When a local historian was examining the names of headstones in Clonmelsh graveyard, Ballyloo, Co Carlow, he came across the rather unusual name of Disney in the graveyard and wondered if there was any connection to Walt Disney. There was, Walt Disney’s great-grandfather Arundel Elias Disney was born in Kilkenny in 1801. In 1832 Arundel Elias married Maria Swan who gave birth to their son Kepple Disney, Walt Disney’s grandfather, on the 2nd of November of the same year.
In later years Arundel and his brother Robert, along with their families, reached America.
Kepple married Mary Richardson in 1858 and settled in Bluevale, Ontario where Elias, Walt Disney’s father was born in 1859. Elias worked on his father’s farm until 1884 before eventually settling in Kansas City, Missouri with his wife Flora and their five children, one of which was Walter ‘Walt’ Elias Disney.
The final resting place of Walt Disney’s ancestors is not glamorous despite Disney’s legacy. The graves are overgrown and buried under mounds of illegally dumped rubbish despite attempts to clean the graveyard vandals and people dumping rubbish continue to plague the graveyard which also contains the family of Pierce Butler, one of the men who signed the American Constitution, and millionaire Thomas Tracy.