Blennerhassett Family Tree
Genealogy one-name study - by Bill Jehan
 
 
Inscriptions at
Killorglin, Co.Kerry, Ireland
 
 


 
 
The CHAPEL at CASTLE CONWAY, Killorglin
 
BLACK JACK'S MONUMENT TO HIS FAMILY
 
A marble monument in the private Chapel at Castle Conway was erected by John “Black Jack” Blennerhassett (b.c1665 d.c1738) in memory of his wife Elizabeth Cross (b.c1669, d.22-March-1732 aged 63 years) & others of their family. The latin inscription on this monument is transcribed was recorded by Black Jack himself, in “Black Jack's Book”, the second version of a Ms.genealogy of Blennerhassett and related Kerry families compiled by him c1720-1736.
 
Both the Blennerhassett house "Castle Conway" and the older castle that preceeded are long demolished, they being for many years a quarry for later buildings of Killorglin town. Some ruins survive, accessible through the premises of the Allied Irish Bank, from whom permission should be obtained. As no one is claiming ownership of the castle, the owner of "Kingston Bar" at Killorglin has opened the area inside the castle for picnics and parties. The chapel and its Blennerhassett monument are lost, but I am told "...contractors digging a foundation to a house in the general area of the Castle Conway grounds uncovered an opening that may have been a vault or tomb. They closed up the opening and continued their construction..." [DG].
 
The Latin inscription has been transcribed by three notable Co.Kerry historians:
                                                                                                            1. Dr Charles Smith (bef.1756)
                                                                                                            2. Mary Agnes Hickson (bef.1872)
                                                                                                            3. Arthur Blennerhassett Rowan D.D. (1855).
 
Charles Smith will have seen the monument with his own eyes, but the Hickson and Rowan transcriptions are definitely taken from the Ms. "Black Jack's Book", which they each independently transcribed. The Hickson transcription was published in vol.1 (1872) of her "Selections from Old Kerry records". vol.2 was published in 1874.
 
Mary Hickson's published version of "Black Jack's Book" [BJB/OKR], valuable though it is, when compared with Arthur Blennerhassett Rowan's Ms. [BJB/ROWAN] gives, in a few places, an impression of work not thoroughly checked. Where there are differences between the two transcriptions, Rowan appears correct in most cases. He also successfully transcribes other latin texts that Hickson found illegible.
 
For this particular inscription at Castle Conway, her version may perhaps be a copy of Dr. Smith's earlier work, rather than a copy of the inscription as it appears in the Ms. "Black Jack's Book". She differs in detail (shown here in red) from Rev. Rowan's version by omitting “...in my Chapel at Killorglin...” to identify the location of the monument, by omitting 'amabilis' (kind) and by dating the death by drowning of Avice (Conway) Blennerhassett as April 1663 (MDCLXIII) instead of April 1683 (MDCLXXXIII).
 
The correct year is most probably 1683 as stated by Rowan. Her eldest son John “Black Jack” Blennerhassett has an estimated date of birth, from other sources, of c1665, and several siblings were born after him, which makes 1663 as her date of death difficult to accept, whereas Rowan's date of 1683 fits the facts well. [BIFR p.136] and other sources have repeated Hickson's 1663 date so it now has wide circulation, but I believe it to be mistaken.
Bill Jehan 
 
 
 
 
 
CHARLES SMITH
 
MARY AGNES HICKSON
 
ARTHUR BLENNERHASSETT ROWAN
“The Ancient & Present State of the County of Kerry” by Dr. Charles Smith was published in 1756, only 24 years after the monument was erected.
 
pp.148-9 are devoted to Killorglin and record the inscription, which he will have seen.
He gives the date of death of Avice Conway Blennerhassett as 1663 (as Hickson later used) not 1683 (as Rowan later used). 
 
NOTE: In the chapter “ Ecclesiastical State”, on p.70 he describes Killorglin ' Church of Ireland' parish (c1756) as:
Killorglin, Rectorial, church in ruins, Patron, The King. Proxy 5 shillings”.
 
