• Tommy Hourigan, Raheen, Limerick

Article from the Grange Parish Book suggested for reading this week (week 39)


The O'Keeffe Family of Grange

In his most interesting book article, David (Dai) O'Keeffe of Upper Grange charted the history of the O'Keeffe Family of Grange from the late 1700s to the present time (2015). Inter alia, David wrote the following:

"As far as I can establish, the Rahin/Grange branch of the O’Keeffe family came as some kind of land agents to the Guillamore Estate towards the end of the 1700s.

The O’Keeffes acted as land agents to the Guillamore Estate and were supplied with


a house, most likely similar to the house now occupied by Declan Hehir and his family at Bohergeela, Meanus.

The earliest evidence of the existence of the family in this area is contained on an O’Keeffe headstone in Glenogra Graveyard with the earliest burial of a Mrs O’Keeffe in 1820. This headstone has fallen and now lies face down, not far from the church ruins. The last burial of a member of the family in this grave was of John O’Keeffe (my uncle) who was buried in the early 1970s.

Sometime around 1830, the O’Keeffes leased a farm of over 70 statute acres at Rahin from Count De Salis, which remained in the family until the late 1960s. Leasing land in those times was virtually the only way to become involved in farming. Later in the century, the family purchased the farm after the Land Acts were introduced by the British Government towards the end of the nineteenth century.

In 1893, my great grandfather, John O’Keeffe, was chosen by the tenant farmers to read an ‘Illuminated Address’ of welcome to the 7th Count De Salis on his return with his new Belgian bride (Princess) after their marriage in Brussels. As was customary at


the time, all the tenant farmers and estate workers turned out to welcome the couple. Their carriage would have been drawn by some of the estate workers while others would have provided a guard of honour carrying lighted sods of turf on pitchforks. Cruise’s Hotel Limerick provided the catering for the banquet that followed at which the representative tenant farmers attended in Lough Gur House. My grand uncle, Canon David O’Driscoll DD, originally from Mountfox, said grace. He was my grandmother’s brother and a curate in Bruff at the time. He later served as parish priest of St Munchin’s Parish in Limerick and built St Munchin’s Church across the road from the Treaty Stone. He was buried in the church grounds, and his grave is marked by a large white marble cross. On the night that the Mayor of Limerick, Grange man George Clancy was murdered by the Black and Tans on his own doorstep, Canon David O’Driscoll administered the last rites and later attended to the dead former mayor, O’Callaghan."

David (Dai) is well-known for his interest in the game of rugby and he has been associated with Bruff Rugby Club going back to its establishment. It was no surprise, therefore, that he brought rugby into his article. For many of us, he provided new information. Firstly, he wrote about the O'Keeffe family connection with Munster Rugby, going back to the 1890s. His mother's uncle, Mick Kelly, won five successive Munster Senior Cup medals with Garryowen FC, captaining the team in 1894.

Secondly, he wrote about the Holycross Rugby Club that existed in the 1930s. David wrote as follows:

"A rugby club once existed for a number of years at Holycross in Bruff Parish in the 1930s. The Team wore the colours blue and white and played their games in O’Loughlin’s field (pump field), and they used a shed, which was situated on the road to Lough Gur, about 100 yards from Reardon’s Public House, for the purpose of changing their clothes. The gable end of this shed is still standing and can be seen clearly from the roadside. Some of those who played with the club are mentioned below."

David went on to identify several men, many of whom were from the Grange and surrounding localities, who played on the Holycross Rugby Teams. He mentioned Paddy Harty, Old Road, Grange, for example. Jim Barry (team captain) once asked the late Limerick TD and Senator and six times Mayor of Limerick, Ted Russell, to guest play for the Holycross team. Both Ted and he were travelling back to Limerick by train after playing an inter-pro match for Munster in Dublin when he asked Ted to play for Holycross the following day (Sunday). Ted willingly obliged.

This week's (week 39) book article, The O'Keeffe Family of Grange, may be read in full HERE.

Next week (week 40) we will suggest another book article for reading.

Kind Regards to All.

#OKeeffe #JohnOKeeffe #DavidOKeeffe #DaiOKeeffe #AnnieOKeeffe #JimBarry #PaddyHarty #MickKelly #MunsterRugby #GarryowenRugbyFC #HolycrossRugbyFC #OLoughlin #ReardonsPub #CountdeSalis #Brussels #CanonDavidODriscoll #StMunchinsParish #GeorgeClancy #Fraher

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