Canadian visitors strike gold as Frank helps them unravel forgotten Kilkenny past

They visited Kilkenny from Canada for the first time, and managed to find their grandparents' burial place and an old family pub

Sam Matthews


Sam Matthews



Her mother emigrated to Vancouver, Canada from Ireland before WWII and did not return to Kilkenny or Ireland afterward

A lady from Canada had a visit to Kilkenny she will never forget recently, managing to unravel stories from her family’s past, with the help of local man Frank Kavanagh.

Bernadette, who is in her 80s and from Vancouver, was trying to trace some Kilkenny relatives with whom the family lost contact when the second World War broke out. Her mother emigrated to Canada aged 17 and married before the war. She was never to return to Kilkenny or Ireland.

An email enquiry to the Kilkenny Tourist Office was passed along to Maura Hickey, who reckoned Frank Kavanagh might be able to help Bernadette out. Frank agreed, and quickly managed to turn up some interesting finds, including her grandparents’ burial place in the cemetery in Kilmoganny.

Frank also contacted the Kilkenny People, to see if any readers out there could help. He received two replies as a result. A lady in Hugginstown, who now owns the old family farm, got in touch to tell Frank exactly where the family were born.

Bernadette then arrived for the first time in Kilkenny last month, in time for the anniversary of her late mother’s birthday.

She stayed with her husband in the Pembroke Hotel, where Frank picked them up in the morning and helped them track down the old home place in Lismateigue, Hugginstown. Better still, they found Cleary's Pub in Hugginstown, which was once owned by their grandmother.

Frank took them out exploring the area, travelling around the places Berndatte’s mother had spoken of when she was a child. She was absolutely thrilled with the help they received, with Bernadette describing Frank as ‘a wonderful man’, and Kilkenny as ‘the best’.

“Your County Kilkenny is beautiful!”she said.