From Custer’s Last Stand to ethnic cleansing in Laois

Carlow may be Ireland’s smallest inland county but it has produced a diverse range of people who have made a name for themselves in many walks of life. Both the living and the dead feature in County Carlow, A Who’s Who (€25) jointly compiled by three Carlovians: Charlie Keegan, Jimmy O’Toole and Martin Nevin.

Mini biographies feature more than 350 people in 13 categories. These range from politics, religion and medicine, to the arts and entertainment, as well as sporting heroes such as “Red” Willie Walsh, regarded as the greatest hurler Carlow ever produced, and the rugby star Seán O’Brien, known as the “Tullow Tank”, named in 2011 as European Player of the Year.

Myles Keogh, who was born at Leighlinbridge, joined the US army and was second in command to General George Armstrong Custer, cavalry commander in the American Civil War. Keogh died in the summer of 1876 fighting the Sioux and Cheyenne in the Battle of the Little Big Horn, otherwise known as Custer’s Last Stand. Other entries include the distinguished arachnologist, Denis Pack-Beresford, who recorded the first scientific details of many spiders in Ireland and was born at Bagenalstown in 1862, and Kathleen Mary Vigors, who came from Burgage, was the mother of the adventurer Wilfrid Thesiger who explored many remote and dangerous places.

Some of Co Down’s best known 18th and 19th century businessmen are vividly brought to life in Notable Inhabitants of Downpatrick by Aynsworth Pilson, (Lecale & Downe Historical Society, £10). Originally edited by Reginald Blackwood in 1930, the book was re-edited in 2016 by Colm Rooney and Gordon Wheeler.

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