Who's who in our History
Here's a short gazetteer of some of the famous and infamous people who have either resided in the area or have had some connection with the town.
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Record Breaking Cyclist
Conn Carr held several records for cycling, including record times for Cork to Dublin, Limerick to Dublin, and Galway to Dublin. A member of the Midlands Cycling Club he took part in the Rás Tailteann. He was a major promoter of the Community Games. He was also nvolved in many other community organizations. Conn Carr contributed to recording the history of Monasterevin in the 20th and early 21st century by among other things by compiling the Monasterevin Notes in the Leinster Leader.
Dr. Tiede Herrema
The IRA kidnapped Dr. Herrerma, chief executive of the Ferrenka Factory in Co. Limerick on The 4th of October 1975. World wide media interest was sparked by the abduction. A nationwide search took place. Finally the net closed on the 21st of October when Gardai surrounded number 1410 St. Evin's Park. What became known as “The Siege at Monasterevin” began. Seventeen days later the kidnappers released Dr. Tiede Herrema.
Count John McCormack
1884 – 1945
Tenor and Papal Count
Count John McCormack was one of the greatest tenors to have performed. He was world famous for his operatic and Irish ballad singing. He owned Tougher House in Monasterevin and from 1925 rented Moore Abbey House where he recorded and made the first Irish “talkie” motion picture “Song of My Heart”.
1811 - 1886
Composer and pianist
From 1839 to 1847 he toured Europe including Ireland. We know from his personnel correspondence that he stopped in a coaching inn at the town of Monasterevin for dinner and rest before continuing south. He seems to have enjoyed the meal so much that on his return journey rather than taking a faster route to the city via Kilcullen he requested that his party make a detour back through Monasterevin.
Saint and Abbess
St. Brigid or Brigit or Bride, who is also associated with the Celtic goddess Brigit, was in the opinion of experts such as Rev. Peadar MacSuibhne and Rev. John Ryan (Prof. of Early Irish History at UCD), born at either Umeras or Shindella being a member of the Foithairt sept. She made her first foundation at the Hill of Croghan in the Red Hills where she took the veil. Her major foundation was at Kildare in 470AD where she was the first woman to be raised to the rank of Bishop in the Catholic Church. St. Brigit is also recorded as commissioning a road similar to the "Dane's Road".
~ 550 - 650AD
St. Abban of New Ross. This St. Abban is often confused with two other St. Abban's especially his contemporary St. Abban of Magheraroidhe (c570AD-620AD). That St. Abban was son of Cormac the King of Leinster. His uncle was Bishop Ibar the most obdurate of St. Patricks rivals. That young Abban accompanied his uncle to Rome via the city of Padua. On the return journey they were joined by St. Patrick. That St. Abban also took over the monastery of the pre-patrician St. Abban of Kill-Abban, who was a nephew of St. Kevin. There was also one other St. Abban in pre-patrician times, an Irish hermit who went to England. Hence the considerable confusion. The book Lives of the Irish Saints may have amalgamated episodes from each of their lives.
St. Abban of New Ross was the founder of several monastic sites in the south of Ireland and of Rosglas. His friend and protégé was Evin to whom he entrusted Rosglos. Abbans brother was abbot of Rosglas at one time and another was also a member of the community.
~ 570 - 670AD
St. Evin was of the Eoghanacht Sept of Cashel. He was also known as Beccan or Emine Ban, which means little Evin. He was a close friend of St. Abban who founded a number of monastic communities in his honor including Rosglas on the banks of the River Barrow. When St. Abban retired Evin came up from Munster with up to fifty monks to take over in Rosglas, which became Rosglas na-mainhneach (Rosglas of the Munster men). Under him the monastery flourished and became famous a place of sanctuary. Evin was very politically astute and secured the freedom of his tuath (the Monasterevan region) and its perpetual protection by the people of Leinster. His mass bell became famous. St. Evins feast day is the 22nd of December.
Saint and Organ maker
St. Maeldubh had one of his religious monastic communities in Umeras. He later moved to Wiltshire in England where he founded a famous school. He is one of the earliest recorded organ builders in these isles.
Nabuchadneezer (also Nebuchadezer) Flinter was the proprietor of an inn in the town of Monasterevin. Mr. Flinter obtained leases in perpetuity on certain lands belonging to Stephen Rice of Mountrice. It was alleged after Stephen's death these leases were obtained unfairly. His daughter Mary married a sheriff of Dublin.
Fr. Edward Prendergast (Died 1798)
A native of Harristown near Kildangan. As a Edward Prendergast attended the Catholic seminary in Salamanca in Spain and returned to Ireland after his ordination at the height of the Penal Laws. Unusually during the rebellion year of 1798 he was serving as curate in his home parish of Monasterevan. This may indicate his relationship with the church hierarchy. Indeed the Catholic Church hierarchy and its parishioners were deeply divided. The parish church of Monasterevan was boarded up by the parishioners to prevent Fr. Doran the parish priest from handing over parish records to the militia.
Fr. Prendergast was not directly involved in the Rebellion which started in May 1798 but while visiting the sick in June an insurgent asked that he deliver the last rites to a dying man at their camp in Barn Hill. He was observed visiting the rebel camp and plans were made to arrest him. When informed by a friend of his impending arrest he refused to flee. He was arrested and tried by a court-martial in Monasterevan House which in due coarse found him guilty of treason. On the 11th of June 1798 he was hung and buried in the riverside garden of Monasterevan House. The body was guarded day and night by the Monasterevan Yeoman Infantry. A daring rescue by boatmen from Riverstown snatched the body away down the River Barrow and across land to be buried in the graveyard of his native Harristown.
Fr. Prendergast’s dedication to duty and to his flock has inspired much commemoration. In 1899 the Nationalists of Monasterevan erected a monument to Fr. Prendergast and all who died in ’98 in the Market Square. The monument takes the form of a Celtic cross copied from the tomb of the great Fenian Matt Harris. It bears the inscription:
Erected by the Nationalists of Monasterevan and surrounding districts to the memory of Father Prendergast who was hanged here in 1798 for the performance of his clerical duties towards the insurgents and in memory of the heroes in that sad but glorious period.
All, all are gone but still lives on the memory of those who died.
True men, like you men remember them with pride.
In 1970 Fr. Peader MacSuibhne erected a plaque at the place he was hanged. In 1998 the Ballykelly football ground was officially named Fr. Prendergast Park. In a unique event that same bicentennial year the people from all around retraced the final journey of the boatmen with the body down the river to Riverstown and overland by horse and cart to the graveyard at Harristown.