My great-great grandmother was named Margaret Haughey and was born in Lurgan, County Armagh on March 8th, 1840. She was the tenth child of eleven born to Luke Haughey and Mary McDonald.
She grew up and married a weaver by the name of Bernard McConville on February 14th, 1863.
A baby boy, named after his father, was born January 2, 1864. Margaret’s mother, Mary McDonald Haughey was present at the birth of her grandson.
Sadly, it lists his father, Bernard, as being deceased by the time the little fellow arrived into the world.
And baby Bernard appears to have died soon after-in 1865.
So Margaret was married, widowed, a new mother and a grieving parent all in a matter of two years.
My great-great grandfather was a man by the name of Charles Dornan. He was a weaver and married a woman in Lurgan by the name of Anne Skeath on May 31st, 1863.
They would have two children, Mary and Hugh. By 1866 Charles lost both his wife and his two children. Anne died in 1866 along with her little daughter, Mary. Three short years. A family of four down to a family of one.
Margaret (Haughey) McConville and Charles Dornan, a young widow and widower, married in 1869. They would have seven children together. Lost a few of their kids at young ages.
My great-grandfather, Michael Dornan was one of their children. He would later succumb to tuberculosis at the early age of thirty-five in 1912 along with his one year old daughter, Annie, who also died from general tuberculosis that same year.
He left his wife, Maggie, with three young daughters and a son. My Nana, one of their children, was just six when she lost her dad and her little sister.
This blog posting was actually going to be a story about Margaret Haughey’s siblings who left Lurgan in the 1860s to set sail on a ship to New Zealand. I tend to veer. Guess that will have to be my next posting!
I remember having a discussion with a fellow a couple of years ago here in K.L. He was a guy at my husband’s office and a few of us were having drinks after work. He more or less said that researching ancestors was a waste of time. It’s about who you are now. And it has nothing to do with your ancient relatives. You have nothing to do with your ancestors.
With that being said, I have to mention that even my own husband also never quite understood my fascination with the dead. But he was certainly glad to support the project because I loved it so much. Also kept me off the streets and out of trouble. Lol. He never, ever said it was a waste of my time.
My feeling was that discovering my family’s history made me more sensitive to the plight of others before me. And after me. This man claimed that I would have been sensitive anyway. That’s who I was. I disagreed. I said that I had new appreciation for my ancestors and their troubles. We went back and forth for some time. Fuelled by passion and a couple of brewskies. He didn’t buy it.
But I did.
I appreciated the economic struggles during that time. People flocking from the rural areas and neighboring counties to the mill towns that offered employment. Migrations of people. Leaving the farms to live in cramped, damp row houses with their large families. I also imagined them toiling away, at very young ages, in the crowded mills. Spreading tuberculosis and who knows what else. Being overworked. Being uneducated. Most of the birth, marriage and death certificates are signed with “his X mark” or “her X mark.”
My heart broke at the images in my head of these two young people, newly married, losing their spouses and babies in a matter of a few short years.
I imagined how hard it was for my Nana to grow up without a Dad and what impact that had on her life.
I envisioned many who fled that life on ships for an unknown world. Because it might have been better than the one they were experiencing.
Yes, I might have been sympathetic anyway. Due to my parents raising us to care about others. But when it’s really personal you really identify with it. And you might want to do more.
I would have been totally fine if I never pursued my curiosity about the family tree. Would have a secure identity and continued community service work.
But I might work a little harder because my ancestors taught me a very valuable lesson from their graves. “It could be you. Because it was us. Not all of us survived it. But some of us did. You, mo chroi´, are the result. Make it worth our struggle.”
There are loads of quotes out there about history and the past. Most of them go something like this, “Those who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat it.”
I don’t want to be a part of a repetitive cycle in world history. Rather be a part of learning.
So, thank you, Margaret Haughey, mo chroi´, and the rest of you. I’m still learning and you will never be forgotten.