The passing of Auntie Mor

Maureen Reihill (21st August 1919 - 26th September 2014)
Maureen Reihill (nee Byrne)                (21 August 1919 – 26 September 2014)

From ‘A Kilcullen Diary’

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The passing of Maureen Reihill (Byrne)

It is with a personal sadness that the Diary records the death of Maureen (Mor) Reihill, née Byrne, of Ballsbridge, Dublin, and originally from Kilcullen, on the evening of 26 September, 2014. She was 97.

She is survived by her daughter Orla, and was predeceased by her son Shane and her husband Jim. Mor was the daughter of the late James J Byrne Snr and his wife Mary, and the last surviving sibling of Jim Byrne, Tom Byrne, and Kath O’Reilly.

Maureen’s remains will repose at her home on Monday 29 September, between 2-8pm. Her funeral mass will be celebrated at 10am on Tuesday 30 September in the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace, Merrion Row, Dublin. Her burial will take place afterwards in New Abbey Cemetery, Kilcullen, Co Kildare, at 12 noon.

May she rest in peace.

Source: Brian Byrne

A moment in time that conjures up sadness and reflection.

My mother Kathryn(“Kath”)’s ( dearly beloved eldest sister, Auntie Mor’s passing on Friday marked the end of aByrnes of Kilcullen” generation, whose precocious talents brought so much conviviality, escapade, involvement, commitment, and true wit to the lives of so many many people, a legacy which, I for one can confirm, continues to percolate through the genes of their children and grandchildren.

I am very happy that Auntie Mor, a true devoted and loyal daughter of Ireland – who loved singing, baking (some of my fondest memories 🙂 ), her many friends and her two precious children, Shane ( and Orla – will be returning home to her final resting place in Kilcullen.

Rest In Peace Auntie Maureen.

Maureen Reihill

The Passing of Cousin Gill Becker (Byrne) – by Brian Byrne

Gill Becker Byrne 1(950 - 2013)
Gill Becker Byrne  (1950 – 2013)

“It is with a very heavy heart that I have to record the death of my sister Gill Becker, formerly of Moyola, Kilcullen, after bravely confronting serious illness over recent years.

Gill died at her home in Weymouth, Dorset, with her loving family at her side. We will all miss her, but our thoughts are particularly with her husband Frank and their children Rory and Sandy, who have lost a wife and mother and best friend, and their grandchildren Danny, Molly, Rosie and Jenny, daughter in law Anne-Marie and son in law Michael. For myself, and my brothers Gary and Fergus, we will always count ourselves privileged to have had such a beautiful and funloving sister for so long in our lives. As also did our late brother Des, who died at an untimely age but who was particularly close to Gill.

We know that the sunshine which Gill brought to everyone around her will be creating a quantum of extra brightness to wherever our life-forces go when we have finished here. May she rest in peace.”

Source: Brian Byrne

– Gillian was the daughter of James “Jim” Byrne, my mother’s brother

Kildare Nationalist – Appreciation: Kathleen (Kathryn) O’Reilly, née Byrne

The death occurred recently of Kathleen (Kathryn) O’Reilly, younger daughter of the late James Joseph Byrne Snr of Kilcullen and Mary Byrne (Cody), at the age of 85.

Beloved wife of the late Liam O’Reilly (New Ireland/Irish National, died 1973) she is deeply missed and much loved by her sons William, Conor and Niall, daughter-in-law Dervil, her sister Maureen, extended family and a wide circle of friends. Kathryn’s brothers were the late Jim Byrne of The Hideout, and the late well-known businessman Tom Byrne.

She was educated at Loreto Abbey Dalkey; Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ) School, Bunclody, Wexford; and Loreto School Rathfarnham, where she captained the school hockey team.

She was always interested in fashion and designed many of her own clothes. She trained and worked as a fashion model in London, and worked in Dublin with Henry White. An accomplished singer, her life-long friend Dr Veronica Dunne (‘Auntie Ronnie’ to Kath’s children) was also at her funeral.

Kath had a deep and genuine interest in everyone she met and was known to be ‘one hell of a party organiser’, entertaining — at her successive homes in Knockbrack, Avoca Lodge, Tudor House or Moorefield — groups who ranged from ambassadors and taoisigh to many dear friends and neighbours.

She loved painting and especially her classes with Alma Brayden, Margaret Margetsen, and Bernie Lyons. Her son Niall recalls that she would often get up in the middle of the night ‘to add a dab here and a touch-up there’.

Her father-in-law Dr M W O’Reilly, observing Kath’s capacity for ‘listening’ appointed her to the Board of Directors in two of the many companies he established in Ireland.

