Monthly Archives: May 2010

Memorial Day

For many years there has been a Memorial Day program in Clontarf.  It would consist of a procession from the school to the cemetery.  The color guard from the Benson VFW would take part.  The school children were all present and one was chosen to read the poem, In Flanders Fields written by John McCrae in May 1915.

Poppies (© Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

As long as we are on the subject of WWI, anyone recognize this WWI soldier?

WWI Clontarf soldier

It was unidentified but in a collection of Regan family photographs.  I think it might be John Kelly who was engaged to Mary Regan.  Mary passed away in 1918.  I know John Kelly was in WWI, but I have never seen a photo of him.


Filed under Clontarf

St. Malachy Catholic Church

St. Malachy Catholic Church Clontarf, MN

St. Malachy’s has been central to life in Clontarf since it was first established in 1878.  In April of that year, Father Anatole Oster was assigned to Clontarf, then a mission of DeGraff, MN.  In 1880, St. Malachy’s became a parish in its own right with a congregation of over five-hundred.

Clontarf grew quickly during those first two years due in large part to the presence of the Catholic Church.  Father Oster’s duties went far beyond preparing a sermon for Sunday and performing Sacraments for his parishioners. Throughout 1878-79, new settlers arrived in Clontarf almost daily and when they stepped off the train they were first met by Father Oster.  He provided support and advice to the newest members of the Clontarf community, instructing settlers on the practical aspects of making a new life on the prairie.

A larger, and the present-day St. Malachy’s Church (an early photo is above), was built in 1896 to accommodate the growing congregation.  Father Oster left the following year and was succeeded by the Rev. J.J. McDonald.

Rev. J.J. McDonald (1897-1901)

I wish I had a photo of Father Oster to post – I will work on that.

Please check out the Clontarf Events page for information on an upcoming fundraiser for St. Malachy’s.

Any memories of the Church building or priests over the years?  How about stories passed down about Father Oster?  I recall there were some stories about him coming out to visit families in Tara Township and saying Mass at the Michael Donovan (?) or Kent house – anyone else heard about that?  Please share by adding a comment.


Filed under Clontarf, Early Settlers

Daniel Family: Pioneer Clontarf Settlers

The Daniel family is an example of the settlers who came to Clontarf before the railroad and before it was even Clontarf.  These families were truly pioneers.

This entry in the Swift County History book has an interesting bit at the end.  I wonder if the French-speaking residents of Clontarf would travel to Benson to hear these sermons on Sundays? 

Isadore and Celemia Daniel

Isadore Daniel and his wife, Celemia arrived in the Clontarf area by oxcart in 1870 having moved here from Waverly, Minnesota, where many French-Canadians had settled earlier.  Homesteading on a farm in Hoff Township, Isadore and his wife would trade farm commodities such as eggs and milk for moccasins and beadwork made by the Indian families living along the Chippewa River.  Isadore and Celemia Daniel had eight children: Joseph, Elisabeth, Rosalie, Helen, Delma, Eugene, John, and Mena.  John married Clara Chevalier.

John and Clara Daniel had a daughter Adrance, who married George Gilbertson.  George and Adrance farmed in Hoff Township and in 1950 they opened the Clontarf Club which they operated for ten years.  The Clontarf Club is still in existence (in 1979).

It might be mentioned that the original members of the family of Isadore and Celemia, along with the many French-Canadians who moved into this area in the 1870’s were French-speaking.  For that reason the first priest in Clontarf in 1878 was also French in background, Father Oster, and when the first church was built in Benson by Father Oster in 1881, the sermons were principally in French.

I  bet Anne might have a few things to add about the Daniel family history…

And if you have anything to contribute, please comment on this post!


Filed under Clontarf, Early Settlers, Family Histories, French

Ladies of Clontarf

A photograph with Reardon connections:

Clontarf - 1920s

The caption reads, “Mrs. McCrystal, Katie Reardon, and Auntie”.  Mrs. McCrystal was the wife of the school superintendant and Auntie was Annie Hill Regan.  This is another photograph from an album that belonged to one of Annie’s nieces from Montana.

Anybody know anything about Katie Reardon?

This photo is from the 1920s, I suspect.


Filed under Clontarf

New page!

Check out the new Clontarf Events page.

Please submit additions or corrections by leaving a comment.

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Sports from Clontarf

1920s Clontarf

This photograph was in an album belonging to my grandfather, John Regan’s, cousin.   My grandfather’s aunt Mary Hill O’Brien moved to Chinook, MT from Clontarf in the late 1910s and daughters visited Clontarf on several occasions throughout the 1920s.

A couple of people have agreed that the man in the middle is Richard McMahon, the son of the Clontarf depot agent Frank McMahon (who was my great-grandfather’s brother).  The two in the hats?  Well, it is kind of tough to see their faces, but my sources say they are either Reardons or Dohertys.

Any ideas?


Filed under Clontarf

The Reardon Family: Long Journey to Clontarf

Each week we will profile a family with its roots in the Clontarf area.  Since there has already been some interest, we will start with the Reardon family.  The following was taken from an entry in the Swift County History book published in 1979:

Henry and Bridget Reardon

Henry Reardon and his wife, Bridget, were both born in Dublin, Ireland.  They both left Ireland at the time of the potato famine, about 1845.  They went to Australia separately and met and were married in Melbourne, Australia.  Then they left for America and landed in New York where they stayed for a time.  In a few years they decided to move west and bought horses and a wagon which took them as far as the Mississippi River.  Here they hired a boat which took them north to Minnesota.  They settled first in Credit River, Prior Lake area in 1855.

In 1876 they and several other families moved to Clontarf Township, in Swift County.  Henry and his wife Bridget settled in Section 2 of what is now Tara Township.  Henry made several trips to and from Credit River moving other families to the Clontarf area.

Henry and Bridget had the following children: Andrew, Robert, John (Catherine Hogan), Henry (Sarah Byrne), Hannah (Michael Donovan), Mary(Long), Meg (Vorwick), Bridget (Ledwidge), and Thomas (Bridget McElgunn).

From this information, the Reardons arrived very early in Clontarf, before the colonization efforts by Bishop Ireland had begun in earnest.  The Reardon family is typical of many of the immigrant settlers in that Clontarf was not their first stop in America.  The Reardons had quite a journey – Dublin to Melbourne to New York to Credit River to Clontarf.

Dominic McDermott, who ran the first lumber yard in Clontarf and a general store also came from Credit River.  I believe Father Oster, the first parish priest in Clontarf, was in Credit River for a time as well.  Do you know of any other Clontarf families who came from Credit River?

Just a note – Tara Township was originally part of Clontarf Township.  It became its own entity in 1878.  Tara is west of Clontarf.

If you are a Reardon from Clontarf, we would like to hear from you!  Please add a comment.


Filed under Clontarf, Early Settlers, Family Histories, Irish