Sunday, 31 January 2010

Days Gone By


James J Hackett is a well known character in the Moate area of Ireland, a writer and an expert on local history, myth, legend and fable in the counties of Westmeath and Offaly. On several memorable occasions my wife Theresa and I, and other members of the Dwyer famliy, have shared a drink with James in one of his favourite hostelries, the Cat and Bagpipes on Clara Road, just down the lane from where Theresa's mum Kitty lives.

I remember for instance drinking into the early hours with James J one cold Christmas Eve amidst a cosy gathering of local farmers in the back bar of the old Cat where he toasted my impending birthday and proceded to entertain the whole audience with quotes from the great Irish and English writers and tales of local intrigue.

James has earned a reputation as a Shanachie, or traditional story teller across these two adjacent counties and I was recently delighted to learn that he had finally published a book of some of his knowledge and stories in 2006. Living at Ballinakill in the general area of Moate, James J comes from a family of saddle makers, though this very practical trade belies his learned and well read talent. Here is a short excerpt from his book Days Gone By which provides a brief insight into the history of Moate:

The Town of Moate - Its origins
by James J Hackett

The town of Moate began with the Quakers in the early 1700's. Previous to this Moate was a clsuter of very small abodes around O Mealaghlins castle which is still there today and is occupied. During the 12th century a group of Anglo Normans built a Motte which gave its name to the town.

The town of Moate is officially called Montagranoge, or Moate of Grainne Og who according to legend was a Munster princess (Carroll) who married O Mealaghlin the local lord. She was a judge or Brehon, and held her court of laws here. The name Mota Granoge means sunny little hill. The mote can still be seen at the south or central end of town.

Copies of James J Hackett's book Days Gone By may still be available from the author at Ballinakill, Moate, Co. Westmeath, Ireland.

Stone family and ancestors

Edward and Catherine Stone with oldest daughter Ann
My wife Theresa's mother is Catherine (or Kitty) Dwyer, nee Stone. She was born at Lurgan near Clara in County Offaly, Ireland.

Kitty Dwyer's parents were Edward Stone ( 1883 - 1949 ) and Catherine Flanagan . Edward Stone was born on 19th February 1883 and his birth was registered in Mullingar on February 27th of that year by Anne McTiernan who was present at the birth ( reference Volume 3 Page 280 number 359 ).

Edward was born in Mullingar, his father Daniel Stone is recorded as being a Publican and his mother is recorded as Mary Stone nee. Duffy.

As mentioned previously in this blog, Edward married Catherine Flanagan ( Kate ) in the quarter ending 30th September 1924 and the marriage was registered in Athlone ( Reference Volume 3 Page 11 ) .

The couple had five children who all grew up at Lurgan. Edward and Catherine are both buried at Tubber Cemetary near Moate along with their daughter Mary who died at the age of nineteen,

The Stones were very self sufficient at Lurgan , they kept their own pigs for slaughter and every summer when the Coxes apple tree in the yard bore fruit Edward would sack them up for Christmas. The children had a very long walk from Lurgan to school in Moate and in those days they were quite poor and would have had inadequate clothing and footwear .

Kitty remembers that when she was a child Catholics and Protestants were strongly discouraged from mixing socially. There was once a Protestant funeral procession from Moate up to the cemetary at Ballymoor which all the local children followed out of interest. The following morning the Catholic priest came into the school and was furious with the children for going anywhere near a Protestant church .

Catherine Stone lived longer than her husband and lived for some time with her daughter Liz and family . She had a period of ill health prior to her death in the early 1980s . Edward died in 1947 .

Sisters Kitty and Ann either side of their mother Catherine Stone

The Stones had five children ; Ann ( Aunt Nan ) was the eldest, born in 1926, followed by Mary who was born in 1928 , then Daniel in 1930 , then Catherine ( Kitty ) born on 14th December 1932 and finally Elizabeth ( Liz ) born in 1936 .

Ann Stone married Billy Kelly , a farmer , and they had three children ; Thomas John ( T. J.), Kathleen and Cormack . T.J. trained in agricultural studies and works in the field of dairy farming , he married Ann and they have three daughters.

Kathleen trained as a telephonist with Telephone Eirean . She married Liam Daly secretly in Rome , Italy . They have two children .

When Billy Kelly died he left his land to his youngest son , Cormack . Cormack married Bernadette ( an infant school teacher ) and they have three boys. Billy Kelly is buried at Tubber Cemetary .

The Dwyer family of Newton Road, Sparkhill
Michael, Terence, Edward, Kevin, Angela, Imelda, Theresa and mum Kitty

Kitty Stone went to the Carmalite School in Moate . She was taught by nuns under a very strict regime . She left school with a leaving certificate noting her skills and achievements in cooking, embroidery and singing . She worked in Dublin as a chamber maid and it was here that she met Edward Dwyer from Wexford . Kitty married Edward Dwyer ( 15.6.15 - 03.6. 87 ) in Dublin and they moved to Birmingham , England in the mid 1950s . Kitty and Edward had seven children.

Elizabeth Stone ( Aunt Liz ) married Tom Kennedy ( an engineer with the local Council ). They lived in a place called New Bristy . They had three sons.

Daniel Stone ( Uncle Dan ) remained a bachelar all of his life . There is a story that in his thirties Dan fell in love with a local girl named Catherine Kelly , an Irish Dance teacher who lived with her brother in Moate , but his mother strongly disapproved of him marrying and so their love was never consumated . After the engagement was broken , Daniel lived for many years at Lurgan with his mother until she became too ill and moved in with the Kennedys . Catherine Kelly died a few years ago . Dan was a warm and well-loved man , quiet and humble in temperament . He is best remembered on his farm at Lurgan surrounded by his animals , dogs , cats , donkies , sheep , cows and his big shire horse , Paddy . His nephews and nieces from England used to come and stay in the school holidays and had great fun helping Dan out at Lurgan , every summer he would get out the donkey and trap for the children to ride around town . Dan always kept a little dog as his companion . He also enjoyed playing bingo almost every night.

Kitty, Ann, Dan and Liz outside Lurgan


Notice of Registration

The above image is a poster dating back to June 1837 which outlines the new law at that time regarding the registration of all births and deaths in England and Wales. All births and deaths now had to be registered with a local registrar within 6 weeks of the event, after which a cost was incurred.

Prior to June 1837 records of baptisms, marriages and funerals were kept by local churches (as they still are today) but these were different from birth and death registration and can be misleading for the genealogist. For instance, in my own family research I have found instances of 2 or 3 children of different ages being baptised at the same time. The reason posssibly being that the family may have moved away from their home town or village, perhaps into a larger town or city, but wish to have their children baptised back at their local parish church. They therefore waited until there were a few children for baptism to make the journey worthwhile.

The problem this presents for the family history researcher is when a baptism is used to estimate the year of birth it could actually be 3 or more years out. It is therefore worth studying the original document to see if the age of the baby or child is provided.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Notes on Kilmanaghan Cemetary

The following passage is from a small book celebrating the 50th anniversary of St Manchan's School at Tubber, which is my mother-in-law Kitty Dwyers local parish. These notes credited to a Rev, Dr Hugh Dunne P.P in 1972 give us an insight into the local history of the area of the Irish Midlands in which the Stone family have resided for possibly two centuries. These notes are about Kilmanaghan Cemetary which is in the general area of both Tubber and Lurgan:

Kilmanaghan, (as far as we know) derives its name from St. Manchan, a seventh century Irish Saint, who is said to have founded the Church of Lemanaghan in 645A.D. St, Manchan was one of the Saints of whom we call the Second Order of Irish Saints - a group of brilliant men mainly belonging to the period 500 to 700 A.D. Chief among those was St. Finian of Clonard, who founded the great school at Clonard, Co. Meath; St Kieran of Clonmacnoise, St Brendan of Clonfert, and St Kevin of Glealough, to mention a few.

Whether St Manchan ever founded a church at our Kilmanaghan is hard to say, but legend associates him with the district. this is not surprising as his chief centre of cult was at Boher - Ballycumber, where the shrine containing his relics is kept and honoured. It would not be surprising if he did , as we are not far from either Boher or Lemanaghan, but we have no proof that he did as little written evidence survives. Contemporaneous with Lemanaghan, Kilmanaghan suffered many vicissitudes through Norman times and through the Protestant establishment period up to 1809 when it was closed. All that's left today is a plain building in ruin, 60 x 30. The Celtic influence is to be seen in the stone designs on the wall.

