by jdurney on November 1, 2013

The Descendents of a Rebel.
The story of the Doyle family of Teelough, Carbury, Co. Kildare

by Jim O’Callaghan.

Among the Wexford men who fled north after Vinegar Hill in 1798 were a young couple of brothers named Doyle. They had to be on the lookout for the pursuing yeomen who were showing no mercy. On one occasion when they were spotted by their enemies, they fled into the middle of a field of potatoes and lay down under the luxuriant foliage then in full growth.
Twice the yeomen passed by the rebels who lay perfectly still. However, one brother was killed but the other managed to escape. His position was critical and having reached a wild area at Aughamore, near Kinnegad, he decided to risk calling at a house hoping to find food and shelter.
Young James Doyle was lucky. A family called White received him well and he laid aside his pike and stayed there. His hosts were small farmers and what the struck the visitor was that they did not seem to have some farming skills that were common in his native Wexford. He soon started to show them how they might use different techniques to grow better crops and breed better animals.
In time, the young rebel became a member of the family that sheltered him by marrying the daughter of the White household. They had at least three sons, two of whom died in the 1840’s and are buried at Hardwood Cemetery near Kinnegad.
About 1850, a son of the ’98 insurgent named Peter Doyle took a lease of a farm at Cloncrave near Kinnegad and there later married a Miss Dixon of Clonard. Much of the land needed reclamation and Peter Doyle carried out this using mainly hand implements. He became the father of three boys and one girl. One son went to America, another son Richard settled near Trim where his descendents still survive, while the third son, William, stayed to help his father on the farm.
This son William married a Miss Ellen Glennon in 1894, a sister of Fr. Glennon who had been educated at All Hallows College and who then travelled to St. Louis, Missouri to minister there.
William and Ellen became the parents of no fewer than eleven children, two of whom died young from ailments that are now cured easily. William was a thrifty and imaginative farmer. As well as having cattle, sheep and pigs, he kept about ten hives of bees and was very successful at managing them. He found the bees very profitable and each year he took the honey to Bewley’s in Dublin. In exchange he took all sorts of provisions and returned home with chests of tea, bags of sugar, together with such necessities as soap, candles, currants and raisins.
After the time of the First World War, the nine Doyle children, four boys and five girls, were being prepared for their future roles in life with the assistance of their mother, Ellen. Jim was at Dalgan Park being educated to be a Columban Priest, Peter was at Maynooth, Bill was at secondary school and Jack was being trained as a ship’s radio engineer (was to spend much of his life crossing to and fro on the Atlantic on the Queen Mary).
Kathleen (later Sr. Mary Loyola) was determined to be a nun, while Josephine (my Mother) was soon to become a governess to Paul Cocteau, brother of the famous Jean Cocteau, writer and artist in Paris. Mary was to become the proprietor of a hotel in Dun Laoghaire; Bridget had been to school in England and later became a teacher, but sadly died in 1929. Nell remained on the farm helping her over-worked mother and father.
Unfortunately, the father, William Doyle hurt his knee and after a long painful illness, died in 1919. Young Bill was taken from secondary school and brought home to take the place of his father on the farm. He remembered being thrown in at the deep end. After a neighbour took him to a field, with his plough and a pair of horses. He showed him how to mark out the headlands and raised for him a "middle" in the field. Showing him where to open the other "middles," he left the youngster to his own devices. Surprisingly, the novice did not remember meeting any problem on the farm afterwards that he could not overcome.
