Historical Figures


Joseph Byrne, an eminent New York neurologist, was the youngest child of Patrick and Margaret Byrne (nee O'Neill), whose father was born at Ballinree, Myshall parish in 1803. Patrick was a successful merchant at Market Square, Bagenalstown.

Joseph was educated in Bagenalstown and at St Patrick’s College, Carlow, where he was awarded the Gold Medal for Arts and Philosophy. In 1890 he received his BA degree from the Royal University. The following year Joseph sailed for New York and in 1893 was awarded his MA. An M.D. followed in 1895, after which he set up a medical practice in New York. He became a United State’s citizen in 1897 and, having studied law, was awarded an LLB degree from the New York Law School in 1900 and was admitted to the Bar. He was also a noted psychiatrist, medical author and became New York’s Commissioner of Hospitals.

Dr. Byrne, who married twice, died on May 13th 1945 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 there. He left in his will a trust fund which amounted to £82,000 “as a memorial to my parents who lie buried near the church door in Myshall”, to be used in equipping the parochial schools. The philanthropic doctor had seen the hardships endured by unskilled people leaving Ireland he became determined to do something about it.

The original sum increased to around half a million dollars in the 35 year legal wrangle which followed his death, but nowadays the parents and children of the parish of Myshall who benefit from the fund are forever indebted to Dr. Byrne.

Dr. Joseph G. Byrne, educational benefactor

The fund provides books for every primary school student attending both Myshall & Drumphea Schools and every student from the parish attending any primary school outside the parish. Pupils from the parish attending any secondary school receive all their books or book rental, refunds on grinds taken and Department exam fees paid. Third level students in full time education receive an annual grant up to the age of 30 years old. Over the years since the fund began to be used, thousands of students have benefited greatly.

Presentation of four scrolls, one to each school principal,
as a symbol of the generosity of the Byrne Trust Fund

The official opening of Myshall Millennium Park, dedicated to the memory of Dr. Joseph Byrne, educational benefactor to the parish of Myshall, took place on August 25th 2000 at the Croppy Road. The ceremony was conducted by Bishop Laurence Ryan who concelebrated mass before unveiling a Dedication Stone.

Back to Historical Figures