The historical name for the Parish of Tubber is Cill Manachain - The Church of Managhan and generally called the Parish of Cill. There is a beautiful chalice in the Parochial House at Tubber, presented to "The Parish of Cill" in 1770. As an established Church and Parish, it was united to Kilbride and Dangan, to form the benefice of Clara, where a new established church is still in the Church of Clara - so my friend, the late Canon Lamb told me.

The Church became a ruin over a century ago and the Cemetary, though still used as a burial ground, was allowed to become a wilderness of nettles, briars and scrub. It was what we know as a "mixed" cemetery where people of various religious denominations were buried. One of the most interesting - and touching - stones is a memorial to two United Irishmen, Feeny and Daly, who were hanged in Ballycumber and buried in Kilmanaghan in 1798.

As a people, we rank low in looking after what should be sacred shrines - where our nearest and dearest sleep their last sleep. A number of our parishioners, who were determined that this should not be our reproach, got together and, voluntarily, cleaned up the ruins and no praise is too great for those people who have been faithful and helpful and I may say, so generous in their help in carrying out this work. I must say we are indebted to freinds and helpers from Clara, Moate and Ballycumber. We hope to keep an eye in future on Kilmanaghan and make sure it will be allowed to become the wilderness it had become when we started - in June 1971.

The Stone and other local families in the 1911 Irish Census at Lurgan

This is a typical traditional farm cottage to be found in the Irish Midlands. This reconstruction is at the Dun Na Si Heritage Centre at Moate, perhaps about 2 to 3 miles from Lurgan. Families often slept directly above the livestock. Not all farm cottages were constucted of such sturdy stone.  
In the 1911 Census, Lurgan was recorded as an area of residencies, as opposed to just being a single farm. There were several residencies listed under Lurgan, some of whom have the surname Stone, I have listed them below. The first one on the list at house number 7 is the household of my wife's great grandfather Daniel Stone and includes her grandfather, 28 year old Edward who inherited the farm from his father:

Residents of house number 7 in Lurgan (Clara, King's Co.)

Stone Daniel 63 Male Head of Family Roman Catholic Kings County Farmer Read and write, Married

Stone Mary 51 Female Wife Roman Catholic Kings County Farmer Read and write - Married
married 31 years, 9 children, 8 survived

Stone Edward 28 Male Son Roman Catholic Westmeath Farmer's Son Read and write, Single

Stone Timothy 26 Male Son Roman Catholic Westmeath Farmer's Son Read and write, Single

Stone Kate 18 Female Daughter Roman Catholic Westmeath Read and write, Single

Stone Richard 14 Male Son Catholic Westmeath Scholar Read and write Single

Stone Daniel 8 Male Son Catholic Kings County Scholar

Residents of house number 1 in Lurgan (Clara, King's Co.)

Corrigan John 77 Male Head of Family Roman Catholic Kings Co Farmer Cannot read or write - Married

Corrigan Mary 75 Female Wife Roman Catholic Westmeath - Cannot read or write - Married
Married for 44 year, five children born of whom 4 survived

Corrigan John 43 Male Son Roman Catholic Kings Co Farmer's Son Can read and write - Single

Corrigan Patrick 35 Male Son Roman Catholic Kings Co Farmes Son Can read only - Single

Corrigan Mary 32 Female Daughter Roman Catholic Kings Co Dressmaker Can read and write - Single

Nestor Mary 5 Female Grand Daughter Roman Catholic Kings Co - Cannot read or write

Residents of house number 2 in Lurgan (Clara, King's Co.)

Callaghan Daniel 56 Male Head of Family Roman Catholic Kings Co Farmer Read and write - Married

Callaghan Bridget 46 Female Wife Roman Catholic Westmeath - Read and write - Married for seven years, one child

Callaghan Michael 49 Male Brother Roman Catholic

Residents of house number 3 in Lurgan (Clara, King's Co.)

Stone John 64 Male Head of Family Roman Catholic Kings Co Farmer Read and write  Married

Stone Rose 53 Female Wife Roman Catholic Westmeath - Read and write - Married for 28 years, 6 children, 4 survived

Stone John 26 Male Son Roman Catholic Kings Co Farmers Son Read and write - Single

Stone Richard 27 Male Son Roman Catholic Kings Co Farmers Son Read and write - Single

Stone Thomas J 17 Male Son Roman Catholic Kings Co Farmers Son Read and write - Single

Residents of house number 4 in Lurgan (Clara, King's Co.)

Henson John 40 Male Head of Family Roman Catholic Kings Co Farmer Read and write - Married

Henson Margaret 40 Female Wife Roman Catholic Westmeath - Read and write - Married for four year, 2 children, 2 survived

Henson James 2 Male Son Roman Catholic Kings Co

Henson Patrick 0 Male Son Roman Catholic Kings Co

Mahon Bridget 19 Female Sister in Law Roman Catholic

Residents of house number 5 in Lurgan (Clara, King's Co.)

Stone Rose 71 Female Head of Family Roman Catholic Kings Co Farmer Read and write - Widow

Stone Edward 31 Male Son Roman Catholic Kings Co Farmer Son Read and write - Single

Stone Rosie 29 Female Daughter Roman Catholic Kings Co Jarmer Daughter Read and write - Single

Stone Richard 27 Male Son Roman Catholic Kings Co Farmer Son Read and write - Single

Stone James 14 Male Grand Son Roman Catholic

Residents of house number 6 in Lurgan (Clara, King's Co.)

Stone Anne 45 Female Head of Family Roman Catholic Westmeath Farmer Read and write - Widow

Stone Mary 22 Female Daughter Roman Catholic Kings Co Farmers Daughter Read and write - Single

Stone Michael 20 Male Son Roman Catholic Kings Co Shopman Grocer Read and write - Single

Stone Kate 17 Female Daughter Roman Catholic Kings Co Farmers Daughter Read and write - Single

Stone Elizebeth 12 Female Daughter Roman Catholic Kings Co Farmers Daughter Read and write - Single 

Residents of house number 8 in Lurgan (Clara, King's Co.)

Lowe George 59 Male Head of Family Irish Church Ireland Kings Co Farmer Read and write English Married - - - -

Lowe Jane 58 Female Wife Irish Church Ireland Kings Co Farmeress Read and write English Married - married for 34 years, 9 children born 8 survived

Lowe Thomas A 22 Male Son Irish Church Ireland Kings Co Farmer son Read and write English Single

Lowe Millicent 15 Female Daughter Irish Church Ireland Kings Co Scholar Read and write English Single

Small Annie 30 Female Daughter Irish Church

Residents of house number 9 in Lurgan (Clara, King's Co.)

Fleming Joseph 65 Male Head of Family Roman Catholic Westmeath Farmer Cannot read or write - Married

Fleming Anne 62 Female Wife Roman Catholic Kings County - Cannot read or write - Married 30 years 4 children born 3 survived

Fleming Micheal 28 Male Son Roman Catholic Kings Co General Labourer Cannot read or write - Single

Fleming Joseph 22 Male Son Roman Catholic

Residents of house number 10 in Lurgan (Clara, King's Co.)

Lowe William George 44 Male Head of Family Church of Ireland Kings Co Farmer Read and write - Married

Lowe Evangeline Emily 39 Female Wife Church of Ireland Tipperary - Read and write - Married 16 years, 5 children, 5 survived

Lowe Robert Stanley 14 Male Son Church of Ireland Kings Co Scholar Read and write - Single

Lowe Mabel Evangiline 13 Female Daughter Church of Ireland Kings Co Scholar Read and write - Single

Lowe Mc Cecil 9 Male Son Church of Ireland Westmeath Scholar Read and write - Single

Lowe Cyril George 5 Male Son Church of Ireland Kings Co Scholar Read and write - Single

Lowe Henry Louis 3 Male Son Church of Ireland

Analysis of the Census record for Lurgan
It seems very likely that Daniel Stone (aged 63) at house number 7 and John Stone (aged 64) at house number 3 were 2 of the 3 brothers whom we referred to in the post below - the men who each inherited a third of the original land at Lurgan. The third potential brother, Michael, does not appear in the Census, although there is a 71 year old widow named Rose Stone at house number 5 and also a 45 year old widow named Anne Stone at number 6.
In terms of age it would seem more likely that the older of these two ladies (Rose) is the widow of the third brother Michael Stone, unless of course his wife (Anne) was younger.
It would be interesting to know whether the other families (Corrigan, Callaghan, Henson, Lowe and Fleming) were neighbours, tenants or relatives of the Stone brothers.

