DEINIOL AODHAN KEDWARD

Born: November 10, 1700 in Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr, Wales.
Died: October 19, 1729
Mother: Abaigeal Kedward (Morgan) 1681 - 1724
Father: Brin Kedward 1675 - 1733
Siblings: Two younger sisters, twins Anwen (1706 - 1772) and Bethan (1706 - 1770)

Deiniol Kedward was born and raised in Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr, Wales, to Brin and Abaigeal Kedward. Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr is located on the Afon Alwen at the south western edge of the Clocaenog Forest. It was there the Kedwards maintained a small farm breeding Defaid Mynydd Cymreig (Welsh Mountain Sheep).

Being the only son of Brin Kedward, the two long displayed tension at one another. Though Deiniol enjoyed farming, his interests remained in art; painting to be more specific. His desire to study was staunchly opposed by his father, which caused disdain in their relationship. Deiniol's mother, however, supported his desires, though kept those feelings discreet as to not cause a row and inflame tempers.

Upon his mother's death in 1724, Deiniol's passion grew further, having made the hard decision to leave the Kedward farm and pursue his art elsewhere. Once such area was Glengarrif, Ireland, known for its vast landscapes, sea & mountain scenery, those of which were his focus to paint. Deiniol had long since known of Glengarriff when he first learned of it through a schoolbook as a child and artbooks as an adult, thus in the summer of 1725 he set off for a new life.

Brin would not speak to his son Deiniol after he announced his decision, but tears fell on his two young sister's faces as Deiniol bid his goodbye.

The journey to Glengarriff would not be an easy journey, it would be nearly 600km. First, the 100km carriage ride to Holyhead at the north western tip of Wales, then the 100+km ferry across the Irish Sea to Dublin, then the long 400km journey from Dublin to the Beara Peninsula of County Cork. There, he would arrive and settle in Glengarriff at the northern head of Glengarriff Bay, a smaller enclave of Bantry Bay. Glengarriff was as small, ancient community known formally in Gaelic as An Gleann Garbh, meaning "Rough Glen."

It was here that Deiniol met Coileán McAtháin at a local tavern. What began as passive conversation developed into a more constructive dialogue. Coileán McAtháin now understood Deiniol's long-term plans, and in learning he farmed mountain sheep in Wales, invited him to work on the McAtháin farm where sheep and other livestock were raised. Coileán's original and primary vocation was as a wheelwright, though having a working farm alongside that often proved a challenge.

"You say you farmed sheep," said Coileán.

“Aye,” replied Deiniol.

"I have but a wife and one daughter” Coileán added, “I did have a son, he passed when just two. Rather difficult to keep in order at home. I had one fella, he’s a bit gowl. If available, I can pay you to help perhaps."

With that, Deiniol found himself employed.

And with that, Deiniol also met Aedammair.


AEDAMMAIR MCATHIAN KEDWARD

Born: March 27, 1705 in Glengarriff, County Cork, Ireland.
Died: October 21, 1729
Mother: Eilís McAtháin (Ní Braonáin ) 1678 - 1725
Father: Coileán McAtháin 1676 - 1728
Siblings: One older brother Breandán, died in childhood. 1701 - 1703

The only daughter of Coileán and Eilís McAtháin, Aedammair met Deiniol when she was 20 years of age. It didn’t take long for the two to garner a secret “crush” on one another. The McAtháin family did not formally use Gaelic titles for each other, rather using simpler names such as “Addy” (though her grandmother called her “Edie”). Her father was known as “Colin” and her mother as “Elly” for Eilís. The McAtháin’s referred to Deiniol as “Den,” Aedammair affectionately called him “Denny.”

That autumn, the matriarch of the family, Eilís (“Elly”), passed away from a ruptured appendix. Little was known of appendicitis at the time, the first appendectomy wouldn’t be performed for another ten years in 1735. Eilís’ ruptured appendix went septic, and with no available treatment died from peritonitis.

Addy for was very close to her mother, and her death was particularly devastating to her. With Addy’s older brother’s (Breandán) death two years before she was born, her mother was very protective and loving of her one only daughter.

During their time of grief, Aedammair often parked her own feelings in order to support her grieving father, who did react well to his wife’s death. He was often despondent, and his own health began to waiver over the next couple of years. At those times Deiniol would pick up the slack around the farm as well as what he learned in the wheelwright shop.

