Love, Betrayal and Murder in Kilflynn – Anyone Know Jeremiah Finaghty?

Michael O'Donohoe Memorial Heritage Project Film 21-7-2015
Project manager, Janet Murphy at work on the collection in the Michael O’Donohoe Memorial Heritage Project. ©Photograph: John Reidy

One of the many items in the Castleisland based Michael O’Donohoe Memorial Archive is the following on a Jeremiah Finaghty, Kilflynn c1871-1920.

The project archivist, Janet Murphy is putting out an appeal for more information on the man and she’s also wondering if there’s a photograph of him available in anyone’s album anywhere.

Born c1871 in Kilflynn

Jeremiah Finaghty was born c1871 in Cappa, or Cappagh, Kilflynn, son of Edmond Finaghty, a farmer, and his wife Margaret.

His younger brothers were John and Edmond and his sisters Mary and Hannah.

In 1886, Jeremiah was a monitor at Kilflynn National School and following his examinations in that year, received a Reid Bequest of £18.3

He later attended Drumcondra Training College, c1896-97, following which he returned to Kilflynn to teach.

Principal of Kilflynn NS

He was appointed principal of Kilflynn National School in 1897.

Jeremiah had a great interest in the history and folklore of his area which he began recording in verse and story.

His literature began appearing in print in the closing decade of the nineteenth century, sometimes under the penname, Diarmuid Mac Finn.

In 1894, he composed an elegy on the death of Rev Thomas Hugh Brosnan of Dromulton, Currow, parish priest of Abbeydorney and Kilflynn for twenty-five years.

Rev Brosnan was affectionately known as ‘Father Tom’, and best remembered as mediator between landlord and tenant in troubled times.

Jeremiah’s poetic tributes, such as that paid to the memory of Mrs. James King, Stacksmountain, recorded the life and times of the district.

Bridge of Athlone

He contributed to local newspapers and in 1903 – the same year in which his poem, Bridge of Athlone was regarded as ‘one of the most popular recitations at the present’ – he published a book of stories and poems entitled Kerry Diamonds, Found, Cut, and Set.

The content was described as ‘founded on fact’; the scenes of the stories laid ‘in dear North Kerry’. It included a tale of 1798 and one from the times of the Great Famine in Kilmoyley which involved love, betrayal and murder.

Finaghty admitted that he had not the means of ‘commanding the lithographic art’ to give his book ‘an attractive, pictorial dress’ but reckoned that ‘a Kerryman ought prefer the native garb, however homely, to the foreign costume of tinsel and tawdriness’.

Affairs of His Ccommunity

Jeremiah was ensconced in the affairs of his community. He was secretary of the Kilflynn Bee-Keepers’ Society in 1902 and a few years later, was secretary of Kilflynn Co-operative Dairy Society.

He was a fluent Irish speaker and attended the inaugural meeting of the Kilflynn GAA on New Year’s Day 1903, following which he made ‘an energetic start’ on teaching Irish in Kilflynn National School.

Fourth in Ireland

An illustration of Jeremiah’s teaching ability was recorded in 1903 when Mr J P McCormack obtained fourth place in Ireland – and the first in Cork – in the Boy Copyists Examination.

McCormack received his education under Jeremiah Finaghty to whom his success was attributed.

Jeremiah Finaghty suffered a brief illness and died at St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, on March 1st 1920. He was laid to rest in the family burial place at Abbeydorney.

The Michael O’Donohoe Memorial Heritage Project can be accessed with a click on the link here:


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