Historical Figures


There are five cemeteries in the Parish of Myshall, three in the village itself, one about a mile out the Carlow Road and the fifth in Drumphea about two miles from the village. These are an ideal base for tracing one’s ancestry. A couple of monuments or slabs are worth noting. A memorial slab set in the wall of the ruined St. Finian’s church commemorates the ancestors of Peter Fenelon Collier.

Some of the memorials in the cemetery surrounding the church at Drumphea are very old with that of James Nolan, dying at the age of 112 and Captain of the local United Irishmen in 1798, one of the most commanding. On special Cemetery Sundays during the summer months local people gather to remember their ancestors and loved ones who sleep their last sleep in the local graveyards.


Peter Collier was born in Myshall (believed to have lived where Dunne's Shop is now) in 1846 son of Robert and Catherine Collier who were tenants of the Brady’s of Myshall Lodge. The family left for the U.S. in 1865 in the aftermath of the Famine. Peter was 16 at the time. He had two ambitions in life – to acquire an education and to be successful. He went into the book business and set up his own printing works in New York in 1880, publishing the works of Shakespeare, Dickens and others for the mass market. He revolutionised volume book selling by introducing an installment payment plan. The success of his book publishing led to the launch of Colliers Weekly a campaigning paper described as unflinching and fearless in its advocacy of any cause to which it devoted its pages.



Joseph Byrne born of Myshall parents took the emigrant ship to America in 1890. He became a physician, surgeon, psychiatrist lawyer, medical author of New York’s commissioner of hospitals and died in New York, a rich and respected member of the medical profession never forgetting his roots in Co. Carlow or the parents who are buried near the Church of the Holy Cross in Myshall. He left in his will a trust fund which amounted to £82,000 to be used in equipping parochial schools. The philanthropic doctor had seen the hardships endured by unskilled people leaving Ireland and was determined to do something about it. The original sum increased to about half a million dollars in the 35 year wrangle which followed his death and today the families of all those who benefit from the Trust Fund are forever indebted to the emigrant Dr. Byrne.



Tom Nolan was born in Cappawater, Myshall, County Carlow in 1921. He was educated at the De La Salle College, Muine Bheag and joined the Irish Defence Forces shortly after his education. He first held political office in 1960 when he was elected to Carlow County Council. The following year he was nominated by the Taoiseach, Seán Lemass, to the 10th Seanad Éireann (Senate).



Myshall has some unusual local traditions. One of these is the gift of bone setting. Back in the sixties some of the older people at the time said it was the O’Neill family (probably) better known as Nail of Myshall for four hundred years).

Through the generations it has been handed down from father to son or daughter. In 1960 everyone around thought the end had come. Pat O’Neill died (RIP). He had only one daughter, Sr. Teresa F.C.J. . His sister Birdie O’Neill lived and practiced bone setting in Inistioge. None of her children had the gift. Then people started coming to Hollybrook, Myshall were Danny and Margaret O’Neill, nephew and niece of Pat, lived.



Peter Doyle left Myshall with his parents after The Great Famine and celebrated his 7th birthday in Milwaukee. He studied law and became very well known in a large town called Prairie du Chien in Wisconsin. He was nominated as its first Mayor in 1872 a position he declined but a year later was elected Secretary of State for Wisconsin and he held this position for four years after which he declined to go forward again.


John Morris was born in the parish of Myshall. He was very active as a Fenian and became a Head Centre for the area. At one time £50 was offered by the Government and a further £50 by Arthur Kavanagh of Borris House for information leading to his arrest which did eventually occur at his uncle’s house Edward Nolan’s of Kilmaglush. He was jailed at Carlow and was exiled to the U.S. in 1866 where he was prominent in railway circles in Illinois. His wife was Catherine Sheridan of Ballinree and he was father of Reverned John S. Morris.


Catherine Troy of Rathnageeragh left Ireland for Australia in 1878 and met her future husband Peter Simonds on the emigrant ship “The Glamis”. Peter was a teacher and Catherine’s claim to fame lay in her youngest child Justin D. Simonds born in May 1890. Justin entered the religious life and became Archbishop of Melbourne in 1963. He died in 1967 aged 77. Born of a Myshall Parish Emigrant Justin D. Simonds was the first native-born Australian to be appointed an Archbishop of the Catholic Church


John B. Nolan was born in Ballinrush circa 1840 (possibly where Lalor's now live). He worked in Bagenalstown, Dublin and later Belfast in the “dry goods business.” He joined the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood in Dublin and later became Provincial Centre for Ulster. He was forced to retreat to London in 1866 where he was one of those who formed the “Irish Directory.” After some treason concerning this organisation he went to America - first New York, then Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and last of all to Missouri. For the duration of his life “the freedom of Ireland” seemed to possess him. He died aged 32 from haemorrhage of the lungs. There is a very long and detailed thirteen-stanzad poem that pays tribute to the memory of John B. Nolan and one verse expresses the loneliness of dying away from the land of birth.

‘Mother and sister were far from thy bed
Brother and kinsman around thee were none
Friendship yet tenderly lifted thy head
Smoothing thy pillow till trial was done
Still thou wert lonely for those who were dear,
Longing for mother to bless thy last breath-
Longing to feel that a sister was near
Clasping thy hand ‘mid the torture of death
Longing to gaze on the dear native skies
Far o’er the foaming and wild rolling main
Longing, yet peacefully closing thine eyes
Bowing submissive since wishing were vain’