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Kilkenny Family History,
Rothe House, Kilkenny
March is usually an interesting month here at
Rothe House and this year we hosted a visit
from the Mayor of Kilkenny, Minnesota, Kevin
Taaffe who was accompanied to Rothe
House by Mayor Andrew McGuinness of
Kilkenny City and Eoin Hennessy who has
worked so much to initiate the twinning. Ac-
companying the Mayor to Kilkenny were over
one hundred and fifty visitors including musi-
cians and a marching band who took part in
our annual St. Patrick's Day parade through
Kilkenny City. The two Kilkennys were officially
twinned three years ago and have main-
tained very cordial relations resulting in
exchange visits twice yearly. Kilkenny, Minne-
sota have their St. Patrick's Day parade
during the month of September, half way
through the year from March 17th due to
the heavy snowfall in Minnesota in Spring!
Mayor Taaffe's ancestors are from Co. Louth
on his father's side and from Kilkenny in the
maternal line back to Denis Doyle who was
one of the founding fathers of Kilkenny, Min-
nesota.
April commenced with a visit of Congressman
Paul Ryan to his roots in Graignamanagh, Co.
Kilkenny. Paul's uncle Bill Ryan, with his wife
Jonny, had visited in September 2010 when
he commissioned Kilkenny Family History to
trace his Irish roots believing that his nephew
would receive the Republican nomination for
Vice President, which he did. Sadly, his uncle
did not live to witness the event. The Con-
gressman and his family spent over a week in
Ireland meeting An Taoiseach Enda Kenny,
then visiting the west of Ireland, Kerry and
finally, County Kilkenny where they were
guests of Minister for State for Rural Develop-
ment Deputy Ann Phelan. Graignamanagh
Historical Society hosted the meeting there
and its members Owen Doyle and Colm
Walsh officiated. As in the past Nancy and
Willie O'Shea graciously invited the guests into
their lovely home. Willie is a direct descen-
dant of Catherine O'Shea who married
James Ryan who emigrated to the US settling
in Janesville, Wisconsin, where the Ryan family
business has prospered. They are immensely
proud of their Irish /Kilkenny roots.
Mary J. Flood, Kilkenny genealogist
Never Sell Your Ancestors Short
By Willie O'Kane, Irish World
Heritage Centre, Co. Tyrone.
Family history research can sometimes
unearth a forebear we would prefer not to
have, but there are ways of getting around
such problems. Genealogy is a bit like archae-
ology; it is about digging up the past, albeit in
a figurative rather than a literal sense. But,
whereas archaeology is generalised and the
common ancestors it examines are comfort-
ably remote in time from us, genealogy is
much more person specific. It is our very own
bloodline we are talking about here, and if
the quest for information brings to light some
unsavoury details we just have to make the
best of it. Some twigs on the family tree are
best glossed over, or even snipped off, and
some of us have a forebear or two who, if
mentioned in conversation, provoke a polite
cough and a change of subject.
Genealogists, not surprisingly, sometimes
encounter these lesser celebrated specimens
of a family's past, and it has been known for
researchers to go to elaborate lengths to pres-
ent the facts as palatably as possible. Whilst
genealogists as a rule confine themselves to
the unadorned facts, it has been known for
some to embellish certain awkward details
that might get in the way of a good story, as
the following case illustrates.
An eminent American businessman, after
making it big in stocks and bonds in the 1940s,
decided to have his family tree researched
and framed for public display in his office.
However, a certain great-uncle on his
mother's side proved particularly elusive.
Family friends and professional researchers
alike could get no farther than his year of birth
in 1842. However, convinced that his ances-
tor must have been, like himself, a particularly
gifted individual, the businessman offered
$10,000 to anyone who could come up with
the goods.
Eventually an intrepid genealogist, after two
years digging in every conceivable source,
discovered that the great-uncle in question
had been a thoroughly unpleasant piece of
work, whose formal education had ended at
age seven after he had poisoned six dogs
and knifed two teachers in a school in Mary-
land. He soon graduated to a life of robbery