Her other interests included cooking, and her coffee cakes, Guinness cake and brown breads were always in demand at home. That was also where she indulged her passion for gardening and she could reel off the Latin names of the flowers and shrubs which emblazoned her ‘magical’ garden, an ‘Eden’ always alive in a myriad of colours and chorus of chirping birds.

She loved travel and had friends abroad in places ranging from Paris, Nice and Italy, the UK, Mauritius, Ecuador and Columbia, Florida and New York, The Hague, Bonn, and East Berlin, and Niall recalls an especially fun ‘pate, cheese and wine Tour de France’ with his Mum driving and himself navigating. She also visited China, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

Kath was a forthright armchair supporter, and at times severe critic, of the Ireland and Leinster rugby teams, especially when seated in front of a glowing fire on a cold winter’s afternoon armed with a mug of Barry’s tea.

She maintained an absolute devotion to God and Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

She died after a short illness, in the care of the staff of the Blackrock Clinic. Chief celebrant at the funeral mass was Fr Maurice O’Moore and this brief account of a life lived to the full is taken from the eulogy delivered by Niall at the Requiem Mass in St Patrick’s Church, Monkstown Village, on Saturday August 4th 2012.

Auntie Kath, rest in peace. BB

This Appreciation was originally published on the Kilcullen page of the Kildare Nationalist.

Appreciation: Kathleen (Kathryn) O’Reilly, née Byrne


Wednesday August 3rd, 1927

On the ground, at the outset, this summer’s day didn’t appear to have anything particularly unforgettable about it, at least in the USA, as reporters and the stock markets sought to digest President Calvin Coolidge announcement the previous day of his decision not to run for President in 1928.  All right, so Gordon Scott, the celebrated Tarzan, was born, while Massachusetts Governor Alvan T. Fuller controversially denied a request for clemency for Nicola Sacco and Bertolomeo Vanzetti after receiving arguments concerning the fairness of their murder trial. However, the release of The Beauty Parlor, a film starring Danny O’ Shea, according to the grapevine really wasn’t anything to write home about.

Up in the air and away from terra ferma, though, things were decidedly more attention-grabbing. A 1,000 watt radio station established contact with an aircraft 150 miles from the station, while Charles Lindbergh, who, two months earlier had made the first non-stop solo flight from New York to Paris, started a three-month tour of the country in his custom-built airplane the Spirit of St. Louis. Not to be outdone, across the big pond in the Fatherland German Junker pilots Risztics and Edzard flew a Junker W33 airplane for a distance of 4,660 kilometres, to set a new distance world record. They needed 52 hours and 22 minutes for that flight.

How unremarkable was the day developing into on that small speck of an island propping up the “Irish Free State” [Ireland only declared itself a republic on 21st December 1948]? Although habitually accused of emanating hot air, the legislative assembly, Dáil Éireann, with its feet firmly on the ground, was heatedly debating the Public Safety Order Bill (third stage), which, with a view to cracking down on the “insurgents” who days earlier had assassinated Kevin O Higgins, the Vice President, would grant authority to ‘the powers that be’ to declare a state of emergency, and set up military courts. One would have supposed a very jittery state of affairs for an island recovering from the ruins of civil war.

Assume not. The unmistakable whiff of a ‘business as usual’ atmosphere was also filtering through as members of the Dáil on this day raised questions on subjects as diverse as the administration of the Lunacy Department and the provision of State funds for the construction of a landing place at Barley Cove, down in Cork [a request, which, should you are interested to know (I’m certainly not) was turned down for the reasons that “…. the number of locally-owned yawls [or two-masted sailing vessels] is very small, and the fishing for herrings in the Cove is at present being carried on by an adequate number of motor yawls and boats from outlying districts which land their catches at Baltimore”]. A jittery situation indeed. What is more, even the Joint Dáil Restaurant Committee held a meeting [I didn’t come across any records mentioning a sitting of the Joint Bar Committee, even if I suspect most committee meetings at the time were held in the bar!].

What makes all this odds and ends law-making of interest to me is the mere fact that Dáil Éireann was even sitting in August [in this day and age Ireland’s highly-paid legislators ˗local constituency messenger boys and girls as we like to call them˗ are partial to giving themselves a lengthy summer break of at least two months]. And yet, if the following exchange is anything to go by, a hint of the slothfulness that is all too apparent nowadays was already palpable on 3rd August 1927,

The President of the Executive Council: “I move:

“That the Dáil sit later than 9 p.m., and that the Order for the Adjournment be taken not later than 8 a.m. to-morrow.”

