LEFT KERRY: By Bertille Hurley
They left their beloved Kerry, fifteen families - 107 men, women and children - in May, 1825. From the Parish of Listowel, the families of immigrate Gallivan, Thomas Cahill, William Foley, Timothy Keane, John Collins, James Pope, Patrick and Denis Shanahan, John Stack, Michael Costelloe, and William Hagarty; from Dingle, Cornelius Sullivan and John Keleher; from Knockacappel, James Mahoney and from Killarney, John Sullivan.
Were they for the most part a closely knit group? We can only speculate. But one thing does stand out when you compare the Kerry families, all of whom settled in Ennismore with the 23 Limerick families who settled in four townships and the 25 Tipperary families who settled in 6 townships. This pattern of settlement for the Kerry families could not have happened by chance. They were passengers on six different ships and so were separated in their journey. How did they become reunited upon their arrival at Scott’s Plains?"
Can we assume that the eleven families from Listowel must assuredly have known each other - were they neighbors or relatives? The other four Kerry families closed ranks with them. Why? How else could these Kerrymen - small in number as they were - survive against so many Corkmen? Cork and Kerry! To understand their relationship, what better way than to go to the words of a Kerryman himself, Bryan MacMahon in his "Here’s Ireland":
"Cork and Kerry......are husband and wife. Between the population of these two counties, there exists a type of love-hate conjugal relationship.
Cork, the largest county in Ireland dominates the marriage by sheer force of personality! Kerry makes up for any deficiency (!) by craft and subterfuge.....Kerryman, like freemasons, are forever making cryptic signs to each other....
Their (our) enemies declare that (we) Cork and Kerry folk are too damn cunning by half, which indeed they (we) are!"
Now how are a handful of Kerrymen going to be able to make ‘cryptic signs to each other’ if they are scattered over half a dozen townships? And unless united in their new homeland, how can they carry on their ‘craft and subterfuge,’ when outnumbered by so many Cork men? Whatever the reason, when given their location tickets, we find the Kerry families, not only located in one township, Ennismore, but in relative proximity to each other on their assigned lots.
As to the speculation that they were a closely - knit group - at least the eleven Listowel families. A quick perusal of the Tithe Applotment Books, 1825, for the parish of Kilshenane (a portion of which s included in the parish of Listowel) indicates that most, if not all, the Listowel family names of those who emigrated are there living on adjoining townlands. Family relationship? Well a good point can be made to substantiate this. ‘Garrett’ is not a commonly used Christian name in Ireland. Again for the 1825 records we find a Michael Galvin and a Garrett Stack living on the townland of Rathea (prounoundced Ra-Lee) in the parish of Kilshenane. In Griffith’s "Primary Valuation of Tenements, 1851", Garrett Stack Jr. Michael and Garrett Galvin are living in Rathea. From this use of Garrett as a Christian name in these two families it is altogether likely that the Garrett Gallivan and John Stark families, who emigrated in 1825 were related through marriage. If it was true for these two families, no doubt it was also true for other families.
With the exception of County Clare (3 families) Kerry was outnumbered by the other counties in its numbers of emigrants. Records of the Peter Robinson immigration state that in 1825 a government handbill appeared in the streets of all Southern Irish Towns. How did the families in Kerry, living in their relatively isolated townlands learn of the emigration.
T.J. Barrington’s " Discovering Kerry: It’s History, Heritage and Topography" (published 1976) tells us that :
"In 1812 a mail coach road was built between Cork and Tralee - Listowel - Limerick - a four horse mail began between Cork and Kerry and in 1825 the Limerick Mail Coach began----
Along the roads could be seen the constant jogging of the farmers on their famous hobbies having descended from their mountains, each laden with two firkins of butter for Cork, the great centre for export."
An so it is probable that a mail carrier brought the news to Kerry. I is also likely that farmers delivering their butter to Cork gathered with others around the newly-posted handbill and read with wide-eyed amazement - the offer of 70 acres of land, free passage to Canada, provisions for a whole year. (The great product of the county at this time was butter, all sent to Cork). And so fifteen Kerry families would be chosen from the 50,000 applications to settle on the ‘Holy Ground" of Ennismore so many thousands of miles away from their beloved hills. Their feelings as they sailed westward can best be expressed in the words of a poet:
"Kerry, I left behind me in a narrowing gleam of light, when I said good-bye to the dear old land and passed out into the night — Oh, there’s no place like Kerry in all the world I"ve seen. Nowhere has fairer valleys, nowhere has hills so green. Nowhere the word of friendship is given with franker grace. Than there in the core of Munster with the true heart’s blood of our race."
As a descendant of a Kerry family and still filled with the memories , the sights and the sounds of my recent visit there, to the poet’s words I can only add an ‘Amen’.
SUMMER OF 1977
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