John Kelly of Killane

Kelly the boy from Killane


The Kelly family originating in Kilbranish, Co.Carlow moved to Wheelagower,Kiltealy, and then to reside in Killanne c.1770.John Kelly was son of Mary Redmond and her husband John Kelly senior, a tenant farmer and shopkeeper. It is believed that it was Mary Redmond who owned the pub in Killanne and resided with a widowed or unmarried sister at the time of Mary’s marriage prior to 


There were at least six children in the family and possibly eight or nine, however we have definite proof of the names of  six born between the years 1773 and 1789 they were John, Bridget , Anne, Catherine, Eleanor and William. A Mary Kelly was probably one of the daughters born before John junior. Kelly’s Mother did not approve of him joining the United Irishmen as her own family the Redmond’s had suffered greatly by being involved in the struggle for Irish freedom. From a letter written by John in 1797 to Mr. Colclough of Duffry Hall, Kiltealy we know that he was probably not involved deeply with the rebellion until after that period. Kelly’s cousin Fr.Mogue Kearns and his friend

later General Thomas Cloney of Moneyhore probably influenced him greatly. It is believed that a northern United Irishman William Putman McCabe was also secretly recruiting in the area in 1797. From 1770 all the Kelly children were born in this building. 

On 29th May, 1798 Kelly marched with his men to Enniscorthy to join the rebels on Vinegar Hill. The next day he and General Cloney fought at the Battle of the Three Rocks near Wexford town. On the 4th June 1798 Kelly returned home to this house and in the early hours of 5th June mustered more men to join the thousand men from the Barony of Bantry to fight at the Battle of Ross. Kelly suffered a severe thigh wound at the old Cavalry Barracks (which stood on the site of St.Joseph’s School) and was taken via Horetown to a hiding place in Wexford town where his sister lived. Sometime between the 22nd -29th June 1798 Colonel John Kelly was executed on Wexford Bridge. His body was thrown in the river and his head was brought by his sister to be interred in the family grave beneath the large Celtic Cross in Killanne old Graveyard.

“Glory Oh, Glory O to her brave sons who died for the cause of long downtrodden man, glory O to Mount Leinster’s own darling and pride dauntless Kelly the boy from Killanne.” P.J. McCall.

Research Gloria Binions, Killanne. LocalHistorian email gloog

Note. If any reader has more information on this Kelly family, or other events of the 1798 rising, we would be pleased to hear from them.