We may also note in the record for Daniel Stone's family at number 7 that the parents were both born in Kings County (now Offaly) whilst all the children except the youngest one were born in Westmeath. This might suggest to us that this family lived away from Lurgan for several years and we do know from family anecdote that Daniel worked as both a convent gardener and a publican in Mullingar before presumably returning to Lurgan to take over his one third section of the land.

We can perhaps work out from this that, with last but one child Richard being born in Westmeath in about 1897 and youngest son Daniel born in Kings County in about 1903, the grandfather (whom I know was named Timothy Stone probably died during this 6 year window between 1897 and 1903.

In terms of the geography, the local towns of Clara and Tullamore are in Kings County (now Offaly) whilst Moate, Athlone and Mullingar are all in Westmeath. My guess is therefore that the children of Daniel and Mary Stone at number 7 Lurgan were born either in Moate or Mullingar.

My daughter Alice stands at the gate of a traditional eel fisherman's cottage from the area around the river Shannon which runs through Westmeath at Athlone. Photo taken at Dun Na Si near Moate. 

The Stone family of Lurgan near Clara, County Offaly

My wife Theresa's parents were Catherine Stone and Edward Dwyer, both from Ireland.

The Stone famliy lived at Lurgan , a thatched cottage surrounded by farmland which lies between the towns of Clara and Moate on the border between counties Offaly and Westmeath.

Lurgan is approached by The Bog Road , off the road to Ballycumber, which passes over the peat bogs from which local people cut their turf . Up until his recent death, Lurgan was farmed by my wife's uncle, Dan Stone, who had inherited the land from his own father.

I do not know exactly when the Stone family took over Lurgan, I believe it may have been in the 19th century because the family lived there for three to four generations at least. The land , comprising about 50 hilly acres.

Uncle Dan was a much loved local man in the town of Moate and he farmed cows and sheep on Lurgan all of his life. Dan was the brother of my wife's mother, Catherine Dwyer, nee. Stone. Even following the deterioration of the actual cottage, Dan continued to live on the land in a caravan before eventually moving into a cottage on the Clara Road on the edge of Moate town .

Stone origins

It is speculated that a British soldier named Stone, along with others who stayed on in the rural Midlands of Eire, may have been awarded substantial land in the area in return for services to the crown in the late 1700s / early 1800s. It is also likely that Stone might have been an English Protestant whose children and grand children married local Catholics and so, as was the way in Southern Ireland, his descendants quickly became assimilated into the Irish community, it's ways and customs .

English surnames are very common in Westmeath and the Midlands , an area at one time on the edge of 'The Pale' - the large area of rich agricultural land west of County Dublin which the British guarded and planted down through the centuries . In a search of local cemetaries near to Tubber for instance I discovered as many English names as Irish ones , including Berry, Smith, Warburton, Martin, Robinson, Fuller and Egan amongst many others. The more that one researches family history in Ireland the more likely it seems that most Irish people have Scottish, Welsh and English ancestors as well as Irish ones and it is a tribute to the whole nation that through the years people have married and generally lived alongside one another harmoniously, despite the turbulent story told in the annals of history .

Having said this, an interesting gravestone in the old Killmonahan cemetary on the Ballycumber Road is actually a monument put up in the 1930s by local Republicans to two young members of the United Irishmen movement who were hanged by British Soldiers in Athlone in the 1780s .

It is thought that the soldier Stone was the father or grandfather of Kitty Dwyer's grandfather (her great or great-great grandfather), living therefore in the early part of the 19th century. The original size of the land that Stone gained was some three times the present size of Lurgan and incorporated surrounding fields now belonging to neighbours.

The Stone Family in Lurgan in the 1911 Irish Census
It was Kitty's grandfather, Daniel Stone, who specifically inherited the cottage and farm at Lurgan when the larger piece of Stone land was divided up into three by that gentleman's own father. It is believed that the larger piece of land was divided between three brothers. The 1911 Census refers to Lurgan as an area containing several residencies as opposed to the name of a single farm, so a little more research is required to fully understand the history of this general place known as Lurgan and the origins of the families who lived there.

My mother-in-law, Kitty Dwyer, nee. Stone, suggested that the land was divided between three brothers in the late 1800s, one of whom was her grandfather Daniel. His brothers were Michael and John.

Michael was the grandfather of a woman named Mary Martin who continued to live on this particular piece of farmland for many decades in the 20th century. Her father was Richard "Dick" Martin who must therefore have married Michael Stone's daughter).

It is believed that John Stone married a woman named Warburton; the Warburtons were an English-descended Protestant family from the Athlone side of Moate, they have a family grave in the Church of Ireland cemetary at Ballymoor. John Stone's descendants sold their third of the land to Kitty's brother Dan several years ago, so the aforementioned Uncle Dan actually ended up owning two thirds of the original land whilst Mrs Martin owned the remainder .

It would be interesting to clarify if the division of the land into three parts in the late 19th century was the only time the land had been divided up and whether there was an even larger piece of land before this.

Daniel Stone junior (right) bringing in the turf with the help of my son Patrick circa. 1998

Daniel Stone senior

Prior to inheriting Lurgan from his father, it is believed that Daniel Stone senior was the head gardener at a local convent where he was well-known for his expert care of the orchards and flower beds . Kitty recalls that her grandfather planted plum trees and rhubarb around Lurgan. We also now know that Daniel Stone was at one stage a Publican in Mullingar .

Daniel Stone married local woman Mary Duffy and they had eight children ; Elizabeth , Edward ( Kitty's father ) , Mary , Catherine , James , Daniel , Timothy and Richard . Edward Stone married Catherine Flanagan ( Kitty's mother ) whilst his sister Catherine Stone married Catherine Flanagan's brother John; which forms an interesting conumdrum in that Catherine Stone became Catherine Flanagan whilst Catherine Flanagan became Catherine Stone, perhaps there's a Westmeath riddle to be formed from this ? As if to add further complication to the riddle, another of Daniel Stone and Mary Duffy's children, himself named Daniel Stone, married his cousin , also named Mary Duffy ( his mother's name ) and they emmigrated to New York.

Stone women during the past are believed to have married men named O'Casey, Grennon and Robinson. Kitty has an interesting old photograph of a cousin of her father named Pat O'Casey who has his arm proudly around the shoulder of his wife whilst their dog is sitting on a chair in front of them. There is a cousin of Kitty named Richard ( Dick ) Stone buried at Mountjoy cemetary and it is thought that there are other relatives buried there.


Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Two Mass cards relating to Whelan ancestors

I wish to thank my mother Joan Millington nee. Lawlor who has recently sent me two Mass cards relating to members of the Whelan family. The first is a Mass card in loving memory of Peter Whelan of 49 Bolton Street and late of Ringsend Dublin who died on the 25th August 1952 aged 36 years old.

This was my grandmother's twin brother Peter Whelan, whose funeral we know that Lily (Nanny Lawlor) visited whilst the Lawlor family were residing on Coventry Road in Small Heath in the early 1950s.

Close up of the photo on Peter Whelan's Mass card

The second Mass card is an older one and relates to a Lawrence Whelan:

In loving memory of my dearest husband Lawrence Whelan, 65 North King Street, Dublin. Who died 13th April 1924 aged 50 years.

At the moment we don't know who Lawrence was in terms of his relationship to, we would assume the Whelan family. He would have been born in 1874 making him a year older than John Whelan (year of birth worked out from the 1911 census), so it making it very feasible that he was a brother or cousin of John Whelan.

A further search of the 1911 census gives only one Lawrence Whelan in the whole of Ireland of vaguely the right age, but this gentleman resided in Wexford with his mother and he was single. So it is unlikely that this is the correct person.

