Mom and the Girls' Trip to Ireland - 2016

Beyond the Pale


Sister DeLourdes Fahy

Sister DeLourdes Fahy

Sister DeLourdes

Finding Sister DeLourdes was truly a stroke of luck! My connecting with her came about as a result of a letter written in 1911 by Agnes Swift and preserved and passed along to me by my cousin, Sister Joan Bailey.

After an email inquiry confirmed that she and I were both interested in learning more about the Swift families of Kiltartan, we spent months exchanging email messages as I planned this trip. She pored over the copy of Aunt Martina's memoirs that I sent her, and she translated it in terms of places on the map of Kiltartan and families whose connection to mine were only a brief mention in an old letter.

Because of her vast knowledge of history, Sister DeLourdes opened a window in the dark room of my understanding about the family connections. Suddenly, the names in old letters started to have meaning and relationship to one another! It was more than I could have imagined -- that I could someday go to Ballylee and know with greater certainty the roads my great-grandfather and his siblings had walked!

Mary de Lourdes Fahy a member of the Mercy order, in Gort. A graduate of University College Galway (now known as National University of Ireland Galway), she is a retired teacher and school principal, a published author, and a well-known local historian. (As her friend Mattie Farrell put it, "We'll be in trouble when we lose her. We won't know anything!")

Among her publications are Education in the Diocese of Kilmacduagh in the Nineteenth Century (1972) based on her M.A.thesis; Kiltartan: Many Leaves, One Root (2004), a detailed history of her native Parish of Kiltartan; and Near Quiet Waters (2007), a history of the Sisters of Mercy in Gort and branch houses in Clare and California. She supervises the Kiltartan Gregory Museum in the school house built by Sir William Gregory, where she was herself a pupil. And she volunteers with the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society.

Because of Sister DeLourdes, I found others who are working on the family tree. I reconnected with Ralph Roesler, who has preserved an invaluable archive of work done by Sister Joan. And I've founded other cousins whose ancestors emigrated from Ballylee with support of passage money sent by my great-grandfather, John C. Swift.

If all this were not enough, Sister DeLourdes made time to guide us around the many places in Kiltartan which are connected to our family history and introduced us to cousins we had never met. This made our trip more special and memorable than I can describe. We are deeply grateful to her.

Molly, Annis, Sara, Sister and Roberta in Coole Park

From left: Molly Daniel, Annis Householder, Sara Burrus, Sister DeLourdes
and Roberta Clark, in Coole Park. (Not shown: Martha Clark.)

Some of the Many Ways Sister DeLourdes Has Shared Her Knowledge

She contributed to the RTE documentary about icons of the Celtic Revival.
Episode 1 of this series, “Fire in the Blood,” tells about Lady Augusta Gregory. This episode can be online for a limited time at this link:

She's volunteered her time with Ireland Reaching Out. See the New York Times article about this initiative and its relation to the Irish Diaspora:

She volunteers her time to maintain Thoor Ballylee. See the New York Times article about (the 2015) restoration:

She's is a knowledgeable source of information about W. B. Yeats and was interviewed on NPR:

Other stuff and 2023 trip

This page was last edited on 09-Apr-2023

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