In 1921 Mrs. Doyle decided to leave her home in Cloncrave and move to a better farm in the Carbury area. She bought a farm of 80 acres of good land at Windmill Hill, Carbury, from the Mathers family. The dwelling house called "Teelough" had been built about 1800, and had attached long low buildings suitable for housing either cows or dry cattle. Young Bill started work on the new farm and kept cows and reared calves. He also had 50 ewes and fed store sheep over the winter time. He grew crops of oats and roots, and saved about 25 acres of hay each year. He usually at this period employed 2 or 3 men at a wage of 10/- per week.
In 1929, he purchased 60 acres on nearby Carrick Hill. He also bought a small threshing mill, powered by an engine at an auction of the family of Palmers of Rahan. It was probably one of the first threshing mills in the area and it had spikes on the drum rather than beater blades that had been used for the previous century.
In 1930, Bill Doyle rigged up a device using a Crossley Paraffin engine to drive a dynamo that supplied Teelough with electricity long before the surrounding area got a power supply. However, the 1930’s were to bring the Doyle family a series of setbacks.
The primary source of income collapsed because of the impact of the economic war on the cattle trade. Bill Doyle remembers standing long hours in Edenderry and eventually having to sell good quality two-year-old Hereford Bullocks for £5 each. With one avenue closed, he began to explore the possibilities of new ones.
In 1932 he erected a glasshouse as a lean-to alongside his large cattle sheds. Here he started to grow tomatoes and found a good market for them locally and in Edenderry. As the Eucharistic Congress neared, he thought of supplying the multitudes that were expected to attend the Congress.
He decided to grow potatoes for the hungry visitors. He purchased a few tons of seed, Epicures and British Queens, and put them in sprouting boxes. He sowed the crop in early April, but they did not mature until the end of June, thus missing the Congress by about a week, because of the cold clay soil of the area which did not favour the early potatoes.
He then decided to try his luck in selling them on the Dublin market. High standards were required, which meant they had to be dug for no longer than 24 hours before being offered for sale. So Bill Doyle employed men to start to dig the potatoes at about six o’clock in the evening. They worked until dark and returned at dawn and had two tons of potatoes ready to go by lorry at 6 o’clock in the morning. The cost of transport was 16 shillings per load and the price of the potatoes was 4 shillings per cwt.
Unfortunately, Bill contracted T.B. and was given little chance of survival. However, he was persuaded by his sister, Josephine, to go to Leysin in Switzerland for his health. He was pleasantly surprised by the conditions he found there. It was 5,000 ft. above sea level and although the winter snow lay several feet deep, the air temperature when the sun arose was as high as it would be in Ireland on a summer’s day. After a year there, the doctors operated, but regretfully informed him that the operation was not successful. He returned to Teelough for a year and then went to Switzerland again – this time for a very high risk operation – which luckily was extremely successful.
Back in Carbury at the start of WWII, the clergy preached sermons stating that those who did not grow their own food would surely starve. Suddenly, everyone wanted seeds and plants and Bill had produced an abundance of tomato plants. He advertised these and was flooded with orders from all over Ireland, being complimented by the horticultural instructor on the excellence of the plants.
Whatever hardships Bill suffered as a result of the war, they were small when compared to those suffered by his brother Jim, the Columban Father.