However, a search for Laurence Whelans gives us several inviduals of the right age group across Ireland, including an interesting one in Bolton Street with his family. Going on the basis that incorrect spellings were so common in the old census records, I think it is worth considering the likelihood of this gentleman being the person we are looking for, though more evidence would be required to prove it, for example do we know of descendants of Lawrence / Laurence?

The family in Bolton Street in 1911 is as follows:

Residents of 31.2 Bolton Street (Inns Quay, Dublin)

Laurence Whelan, aged 35, male, head of family, RC, born in Dublin, porter, married for 7 years

Mary Whelan, aged 29, wife, born Dublin, children born 3 children living 3

James Whelan aged 5 born in Dublin

Mary Whelan aged 4 born in Dublin

Joseph Whelan aged 0 born in Dublin

The only point which may go against this being the man we are seeking is that he was born in Dublin and not Kilkenny which is where John was born (presuming they were brothers which might not be the case). So, the search is on to identify our mystery Lawrence Whelan. Below is a close-up of this gentleman with his very distinguished looking moustache.


Saturday, 23 January 2010

Bolton Street - family and neighbours

Gaye's caption: "From the left is Willie Doyle (Kitty’s friend, Mary Leonard (nee Whelan) her new husband Paddy Leonard and Kitty Whelan. It is Mary and Paddy’s wedding day and Willie and Kitty may have been their witnesses"

Gaye Mulholland adds more information here about who lived where in Bolton Street and also the fate of the buildings themselves which it would appear were knocked down and rebuilt in the late 1970s, which would mean that my photograph of the modern day 49 Bolton Street which I took in about 1995 (see earlier post) would not be the original building which would explain why my mom Joan felt she cound't recall it from my photograph).

Gaye tells us:

"Speaking to my older sister sister Cara, she said that while she can’t really be 100% sure she doesn’t feel that the Mrs. Lawlor who kept the dairy at 49 Bolton Street around 1930 was a relation to your grandad. It would have been a bit before her time but in any case I thought I would pass that on.

"She said that your nanny Lawlor’s twin brother Peter lived in 49 Bolton Street prior to getting married and on marrying he bought a house in Phibsboro. Cara says that he died of a heart attack only two weeks after his wedding to a girl named Lilly Weldon. She also said that John McDonnell (granny Whelan’s brother who was blind) lived in 49 Bolton Street but when he married he moved next door to 48 Bolton Street which was one of the houses his father originally owned and passed on to Kitty.

"According to Cara there was a similar cottage to the one at the rear of 49 Bolton Street at the rear of 48 and that is where John McDonnell lived with his family. She said 48 and 49 were the only two houses on the road with cottages like these to their rear. She also said he lived there till his death which you mention as being in 1958 but she can’t recall him living in Sean McDermot Street. She also mentioned that his son also John McDonnell who you say died in 1979, continued to live at the rear of 48 Bolton Street after his father died. I don’t know when he left there.

"I recall that around 1964 everyone was required to move out of the properties under a compulsory purchase order. This was due to safety issues. A year or two before a house on the far side of the road up past the Technical Collage collapsed killing two people. Other houses in the city had also collapsed and it became obvious that something had to be done. I do know that several of the businesses on the ground floors continued trading out of those premises long after the families living above them had to move out. The buildings that are there today only went up in the late 1970s or 1980s so the urgency to move seemed to dissipate for some reason.

"According to my brother Denny who attended the technical college across the road from no 49, it was originally planned to use the land for further buildings for that technical college but those plans were soon discarded. Both Cara and Denny have corrected me on a couple of things in relation to the premises that John McDonnell owned. He only owned 48 and 49 Bolton Street and not 56 as I had originally thought though Paddy and Mary Leonard did live there paying rent to some other landlord. However both Denny and Cara confirm that the other properties that great grandad McDonnell owned were nos. 12 and 13 Henrietta Place which is a laneway situated at the rear of and running parallel to Bolton Street."

Gaye's caption: "Mollie Whelan (nee Leonard) with my Dad and Mum Denis Younge and Margaret (nee Whelan)".

Photos thanks to Gaye Muholland and Phylis Devlin

Friday, 22 January 2010

The Brummie soldier and the gun in the cellar

Gaye writes "That is John Whelan senior at the wheel of the car with his wife Anne (granny Whelan nee McDonell) in the backseat foreground. I don’t know who the woman sitting next to her in the middle is but I think the woman sitting on the far side of the car is their daughter Mary. The boy standing to the rear of the car is probably one of their sons either James or Pat. Not sure who the rest are though that may be Paddy Leonard in the hat standing behind the car. I don’t recall ever hearing that there was a car in the family. It would have been very unusual to have a car in Ireland back then. I would imagine it was borrowed for the journey down the country or might have belonged to the relatives they were visiting. They all look dressed up so maybe for a wedding or something. Paddy Leonard was a sales man for Taylor-Keith a soft drinks company. I know he at one time drove a horse and dray. Maybe he progressed to a car and was using it for the family journey."

Thanks Gaye Mulholland for this great story from Whelan family history:

"I note in your section entitled “Anne Whelan nee McDonnell” that your Mum states “...I never knew Grandfather, I have no memory of him whatsoever...”. I was only talking to my sister Cara recently and we both commented on the odd fact that neither of us had ever heard our Mother or granny Whelan or any other relative ever mentioning anything about grandad John Whelan himself.

"There is one story only about him and it tells us more about granny than anyone else. As a Brummie you might find it particularly interesting. Then again maybe you already heard it. Anyway, just in case you haven’t, it goes like this. At some point after the Easter Rising here in Ireland the British soldiers were ordered to make a search of all the houses in an effort to establish who had sympathies with the rebels or might be hiding them and to collect any weapons they came across during the searches.

"When they came to search 49 Bolton Street they went through the whole house and when they went down to the cellar they found the butt of a rusty gun or rifle half buried in the dirt floor of the cellar. According to my mother, who would have been about 3 or 4 at the time, the gun part had obviously been there a very long time and was very rusted and when or how ever it got there it could not have been used in the trouble going on at the time. Nevertheless, the sergeant ordered his men to get grandad John Whelan and bring him down to the cellar. Grandad Whelan told the sergeant he knew nothing about it but the sergeant didn’t believe him and started getting agitated. He ordered his men to place grandad Whelan against the wall. Whether this was an attempt to just scare him or not we don’t know but one of grandad’s children ran to get granny Whelan.

"She very cleverly, she got all her children brought them down to the cellar and placed them and herself around grandad. The sergeant ordered his men to take them away and while doing so one of the soldiers piped up in a broad Brummie accent “Blimey sarge, we can’t shoot him. Look at all these children. We’d be creating an orphanage”. The men laughed and it diffused the situation. They started reasoning that the gun piece could have been there longer than grandad himself had been alive. My Dad always said that none of the Whelans or McDonnells were the type to have been part of the IRA or any rebel causes and that anyway there were so many families living in the house at different times who could say which of them had hidden anything or anyone in the cellar".

"Starting from the left standing that is Patrick Whelan, Kitty Whelan, granny Anne Whelan (nee McDonnell), possibly John Whelan junior, then your granny Lawlor, is that her husband beside her? Not sure who is next, could be Mollie Whelan (John jnrs wife), next to her is Mary Leonard (nee Whelan) with possibly her husband Paddy Leonard beside her though I am not sure about that. Sitting in the chair is John Whelan snr. (husband of granny Whelan) and crouching down next to her is my father Denis Younge with my mother Margaret Younge (nee Whelan) sitting on his knee. The photo was taken in the yard of 49 Bolton Street. The window on the right is part of the cottage previously mentioned."

My thanks to Phylis Devlin and Gaye Muholland for photos

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

An insight into the character of Granny Whelan

Gaye writes: "Granny Whelan looking happy on her birthday which was 17th March (St Patrick’s day) and the photo was taken in 9 Castle Park Sandymount where we moved after Bolton Street. You can see part of her mahogany dinning table and other items of furniture which she still had at that time."