As Aedammair cared for her father, Deiniol tended to their farm. Coileán’s gratitude did not go unnoticed, and he often referred to Deiniol as “Laddy” and that he “could be my own son.”

Over the next couple of years, Aedammair and Deiniol’s relationship developed a strong bond and soon they were in love. This made her father quite happy, and he made it clear when teasing them both of their relationship. He confided in Addy that he wished she might marry “Laddy” and give him grandchildren.

That day would come, but not in the presence of her father. In the winter of 1728, just after the new year, Coileán contracted pneumonia and passed away that February. He was buried beside his wife . Now the farm was maintained by just Deiniol and Aedammair.

Ten months would pass and the two would be married. “Da,” as Addy called her father, “would be proud.” They chose Christmas day to do so. That following February, Aedammair became pregnant. Together, Deiniol and Aedammair decided that should their child be a son, they would name him "Coileán" after her father with the middle name “Deiniol.” Should the child be a daughter, they would name her "Eilís" after her mother with the middle name of "Abaigeal" after Deiniol's mother.

In the meantime, during the pregnancy, they referred to the unborn child as their “Flower.”

Tragedy struck once again when Deiniol contracted smallpox that October, the eighth month into Aedammair’s pregnancy. Within two weeks, the virus spread enough to take his life. Deiniol passed away in his wife’s arms the evening October 19, 1729. He would have been age 29 only 3 weeks later. Deiniol Kedward was buried in the local church burial ground alongside her own parent’s grave two days later on October 21.

Aedammair was overcome in grief, having lost both her parents and now her husband, she was now completely alone, with child, having become distraught and abandoned at the verity of his death. Her mother and father would never know she had been married, and now her child would never know the father.

Feeling emotionally lost, distraught and physically isolated, Aedammair lost hope and feared she could not possibly continue without him, that she could not survive on her own nor give the child a proper life.

That evening, following her husband’s burial, Aedammair contemplated taking her own life, and came rather close to doing so, when she suddenly regained her faculties knowing the child too would not survive.

She also suddenly broke water.

With no one there to help, Aedammair struggled to her bed and prepared to deliver the child herself as she went into labor. Moments later she gave birth to a daughter. One that a girl’s name had already been chosen, “Eilís Abaigeal Kedward.”

The birth of her daughter would bring a renewed joy and a sense of hope as she lay in bed beside the newborn infant, stroking her forehead and whispering “Our flower, our child, Eilís Abaigeal Kedward... our little Elly.”

What Aedammair did not know at first is that she was bleeding out. What appeared to be the result of the placenta and the cutting she did herself of the umbilical cord was anything but. Her uterus wasn’t contracting properly and Aedammair could do nothing to control it.

She knew she was going to die.

Unsteady and anemic, Aedammair struggled for paper, a quill and ink, and with that strained to write a few words, only her name, date and place of birth and her chosen desire of love and affection of a child she wouldn’t live to raise, if the child would survive at all.

“Is í Eilís Abaigael Kedward a hainm. 21 Deireadh Fómhair, 1729. An Gleann Garbh. I ngrá léí. coinnigh slán í. Bheannaigh Dia í.”

Translated to English...

“Her name is Eilís Abaigael Kedward. October 21, 1729 Glengarriff. Love her. Keep her safe. Pray for her.”

She then folded the paper and slip into Elly’s bib.

Within moments Aedammair slipped away, with her newborn infant crying well after her mother’s last breath.

Born on this day, October 21, 1729, Eilís Abaigeal Kedward was now suddenly, and completely, orphaned.


THE DRIFTER

Obviously, little or nothing is known of the man who would save Elly’s life.

And it can be debated as to whether this man was a saint, or the devil himself.

A saint, for having saved a child’s life and taking the measures in which to do so.

Or the devil, for having saved the child, who would otherwise be accused a witch, left for dead and a curse made that would plague a community for centuries since.

On the day that Deiniol was buried, the evening Eilís was born, the evening Aedammair died, an unexpected snowfall occurred, one that would be known as “The Snowtober of 1729.”

On that day, a cold, hungry, vagrant drifter hiked a path through the snow and hours later came upon the Kedward homestead. Hungry, cold and tired, he took it upon himself to enter the home, warm up and take anything he could eat. When he entered the house he discovered the child crying next to the deceased woman. He completely ignored them both and instead began warming himself by the fire and eating whatever food he could find in the home, with there being apples, cheese and bread on the table. The drifter found the infant’s cries irritating, thus packed up all the food from the table and simply walked away from the house.

