Monday, 11 August 2014

County Clare - Day 3: Ennis & surrounds

Wednesday 7th May
Today turned out to be amazing, and I am so indebted to Larry Brennan for making it so.
Firstly, Larry arranged for me to have a tour of Waterpark House, courtesy of caretaker, Kieran Walshe.  The building was mostly empty as council were in the process of vacating.  Although the original interior was completely removed and redesigned to suit council requirements when they took possession in 1989, Larry's expertise in the building industry meant he was able to point out to me the locations and size of the original rooms.

Waterpark c1904

Then & Now

Waterpark 2009

Waterpark was the home of 3 generations of my Pilkington family, from the mid-1820's until 1893.

If that wasn't enough, Larry then took me on a tour to see Hermitage - one of the Keane family homes - and out to Newpark House to meet Declan Barron, a co-collaborator on the Waterpark book.  Declan runs Newpark as a B&B.  It is a magnificent old home, and it was so wonderful to see it in use, a sharp contrast to Hermitage which, although occupied, is falling into disrepair.

Hermitage was the home of Robert Kean, Clerk of the Peace for county Clare for 30 years prior to his death in 1830.  The home eventually passed to his nephew Francis Nathaniel Keane who was resident there in the 1850's onwards.

Hermitage, Ennis, co. Clare

Then the absolute highlight of the day was a trip out to locate the remains of Beechpark, the Keane family residence and childhood home of my 2x great grandmother, Anne Keane, before she married Thomas Pilkington in 1819.

The ruins of Beechpark were very impressive.  Although completely overgrown with foliage and tree roots, it was still quite evident what an imposing old house it must once have been.

 Beechpark House 2014

Beechpark Gatelodge 2014

With thoughts of Paddy Casey's bull (see the section headed "Fitness" in the attached link)  foremost in my mind, Larry led me across the fields of Beechpark in search of the private burial ground supposed to be there.  We found neither bull nor burial ground, and after taking a few photos, we left Beechpark and went out to Kilmaley cemetery, which is where the Keane family vault is located.   According to records in Charlotte Keane's journal, this is the resting place of most of the Beechpark Keane family.

Dodging rain showers, we then headed back to Ennis via Drumcliffe cemetery, where I found the Pilkington graves to have significantly deteriorated since my previous visit 7 years ago.
Pilkington graves, Drumcliffe Old Cemetery, Ennis, 2007

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