Mr. Morrissey (esteemed member of the legislature)

“I oppose the idea of sitting all night. I think it is an outrageous suggestion.”

To be sure.

Unremarkable a day so far? Well, not quite. Up at the Goffs Bloodstock Sales in Ballsbridge a horsy friend approached bloodstock auctioneer James Byrne Senior to congratulate him. James, acknowledging the good wishes with his usual aplomb, thought the man was referring to his recent sale of a fine looking filly (female horse). “No James I am not talking about a horse. Your wife has just given birth to a baby daughter” Fifty miles away in Kilcullen, Co. Kildare, Mary “Min” Byrne, James’ wife, was resting upstairs in Byrne’s Hotel (See picture below Byrne’s Hotel -circ. 1925- now The Hideout*) having just given birth to my mother, Kathleen (Kathryn) Nora Mary. What appears to have been a rather run of the mill day was indeed very special. Happy 85th Mum!!. As your father used to tell you, you have a fine pair of fetlocks!

(Kathleen “Kathryn” Nora Mary Byrne, 3rd August [Leo] 1927 [Year of the Rabbit] – 1st August 2012 [Year of the Dragon])

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do” (Rumi)
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever” (John Keats)
‘Byrne’s Hotel’, Kilcullen, Co. Kildare, Ireland in a photograph circ. 1927, the year my mother Kathryn O’Reilly nee Byrne was born on the second floor. ‘Byrne’s Hotel was opened by Grandfather James J Byrne Senior in Christmas 1925. The building was constructed in 1855 and soon after named The’Magnolia Hotel’. In 1903 it was renamed Flanagan’s Motor Bar. ‘Byrne’s Hotel’ lasted until 1950 when it assumed ‘The Hideout’ moniker (Source: Cousin Brian Byrne, Kilcullen’s man of knowledge),


My Uncle Garreth in China

Ever received an email from a person you haven’t met since you were about 15 (like a few leagues ago!!!)? Well, that’s what transpired last Monday when I opened my Inbox to find the email below from my “Uncle Garreth in China”. Uncle? Was this some sort of joke? All my uncles have already gone to meet their maker, my mother’s brother Tom having passed away at the end 2006… “Yep”, I deliberated, “no uncles”, a reflection quickly followed by three seconds of contemplation and ding ding ding jackpot time: My cousin Garreth Byrne. Wow! Astonishing. You’re Jim Byrne’s son and I am Kathryn Byrne’s son so that would make us “Level 1’ cousins.


Well, its fantastic to hear from you Garreth, and the way you found me…. searching the Net…what a small world this really is. Looksmart ( would appear to have a little information on all of us… don’t search my name (不好意思)….


2007 has been a remarkable year for hearing from cousins and childhood friends I haven’t seen for over twenty years: First, there was meeting my first cousin Allen Byrne last January, his sister Catriona Byrne, last February, her brother David Byrne, last month and an email from his sister Marella Fyffe, again last month. It’s brilliant to be back in touch with all the Byrnes because they’re all great craic… Just look at what they all do for a living: horses, teaching English, more horses, calibration pumps, travelling, eco-tourism, radio show host, village newspaper editor, house-wife …. And then there our side of acupuncture, waste management, pizzas, burgers and me…and the artist-cum-gardener-cum-home-maker… (I tend to view myself more as of a Byrne than an O’Reilly… because I like a bit of a laugh and there is only side of the family that enjoys taking life not too seriously).  No interest in meeting any O’Reilly side of the family cousins… (a dreary bunch: hard to get a laugh out of any of them)… Anyway continuing on … I met Naomi Harbison-Hansen in Qingdao last June. We were next door neighbours during our childhood, and haven’t met for decades… I didn’t know she’d already been living in Qingdao for two years. She and her family left China at the end of June. A small world indeed.

From: garreth byrne []
Sent: Monday, 24 September, 2007 2:01 PM
Subject: Your uncle Garreth in China

Nanchang, Jianxi Province. Monday. Niall, You would only have a vague childhood memory of me. I came across your blogsite via A Kilcullen Diary. I can’t access my brother Brian’s website but could download yours. (Blogspot sites aren’t available in China). I came here to teach English at a university in March and will complete my contract next January.


Here’s a link to my recently published article on schooling in China:

Find Articles results for “Garreth Byrne” Schooling and learning difficulties in China SINCE the communist proclamation of the Peoples Republic in 1949 modern China has wrestled, quite successfully, with the problems of mass

Garreth Byrne