The Keenan’s Of Leitrim Castledawson
Robert Keenan 1750-1825 Master Builder Received the Commission to Add an Ornamental Spire, to The Ruined 12th Century Church Of St Toide On Church Island Lough Beg Ballyscullion Parish 1788.
The Spire was Commissioned by The Eccentric Earl Of Bristol Frederick Hervey Who was also Bishop Of Derry, the Spire was Added to Enhance the View From His yet to be Completed Palace at the nearby Ballyscullion Demesne.
Ballyscullion Palace was Practically Completed by The Bishops Death in 1803 But was completely impractical as a Dwelling never occupied and having its windows removed to avoid the newly imposed window Tax.
The Palace was carefully dismantled in 1813 , with its component parts Sold to other Large Houses Throughout Ireland. The Keenan Family would have been involved in the Palaces Construction And Dismantling, this is where John Keenan (Jointa Lime And Keenan Lime Works ) developed his Skills in Quarrying And Lime Burning.
John Keenan Roberts Son was Born 1809. He Left Ireland in 1831 Sailing from Belfast with his Two Sisters, Traveling First to Quebec then Swanton Vermont where his Brothers Robert And Alexander Were already Settled And working in the Local Quarry Industry. John Keenan subsequently Traveled On to Glensfalls New York State where he became involved in The Fledgling Lime Industry.
John Keenan 1808-1885John Keenan 1809-1885, Anne Keenan 1825-1902. John Keenan 1808-1885 Succeeded In Building Very Successful Enterprise’s In Glensfalls with His Company’s exporting up to Six Hundred Thousand Barrels Of Burned Lime per Year, originally By Barge down The Local Champlain Canal And The Hudson River to Ports as Far away as Troy And New York City this Changed In later years with John Keenans promotion and Delivery of a Railroad Connection.
In Ireland Many Progressive Tenant Farmers supplemented their Farm Income by Exploiting any source of Raw Materials found on their Land Peat , Gravel, Limestone, Or exposed Rock were all in demand.
Good Quality Peat And Blue Clay were Present on The Keenan Family Farm Clay was Present In a Small Field Known As the Brick Yard this Clay was hand made in moulds then Burned On Site forming good Quality Brick, Known Locally As Leitrim Brick they can be still found in many Local Houses Of that Time.
Rock when required was sourced from other local small holdings and extracted by Hand using Crow Bars And Sledges fashioned to the appropriate Sizes then Carted to The Work Site Or Roadside Stock Piles Known As Depo’s this was Winter Work with the Materials applied To the Road Surface in Good Weather.
John’s Brothers Richard,Charles, and Bernard remained at Home in Leitrim Castledawson, Where with their Father Robert they had developed a Thriving Nursery Business which Specialised In Growing Trees And Thorn Bushes For Coppice And Hedge Planting Around The local Landed Estates. This work accompanied the Families Building And Minor Road Repair Activities .
Michael Keenan Leitrim Castledawson appears in The 1836 Ordinance Survey Memoirs for The Parish Of Ballyscullion As follows:
Michael Keenan to keep In Repair for 7 Years from Spring 1835 about One Mile Of The Leading Road From Bellaghy to Maghera which stands with in the above Line Of Road averages 21 Feet Wide clear Of Banks, Drains, And Fences And with a few exceptions stands in a good State Of Repair at Present.
Charles Keenan 1805-1884
Charles Keenan 1805-1884 with His Young Family Left Leitrim in 1852 shortly after the Worst Years Of The Great Famine, joining his Brother John Keenan in Glensfalls where he went to Work in Jointa Lime as a Foreman at The Lime Kiln’s.
Living at 69 Warren St close to John and his Family. Charles Keenans Son Robert Keenan 1855-1929 followed his Father into the Quarry Industry , working at Jointa’s Lime Kiln’s.
Robert Keenans Son Frank J Keenan 1889-1964 working with Daniel H Cowles and Judge James McPhilips Established the Hudson Transportation Corp in 1928 of which he was President they provided all the Bus Services to the Local Glensfalls Area Up unto the 1960s.
Meanwhile John And Charles’s Brother Richard Keenan 1795-1880 at Home in Leitrim Castledawson, Continued The Nursery Business while endeavouring to undertake Minor Repairs On Stretches Of local Roads. Richards Son Hugh Keenan continued in the Construction Bussiness carrying out work at the Replacement Ballyscullion House For The Bruce Family, Bishop Herveys Successors this Building was a much more modest Dwelling than the Previous Palace.
Hugh Keenan 1829-1893
Hugh Keenan received the Contract to Construct the Estate’s Perimeter Wall which Enclosed The Ballyscullion Demesne And nearby Lough Beg Intake From The surrounding Farmland . Hugh Keenan was assisted with this Work by his Brother Robert Keenan 1832-1914 , Robert Keenan Left Ireland 1863 traveling to The Australian Gold Fields At Bendigo Victoria Then Carrying On to the Gold Diggings At Naseby Otago New Zealand moving from there to Auckland where he Established one of the Earliest Taxi Companies In The City .
Hugh Keenan made a trip to The USA visiting his cousins in Glensfalls after which he returned and Built The Keenan Family Homestead with its enclosed farm Yard at the Junction Of Leitrim Road And Deerpark Road .
Hugh Keenan 1829-1893 remained unmarried and was succeeded by his Brother Patrick who continued With the Nursery And Road Repair Business. Patrick Keenan 1832-1910 was followed in the Family Bussiness by his son Peter Keenan 1869-1939, Peter Continued With the Nursery And Minor Road Repair Work , Like His Father Quarrying Various Local Seams Of Exposed Rock when required Including at the Small Quarry opposite The Current Quarry in Rocktown Knockloughrim.
Patrick Keenan 1913-1973
Peter Keenans Son Patrick Keenan 1913-1973 continued to operate the Nursery And Minor Road Works Repair Business, it was he who Formalised this Generations Old Family Business In 1944 Registering as a Road Contractor With The Northern Ireland Department Of Commerce.
Patrick Keenan Developed a Quarry In Muckrim At Moneyglass Co Antrim close to Toomebridge In The Early 1950s Installing a Goodwin Barsby Bitmac Plant Mid 1950s enabling him to undertake local Road resurfacing Contracts.
The Keenan Family Business is currently operated by Patrick Keenan’s Sons Peter, Michael, And Dermot Providing High Quality Aggregates and carrying out Road Construction And Fixed Term Maintenance Contracts for The Department Of The Environment in various areas of Northern Ireland.