The McShain Family

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 3.21.33 PM

Patty Joyce McFillin and Jim Bracken in the Library of Killarney House.

June 10, 2013


Recently we were looking through the album with our Ireland pictures and it brought back a flood of memories. We went five times between 1986 and 1998. The first time was a whirlwind bus tour and Aunt Mary asked us to come for lunch. She said we’d probably stay at the Great Southern Hotel and that Killarney House was on the edge of town near the carriage ride. As it turned out we stayed out in Kenmare and came to Killarney in the morning. We were worried we’d have difficulty finding our way around but the first stop on the bus schedule took us right to the gate and there was Aunt Mary sitting in the Rolls Royce right outside.

It was always a thrill to drive through the entrance but the first time is really awe-inspiring. We had a great lunch and Aunt Mary gave us a wonderfully detailed history of the place and the names of all the former owners. Every piece of furniture had its own story and Joe was sorry he didn’t have a tape recorder since he would never remember all that Aunt Mary told us.

After lunch, Michael took us on a tour and Aunt Mary filled us in before we left with every detail about what we were to see. When we arrived at Ross Castle, Joe saw a little boy about seven years old looking at the Rolls with his mouth and eyes wide open. Joe asked him if he would like to sit in the car. He was thrilled when Michael moved the car a couple of feet to show him how it rode. After he came out of the car his father told Joe his son would remember this for the rest of his life and thanked Joe. The following trips were all spent at Killarney House with different guests and many happy memories.

Cassy Joyce Breslin and Joe Breslin

AM -Cassy-Joe-Jim-Betsy.jpeg

Betsy Joyce Bracken – Mary H. McShain – Cassy Joyce Breslin

Jim Bracken – Joe Breslin

I was told before I went to Ireland in 1977 that your first trip is the best and none of the others will come close to those days. I am not sure that this is completely true for I had wonderful times every other time I went. However, I will say I can recall everything from that first trip all those years ago without any trouble. We traveled to Ireland, my Mother, Patty and Jim McFillin and Jim and myself, with Our Lady of Lourdes parish trip.  We stayed in Killarney House by ourselves because Aunt Mary and Uncle John were in Rome for the canonization of St. John Neumann. We were to meet them in Dublin for the weekend. Aunt Mary had planned everything down to the last detail. One of the marvelous things we were doing was going to “The Darby”. One thing a lady needs to have for the Darby is a hat. The day before we left to go to Dublin Norrie called us in to Aunt Mary’s bedroom and the beds were coverd with hats. Aunt Mary had told Norrie to get out all of her hats and let us chose one. Mother, Patty and I had so much fun trying on all the hats and prance around. Somehow there was a hat that would go with each of our outfits for the races. We were the cat’s meow, had a great time with Aunt Mary and Uncle John, we also picked some winning horses!

Betsy Joyce Bracken

1st visit to Killarney 1.jpeg

      Patty Joyce McFillin, Katherine McShain Joyce, Betsy Joyce Bracken                                                      Jim McFillin


One of my favorite memories of Killarney House, besides the time I spent with Aunt Mary, was meeting her and Uncle John’s horse Melanie. After an unpleasant incident in my childhood, I was not particularly fond of horses. While I could admire them from afar, I had no desire to get up close with one. However, Melanie had a different idea. One lovely morning, John and I went for a walk around the property. When Melanie heard my voice, she came right over. John encouraged me to pet her as she seemed to respond to the sound of my voice. Her kind eyes and gentle ways convinced me to give it a try. She completely won me over! For the rest of our stay, I would try and see her every day. And each time she was out and heard my voice, she came right over. She was a beautiful addition to Killarney house.

She will always hold a special place in my heart, as does my trip to Killarney House.

Sharon Zenie Bracken

Sharon's horse



Killarney Memories

Memory #1

September 1986 – The opportunity to have my first beer out of a Waterford beer glass with Uncle John and Aunt Mary and my cousin Kevin McFillin and Billy Breslin during Happy Hour will always be a fond memory!

–          Jimmy Bracken

Memory #2

September 1992 – Visiting Killarney House with Teenie and John and Sharon Bracken was a great family experience – I remember it was the first time Teenie met Aunt Mary and when we would go to Aunt Mary’s room to talk– Teenie would give her hands and/or feet a massage and Aunt Mary always smiled and reacted so positively.  Then Sharon, Teenie, John and I would play Pinochle down in the Black and White Suite at night to carry on a little of the Bracken Avalon tradition in Ireland.

