Family History

Broken News
Sir Michael O'Dwyer
Michael O'Dwyer has been knighted by the French government for his contribution to French literature and literary analysis. The award, l'Ordre des Palmes académiques, was presented in the French embassy on 7 December 2010.

Mayo Feis 1903
Another follow up to the Kilmacnella party, see below, was the Mayo Feis of 1903, which took place in Ballyhaunis. It represented a major local and county effort by the Gaelic League and was considered a great success. Many of my family took part and John won a prize.

Following a sort of mini-family reunion in Kilmacnella on the Mayo/Galway border, I was provoked into following up some of the Fahey family background in Cloonfad. This also followed my reading of Eugene Hynes's book on Knock which alerted me to the interrelated significance of places like Irishtown, Kiltimagh, Knock, Ballyhaunis and Claremorris in the period around 1879 - the year of the Knock "apparition". Thanks to Thérèse Hegarty for hosting a stimulating and enjoyable afternoon.

Larry Medlar's Stories
When Larry Medlar was 90, in 1978, his son-in-law, Dave, performed a genealogical service of the first order by getting his father-in-law to recount some of his stories on tape. A selection are presented here. Thanks Dave for a first class interview and thanks Blondie for giving me a copy. I hope they can now be enjoyed by a wider circle of family.

Old Homestead in Cappanahanagh
Grandfather Michael Dwyer's origins have been confirmed to Cappanahanagh in East Limerick. Recent contact from Nora Meehan led to a visit to the area and a first report on that is included here.

Cousin Michael Dwyer had alerted me to the Meehan's in Newport but I had not made contact until Nora found me.

Now I have a piece in the MurroeBoher Annual 2011. Thanks Nora. (text only version)

Inver Lodge found
I have traced Mary Anne Conneely's parents' holding to the northern coast of Turlough Bay in Conemara. It is about a mile south-west of Inver Lodge, which is on an island in Loch Inbhir (Lough Invernagleragh). The holding is almost slap bang in the middle of the townland of Turlough and is separated from the remaining cluster of houses by the inlet. It is quite close to Pearse's Cottage. There is still some work to be done but you can get a good idea of the setup here

Patrick Mortimer traced to Birr
The missing years between 1908 and 1916 may be on the way to being filled. In the 1911 Census Patrick returned himself as a Grocery and Provisions manager in Birr (Lipton's). Sr. Kathleen Minogue has provided me with May and Sara's convent school records in Birr which show that Patrick arrived there in April 1910 and left in September 1912. This would still leave a gap to be filled in Dublin from 1913 to 1915 when he is first recorded as living in Thirlstane Tce.

Progress on the Joseph and Mary front
Joseph and Mary Anne Mortimer (neé Connely) can now be placed in Glasnevin as early as 1861. Their marriage has been traced to the ProCathedral in that year.

I think I have now traced where both their parents came from.

The ProCathedral have had a look at the original register for me and suggested that Joseph's parents may have come from Collon Hill (Carndonagh). I was very dubious and favoured Collon Louth myself. I think I now have Joseph's father, Thomas, tracked down, via the LDS and Griffith's valuation, to the townland of Creewood, in the Parish of Grangegeeth, near Collon, but just on the Meath side of that county's border with Louth. This has opened up a whole new, and exciting, line of enquiry which will make it even less likely that this opus will be completed this side of the grave.

Meanwhile, Mary Anne has now been definitively traced to Turlough, near Rosmuc, in Connemara (see above). Joseph's relationship to Corporal Thomas still remains a mystery, though I recently discovered two possible candidates - Joseph's brother or his nephew.

Paddy Dwyer - found at last!
I have finally found material about Paddy's death which you can read in summary. You can see his death notice and read an extensive newspaper account of the inquest. Cousin Colette's story is proven to be substantially true. A lady's modesty took precedence over a boy's life and there was no small degree of sectarian bitterness involved as well.

On the trail of Jane Dwyer
I had some trouble with Jane Dwyer, my father's sister. She did not turn up at the family home in either the 1901 or 1911 censuses. I knew she had gone to the USA while fairly young, so that might explain her absence in 1911. But 1901 was more challenging. I eventually came across her with her grandparents in Cappanahanagh in east Limerick. I have now tracked down her emigration record to the USA in 1908 and this has provided a lot of detail for follow up, including the name and address of the uncle she was going to stay with in New York. You can see an interim report here.

Christopher Burgess - the early years.
When did he come to town? It now looks like he was already living with his family in Thomas St. in 1866. How did he meet (his cousin?) Sarah? How did he start his own business in 1873?

