Saturday, 6 March 2010

The Dwyer family of Wexford

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More information on the Dwyer family of Wexford. Edward Dwyer was the father of my wife Theresa.

Bridget Dwyer nee. Melon on the farm at Ballyoughna

Name origins

The name Dwyer can be found in Ireland, Wales and England, although it does originate from the Irish O'Duibhir 'dun-coloured' ( dun means brownish-grey and was usually used to describe the colour of horses ). A Richard Dwyer was recorded as early as 1386 living in Dorset and there is also a place with this name. In Ireland there was an O'Dwyer clan who lived in the mountains of Tipperary ( Klanmanagh ) in the 1700s and are known for their resistance to English aggression . One of these insurgents was Michael O'Dwyer who led an uprising in 1798 , defying the English for five years before being caught and transported to Australia where he became a policeman .

The name Mellon may originate from Norman invaders of Ireland , it comes from the French place name Meulan , which is at Seine-et-Oise . A Norman named Robert de Melun is recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Henry the Third in Warwickshire , England in 1194 .


Edward Dwyer marries Catherine Stone in Dublin


The Dwyers of Wexford

The Dwyer family originated in County Wexford at the turn of the present century and lived in and around the town of Gorey on the south east coast of Ireland (halfway between Wicklow and Wexford ). Edward Dwyer's children recall holidaying at places like Courtown beach , Ballycanew and Cahore Point during the 1960s and 1970s whenever they went to visit their father's relatives in Wexford .

My wife's mother Kitty (nee Stone) believes that earlier Dwyers may have originated from Tipperary .

Edward Dwyer ( Ned ) was born in Wexford on 15th June 1915 and died at East Birmingham Hospital , Birmingham on 3rd June 1987 .

Edward's father was Andrew Dwyer , a farmer , and his mother was Bridget Mellon . They lived at Ballyoughna, Wexford . Andrew and Bridget married on 21st August 1911 at the Roman Catholic Chapel of Ballygarrett in the district of Killevagh Wella in Gorey , Wexford ( Reference Volume 2 Page 776 ). At the time of their marriage Andrew Dwyer was 34 years old and Bridget Mellon was 27 , both were single and Andrew was a farmer. Andrew's residence was given as Ballyoughna and his father is also recorded as an Andrew Dwyer , farmer. Bridget's residence is given as Glascarrig and her father was George Mellon , also a farmer . The witnesses at the marriage were Thomas Dempsey and Kate Mellon and the service was performed by Laurence Jones. The marriage was recorded in the Entry of Marriage as number 202 .

Kitty believes that Bridget Mellon was actually from Moneylawn not Glascarrig ( which was a seaside resort ) and suggests that she may have been working in Glascarrig at the time of her marriage to Andrew .

Andrew Dwyer (Ned's father ) was born at Moneylawn , Wexford on 11th July 1883 , his birth was entered onto the Birth Register in Gorey on 21st January 1834 ( Reference; Volume 2 Page 797 ) . Of interest is that only Andrew's mother's name is entered on the register and there is a dash through the space where the father's name could have been recorded . Andrew's mother was Margaret Dwyer and no maiden name is  recorded. It is interesting that no father was recorded on the birth certificate although he was recorded later on the marriage certificate as being Andrew Dwyer, farmer .

Kitty recalls that many years ago Ned used to visit a very elderly Protestant man named Mr Walker who lived just up the lane to the Dwyer family at Ballyoughna in Wexford . On one occassion, Kitty recalls Ned climbing over a locked gate in his enthusiasm to find Mr Walker. In June 1996 Kitty took us to visit Margaret Walker , the ninety seven year old widow of George Walker , who was living in St John's hospital in Eniscorthy . Whilst Mrs Walker had very warm memories of her neighbours , the Dwyers , her recall of Andrew Dwyer's parents was vague , "They were old people when I was just a young girl " she told us . However , Madge Walker did tell us that she believed his mother Margaret's maiden name to have been Malloy .

