The Avondhu - By The Fireside
Jeremiah Twomey was born in Kilcor, Castlelyons probably in 1854. He was the second child of John Twomey and Elizabeth O’Shea (of the Ballyogoha clan). His sister Mary was born in 1850.
In a letter written in 1890, Jeremiah Twomey mentions the ‘holding at Kilcor that my great-grandfather and grand-uncle held at the yearly rent of £12 13s 6d’ - these were probably his O’Shea relations, because in another letter he claimed ‘my progenitors (ancestors) have been in Kilcor for 200 years’.
When he built his new house at Kilcor in 1912 he left a fascinating ‘message in a bottle’ in the roof of the dwelling. In that handwritten missive he wrote: ‘This house was built by me, Jeremiah Twomey, son of John Twomey of this place and grandson of Jerry Twomey of Peafield in the parish of Lisgoold’. It is possible his grandfather, Jerry from Peafield, married into the O’Shea farm in Kilcor. Jeremiah’s father, John died in February 1878 aged 62. Three years later, in 1881, Mary Twomey married Eugene Egan of Caherduggan, Bartlemy in Castlelyons Church. Fr Thomas Ferris PP officiated and Batt Ahern and Ellen Twomey were the witnesses.
On October 11th, 1884 Jeremiah Twomey married Bridget Murphy of Bride Street (Public House), Rathcormac in the local church. Fr Maurice Kennefick PP presided and the witnesses were Thomas O’Shea and Kate Sweeney.
‘THE THREE F’S’
The 1880’s was a period of turmoil for farming in Ireland. Landlords still held sway but with Michael Davitt’s Land League and the power of Parnell, things were changing. Farmers were demanding ‘the Three F’s’ Fair Rent, Fixity of Tenure and Freedom of Sale.
Jeremiah Twomey became very involved in the Land League and that may have been one of the reasons for his eviction. In his 1912 document he wrote that he ‘was evicted for 12 years, from 11th Feb., 1890 to 25th March, 1902’. After the eviction Jeremiah and Bridget lived initially in a house at Killawillin and it was here in November 1890 that their daughter Nora was born. The couple then moved to a house at Main Street, Castlelyons - this was to be their home for over a decade. While the family were in Castlelyons village, two more daughters, Mary and Johannah were born. Their son John was taken by relations at Bleak House in Carrigtwohill and from here, he started attending national school in nearby Carrigtwohill.
Mary Egan nee Twomey, her husband Eugene and their family were also evicted and went to live in Ballynoe. In 1903 whilst getting a pony and trap ready to go to Sunday Mass, Eugene Egan collapsed and died. He was just 45 years of age and left a wife and seven young children.
While working as a farm labourer Jeremiah Twomey kept up a relentless campaign to get his farm back. A fascinating amount of his correspondence from the late 1800s/early 1900s still survives and makes for riveting reading. Two of his cousins, John Colbert of Ballymounteen, Ballynoe and Patrick Twomey of Fahydorgan, Carrigtwohill, helped with his reinstatement in Kilcor by agreeing to guarantee payment of his rent for three years.
In July 1901 tragedy struck the family when Mary, aged just seven, died. The family moved back into the very old, dilapidated thatched farmhouse and started farming the ancestral 38 acres.
In November 1911, Johannah Twomey died in the South Infirmary Hospital in Cork at the age of 14. In 1918, Nora Twomey who had qualified as a nurse, was working in London during the dreaded Spanish Flu pandemic. She contracted the disease and died aged 28 and was buried in London.
The following year a broken-hearted mother, Bridget Twomey died. It must have been a sad household for Jeremiah Twomey then with just his son John and daughter Elizabeth left. His sister Mary Egan died in April of 1920 aged 70 and was buried with her O’Shea ancestors in Templebodan Cemetery.
In the Autumn of 1920, John Twomey applied to the Dept. of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland (we were still under British rule) for the position of Superintending Overseer in the Cow-testing (milk recording) Scheme. He was interviewed in Merrion Street in Dublin on December 2nd and on December 16th, and was offered the position. With his father at home and two workmen employed also, John Twomey commenced his career with the Dept of Agriculture. Within a few years he got promotion and eventually was appointed a Senior Livestock Inspector. He married Nora McCarthy of Ballinaskeha, Leamlara and they had six children - May (Arnold), Jeremiah, Bridie (Broderick), Dan, Sean and Nora (Beecher). Elizabeth (Lizzie) Twomey married Denis (Din) O’Keeffe of Glenagowl, Kildinan and their daughter was May (Forde).
On Saturday, November 12th, 1921 Jeremiah Twomey was cutting a tree with a cross-cut saw in the little plot across the road from Moanrua. Those with him anticipated the tree would fall in a certain direction, but a big branch caught him just above the knee. He died as a result of his injuries.
He was taken back to his home in Kilcor and ‘waked’ there on that Saturday night. On Sunday his remains were taken to St. Nicholas’s Church, Castlelyons. On Monday, November 14th the funeral of Jeremiah Twomey went from Castlelyons to Templenacarriga, where he was laid to rest.
Just over one year ago, on Sunday, November 14th, 2021, descendants and relations of Jeremiah and Bridget Twomey gathered in Templenacarriga to unveil a new headstone erected in memory of the family a century on. Sean Twomey of Terramount, Rathcormac and formerly of Mount Rivers, Fermoy and Kilcor - a grandson of Jeremiah Twomey - performed the official unveiling.