The survival of the parish registers of the small rural parish of Templeharry in County Offaly helped to underpin the return visit of Michelle Obama with her daughters Sasha and Malia to Dublin on Monday.
The registers, which contain the ancestral evidence of the Kearney family material from whom President Barack Obama is descended are, along with many other collections of parish registers from all over Ireland, safely and permanently housed in the Representative Church Body Library in Dublin, the principal repository for the Church's written heritage.
With the agreement of the National Archives, the RCB Library loaned the registers recording the birth, marriage and death of various members of the Kearney family for the day to the Library in Trinity College, so that the Obama family could view them along with other materials from the College's collections where one antecedent John Kearney was Provost from 1799 to 1806, and also a map of lands in County Offaly from which the Kearneys sprang (now in the National Library of Ireland).
In 1806, John Kearney became the Church of Ireland bishop of Ossory, where he served for the remainder of his life until 1813.
It was the Church of Ireland registers which were the principal items on display and viewed by Mrs Obama and her daughters. These were:
- The earliest 'A Registry of the Births, Marriages & Burials of the United Parishes of Templeharry and Cullenwayne commenced in 1800'. (RCB Library, P.1031/1/1.)
- The baptism of 'Timothy son to Joseph and Triphenia Kearney of Moneygall, May 24 1829'. (RCB Library P.1031/1/2).
- The baptism of 'Mary Anne daughter of Joseph and Phebe Karney, Moneygall' baptised on December 17 1837, born on 24 November 1837. (RCB Library, P.1031/1/3).
The registers had initially been shown to President Obama by Canon Stephen Neill, rector of Cloughjordan (linked to Templeharry) during the President's historic visit to Moneygall in 2011. Thereafter they were transferred to the safe custody of the RCB Library where members of the public are most welcome to consult them and the many other collections of parish records in its custody. For further information about the library's holdings see this link:
Source: Church of Ireland