Select Kane Miscellany



Here are some Kane stories and accounts over the years:

Kane and Keane in Ireland


Kane and Keane were ranked as the 67th and 65th most common names in all-Ireland in 1996.  But their rankings were very different in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland (Ulster).
 


Ulster
Rest of Ireland
Kane
   21st
   145th
Keane          
  181st        
    37th

 


Donnagh Ballagh and the Beggarman's Prophecy

A tale was told of the last of the great O'Cathain chiefs, Donagh Ballagh O'Cathain, mounted on a superb horse with his two daughters, visiting the fair at Enagh.  On his entry to the hill a beggarman solicited alms. O'Cathain's response was the lash of his riding whip.  The beggarman drew himself up to his full height and said in a tone that strongly impressed the listeners:

"Soon the hill without a fair,
Soon O'Cathain without a horse."

It was a prophecy that was later fulfilled.
 


O'Cahan's Lament and Danny Boy


The Londonderry Air, on which the hugely popular song Danny Boy is based, was first collected by Jane Ross of Limavady in Londonderry and submitted to a book The Ancient Music of Ireland which was published in 1855.  The origin of the tune remained for a long time mysterious as no other collector of folk tunes had encountered it.

Some say that Londonderry Air was originally called O’Cahan’s Lament and came about as follows:

“The confiscation of the O'Cahan lands was to enrage the blind harper Rory DalIO'Cahan, a chieftain of the clan, for he and his people had a deep attachment to the land where the O'Cahans had lived for generations.  The situation was to inspire him to compose a tune of such pain and passion that it would eventually touch the hearts of people worldwide.

A story has been told that he had too much to drink one evening.  He left his castle on the banks of the Roe, staggered along the riverside and eventually collapsed in a hollow.  The servants at the castle, who were sent to bring him back, were attracted by the sound of his harp in the distance. When they found Rory Dali he was lying unconscious.  But mysterious invisible fingers were playing a most beautiful tune on the harp.  After Rory Dali gained consciousness he immediately became aware of the haunting music being played by the fairies.  He listened attentively and when he was confident he could play it he made his way back to the castle where he entertained the guests.

Denis O'Hampsey, another blind harper from the Roe valley, brought the melody down to the 19th century.   Denis was to introduce this air throughout Ireland as a result of his travels."

The present-day Danny Boy lyrics were written by an English lawyer, Frederic Edward Weatherly, in 1910.  His version was unsuccessful until his sister-in-law sent him the melody to the Londonderry Air.  The melody matched nicely with his words and became an instant success, especially in America.


Distribution of the Kane Name in Ulster

The following were the Kane numbers in Ulster in Griffith’s Valuation compiled in the 1850’s:

County
Numbers
Percent
Derry
   326
   41
Antrim
   151
   19
Tyrone
   125
   16
Armagh
    70
    9
Down
    65
    8
Elsewhere
    63
    7
Total
   800
  100


Ulster Kanes Transported to Australia

The table below shows some of the Kanes who were tried in Ulster and sentenced to transportation to Australia in the first two decades of the 19th century.

Year
Convict
County
Offense
Sentence
1801
Daniel O'Kane  
Derry


1812
Patrick Kane
Dundalk
stealing
seven years
1816
John Kane
Down

seven years
1816
Sarah Kane
Antrim
robbery
seven years
1817
Hugh Kane
Donegal
breaking & entering
life
1817
John Kane
Donegal
breaking & entering
life
1817
John Kane
Monaghan   
stealing a cow
seven years


Hugh O'Kane, Western Adventurer

Hugh O’Kane was born in Antrim in 1857. As a young boy, he illegally immigrated to America by stowing away on a New York bound ship.  By the age of 12, he was selling newspapers and shining shoes on the streets of New York City.  He later learned the tailoring trade, but was always looking for adventure. 

In the 1870’s, he packed supplies in North Dakota and Montana for the US Army in its campaign against the Sioux Indians.  At the time of the battle of Little Bighorn, O'Kane was supporting General Terry’s column. Later he mined gold in the Black Hills, making a $50,000 fortune, only to lose it all gambling.  From there he moved west, packing provisions for pioneers and miners in Montana and Colorado. 

In 1881, be became manager for Tom Cannon, a champion wrestler.  O’Kane led Cannon’s wrestling troop on a fourteen month tour of Europe.  He later became manager for Ed Skinner and Marley Kettleman, both champion sprinters, taking them on a tour of Australia.  He then traveled around the United States racing horses, which turned a profit.  

In 1903, O’Kane and his wife moved to Bend, Oregon, where they built the Bend Hotel, which quickly became an Oregon landmark.  It burned down in 1915.  But his O’Kane Building in Bend, completed a year later, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  

By the time his building opened, O’Kane weighed three hundred pounds.  He would spend most afternoons lounging in a chair propped against his building.  From there, he told colorful stories to visitors or just slept. Late in his life O’Kane moved to Portland where he died in 1930 at the age of 73.





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