Black Jack's original c1720-1736 Ms. [BJB]
was transcribed before 1872
by Kerry Historian & Genealogist
Mary Agnes Hickson (1811-1899)
 
Her Ms. is in the library of the Society of Genealogists in London, recently rebound.
 
Hickson transcribed this prior to publishing as:
"The Blennerhassett Pedigree, A.D. 1580-1736” in “Selections from Old Kerry Records” vol.1 1872, p.55. [BJB/OKR]
 
Black Jack's original c1720-1736 Ms. [BJB]
was transcribed c1855/8
by Kerry Historian & Genealogist
Arthur Blennerhassett Rowan D.D(1800-1861)
Archdeacon of Ardfert [BJB/ROWAN]

 

 

Smith records the location of tomb & monument:
 
"...In the chapel of this place is the following inscription, on a monument, over the lady of John Blennerhasset, Esq:"
 
Hickson records the inscription, perhaps copying Smith:
 
"...and Elizabeth Cross my wife, to whose memory I raised a monument and had the following inscription writt on her tomb:"
 
 
Rowan records the inscription:
 
"...and 3rd Eliz'th Cross my wife who died anno 1732, in whose memory in my Chapel at Killorglin (I) raised a monument and had the following inscription cutt on her tomb, viz:"
 


JOHANNIS BLENNERHASSET armigeri;

pia, sobria, casta, amabilis, multis desiderata; 

obiit 22, die Martii MDCCXXXII [1732]. Annoq; 

aetatis suae LXIII. Maerens maritus posuit. 

Hic etiam jacet AVICIA, mater dicti 

JOHANNES mersa mari, mense Aprilis 

MDCLXIII [1663]. Etiam JENKIN & EDWARDUS 

CONWAY, avus et pater dictae AVICIAE. 

Nec non HENRICUS frater dicti JOHANNIS; in 

quorum omnium memoriam ipse haeres AVICIAE 

hoc marmor instrui fecit.
 
 
 
Hic jacet Elizabetha charissima conjux 

Johannis Blennerhassett armigeri; 

pia, sobria, casta, multis desiderata; 

obiitt 22. die Martii MDCCXXXII [1732], Annoq; 

aetatis suae LXIII. Maerens maritus posuit. 

Hic etiam jacet Avicia, mater dicti 

Johannis mersa mari, mense Aprilis 

MDCLXIII [1663]. Etiam Jenkin et Edwardus 

Conway, avus et pater dictae Aviciae. 

Nec non Henricus frater dicti Johannis: in 

quorum omnium memoriam ipse haeres Aviciae 

hoc marmor instrui fecit.
 

Hic jacet Elizabetha charissima conjux 

Johanns. Blennerhassett armig 

pia, sobria, casta, amabilis, multis desiderata 

obiit 22nd die Martii Ano. MDCCXXXII [1732] Annoq 

a[e]tatis suae 63. Maerens maritus posuit. 

Hic etiam jacet Avicia mater dicti 

Johannis mersa mari mensa Aprilis 

MDCLXXXIII [1683] Etiam Jenkin and Edwardus 

Conway, avus et pater dictae Avicia 

Nec non Henricus frater dicti Johanis in 

quorum omnium memoriam ipse hores Avicia

hoc marmor instrui fecit 

 
 
 
 

English translation of Rowan's transcription:
 
 
 
 

Here lies Elizabeth dearest wife of 

John Blennerhassett gentleman; 

pious, sober, chaste, kind, missed by many; 

died 22nd of March 1732; 

in her 63rd year. Her grieving husband buried her. 

Here also lies Avice, mother of said 

John, who was drowned at sea in April 

1683. Also, Jenkin and Edward 

Conway, grandfather and father of said Avice. 

