The Hagerty Reunion August 2002
A Joyful and Deeply Moving Experience
We will remember August 2002 as the month when The Canadians came home and brought the fine weather with them. That such a gathering was arranged and enjoyed by so many people was truly great.
We were delighted to be associated with this rare and very unusual event, it was a privilege to be of assistance to the descendants of people from our parish who were forced by hunger to leave the land of their birth. If we care at all about the millions who starved and emigrated during this most distressful period then we can show it by extending the hand of friendship and making visitors feel at home. We did, the people of Conna did, and the visitors were very aware that the welcome they received was indeed a warm one.
Jim Hagerty along with Jack and Joan, Peter and Elaine Hagerty were the people we met soon after their arrival, we knew that they were capable and very able to sort out the documentation and paperwork necessary for the registration of the group.
The Muintir Hall was used on three occasions for meeting, food, and speeches, the Catholic Church was used on Sunday for Mass, celebrated by Fr. Tim Uniack, a descendant of the original Hagerty family. The old farm house at Coolbawn was prepared for the visitors, and they received tea from Bridget Sheehan and family. The visitors really were delighted with this; to take tea on the very ground where their ancestors had for many years before 1852.
Many of the group had never met, they had a few days to get to know each other, August 18-20 were the official days, but many arrived earlier and stayed later to see some of the country. It was for them an emotional deeply moving experience, to return home after 150 years surely is. The spirits of their ancestors that guided them to the this gathering must have been proud, as they looked on and saw the many happy and deeply moved extended family members walk the ground and travel the roads where they once did.
The village came alive for the visitors, they brought with them happiness and goodwill, and it was felt by all who met them. We were pleased to have the Canadian flag flying at the Church and Hall. The Community Council can be proud of its efforts. The family history files held by Pa Barry were of great assistance to the Canadians when they were looking for their relatives.
The reunion ended on a sad and nostalgic evening, it was Tuesday the 18th. The Hagerty family went to Coolbawn and lit candles in the old house which is not in use any more. As the sun went down and long shadows began to fall Dr.Michael Coughlin played the violin, he had also played the harp at the Mass, stories were told, and thoughts went back 150 years to the evening when the family gathered for the last time in Ireland, how moving an experience that must have been all those years ago for John and Abigail and the entire family. As the night moved on the younger people moved off to the village, then many of the cousins, until a small group remained. This group remained for some time and began to leave one by one until Jack Hagerty was the last person left, he closed the door and walked away across the yard as his ancestor John had done. The group then took a last look at the house and walked away.
All that was planned had been achieved, it only remained now for the families to make their way to the New World where they now call home. A spiritual calling had been fulfilled, we had seen the family, their names will remain with us they are part of our history, Jim, Jack, Peter and Jerry Hagerty, John Agustine the Fourth, the Uniacks, Coughlins, Fracis, McBride, and many more.
To commemorate the reunion we plan to place a plaque on the wall in the Hall, so future generations will know that one time the descendants of a family driven from the land by hunger came home to thread the ground and see the place where once their people lived, toiled and had to leave.
Gerard O’Mahony August 2002
History of The Hagerty Extended Family
.(Written by Jim Hagarty of Stratford, Ontario, Canada, great-great-grandson
of John and Abigail Hegarty)
The Hagerty story is another episode in the sad litany of the Irish Diaspora, so many had to leave never to return, so many American wakes. It is good that the family can return to Conna and imbibe the spirit that dwells in the place of their ancestors..
John Hegarty, only son of Peter Hegarty and Ellen Maloney, was married to
Abigail O’Keeffe in the Catholic chapel in Tallow (now Our Lady of the
Immaculate Conception Church) on Feb. 11, 1823. I am not sure where they
went to live following their marriage, or, for that matter, where they
lived before it.
As the wedding was in Tallow, I assume Abigail lived
there; there have always been O’Keeffes in Tallow and still are today, I
understand. As for John, I don’t know where he lived. It might have been in
Waterford or in East Cork.However, I do know that by the early 1830s, John and Abigail were living in
Coolbaun Townland, north of Conna, on 26 acres now owned by Dennis Sheehan
and family. In the house that still stands on that farm, the Hegartys
raised eight children – six boys named Peter, John, Michael, Timothy,
Daniel and Cornelius (Con), and two girls, Ellen and Bridget.
At least one of the boys, Michael, was baptised 1834 in the new St. Catherine’s Catholic
Church in Conna which had been put up the year before and still stands.
