Blennerhassett Family Tree
Genealogy one-name study      by Bill Jehan
   Introduction      Title/Profession      Physicans & Medics
Blennerhassett Physicans and Medics 
Co.Kerry Medical Dynasty
Richard Blennerhassett, known as "Yellow Dick" (perhaps because he suffered from jaundice) was a Medic who founded a medical dynasty in Co.Kerry, Ireland.  His son Henry Blennerhassett M.D. of Ballymacprior, near Killorglin, a popular doctor practising at Dingle and Tralee, became known as "the poor man's physician" because of his willingness to always give the best care to everyone who crossed his path.  In the early 1840s Henry published research into both smallpox vaccination and consumption (TB).  A protestant supporter of "The Liberator" Daniel O'Connell, in 1828 he signed the "Protestant Petition in favour of Catholic Emancipation" and in 1844 presided over a number of repeal meetings in the square at Tralee where the people of the town proclaimed support & sympathy for O'Connell & condemned the government for putting him in Goal.
Henry had seven sons who grew to adulthood, William, Richard, Thomas, Rowland, Townsend, Aremberg and Edward.  In youth they were known for spending their days fishing, shooting and cockfighting, but as adults the family medical tradition started by their grandfather was continued.  Richard, Rowland and Edward Blennerhassett, and a cousin also named Edward Blennerhassett, became physicians.  Richard Blennerhassett was a respected ship's doctor aboard several emigrant ships including the well-known "Jeanie Johnston", eventually dying of cholera contracted from one of these ships while in the harbour at Cobb, where he is buried in an unmarked grave. Aremberg became a pharmacist in the USA.  
Captain Townsend Blennerhassett of the Kerry Militia drowned in 1867 while attempting rescue of a young boatman named Costello who had fallen overboard from Townsend's sailing boat in Castlemaine Bay.The boy also drowned, but an inscription recording Townsend's courage may be seen on a stone obelisk at Mill Street in the centre of Killorglin. A stone cairn was erected at the spot where Townsend Blennerhassett's body was brought ashore, perhaps at Cromane where a scattering of boulders survives at the high-water mark. He is buried at Dromavalla, near Killorglin.
Edward Blennerhassett M.D. was a physician in Cornwall and London before before returning to Kerry. He settled at Knight's Town, Valentia, founding the Valentia Village Hospital and serving as Doctor to the Atlantic Telegraph Company. He was godfather to Edward Blennerhassett Tranfield (1873-1921), son of Frederick Thomas Tranfield (1841-1927) who was one of the three original staff of the Atlantic Telegraph Company at Valentia Island Cable Station, first as telegraphist, later as Superintendant. Dr Edward Blennerhassett is also buried at Dromavalla, in a separate grave. Edward was father of Irvine Rowland Blennerhassett of Crickhowell, South Wales. 
Rowland and Aremberg Blennerhassett were leaders of a group of Tralee boys who on 29-June-1844 left Blennerville Quay to row the "Colleen Dhas", a 24ft boat, to Dublin via the River Shannon and Grand Canal, to visit their hero Dan O'Connell in Richmond Goal.  Brothers Thomas and Townsend Blennerhassett joined them for the final stage of the journey.  The voyage took them a week and on arrival at Dublin the boys were invited to by Dan O'Connell to dinner inside the prison.  In November that same year, following his release, Dan O'Connell visited Tralee where a parade was organized in his honour.  At the head of the procession was carried their boat, the "Colleen Dhas".  As Brian Groggin recently said to me "It was an extraordinary journey for a 24ft boat.  Rowing up Lough Derg on the Shannon is difficult enough; getting around Kerry Head and up the Shannon estuary was very daring".
            Further reading on the boat "Colleen Dhas":
                   "The Voyage of the 'Colleen Dhas' " by Russell McMorran, in "The Kerry Magazine" issue 2 1990.
                   "A Guide to Blennerville and the Dingle Peninsula" by Frank Blennerhassett of Tralee with Sara Hollwey (Butler Sims, Dublin, c1992).
                   Irish Waterways History website by Brian J. Groggin

Blennerville Quay, from where the "Colleen Dhas" departed and from where so many 19th century emigrant ships left for Quebec, New York and Baltimore, survives with its stonework more or less intact, on the seaward side of Blennerville Windmill.  The quay is neglected, but a few original buildings survive in derelict state.  The Quay and the windmill were both built by Rowland Blennerhassett (later Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, 1st Baronet of Blennerville) of Blennerville House and Churchtown.  Soon after completion c1801 tragedy struck when Rowland's wife Millicent was inspecting the new windmill;  she leant out of one of the upper doors, to be hit and killed by a passing sail.

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