–          Jimmy Bracken 

Memory #3

September 1997 – Teenie and I were lucky enough to return a second time, this time with our really good friends from Washington DC (Steve and Maureen VanBesien). The thing I remember the most is riding bikes around Killarney Park and looking back up at the Killarney house from a distance and thinking how cool it was to be staying in that house.  On this trip we also got the chance to meet Susan Duckett who was painting watercolors of Killarney House and its views.

  • Jimmy Bracken


                   Jim Bracken, Mary H. McShain, Teenie Schanno Bracken,

                                    Sharon Zenie Bracken, John Bracken


I went to Ireland in September 1986 as my first out of country vacation after starting work at GE right after college. Four of us made the trip across the pond. It was Bill Breslin, Jim Bracken, Kevin McFillin, and Chip (One of Jimmy’s friends). We had a great time touring the island. We were able to visit with Uncle John and Aunt Mary one afternoon and shared a meal with them. We did enjoy touring the grounds but we did not have much time at the house. I do remember one funny story about the trip.

Kevin arrived a few days later than the rest of us. He was tired so we let him sleep in the car and the rest of us played golf at Ballybunion Golf Course in County Kerry. We played nine holes and then stopped for a few beers. Kevin meet us at the pub and as we were ready to play the back 9 we realized that we did not have the keys to the car. Since this was a links course and very hilly we remember several of us having trouble on the hills. We thought we lost the keys on one of these hills. So we grabbed a few beers and went looking for the keys. Well it became interesting because we could not find them and four Americans looking for keys on the course while drinking can get amusing. We finally decided to give up and go back to the pub. We contacted the car company (Dan Dooley’s) about getting a new set of keys. They said we would have to return to the airport to pick them up. After several more beers and discussing how we would return to the airport Kevin put his hand in his pocket and noticed he had the keys all this time. We must have given him the keys to sleep in the car and forgot. Maybe it was the good Irish beer but it certainly was funny then and now when I think of it. I can not image what the people at the pub thought of us.

Bill Breslin


    The Boys at the Gate: Bill Breslin, Jim Bracken, Kevin McFillin


Letter to Polly on her 85th birthday

Was it Providence or coincidence? My new fiancé, Patrick McFillin and I visited Killarney house in the fall of 1992 along with my future parents-in-law, Patty and Jim McFillin. Aside from recalling the luxury and splendor of both Killarney House and Ireland, something astonishing occurred that I will always remember. One evening while enjoying cocktails and waiting for dinner to be served, I happened to notice a shelf full of photo albums. I randomly chose one and began to page through it. A few pages in, I was stunned to see a photograph of the house I was born and raised in. I had never been out of the United States, had just flown across the Atlantic Ocean the day before, was in a house owned by people I had never met, and they had a picture of my childhood home. Of course, there was a logical explanation. My parents owned a home in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania which was adjacent to the Holy Child campus. When the school and convent closed, the Sisters purchased my parents’ home. The picture showed their new Cornelian House/ my former home. Nonetheless, what were the chances of traveling to Ireland, staying in Killarney House, choosing that album, and turning to that photo? We chose to see it as a wink from God that our lives were unfolding according to his plan, and that everything was as it should be. And now, three children and twenty years later the plan continues to unfold. So, we want to thank you Polly, for providing us with the opportunity to feel God’s reassurance along with all the other wonderful memories of Killarney House and Ireland.

Marge Thompson McFillin – wife of Patrick McFillin

Marge, AM, Pat

                  Marge Thompson McFillin, Mary H. McShain, Pat McFillin


I do remember my short time at Killarney House, for an afternoon tea with Aunt Mary. The two things that stuck in my memory were:

  1. The garden: being a chef and an avid gardener, I was humbled by the beauty and usefulness of all that was grown there, cabbage and potatoes for sure. But the flowers and vines were breathtaking. We were there in June (I believe 1991) and everything was in full bloom. I wanted to take it all with me.
  2. The Chapel: words cannot convey the beauty and serenity I felt there. I took video of our tour here, but alas, they have been lost, back then it wasn’t like taking pictures today.

I miss seeing you, Polly but I wanted to make sure you know from one horse lover to another there is a stakes race at Delaware Park named after you. “The Polly’s Jet Handicap”. Thanks for all the great memories.

Love, Hugs and Kisses,

Terence, Maryanne Casey and Sara Joyce


Chapel for Terrance's letter                                                        The Chapel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s