War of Independence -- How the Nuns of Kylemore Saved My Father's Life

Story by,

Msgr. Patrick Carney

Msgr Carney is with the Church of the Holy Family in New Rochelle, New York

Sometime between 1920 when the Benedict Nuns arrived at Kylemore and 1922 when the Black and Tans left Galway after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Peace Treaty in December, 1921.

Patrick Carney, my father, was one of several young men in the area who championed the cause of Irish independence. Born in Cornamona County Galway in 1900 he joined a group of friends to do what they could to free Ireland. This desire often took them over the hills of Connemara especially by night. Many a night his mother, Bridgie, walked among the cocks of hay in search of him, with rosary beads in her hand.

On one occasion my father sought shelter at the Abbey of the Benedictine Nuns. They welcomed him and put him in the cellar of the Abbey. There he encountered many bottles of wine left there by Mitchell Henry, the former owner of the castle.

One day the Black and Tans came to the Abbey in search of my father. The nuns replied that they did not speak English. They spoke only French having recently arrived in Ireland from their previous home in Ypres, Belgium.The Black and Tans left the Abbey much to the joy of my father, ever grateful to the nuns for their hospitality and sanctuary in those bleak days. He escaped to America and married in New York City.

Picture: Patrick Carney 5 years after this event with his new bride, Nora Coyne of Cloughbracht, County Galway – not far from Kylemore Abbey – after their marriage in St. Jean Baptiste Church on East 76th Street and Lexington Avenue in New York City, New York, USA. 

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Tags: History of Ireland, Irish Freedom Struggle

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