|Blessington History Society|
The aim of Blessington History Society is to promote an interest in the history and heritage of the local area, including an interest in family genealogy. This aim is achieved through specialist lectures and exhibitions and in addition, the members produce books, pamphlets and articles which are available from the society or from Blessington Bookstore and the Tourist Office. These include:
- Manor Kilbride
Graveyard Survey (Blessington History Society, 2009) by Janet Halligan
an index of the names of those commemorated on headstones, as well
as transcriptions of all the inscriptions. It explains some symbols
found on the headstones and a brief history of the site.
The society has always been concerned for the preservation
of the heritage of the local area. For example, in recent years the
society was associated
with the restoration of St Patrick’s well and the cleaning and
resetting of the granite stones around the Four-stone Tree, a longstanding
Individual members researching family histories have used facilities
such as National Library, National Archives, Valuation Office, Church
Representative Body and the Downshire Estate Papers in the Public Records
Office North Ireland (PRONI).
The society tries to forge links with other historical groups. In this context, a common link between three local history groups, Blessington, Edenderry and Lisburn, was found to be the Downshire family who were local landlords in the 19th century for all three areas. This link has resulted in reciprocal visits involving the three societies.
Similarly, the society is affiliated to:
• County Kildare Federation of Local History Groups:
the Blessington area has much in common, both geographically and historically
The Committee, which meets at regular intervals throughout the year, elected at AGM each February.
There are 25 full members, Lectures can have an attendance of up to 50.
Five lectures by visiting speakers are held during the year normally on the third Thursday of month in St Kevin’s Community Centre.
How to join:
A descendent of One of Earliest Settlers in Blessington Pays Us a Visit
Michael Cooper from Sydney Australia paid a brief visit to Blessington
and met two of our members, Kathy Trant and Janet Halligan. Michael
is researching his family history and particularly wished to obtain
a lead on Austin Cooper or his immediate descendents. Of great interest
to us was the fact that in the 1660s Austin Cooper, on the invitation
of Michael Boyle, the founder of Blessington, came to work on the
layout of the gardens attached to Blessington House. Austin Cooper
was born at Hampton Court where his father held a position under
Charles I and later he acquired property in Byfleet, Surrey, which
he sold for £1,500 before coming to Blessington when he was
about 40 years. He was married to a niece of Erasmus Smith, noted
for his endowment of schools for the education of his Irish tenants.
Austin Cooper had a family of seven boys, three of whom married and
had families. Joseph was keeper of Richmond Park in London, while
the other two acquired land in the Blessington area – Thomas
held land near Drogheda as well as in Aghfarrel near Manor Kilbride,
while Austin was based in Butterhill close to Blessington. The latter
married Susanna, daughter of Ephraim Rainsford, whose family had
a long association with the area and who operated the mill at Blessington
into the 18th century. Samuel Cooper a son of Austin and Susanna,
retained the land in Butterhill and had five daughters and three
sons. One of these, Joseph, settled in Barn Hall near Leixlip and
it is from this branch of the family that Michael Cooper, our recent
visitor to Blessington, is descended.
Annual General Meeting
The AGM of the Blessington History Society was held on 18 February 2010. Officers elected were; Della Kyne returned as Chair- person. Seamus Balfe, Vice-chair. Secretary, Kathy Trant stepped down as secretary and Maureen Phibbs replaces her. Treasurer; Janet Halligan was returned as treasurer with Crena McGee assistant treasurer. Committee. Beth Halligan, Valerie Hamilton, Tom Murphy, Jim Corley and Kathy Trant.
We hold our monthly talks on the third Thursday of each month except between June and September or during December. Two of our members have commenced transcribing baptisms, marriages and deaths from the early register of St.Mary’s Church of Ireland which is held in the Representative Church Body Library in Churchtown, Dublin.
Anniversary of the flooding of the Valley
The community of St Mary’s Church and Church of Our Lady are inviting people to take part in an “Act of Remembrance” on Saturday 19 June by retracing the steps of those who carried their loved ones, from the old cemetery by the lake, seventy years ago, to the present Burgage cemetery. Assemble in Burgage cemetery at 3pm.
Blessington History Society’s Summer outing will take place in late June/early July. Date and details to be finalised.
Saturday 10th July: Lakeside Heritage & Naas Historical Society. Heritage trail. Meet Blessington Square at 2.30pm.
Sunday 31st July: Mass at the Cillin, (‘the children’s graveyard’) Lacken. Blessing of the graves in Templeboden after Mass
21-29 August : National Heritage Week. Events countrywide.Heritage walk around Lacken - more details from Seamus Tel: 045-865504
15-17 October: ‘Back to the Past’. Genealogy/History event in the RDS.10am-6pm each day Friday to Sunday.
Admission €5 daily. More details at firstname.lastname@example.org
21 October October Talk. (To be arranged). Thursday 21 October at 8pm.
To contact Secretary; email email@example.com
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