The Irish in America

Kilmichael Roots


In 2009 I visited with Father Jerry Cremin of Kilmichael Parish in County Cork.  He shared some records he had on my family.  Two of my great-great-grandfathers (John Regan and Patrick Foley) left the parish in 1864 and came to the United States.  Father Cremin’s descriptions of the history and the landscape of Kilmichael were enlightening and entertaining.

View from Kilmichael Ambush memorial, County Cork (2009, Regan McCormack)

When I saw this search topic that brought someone to The Irish in America –  Irish immigrants able to read and write? – I immediately thought of my visit with Father Cremin.  Census data from when John Regan settled in the U.S. shows that he was unable to read or write.  Father Cremin told me that this was not unusual for a man from Kilmichael in the mid-19th century.  He continued to say that John Regan most likely didn’t even speak English, let alone read or write it, when he left Kilmichael.

John Regan

I am a bit embarrassed admit that I had not even considered that any of my ancestors were Irish speakers, but it stands to reason.  Perhaps John Regan never gained command of the English language.  “Old Johnny Regan” is remembered by his grandchildren as a somewhat gruff man, who didn’t seem that interested in young children.

Patrick Foley, who also came from Kilmichael, was literate.  My grandma always told me that her grandfather Foley received his education in a hedge school in County Cork.  In the U.S., Patrick Foley was active in township government and held offices in the Ancient Order of Hibernians and St. Patrick’s Benevolent Society.  My grandma seemed proud of her grandfather, but she would say that the Foleys thought they were better than everyone else.

Patrick Foley

I have a book with Patrick Foley’s  name in gold on the cover, O’Halloran’s History of Ireland.  I am not sure of the exact origin of the book, but I suspect he acquired it while living in New Hampshire, after emigration.  Perhaps it was connected to his participation with the St. Patrick’s Benevolent Society or AOH.  Has anyone else seen this book?  Let me know by leaving a comment!

Last week a couple more search topics appeared on the list:

  • Regan family Kilmichael
  • Foley Macroom

I wish the person who searched for these items would have left a comment…maybe we are talking about the same families!  Click here to read about the first generation of Foleys and Regans born in the United States.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all!


Author: Aine

I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota. My heritage pretty much covers the map of Ireland: great-great-grandparents from Cork (Crowley, Foley, Regan), a great-great-grandmother from Clare (Quinn), a great-great-grandfather from Fermanagh (McMahon) and his wife's parents from Mayo (McAndrew), a great-grandmother from Connemara (Hannon) married to my great-grandfather from Laois (McCormack), great-grandparents from Sligo (Flannery), and a great-grandmother from Kildare (Hill). All of those people ended up in Minnesota, where my four grandparents were born. Three and four generations after my people left Ireland for America, I retain all Irish heritage. So much for the melting pot...

14 thoughts on “Kilmichael Roots

  1. I have been researching the Shea family from Kilmichael parish and have discovered a Michael Shea married to a Norry Buckly in 1841. They had 9 children – the first three were baptised in Coolroe and the last 6 nine Inchigeela. I think my Great Grandfather was their first child Daniel Shea. I cannot be certain about this but Norry Buckly was probably from Moneycusker born in 1825 to Denis Buckly and Mary Filey.


    Barbara Cantwell
    Dublin, Ireland

  2. I just happened to come to this site, and hope maybe someone might have information on a relation from the County Cork area. My gr gr grandfather was James Daniel Holland and he was born approx. 1837 or 1839 in what is considered Johnstown, Kilmichael, County Cork. I do not know if I received this correctly; it was from a cemetery registry in the state of Nevada. If there are any relations to this gentleman here in Ireland, I would surely be pleased to hear from you 🙂 Thank you and have a blessed day!!

    • Hi. There is such a place, Johnstown is about two miles due west of the site of the Kilmichael Ambush (on 28 November 1920). It is a tiny hamlet just a cross roads with a Catholic church, a public house, a motor repairs business, a closed primary school and a few houses. there are four Holland households in Kilmichael in about 1852 in the Griffith Valuation There are some 800 Holland individuals in County Cork in the 1911 census, almost all are Roman Catholic,. most west of Bandon. Your surviving relatives are not likely to read this blog but you might try writing to them at Crushterra, Kilmichael, County Cork. They may be able to help you.
      Jack Crowley

      • Thank you Jack for your reply I will certainly consider your suggestion and further research on what you have told me Have a wonderful day and stay warm 🙂

  3. My great grandfather, Denis O’Connor said that we were from Koo ma keel … near Cork. Strange, but that’s all I have. I have searched and the only place anywhere near Cork which is close to a fit is Kilmichael. I am thinking of going to Ireland soon and would love to have any feedback as to whether or not Kilmichael, might have been pronounced anything like Koo Ma Keel if spoken in an Irish accent? When they arrived, it looks like all ties to Ireland were cut. So this is a needle in a hay stack… but any help would be appreciated.

    Ed Lamanno

  4. Darrell be in touch with me PAULINE CROWLEY-ZIELTJES from NZ I have been researching since 1998 and been several times to Kilmichael. If you are not going til 2014 you have time to do a lot of research before your travels. It is very hard once in Ireland.

    • I have tried to get in touch with Father Jerry Cremin of Kilmichael Parish in County Cork. My cousin had already visited with him in Ireland and that’s how we found the family. I want to find out where the family is buried and if there are any living decendents of Buckley and Cronin.

  5. My gr gr gr grandfather was also from Kilmichael. My mother and I are going to Ireland in 2014. How can I find out if there are any living family left there? How can I find the family cemetery? The name of my gr gr gr gr grandfather was John Buckley and his wife Mary Cronin.

    • I’m from Kilmichael!

      • Yipee! How can I find out about any living relatives? I guess I should send you the info that I have. Only my gr gr gr grandfather and his brother came over and the rest stayed behind. Can’t wait to hear from you!

      • Hello! Send me an email with any info you have (date of emigration, where they came from/went to, etc.) Are you in Ireland curious about American relatives or the other way around? Thanks! 🙂 Aine

      • Do you still live in Kilmichael, Sile? 🙂 Aine

    • Hello Darrell,

      I’m a BUCKLEY whose ancestors hail from Kilmichael Parish. (Reanacaheragh, to be specific) My gr-gr-grandfather was James Buckley, born there abt. 1847(?) His wife was Mary Foley. They had 7 living children by the time of the 1911 census… There was a John in that brood, born in 1861.

      His younger brother, ANDREW BUCKLEY (b. 1872) is my gr-grandfather. Andrew emigrated to Boston, MASS. (U.S.) and had 7 kids as well!

      When we visited the Kilmichael parish in 2001, the priest, Fr. Denis O’Leary was very helpful in showing us the registry and even drove us out to Reanacaheragh in his car!

      Hope you have a great visit next year and if you learn anything interesting about the Kilmichael Buckleys, I hope you’ll share.

      All the best,
      Larry Buckley
      Wellesley, Massachusetts – U.S.

      • Hello,
        I dont have my information with me…I will be home next week and I will be in contact. My gr gr grandfather Patrick came over and so did his brother Daniel. Patrick died soon after and lived in New Bedford and Daniel lived in Augusta Maine.

        Kindest regards,
        Darrell Kobza
        Myrtle Beach, SC

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