Grave of William Carleton at Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Grave of William Carleton at Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

This is the 146th anniversary of the death of the leading 19thC Irish author William Carleton on January 30th 1869. He is buried at Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin. I left a small floral tribute at his grave there recently.

JJ Slattery oil portrait of William Carleton in National Gallery of Ireland

JJ Slattery oil portrait of William Carleton in National Gallery of Ireland


William Carleton's Grave

William Carleton’s Grave


Next Saturday (26th January) a group from the William Carleton Society travels to Dublin to mark the 144th anniversary of the death of the famous 19thC Irish author from County Tyrone. Carleton grew up as a Catholic, the youngest of fourteen children born to a small farmer in the Clogher area. He was educated at a hedge school near Glaslough in County Monaghan. He came to Dublin in 1819 with 2s 9d in his pocket and after trying various occupations, he became a clerk in the Church of Ireland Sunday School Office. Subsequently he would convert to Protestantism. In his autobiography (second part, finished by DJ O’Donoghue) we are told that:-

he soon became acquainted with the Rev. Caesar Otway, who was personally a most estimable man, a very pleasant writer, an enthusiastic antiquarian, but a determined proselytizer. He was one of a very remarkable group of men in Dublin at that period — when Catholic emancipation was in the air — whose lives were devoted to the task which they described as the rescue of Ireland from Popery“.

William Carleton aged 72 living in Dublin

William Carleton aged 72 living in Dublin

Otway gave Carleton an opportunity to use his journalistic talents for such proselytising purposes as satirising Catholic pilgrimages to ‘St Patrick’s Purgatory’ at Lough Derg. Further writings in the Christian Examiner & Church of Ireland Magazine led, in 1829 and 1833, to the publication of what is probably Carleton’s best known work: Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry – a tableau of the life of the country people of the north of Ireland before the famines of the 1840s altered their pattern of existence forever. There then followed such novels as Fardorougha the Miser (1839), Valentine McClutchy (1845), The Black Prophet (1847), The Emigrants of Ahadarra (1848), The Tithe Proctor (1849), The Squanders of Castle Squander (1852) in which he addresses many of the issues affecting the Ireland of his day such as the influence of the Established Church and landlordism, poverty, famine and emigration.

William Carleton Junior © Glenn Carleton

William Carleton Junior © Glenn Carleton

Carleton married Jane Anderson in 1820 and they had several children. Seven were born in Dublin, the first being Mary Anne in 1821. One of them, William Carleton junior, born in 1826, emigrated to Australia and was a known there as a poet. We are still not sure when and where his second daughter Jane Carleton was born. We know that she lived for time at Balham High Street in South West London, close to Tooting Bec. Deputy director of the summer school Frank McHugh reported on his research on the family tree at the 2012 event in Clogher. Thanks also to Glenn Carleton and Paul Brush in Australia, the William Carleton Society has been able to build up further details of Carleton’s genealogy.


On Saturday 26th a coach will be departing from Enniskillen at 7:30am and picking up passengers at Clogher, Aughnacloy and Monaghan (at the entrance to St Macartan’s College. 8:15am) for the trip to Dublin, which will cost £10 and will include membership of the William Carleton Society for those who have not yet joined. There will be a stop at Lusk services on the M1 before travelling into Dublin using a route which will give us an opportunity to see some of the sights, with Dr Frank Brennan as our guide.

“Frank Brennan will conduct a tour through Phoenix Park with its numerous historical monuments and associations going back hundreds of years, travel along Dublin’s quays, Four Courts, Guinness’ brewery, Dublin Castle, the two cathedrals, Jewish area and into Ranelagh which developed as a genteel middle class suburb after the Act of Union. At Sandford Church we will be addressed by a local teacher, who is a member of the congregation, on the history of Sandford church and its connection with Carleton. The Ranelagh Arts Society will then provide a talk by Susan Roundtree, an architectural historian, on the development of 19thC Ranelagh and the connection with the Plunkett family, who played a major role in Irish history.

We then go to Mount Jerome cemetery for a short ceremony (2pm) to commemorate the 144th anniversary of William Carleton’s death. A member of the Ranelagh Arts Society will then conduct a short tour of the graveyard. We travel to lunch (4pm) at O’Briens at Sussex Place, Upper Leeson Street, one of Patrick Kavanagh’s haunts, which as a 1900’s grocery and bar reminded him of Carrickmacross. The journey to lunch will take us through Dublin’s two Georgian squares  and past Government Buildings. Finally after lunch (which participants will pay for themselves) Frank Brennan will bring us past the Grand Canal Theatre, National Convention Centre, and some other of the better relics of the Celtic Tiger before our return home.”


Those joining the event in Ranelagh should assemble at the church at Sandford Road Ranelagh (junction with Marlborough Road) around 12:30pm. The group from the bus is hoping to walk from the site of Carleton’s now demolished former residence at Woodville, Sandford Road (beside the entrance to Milltown Park) to the church, weather permitting. Our thanks to the Reverend Sonia Gyles, Rector of Sandford and St Philip’s Milltown, for making the church available. Admission to the talks is FREE but membership of the William Carleton Society (€5) will be available for those interested.

Woodville Ranelagh

Woodville Ranelagh

It promises to a be stimulating and interesting day.  The coach will return to Enniskillen by 9pm. Please contact us by email, if you are interested or telephone me at (048 code from the Republic) 9066 2945 as there are a limited number of places available on the bus. The William Carleton Society is a partner in the Shared History, Shared Future project run by Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council through the EU funded South West Peace III Partnership Programme and this activity is being delivered through it.

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