In the Abbey cemetery on the road to Naas from Clane, just inside the ruins of the 13th century Franciscan Friary at the nearest approach, stands a seven foot high stone cross in the Celtic mode. It is in plain style but sharply executed and clearly inscribed. The quality, or even the fact that there is a stone, suggests a family of some means. The inscription reads as follows:-
IHS PRAY FOR THE SOUL OF MATTHEW DONNELLAN OF CLANE WHO DIED FEBRUARY 1837 AGED 73 YEARS ALSO HIS WIFE ESTHER DONNELLAN WHO DIED 25TH JULY 1837 AGED 79 YEARS ALSO THEIR SON THOMAS M. DONNELLAN WHO DIED 28TH SEPT. 1866 AGED 75 YEARS RIP
It appears that those who were active at a local level in the United Irishmen in 1798 and the years which led up to it continued to be active up until 1802. Michael Doorly was drilling four or five hundred men at Lullymore up to that year. Matthew Donnellan was a farmer from Clane and, with Doorly, drilled a contingent of Clane men at Lullymore a couple of nights a week. There were also contingents from Carlow and Offaly. Donnellan is said to have walked over and back from Clane to Lullymore.1
An earlier reference in the DUBLIN EVENING POST announced that on the 16th February 1798 a charity ball would be held at the County Kildare Merry Harrier Clubroom, Clane, under the patronage of Mrs. Bundette, Mrs. Fitzgerald, Mrs. Wolfe, Mrs. Esmond, Mrs. Griffith, Mrs. Browne and Mrs. Alymer who would provide supper. Subscriptions were distributed among the poor of the parishes inhabited by the patronesses. Tickets: gentlemen 11/4; ladies 5/5, from the patronesses or from Mr. Matthew Donnellan, Clane.2
Thomas Donnellan, presumably the son, is listed in the Valuation Survey of 1850 as occupier of four holdings with a total of 106 acres in Ballynaboley and 33 acres in Clane townsland. In addition, he himself was a lessor of seventeen properties, including 16 houses in the village, with 10 yards, 2 out-offices and 6 gardens.
When Theobald Wolfe Tone emigrated to America following the Jackson affair in 1796, he leased his house in Bodenstown to one Matthew Donnellan.
1(Information of James Nagle, 19th Dec. 1803, 29th Oct. 1803 in NAI, Reb. Papers 620/11/138/48, 620/50/27)
2(Co. Kildare Archaeological Society, Journal X, 154)
Reproduced from "Le Chéile" by kind permission