On this side of the Irish Sea our great granny Whelan has an almost fabled reputation, not least perhaps because of her longevity, living into her 90s. As a child in the company of my grand mother Lily Lalwor, who was of course Granny Whelan's daughter, and listening to adults talking about her being 'back home' in Ireland, my own mental image of Granny Whelan did actually take on a kind of mythical form. Perhaps because of her very respectable age at that time even back in the 1960s, Granny Whelan conjured up an image in my mind of someone who had come out of a bygone age of old Ireland with it's deeply ingrained traditions and folk lore. She almost personified Ireland for me ...the archetypal matriarch.

Perhaps I had emerald tinted glasses to some extent (no change there then I hear you all say), although clearly the world in which Anne Whelan would have been born back in the late 19th century was very different to what it has become in my own lifetime. If I just about recall a world without personal computers, she lived in a world without motor cars, just as my adult life felt the repurcussions of 9/11 so she would have been a mom with young children when the Titanic went down, I was a child when man stepped out onto the moon, Granny was an adult when Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first flight!

The perceptions of Granny Whelan for the family in Birmingham are that perhaps at times she was harsh in her judgements - especially of her children. There is a strong belief which has to be based on fact to a large extent that Granny didn't approve of my grand mother's marriage to my grandfather and their departure from Dublin to Birmingham was tantamount to an elopement. Perhaps we shall never know the true extent of actions, emotions and repercussions, though what should be noted is that if Granny was cross about the union, she visited Birmingham twice on her own to stay with Lily and James shortly after the births of both Joan and Kevin which would have constituted a big journey for a lady who rarely left her own house in the last decades of her life. My suspicion therefore is that under the cool exterior there was a caring and sensitive mother whose motives were purely concern for her daughter and also, it has to be added, her grand children.

My mother's cousin Gaye Mulholland, who lived in the same house as Granny Whelan for many years gives us a little more of an insight into Granny's character:

"Granny Whelan did outlive some of her children. Unfortunately one of them was my mother Margaret who died in 1969 when I was 12. Two years previous to that Kitty had already died. They both died of cancer. When granny Whelan died the following of her children were still alive; John jnr., Richard (Dick), James (Jimmy), Patrick (Pat), Mary (Leonard) and your granny Lawler. Yes granny Whelan had airs and graces and yes she did give my Mum a hard time looking after her but she was generous too and she made great soup. If you can imagine a Victorian lady, stern, frugal (she recycled everything before we ever knew the word) a matriarch then you have a good idea of her. She always gave her grandchildren something when they visited. Usually a few sweets or fruit or a few pennies. She had a special press where she kept things like that for handing out and she expected her children to visit every Sunday and to bring her grandchildren. I was lucky to have had her live with me. She read several newspapers every day right up to the day she died and had a very active mind because of this. She read the cartoons from the papers to me if I asked her to. If you had a loose tooth you were brought to her to have her pull it out with her handkerchief and she would give it to you to put under your pillow that night.

"Eventually we had to leave 49 Bolton Street due to a compulsory purchase order by the government. But I think this was a good thing in the end. I think my Dad was probably trying to coax my Mum to move for a while. The area had got rough. I had never been allowed out to play out as a child. I know he didn’t like many things that were going on in the now seedy area. My Dad was lucky enough to be able to get a loan from his employer Bewleys which enabled us to move to Sandymount. Kitty and granny of course came with us and now things were reversed instead of us living in Kitty’s house they lived in our house but everything carried on pretty much as before with my Mum running around after Granny. I remember her once by accident breaking a cheap milk jug that granny used on her tray every day and my Mum being really anxious about it and rushing off to buy one exactly like it so granny wouldn’t notice. Bear in mind Mum was about 50 at the time.

"You mention a child of Anne Whelan’s having died in childhood from a tragic accident. I think this may have been a scalding but I am not sure. As you mention two of the Whelan family married into the my Father’s family the Younges but the Youngs were not locals to Bolton Street. They were from Ringsend a working class area. Though it is a suburb of Dublin, people from there always use to call themselves Ringsenders as opposed to just Dubliners. "

Gaye observes: "Your granny Lawlor’s eldest brother John on the left beside his mother granny Anne Whelan (nee McDonnell) who is not looking too pleased"

Thanks to Gaye Muholland and Phil Devlin for photos

On the relationship between my grandmother Lily and her mother Anne, Gaye gave us this very interesting and reassuring insight:

"Lilly seemed to have a special place in granny Whelan’s thoughts. Lilly herself, like all of granny Whelan’s children, would have been unlikely to have felt it though. Granny Whelan had a very Victorian way about her and was quite stoic when it came to emotions. She was dutiful. That was her way.

"Her old ways were at odds with the generations that came after her and she also found it difficult to show her appreciation of others and what they did for her. But I can say that Lily was loved by granny Whelan, that granny only ever spoke good of her and that the affection she had for Lilly was evident."

Gaye's caption: "Mary Leonard (nee Whelan) and Paddy Leonard’s wedding day. You can see Lally the white haired lady on the right beside the first man sitting on the left who is Willie Doyle (a friend of Kitty’s), the lady sitting next to him is Kitty, I don’t recognise the woman sitting to the right of Kitty but that is my Mother Margaret behind Kitty. The face popping out to the right of my Mother is Florrie Whelan (nee Melodie), don’t recognise the lady to the right of her but the next person after that is probably Mollie Whelan (nee Leonard), right of her is granny Anne Whelan, sitting at head of the table is the bride Mary behind the flowers and next to her Paddy Leonard, the elderly man next to him I am presuming is Grandad John Whelan snr., that is his son John Whelan jnr. behind him, the lady on the right of grandad Whelan is Catherine Barrett (Lally, sister of granny Whelan), I don’t know the rest of the people in the photo but the lady next to Lally is probably a Leonard."

More Whelan and McDonnell family history

Gaye's caption reads: "You can see your granny Lawlor sitting in the middle with Kitty just in front of her. In front of Kitty is their brother Patrick. To the right of Kitty is her brother Richard my mother’s twin. I don’t recognise the others but the lady front right might be Molly".

Thanks to Gaye Muhollland and Phylis Devlin for photos

Once again I would like to thank my mom's cousin, Gaye Muholland (nee Younge) for sending me a couple of really delightful emails recently containing some gems of information and anecdote about my maternal grandmother's family in Dublin, primarily the Whelans and McDonnell's who are my direct ancestors, but also other families by marriage such as the Younges and the Leonards. I would also like to thank Phylis (I believe Whelan), for providing many lovely old photos (scanned via Gaye).

I have previously mentioned John McDonnell, the brother of my great grandmother Anne Whelen, nee. McDonnell who was blind. My mom Joan is of the belief that John lost his sight in an industrial accident at the Dunlop factory in Dublin but did not receive compensation. What is interesting though is that we have learnt from Gaye that John's father (my great great grandfather - also John McDonnell) was also blind. You will read below in this blog that John McDonnell senior was a successful basket weaving entrepreneur and property investor whose farm house was allegedly burnt down by another of his sons.

Gaye expresses surprise to learn that John McDonnell junior had a son himself - evidenced by an obituary cut from a newspaper which my mom had inherited from nanny Lawlor. Gaye writes:

"I was not aware that the blind John McDonnell was ever married. I was surprised to read that in your blog and that we had a relative (his son) living in Belvedere Place up to 1979. You mention that in his obituary he had at some point lived in 48 Bolton Street and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was one of the properties that John McDonnell snr. owned. I remember when living in 49 Bolton Street that we had strong connections with some of the families living in that house, namely the Donnellys (the mother of whom was completely blind) and a Bridie Melodie whose sister Florie was married to Patrick (Pat) Whelan one of your Nanny Lawler’s brothers.

"I don’t recall number 40 Bolton Street or any McDonnells being there and I lived in 49 Bolton Street up to the summer of 1964 but I was only aged 8 on leaving. I lived there from 1957 to 1964. I recall at that time the shop on the ground floor being either an electrical or bicycle shop and it was run by a Mr Flannigan. The shop of 48 Bolton Street was still Morgan’s but was more a grocery and sweet shop and I remember you could get 3 caramels for 1 old penny there. I remember Mr Morgan, his wife and two sons. At that time Paddy and Mary Leonard (nee Whelan) lived on one floor of I think 56 Bolton street with their only child Ann so this may have also been on of John McDonnell’s properties".

