Archive for August, 2011

Kildare Dobbs is an editor, writer and poet. He was born on 10 October 1923 in India and spent much of his childhood in Viewmount House, which is on the border of the townlands of Paulstown and Duninga. The house is on a boreen just off the Paulstown to Goresbridge road. Dobbs’ own genealogy is rich with family members who held positions of importance in religious life, the British military, education and on Anglo-Irish estates. Two examples being his maternal grandfather, who was a Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin and Provost of Trinity College, and his paternal great-grandfather, who was an agent for the Wandesforde estate in Castlecomer. In 2005 he published an autobiography Running The Rapids: A Writers Life.

In the late 1920s or early 1930s the family purchased Viewmount House, “a Victorian mansion with walled gardens and fine trees”.[1] Dobbs outlines that “Viewmount was well named, sited in clear view of Mount Leinster…with a chimney piece of black marble”.[2]

Of relevance to this blog is a story he tells concerning threats made to his father. One Sunday the Dobbs family was at Church. The governess of the house, Miss Caldwell, cycled home to find a note with Evelyn Dobbs’ name (the father of the family) and a depiction of a coffin. The note menaced, “undo the conquest or I will riddle your orange carcass.” Miss Caldwell took the note to the Garda Barracks in Paulstown. An investigation ensued and two detectives were posted to Viewmount Hose to protect the family. The culprit was soon found out. Dobbs had originally bought 15 acres of the Viewmout lands with the remaining 45 acres kept by the land steward, named O’Mara. Seemingly O’Mara wanted to get his hands on all the land and had written the note. The conclusion was that Dobbs did not press charges and O’Mara left the county, he was “not a local man, and neighbours turned their backs on him”.[3]

[1] Dobbs, Kildare. 2005. Running The Rapids: A Writers Life. Dublin: The Lilliput Press. p.22

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid. pp.38-39


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Cardinal Paul Cullen is one of the giants of Irish Catholic Church history. He was the first Irishman to be made a Cardinal and created the concept of papal infallibility. Cardinal Cullen was born in Prospect, Kildare most likely on 29 April 1803[1] and has a link to Paulstown through one of his grandparents.

Cardinal Cullen’s mother was a woman by the name of Mary Maher.[2] While the Maher name has been evident in records concerning Paulstown for hundreds of years this is not where the link is. Mary Maher’s parents were Patrick Maher and Catherine Moore.[3] Catherine Moore, Cardinal Cullen’s maternal grandmother, was born in Paulstown.[4]

She has been described as “full of the ardour of true piety, and of that devotional zeal for which the faithful of Kilkenny have been at all times so remarkable”.[5] As well as this it seems that Catherine Moore Maher was not easily scared or intimidated.

A story is told by Patrick Francis Moran, bishop of Ossory in the 1870s, where her son-in-law, Hugh Cullen (father of Cardinal Cullen) was made a prisoner and charged with aiding the 1798 rebels. Cullen was being transported and was denied the opportunity to have food or water. Catherine Moore Maher, ignoring the armed guards escorting Cullen, got up on the chaise he was being transported in, handed him a bottle of wine and said “cheer up my son, God will soon send you back victorious to us”.[6]

It is always worth noting that Moore’s birth information is taken from a secondary historical source which, unfortunately, does not reference any Church or civil record. As any good genealogist knows, primary sources are always preferable.

[1] Three different dates of birth are given in various publications. See p.208 of O’Carroll’s 2008 publication Paul Cardinal Cullen for more details.

[2] MacSuibhne, Peadar. 1955. The Early Cullen Family in Reportorium Novum: Dublin Diocesan Historical Record. Vol 1. No. 2 p. 192.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Moran, Patrick Francis. 1877. The Letters of Rev. James Maher, D.D., Dublin: Browne and Nolan p.iii

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid. p.iii-iv

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Known as the “Old Man Registration”, these records come from the draft registration of older men that were collected for World War II.[1] All the men registered were born between 28 April 1877 and 16 February 1897 and were not already in the military. It was the fourth draft registration and was conducted on 27 April 1942. Two men, one from New Jersey and one from Massachusetts gave their place of birth as Paulstown. Records for eight states were destroyed and are incomplete for other states.

Thomas Carroll / Age:56 /   Born: Paulstown, Ireland / Residence: 307 Heights Road, Ridgewood, NJ / Date of Birth: 15 August  1885 / Emergency Contact: Amos P. Foy, 307 Heights Road, Ridgewood, NJ                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Bernard Patrick  Cavanaugh  / Age:55 / Born: Paulstown, Ireland / Residence: High St, Woodshole,  MA / Date of Birth: 17 March 1888 / Emergency Contact: Catherine Cavanaugh, same address / Employer: M. A. Walsh Estate, Woodshole, MA.

[1] Ancestry.com. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration. Database. Ancestry.com http://www.ancestry.com: 2010

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An interesting article that looked at the number of children born to unmarried mothers in various parishes in 18th and 19th century Ireland appeared in a 1979 edition of Irish Economic and Social History.[1] One of the parishes selected for the study was Paulstown and Goresbridge. While the overall numbers of ‘illegitimate’ births, as they were called, was very small, there was a gradual increase from 1.1% in the 1821-1830 period to 2.4% in the 1841-1850 period. Possible reasons for this increase could include an actual increase in births to unmarried mothers or decreasing social stigma when it came to recording births as outside of marriage. It also must be remembered that there could be a correlation between the higher rate of births outside of marriage and the occurrence of The Famine in the 1841-1850 period.

Years: 1821-1830 / Births: 896 / Illegitimate: 10 / Percentage: 1.1

Years: 1831-1840 / Births: 2,023 / Illegitimate: 43 / Percentage: 2.1

Years: 1841-1850 / Births: 966 / Illegitimate: 23 / Percentage: 2.4

[1][1] Connolly, S.J. 1979. Illegitimacy and Pre-Nuptial Pregnancy in Ireland Before 1864: The Evidence of Some Catholic Parish Registers in Irish Economic and Social History, Vol 6, pp.9-24

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