Then and Now

The Portglenone Kearneys’ Reunion – Then and Now

A famous gathering took place 50 years ago, in August 1958, of the extended Portglenone Kearney family whose ancestors traced their roots back to the townland of Lisnagarran, Portglenone, Co.Antrim. Three generations of the family, 122 in all, were present that day at Mount Gawn, the family home of Harry and Georgie Kearney, for the first ever family group photograph.

The ‘Daily Express’ dated Monday October 20th ran an extensive feature on that historic occasion thus:-

‘The 122 Kearneys – Family Portrait For The Girl Who Sails Away.’

‘Patriarch James Calls The Big Farewell.’

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The Kearneys of Portglenone have just broken a family tradition. A member of the clan has gone to live abroad. And unlike most Irish clans, none of the Portglenone Kearneys has ever emigrated before.

In fact only one of them lives outside a ten mile radius of Portglenone. He is father of three, Mr. Seamus Kearney, of Castleknock, Dublin, who is a grandson of 85 year old, burly, mousetached Mr. James Kearney, patriarch of the clan.

But then the ‘prosper at home’ tradition was broken by 25 year old Bridie, a granddaughter of James. She decided to join her husband, who is in Toronto, and has now arrived there with her three children.

When the headquarters of the clan at Mount Gawn Farm, Portglenone, heard of the plan to emigrate they decided to have the first-ever family group picture taken of all the Kearneys before they broke up.

To the farm came 122 of them – 75 are direct descendants of Mr. James Kearney. They hired a photographer, and every member of the family got a copy.’

It is now 50 years later and all 13 of the fourth generation, all of whom were present and smiling on that special occasion have now gone to their eternal rewards. However, we are delighted to report that three of the spouses of Harry, Frank and Dan, viz. Georgie, Mary and Kay are still with us, in the loving care of their families and are all looking forward to the next Reunion which is planned for the 25th, 26th and 27th July 2008.

As everyone in that photograph is now 50 years older it is difficult to hide the advance in years. The fifth generation will now make up the back rows, all cousins then. Today the majority are parents, some are grandparents, and some will no doubt boast of being great-grandparents. There were 77 cousins in the family circle all those years ago, 6 were missing from the photograph and 5 were not born. John Kearney (John), Maeve Kearney (Dan), Eileen Kearney (Harry), Oliver Kearney (Barney) and Christina Kearney (Frank) are the ‘babies’ of that generation. Christina Clarke (Frank) is the youngest and Seamus Kearney (Mick) is the oldest.

Sadly Bridie McKenna (Mick) the reason the 1958 photograph was commissioned, died last year (2007) in her beloved Canada. Wouldn’t it have been great if she could have crossed the Atlantic Ocean once again to be with us this July. We are certain she will be with us in spirit..

Down the years we have also marked the untimely deaths of Eddie Kearney (Ned), Jean O’Donnell (Ned), Brian Kearney (Mick), Mona Duffin (John), Fran(cis) Kearney (Mick) Brendan Kearney (Jimmy), Rosemary Kearney (John) and just the week before the Re-union, Jimmy Kearney (first cousin to the Third Generation (R.I.P.)

The itinerary for this Special Family Celebration will be outlined in detail elsewhere on this website, and all are welcome to participate. Too often, like many other families we only meet at wakes and funerals. For that reason enter the 25th –27th July 2008 in your diary and inform your family members both home and abroad.

The Family Reunion at Mount Gawn in 1958 lasted one afternoon allowing the fourth and fifth generations to celebrate and reminisc e. Many of us remember the occasion vaguely but did not fully understand the significance of that memorable gathering. The youngsters in the front row then will now take their places nearer the back. There is no doubt that there will be more than 122 in the 2008 photograph and that there will be great celebration and family bonding during the entire week-end. Thanks to our parents for the great foresight in 1958 and here’s to a continuation of the great spirit and closeness that has marked our family down the years.

Enjoy the Reunion on the 25th – 27th July! Find out what’s happening and keep in touch with the family contacts listed.

Kearney Reunion 2008 Kearney Reunion 2008 Kearney Reunion 2008