Gaye's caption "2nd from left Paddy Leonard, the bride in the middle of course is his daughter Anne with I presume her husband on her left, behind Anne is Grace Leonard and to the right of Grace is her husband Brendan Doyle. Mollie Whelan (nee Leonard, wife of John Whelan) and s on the far left in the checked white coat and hat. I would imagine that the photo was probably taken by her husband John who was very handy with the camera and he was still alive at that time"

"All the houses on Bolton Street had two stories above ground level and a cellar. Whilst I lived in 49 Bolton Street my family lived on the top floor. The living arrangements were as follows, my mother Margaret Younge (nee Whelan) and my Dad Denis and I all slept in a large room at the front of the house. The room next to that one was the kitchen / livingroom and there was a small room off that which was used for storage. On the floor below us my Granny, Anne Whelan (nee McDonnell) lived with her daughter Kitty. They both shared the large room to the front of the house as their bedroom but this room was so large it could also accommodate Granny’s very grand dining room suite in very heavy mahogany which consisted of a large dinning room table (the one Roger Casement placed his hat on) and chairs, a sideboard full of antiques and a writing bureau with glass cabinet on top which was also full of antiques.

"In the room next to that was an old fashioned kitchen with range and again a small room off it where my brother Denny slept. As mentioned the ground floor was a shop and there was no access to it from the house so to all intents and purposes the ground floor of the house was just a hallway. There was a cellar which was totally windowless and I believe it had just a dirt floor but I was told that when your granny Lawlor lived there with all her brothers and sisters this cellar was turned into a gym by her brothers. The entrance to the cellar was at the back of the hall under the stairs and facing it was the door to the back yard which was long and narrow. It was completely concrete under foot but my Dad grew plants in barrels and boxes to the right of the back door. On the left hand side was just a high wall dividing this yard from the one next door but on the left was the cottage where Lally’s bedroom was on the upstairs. The cottage had only one story and the ground floor.

"When I lived at 49, the two rooms on the ground floor of the cottage were unoccupied and seemed to be used as general storage space, very dusty and ramshackle but once you went upstairs it was like a lovely oasis of calm. Lally’s room had white walls and was very peaceful, tidy and almost minimalist. The other room on that floor was used as a bedroom for my sisters Cara and Marjory. My sister Marjory died in the mid 1990s from cancer. There was nothing else in the yard apart from an outside toilet at the very end of it and an outside tap. There was probably access from the yard to the laneway at the back of Bolton Street. 49 Bolton Street, like all the other houses on the street, had no inside plumbing. My father had to carry buckets of water up to the both floors in the main house and to Lally’s room every morning and every night. As Lally was bed-ridden and granny was by this time old you can imagine that he also had to empty buckets of waste matter every morning and night as well. He did it without complaining but he use to joke “If ever we get out of this place I’m going to kick those buckets down every flight of stairs”. He was sorry afterwards that he didn’t do that when we eventually left."

Patrick Leonard (Paddy) with his daughter Anne on her wedding day. This is the person who as a girl sent a photo of herself on her confirmation day to granny Lawlor (Aunt Lily).

Photo thanks to Gaye Mulholland and Phylis Devlin

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Information about the Whelan and McDonnell family from Gaye Mulholland (nee Younge)

I would like to say a big thank you to Gaye Mulholland who is one of my mother's cousins in Ireland who emailed me recently in response to reading my family history blog. Gaye wrote me a very long email with a great deal of detailed family history about the Whelan and McDonnell side of the family tree, who are the family of my maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Lawlor nee. Whelan.

Before going through information that I have previously posted onto this blog about the Whelans and McDonnells, making changes or adding bits here and there, I would initially prefer to write a seperate post or a couple of posts laying out some of this information afresh. Once I've done this it may be easier for me to edit the material I have already posted onto the site. Gaye also sent me around 20 scanned photographs from the Whelan family archive (thanks to Phylis Devlin for making these available) many of which I or members of my immediate family have ever seen, including photos of my great grandfather John Whelan.

My great grandfather John Whelan, the husband of Anne Whelan (nee McDonnell), known as Granny Whelan. According to Gaye the photo was possibly taken on a visit back to his family farm in Piltown, Kilkenny. Gaye remembers being told that there was a dog called Teddy in 49 Bolton Street and that it belonged to John McDonnell: "but I always thought it was the blind John jnr. that it belonged to but I might be mistaken. In anycase it was this same breed of dog so maybe that is Teddy in the photo".

Photo courtesy of Phylis Devlin and Gaye Mulholland

About Gaye's immediate family

Gaye Mulholland, nee. Younge, lived for the first 8 years of her life on the top floor of 49 Bolton Street in Dublin. Her grandmother was Anne Whelan nee. McDonnell (my great grandmother) and her parents were Margaret Younge nee. Whelan (my grandmother's sister whom Gaye knew as Aunty Lilly) and Denis Younge.

In Gaye's immediate family were the following children:

"My sister Margaret (Marjory, now deceased), my sister Marie Catherine (known as Cara), my brother Denis jnr. (known as Denny) and myself Gabrielle (known as Gaye). There was another child named Denise but she was still borne and would have been the eldest in the family if she had survived. I am the youngest and there was an age difference of about 18 years between myself and my oldest sister Marjory. Denny was the next youngest to me and he is 11 years older than me".

Gaye also confirmed some of the marriages of my grandmother's siblings which I have previously detailed in the posts below this one and also provided much new information which helps me to provide the following summary of the family tree from John and Anne Whelan (not in age order at the moment - although I will re-organise them):

John Whelan married Mollie Leonard. They lived at Galtymore Road, Drimnagh. Had a son Sean who married Eileen and a daughter Phylis.

Patrick Whelan married Florie Melodie and they had two sons, Pat jnr and Alan.

Margaret Whelan married Denis Younge and their children were Marie Catherine (Cara), Marjory, Denis (Denny) and Gabrielle (Gaye). Oldest child Denise died before birth. Denis worked at Bewley's. Margaret Whelan nee. Younge died in 1969.

Margaret Whelan's twin brother Richard (Dick) Whelan married Emily Younge who was the sister of Denis Younge. Children included Susan, Richard jnr., Frank, Robert, Philip and Helen.

Mary Whelan married Paddy Leonard and they had one child named Anne Leonard. They lived for some time one one floor of 56 Bolton Street.

James Whelan married Eileen and they lived at Beach Road, Sandymount before moving to Deansgrange. Children included Basil, Anthony, Gregory and Peter, Monica, Catherine and Eileen Jnr.

Kittie had a child Marie who married a soldier named Bill Morrissey.

Gaye added this information about the lives and families of some of the Whelan siblings:
"James Whelan, your nanny Lawlor’s brother use to work in Kitty’s shop as did the aforementioned Bridie Melodie (sister of Florie who married Patrick Whelan). James who as you say was married to Eileen and they had lived on Beach Road, Sandymount for many years before moving to Deansgrange. They had several children, Basil, Anthony, Gregory and Peter, Monica, Catherine and Eileen Jnr. Both James and his wife are deceased. All their children married and remain in Dublin and have families. John Whelan and his wife Mollie lived in Galtymore Road Drimnagh. They had a son Sean (who still lives in, Drimnagh with his wife Eileen) and a daughter Phyllis who lives in Leixlip, Co Kildare. Richard (Dick) Whelan as mentioned before was my mother’s twin brother and was married to Emily (nee Younge) who was my fathers sister. Both Dick and Emily are deceased. They had several children Susan, Richard jnr., Frank, Robert, Philip and Helen. All these children married and have families of there own and they still live in Dublin now apart from Richard jnr. who lives in I think Wexford and Robert who emigrated to Australia and did very well there as a builder. Patrick Whelan as you say was married to Florrie as mentioned above. They had two sons Pat Jnr and Alan. Patrick or Pat as he was know died a long time ago, probably in the 70s or 80s and Florie died more only in the last 10 years at 90 years of age. Their son Pat Jnr married and still lives here in Dublin and I believe is retired and Alan is a priest headmaster in a school in England".

