Lackagh all set for ‘The Gathering’ of Kearney clan for reunion
2007 Kearney family reunion, Butte Montana.
By Aoife Boylan
Descendents of the Kearney family will travel from far and wide this weekend for a massive family reunion at Lackagh.
Last week 17 of the descendants of the Kearney clan arrived in Ireland from Butte, Montana, and there will be many more arriving this week from the United States, Great Britain, Chile, Germany, Canada, and New Zealand. The overseas visitors will be joined in Lackagh by many other family members from all over Ireland, for the first Kearney family reunion. For a great many it will be the first time they have met their family members. More than 30 of work has been put into researching of Kearney family tree which now includes more than 3,000 names.
The Kearneys are a long established family in the Lackagh/Turloughmore area, dating back to the late 1700s. In 1839 Fr Thomas Kearney was responsible for the building of a new parish church in Lackagh after the previous church was destroyed by a fire. Several branches of the Kearney family emigrated during the late 1800s and early 1900s, with many settling in Butte, Montana, a copper mining town in America’s mid-west. During the late 19th century and early 20th century Butte was one of the largest American copper mining towns. The thriving copper mining industry attracted thousand of immigrants from around the world. These people, like the Kearneys of Lackagh, left their homes in pursuit of a dream of a better life. For many this dream never materialised, but hard work and a strong faith in the struggle to survive left their descendants with an appreciation of their ancestors’ history.
There are now 500 different surnames among the descendants of the Kearneys of Lackagh. Several of the descendants have achieved national or international fame, including Bishop Patrick Duggan who played a leading role in the foundation of the Gaelic Athletic Association, film actress Charlotte Lewis who played the female lead in the film The Golden Child opposite Eddie Murphy, Paddy Kearney who walked 1,000 miles from John O’Groats to Lands End in the nineteen sixties. Other family members include author and former television presenter Paddy Kearney who has written many books on his native home of Butte, television personality Timlin O’Cearnaigh who worked with RTE news for many years as a regional correspondent in Donegal, and Teresa Mannion who currently works as a western correspondent, also with RTE.
It was in Butte that the idea of the Kearney family reunion was born. In 2007 two branches of the Kearney family gathered for a reunion to celebrate the marriage of two of their ancestors 100 years previously. The descendants of Lackagh native Thomas Kearney and his wife Julia Kearns, who both emigrated to Butte in the early part of the last century, came together to pay tribute to their ancestors. Frank and Ann Kearney, who travelled from Lackagh to Butte for the reunion in 2007, invited the descendants of the Butte families to Lackagh, the home of their ancestors, for the next reunion. Kearney descendants around the world were also invited to attend the reunion, providing a wonderful opportunity for the Irish relations to meet their cousins from Canada, Germany, Chile, and elsewhere. Many of the descendants had never set foot on Irish soil so were eager to attend this year’s reunion.
This weekend, after five years of planning and communication between the different branches of family, the Kearney family reunion will at last take place. The reunion takes will commence on Friday evening with ‘The Gathering’ that involves registration and an outline of activities in Lackagh Museum from 7.00pm to 9.00pm, before adjourning to Flynn’s Bar which was an original Kearney home. On Saturday morning, a special Kearney family Mass will be celebrated at the Church Of Our Lady Of Knock, Lackagh, at 10.00am. The original part of the church was built by Rev Thomas Kearney in 1839. This will be followed by a visit of Kearney family graves and of sites of Kearney family homes. On Saturday afternoon all family members will assemble for a mammoth barbecue at Turloughmore Social Centre that will be followed by the presentation of the Kearney family tree. The reunion will close on Sunday with a relaxed day of family photos and an optional lunch planned at Claregalway Hotel before ‘The Scattering’ later that evening.
For more details contact Frank Kearney at 085 1266133 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org