The West Clare Fenians

Sesquicentenary of the Fenian Rising in Kilbaha, Stella Maris Hotel, Kilkee

3:45 p.m. Saturday 4 March 2017

by Paddy Waldron

WWW version:

The 5 Kilbaha Rebels

Thomas McCarthy Fennell (22 December 1841 – 23 February 1914)
from Oughterard
son of Patrick Fennell and Mary McCarthy (no. 12 in Griffith's Valuation)
native speaker of the Irish language
brother Mathias Fennell still there in 1901 census
later Lynches' house
wounded and arrested by Wilmott in the attack
sentenced at Clare Assizes on 15 July to ten year's transportation
Hougoumont departed Portland on 12 October 1867 and arrived at Fremantle, Western Australia on 9 January 1868
conditional pardon in March 1871
went to Connecticut in 1872, suggested the Catalpa rescue, and married Margaret Collins there on 17 January 1874
operated the Commercial Hotel in Elmira, NY
raised funds in NY for the building of the new church in Nenagh by Dean White (1892-1896), for the Maid Of Erin in Kilrush (1897-1903) and for other Irish causes
John Delo(ug)hery
surname spelled many different ways
national teacher and parish clerk at Cross
leader of the rebels
stabbed Wilmott
emigrated to Connecticut
family legend was a swashbuckling tale that included "a British soldier running a sword through a tick mattress he had slept under the night before, and later hiding in a coil of rope while the Brits searched the ship he made his escape on"
The Hartford Courant of Wednesday 5 Apr 1876 confirms that B. Blackman, d[emocrat]. and J. O. Dolohery, d. were elected as state representatives for Newtown in Fairfield County
John O'Dolohery became editor of The Chronicle in Newtown, CT
Dan Cruson in his self-published book "A Mosaic of Newtown History" mentions that the Chronicle was a short-lived gazette focused on the population of the then Irish enclave of Sandy Hook
family legend is that he is buried in St. Rose's Cemetery in Newtown, where there is an inscription to a John O'Dolohery who died 28 Nov 1897 aged 51
but John Delohery the Fenian lived until 1924
his sister Mrs. Lillis's greatgrandson Mathúin Mac Fheorais (Matthew Bermingham) researched the story and re-established contact with his third cousins in CT in 2011
his brother Michael Delohery "become the wealthy owner of a successful hat factory in Danbury"
Michael was b. 3 Jul 1856, chr. 6 Jul 1856, son of James Delohery and Bridget Gorman of Kilballyowen (no. 42c in Griffith's Valuation)
Stephen Fennell
from Ross, where there were no less then eight Fennell families in Griffith's Valuation in 1855
went to Ennis and thence by train to Dublin but returned after a few days and was believed to be hiding at the house of Patrick Keating of Tullagower near Kilrush
probably the Stephen Fennell of Ross who was allowed to marry his second cousin once removed Bridget McCarthy/Carty from Feeard on 12 Apr 1867, a week before Good Friday, despite the prohibition on marriages during Lent
no civil record of this clandestine church marriage, so no evidence of his father's name
their son John of Feeard was baptised by Fr. White on 8 Jun 1867
no further information on his fate
Thomas Brennan
from Feeard, where both Donald Brennan and Sinon Brennan were occupiers in Griffith's Valuation in 1855
no further information on his fate
Patrick Fitzpatrick alias Corbett
from Kilballyowen
no Fitz- in the parish in Griffith's Valuation, and the only Corbetts were in Rehy and Kiltrellig
captured by the Irish Constabulary after a cross-country chase on 13 Apr, at the house of Deloughery’s sister (Mrs. Lillis?)
sentenced to eighteen months with hard labour but was released in May 1868 on condition that he emigrated to America
Limerick Examiner 6 June 1868:
"Discharge of a Fenian Prisoner.
An order from the Lord Lieutenant was received by the governor of Ennis goal on Thursday last to discharge Patrick Fitzpatrick, who was convicted at last summer assizes for attacking the Kilbaha coastguard station."
no further information on his fate

