and Johanna Mulcahy; Ellen's husband William O'Brien; their daughter Margaret O'Brien McMahon; and Margaret's husband Michael McMahon.

Then I looked around at the nearby stones to see if any of them might be related, and while I haven't had a chance to investigate what I found yet, there were several that looked promising. The nearest stone memorialized an Ellen Dwyer, which happens to be the name of one of the sponsors at my 2x great-grandfather's 1860 baptism. Nearby was another Dwyer stone. The next closest stone belonged to an Ellen Ryan. Although Ryans are everywhere, this one seemed significant both for its proximity to the Mulcahy plot and the names of the couple. Margaret Ryan Mulcahy had among her children both an Ellen and a Michael, and this stone was erected by a Michael Ryan to his wife Ellen, who appear to be of an age to have been in Margaret's parents' generation. Neither of these stones was particularly legible, and the photographs don't reveal the inscriptions at all, so I transcribed them to the best of my ability.
Tombstone of Ellen Dwyer, Old Pallas Graveyard, Co. Limerick
Of your charity
Pray for the soul of 
Ellen Dwyer
Who died on the 22 Dec 1865
Aged 47 years
Deeply regretted by her husband
Wm Dwyer Cobelish Pallasgrean
Who erected this as his affectionate
Headstone of Ellen Ryan, Old Pallas Graveyard, Co. Limerick
Michael Ryan
of Kilduff in mem of his
Beloved wife Ellen
RYAN alias HAYES who
Departed this life June
20th 1845 aged 51 years

After we left the graveyard, we drove into the nearby village of Nicker to visit the church where Micahel Mulcahy would have been baptized. It was beautiful inside, but I only got a picture of the exterior. However, I made a note of the plaque mentioning the church's builder and its history, which confirmed that this was the church building that was around in the Mulcahys' day:
Very Rev. Thomas O'Mahony
P.P. 1812-1849
Built this church in 1820
Died 4th Nov. 1849 and
is buried here
Nicker Church, Pallasgreen, Co. Limerick


Kathy Reed said...

Thank you for telling me about this post. It gives me wonderful memories. I, too, was at the Nicker Church and the cemetery in Old Pallas. As you know, my ancestors from this town were Ryans and Dwyers and we were at the Chaser. I wonder if we share any common DNA. If you've had yours done, let me know. We can compare.

Pat Varey said...

My dad Patrick Brunnock was born and lived in Pallasgrean and was the son of Edmond who died in 1962. Edmond was married to Annie Carroll. His grave is at Old Pallas cemetary, He's buried there with Annie, their son Edmond (died age 5) and also the ashes of my auntie and uncle. If anyone has any connections to my family I would love to hear from them. Contact Pat at

Pat Varey said...

My dad Patrick Brunnock was born and lived in Pallasgrean and was the son of Edmond who died in 1962. Edmond was married to Annie Carroll. His grave is at Old Pallas cemetary, He's buried there with Annie, their son Edmond (died age 5) and also the ashes of my auntie and uncle. If anyone has any connections to my family I would love to hear from them. Contact Pat at

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Jill H. said...

My sister and I visited Old Pallas last summer and toured the cemetary there, looking for Dwyers and McGraths. We found many of them, especially Dwyers, and met a couple of Dwyers in town. We later found the birth record for my great, great grandmother Bridget McGrath, born October 1831, in Pallasgreen. She married John Dwyer. I'm having a difficult time tracking down their parents (Thomas McGrath and Johanna Casey were Bridget's parents)
or grandparents but am guessing some of them are probably buried there. Kathy, we may be related! I'm thinking we conversed on another blog about a year ago. (?)
Ireland is a magical place for me. I instantly felt at home.
Jill Hotchkiss

Anonymous said...

Kathleen Thanks for this information, I live near pallasgreen , I am trying to identify if this Mulcahy family is the same as the Mary Mulcahy Pallas grean who married John O'Brien and lived in Pallas grean, they married around 1790, they had two dayghter Anne born 1799 and married John Hunt (of Hunts cappawhite)in 1828 Bridget married Michael Apjohn around 1830, Have you come across any of this and does it ring a bell. ed

Kathy Reed said...

A friend referred me back to this blog. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any of the names listed in your post.

Jim Kennedy said...

Thanks for the post. My father, John Kennedy, was from Pallasgreen and born ABT 1896. His mother was Julia Ryan from Cappamore, Limerick.

mckeaty said...

So glad I found your blog. I was looking for a picture of Nicker Church when I found it. My great grandparents, Michael Keaty and Katie Fennelly were married there. Thanks!

GEOTU said...

Hello all. I have had a devil of a time tracking down my ancestor Harriet Sophia Hunt from Cappawhite. Can someone please expand on their knowledge of the Hunts from Cappawhite for me please?


Jill H. said...

McKeaty, if you send me your e-mail address I would be glad to send you some more photos of the Nicker church. I was there with my sister in July 2015.

Joseph Ryan said...

I was in Pallasgreen in 1984, my grandmother was a Carroll and my grandfather was a Ryan, met in America and were married. The Carroll farm is still there, run by Patrick Barry whose grandfather married the last Carroll girl.

Theresa Ball said...

My great grandmother, Catherine Carroll, married Edmond Ryan. Her sister Bridget married Patrick Barry.

Theresa Ball said...

Hi Joseph! My great grandmother was Catherine Carroll. She was known as Kay. Her sister married a Barry. She married Edmond Ryan. They moved to Chicago and had 3 boys - Edward, Joseph, and William.

DVS said...

Hi - I am looking for information regarding Reverend William Scott (3rd great grandfather) who was the curate of the rectory at Pallasgreen:

Reverend William Scott b. 1788 d. May 11, 1869 (Pallas grean) curate for approximately 40 years. His wife was Eleanor Elmina Chadwick b. 1784 d. January 11, 1851

Not sure where he is buried. I think the rectory at Pallasgreen is still standing.. maybe converted to a school/daycare?

John said...

Rectory no longer stands, a supermarket has taken its place. Have a sketch of it.The house occopied by Rev Scott still stands and is in good repair

pauline edwards said...

Hello. I am trying to find out any information about my dad's family. His mother was Bridget Enright (died 2002 age 82) of Nicker, Pallasgreen and I believe her mother was Norah Mulcahy (died 6th December 1976 aged 87). My dad is Edmund/Ned Mulcahy born Feb 1944. He knows nothing about his family other than this and has always wanted to know more. I wonder if there is any connection to the Mulcahy's of Pallasgreen or if anyone can give any information.
Many thanks

PATRICK said...


Kim R said...

My maternal grandmother and grandfather were from Pallasgreen/Nicker area. Catherine Danaher and Timothy O'Mahony. My grandmother grew up in the house two doors down from the church above--the house is still in the family.

I hardly have any information about my grandfather--His Dad loved horses, I think he was one of three children-all boys. One of them moved to South America and wasn't heard from again. My grandfather worked at a dairy and immigrated to America in 1925. Parents are John Mahoney (O'Mahony) and Alice Leary.

If you have any information please message me. Thank you!

Unknown said...

Do any of you have DNA tests through Ancestry, Family Tree DNA or are you on GEDmatch? I think it would be interesting to do some comparisons since we all have Pallasgreen ancestors. If any of you are on GEDmatch and would like to compare kits my number is A124473.
Jill Hotchkiss