Mrs Walker also told us that at one time Andrew Dwyer had worked for the local Magistrate's office as a bailiff , serving summonses on local people . She told us ;

" It wasn't a popular job ... women would hide behind their curtains when they saw Andrew coming up the path with a summons ... people would set their dogs on him ! "

The name Andrew was very common in the Dwyer family . A tradition had been established, in fact , whereby the firstborn of each generation had to be an Andrew . However , Kitty put her foot down when it came to her own firstborn and made Ned agree to the name of Michael. She believes that a similar tradition was developing for the naming of female Dwyer babies , there was to be a Bridget in every generation and Theresa's cousin Moira is actually really a Bridget.

Andrew Dwyer ( Ned's father ) had one brother and one sister , Elizabeth ( Liza ) and Edward ( Ned ) , who lived together as bachelar and spinster . An incredible yet true story concerns the occasion when Andrew's brother Ned was planning to marry a local woman , but his sister and soul-mate , Liza , did not want him to marry the woman and hid Ned's shoes on the morning of his wedding so that he was unable to leave the house and the wedding did not therefore take place .

Dwyer family of Newton Road, Sparkhill
Back row: Terry, Mick, Ed, Kev
Front row: Imelda, Theresa, Kitty, Ned , Angela

The Melons and the Fortunes

Bridget Melon had a brother named Patrick who owned a women's drapery shop in Dun Laoire near Dublin. The shop was run by Patrick's wife and their two daughters. The couple also had two sons , George and Patrick . In this record we have a copy of an old photograph of an altar boy , taken before 1922 . This altar boy was either George or Patrick Melon ( Ned Dwyer's first cousin on his mother's side ) . It is believed that George may have moved to England .

Johnny Fortune was a first cousin of Bridget Melon . Johnny lived with his two sisters , Maggie (Margaret ) and Biddie ( Bridget ) in Wexford. By 1996 Johnny Fortune's sisters had long died and he was himself 96 years old . Kitty went to visit him once and found him living in very basic conditions in a run-down cottage which he shared with a younger man whom he had taken in as a child when this man's own father had died . Johnny has spent some time recently in a Gorey rest home. Johnny Fortune's own father would have been a brother to Bridget Melon's mother . This provides us with a maiden name then for Ned Dwyer's maternal grandmother, the wife of George Melon .

Another picture contained in this record , provided by Kitty Dwyer, is of Margaret Dooley , said to be another first cousin of Johnny Fortune and Bridget Melon . Margaret Dooley lived at Ballinoulant and is aged 5 on the photograph ( wearing a white frock and hat ) . She died at the age of 16 years . She may then have been the daughter of Bridget Melon's aunt on her mothers side , a Fortune who married and became Dooley. Margaret Dooley may have been an only child .


Edward Dwyer disambarking from an aeroplane

The children of Andrew and Bridget

Andrew Dwyer and Bridget Mellon had six children ; Edward , George , Sarah ( Siss ) , Patsy , Andy and Mat . Three of the children ( Edward , Patsy and Andy ) left Wexford to live in Birmingham , England . Between the six children they produced 29 grandchildren.

Edward Dwyer married Kitty Stone of Moate , they lived in Sparkhill , Birmingham and had seven children ; Michael ( born in Dublin ) , Terence , Edward , Angela , Kevin , Imelda and Theresa ( all born in Birmingham ) .

George Dwyer married Kitty and they remained living in the Wexford area . George died sometime after 1987 . They had 8 children ; Andrew ( or Ad ) , Ann lives in Waterford , Mary , Jim , George , Margaret , Breda and Chrissy .

