26 August 2017

Speaking at the Irish Palatine
Conference in Heritage Week

The Irish Palatine Centre and Museum are housed in the old railway station in Rathkeale, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

The Irish Palatine Weekend is taking place this weekend in Rathkeale, and is one of the many events organised in affiliation with this year’s Heritage Week, and I am speaking at the conference later this morning.

The conference is being hosted by the Irish Palatine Association. It began last night [25 August 2017] and continues until Monday [28 August 2017].

I have been invited to deliver this morning’s lecture in the Rathkeale House Hotel at 10 a.m. I am speaking on ‘Sir Thomas Southwell (1665-1720), 1st Baron Southwell of Castle Mattress, in Co Limerick: the first protector of the Palatines and his family.’

In 1709, several hundred families of German origin settled in Ireland. Known as the Palatines, they established roots mainly in counties Limerick, Kerry, Tipperary and Wexford. From there, they emigrated to many parts of the English-speaking world including Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand and the US.

The conference opened last night with an illustrated talk by Padraig O’Concubhair, ‘The Poor Palatines – or the Crowd of Blackguards!’ – Palatine Migrations in the 18th Century.’

Padraig O’Concubhair is a retired National School principal teacher from Ballylongford, Co Kerry. He is the author of several books on local history, including A Remote Outpost – The story of the Methodist Society in Tarbert, Co Kerry and St Brendan’s Church of Ireland Tarbert 1814-2014 – 200 years of change.

The second paper this morning is by Dr Milo Spillane on ‘John Wesley and Adare.’

Milo Spillane is a retired secondary teacher. He was born in Co Mayo, and has lived in Co Limerick for most of his life, in Adare for a number of years and now in Croom. He has a keen interest in local history, and received his PhD from the University of Limerick in 2003 for his study of the life and times of the 4th Earl of Dunraven (1841-1926).

After a light lunch at the Rathkeale House Hotel, there is an afternoon tour of east Limerick where a secondary colony of Palatines from Rathkeale settled on the Castle Oliver estate. Highlights associated with the Irish Palatine story include be Margaret Alton’s cottage and the Church of Ireland church in Kilflynn. The tour also plans to visit the stone circle at Lough Gur, one of Ireland’s most important archaeological sites.

Later this evening, the conference dinner is at the Old Bake House in Bruff.

The Palatine Museum at the Old Railway Buildings, Rathkeale, is open tomorrow morning [Sunday 27 August 2017]. This is an opportunity to view and hear the stories behind the exhibits in the museum and explore the books in the library.

Later in the morning, the conference delegates have been invited to take part in the Parish Eucharist in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, at 11.30 a.m., when I am presiding and preaching.

The Church of Ireland Community in Rathkeale has had an association with the Irish Palatine settlements since their arrival in 1709, and coffee/tea and sandwiches are being provided in the schoolhouse after the service.

Later tomorrow afternoon, there is a bus tour of the parent Palatine colonies in Courtmatrix, Killeheen and Ballingrane.

On Monday [28 August], there is an organised visit to Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum. Foynes was the centre of the aviation world during the flying boat era of the 1930s and 1940s.

The conference is open to members of the Irish Palatine Association and friends. The full programme including accommodation costs €411 (sharing), €462 (single) and €280 (without accommodation). Lectures only are free to attend, but a donation would be appreciated.

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