As well as Henry the brother of said John: in 

the memory of all of these the heir himself of Avice
 
had this marble made
 

 
 


 
 
Monument in Killorglin town centre to the memory of

Capt. TOWNSEND BLENNERHASSETT (b.11-Feb-1829 d.20-Jun-1867)
 of Ballymacprior Lodge, Killorglin, Co.Kerry
 
Capt. Townsend Blennerhassett of Ballymacprior, near Killorglin, Co.Kerry and a local boat-boy named Costello both drowned on 20-Jun-1867 in Castlemaine Bay. They were in Townsend's sailing-boat with his family and friends, the party intending to picnic on the sandbar at Inch. They presumably departed from a mooring on the river Luane below the Blennerhassett home, Ballymacprior Lodge near Killorglin. Helen O'Carroll, curator of Kerry County Museum at Tralee, suggests it likely that the drowning happened between Inch and Cromane and that he was brought ashore at Cromane.
 
Townsend is buried in the main graveyard in Dromavalla near Killorglin. His brother Dr Edward Blennerhassett of Valentia, who served as Doctor to the Atlantic Telegraph Company in Valentia on a salary of £150 per year, is also buried there in a separate grave.  Warning photographs of headstones are requested....

 
Report in "The Times" of London 25-Jun-1867:

IRELAND (FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT) DUBLIN, JUNE  24.
"A pleasure party came to a most tragic end near Tralee on Thursday afternoon. About 4 o'clock Captain Blennerhasssett, with a large party of ladies (including his wife, his young daughter, and several of his immediate connexions), and accompanied by Mr James Redmond Barry, Inspector of Fisheries, a gentleman far advanced in life, went out in a sailing boat for an excursion to Inch Island, in Castlemaine-bay. He took with him to assist in managing the boat two men named Costello, father and son. The intention of the party was to land in Inch Island and dine there, for which purpose provisions were taken in the boat."
 
"When out some distance in the bay something got wrong about the rope attaching the punt to the large boat, and the younger Costello was directed to look after it. He went into the punt, which was upset, and, being unable to swim, he was in danger of being drowned. Captain Blennerhassett, a good swimmer, undressed, plunged in, and swam to where the young man was struggling for life. He would have been save, and all would have ended happily had the sailing boat been brought to; but old Costello and Mr Barry became utterly paralyzed, and incapable of managing it. Accordingly it drifted on before the wind, leaving the owner to his fate. There was a small fishing-boat in the offing, and to it the agonized ladies made signals by waving their handkerchiefs and pointing to the spot. The fishermen responded, but too late. Captain Blennerhassett, being exhausted, was obliged to let go the young man, who sank to rise no more. When the gallant gentleman was drawn into the fishing-boat he was still breathing, but he died in a few minutes."

 
  
MONUMENT AT KILLORGLIN

A fine stone obelisk in the centre of Killorglin town, erected c1870 as a permanent memorial to Captain Townsend Blennerhassett,
is on Mill Road opposite St James' Catholic ChurchSet into the base of the obelisk are two inscribed marble plaques


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                                    
 

 

 
 
 

 

 
 IN MEMORY OF
 
TOWNSEND BLENNERHASSETT

LATE CAPTAIN KERRY MILITIA 
DROWNED IN CASTLEMAINE BAY
20TH JUNE 1867
WHEN GALLANTLY ATTEMPTING TO
SAVE THE LIFE OF A FELLOW CREATURE 
 
 
 
ERECTED
BY HIS BROTHER OFFICERS
OF THE KERRY MILITIA
IN TESTIMONY OF THE AFFECTIONATE
ESTEEM IN WHICH HE WAS HELD
BY THEM AND TO PERPETUATE
THEIR RECOLLECTION OF
THIS HEROIC ACTION
BY WHICH HE LOST HIS LIFE 
 