The Origins of John Whelan senior

Gaye has povided a great deal of new information about the origins of my great grand parents, starting with  John Whelan:

"I can shed some light on the backgrounds of your great grandparents John Whelan (snr.) and Anne McDonnell. John Whelan’s family name was originally Phelan and he came from either Waterford or Tipperary. On the 1911 Dublin census it states that he was a farm labourer but as you state his father was a farmer and I do remember my mother having relatives in Kilkenny but I also feel there may be connections in both Waterford or Tipperary, in any case his family seem to have been farmers. As John Whelan (snr.) moved up to Dublin, I would imagine that meant that he had older siblings to whom the farm must have passed on. I was unaware of him working as a grocer at any stage but I do know he became a publican possibly owning the pub but this I am unsure of. He was quite a bit older than his wife Anne".

Anne McDonnell

Gaye has also provided much fascinating new information about Anne McDonnell's origins and her wider family including dleightful insights into her father, my great great grandfather, John McDonnell:

"I seem to recall being told that Anne McDonnell had several siblings, one of them being a sister Catherine Barrett, who you mention stood as witness at Anne’s wedding. Catherine became known in later years to everyone as Lally. It was just a name that stuck because I, as a very young child, could not say ‘Aunty Catherine’ and my best attempts sounded like “Lally”. She also lived in 49 Bolton Street and for the last 20 years of her life was bed-ridden due to a broken hip. She lived in a cottage at the rear of the house. The man she married came from Cork but I don’t know his first name. I was told that he left her 3 days after their marriage but was never told why. Anyway she would have been your nanny Lawlor’s aunt and she died at home in about 1960 or ‘61 of old age.

"My mum, Margaret, and her sister Mary Leonard had looked after Lally through the years. She was very skilled in needlework and crochet. Towards the end of her days she unfortunately suffered dementia. You also mention Anne McDonnell’s brother John McDonnell who as you rightly say was blind. I didn’t know he had an accident leading to the loss of sight but I did know that he lost the sight in one eye first and that eye had to be removed but unfortunately when he went for the operation they removed the good eye by mistake rendering him completely blind. He had glass eyes because I recall my father saying that John loved to swim and he would take the glass eyes out give them to someone for safekeeping and ask them to lead him down to the water and off he would swim, sometimes necessitating someone to go in after him and redirect him so he didn’t end up swimming out to sea. I feel sure that Anne McDonnell had other siblings though and the following story is the reason why I believe this.

"You mention that Anne McDonnell’s father was a farmer and to some extent this is correct. He did have a farm. It was called the Wad Farm and was situated out near where Dublin airport is today. However, as the story goes this was Anne’s father John McDonnell’s attempt at being a country gentleman. He was blind, possibly from very early on or even from birth. He was a weaver, that is he made basket work. He was said to have been a good business man and employed several men in his own basket making business. My grandmother (Anne McDonnell) often told me that she use to drive him around Dublin in a pony and trap to different business meetings. The trap itself was made out of basketwork by his own employees and served as a form of advertisement as he went about Dublin. It would indicate the level of skill they were capable of.

"John McDonnell bought several properties in the north Dublin area, two of which were on Bolton Street (nos 49 and I think 56). He had at least one other if not several more properties close by. The area had been well to do at one time. Just around the corner from Bolton Street is Henrietta Street and the houses on that street were once good Georgian houses with beautiful plasterwork on the interiors but the area went downhill with many of the houses becoming tenements. I don’t know when he bought his property or exactly when the area started to go downhill so I can’t say if he bought them at their prime or whether he was speculating on property that was becoming cheaper in the hope that the area would rise in popularity again. Anyway for some reason, as I say possibly because he wanted to retire to the country, he bought the Wad farm and rented out the town properties (although he may have kept 49 Bolton Street as a town house for himself).

"The story goes that some of his children didn’t like the idea of living in the country and one Sunday morning when all but one of the family were at mass the farm house burnt down. My mother said that one of his sons had started the fire deliberately and was packed off to America never to be seen again. Who knows? One thing I do know, because my grandmother (Anne McDonnell) told me this herself, her father John McDonnell had some connection to Roger Casement the Irish patriot. I don’t know what year she would have been speaking about but she told me that Roger Casement had visited her father and that he had placed his top hat on their dinning room table. Her father may have been giving him money.

"After the farmhouse was burnt down the family lived in 49 Bolton Street. In the 1911 census it states that John McDonnell (snr) now 70 is still alive and living there with his wife Catherine who at that time was 63 (some say she was a bit odd), his daughter Catherine Barrett age 31 and his son John Jnr. who was the blind man. They are down as being in 49.1 Bolton Street. I am assuming that the .1 means one floor or family. In what is down as 49.3 Bolton Street we find John and Anne Whelan (nee McDonnell) with their sons John Whelan (Jnr. the eldest child) and James and their daughters Mary and Catherine (known as Kitty). There seems to have been another family (the Mahers) living there also and they are down as 49.2 Bolton Street. There appears to have been yet two more families the Byrnes and Harking living in 49.4 Bolton Street. All these families living in the one house at the same time.

1911 Census records showing my great great grand parents John and Catherine McDonnell residing at 49 Bolton Street, John is a 70 year old retired basket manufacturer and is blind. My great granny's sister Catherine Barrett is also in the house (the lady who became known as Aunty Lally) and also John McDonnell junior, remembered by Gaye as the keen swimmer with the glass eyes

"When I was living there, there was a shop on the ground floor and there were only two large rooms and one small room on each of the higher floors but there was also the cottage in the back yard which had 4 rooms. Odd that a man with so many properties had so many families living on the different levels of his house but I guess he was old and had no other income at that stage and I don’t imagine there were state pensions back then. By the way John and Anne Whelan never owned 49 Bolton Street or any of Anne’s fathers other properties. When John McDonnell snr died he left everything to his only two grand daughters that were born at the time, Kitty and Mary thereby by-passing his two daughters and son(s) and his eldest grandson John and his other grandson James. One has to wonder why he organised things this way."

Gaye's caption for this photo reads:

"This is granny Whelan outside the front door in Sandymount on the day of my sister Cara’s wedding with my Mum and Dad either side. This was taken shortly before my Mum died"
Photo courtesy of Phylis Devlin and Gaye Mulholland

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Whelan and McDonnell ancestors in Dublin, Ireland

Name origins

The name McDonnell ( or more commonly MacDonnell ) is derived from the Gaelic name Mac Domhnaill , Mac Domhuill or Mac Dhomnall , ' Son of Donald ' . The name is very common in Scotland of course as the clan name Macdonald and another Irish derivative is O'Donnell 'Descendant of Donald' . The name Macdonald was first recorded in Ireland around 1257 in Dublin .

Today there are nearly 10,000 MacDonnells in Ireland , mostly descendants of a Scottish clan which came to Ireland from Argyle in the 13th century to become the most powerful chiefs in Northern Ireland , establishing themselves by the 15th century in the region known as the Glens of Antrim . Another Gaelic sept of MacDonnells can still be found in co.Clare - these were descended from Dohhmnall , son of King Murtagh Mor O'Brien.

The name Whelan derives from the original Irish surname Phelan. Someone else with the surname Whelan once told me that the Irish Whelans originated from Danish settlers in County Wexford . The Whelans do apparently have their own coat of arms .

The name Young or Younge comes from the Old English 'geong' meaning young and would have been used to distinguish a younger from an older man . Wilfero seo Iunga lived in Anglo Saxon Britain in 744.

Grattan Bridge over the Liffey links Capel Street on the north side of the river to Parliament Square on the south side.

The Whelans & McDonnells of Bolton Street , Dublin

The parents of Elizabeth Theresa Whelan ( Nanny Lawlor ) were John Whelan and Anne McDonnell who lived at 49 Bolton Street in the city of Dublin . Their house was opposite Bolton Street Technical School .

49 Bolton Street is still in existence today , or at least the arched doorway between two business premises is still there , and the big Technical College is also still opposite number 49 .

Anne McDonnell was born in 1882, there is a belief that she was a twin. There is certainly a history of twins within this side of the family ; Anne herself gave birth to two sets of twins , Peter & Elizabeth and Richard & Margaret, and her daughter Elizabeth later gave birth to a further pair , Betty and Pat . Anne McDonnell had at least one sister but only one brother named John ( John McDonnell apparently became blind as an adult working at Lucas's ) .

