A Kiwi in search of her ancestral tribes

O’Rourke Family tomb, Dysert Burial Ground, Co Kerry ~ Tombstone Tuesday

A few kilometres down the road from Castleisland, on the way to Killarney, is Dysert Burial Ground. It is here where my great great great grandfather Michael O’Rourke, father of Bartholomew O’Rourke, is buried, along with other members of the O’Rourke family. An O’Rourke cousin in Australia told me about it, and how to find it, so last May I went off in search of it.

Dysert Burial Ground, near Castleisland, Co Kerry

Dysert Burial Ground, near Castleisland, Co Kerry

The family tomb is located just inside the gate, to the right.

Gate to Dysert Burial Ground, near Castleisland, Co Kerry

Gate to Dysert Burial Ground, near Castleisland, Co Kerry

O'Rourke family tomb, Dysert Burial Ground

O’Rourke family tomb, Dysert Burial Ground

The inscriptions are almost illegible. Thankfully, another cousin had visited the site in the early 1990s and deciphered the main one as:

Michael Rourke
This tomb was erected by the above.

This appears to be Michael with his two brothers John and Jeremiah (Darby is a common nickname), and their father Michael.

An earlier transcription, from Albert Casey1:

Daniel Rourke, sons John and Darby and Ml. This tomb was erected by the above.

Michael and Daniel would look very similar on a weathered tombstone. Daniel is not a name that has been handed down in the family, so I’m tending to side against Casey on this one (for now!).

O'Rourke family grave, Dysert Burial Ground

Inscription, O’Rourke family grave, Dysert Burial Ground

An inscription on the headstone reads:


O'Rourke family grave, Dysert Burial Ground

Inscription, O’Rourke family grave, Dysert Burial Ground

The last person to be buried in the tomb was Jeremiah O’Rourke (1916-1976), my second cousin twice removed.

6 Dr Taylor Terrace, Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Johnsonville Community Centre


Tombstone Tuesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. Albert E. Casey, “Dysert Cemetery, Castleisland parish, MIs”, O’Kief, Cosh Mang, Slieve Lougher and Upper Blackwater in Ireland, Birmingham, Alabama, 16 volumes, 1952-1971, vol 6 pp.1927-28.


Who Do You Think You Are? Live, London


Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!


  1. Barrie Dennehy

    I am the oldest great grandson of Hanora Dennehy nee ORourke daughter of Michael ORourke and Catherine nee (Callaghan) County Kerry. Hanora and her brother John arrived in Canterbury New Zealand in 1875 where she later married(1878) Batholomew Dennehy also from Kerry (Castel Island) in Napier Hawkes Bay.

  2. Maggie O'Rourke

    My great, great grandparents are buried in Dysert Burial Ground, his name was Denis O’Rourke, he was born in coolnacalee, (coolnacalliagh), Co.Kerry, Ireland, where the family farm still is. his wife was eleanor (ellen) nee cronin, was baptised 31 july, 1823 at currow parish, her parents maurice cronin an mary griffin from glounbawn

    denis parents were batt – battholomew mother mary mccarthy
    denis rourke marriaged eleanor 8 feb 1848 at currow parish
    two days later Batt was baptised on the 10 feb 1848

    catherine is my great grandmother though we knew her as bridget was born 5/11/1864 i have her birth certificate died 1939 in nz, born coolnacalee, currans, co.kerry, ireland.

    Denis Rourke had 4 sons John, Bartholomew (1848), Denis (1858), James (1860), daughters Mary (1851), Hanora (1854 – 1928), Ellen (1855) and Catherine Bridget my great grandmother (1864).

    ames 6 march 1860 christening
    denis 22 may 1858 christening
    mary 20 march 1851 christening
    batt 10 feb 1848 christening
    all christenings held at the roman catholic church currow kerry

    denis had brother called jeremiah bap 10 may 1809 same place currow
    eleanor was meant to have died at Catherines birth, there was talk that my great grandmother was a twin, this was not shown on Catherienes birth certificate.
    denis Rourke died 25/11/1903 at coolnacillegh, 90 years, cause senille decay 6 months before, his son denis was at his death.
    he re-married on the 10 july 1886 to joanna leahy,

    their daughter Bridget immigrated to NZ

    • Kieran Walsh

      Nice site,I also visited the graveyard with our relations (Cliffords) when I was living in Ireland .


      Denis O’Rourke who died in 1903 was the father of another Dennis who was at his death. This Dennis married a Ellen …? and they had a Daughter Mary circa 1894 who married a George Fitzgerald. Their Daughter a Hannah Fitzgerald born in 1913, came to Australia in 1948 and married a Charles Winter. thank you for some specific dates. I am related to Charles Winter.

  3. Trish

    We visited the grave site in May 2018. My great grandfather was Batt who came out to NZ. My grandfather, father and one brother were also called Batt. Would love to visit the area again and be able to visit or find out where the family actually lived. Do you have any info on that?

    • Maggie

      Hi Trish – yes I do! I had an idea from Griffith’s Valuation, and then the exact cottage was confirmed to me by a cousin in Ireland. I’ll hunt down the details for you 🙂

    • Catherine O'Rourke

      Hi Trish, seems we are cousins, my dad was Michael (Mike), the same as his dad (Mick) and grandfather (your grandfathers brother). Uncle Batt or Bart helped my mum out with the family tree when I was little.

      • Trish

        Hi Catherine -I have just come across this message from February. We have been down on the West Coast and visited Charleston which is where Bartholomew O’Rourke and Bridget Power were married before they came up to Napier.
        There are so many descendants. The family burial plot up on Napier Hill is interesting to visit. I had my DNA tested a couple of years ago and it threw up a number of names but not too many from NZ which quite surprised me given our numbers.

      • glenn taylor

        hi catherine, my grandmother was Bridget anne Orourke ( known as bebe ). i would love to know more about the hawkes bay orourkes.
        contact me on glenn.taylor.home@gmail.com

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