When Fermoy-born Paudie McGrath began researching his family tree, as part of a millenium project, three years ago, little did he realise the mammoth task that lay in front of him.
But now after three years of painstaking research, he can trace his Fermoy family roots back to 1620. In the process he has also learned much about his native town, including the old street names in the town. Paudie now has his own website at http://fermoyireland.50megs.com/ where photographs of many parts of the town can be seen.
He has also carried out extensive research on the old and new Kilcrumper Cemeteries, both Military cemeteries in Fermoy, the Famine Graveyard, Kill St. Anne Graveyard, Castlelyons and St. Dominics in Glanworth.
Paudie, who now lives in Bishoptown in Cork, spent 24 years in the Army and has a particular interest in the history of the British Army in Fermoy. British troops first came to Fermoy in 1797, but it was 1809 before the first Barracks was completed at a cost of fifty thousand pounds.
It was recorded by James Roderick O'Flanaghan, son of the barrack master in Fermoy that Sir Arthur Wellesley, later to become the Duke of Wellington, was one of those who made the decision to station troops in Fermoy. O'Flanaghan claims that it was a result of a long "interview" with his father, Captain John Fitch
O'Flanaghan, that Wellesley came to that decision.
He also claims that "It was from Fermoy the troops went that fought and gained the victory at
In his research on the British Army in Fermoy, Paudie came on the tragic story of Mary Ellen Bailey and Denis Donovan, a soldier with the 67th Field Battery, Royal Artillery in Fermoy, both of whom were murdered in 1895. By the strangest of co-incidences, I had just come across the same story.
The double murder caused much excitement when both bodies, with very severe injuries, were recovered from the Blackwater near the town. At the inquest on 31st July 1895, a Thomas Shea gave evidence that on the night of July 1st at 11 o'clock he heard a piercing scream from a female and a few minutes later saw a few artillery soldiers coming from the direction of the scream. A number of military witnesses were cross- examined but nothing of importance was elicited. Inspector Ball read out a pitiful letter which Denis Donovan had written to his mother stating that his life was a misery and appealing to her to get him out of the artillery regiment. Nobody was ever charged with the murders and the Coroner, Mr. Rice, expressed his
by Jim Lysaght|
Avondhu 23 October 2003
dissatisfaction at the manner in which the majority of the military witnesses had given evidence. District Inspector Ball was very critical of the thirty or forty people who were walking on the riverbank that night and who refused to come forward and give information. From the description given, it would seem that the murders were committed on Barnane Walk.
This is just one of the stories of Fermoy's past. With meticulous attention to detail, Paudie has photographed the inscriptions on the gravestones at all the previously mentioned cemeteries and all of these are now accessible (or available from Paudie) online. The whole website is a joy to trawl through and great credit is due to Paudie for making all his carefully researched material available so freely.
Paudie would like to express his thanks to the following people who were so helpful to him in his research: Linda Taylor from Wollongong, New South Wales; Councillor John Murphy; Christy Roche ; Michelle Fenton, Cork County Council; Rose Carroll Town Clerk Fermoy U.D.C.; Gedda O'Shea Cork County Council and all the staff at the Fermoy Library.
© Paudie McGrath Cork Ireland 2003 -