Sarah Dwyer ( Sis ) married Jim Kenny and they lived on a strawberry farm in Wexford . They had 7 children ; 4 boys and 3 girls . The oldest Kenny child was Johnny, a salesman and keen long distance runner who was in the Irish Territorial Army , he lived in Mullingar and also had 7 children.; next came Andy Kenny who married Betty, third of the Kenny children was Seamus , a great Irish hurler who played for Wexford , he married Dorothy Welsh , a schoolteacher , also an excellent Kamogie player ; 4th of the Kenny children was Patrick , also an excellent hurler playing for Wexford , he is married to Cynthia ; 5th of the Kenny children is Moira (Moy), marrried to Tom Kavanagh and living in Boulavon, Wexford ; sixth child Brigitte Kenny is a nurse in Dublin , a great Daniel O'Donnel fan ;  the youngest Kenny child , Ann , like her sister Brigitte , is a big Daniel O'Donnel fan , they travel around Ireland to watch him regularly.

Patsy Dwyer married Mary Healey , also known as Dolly ( Theresa's godmother ) . They lived in Birmingham ; Patsy was care taker at St Edward's school , Selly Park . Patsy and Dolly had 5 children ; Ann, Mary, John, Andrew and Helen.

Andy Dwyer married Anne Connolly and they lived at 74 Newton Road , Sparkhill . Their house is now knocked down. Andy and Anne had two children ; Moira and Andrew, a fireman.
Mat Dwyer shared a farm with Din (another man and thought to be his gay partner ) in Wexford . Mat  inherited much of the Dwyer family land in Wexford , although he was the youngest child and gay he was thought to have had a very controlling influence over the others. He died in 1982.

The Grave of the Unknown Sailor

Andrew and Bridget Dwyer are buried in a tiny cemetary close to the sea near Cahore Point . In this very old cemetary are the ruins of a small chapel which was reputedly built by St Patrick on his arrival in Ireland many centuries ago . Some of the gravestones in the cemetary date back to the 1700s , many are difficult to read , there are over twenty gravestones belonging to one particular family called Redmund.

Andrew Dwyer died on 21st February 1951 whilst Bridget died a couple of years earlier on 19th July 1948 . Sharing the couple's grave is their youngest son Matthew ( Matt ) who died on 21st August 1982 aged 59 .

When his brothers and sisters came to bury Matt in their parents' grave in 1982 , to their shock some of them noticed that there was a well preserved corpse visible in the grave as Matt was being lowered in on top of it . The family guessed that this must be their father's body which was still in a remarkable condition following some thirty years in the grave . On further investigation the cemetary administrators explained that this was actually the body of an unknown sailor who had been washed up on the beach many months earlier. Believing that no further bodies were to be buried in the grave of Andrew and Bridget Dwyer , their grave had been opened up and the corpse of the unfortunate sailor had been lowered in.

The grave next to the Dwyers belongs to Daniel and Ealse Neal who were buried in 1754 .

Edward Dwyer in the army

Misc. References found in birth, marriage and death indexes

Patrick Dwyer ( spouse of Mary ) was born in Enniscorthy on 8th April 1812.

Mary Dwyer ( spouse of Patrick ) was born in Wexford in 1810.

Bridget Dwyer was born in Wexford in 1842 , her parents were Patrick and Mary Dwyer.

Margaret Dwyer was born in Wexford in December 1846 , her parents were Patrick and Mary Dwyer.

Eliza Dwyer was born in Wexford in July 1852, her parents were Patrick and Mary Dwyer.

Patrick Dwyer was born in Enniscorthy on 8th April 1864

Bridget Dwyer was born in Enniscorthy on 25th December 1865 , her parents were John Dwyer and Anne Murphy .

John Dwyer was born in Gorey on 20th June 1866 , his parents were Andrew Dwyer and Catherine Finn.

Thomas Dwyer was born in Eniscorthy in the September quarter of 1882

Catherine Mellon was born at Camolin , Wexford on 1st January 1866 . Her parents were John Mellon and Teresa Giddins.

John Mellon was born at Camolin , Wexford on 15th February 1867 . His parents were John Mellon and Teresa Gettings .
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1 comment:

  1. I have record of my GG Grandmother being Mary Dwyer. On her gravestone she was born in Wexford in 1818. Her parents I believe were John Dwyer and Bridget Colluton. Would you have any information of these names.

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