Their Supporters

Susan (Siobhán) Fennell, previously Reynolds and Haier, née Pilkington
of what was later known as the Loop Head Hotel, now the Lighthouse Inn
thrice-married (possibly illegitimate) daughter of Thomas Pilkington of Cragleigh, Waterpark and Kiltrellig
probably Mrs. Fennell at the time of the 1867 Rising, but still known locally as Siobhán Pilkington
the marriage of her son Martin James Haier had taken place on the previous Sunday
ancestor of all those who spell their surname Haier
reputed to be a centenarian when she died in 1909
but only 85 in the 1901 census
was her third husband Mathias Fennell (dead by 1901) related to either of the Fennell rebels?
Dr. Keogh
of Carrigaholt
treated Wilmott at Kilcredaun Fort
"the medical gentleman had a female patient under his charge for some time past at the house in which Fennell took shelter, and on leaving his patient was asked to look at the wounded man" (CJ 1 Apr 1867)
charged in Kilrush with administering surgical aid to Fennell, but charges dismissed
no Keogh or Kehoe listed in The Medical Register in 1867 or 1871
Dr. Thomas Blood O'Donnell (c.1822-1871)
Dr. O'Donnell "proceeded to Kilbaha to extract the ball from the leg of the unhappy sufferer"
treated Fennell again after he was brought to Kilrush Bridewell
James Keane
Fennell received medical aid at his house and was arrested there three days later
aged 70
indicted for harbouring the wounded Thomas McCarthy Fennell
pleaded guilty and was discharged on bail, which meant if he showed any Fenian sympathies in future, he would be speedily sentenced and imprisoned
Fr. Patrick White C.C. (c.1835-1906)
curate to Fr. Michael Meehan, P.P. of Moyarta and Kilballyowen parishes
Fr. Meehan spent nearly three years in Chicago in the mid 1860s raising funds for the Church of the Little Ark: was he still away for the rising, leaving Fr. White as de facto administrator of the parish?
Fr. White called on the people in the chapel in Carrigaholt to subscribe for the defence of the Fenian prisoners now in custody and expressed his gratification that there were no informers in the parish
transferred out of the parish shortly afterwards
Parish Priest of Kilrush 1889-1892
Parish Priest of Nenagh 1892-1906
Dean and Vicar-General of the Diocese of Killaloe
wrote in History of Clare and the Dalcassian Clans of Tipperary, Limerick, and Galway, published by M. H. Gill & Son in 1893 (p. 371):
"The others who were known to be engaged in the attack were, after many hair-breadth escapes and much worrying of the district, got out of the country ... the writer knew many poor persons who had it in their power to secure money by telling privately where the fugitives were being sheltered, and who scorned to do so"
unsuccessful candidate for Bishop of Killaloe in 1904 when Bishop Michael Fogarty (1859-1955) was appointed

Other West Clare Fenians

Broadford, Tulla, Ennis, Kilrush and Kilkee were identified as centres of subversive activity in early 1866.
Thomas Mahony
of Kilrush
young son of a prosperous shopkeeper and agent for the sale of the Irish People
"most active promoter of Fenianism in this district"
detained in Ennis Jail Feb 1866 - Jun 1866
memorial for his release supported by Fr. Timothy Kelly P.P., agents of Provincial and National Banks and other respectable persons, vouched for by Sir Colman O'Loghlen M.P.
had "a considerable influence over the disaffected in this town"
his highly respectable elderly parents ran an extensive business in Kilrush and needed their son's labour
the same or another Thomas Mahony of Kilrush wrote to Thomas McCarthy Fennell on 9 March 1897, his "first communication in the long lapse of thirty years" about the proposed Maid of Erin monument to the 1867 Manchester Martyrs
the most likely candidate in the 1901 census is the clerk/sacristan of the Catholic Church
Richard O'Donnell
of Kilkee
young son of a Kilkee grocer and extensive land occupier and himself agent for the sale of the Irish People
"smart and active" leader
detained in Ennis Jail Feb 1866 - Apr 1866
petition for his release supported by Fr. Timothy Breen, P.P., by Fr. Patrick White, by Rev. George Burkitt, the Protestant vicar, and by a retired British Army officer resident in Kilkee, vouched for by Thomas Rice Henn of Paradise, who described him as "the son of a very respectable tenant of my own"
his father needed his assistance
the most likely candidate in the 1901 census (if he lived that long) is Richard Hugh O'Donnell (c.1841-1911) of the Erin Arms Hotel (most recently Halpin's Hotel, now derelict, next door to the venue for this talk)
Patrick Keating
concealed Stephen Fennell
Patrick Keating
from West Clare
Fifth Dragoon Guards
arrested 1866
died in Fremantle before the Catalpa rescue
Michael Kelly
of Caheraghacullin in Kilmacduane parish, reportedly "arrested in 1867 at the age of 14 for by the British for assisting a noted Fenian leader who was at his father's house".
his obituary in the Clare Champion of 3 May 1947 reads as follows:
"Born in 1853, he was 14 years old when the Fenians struck a blow for Ireland in '67, and, though "Mick" was then but a boy, he found his way to a British prison at that early age for the crime of aiding and assisting a noted Fenian leader, who was then seeking assistance at his father's house. His youth saved him from the gallows but not from a term of imprisonment, in the course of which he met the men who were then foremost in the struggle for freedom, and from them he learned the gospel of Irish nationhood, to which he was faithful until death."