John Whelan and Anne McDonnell married in North Dublin in the quarter ending 30th September 1904 ( Reference ; Volume 2 . Page 488 . number 50 ) . They married at the Pro Cathedral in the Union of North Dublin on 31st August 1904 , both were single and of full age ( Anne would have been 24 ). At the time of the marriage John Whelan was residing at 93 Capel Street and he was a grocer , Anne came from Cloghan Sands in the County of Dublin . John's father was Richard Whelan and Anne's father was John McDonnell, both men were farmers ( these men are our great great grandfathers) . The witnesses at the wedding were Joseph Lucen and Catherine Barrett.

Capel Street runs north from the river Liffey upwards for at least a mile through Dublin until it becomes Bolton Street . The bottom of Capel Street meets the Liffey at a bridge between Lower and Upper Ormond Quays . Across this bridge and on the opposite side of the river is Parliament Street .

Anne Whelan ( nee. McDonnell ) died at the age of ninety on 18th September 1972 . At this time she was living at the home of her son Dick at 433 Ballyfermot Road , Dublin . Her funeral took place at the Church of the Assumption , Ballyfermot and she was buried at Deansgrange Cemetery. In Anne Whelan's obituary thanks were given to the Irish Graphical Benevolent Fund ; the Chapel , Cahill & Co. ; staff of the School of Printing ; Roe Quarry ( Ireland ) Ltd.; the staff of E.S.B. Central Stores ; the staff of Massey Bros. Ltd and the neighbours and residents of Galtymore Park , Drimnagh .

Interestingly , Granny Whelan's obituary begins with the words 'The daughter, sons and relatives of the late , etc.' , using the singular of daughter. Granny Whelan actually had five daughters ; Elizabeth ( Nanny Lawlor ) , Anne , Mary , Margaret and Catherine (Kitty ). Anne, Kitty and Mary had all died prior to 1972 , Elizabeth was living in England , leaving only Margaret alive in Dublin to mourn her mother. Granny Whelan outlived at least four of her own children .

Photo courtesy of Phylis Devlin and Gaye Mulholland

Gaye adds the caption: "Some of the Whelan children when young in the back yard of 49 Bolton Street. From the right is my mother Margaret, sitting next to her is the eldest John jnr., next to him is James then probably Richard and finally Patrick Whelan"

1911 Census
There is a record for the Whelan family living at number 49.3 Bolton Street (Inns Quay, Dublin):
John Whelan, head of family, aged 36, Roman Catholic, born in Kilkenny, an agricultural labourer, can read and write, married for 7 years
Annie Whelan, aged 28, wife, born Dublin City, can read and write, 5 children born - 4 survived
John Whelan, aged 6, son, born Dublin, scholar can read and write
Mary Whelan, aged 3, daughter, born in Dublin
Catherine Whelan, aged 2, daughter born Dublin
James Whelan, aged 0, born in Dublin
A couple of things worth noting about this record are (1) the new information about the origins of the father, John Whelan born in Kilkenny and also his occupation, agricultural labourer which differs from the occupation on his marriage certificate 7 years earlier when he said he was a grocer of Capel Street.
The names and ages of children do correlate with those remembered, especially by my mother Joan, though it is of interest to note that a child has already been lost at this stage.

The Leonards in the 1911 Census

With thanks to Gaye Mulholland we have been able to identify the Leonard family in the 1911 census, living at 51.4 Bolton Street (Inns Quay, Dublin). Gaye believes these are the same children (Patrick and Mary) who grew up to marry siblings in the Whelan family ( Mary and John):

John Leonard aged 32, head of family, Roman Catholic, born in Dublin, a Labourer, who can read and write

Mary Leanoard aged 33, wife of John, born in Dublin, RC, can read and write

Patrick aged 6, son, scholar who can read and write, born in Dublin

Bridget Leonard aged 1, daughter born in Dublin

Mary Leonard aged 1, daughter born in Dublin

The McDonnells

49 Bolton Street in the 1990s

As previously mentioned Anne McDonnell had a brother named John McDonnell who was blind . He died on March 30 1958 at a Dublin Hospital . He was late of 36 Sean MacDermott Street ( and formerly of 49 Bolton Street ) . An obituary from the time says that John McDonnell's death was deeply regretted by his sons , sisters , nephews and nieces . He was buried at Glasnevin Cemetary .

We also have an obituary referring to another John McDonnell , this time John Bernard McDonnell who died ( unexpectedly ) on October 9th 1979 . John Bernard was the only son of the late John and Brigid McDonnell and he was late of 11 Belvedere Place and 48 Bolton Street . His death was regretted by loving relatives and his friend Gertie . His funeral took place at St.Francis Xavier Church , Gardiner Street and he was buried at Glasnevin Cemetery . We are not sure how this John McDonnell was related to Anne , possibly he was her brother's son (her nephew ) .

According to Kelly's Dublin street directories in Birmingham library , from around 1905 to about 1960 a Mrs Cath McDonnell ran a Newsagent shop at number 40 Bolton Street . Number 41 , next door , is described as 'Tenements' . From 1960 to about 1967 the newsagent at 40 Bolton Street was run by Josephine McDonnell until the shop became a Continental Crafts shop in 1967 and later the Cafolla , N , cafe in 1975 .

Throughout the past ninety or so years numbers 49 and 48 Bolton Street ( or North Bolton Street to be exact ) were registered as tenements with various small shops on the ground floor . In 1905 a draper named M.O'Carroll kept shop at number 49 whilst next door was Nicholas McCluskey , a hairdresser and perfumer . In 1910 both shops were run by Dolan & Sons , Salt Stores , but by 1915 number 49 had returned to being a drapery shop, this time run by Miss O'Farrell and 48 was listed as tenements . An interesting name at number 49 in 1930 was Mrs M.F.Lawlor who kept a dairy and grocery shop , although in 1939 the proprietor of the dairy shop was P.Brady . In 1957 , 49 Bolton Street was a grocer's shop run by E.J.Mulhall and 48 was the dairy , this time kept by M.Morgan . In 1965 the whole of shops 49 and 51 was called Motor Spares Ltd , whilst M.Morgan was now the grocer at number 48 .

Joan recalls that Granny's sister lived in a small cottage in the back yard of 49 Bolton Street :

" Granny had a bed-ridden sister who lived in an annexe at the back of Bolton Street . I remember that she made us some little milk covers which she sent over just after Denis was born ... so she would have been still alive in 1959 ".

Anne Whelan nee. McDonnell

Meeting of the in-laws: Denis Lawlor, Anne Whelan (seated) holding baby Joan and Elizabeth Lawlor nee. Whelan on right - at back of Bolton Street circa. December 1939

The Whelan / McDonnell family are said to have been fairly well-off people compared to the Lawlors and owned property around the north Dublin area, including the tenement house in which they themselves lived .

As already mentioned Elizabeth's aunty ( her mother's sister ; a McDonnell ) lived at the rear of the home, Joan also tells us that other members of the Whelan family were residents in the big house at various points - Elizabeth's sister Margaret and her husband Denis Young lived on the top floor and another sister lived in other rooms with her family .

Anne McDonnell was sometimes referred to in humour as 'Lady Whelan' by those who were amused by her airs and graces and it is said that she was driven around Dublin in a horse and trap, a sign of prosperity in Edwardian Dublin .

In conversation recently Joan told me ;

"It's no wonder that Granny oulived many of her children , she was well looked after by everyone. Family members did everything for her, all her cooking and washing . She was well looked after - even in that day and age! But I never knew Grandfather, I have no memory of him whatsoever, he could have been dead by then".

Joan also has good memories of Granny Whelan , although they are much vaguer than her memories of Walsh Road where she lived for some time with the Lawlors as a young girl :

" I remember being sent down there to Bolton Street every Sunday after mass to visit my other granny , as they called her . The Lawlors were very good like that, they made sure that I had regular contact with my Granny Whelan . I had to walk all the way from Drumcondra down to Bolton street and back, we were n't given bus fare in those days. I remember it being a very impressive building , the drawing room was the size of two large rooms and the ceilings were very high . Granny was always very nice to me".
My grandmother Elizabeth Whelan on the left with either a sister or friend, taken in Dublin circa. 1935