Imagine what it would have been like when we were growing up in the sixties and playing on Eagle Hill with the the future king of rock and roll Elvis Aaron Presley. As a young child living in Hacketstown, having Eagle Hill in our midst was a real treasure. It was our very own big playground, during our summers, running through the ferns, climbing the rocks, sliding down the side of the hill and playing cowboys and Indians.
Imagine how exciting it would have been to have Elvis as your best friend, calling to his home to play or having a good sing-song. But, unfortunately, we never had that privilige as his great, great, great, great-grandfather fled from his home at the foot of Eagle Hill in 1755.
We have now learned so much about the ancestery of the Presley family. The Elvis connection to Hacketstown was discovered a few years ago when an American genealogist made contact with a Carlow genealogist, Micheal Purcell. Micheal was later to visit America to verify the connection.
There was various media reports on the story but it was not followed up on for a number of years. Follow-on investigations have discovered more evidence of the link when baptismal records of the Presleys were found in Aghowle church of Ireland Co. Carlow, dating back to 1701.
Members of the Presley family lived in the area until the 1920s.
William Presley, who is the great great great great-grandfather of Elvis, bought land in Hacketstown in 1654 from a John Richmond who was himself a soldier. In 1775, William had a dispute over the land and was attacked by some Yeomen. They assaulted him very badly, beating him with swords and sticks.
He was unable to continue living at the foot of Eagle Hill, Hacketstown, and decided to leave our shores for America. William and his family were to settle initially in New Orleans and later they moved to South Carolina where his son Dunnan was born. After about a year or so they moved to Tennessee.
William himself passed away in 1802, many years after leaving Hacketstown. His son Dunnan married twice and also had a son called Dunnan, born in 1863. He went on to have a daughter called Rosella, who had many children out of wedlock.
One of her sons was called Jessie Presley. It was he who married Minnie May and they had a son called Vernon Elvis Presley in 1916. And in 1933 Vernon married Gladys Love Smith and went on to have a beautiful son who arrived into the world at 4:35 am on the 8th January 1935 at their small two-roomed house in Tupelo, Mississippi. They named him Elvis Aaron Presley.
What you may not know is that his identical twin brother, Jessie Garon Presley, arrived stillborn thirty five minutes before Elvis. Glayds had a very difficult birth and was very ill afterwards, needing hospital care.
Elvis was to grow up an only child but became very close to his parents, especially his mother. His family were members of the Assembly of God Church and this is where he found his love and inspiration for music. He was to grow up and become the king of rock and roll with his songs played all over the world, even to the present day.
After this amazing discovery and the great work of Micheal Purcell this link could not be left without being marked in some way.
So the work began and Hacketstown had its first Elvis Festival in October last year which was a great success, so much so that they are now getting ready for the second big Elvis Festival which will be taking place in Hacketstown from Friday, September 11th, to Sunday 13th.
We will have Elvis Rocking Through The Years, Elvis Impersonator Of The Year Show, Childrens X-Factor, Punch and Judy Show. From 2pm on Sunday there will be live music by Ray Dolan of the Joe Dolan and the Drifters fame…and many more exciting events.
You can check it out on the website elvisrootshacketstown.com/upcoming-events.
Elvis lived a great life of music and was married to his wife Priscilla from 1967 – 1973, the couple had one daughter Lisa Marie Presley. The singer died on 17th August 1977 in Memphis Tennessee America. What a story about such a legend and to think it all started at the foot of Eagle Hill, Hacketstown, all those years ago.