(Many of the others were probably baptized there too but no records have
been found.)Ellen Hegarty married William Uniacke and at least two of their children,
Peter and William, were baptized in the Conna church too. These two boys
died on the trip across the ocean to North America in 1852.By about 1846, the Hegartys were leaving Ireland, bound for North America.
Peter left that year and settled in the United States. Two years later,
John and Bridget landed in New York and made their way to Ontario in
Canada. Bridget eventually married, in Canada, Timothy Regan of Moydilliga
Townland, who had left with his parents Michael and Nora Regan from their
farm (now owned by Bernadette and Maurice Keane) in 1846.About 1852, the parents, John and Abigail, and the rest of their boys, left
Ireland for good, and settled in Ontario with John and Bridget.
Four of the children stayed around Stratford, in Ontario; one lived in Manitoba, and
three settled in the United States, in Virginia and New York.That was it for us and Ireland, and over the years, no one ever returned to
the country of their origin. Nor did they talk much about it, past the
first generation to arrive, that is.
By the 1960s, the descendants of John and Abigail had little idea of their origins, beyond the knowledge that
their ancestors had been farmers in County Cork.Also in the 1960s, the first of the descendants began to travel back to
Ireland, but no one knew where to look for the farm our ancestors had lived on.Finally, in 1994, with the help of local historians and residents, that farm was found, as was the house the Hegartys had lived in. Every year
after that, family members journeyed to the farm to see where it had allstarted.
In 1998, 150 years after John and Bridget left, 15 Hegarty
descendants and spouses held a reunion at the farm and in the house.At that time, it was resolved to hold a larger reunion in 2002, the 150th
anniversary of the year we believe the parents and remaining boys made the
journey out of Ireland. A book, detailing the history of the family, called
Home Again: An Emigrant Family Returns To Ireland, was published in 1999.
In it, an invitation to the family was extended to the decscendants of John
and Abigail.This August, about 100 of those descendants will gather in Conna. Among
them will be descendants of six of the eight children who were raised in
the house that still stands in Coolbaun. (There are no descendant of Con
left and descendants of Peter have not been found yet.) On Aug. 18, a
commemorative Mass for the Hegartys will take place at the church in Conna
at 11:30 a.m.
(In attendance will be descendants of Michael Hegarty who was
baptized in this building in 1834.) Tentative plans call for Fr. Timothy
Uniac, a descendant of Ellen and William Uniacke, to assist in the Mass. It
is also a possibility that some of the music for the Mass will be provided
by various other descendants of the Hegartys.Registration of the group will take place at the Conna community centre in
the afternoon, followed by a visit to the Sheehan farm. This will be the
first time most of those taking part in the reunion will have ever seen the
land and home of their ancestors.
That evening, the group may descend on
the Final Furlong pub in Coolagown, a pub going strong in the days when the
Hegartys still lived in the area, and one that no doubt enjoyed their
patronage from time to time.Monday, Aug. 19, will be taken up with tours of sites of significance to
the Hegartys both 150 years ago and now. Those sites will include the
Catholic Church in Tallow (the one John and Abigail were married in was
replaced by the current one three years after their marriage); the church
at Coolegown, where the Hegartys were probably regular parishoners, despite
belonging to the one in Conna; the old Knockmourne National School which
the younger Hegartys probably attended.
The old market town of Fermoy to which the family must have travelled often; the former Regan farm in
Moydilliga; the Hegartys’ landlord’s estate of Henry Braddell.On Monday night, the family will sit down to a catered meal at the community centre in Conna, followed by walks through the village and stops
at two old pubs operating in the Hegartys’ era – Roche’s pub and The
Fishermen’s Rest.Tuesday morning, almost half the party, made up mostly of Uniacke
descendants, will leave for the rest of their 10-day tour of Ireland. The
remaining group will continue to meet, tour other sites of interest,
including the Sheehan farm, and say their goodbyes at the farmhouse and
community centre in Conna on Tuesday night, Aug. 20.
During the three days, the Hegarty descendants will also take every chance
to become acquainted with the many people of Conna and area who have helped
them learn about their past and who have, over the past eight years,
welcomed all their visits and enquiries with such open arms and enthusiasm.One hundred and fifty years, it seems, can dim the details and the memories of the past but not the kindred bond the Conna people feel for their fellow
Irish and former neighbours, whether near or far away.
Many members of the Hagarty Family came to Conna for “The Gathering” in 2013. It was lovely to see them again