Shannonbridge Links With Father Kieran Kilroe
The Midland Tribune of 13 / 7 / 1957 contains an article on Father Kilroe by E.I. that goes like this –
Father Kieran Kilroe was Parish Priest of Saint Mary’s Athlone a century ago when the building of the magnificent
But despite the passage of decades and centuries there is in West Offaly a living tradition that seems to bridge the wide gap without effort. Recollection of that faraway period is vivid and accurate and one can follow the footsteps of the little boy born in ancient Rachra to his first school nearby, to the more pretentious educational establishment at Clonfad across the Shannon, where a lay teacher of the old Hedge School tradition taught Latin, and finally to fuller scholarship and the more exalting rank of the Priesthood.
The surname Kilroe belongs to
Home and Relatives
It is important that facts regarding Father Kilroe’s home and relatives should be placed on record. The home in which he was born does not now stand at Shannonbridge. It was situated in the area covered by the school grounds. A brother of his, William, lived to the age of 90 in the house where Mrs Hubbie Darcy now resides. A grand-nephew, Mr. Kieran Joe Kilroe, and a grand-niece, Miss Katie Kilroe, live just opposite the Church and Parochial House. But neither of these houses was the birthplace of Kieran, the future Rev. K..Kilroe , P.P. of St. Mary’s, Athlone. Miss McGrane of Cloghan is also a grand-niece. Great grand-nephews are Messrs, William, James and Patrick Byrne of Leharrow, and a great-grand-niece is Miss Kitty Byrne. This is not an exhaustive list of relatives, but it is sufficient; to show that the family of the good priest; who proved such a benefactor to Athlone, still holds an honourable place in the
It is obvious that there was a tradition of scholarships and culture among the Kilroes. The brother William, already referred to, was known by people still living as a recognised classical authority and as a kindly and respected old gentleman, in whom all the best of both Gaelic and Continental learning were happily united. A typical example of his studious and progressive habits may be quoted: when the musical arrangement known as Tonic Solfa was introduced he made a point of mastering its intricacies although he would have been considered well past the age for such an undertaking. Knowledge and self improvement, for their own were his high-minded objectives.
A Transport System
The Kilroe family were for generations associated with a transport system that was organised and perfected before most of those we read about began. They maintained what was known as a Carman’s Stage, and the fact that they owned a breed of horses built for speed would seem to indicate that as some period they ran a Posting Stage as well.
At that time goods were transported overland to and from the coast by horse-drawn cart, and, of course, some portions of the
Now the least of the tributes paid to the character and qualities of Father Kieran Kilroe was that, although St. Mary’s, Athlone, was a Bishop’s parish with an Administrator, both before and after his time, yet from 1845 to his death, two successive bishops, Dr O’Higgins and Dr. Kilduff surrendered their claim there to him, and so he is remembered as the only Parish Priest to be appointed to the Parish of St. Mary. Shannonbridge and West Offaly salute his memory. End.
Note that Kieran Joe and Katie had a brother William or Bill who seems to have been omitted in the article .They had a sister Mai who was married to a Byrnes and lived in