The Coastguards

John Wilmott
commissioned boatman at the Coast-guard boathouse in Kiltrellig townland, usually described as  Kilbaha Coastguard Station
married to Martha Burke
dau. Martha chr. 7 Jul 1859 (godparents Owen Lloyd and Ellen Sweeny)
dau. Margaret chr. 5 Oct 1861
dau. Bridget Hariet b. 15 Jan 1867 in Kiltrellig
possibly brother of Ellen Wilmott who m. Michael O'Sullivan of Kilcredaun Coastguard in 1863/4
shot Fennell and then stabbed by Deloughery in the melee
pecuniary testimonial promoted in Kilrush and Kilkee on behalf of the wounded coastguard
Owen Lloyd
assistant boatman
m. 21 Nov 1857 Maryanne? Sweeny
dau. Rosana chr. 26 Nov 1859
son William chr. 17 Jun 1861
son John Henry chr. 14 Jun 1863
arrested for timorousness
Henry Stanford
assistant boatman
robbed of his revolver
the longest-serving of the local coastguards
occupier (as Standford) in Kiltrellig in Griffith's Valuation in 1855 (occupiers original map later map)
married to a Carrigaholt girl named Ellen Connell or Connor
dau. Sarah Anne chr. 31 May 1863 by Fr. White
dau. Henrietta chr. Abt 21 May 1865 by Fr. Moloney
dau. Ellen jr., b. Co. Cork, 35 in 1901
arrested for timorousness
died later the same year, leaving a pregnant wife
death indexed as Henry Skinnerforth aged 49
bur. Kilrush Churchyard: Erected by Ellen Stanifort in memory of her beloved husband Henry Stanifort coastguard died at Cappa on the 12th of Decr 1867 aged 48 years.
(Location: Back of new church two up from footpath)
dau. Teresa Jane chr. 5 Apr 1868 by Fr. White
Ellen was still appearing as a baptismal sponsor in the larger Carrigaholt parish up to 1877 (as Stamforth), and was still in Carrigaholt in the 1901 census (probably in this house)
An older Henry Staniforth, coastguard, b. Abt 1796, is listed here
A younger Henry Joseph (Harry) Staniforth, grandson of the Fenians' Kilbaha victim (through his son Samuel Staniforth and his wife Theresa Mary Williams), returned to work at nearby Loop Head lighthouse more than 70 years later
Facebook discussions: Kilrush Churchyard page County Clare Ireland Genealogy group KDHS page
Michael Melville
not mentioned in any account of the rising
m. Ellen Sweeney
witness at Ellen Wilmott's marriage
children chr. 1865, 1866, 1868

Sources and Credits

Stella Maris Hotel
for providing a venue at short notice
Mathúin Mac Fheorais (Matthew Bermingham)
of Ballykett and Dublin
author of The Fenian Rising in Kilbaha 1867
Eva Ó Cathaoir
author of Soldiers of Liberty: A Study of Fenianism, 1858 – 1908, to be published by Lilliput Press this autumn, listing other West Clare Fenians
co-author of a chapter in Clare History and Society with Mathúin Mac Fheorais
Murray Michael Ginnane
New Zealand based transcriber and editor of the local parish records
Dave and Scott Delohery
of Connecticut and North Carolina
Phil Fennell R.I.P.
greatgreatnephew of Thomas McCarthy Fennell
editor of Fennell Ramblings
co-editor of Voyage of the Hougoumont and Life at Fremantle: The Story of an Irish Rebel
Katrina Pilkington Vincent
for material from the Australian archives of the Pilkington and Keane families
Kevin O'Brien
for copy of Dean White's book
Senan Scanlan
for newspaper extracts about Kilrush and West and South Clare
Liz Greehy and Ailish Connolly
Kilbaha Gallery & Crafts - Henry Blake Heritage Centre
Helen Walsh, Clare County Council
for funding
Fr. Michael Casey, P.P.
for the use of Halla Eoin, Kilbaha
Pádraig Ó Concubhair, Michael O'Connell and Paul O'Brien
for speaking here today
Rob Hopkins, Eleanor Crowe and Brian Comerford
for speaking in Kilbaha on Sunday
My fellow members of the Kilrush and District Historical Society committee and of the organising subcommittee (Michael O'Connell, Paul O'Brien and Kevin Haugh)