Saturday, 19 March 2016

Martha Craig and some McKinley relics from Conagher


Borne From Ancestral Home in Ireland to the Capitol


Irish History Spelled His Name Without the "C", She Said


NEW YORK, March 6 - Martha Craig is an Irish girl who has come over to America to lecture, and who has been received by President McKinley, and has presented him with souvenirs of the McKinley homestead in Ireland, together with photographs which she took herself, and a family tree showing the President's line of descent.

Miss Craig in her rambles through Ireland had visited the scene of President McKinley's ancestral home at Dervock, near Ballymoney, County Antrim. She says the Irish people are very proud of the fact that the President of the United States is of Irish descent. She herself was particularly interested, and determined to visit him when she came to America.

In rambling about the old place she picked up an old horseshoe and a bit of peat. "I shall present these to the President," she told herself. And she has done so. The two relics now occupy posts of honor in the President's library.

Miss Craig's assertions that President McKinley's great-grandfather lived in the little thatched house near Dervock, and that the remains of his great-uncle, the martyred patriot, lie in the old graveyard at Derrykeighan, are well authenticated. The fact has been authenticated by the Ulster Journal of Archeology.

Miss Craig is a business-like little woman, about thirty years old. She has come to America to lecture about Ireland, and she has brought stereopticon views with her to illustrate what she has to say. In the Crystal palace during the jubilee last year she lectured to more than 5000 people at one time. The idea that an Irish lecturer should visit England with a view to education and not agitation about Ireland appealed to the Londoners so strongly that they supported her beyond her expectations.

"That's my idea of doing the best work for Ireland," said Miss Craig. "I don't want to say a word against the methods of Maud Gonne. She is my friend, and I have a great admiration for her ability. She believes in agitation. I believe in education.

"The McKinley homestead," she says, "is one of the most interesting farm houses to be found in that part of Ireland. It is old-fashioned and rough, but strong and unyielding as the oak beams that support the roof. We don't build sky-scrapers in ireland, but we do build houses that time cannot wither nor age decay."

Her interview with the President was brief. She says:

"I told Mr McKinley of my visit to the home of his ancestors in Ireland and presented him with pictures of the old McKinley homestead that I took at Conagher less than three weeks ago. I told him that the people of Ulster were very proud that a descendant* of Francis McKinley, one of the martyrs to the revolution of 1798, should have become President of the most friendly nation and the most powerful ally that Ireland ever had.

"He seemed pleased. 'H'm,' he said, glancing over the documents I handed him. 'You spell it without the "c," I observe.'

" 'Irish history spells it so,' I replied."

The President said he was sorry he couldn't visit the Irish '98 centennial.

[Boston Post, 07 March 1898]

* Not a direct descendant of Francis McKinley but of one of Francis' ancestors.

Martha Craig was born at Carneal, between Larne and Carrickfergus, in 1866.