Friday, October 12, 2018

Rev Fr Henry Harbison C.SS.R. (1820-1889)

The eponymous cleric was one of the later sons of WIlliam Harbison (b. 1780). He went to Maynooth to study for the priesthood, something of an inevitability for an Irish middle class family; became curate in Dungannon in 1847, and was apparently heavily involved in nationalist agitation. That's understandable, given that SE Londonderry, where he was born and raised, was one of the few parts of Ulster severely impacted by the potato famine (1845-1848). The rest of his bio-, or perhaps more accurately his hagiography, is given by Papa Stronsay.

I should say I'm the kind of atheist who considers Richard Dawkins a little too moderate,and so it's amusing to learn my 3rd great uncle was the Irish Catholic version of Billy Graham. But far more importantly to a genealogist, the Reverend Henry was famous. All my 19th century relatives wanted him to conduct their funeral (which would then be written up in the newspaper) and everyone wanted him mentioned in their obituary. And that small piece of vanity is the only direct evidence I have to link the Ballyneill Harbisons to my branch of the family, as we'll see in the next post.

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