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

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