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
memorial
Headstone of Ellen Ryan, Old Pallas Graveyard, Co. Limerick
Erected
by
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
R.I.P.
Nicker Church, Pallasgreen, Co. Limerick

1 comment:

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.
Kathy