Amazingly, hearing the child’s cries as he did so, the drifter was stricken with a sudden sense of compassion and walked back into the house. There he found a small basket, placed the infant into it, crossed himself as he looked over the body of Aedammair, and made his exit, this time not only with food taken from the house, but now a basket containing the infant Eilís. The drifter hiked an astonishing 25 kilometers north along the Kenmare Bay to Páirc Na Gloine in County Kerry where he dropped off the infant at a Catholic orphanage, to be left with the Bon Secours Sisters of St. Mary's.

It’s assumed the drifter knew Páirc Na Gloine or had possibly been from there. This was not the first time he had been to St. Mary’s. They did not know his name, but he was known in the area as a homeless man who was sometimes seen everyday on the streets and sometimes not seen for weeks at a time.

When bedding the infant, the nuns discovered the note that Aedammair had placed in her bib, indicating her name, birth and location.

Back in Glengarriff, Aedammair's corpse remained undiscovered for several days until a local visitor happened upon the homestead to check in on her. Under the conditions in which she was discovered, it was assumed the child was also deceased and possibly taken by wolves or other wild animals.

Aedammair was buried next to her late husband, Deiniol and her parents at the local church burial ground, with the coffin and plot donated by the church. The only living relatives of Elly’s were the two younger sisters of Deiniol’s, who lived twice as long, yet never knew their brother had died, nor that he had married or had a child. It is not known if either sister married or had children, thereby no known relatives or descendants of Elly Kedward.


GLENGARRIFF, COUNTY CORK, IRELAND
(birthplace of elly kedward)

Glengarriff, it’s Gaelic calling being Gleann Garbh, meaning "Rough Glen" is a village positioned on Ring of Beara surrounded by high rugged mountains pocked with old bogs being farmed for peat. It is nestled by the foothills of the Caha Mountain and is actually quite a stunning location where ocean, river and ancient oak forest meet.

With less than 800 inhabitants, it sits at the northern head of Glengarriff Bay, a smaller enclave of Bantry Bay along the national secondary road in the Beara Peninsula of County Cork, Ireland, about 20km west of Bantry and 30km east of Castletownbere. It had long been recognized as a waypoint along the Castletownbere to Cork as a fish-delivery route, long since in decline as local infrastructure improved and vehicular traffic could now navigate its once-quaint thoroughfare at a more significant speed.

Glengarriff’s climate is mild and temperate due to the jet stream that warms the waters of Bantry Bay. The uniquely mild climate means that vegetation thrives in this unique environment, with Gorse, Fuschia, Rhododendrons and Camelias growing vigorously, covering the hillsides and valleys in the area. Glengarriff is also one of the few areas in the British Isles which still retains much of the ancient woodlands which once covered these islands.

Glengarriff’s mountain scenery is significantly rough and rocky and changes dramatically with the seasons, and had long been famed for its lush colors and textures. This served as the attraction for Elly’s father to relocate there from Wales as a painter of art, primarily landscapes, when he was younger. Elly’s maternal line had long since resided in Cork for centuries as farmers of sheep and assorted vegetation, something always considered quite lush in fame for Glengarriff, a result of its temperate micro-climate.

It is not known the exact population of Glengarriff in the time of the Kedwards, there was no specific population census taken in that period. For the county and taxes yes, but not specifically the village. In the known recorded history of Glengarriff, the population has never exceeded 800. County Corks’ department of deeds and records indicates the population of Glengarriff to be less than two hundred in the early 1700’s according to land deeds and transfers.


FATHER PHILIP WILLIAM TIERNEY

Born: September 19, 1672 in Tipper, County Kildare, Ireland.
Died: October 21, 1750 in Sceilig Mhór, County Kerry, Ireland.

Philip William Tierney was known for having elegant manners but is also remembered for creating turbulence at times. Little is known of his early life. He was born in County Kildare, probably at Tipper, near Naas. Though details of his parents have not been found he was probably the son of a substantial tenant farmer. Two brothers and three sisters are named in his will. At age 24, he was ordained a priest in Kilkenny in 1696 before starting a course of studies in the Irish College in Paris in 1697. He remained there until 1710 when he obtained a doctorate in civil and canon law.

