Patrick Buckley, Castleisland: Setting the Genealogy Record Straight

Castleisland District Heritage has recently acquired a number of articles published in the Garda Review relating to the family of Patrick Buckley, a victim of the Ballyseedy Massacre of 1923, and his wife Delia.[1]  This donation coincided with a query from a family in the UK about Buckley ancestry, notably Mary Julia Buckley, daughter of John Buckley and Ellen McCarthy of Castleisland who lived in Pound Road.  The family had been lead to believe that Patrick Buckley who died in 1923 was related to their grandparents.


In September, the family visited Castleisland and met Mikey Conway of Pound Road in the offices of Castleisland District Heritage to discuss Buckley family history.  Mikey informed them that there was only one Buckley family in Pound Road.  To his knowledge they had no relationship to Patrick Buckley who died in 1923.  The birthplace of the latter is invariably given as Scartaglin, Castleisland and West Limerick.


Castleisland District Heritage, with the assistance of Martine Brennan, has researched the background of Patrick Buckley and found that Mikey Conway’s assessment is correct.


Tea and Chat: Olive Wood, Kathleen Percy and (inset) Karen Rothery discuss Buckley family history in the offices of Castleisland District Heritage with Mikey Conway of Pound Road, and John Roche and Noel Nash of CDH.  In the centre, the Ballyseedy Monument.  Photographs © Castleisland District Heritage


Patrick Buckley, RIC and IRA Man


Patrick Buckley served with the RIC and the IRA at a momentous time in Ireland’s history.  In 1909, he was RIC Constable Patrick Buckley No 64559, having joined the service on 14 January 1909.  He was assigned to Kerry on 28 July 1909, his first post at Cordal, then Farranfore, and Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co Clare on 22 November 1916.[2]  He resigned from the RIC on 17 September 1919 and joined Oglaigh na h-Eireann (IRA) as Drill Instructor.[3]  A record of his military career, together with a photograph of him in civilian dress, is given in Tim Horgan’s Dying for the Cause.


Patrick Buckley was arrested on 4 March 1923 and died on 7 March 1923.[4]  On the first anniversary of the events of 1923, the remains of Patrick Buckley were disinterred from Rath Cemetery and re-interred in the Republican Plot, Castleisland.


The Family of Patrick Buckley of Tooreennagrena, Casualty of Ballyseedy Bridge, 7 March 1923


Patrick Buckley was born on 10 June 1889, son of farmer Daniel Buckley of Tooreennagrena (Rockchapel) and Kate Shanahan of Ballough.[5]  His mother died following the birth of a child on 27 September 1895.[6]  His father remarried to Mary, daughter of farmer Dan Murphy of Knocknadiha on 30 November 1899 in the RC chapel of Tournafulla.[7]


Patrick Buckley married Bridget (known as Delia), the daughter of at least six children of Patrick and Julia Brosnan of Droum, Inchincummer at Killeentierna RC Church on 30 January 1916.[8]  Patrick and Delia had five children between 1916 and his death in 1923.[9]


Patrick Buckley, the eldest, was born at Ranaleen, Killeentierna on 8 September 1916, his father then stationed in Farranfore.  He served in the Irish Defence Forces as lieutenant and captain.[10]  Daniel Buckley, second son, was born at Newmarket-on-Fergus on 15 August 1917 where his father was then stationed.  Daniel belonged to the Redemptorist Order (CSSR) and was ordained on 20 September 1941 at Cluain Mhuire, House of Studies of the Order at Merview, Galway.[11] Fourth and youngest son Michael Buckley, in religion Senan Buckley, was born on 5 November 1920.  He entered the Order of Discalced Carmellites at St Mary’s, Gayfield, Morehampton Road, Dublin.[12]  In 1978 he was elected Superior of the Irish Province of Discalced Carmellites, having spent seven years in California.  Very Rev Michael Buckley died on 22 December 2016.[13]  Only daughter Catherine (Kitty) Buckley attended the convent in Castleisland, and later lived in San Francisco.


Third son, John Joseph Buckley, otherwise Seán, and in religion, Sebastian Buckley, was born on 24 June 1919, his father residing then at Tournafulla, Co Limerick.[14]  John Joseph Buckley entered the Order of Discalced Carmellites and was professed at the Abbey Church, Loughrea, in 1938 and ordained priest at Holy Cross College in July 1944.  In 1951 he travelled to the Philippine Islands to serve under Monsignor Patrick Shanley, and later ministered in India and America.[15]  He left the priesthood in 1968 and in 1970, married Mary Harrison.