At the outbreak of the War, Father Doyle was a Missionary in Korea. Soon he was rounded up and put under house arrest. He found himself sharing a small house with nine other missionaries and was confined there until the end of the war. They suffered considerably.
The Japanese guards usually gave them a quantity of food that was supposed to last them ten days, but no matter what economics that they practiced, the food did not last more than five days. They were on starvation diet. To add insult to injury, one of the Japanese captors would regularly visit them, politely enquire if they needed anything and took careful particulars of their wants. He invariably told them that the deficiencies would be speedily remedied, but of course nothing happened.
Thus, the years dragged on slowly with no news reaching the captives of the outside world. Two of the missionaries died and two others were very near death when the Japanese finally surrendered to the Americans. Jim Doyle was given clothes and provisions by the generous Americans and he interpreted in negotiations at the surrender of the local units of the Japanese Army in Korea.
It was at this time that he met Fr. White, a chaplain in the American Army who was distantly descended from the family who had sheltered his rebel ancestor from Wexford and who was thus his relative.


Meanwhile, in America, Fr. John Glennon, brother of Ellen Doyle of Teelough, who had been sent from Ireland to the diocese of St. Louis at the start of the century, had been rising rapidly there in the ranks of the clergy. He became the youngest Archbishop ever in the U.S. and was one of the best orators of his era and also a great fund-raiser, getting the magnificent St. Louis Cathedral built.
During his lifetime, he often returned to Ireland to visit his brothers and sisters, and of course to see his sister Ellen at Teelough and to sit up late at night swapping stories of his family’s history.
Eventually, in 1946 at the age of 84 years, he was appointed a Cardinal and this caused great rejoicing in Ireland and he visited all his relations on his way to Rome to receive the "Red Hat".
Only a short time previously, his nephew Peter Doyle, brother of Bill, had been appointed Parish Priest of Johnstown near Navan. He was a great traveller and wrote fascinating accounts of his journeys around Europe and the U.S.A. On one of his crossings of the Atlantic, he addressed the emigrants with a very moving speech and also christened a baby who was born on board.
Peter Doyle had also compiled a well-researched family tree when he was young and put it in a bottle in a wall at the family home of Cloncrave, Kinnegad. To this day it has not come to light, but this item would be very highly treasured by this writer if it is found.
Although he was not then in good health, Peter Doyle decided to accompany his illustrious old uncle to the ceremonies in Rome. When Cardinal John Glennon arrived back in Ireland on his way from Rome to America, he was very ill and feeble, as was his nephew Peter. The latter was brought to a Dublin hospital where he was visited by his relatives from Carbury. They found him on the point of death and decided afterwards to go to Áras an Uactarán where the Cardinal was also extremely ill. They found him unconscious. He died the following morning, aged 84, and Peter Doyle died two days later, aged 49. The Cardinal was buried in St. Louis, U.S.A.
He had a brother, William, who also lived in St. Louis and was a renowned surgeon who performed over 40,000 operations in his lifetime. People in St. Louis used to say William would look after their bodies, and Cardinal John after their souls!
Mrs. Ellen Doyle, the Cardinal’s sister, had lived at Teelough from 1921 until her death in 1952. She was 84 and her husband had died in 1919. She had bravely battled through many a crisis, rearing all her children by herself, many of whom had very serious illnesses during their lives.
Bill Doyle, her son, continued to farm Teelough until the mid-seventies. As well as his farming expertise, he was a gardener par excellence. Many will remember his wonderful garden, bursting with exotic fruits such as grapes, peaches, apricots and even oranges. Visitors always left after a visit, laden down with ripe fruit and colourful flowers.
His sister Nell ran the house for many years. Teelough was a lovely old house, set well back from the main road, with a tall avenue of beech trees leading up to the house. The splendid gardens had to be seen to be believed and must have been among the best in the country. Nell always had a good-humoured welcome for all guests from near or far and in no time the cup of tea was ready for the visitors. She was the last of the family to leave Teelough. She lived in Edenderry then up to the time of her death.
The last of the nine children to die was Sr. Mary Loyola, who went to her maker earlier this year. She was in her 90’s and had lived a long life of hard work as a teacher who was always good-humoured. She suffered enormously because of ill-health, but never lost her love of nature or her skill as an artist, especially in the field of illuminated manuscripts. She was a member of the Sainte Union Nuns, and worked at Killashee (near Naas), Banagher and Athlone.
So, the nine Doyle children have all lived their very different lives and passed on to the next life. They encountered and overcame more troubles than one would usually find in an ordinary family and they met it all with good-humour and tolerance.

Jim O’Callaghan is the son of Josephine Doyle and the only off-spring of the Doyle family. He is married and has three children and lives in Dublin.

The story of the Doyle family of Teelough, Carbury, Co. Kildare. Among the Wexford men who fled north after Vinegar Hill in 1798 were a young couple of brothers named Doyle. Our thanks to Jim O’Callaghan

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