Posts Tagged ‘family history’

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.

Rest in peace.

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I love books. Some more than others.

I remember reading John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” and not being able to put it down once I got past the the first chapter or two.

It was supposedly based on his family’s history.

Loosely or not, I do not know.

But it was a fascinating story. Started on the East Coast. Ended on the West Coast.

There were so many times when I thought, “Oh, this person will marry that person.”

Or, “This is likely to happen.”

No, it didn’t work that way.

Maybe because it was based on a family history. And if we look at our own family history it’s not always all nicely tied up with a bow.

Life just happens.

I suppose that is one of the reasons I liked the book.

It gave me a snapshot of American history.  A family. Immigration. Westward migration.

Also a reality check.

When it comes to families nothing comes neatly packaged.

The girl from the neighboring farm does not always marry the boy from next door.

Lots of times, yes.

But not always.

Life is not predictable.

Sometimes it can be.

Other times it is not.

I loved that Steinbeck kept me guessing and always wanting more with each chapter.

If you haven’t read it I suggest you do. Makes you really think.

 

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I’m a big researcher. I’m not large. I just mean that I enjoy going off on tangents and while away the time on totally random subjects.

I was recently perusing Irish Catholic baptisms that took place in Enniscorthy, County Wexford on the hunt for some record of my elusive great-great-great grandfather Peter Cassidy’s birth. He was born in the 1820s.

Driving me batty. He married a Wicklow woman but I believe he was a Wexford man. And I know he existed. Because I do.

Many hours have been spent tracing my family history. I thoroughly enjoy it and get a rush every time I make a new discovery.

But not all my learnings have been about my own kin. I’ve learned about immigration waves, mortality rates, illnesses, disease, society, religion and so much more.

Because of the tangents and randomness.

Back to me and my scrolling through the records.

It can be tedious work when you’re looking at the same old names. Mary, Catherine, Ann, Brigid, Margaret and Elizabeth. Patrick, William, John, James and Francis.

Yawn.

One gets very excited if they happen upon a Simon or an Anastasia. Just to break up the monotony.

On this day I was plugging along. And noticed in 1794 and 1795 the word “spurious” next to a few names on the baptismal register. This was the term that was used for bastard.

That changed in the following decades-at least on these registers.

I’m scouring the year 1828 and start noticing that “spurious” no longer appears. Just “Illegitimate” or “Illeg str.” beside the names.

I figured, since most listed a mother and father, that these were the results of premarital trysts and that the parents were married at the time of birth. I did, however, think to myself, “Then why bother noting it?”

Anyway, I smile when I see twins listed. Thinking those parents would have had their hands full.

Sad face when I see “Foundling” or “Workhouse” in the register.

Started noticing quite a few “Illeg.” between the years 1828-1834.

The name Magdalen started appearing in 1829 and I assumed it was a popular girl’s name at the time. So happy to see a different name.

But I saw that most of the Magdalens had “illegitimate” next to them. Again, maybe just a name that had soaring popularity at the time and a bunch of them were illegitimate.

Then I saw a few Simons baptized who were also illegitimate.

And two illegitimate Hedwigis? Latin for Hedwig. This name surprised me. I guess because it’s my cousin’s middle name (after her German aunt Hedwig) and I would never have associated it with an Irish person.

But many folks have been named after saints so I just figured maybe they were born on or around St. Hedwig’s Feast Day.

Here is a listing of all the illegitimate births in a two-year period from that parish.

 

