Visiting with Michael Kenneally in Maghera
|Michael Kenneally and I stand at the door of his farmhouse in
the townland of Maghera,
which is the house where my grandfather, Patrick McNamara, spent the last years of
his life. The house was built around 1930 by Michael “Mick”
Broderick, who was married to my father’s sister Ellen, who was the
local schoolteacher. My Uncle Mick was a stonemason and builder,
and he also constructed the church in Maghera as well as the
schoolhouse, which is now a private residence.
Following the death of my Aunt Ellen and my Uncle Mick in the 1940s, my father’s sister Teresa, who was known as “Tessie,” moved into the house with her husband Tom Kenneally, who was Michael’s older brother. Eventually the farmhouse became Michael’s. When I arrived in Maghera in the spring of 2000, he graciously invited me inside to sit by his fire.
The farmhouse, with my grandfather posing before it, can be seen in the photo below, which was snapped in the 1930s and sent to my family in Paterson, New Jersey. The only visible changes to the house over the years are that the original doorframe has been replaced (damp weather in Ireland necessitated that some years ago), and an electric light has been added over the front door.
An Amazing Surprise Awaited Me In Maghera
|Visiting with Michael in Maghera
and hearing his stories about my grandfather, my Aunt Tessie, and my
Uncle Tom was a joy. And there was a truly astounding surprise in
store for me: there were some old family photos kept in the house, and
to my astonishment, Michael presented me with snapshots my mother, Harriet McNamara,
had sent to my Aunt Tessie in the 1930s.
In this photo, Michael’s nephew Tom O’Halloran, Michael, and I look at the snapshots of my family my mother had sent to Ireland more than 60 years ago.
To see some of those snapshots, click here.
I am very sorry to report that Michael Kenneally passed away on November 30, 2000, at the age of 88. He was a true Irish gentleman.
Michael’s death came only two weeks after the death of his sister Kitty Kearney, who was 92 years old. Kitty was a lovely woman who was delighted to welcome us in her house.
For a photographic tribute to Michael and Kitty, click here.
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