Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

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.


Equality 18th Century Style


Irish-born Hannah Witney served 5 years as a marine on board various ships disguised as a man. She revealed her gender in October 1761 after being picked up in Plymouth by a press-gang and put in the town’s prison. Disgusted by the prison conditions she revealed her true identity and was released. She told the shocked prison guard that she would not have revealed her gender if not for being captured by the press-gang and thrown in prison.


Convicted murderer James Reilly was hanged in Kilmainham prison, Dublin, on 2nd of September 1893 – 32 years after he had been born there; he had come into the world inside its walls while his mother was serving a sentence for theft. He drew his last breath in the prison where he had first seen the light of day.