Visiting Old Rahoon

Wednesday, 7 December, 2016
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"I feel so close to my Irish ancestors even here in the US and I'm sure I will really feel connected to them once I'm in the Emerald Isle"!

Old Rahoon Graveyard 2016

Throughout the early part of 2016 Julie DeFrancesco and her family eagerly planned a trip to Ireland. As the family historian and armed with family papers and documents she hoped to visit the parishes of her ancestors, the Delaneys from Laois and the Maloys from Galway. In her message to the XO Message Board, Julie stated that she knew her great-great grandfather, William Maloy born in 1810 was from Galway, and new information obtained by her led her to believe a connection to Rahoon Parish in the west of the city.

In 1937 Samuel Lewis in his Topographical Dictionary of Ireland described it as a place 'situated on the bay of Galway, and partly on the road along the coast. The village of Freeport was much frequented as a fishing station; there is still a quay, which was erected by the Fishery Board, but it is at present of very little use and much out of repair. Mutton island, in the harbour of Galway, is connected with the main land by a ridge of sand which is dry at low water, and a light has been placed on it to facilitate the navigation of the bay'. XO Volunteer Liz, the Loughrea Parish Volunteer, had some knowledge of the Rahoon area and agreed to meet with Julie during her trip. She hoped she would be able to provide the family with further details of the area.

Julie at Old Rahoon Graveyard, November 2016

As well as meeting with Liz in the parish, Ireland XO also arranged for Julie to see Old Rahoon Graveyard. The graveyard is located at the junction of Bishop O’Donnell Road and Rahoon Road and Clare Doyle of Ireland XO invited the City Heritage Officer, Jim Higgins to join them and give a tour of the site. Jim explained that the foundation stones of the medieval church of St. James are still visible in the graveyard. He remarked too that if William was from Rahoon as Julie believed, then the site was likely to be the place of rest of the family. Many of the headstones are concentrated around the site of the church though not all are legible and not all of those interred there are listed. Many people were buried in graves with later generations without any headstone at all. Unfortunately a search of those transcribed headstones did not reveal a Maloy, though there are only 202 legible memorials at the site.

Julie and Clare Doyle of Ireland XO at Old Rahoon Graveyard

Julie spent some time walking the newly cleared path around the site and learning more of the history of the area from Jim. He informed her about the great hurling rivalry between Rahoon and the Claddagh and suggested that an early GAA publication, The Annals of Galway GAA by Padriac O'Laoi, might provide further insight into life at the turn of the century.

Even though her trip to Galway was short, Julie was happy with her visit. "Your organization provides such a special service. The more that can take advantage of it the better. I remain greatly indebted to you".

Thanks Julie for sharing your story and to Liz and Jim for their help.