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Visitors from USA trace roots of heroic Keohanes in West Cork

Sunday, 23rd June, 2019 7:16am
Visitors from USA trace roots of heroic Keohanes in West Cork

The group from the US visiting the statue of Patrick Keohane in Courtmacsherry. (Photo: Martin Walsh)

By LEO McMAHON

DESCENDANTS of a father and son remembered for their heroics in the aftermaths of the tragedies that were the Scott Antarctic expedition in 1912 and the sinking of the liner Lusitania in World War I recently travelled from the USA to Kinsale and Courtmacsherry.

Cathy Esposito from Charltotte, North Carolina and her sister Mary Tow, Coventry, Rhode Island are grandchildren of Michael Keohane who was the son of Timothy and brother of Patrick Keohane.

Timothy was coxswain on the lifeboat that rowed 12 miles from Barry’s Point, Courtmacsherry to recover bodies from the Lusitania sunk by German u-boat on May 7th, 1915 and Patrick Keohane was on the South Pole expedition and in the group that later recovered the bodies of Robert Falcon Scott and two others.

Cathy was accompanied by her husband Paul, sons Joe and David with Ruthie Keith.  Stephen and Beth McEntegart from Venice, Florida and Robert McEntegart and his wife Kimberley Blum from Los Angeles, California plus friends Bob and Kathleen (nee Boland) Sobolewski, Woodbury, Connecticut completed the party.  

Stephen and Robert are grandsons of Michael and Catherine Keohane (nee Lordan) and brought a wedding photo of the couple. Their hosts in Kinsale were The Old Presbytery, Long Quay House and Acton’s Hotel, Kinsale.

Among places visited were the graveyard of St Multose’s Church where some bodies from the Lusitania are buried; the old Courthouse where the first Coroner’s Inquest was held and the statues at Pier Road of Antarctic explorer Mortimer McCarthy who was also on the Scott expedition and his brother Timothy who was on the Shackleton Endurance Antarctic expedition and rescue (1914-1916).

A wonderful evening in Kinsale concluded with a visit to The Armada Inn where Mary Coughlan (Keohane) along with fellow Kinsale resident and cousin Nora Hickey (Keohane) greeted their American relatives and friends. On the walking tour also were Eileen McMahon, whose grandfather John Moloney was on the lifeboat in 1915 and friends from Chadwell Heath, Essex, England, Patrick and Mary Allison. 

On the following day, the American visitors travelled to Courtmacsherry for a reception in the RNLI lifeboat station where a welcome was extended members by voluntary operations manager Brian O’Dwyer and coxswain Sean O’Farrell. An excellent talk about the lifeboat service there dating back to 1825 was given by Diarmuid O’Mahony who poignantly recounted the role played by Timothy Keohane and other crew members of the lifeboat Kezia Gwilt which rowed out from Barry’s Point to the scene of the sinking of the Lusitania.  

The group went on to visit Coolbawn to view the ruin of the Keohane homestead and also look across Blind Strand to the site of the lifeboat station which operated from at Barry’s Point in 1915.

At a high point between Broad and Blind Strand, there was a photo call at the Patrick Keohane Antarctic Explorer sculpture unveiled in 2012.  Earlier, at the lifeboat station, Michael O’Brien performed The Ballad of Patrick Keohane, which he composed.

Among Keohane descendants and families at the gathering in Barryroe were John and Kathleen Keohane, Brian O’Donovan, Eileen Holland, Kay Lawton, Marie Carroll, Teresa Crowley, Lola O’Regan, Tony McCarthy, Bernie and Micheal and Fiona O’Donovan with dog Tammy, Caroline O’Donovan and daughter Rachel and Brian, Fiona and Ellie O’Donovan. 

In Courtmacsherry Community Shop, the group admired an exhibition on the Lusitania and Patrick Keohane and later visited Lislee graveyard and adjourned for refreshments at the Pier House.

Others in attendance at Courtmacsherry included Martin McCarthy, Vincent O’Donovan, Michael Madden, Jim Crowley and Diarmuid Begley representing the RNLI and its history group and/or Patrick Keohane Memorial Project as well as tour guide Barry Moloney and son Luke, who reside not far from the Old Head Signal Tower and Lusitania Memorial Garden.