Patrick Henry Rafter 1833

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My great-great grandfather Patrick Henry Rafter, born in 1833 evidently in Callan, Kilkenny, Ireland, came to the U.S. in 1854 at the age of 21, without informing his family. His sisters (who by then lived in the city of Kilkenny) hired a lawyer, Mr. Dunphy, who finally located him in Susquehanna Depot, Pennsylvania, in 1868. His sister Mary wrote him three letters, which are in our family’s possession. The sisters were overjoyed to have found their brother, and he had evidently written them he would come visit them with his wife and small daughter. However, he died in 1870 (at age 37) before doing so. In an excerpt from one of the letters, Mary describes her life with her sisters Anne and Anastasia:

My Dear Brother with regard now to our present situation me and Anne is of no use in regard of sewing or working then our sole dependance is Statia who still holds her situation I need not say to you the value of needle work but she does a little at home over time which we try to manage with.

In all of the letters Mary signs herself: “Mary Rafter, Walkin Street Opposite Friary Chapel, Kilkenny."

I was able to obtain a death certificate for Anastasia Rafter. Her death is recorded 1892, Thirteenth September, Workhouse, Walkin Street, Anastasia Rafter, F [Female], spinster, 53 years, Dressmaker, Contusion & Nephritis 63 Days, Thomas Dunphy, Occupier Workhouse (see second illustration, Anastatia the last person listed on the form). 

See Find My Past entry for Kilkenny Moderator December 24, 1921 page 4 showing list of charities including "Walkin Street Alms House, Kilkenny." Note: Walkin Street is now Friary Street.

In Irish Historic Towns Atlas p. 26 ( is listed: Walkin's St. Almshouse, Walkin St.

This alms house is possibly in the building once known as the Munster Arms, at 17 Friar St. See entry from

CA/KK/2/1/1/2/1 Correspondence relating to the sale of 17 Friary Street 7 June 1989-22 Apr. 1998 File 50 items Typescript copy The letters relate to the purchase of the ground rent of a property known as ‘Morrissey’s, 17 Friary Street’, from AIB Bank by the FMC Trust and to the proposed purchase of the said premises by Kilkenny Corporation. Correspondents include John Lanigan & Nolan, Abbey Bridge, Dean Street, Kilkenny, Fr. Leo Cullen OFM Cap., the Town Clerk’s Office, Kilkenny Corporation, and the Charitable Commissioners Office. A letter from John Lanigan & Nolan refers to the property as being let to tenants called ‘the Floods … [comprising] two Alms Houses i.e. the old “Munster Arms” at an annual rent of £11.50 due half yearly’. 


Sharon Olson
Lawrenceville, New Jersey
great-great granddaughter of Patrick Henry Rafter, 1833-1870


Additional Information
Date of Birth 1833  
Date of Death 1870  
Associated Building (s) Kilkenny Workhouse  

Communities Associated with this Ancestor

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