Mary Carleton Reynolds, Margaret Farrell, Gerard Brennan, Sheila O’Donnell, Eilish Feeley Maeve Killian
28th May 2023
The Killian Homeplace Team
On March 19th, 2023, the gathering at The Killian Homeplace celebrated the 25th anniversary of the founding of The Killian Homeplace and at the same time TKH Family History Centre became a reality.
There is something about The Killian Homeplace that continues to confirm that the spirits of our ancestors are alive and well in Fermoyle. It is an honour to have been chosen by the Irish Family History Foundation Centre as the official home of the County Longford Genealogy Centre. Our team is poised and ready to accept the challenge of outreach to the community in addition to responding to the questions of those seeking to find their place of origin.
It became clear after the pandemic that The Killian Homeplace needed to find a new purpose that could reach a broader range of the diaspora including the Notre Dame family and friends who are so important to us. The idea of setting up a genealogy enter was an organic evolution and a much more sustainable use of The Killian Homeplace.
The Killian Homeplace in Fermoyle is a working farm under the stewardship of the Patrick Brennan family of Newtowncashel. The rolling fields that encompass 60 acres of fertile land has been worked by the Killian family since the 1700’s. Pat Brennan, grandson of Kate Killian born there in 1859, his wife, Margaret, and their sons Shane, Eoin and Gerard take great pride in preserving the legacy of our Killian ancestors and sharing it with those seeking to find their own place of origin.
There are decades of genealogical research accomplishments among the members of the team. They are ready to bring the nuts and bolts of genealogy to the next level. In family history research, it is critical to cross the t’s and dot the i’s, but it is just as important to get the stories, learn how our ancestors lived, listen to the hopes and dreams of people longing to find their roots, to see the place where their ancestors were born and buried and maybe even meet a distant relative.
Joan Killian Gallagher and her family have donated the use of The Killian Homeplace to enable the educational and cultural exchange between the local community and the diaspora. Workshops are planned for 2024 to teach students the way to capture the stories shared by their elders and preserve them for future generations. The homeplace is a perfect venue to start the journey of recording your family tree and paying tribute to the ancestors that have sacrificed so much to give us all a better life.
JOAN KILLIAN GALLAGHER
Founder and Chairman
Joan Killian Gallagher is the determined woman that brought the dream of The Killian Homeplace to life. When no one else saw the value in the derelict properties, she knew in her heart that they held the treasure of her family’s legacy. She graduated from The American University in Washington DC with a BA in Journalism. In 1978, she founded Warden Brooks, Ltd in New York, which is still going strong under the direction of her daughter, Caroline. She was honoured last year with the prestigious 2022 Enterprising Women Legacy Award, and in March of 2023 she founded The Killian Homeplace Family History Centre. She is on the Board of Directors of the Middlesex Genealogy Society in Darien, Connecticut. In the true spirit of the mission of the Family History Centre, Joan will spearhead the efforts in the US to trace the lineage of both Irish and Americans hoping to find their ancestors and learn about their lives and time. Their stories will be recorded and preserved for generations to come. Like all things that have happened in the journey of creating TKH, the Family History Centre has sprung to life with a wonderful group of kindred spirits dedicated to sharing their talents in guiding those seekers of family history.
Longford born Eilish Neary Feeley is a professionally qualified genealogist based in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. She lives in Co. Roscommon with her husband and four children. She has over twenty years’ experience in the field of Irish heritage and history. She holds a Certificate in Genealogy and a first-class honours Master of Arts in History of Family from the University of Limerick. Eilish is also an affiliate of Accredited Genealogists Ireland. Eilish is the force of nature that is propelling The Killian Homeplace to the next level. Her many years of experience, coupled with her energy and enthusiasm, has brought the many facets of the organizing together in a seamless way.
Fermoyle native Maeve Killian retired in November 2022 after 21 years of serving as an accountant for the Longford County Council. She is also a newlywed, having married Pat Gleeson earlier this year. As treasurer, she will be responsible for the business end of our new venture. She lives just across the road from The Killian Homeplace which is very handy indeed. Maeve received a Bachelor of Commerce degree with honours from National University of Ireland, Galway, Higher Diploma in Education and is a Fellow of the Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA).
Margaret is the former principal of Scoil Mhuire in Longford. Having received her BA from NUI Galway, and Masters Degree in Mathematics from NUI Maynooth and Tubingen in Germany, she is our secret weapon in navigating the difficult combination of same surname confusion and scarcity of written records for some of parishes in Longford. Her interest in family history was fueled by her wish to honor her late brother’s memory by finishing the research he had begun. Her training as a Math teacher has helped her to put together all the pieces of the jigsaw. As she walks the byroads of Newtowncashel, she said that she can almost feel the presence of her ancestors beside her. It is this love of family heritage that all the team members have in common.
For as long as she can recall, Sheila has had a love of genealogy and family history. Raised in County Westmeath with her identical twin sister, her ancestral lines connect to counties Leitrim, Roscommon, and Longford. It was through this love of genealogy that Sheila first met Joan and learned of The Killian Homeplace. Both of her maternal grandparents had deep ancestral roots in the Fermoyle area. Her grandmother, Bridie Rhatigan, was born just across the field on a neighboring farm. Like all passionate family historians, she loved the thrill of knocking down those brick walls, but it was the joy of connecting others to their ancestral homeplace and to their extended family that brought her the greatest satisfaction. Sheila is a graduate of Trinity College. Upon graduation, her love for genealogy led her to ancestry.com, where she worked as an Ancestry Pro Genealogist for eight years. Specializing in Irish immigration research, she combined documentary research with DNA analysis to help others determine their ancestor’s place of origin in Ireland.
Researcher and Operations Manager
Born in the neighboring townland of Newtowncashel, Gerard is the great grandson of the youngest child of Anne Furey and Luke Killian. Kate Killian was born at The Killian Homeplace in 1859. She wed Patrick Brennan of Ballyleague, County Roscommon. Both Patrick and Kate died young, leaving their children to be raised by aunts and uncles in Rathcline. The Brennan family are the trusted stewards of the ancestral lands, ensuring that the property continues to be farmed by Killian descendants, as it has been for hundreds of years. From the young age, Gerard exhibited a keen interest in genealogy and family history. His dedication has only increased through the years as he completes his education at TUS in Athlone. He will receive an honours degree in Psychiatric Nursing this year. Gerard learned from fellow researcher Margaret Farrell that his great, great, great grandfather, Mickey Shea, met his unfortunate demise smuggling Poteen across the River Shannon from Inchenagh. He was shot dead by the Revenue Police to the horror of his brother who was with him. That adds a bit of intrigue to his family tree!
CAROLINE KILLIAN LYNN
Director of Social Media
Every bone in my body is Irish” Caroline wrote in her primary school essay after her first trip to Ireland in August 1997. Daughter of Joan Killian Gallagher, she is a graduate of St. Mary’s College, South Bend, Indiana, the sister school of Notre Dame. She spent summers in Ireland enjoying the freedom and joy of being with her cousins on the Martin farm in rural Ireland. She has been steeped in family history and genealogy from a very young age. Caroline married Mayo native, Brian Lynn at St. Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina in 2016. They met during her year abroad studying at Maynooth in County Kildare. They live in Fairfield Connecticut with their three young children, Keira, Thomas, and Rory. They are very active in the Gaelic American Club, playing and coaching Irish football. She is honoured and proud to be a very important part of the journey of The Killian Homeplace