His life in religion and as a teacher in San Francisco City College and Ventura College is told in his memoir, Beyond the Walls: A Monk’s Journey to Wholeness.  It also includes anecdote about his early life in Castleisland, and stories he inherited from his grandparents:


Our grandmother, Nan, told us how as a tiny girl she had seen family after family dying of starvation during the Famine, with green grassy ooze dripping from their mouths, as they staggered by, while the English landlords shipped wheat and cattle from the Irish ports to London.[16]


He recalls his upbringing in Kerry:


My mother and the five of us had to leave our home in County Clare to be sheltered by her brother in the thatched dwelling and scruffy Kerry farm where she had been born and reared.  The three-room mud-floored cabin was set into the elbow of a little hill with a heap of cow manure perpetually fermenting fifteen feet from the front door.  The dung-heap and the absence of paint or whitewash were ploys of farmers like my grandfather to keep the English landlord from raising the rent.  Any sign of cleanliness or improvement invariably brought a visit from the landlord’s gombeen-man with a demand for more money for his master in faraway London.  The alternative was certain eviction.[17]


He recounts how when ‘not yet four years old,’ his father was dragged from the kitchen table and arrested, never to be seen again:


My mother tried to visit him at the jail in Tralee but was not allowed to see him.  We were told the reason much later that he had been so badly beaten and tortured his face was an unrecognizable mass of pulp and all the fingers and the nails had been torn off.[18]


Mrs Delia Buckley, who resided at 41 Main Street, a building currently unoccupied but until recently was Official Menswear and Barber Shop, died on 3 December 1972 at the Bon Secour Home, Tralee, the cause of death given as ‘old age.’  Her funeral was held in Castleisland Parish Church and she was laid to rest in the New Cemetery.


The Family of Patrick Buckley of Pound Road, Castleisland


Karen, Olive and Kathleen have kindly written an account of their ‘genealogical journey to Pound Road’ for Castleisland District Heritage (below) in relation to their ancestor, Patrick Buckley.   We look forward to welcoming them in Castleisland again in the future.


Our Journey to Pound Road


My ancestral journey began Christmas 2022 when I was given the wonderful gift of a subscription to a genealogy resource.  I soon became engrossed in looking for my ancestral family which lead me to the book Pound Road and its people.  I traced back from my mother’s side of the family as she still had memories of visiting Ireland back in the 1980’s, her grandmother was Julia Mary Buckley, we found her marriage certificate to George Aiton that named her parents, John Buckley and Ellen Buckley (nee McCarthy)who married at St Stephens Church Castleisland on 29th October 1876.  According to the census of Ireland 1901, John and Ellen lived at 25 Pound Road Castleisland with their children Hannah, Patrick, Kate, Mary Ellen, Mary Julia (my great grandma known as Julia), Bridget and Nora.


I was astonished to find so much information about Pound Road online including videos of how bad the living conditions were there.  By chance I stumbled upon the Castleisland District Heritage Facebook page and was surprised to find that a booklet had just been written about Pound Road and I ordered a copy immediately.  I was so excited when it arrived. That was it!  I knew I had to organise a trip to Pound Road!


I was amazed to see the layout of Pound Road in the booklet with the Buckley’s, and McCarthy’s and soon learnt about Mikey Conway and how he lived just next door to the Buckley’s, Janet and Noel were so helpful with all my questions.  I arranged a trip with my mother Olive and Aunty Kathleen, my mum’s sister.  We arrived early September to beautiful weather.  Noel and Janet had arranged a meeting for us with Mikey, Johnnie Roche and Tomo Burke, we had a wonderful time chatting and both Johnnie and Tomo said my mum looked like a Buckley!  We also found out an even stranger coincidence … Mikey Conway came to live in England for a time when things got tough in Ireland. He lived in Huddersfield – where I live!  It was amazing chatting about it.


Mikey, Noel and Johnnie kindly showed us the new Pound Road and the remaining wall, explaining where our family would have lived.  We were shown where some of our family graves were in St Stephen’s church yard and Kilbannivane cemetery.  We would never have found them had it not been for their kindness.  We can’t thank you all enough!


During our searches through archives, we came across Petty Sessions Order Books with information about an altercation between Ellen Buckley and Nano Murphy on 10th July 1917 and Mary Buckley and Nano Murphy on 2nd October 1917, both of Pound Road.   They were charged with abusive and threatening behaviour and bound over to keep the peace.  We think Nano Murphy may have been the shop keeper on Pound Road.


Patrick Buckley was the only son of John and Ellen Buckley.  We were lead to believe he may have been the Patrick Buckley who died at Ballyseedy on 7 March 1923 but Mikey Conway put us right.  We found that our Patrick Buckley married Mary Connell and the 1911 census shows they lived at number 18 Pound Road.


Patrick and Mary had a son Timmy, who married Kathleen O’Sullivan and they had three children who all died young, Mary age 20 and Carmel age 19 both drowned in a tragic boating accident, and their brother Patrick took his own life age 25.  Both girls were laid to rest with their parents.


Looking at the layout of Pound Road as recalled by Mikey Conway there are a lot of names that look to be associated with the Buckley’s and McCarthy’s and we will continue our search to learn more.  We hope we can visit Castleisland again very soon.  If anyone has any more information that might help with our search, please email us at


Buckley of Pound Road: Mary Julia Buckley (left) photographed in 1911 aged about 18, and right, her granddaughter, Olive Wood, photographed in 1966 at about the same age.  Eric John Aiton, son of Mary Julia Buckley and her husband George Aiton, was awarded the degree Doctor of Philosophy in 1958.  Family photographs courtesy the Buckley family


[1] IE CDH 136.  ‘The Road to Ballyseedy: Pat & Delia’ by Tom Daly.  Articles courtesy Pat Kearney.

