Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Whelan and McDonnell ancestors in Dublin, Ireland

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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
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