Report from the

Irish Palatines Tercentenary

Rathkeale, County Limerick, Ireland

4 September Through 13 September, 2009

Irish Palatine Special Interest Group

To assist Irish Palatines in learning about their genealogy and connecting with other Irish Palatines

Ontario Genealogical Society

Go to OGS


   While remembering churches, we must note our visit to St. Mary's Cathedral in Limerick City. Besides being the repository of all of the County Limerick Church of Ireland records, this is a

beautiful church that is steeped in history. Over 800 years old, it has seen Irish history from the end

of the Vikings, through the Williamite Wars and the Civil Wars. It has been undergoing major

restoration for several years to deal with moisture problems in the massive stone walls, and today is

looking and feeling like the grand old lady that she is. A special treat while we were there was to

have Bernd Braun play the St. Mary's organ. Bernd, who played for the Palatine group in 2004 in

Assenheim and who is a noted musician and teacher in Germany, traveled with our group for the

week and enchanted us by playing several organs at our different stops.


Bernd Braun and the St. Mary's Cathedral Organ

    Another visit that certainly was a highlight was the unplanned invitation to Castle Matrix.

While Liz O'Driscoll, the current owner/resident apologized for the condition of the castle, she told

us of its mysteries and showed us some of its wonderful antiques. It was the home of the

Southwells who were the main landlords for the first settlement of Palatines. Dating back to the

14th century, the square tower has been a fortress for the Fitzgeralds and is reputed to be the place

where Sir Walter Raleigh first introduced the potato to Ireland. For us, it was a trip into the past to

climb the narrow, twisting stone stairways and peer into dark corridors.

    Tradition holds that the name of the Castle comes from its location in a meadow sacred to the Goddess Matress.  More information is available at


                         Castle Matrix                                                                                           Castle Oliver  

    We were also fortunate in being able to visit Castle Oliver, the home of another of the

landlords of our ancestors, Silver Oliver. As the Castle was open in preparation for a wedding, we

were able to get a brief tour. The recently restored interior contains many items and portraits from

the families who lived here in the late 18th and 19th centuries. The Oliver Estate was one of the

secondary settlements for the Irish Palatines and became home to many families.

    Our visits to historic landmarks of the Irish Palatines included the villages and townlands of

Courtmatrix, Ballingrane, Killeheen, Bally Organ, Kilfinane, and Glenosheen. The day we visited

the settlements on the Oliver Estate, we were hosted to a lunch by one of the caretakers of the

Kilflyn Church in Kilfinane. The church and its graveyard, again, hold records of many of the Irish

Palatine families. We were reminded of the value of these local folk who work to preserve our


    The homes of persons we have heard of in our readings of Irish Palatine history became

real to us as we visited the home of Barbara Ruttle Heck, still occupied by her family. In the yard of

her home stands the scion of the famous pear tree under which John Wesley preached to the

Palatines. At the Bovenizer home we saw one of the famous Palatine Wells with its stone steps and

walls. We also saw the gate from the Killeheen Preaching House and a stone base from a cider


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The home of Barbara Ruttle

Austin Bovenizer Shows the gate from the Killeheen Preaching House

A Palatine Well with stairs leading down to the covered water

The stone base of a cider press