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When the Irish settled in Alder Brook | News, Sports, Jobs


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This photo of Ruth and Howard in front of the iconic Poulnabrone Dolmen, created between 4200-2900 BC, was taken in the heart of the Burren in County Clare, Ireland during their trip in 2000. Dolmens are archaeological monuments with heavy capstones over upright pillar stones. The Burren is a unique, beautifully desolate, limestone plateau with an awe-inspiring rocky landscape. When the site was excavated in 1988, the remains of 33 human bodies were found. It was estimated the burials were intermittently between 3800 and 3200 B.C.
(Provided photo)

What better time to look back at our Irish heritage than this day before St. Patrick’s on March 17.

So much of the population of Saranac Lake was increased over the years by the Irish that migrated from Alder Brook.

I can’t tell how clear the accompanying photo will reproduce. It is of my great-grandparents tombstone in the St. Rose of Lima cemetery in Alder Brook. Here is the inscription:



Native of Co. Westmeath Ireland


His Wife


Native of Co. Antrim Ireland

Margaret was Mr. Keegan’s second wife. A tombstone next to the aforementioned simply reads: “Ann, Wife of Thomas Keegan, Died August 7, 1858, Age 44 Yrs.”

These two ancestors are also the great-grandparents of my cousins Pat Hogan, Francis Hogan, Tom Buckley … and many more.

Pat, an educator, retired as principal of the Bloomingdale Elementary School; Francis operated a great farm in Rainbow Lake with his family and is the longest serving postmaster in the United States and an eloquent BSer; Tom was president of the Saranac Lake School Board and had a career with the Department of Environmental Conservation until he retired.

My mother, Elizabeth McKillip Keegan, daughter of William Keegan and Elizabeth McKillip, lost her mother and infant sister Marguerite at birth, when she was only about age 4. She was raised by her Aunt Esther Keegan Hogan. The Hogan children were pretty much considered her brothers and sisters.

That family had six boys: Richard, Patrick, Francis, William, Tom and Henry and two girls, Margaret and Bid.

Connecting the “relative” dots was difficult as I was always trying to do for my cousin, Beth Sullivan Bevilacqua who grew up in Syracuse, whose father was John Sullivan.

Here is why it gets difficult to connect those dots.

Richard (Pat’s Dad) and his brother, Pat, married sisters, Gertrude (a teacher) and Anna LaFountain … so I guess the sisters became sisters-in-law and the brothers, brother-in-laws.

Margaret Hogan (also a teacher) married George Buckley and her brother, William Hogan (Dad of Francis) married George Buckley’s sister, Mae Buckley. Go ahead, connect the dots.

Tom Hogan married Anne Howard and her sister, Winnie, married Phil Sullivan and that connection gets better because John Howard, the Elder married a McKillip, my grandmother’s sister.

Francis Hogan married Mamie Delcore, whose sister Laura Delcore, was married to Duke Derby, who became John Derby’s grandparents. Another sister, Florence Delcore is the grandmother of Jeff and Rob Reyell making the Derby’s and the Reyell’s cousins. Francis and Mamie did not have children.

Henry Hogan married and moved away and I remember as a child visiting his family at their farm, maybe near Malone. I believe he was not farming the place but he did keep kept big draft horses on the farm and actually worked for the Conservation Department.

Bid Hogan married Lawrence Ryan, a guard at Dannemora prison. They had a big family and we also visited them when they moved to that area. I remember Bess, an RN and some of the boys who were World War II veterans … Richard (Boots), Paul and Hank and many more.

No story of Alder Brook would be complete without mentioning the two biggest families, the Ryan’s and the Laws. There are stories about those families of “You Know What” in Volume 1. I knew all of the Law family; Emma and Stevie were twins, Marie, James, Margaret, John, Ray, Charlie (we hoisted a few together) and Francis. Emma told me there were two girls who died in infancy.

Later when Mom was about age 16 or 17, my grandfather Billy Keegan, a carpenter who worked on the railroad for a time, built a new house for him and my mother on the Crossroads (now Hobart Road) in Gabriels. He bought her a new upright piano with ivory keys, she played very well and that piano was in the family all her life.

That is how she met our Dad, Dennis, who managed the “Sister’s Farm” at the end of Hobart Road and owned by the Sisters of Mercy.

We were all born in that farmhouse; Rita, her twin brother Ray, Marguerite, Charles, Howard and Theresa.

Our great-grandparents, on our Dad’s side also came from Ireland. Patrick and his wife Julia Ryan and settled in Malone but that story is for March 17, 2025.

There is a rich history of Irish Catholic culture in the North Country from the pioneers that came over from Ireland in the early 1800s and settled in Alder Brook and equally as many or more in the Malone area.

The religious and social lives of those farm families centered around the Saint Rose of Lima Parish when the church was first built there in 1854. It was built by Father James Keveny of the Parish of Keeseville. Dad’s first cousin, Father Frank Cornish was later the Pastor at the Irish Church in Keeseville. Keeseville also had a French Church. If you are interested, you can ask my friend Jack Laduke more about that history.

Father Richard O’Donnell, who was born in Ballybacon, County Tipperary, Ireland in January 1862 was the first and only resident Pastor to serve St. Rose.


All of the above, connecting-the-dots reading, may improve you cognitive ability but coincidentally, my sister-in-law, Vicki Monaloy, a linguist, sent me this brain exerciser which I am trying to memorize.

“This is the history of four people, called: Everyone, Someone, Each One and No One. There was important work to do and Everyone was sure that Someone would do it.

“In effect, Each One could have done it, but at the end, No One did it. Someone got angry because it was the work of Everyone. However, Everyone thought that Each One would do it, but No One understood that Everyone would have done it. In the end, Everyone blamed Someone because No One did that which Each One could have done.”

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