THE CAIRN AT CROMANE
 
Following the unfortunate event a stone cairn was erected at the spot where Townsend Blennerhassett's body was brought ashore. The location of this cairn has been, until recently, uncertain, but in October 2016 the site was tentatively identified by Helen O'Carroll, curator of Kerry County Museum in Tralee, as perhaps the group of stones or small boulders, significantly larger than natural pebbles of the adjoining beach, at the high-water line of Cromane beach. The cairn may have been erected there, facing west, and while unsurprising that a cairn would not survive 150 years of atlantic storms it may perhaps be represented by this scattering of large stones.

 photo: courtesy Helen O'Carroll © 2016
 photo: courtesy Helen O'Carroll © 2016
Group of larger stones at the high-water line on Cromane beach.
These may be remains of the cairn erected in 1867 for Townsend Blennerhassett.
Largest stone of the group at Cromane beach,
 roughly inscribed with what may perhaps be the letter "T" for Townsend.

 
photo: courtesy Helen O'Carroll © 2016

 
 
Castlemaine Bay looking west from the group of boulders at Cromane beach
 
 
 
NEWSPAPER REPORTS
 
 
IRELAND.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)
DUBLIN, JUNE  24.


 

"The Irish Times" 24-Jun-1867



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snippets:  A sad boating accident has occurred in Kerry. Captain Townsend Blennerhassett, of Killorglin, his wife, and some of the young members of his family, were cruising in a sailboat on the river Luane, when a seaman named Costelloe fell overboard, and being unable to swim, sank. Captain Blennerhassett plunged in after him, and diving brought him up, and struggled powerfully to sustain him. The father of Costelloe, however, who was steering, in his agitation at the scene, allowed the yacht to drift away, The two drowning men rose and sank several times and eventually some fishing boats came up succeeded in taking on board the body of Captain Blennerhassett, but he was found to be dead. The seaman’s body has not been recovered.

"The Times" London 25-Jun-1867 p.13
 
"The Aberystwith Observer" 29-Jun-1867
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
DROMAVALLY CHURCHYARD
ocross the river from KILLORGLIN
 
three illustrations from "History of Killorglin" by Kieron Foley, 1988, pp.2, 10 & 15
 
 
 
p.2 photo: copyright © Kieron Foley 1988
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
PETER THOMPSON'S TOMB AT DROMAVALLY (Dromavalla)
 
Tomb of Peter Thompson (b.c1775 d.3-Jan-1850), a noted builder,
of the family of Thompson of Clonfin, Co.Longford,
he became Treasurer of Co.Kerry following the death of his father-in-law.
 
also his wife Anne Thompson, nee Blennerhassett (b.est.c1775 d.13-Aug-1856),
daughter of Thomas Blennerhassett (b.est.c1750 d.c31-May-1815),
for many years Treasurer of Co.Kerry.
 
This tomb was opened a few years ago, the vault underneath measuring "8 to 10ft" (square?) and containing six lead coffins. Two of the coffins had readable nameplates, one "Thompson" with no first name, the other "Anne FitzGerald" [DG].   Warning Who in this family was Anne FitzGerald?
 
 
 
p.10 photo: copyright © Kieron Foley 1988
 
 
 
 
 
 
COAT OF ARMS ON PETER THOMPSON'S TOMB AT DROMAVALLY
upper Motto 
Blennerhassett
FORTES  FORTUNA  JUVAT
"Fortune Favours the Bold"
Crest 
Thompson of Clonnfin, Co.Longford
an arm, in armour, embowed,
in hand, all proper, five ears of wheat, or,
arm charged with a trefoil, vert
Arms 
Thompson of Clonfin 
 
quartered with
 
Blennerhassett 
or, on a fesse indented azure three etoiles argent
on a canton of the second, a sun in his glory, proper 

gules, a chevron ermine, between three dolphins naiant, embowed argent 
lower Motto 
Thompson 
IN  LUMINE  LUCEM
(more usually "IN LUMINE LUCE")
"Shine in Light"
 
 
 
p.15 photo: copyright © Kieron Foley 1988
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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