From Carlow to Graceland
At the foot of Eagle Hill.
The stones from his house
You’ll see them in the field there still.
I’ll tell you the story,
So Listen if you can,
And I will tell you how Elvis
Became a Carlow man.
If Elvis is alive, as many of his fans claim he will be 79 on 08th January. And it will be a nice birthday revelation when he learns that he is a Carlow man.
People from county Carlow are famous worldwide, Cardinal Francis Moran, William Dargan, Myles Keogh and John Tyndall. But how much do you hear about William Presley?
Everybody is familiar with songs by and about Elvis Presley. There’s Richie Kavanagh’s, How Elvis Became a Carlow Man and Richard Thompson’s Galway to Graceland. And I’ll bet you often gave an off-key rendition of Wooden Heart, while gyrating and throwing shapes with your pelvic area at two o’clock in the morning. But how much did you know about, what is the most important aspect of man or beast, his pedigree? In my neck of the woods you’d often hear it said, of a person, “If he was a greyhound pup I wouldn’t buy him.”
Well, Elvis had a good solid Irish pedigree. His ancestors came from Hacketstown, Co. Carlow. (One journalist suggested that Elvis should have been singing Green Suede Shoes.)
William Presley, because of a land dispute in 1775 was forced to flee from Hacketstown.
It's been proven that William Presley lived in Hacketstown and emigrated to the States circa 1775. An Australian is claiming that Elvis great-great-great grandfather was German and that Elvis Irish connection might be a Mansell who also emigrated to the US at the same time meaning that Elvis Scottish-Irish roots would be on the mother's side but a Carlow historian, Michael Purcell has disproved that and has some strong documentation to back up his claim.
“ . . . a band of yeomen and many other evil disposed persons did riotously, routously and unlawfully make an assault and did beat, wound and ill treat him so that his life was greatly despaired of."
The facts, printed on faded parchment records, show that the attack took place with swords and sticks and the attackers were of the Morris, Wilson and Maher families. “William sought the protection of the King in Carlow,” explained Michael Purcell.
And, according to Michael, William could just as easily have been one of our own, A Wicklow man; Michael says, “ . . . despite his address being in both Wicklow and Carlow, when push came to shove he considered himself a true Carlovian.”
Fast forward to 1913 when William’s great-great grandson, Jessie, married Minnie May. Their son, Vernon, married Gladys Love Smith in 1933 and Elvis Aaron Presley was born in January 1935. Of course if William hadn’t emigrated we’d probably have "Diarmuid O’ Leary, Elvis, and the Bards.”
Michael Purcell’s findings have been confirmed by eminent historians Turtle Bunbury and Ivor Casey, author of ‘Elvis in Ireland’. I contacted Kilkenny man, Myles Kavanagh, who has devoted his life to the King and wears an Elvis costume every day. Myles and a few others, including Cork singer/entertainer, David McCarthy are mounting a campaign to have a plaque erected in Hacketstown to honour “the King”. This plaque would be erected in a public place where anyone could view it free of charge. A man in the Irish midlands has offered to donate a statue of Elvis and Carlow Councillor, Denis Foley, told me that he is one hundred percent behind the project and when David McCarthy wrote to Graceland to ask if there were any objections, let’s just say his letter wasn’t returned marked Return to Sender.
|Elvis in the Army|
HAVE A GREAT 2014!