Not many County Kerry people have ancestors buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. But one visitor this week had a very good reason for being there. Early last year I was commissioned by an O’Connell descendant living in South Africa, to research a very early ancestor – a kinsman of the Daniel O’Connell family of Cahirciveen and Derrynane.
A lot of ‘digging’ had to take place in the County Kerry Archives in Tralee and at the National Library to get information this far back. Dr. Geoffrey O’Connell was born between 1750 – 1760 i . He died between 1812 – 1816. In 1773 he had a medical practice in Paris and was arrested there during The Reign of Terror and sent to the Bastille. Soon afterwards he was granted a permit to return to Ireland. He married Elizabeth Anne Ross in England 1803 and they were married for 10 years before he died. They had 3 children, Michael 1804, John 1811 and Elizabeth Anne 1813. The children were all born at Hillgrove, (Cahirciveen), Ireland.
Dr. Geoffrey is the Great Great Great Grandfather of Marié de Vries. The relationship to Daniel O’Connell would have been through his father or indeed Grandfather. So in Kerry we would say that Marié is ‘connected’ to Daniel O’Connell or more correctly that he is a ‘kinsman’.
During their visit to Ireland, Marié and Thys visited Cahirciveen, Derrynane and the old ruin of Hillgrove. On this stopover, quite unexpectedly they bumped into other O’Connell ‘connections’, as you do in this part of the world, and paid them a second visit to cement relationships. Their visit to Glasnevin Cemetery was a highlight of their time in Ireland, when Conor our very professional Tour Guide explained the significance of this historic burial ground. Opened in 1832, it is the largest non-denominational burial ground in Ireland. Prior to the establishment of Glasnevin Cemetery, Irish Catholics had no cemeteries of their own in which to bury their dead and, as the repressive Penal Laws of the eighteenth century placed heavy restrictions on the public performance of Catholic services, it had become normal practice for Catholics to conduct a limited version of their own funeral services in Protestant cemeteries. It was through his efforts that the necessary land was bought and Daniel O’Connell pushed for the opening of a burial ground in which both Irish Catholics and Protestants could give their dead dignified burial
We were treated royally on our visit to Glasnevin on the conducted tour and would recommend it as a very interesting outing for anyone. There is also an interactive Museum and excellent coffee shop there. In October you will be able to go right to the top of the O’Connell Tower and get a bird’s eye view of Dublin, when the newly constructed staircase is opened.