October 31st, 1827 –Simon

November 5th, 1827- Ann

March 11th, 1828- John

April 1oth, 1828-Thomas

July 4th, 1828-Brigid

July 8th, 1828-Henry

July 11th, 1828-Aidan

July 30th, 1828-Catherine

August 7th, 1828-Mary

August 11th, 1828-Clare

October 24th, 1828-Mary Lane

October 31st, 1828-Mary

November 14th, 1828-John

November 19th, 1828-Eliza

November 21st, 1828-Charles

December 31st, 1828-Catherine

January 11th, 1829-John

February 7th, 1829-no name

February 28th, 1829-Simon

February 28th, 1829-Magdalen

March 6th, 1829-Magdalen

March 13th, 1829-Ellen

March 15th, 1829-Simon

March 24th, 1829-Mary

April 4th, 1829-Magdalen

April 30th, 1829-Magdalen

May 4th, 1829-James

May 5th, 1829-Simon

May 14th, 1829-Simon

May 18th, 1829-Simon

June 11th, 1829-Magdalen

June 30th, 1829-Magdalen

August 3rd, 1829-Brigid

August 10th, 1829-William

August 17th, 1829-Charles

September 6th, 1829-Sam

September 11th, 1829-Teresa

October 21st, 1829-Hedwigis

October 27th, 1829-Robert

December 1st, 1829-Hedwigis

Interesting stuff. At least to me. I’d read that illegitimate births were quite common in different European countries at certain times. I was just a bit surprised to see so many documented in one parish. Especially an Irish one. Of course, I have no idea of the size of this parish at that time. But still.

I did some checking and St. Magdalen of Canossa worked with delinquent and abandoned girls along with the poor and sick.

St. Simon’s not adding up unless the patron saint of lost causes (St. Jude also) angle is the key.

Of course, my first question was why are most of the babies named Magdalen illegitimate. Not all but most. After Mary Magdalene? Supposedly a fallen women?

My second thought was that this had to do with the Magdalene Laundries/Asylums. Maybe the girls were sent to these places. I also wondered if these names (Simon, Magdalen and Hedwigis) had to do with orphanages.

I really do not have any idea of what it all means. Or if it means anything at all. I just thought it was a bit odd. Maybe it is just a coincidence.

Would welcome any ideas or thoughts. Yes, Auntie Maureen, I’m talking to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This one is for my Auntie Maureen in Dublin, Ireland. She will soon be turning eighty years old. The fourth of the seven kids to do so. Bless her and bless them all.

I know everyone gets a little on edge if they think I am going to write about them. But I do not think that anyone should worry. My blog is intended to share things I have learned on this journey called life. Never to disparage. Maybe poke a little fun. But usually at the ones that can take it.

She can take it.

Maureen, who is fluent in the Irish language, has many different names. Maureen is what we call her. She was baptized Mary Frances. She was never, ever called that. Her husband called her Maire. Irish for Mary. She has said on more than one occasion that she will accept cheques made out to any of the above names.

She is one of seven wonderful children that my Granny and Granda brought into this world. My grandparents both made their way, as single young people, across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City. Luckily, for this huge clan, they met and married.

Maureen was their fourth child born in New York. The family would soon make the decision to return to Ireland in 1935.  Maureen’s older twin siblings, my Dad and his sister Betty, would turn four years old during that voyage on the “Transylvania” They landed in Glasgow on March 24, 1935. The family was met in the port of Derry by my great-grandfather Lennon and my great-uncle Frank McCabe.

There would be more children born in Ireland and the family was complete after the birth of three more lovely girls.

Auntie Maureen grew up in Ireland. Met the love of her life there and made a family of her own. All lovely.

She has a love of Irish history, language and ancestry. But that’s not all.

She is good-humored. We were once in the back seat of a car. She hadn’t been feeling well. A bit of a cold. So she would blow her nose now and again. And whip out the Chapstick tube meant to moisten her lips. It is a clear lip balm. Well, at one point I looked over and there was Auntie Maureen going at it for a good few minutes taking care of those lips. But she had mistakenly taken out her colored lipstick. I gave the “stop” signal immediately upon noticing. It was a bit like a mad woman in a horror flick. I had visions of a little boy going crazy on his sister’s dolls with a tube of lipstick. The point of it was that we had a good laugh.

She is a loyalist. Okay, that was a joke. Sort of a joke. By definition she is a loyalist. One who is loyal to a cause. She is and will always be loyal to her Ireland.

But not just her country.

She is loyal to her family. She is the go-to girl for all things family. History, ancestry and current day news. She is the one that keeps connected with all branches of the family. Whether it is the folks from our ancestral town or local Dublin folk. Or family across the Atlantic. Or ones that lived more than a hundred years ago. It’s all about being connected.

She is dependable. The one that would run around and take care of business. Whether it was wrapping up details of her parent’s affairs or getting Aunt Mary situated in her old age. And if she said she would do something, by golly, it would get done. She would be the one to visit you and check on you.

