How The Nuns of Kylemore Abbey Saved My Father's Life

This story took place 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 born in Cornamona, County Galway, in 1900. He was one of several young men in the area who championed the cause of Irish independence and 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 Abbey's cellar. 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.

Pictured: Patrick Carney, five 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.

Submitted by Mary Reed

Story by Msgr. Patrick Carney

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

Views: 1384

Tags: Faith, Family History, Irish Freedom Struggle

Comment by Chris Halpin on May 1, 2016 at 6:52pm

Been there and this story adds to the wonder memories I have of this beautiful place.

Comment by Claire Fullerton on May 1, 2016 at 8:23pm

Great story; terrific wedding picture! Thank you for posting!

Comment by Joan Austin on May 2, 2016 at 10:10am

I enjoyed your story very much.  The photo of your grandparents is quite an irreplaceable treasure!

Interestingly enough, we share the same ancestral family name although I am certain we are not related, unfortunately.  My grandfather, Louis E. Carney, was born in Antrim in 1882 and married in New York as well.

Of interest is the recent partnership of the Kylemore Abbey Community and Notre Dame that will benefit many:

Thank you again for sharing.

Joan Austin

Comment by Friends of Kylemore Abbey on May 2, 2016 at 11:14am
I will pass your comments on to Monsignor Carney.

On another note, we are raising funds in the US for a first tine monastery for the Benedine nuns of Kylemore Abbey.


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