Rothar Routes

Cycle routes & pilgrim journeys in Ireland and Europe …..

Pat Kearney’s Big Stone

‘A pilgrimage within a pilgrimage’

While approaching the end of my 680 kms cycling pilgrimage along the proposed Turas Columbanus I took time to make a mini pilgrimage to Goward Dolmen in the Parish of Clonduff, County Down.

The reason being my aunt Madge is married to Pete Kearney and they have lived in Mittagong New South Wales for many years. The Kearneys originally hailed from Goward, but there are no Kearneys living in the old parish now.

While cycling out of Hilltown in the rain recently I asked an elderly lady if she knew of Pat Kearney’s Stone and she gave me good directions. But she wasn’t aware of any Kearneys from the area. As I turned onto the laneway I could see that the furze bushes had been cut and the lane was littered with thorn branches. Between the rain and the thorns I decided not to venture the mile or so off route and planned to visit on my next leg of the journey.

On Tuesday I completed Turas Columbanus to Bangor and on my return via Hilltown, I drove to Pat Kearney’s Big Stone.

Pat Kearney's Big Stone
Pat Kearney’s Big Stone

Pete’s father, also Peter, carried out detailed research some years ago, along with his wife and established where their ancestors were from and he came across a photo of his great grandfather sitting on a ledge beside the big stone.

Petes’ brother Michael sitting alongside the Stone, recreating the photo of his Great Grandfather from 1850

The first member of the family to visit the Stone was Pete’s son, and our first cousin, Jason, who was sent on a mission by his Grandad to visit the Stone and take photos. Pete and members of his family subsequently visited the area some years back and completed walks from Kilbroney to the Stone thus honouring their ancestors and their home place. Pete just provided me with the following detail about the Kearney family of Goward and Pat Kearney’s Big Stone.

10 Responses to “Pat Kearney’s Big Stone”

  1. Peter Kearney

    Dear Turlough,
    On behalf of the Kearneys descended from Pat and Mary Kearney of Goward, in the Parish of Clonduff, County Down, thanks for your ‘pilgrimage within a pilgrimage’ to the Goward Dolmen, Pat Kearney’s Big Stone, our sacred site. Pilgrims are we all the the Irelands of the heart.
    Peter Kearney
    Mittagong, Australia.

    • Turlough

      Delighted to write about this in my Blog Pete which is principally about pilgrim routes, bike touring and Carlow!

  2. Laurence McPolin

    Great spot for a summers rest when sun is shining. Loved reading the extra detail around the stone and the various connected people, were all connected in some way 🙂

  3. Chris Degan

    Interesting. I’m descended from a Hugh Kearney, married Ellen Woods of an age with Patrick and Mary. Hugh’s grandson married a Mary McPolin born in Goward. Some sort of connection here if I can find it. Perhaps Patrick and Hugh were siblings.

      • Chris Degan

        Better yet…. Hugh and Ellen had a daughter Jane and her baptismal sponsor was Marianne Kearney, almost certainly Patrick and Mary’s daughter.
        And if you wouldn’t mind passing my email to Laurence McPolin above that would be great as the previously mentioned Mary McPolin’s father was also Laurence McPolin, so I’d be very surprised if there wasn’t a connection there.

      • Turlough

        I am cycling coast to coast this week but I will contact Pete on my return. I am sure he would be delighted to make contact.

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