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