[2] Newmarket-on-Fergus barracks was the first to be captured on 5 August 1919 in the War of Independence (source: Garda Review).   Thanks are extended to Trish Loughman for research of RIC military records and birth registration certificate.

[3] Patrick Buckley joined the IRA in 1919 or 1920 (both years are given on his widow’s pension application at this link  He was Commanding Drill Instructor until 7 March 1923.  ‘Coy Instructor until Truce.  Batt Police OC., Tralee, from Truce to evacuation.  A.S.U. until captured.’ 

Tralee, Castleisland and Killarney fell to the Free State Army in the Civil War and he went on the run.  ‘He approached his former IRA mentor, General Michael Brennan, now a senior leader of Free State forces in October 1922 and declared himself out of the game’ (Source: Garda Review). 

[4] ‘The Story Behind the Story,’ Echoes of their Footsteps: The Irish Civil War Vol II by Kathleen Hegarty Thorne, held in IE CDH 136, gives an account of events leading up to this event.

[5] Information gathered from birth and marriage certificates.  The parents of Daniel Buckley were Patrick Buckley of Tooreennagrena (Tuairín na Gréine, parish of Killeedy) and Catherine, daughter of James Shanahan of Ballough (parish of Killeedy).  They were married in the RC chapel of Cahernagh, near Broadford, Co Limerick on 11 February 1888. 

[6] Catherine Buckley was 33 years old, cause of death post-partum haemorrhage.

[7] Daniel Buckley died at Tooreennagrena on 12 April 1937 age 75.

[8] Bridget was born on 8 January 1888 and baptised in Killeentierna on 12 January 1888  The Census of Ireland 1901 shows a farming household at Inchincummer, Delia age 13.  The Census of Ireland 1911 shows Delia Brosnan age 20 living at 34 Main Street, Castleisland with her brother, Patrick Brosnan, age 35, shopkeeper, widower, and sister Minnie age 30.

Delia’s sister Mary Brosnan died in May/June 1964.

[9] His death was registered by his brother-in-law, Maurice Costelloe. The death certificate of Patrick Buckley gives his age as 32, ex-Constable RIC, cause of death ‘shock and haemorrhage fractured skull by mine explosion.  No medical attendance.’  The information was provided on 29 May 1923 by Maurice Costelloe, Rock Street, Tralee, his brother-in-law, ‘who caused the body to be buried.’  Maurice Costelloe, a draper’s assistant, married Nora, daughter of Daniel Buckley, in the Church of St John’s Tralee on 21 April 1917.

[10] In 1957, he was attached to Collins Barracks, Cork.  Patrick married Maureen Clooney and they had four daughters, two of whom worked as governess to the children of Bing Crosby, ‘a great Irishman and a wonderful person.’  Patrick Buckley died in 1978.

[11] The Miraculous Picture of The Mother of Perpetual Succour published by Mercier Press, Cork in 1948, ‘Rev Daniel Buckley CSSR deals with the story of the picture in all its aspects.’  In 1955, Rev Buckley was pictured departing for Bombay (Cork Examiner, 24 February 1955).  In 1958, he was ministering in Bangalore, India. 

[12] He was received at the Abbey Church, Loughrea in September 1939 and ordained in Second Minor Orders by Most Rev Dr McQuaid in Holy Cross College, Clonliffe in March 1942.  He celebrated his first mass in Castleisland Parish Church on Sunday 2 March 1947.  He studied in Rome and in 1950 took up duty as teacher of Sacred Scripture in the Dublin House of his Order.  In 1958 he was teaching Sacred Scripture in St Joseph’s Apostolic Seminary, Alwaye, South India, the college the largest seminary in the mission world.  An article ‘First Woman doctor of the Church’ by Senan Buckley, ODC, was published in the Irish Independent on 22 September 1970. 

[13] Obituary here

[14] In March 1920 it was reported that the substantial two-storey Tournafulla RIC Barracks ‘vacated for some time past’ was almost completely destroyed by fire.

[15] In May 1957 he returned to Castleisland to visit his mother Delia in Main Street.  He may have used the time to produce his book, A Man Shall Scatter which was published that year.  The story was also announced for publication in the Sunday Press a few years later (September 1959):  ‘An Irish missionary’s life on a lonely island in the Pacific … It is entitled ‘A Man Shall Scatter’ by Father Sebastian Buckley OCD, the author took title from Padraic Pearse’s poem, The Fool.’ 

[16] Beyond the Walls: A Monk’s Journey to Wholeness (2005) by Seán Buckley, pp279-280.

[17] Beyond the Walls: A Monk’s Journey to Wholeness (2005) by Seán Buckley, p35.

[18] Beyond the Walls: A Monk’s Journey to Wholeness (2005) by Seán Buckley, pp35-36.