Keane of Kilnamona

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Johnnie Matthew

The Keane family farm, Ballyashea, was passed on to John known locally as Johnie Matthew and referred to as John Junior in the 1901 census. John was born in July 1852 and was married twice.  The first marriage in 1890 was to Susan McMahon from Dysart but she died in May 1891 at the birth of her first child, Matt. Ten months later (21 February, 1892) he married Margaret Morgan (widowed Mrs Quinn, no children), born 18621,2, of Knocknagraga, Ennistymon. They had 6 sons and 3 daughters.

While both Johnie Matthew and Margaret knew Irish they did not speak it. Their youngest son, Brother Thomas, remembers that Johnnie Matthew wore a nice trimmed beard and was skilled at killing pigs. He loved to play cards - 'the auld game of nap' - with his neighbours who appeared to have 'a poor view of the state of the country because of the high rates'!

Brother Thomas also remembers the American wakes in 1914 and 1915 when sons and daughters emigrated to the United States (see Ellis Island extracts). The dance lasted until daybreak when they set off for Ennis station to take the train to Queenstown (now Cobh), County Cork to catch the ocean liner to New York.  What worried Thomas (who was only 6/7 years at the time) most was not the parting with his brothers and sisters, but to see his mother crying all day, unlikely to ever see them again.

Margaret died in 1920 aged 61 (but see under Mongan below), and Johnnie Matthew died in July 1930 aged 77 years.

The following were their family:
Matt:-   Matt was born 3 May 1891 to John's first wife, Susan (nee McMahon). 
See more on Matt's family.

There were nine children born to Margaret (nee Morgan):

  1. Delia:-      6 December 1892, emigrated to USA and married Bill Carey, of Kilmurrymcmahon, Co Clare.

  2. Pat:-        6 April 1894, after playing a senior role as a Volunteer in the Old IRA and  independence movement; married locally to Bridget O'Dea of Ahasla, and later lived at Ballymongaun, Kilnamona (see more on Pat).               

  3. Mary:-    born 13 May 1895, married locally to Johnsie Brody, Caherbannagh, Kilnamona.

  4. Micho:-    born 2 October 1896, died of TB in USA about 1950? Married he had four in family and lived in the mid-west of the US (Cook, Chicago??). 

  5. Greta:-   born 31 March 1898, to USA; married Bill Hegarty also late of Kilnamona. They had 3 surviving in family and lived in New Jersey. (see more on Greta).

  6. Andrew:- born 6 March 1900, after a year in the USA in 1921, he returned to the home farm in Ballyashea within one year.

       Visit here for the 1901 census details of family up to then:- 

    7. Martin:-   born 28 October 1902, unmarried, died of TB in USA about 1949!.

    8.  John:-     born 10 May 1905 and emigrated to USA. He was a labourer and married to

                            a girl from Galway. They had no family. He paid a return visit to Ireland in

                            the mid-60's and died in the late 60's or early 70's.

    9.  Thomas:- born 20 July 1908, joined Irish Christian Brothers and died on
                         November5th, 1989. 
   See more on Brother Thomas

keanebros1martin -

Six Keane brothers during the 'Americans' visit to Ireland in 1927. Left to right, back row:- Andrew, Brother Thomas and John (US).  Front row Matt (US) and Pat, and shown separately Martin (US)(similar year).


Left: The Keane Sisters Gretta, Delia and Mary with Brother Thomas about 1958;
Micko and wife Loretta with daughter in 1930's. Micho's daughter in turn was married with surname de Roche and they had a least two children, Dorothy and Paul



  1. Margaret Quinn (nee Morgan), was without issue and being widowed within a year of her marriage, was under pressure by the Quinn family to vacate her late husband's farm (Keane family lore), acceding perhaps after some inducements to an arranged marriage to John! 

  2. Some uncertainty surrounds Margaret's age: Being widowed within twelve months of (her first) marriage she was probably in her mid-to-late twenties by 1891. This would make her age as 37 or 38 yrs in 1901, which agrees well with the 1901 census where her age is given as 38 years (thus born as 1862/3). In the 1911 Census, however, her age is given as 52 yrs suggesting 1859 as year of birth; Morgan's genealogy gives 1854 as the year of her birth; Keane family lore has it that she was 57 yrs when she died in 1920 again suggesting 1863. Finally considering Brother Thomas birth in 1908 - Margaret's last child - the 1901 census suggests her age then (1908) was 45 yrs, 49 yrs (per 1911), 52 yrs (per Morgan genealogy), and 45 yrs (per Keane family lore). The lower age of 45 yrs seems the more likely pointing to 1862/3 as year of her birth!



updated November 5, 2015