Tierney was a high-profile Catholic figure during the Penal Law period in early 18th century Ireland. As parish priest of St Michan’s in Dublin for 40 years he stood as a public intellectual and campaigner. His controversial texts led him into a number of clashes with the Protestant hierarchy, and he caused ire in the Vatican. In 1712 he was imprisoned in Dublin Castle under Penal Law. His most influential publication was written in response to the oppressive Popery Bill. His 1718 Vulgate translation of the New Testament was the first complete English Catholic translation of the Bible. It was not well received by critics, nor by the Church because of its supposed Jansenist and Gallicanist leanings. It was withdrawn, but not put on the index of prohibited books. He was then hitherto neglected by modern historians, yet he was described by the historian Lecky as “Probably the ablest priest then living in Ireland.”

Despite living in a time when anti-Catholic legislation was in full force, Father Tierney managed to combine scholarship and religious controversy with being a Dublin priest. He then appeared in London as tutor to the son of Alexander MacDonnell, Catholic third earl of Antrim. His first publication was in 1708, a modest and true account of the chief points in controversy between Roman Catholics and protestants, in which he castigated the late John Tillotson (1630–94), archbishop of Canterbury.

Father Tierney then returned to Ireland around 1715, and became the parish priest of St. Michan on Dublin’s northside. His reputation preceded him, but he avoided public disputation, instead collecting funds for a new chapel he founded in Baile an Sceilg (Ballinskelligs) County Kerry, in order to provide worship for an otherwise sparsely populated location of Ireland. It was opened in 1725 and Christened St. John's Chapel. Though a considerable amount of thought and effort (and funds) went into the architecture and construction of the chapel, attendance was considered low on most Catholic standards due to low population that hadn't improved in Tierney's lifetime.

It was at St. John's Chapel in 1743 that Eilis Kedward (Elly Kedward), then age 14, came upon the doorsteps, having been homeless and wandering the countryside following Ireland's Great Frost of 1741. Father Tierney took her in, with compassion, charity and sense of duty for a young girl in need.

Elly Kedward would remain at St. John's Chapel for seven years, having learned to read, write and caring for Father Tierney as he grew older in his senior years. The two would become essential figures in each others lives with a paternal aspect and dedication to each other.

In 1750, Father Tierney composed a letter to young Elly, then nearing age 21, explaining that "The time has come upon me," and that “I am an aged man, blind of colour, and my tumor has grown to its capacity.

“The Lord has decided it is my time to return home and join Him and His Grace to the Kingdom of Heaven. The Lord has called me to Him, to accept my final days in communion with Him before I join Him in eternal repose.”

Father Tierney knew his time was close, and knew he was going to die.

“I shall climb Sceilig Mhichí to walk with Him and take my last communion.”

Father Tierney then took the extraordinary journey to Sceilig Mhór (Skellig Michael), also known as the Great Skellig, which is a twin-pinnacled crag situated west of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland.

The name "Skellig" is derived from a Gaelic word for a splinter of stone (sceilig). Skellig Michael is named after the archangel Michael, said to have appeared there to help Saint Patrick banish serpents into the Irish sea.

It consists of approximately 44 acres of rock, with its highest point, the Spit, 714 feet above sea level. It is known for its steep inhospitable landscape, the Gaelic monastery founded between the 6th and 8th century, and its variety of inhabiting species, including gannets, puffins, a colony of razorbills and a resident population of approximately fifty grey seals.

The rock contains the remains of a tower house, a megalithic stone row and a cross inscribed slab known as the “Wailing Woman.” The monastery is situated at 550-600 feet, while “Christ's Saddle” is 422 feet and the flagstaff area is 120 feet above sea level.

It was the destination of Sceilig Mhór that Father Tierney took great effort to traverse, climb, and take notice of all he was surrounded with, of “All of God's great gifts and creations, be them as large as the ocean or the smallest of a leaf, everything of God's creation was sacred, purposeful and a miracle within each individual existence.”

Upon reaching the very top of Sceilig Mhór, Father Tierney then took his final communion, having brought with him Holy wine and bread, the only belongings he brought to the island. Afterwards, he descended the mountain cliffs, stood beside the crashing sea, and as he predicted his own fate, with a comforting smile he was to meet the Lord face to face, passed away at that very spot. By massive coincidence, he died on the same date Elly Kedward was born, on October 21. Elly had turned 21 years of age the day Father Tierney passed away in 1750. He was 78 years of age.