Fitzgerald-Kenney Family and Skehana Church
A landlord family who owned the lands of Skehana and built the present day Skehana Church
The Landlord Family
The Kenneys, originally from Somerset, settled in county Wexford in the late 16th century. In the 18th century James Kenney of Wexford married Catherine O’Kelly and bought the estate of Killaclogher from Lord Trimblestown. Kilclogher had been forfeited by the O’Kellys in the 17th century. The family became Fitzgerald Kenney in the late 18th century and were recorded as non resident proprietors in county Galway in 1824. By the mid 19th century the Kilclogher estate included lands in the parishes of Moylough and Monivea, barony of Tiaquin and in the parish of Ballynakill, barony of Ballymoe, county Galway. Some of the land in the barony of Ballymoe was sold in 1855 to Allan Pollok. In 1870 James C. Fitzgerald Kenney married Helena, daughter and co-heir of Major Patrick Crean Lynch, and their children inherited both the Kilclogher estate of the Kenneys and the Clogher estate in county Mayo of the Crean Lynches. They were the parents of James FitzGerald Kenney, Cumann na nGaedheal TD for south Mayo 1927-1944 and Minister for Justice 1927-1932. In the 1870s the county Galway estate of the Fitzgerald Kenneys amounted to 3,540 acres and the county Mayo estate to 855 acres. A younger son, Thomas Henry Kenney of Ballyforan House (Claremont), county Roscommon and France, who died in 1864, had over 2,300 acres of land in four counties, including counties Galway and Roscommon. In July 1874 his Irish lands were offered for sale in the Landed Estates Court by his two daughters, Sophia A. Kenney and Adele Schaffers. The Irish Times reported that some lots were sold by private contract and others to Mr. William Fry, solicitor, in trust. (Courtesy NUI Galway)
Skehana Church Connection
The Fitzgerald-Kenney family were the landlords who owned the lands of Skehana adjoining the Ffrench estate of Monivea. They built the current Church in Skehana. When Skehana Church was built in 1861 the main doorway was at the rear of the church where a window was installed some years ago adjacent to where the gallery stairs now exists. The floor was of soil and clay with just two seats to the front which were reserved for the Fitzgerald-Kenney family. It is thought these are the seats that are now placed at the rear of the gallery. While facing the altar there is an alcove to the left, immediately opposite the sacristy door, and this was originally a doorway for the use of the Fitzgerald-Kenney family to enter and leave the church. A special tomb was constructed for the family, immediately outside that original door opening, and this was accessible via a set of stairs with its entrance located at the altar where the lectern now stands. The raised section of this cast-iron railed tomb was removed in the mid 1960s, apparently for safety and aesthetic reasons, but the area remains identified with stone slabs.
As already stated above, in 1870 James C. Fitzgerald-Kenney married Helena, daughter and co-heir of Major Patrick Crean Lynch, and their children inherited both the Killaclogher estate of the Kenneys and the Clogher estate in county Mayo of the Crean-Lynch’s. Fr. Tom Lynch served as Curate in Skehana from 1903 to 1906 and again from 1910 to 1911. The 1911 census for Esker, where the priest resided in those years.