My Grandfather – The O’Rahilly

My Grandfather – The O’Rahilly

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By Aideen Dunne My grandparents were Nancy and Michael Joseph O’Rahilly. I was very fortunate to have been adopted by their third son, Niall, and his wife, Bride, when I was a baby. Nancy was from Philadelphia, USA and Michael Joseph O’Rahilly, known as The O’Rahilly, was from Ballylongford, Co. Kerry. Nancy met The O’Rahilly at a party in North Kerry in 1893 when she was on holidays in Kilkee, Co. Clare, with her mother and sisters. It was love at first sight; he was 18 years old and she was 16. The O’Rahilly spent his summer cycling to Tarbert and getting the ferry across the River Shannon to court Nancy. After her holiday in Ireland, she returned to Paris to boarding school, and The O’Rahilly went to medical school in Dublin. While there, he put a bet on a horse and won 20 pounds. He decided go to Paris to visit Nancy. He wrote several letters for home and asked his flatmate to send one every week. They were all post-dated but his flatmate mixed them up and The O’Rahilly was found out! After that they corresponded for several years until The O’Rahilly heard that another man wanted to marry her – it was now or never, so he took off to New York, stopping in Amsterdam to buy her a diamond. He proposed to her and they were married 15th April, 1899, and instead of spending their money on a big wedding, they spent six months travelling around Europe on honeymoon. They lived in a number of places before finally settling in Dublin. Sadly their eldest son, Robert, died of an unknown fever, when he was three, during this time. Continue reading in this year’s Winning Writers Annual