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Featured Family Member - Rose Kavanagh ('Uncle Remus')

 


Rose was born on the 24th June 1859 in Killadroy, near Beragh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. She and the family eventually moved to Clogher. She schooled in Omagh at the Loretto Convent. Rose went to Dublin to study art but her love of literature was great and she wrote for the Irish Monthly. She is known largely for her beautiful poem ' Knockmany'. Charles Kickham called her the ' Rose of Knockmany'.

Rose had a brother John who died suddenly while studying for the priesthood at Maynooth. She also had a sister ' Mrs.Campbell' , and a sister Ann(Meehan) who emigrated to NZ. Their mother and the first Archbishop of New York were cousins. The family in some ways was tragic as Rose died at 32yrs, Anne's daughter Mary died at age 37 leaving 5 children the youngest being just over a year old and one of her sons William died at 56. My father was William the middle son.

Rose wrote for the Irish Fireside under the name ' Uncle Remus ', and penned short stories as well. The poet W.B. Yeats spoke highly of her saying her tragic ill health and death at such an early age robbed us all of her promise and inspiration and fulfilment of her gift for writing. Other close friends included Katherine Tynan, and Charles Kickham who she nursed in his final days.  Rose was widely recognised as as a gifted author and poetess, who was politically aware of the troubles.

Rose suffered from tuberculosis, which was common and claimed many lives in her time. She returned to her beloved Clogher where her sister Mrs Campbell nursed her until she died on the 26th Feb. 1891. She was buried at the Forth Chapel (St. McCartans) outside Augher. Rose and her sister Mrs Campbell both have beautiful glass windows dedicated to them at the Chapel. Rose was loved by all who knew her knew and though she was a beautiful woman she never married.

I am still finding out about this side of my family, most have passed on from my side so information I receive is always grateful. My father's family because of the tragedy of losing their mother so young only have minimal knowledge of the Kavanagh side and it is a long process finding out. Also my father's family were from New Zealand which meant contact with Ireland was minimal if non-existent.

Note: In 1909 the Reverend Matthew Russell edited a collection of Roses poems titled 'Rose Kavanagh and her verses'

Submitted by : Sarah Baker-Meehan