A Kiwi in search of her ancestral tribes

Bartholomew O’Rourke ~ Sunday’s Obituary

Bartholomew O'Rourke obituary 1923

Bartholomew O’Rourke obituary, 6 Dec 1923 (publication unknown)




There passed away on the 13th inst., at his home in Napier, in his 80th year, Mr. Bartholomew O’Rourke (writes a correspondent). He was born in the parish of Currens, Co. Kerry, Ireland. When 23 years of age he left the Old Country on board the Blue Jacket. After an uneventful passage of three months he arrived at Lyttleton in 1866. In company with many other adventurous spirits he travelled westwards in search of gold and tried his luck at Hokitika; thence to Charleston where he was married by Monsignor Walshe. Eventually settling down in Napier, he established himself and built up an extensive carrying business. Throughout his long life he was distinguished by his intense faith. No member of St. Patrick’s Church was more assiduous in attending late or early, and none more unbending than he in the rigorous and absolute fulfilment of all the duties of a devout Catholic. In 1877 he followed out the instructions of the late Rev. Father Hennebery; and although he never took the pledge as being derogatory to his character as a man and his independence as a Christian, he became an absolute abstainer. The Rosary beads given him by that extraordinary missioner he cherished till the end. The Rosary he recited every night without fail for 46 years. According to instructions these beads were removed from his hands in death and hung round his neck. Nor was his love for Ireland less remarkable. Her history he knew well; all her efforts for freedom, every fight against oppression only fostered the fond hope he cherished of final and absolute triumph. Thus after a long life of fidelity to God and native land, feelings inherited by all his children, he passed away surrounded by nearly all his surviving sons and daughters, whilst the priest imparted the last blessing, and the good Sisters of the Missions recited the prayers for the dying. The numerous assemblage at the last sad rites bore testimony to the esteem of the public. The Rev. Father Tymons read the absolution, assisted in the sanctuary by the Rev. Fathers J. Goggan (Hastings) J. Schaeffer (Greenmeadows), Heffernan and Clancy. Messrs. T. Barry, J. Leany E. O’Brien, W. Ryan, J. Pearcy, P. Griffin (members of H.A.C.B. Society) acted as pallbearers – R.I.P.

Bartholomew O’Rourke is my great great grandfather, and I am descended from his daughter Margaret.

I think this clipping was a marvellous find, stashed away amongst my father’s family papers. I can’t be certain which newspaper it was published in, but from the style and language, I’m fairly sure it was the New Zealand Tablet, a monthly Catholic newspaper. I hope to check up on this next month.

  1. “Obituary”, 6 Dec 1923 clipping from unidentified newspaper; digital image; scan from Gaffaney family papers, 2006, supplied by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]; original privately held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], great grandson of deceased.

Sunday’s Obituary is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.


Matching & Hatching ~ Michael Gaffaney & Margaret Brosnahan


From the Emerald Isle to the Land of the Long White Cloud


  1. Kieran Walsh

    Hi Margaret, A very interesting link thankyou, I’m a kiwi in the UK who until recently lived for seven years in Ireland.My great grand mother was an O’Rourke from Currens who went to Canterbury NZ at that time,we are possibly related maybe, also got to very well the O’Rouke family/cousins very well in Currens. Regards.

    • Maggie

      Hi Kieran! We may indeed be related – what was your great grandmother’s name, and who were her parents? That is exciting you met up with cousins in Currens. I lived in Ireland for six years in the 90s, but wasn’t working on the family history at that time, unfortunately. Please feel free to email me – blog@iwikiwi.com

      • Kieran

        HI sorry forgot to reply, Her name was Ellen O’Rourke. There is loads of decendants of her and her sister in NZ. Regards KW

        • Maggie

          Thanks Kieran! I hope you received my email last year. When looking at the baptism records of Kerry (and specificaly Killeentierna parish, which included Currans) I did find a Denis Rourke who married an Ellen Cronin, I wonder if they may be related to your family? I haven’t found a connection to my side yet…. will need some more digging!

  2. Trish Williams

    I was delighted to see this as he was my great grandfather-his son Bartholomew had a son he called Bartholomew and I am his youngest daughter! I am astounded about him being an abstainer-that is not a story I had ever heard and as his son became a publican it seems ironic!

    • Maggie

      Trish, he is the first abstainer I’ve come across in the family so far, and how funny his son ran a pub! Looking forward to sharing some research. 🙂

  3. kerrysheep

    Try the attached record as a very likely bet, it matches the year of birth but not the first name.
    Sometimes a child would be christened as one name but could be affectionately called something else, perhaps Bartholomew after his father. The parish birth records in Killentierna for that period are comprehensive and no other child named Bartholomew was registered about this time.

    I am descended from the Denis Rourke and Ellen Cronin sept of the family who resided in Coolnacallaigh, Currans. You would need pre-1800 records (sadly they do not exist) to prove definatively the links between all O’Rourkes in Currans but I would hazard a guess that they originated from the Kilfelim/Ballymacdonnell area of the parish.

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