The following inscription was recorded by Michael Kearney, Newgrove, from a headstone in the old churchyard in Moynalty:

 “Here lie the remains of Connal Carney, who died 26th of July 1703, aged 47 years. Also Laurence & Maurice Carney, sons of the above. Laurence departed this life 13th Jan 1763, aged 68 years & Maurice departed 30th Aug 1770 aged 70 years. Also the remains of Peter Carney son of the above Connal  who departed 12 Dec 1792 aged 90 years. Connal Carney son of the above Peter departed 14 June 1781 aged 19 years. Erected by Thomas  & Maurice”.

(NOTE: The spelling of the name has varied over the years, “Carney” being the earliest found so far on record, later “Kearney”, also including “Kearny”. People may have written the name phonetically at a time when record keeping was not as precise as it is now)

The earliest Kearney, as far as we are aware and based on the (above) inscription,  recorded in Moynalty is Connal Carney (1657-1703). Connal Carney had three sons: Laurence Carney (1694-1763), Maurice Carney (1700-1770) and Peter Carney (1702-1792).

Peter Carney had a son Connal Carney (1762-1781).  One of the three brothers had a son Matthew Kearney (1750-1829) who married Katherine Stafford  (1750-1829).

Matthew and Katherine had two sons:

  1. Tom Kearney (1780- ?) Tom remained in the Moynalty area and had a son Michael Kearney (? -1886).  Michael  had a son Tom (1840-1906). Tom had two daughters, one of whom married Ned Murtagh and the other married John Clinton.
  2. ‘Big’ Pat Kearney (1781 – ?) was married to (?)Julia Carroll. They had six sons and three daughters.  They lived, having moved from Moynalty,  to lands owned by Nicolsons of Balrath demesne , in Balrath and the neighbouring townland of Ethelstown, near Kells, Co Meath.  They farmed about 300 acres, sub-letting about 100 acres to townspeople from Kells for growing potatoes.  This sub-letting was profitable up to the arrival of the potato blight and the ensuing famine.  However, the Kearneys themselves seem to have survived the famine well, as they were probably involved in cattle or grain production and were not dependent on the potato. (The photograph at Fr Frank’s ordination in 1848 does not show them as destitute victims of starvation)

There is a story that, in the late 1840s/early 1850s they were evicted by Nicolsons despite having paid £600 rent.  Some locals offered to shoot the landlord, Mr Nicholson, but the Kearneys said they would not like blood on their hands.  It was around this time that Michael married  Ann Hope of Gartlandstown near Crookedwood, Co. Westmeath, about 20 miles away.  Ann’s father, Michael Hope, had made Michael (Kearney) and Ann aware of the available land at Newgrove,  in the townland of Loughagarmore in Co. Westmeath.  Ann was very happy to move closer to home and to the lake (Derravaragh).

The land was leased from Smiths of Ballinagall and later purchased, paying rent for it up to the 1970s. Griffith’s valuation (1854) shows Michael ‘Carney’ as the occupier of 205 acres.  The family later extended this holding.

‘Big’ Pat and Julia had nine of family, six sons and three daughters as noted above.

  • Michael married Ann Hope and came to live in Newgrove around 1850.


  • Frank was ordained to the priesthood in Newcastle, England. He ministered in Brooms parish, Hexham diocese, later becoming a canon.
  • Pat and Kit moved to Oldtown, Ardagh, Co Longford.  They later moved to Two Mile House, South of Naas, Co. Kildare.  They had land at Mullaghcash and Atavista.  At one stage Pat / Kit owned a thoroughbred sire called the Turk but seemed to have lost money on horses.  Pat in Newgrove would not allow a thoroughbred onto his farm for that reason.
  • Con went to Liverpool.
  • There was a sixth brother named maybe Matt/Richard ??
  • ?Two of the sisters became nuns: Sr. Agatha and Sr. Stanislaus (Navan).
  • ? Julia married Thomas Kenna.  Kenna is described on Wikipedia as a wealthy stockbroker of Liverpool,  decended from a family of minor gentry from Co. Meath.  Julia and Thomas had a number  of children.  The most notable was Paul Aloysius, born 1862. He was a career officer in the British army, gaining the Victoria Cross for bravery at the battle of Omdurman (Khartoum, Sudan) in 1898.  He later represented Great Britain  in the Individual Eventing in the 1912 Summer Olympics and also served for a time as ADC to King George V. He was killed in Gallipoli in August 1915, aged 53.

An internet search will give more detail on his career


 HOPES OF GARTLANDSTOWN (near Crookedwood, Westmeath)

 Michael Hope was the father of Ann Hope. Ann married Michael Kearney who first lived near Kells, Co Meath.

The Hopes farmed large tracts of land in Westmeath during the mid 19th century. Griffiths Valuation of 1854 names Michael Hope as the occupier of 500 acres in total, in the townlands of Gartlandstown and Taghmon.  Edward Hope is listed as the occupier of c. 645 acres in the townslands  of Rickardstown,  Clondalever and Moorerow. I don’t know what relationship existed between Michael and Edward Hope.  Michael “Carney” is named as the occupier of 205 acres in the townland of Loughagarmore, at Newgrove.  The  ”immediate lessee” of the Kearney lands and most of Michael  Hope’s lands was the same man, James William M Berry. This would account for Michael Hope’s knowledge of the vacancy in Newgrove.

See later note on Violet Mary Nelson.