A LETTER to the Kilkenny People from a woman living in Kilkenny, Le Seuer County Minnesota, USA bore fruit when the Shortalls from there met their cousin, Michael Shortall, formerly of Kilkenny County Council at Rothe House and later went to the original family homestead, 1000 feet above sea level. Mary Flood of the very successful Kilkenny Kilkenny Family History, based at Rothe House takes up the story:
“Mary Shortfall’s great great grandfather was Patrick Shortfall who originated from Coolagh, Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny. He emigrated to the US with his brothers, settled in what became the Kilkenny township of Minnesota. He married Mary Tierney also from Kilkenny. His brother Martin was the only male of the family to remain in Ireland and worked the family farm at Courleigh. Thus Mary and her family are connected with John Shortall and his family who moved out of the parish to Graignamanagh some years ago. Their sister Mary Shortall married Pat Dawson and it is through this marriage that the family are connected with Michael Shortall and his family from Kellymount.
Mary contacted the Kilkenny People newspaper some years ago who featured her request for information on Shortalls who settled Kilkenny in Le Seuer County, Minnesota. John Shortall and his wife May replied to this letter but sadly it never reached Mary. The Shortall and Walsh families were pioneers in this land later settled by the influence of Bishop John Ireland whose origins were also Kilkenny.
Mary and her husband Kenneth visited Kilkenny last October, arriving in Paulstown to search the old cemetery for Shortall tombstones. They not only located the family grave but found it had fresh blooms therefore they immediately knew there had to be descendants within reach. Cleverly Mary left a note of her email and postal address at this grave and went searching for the Parish Auction which was advertised on the same day in the hope that they might find the parish priest there. He was but they did not find the venue. However, undaunted they visited Rothe House on the Monday afternoon to further query their Shortall ancestors from Courleigh. With the help of the rootsireland database it was possible to identify not Mary’s grandfather Patrick but the baptism of her cousin John’s great great grandfather Martin Shortall based on the information from the Paulstown tombstone. It was thus possible to document the family using this source as well as land valuation and civil records of birth, marriage and death.
Mary and her siblings, their spouses returned to Kilkenny last week where they were met at Rothe House and enjoyed the afternoon. They spent Saturday morning visiting various attractions around Kilkenny city but the highlight of their visit was to Paulstown where they met their cousins. Following a visit to the grave of their forefathers they were taken on a personal tour of the family homestead and related houses in the upper reaches of the parish. Courleigh or cor lia meaning a grey hill sits over 1,000 feet above sea level. From here there are wonderful views of the countryside and on a clear day one can see far distant parts of most south eastern counties. The visitors next visited Duiske Abbey in Graignamanagh before enjoying a wonderful evening hosted by their relatives John and May Shortall and their family. Stories were exchanged and photographs of both families viewed.
Sunday was the final day of their short visit and they travelled out to see Clara Castle, worshipped in St. Canice’s Church, the church in Kilkenny, Minnesota is also named St. Canice! They have gone to visit Cobh, Co. Cork from where so many Irish left to sail to the new world, leaving the old world and their antecedents. But they were usually accompanied by family, kin, and like in Ireland they brought their values of faith, hope and tenacity working hard and helping each other to succeed in their new settings.”
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