She is a woman. Of course, you know that.  But when I was younger, I was just a girl and she was just an aunt. A lovely auntie but just an aunt. When I grew older and I became a woman myself I was fortunate to be able to spend time with her. And then I realized that it was no longer just kid and aunt. So, I asked her about her life. Woman to woman. Childbirth. Raising children. Living with in-laws. And she was open and honest with me.

She is sacrificing. Whether she acknowledges it or not. My Uncle Stiophan, may he rest in peace, was most definitely the love of her life and they raised two wonderful children together. In the home of his parents. Without complaint. Now, I am sure the in-laws were lovely people, but I think we all can imagine the sacrifices that took place on a daily basis. With all eyes upon you and not a ton of privacy. Raising kids is hair-raising enough. I couldn’t imagine doing it in front of other folks. Especially if they weren’t my own parents. The ones who raised me. Forget about raised hair. I’d probably lose my hair.

She is helpful. When I started actually researching my family’s ancestry she was with me all the way. My kindred spirit. Assisted me in so many ways. On both sides of my family. Tromped around graveyards and churches. Sometimes in the pouring rain! Well, it is Ireland, after all.

There was one graveyard in Ballynahinch, County Down, that took us hours to find.  A priest had told us it was just down a lane on the other side of town. Off Crabtree Lane. We were just about ready to give up and head back but we gave it one more go and the fifteenth cruise around the town finally paid off. With the help of God and a friendly fellow who led us there. It was a bit creepy with the overgrown trees, bushes and terrible gray clouds that made the place almost black.  We were all alone. There were gaping holes in the untended grounds. I kept thinking a skeletal hand would reach out and grab my ankle bringing me into the netherworld. I said more than once, “And that was the last time we ever saw Maureen and Mary!”

She is adventuresome. We explored different places together. We visited the St. Patrick’s Center in Downpatrick. And we just missed the start of the tour. But there were a bunch of British tourists already grouping together. Yes, that’s right, we quietly melted into their group while giving an occasional nod or smile. Imagine the two of us with a group of Brits in Northern Ireland. We were not going to give up our “free” tour by tipping them off with a slip of the accented tongue. Don’t worry about us “getting over” on the St. Patrick’s Center. I am sure we made a donation along the way. And I gave them a bit of good PR after the enjoyable visit.

She is resilient. She lost her loving husband Stiophan. I remember she sent me a note saying “Life will never be the same.” I never forgot that and knew that it would be true. But she kept herself busy. Maybe even too busy, by her account, during the grieving process. And no, life never would be the same for her after losing her best friend. But she kept going and continued to create a life of her own. She has friends, sisters, children, grandchildren, activities, and hobbies that keep her involved and living. Not the same life. A different one. But still a life of her own.

She is smart and quick. About five years ago I wrote her a note asking for family information but I sent it to her daughter, my cousin Maire. Because Auntie Maureen wasn’t “on the computer” and didn’t have an email address. Well, that quickly changed. Within a couple of years she was not only “on the computer” but she meticulously typed up a book on our family history from her perspective. She thanked me for giving her the nudge to document it. I can’t thank her enough for her dedication to the history. She also thanked me for having the courage to send her very first email. I was so proud of her. Sure, there were a few, “I sent you an email but it seems to have disappeared!” but in time she became an old pro.

I think you get the idea. She was and is all of these things. There are many adjectives that can be used to describe this woman. Welcoming, warm, helpful, loving, intelligent, good-natured, good-humored, interesting, loyal, dependable, charitable, devout are just some that come to mind.

I really just wanted to wish her a happy birthday in case my card gets lost somewhere between Malaysia and Ireland. But it morphed into this blog posting.

Auntie Maureen, or whatever your real name is, I hope you have a wonderful day filled with good health and happiness. Not just on your 80th birthday. But every day for the entire year. And many, many more years.

In the last eighty years you were a caretaker, mother, friend, lover (yeah, that’s right, I said lover), aunt, niece, cousin, daughter, companion,  and grandmother. And each and every one of us is a better person for having felt your touch. We all appreciate you.

I love you and I am glad that you are my aunt.  And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Go mbeannaí Dia duit

Your loving niece,

Mary Beth

xoxox

P.S. My apologies for not using the fada on appropriate words. Auntie Mairead once told me how to do it on my keyboard but it didn’t work. I know where they belong. I just don’t know how to get them there. You probably learned that in your first computer course.

MB

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