Sergeant-Major John Burgess on the Somme
Did he fight at Leuze Wood, within 3 miles of where John P Dwyer lost his life at High Wood? Was Wolfgang's grandfather (medic) operating anywhere near there? Or, did he arrive in time for the battle of Loos (near Liège) and did he use any of the poison gas cylinders which might have been carried into place by John P the previous night?

An incidental result of my family history digging is that I appear to have struck the Irish language lode. My great grandfather and grandmother, Luke Reilly and Bridget Jordan, on my father's side, returned themselves in the 1901 census in Kiltimagh as being able to speak both Irish and English. They were both originally from Sligo; he was born in the 1820s and she in the 1830s. Meanwhile my great grandmother, on my mother's side, Mary Anne Conneely, seems to have come from Turlough, near Rosmuc, and would in all likelihood have been a native Irish speaker. That seems to be the only Irish in the line of my direct ancestors. My own connections with the language came about purely by accident when Synge St. CBS wouldn't have me and Coláiste Mhuire gave me asylum. There are other connections with the language, mainly in the teaching branches of the family, but I will expand on them in another context.

See where family members lived, worked and died!
This section shows photos found among family papers and of people who have not yet been identified. All help welcome.

Murder most foul!
Recent happenings on the site of the old Fountain Picture Palace in James's Street.

Where's the beef?
The origins of cow parlour

Consultation 18 Oct. 2007
Consultation 19 & 10 Nov. 2007
Presentation 14 Nov. 2007
Forum 15 January 2008
New Website dedicated to this project
A note on PDF files
I have designed these files for screen viewing rather than printing. You can zoom in to virtually any magnification and drag the content round the screen. If you haven't already got it, the reader can be downloaded (free) from here

A note on the F11 key
On most browsers pressing the F11 key will toggle between the normal view and full screen. This can be useful for temporarily getting rid of screen clutter and viewing the content more easily.

Update  :  Statistics

Pól's Ancestors
This is a useful version of the tree which shows only direct ancestors. It is a good starting point to understanding who is who in this section.

Family Trees

-    Full Trees
The versions below show all persons, living and dead, who are known in the tree. Dates have been omitted to prevent identitiy theft in the case of the living persons.

Burgess   Mortimer   Dwyer   Fleming   Duffy   Medlar   Fitzsimons   Reilly   O'Brien   

-    Limited Trees with Dates
The versions below are limited to non-living persons (with a few unavoidable exceptions) and show birth, death and marriage dates, and occupations, where known.

Burgess   Mortimer   Dwyer   Fleming   Duffy   Medlar   Fitzsimons   Reilly   O'Brien   

Burgess family in
1901/11 Censuses    No. 45 James's Street

Dwyer family in
1901/11 Censuses    Barrack Street

Birth, marriage & death certs
A selection of birth, marriage and death certs gives the flavour of the information which can be gleaned from this source. The current selection is a fairly broad representation of the material I have in hardcopy but it is not comprehensive.

Material here relates mainly to Prospect Cemetery in Glasnevin (Christopher and John Burgess and Patrick Mortimer). Further material in Glasnevin will be covered in due course (Fleming and Dwyer). Dean's Grange is due a visit to record my parents and uncle Pat.

The intention is to flesh these cameos out over time. They are a good vehicle for bringing together disparate pieces of information and they may give some idea of life as seen from the perspective of the subject.

Where they lived
This has proved a very interesting journey. So far it concentrates mainly on Dublin city. The idea is to show a current view of where people lived. Not only does it cover the geography of the city but it raises issues of urban planning and has resonances of social and economic history.

An RIC man in the family can be a mixed blessing. It can draw down upon you the odium of nationalists and of the lumpen proletariat. On the other hand it is a godsend to the genealogist as RIC records are very good. They can prove useful cross references and give you added insights.

Parish Records
The civil records, covered above, have the advantage of being indexed on a national basis. This makes it much easier to trace people. Unfortunately they only go back to the mid 19th century and going further back means dipping into (in my case Roman Catholic) parish records. This is a much more challenging and labour intensive task. You have to know the precise parish to follow up. While many records are available on film in the National Library, some bishops and parish priests, for their own good reasons no doubt, have declined to have their records filmed. This means visiting individual churches - when they let you in - or possibly paying heritage centres for the privilege. Many of the original records were badly kept in the first place and/or are in appaling condition. Needless to say, this is reflected in the filmed copies.

In fairness, I should record that my own experience at parish level in Clontarf (St. John's) and Stephen's Green (University Church), in Dublin, and in Goresbridge and Borris, has been fantastic - I got full and enthusiastic cooperation in all these places.

Pól's Birthplace
I knew from my mother that I had been born in a nursing home rather than at home or in a maternity hospital. I never thought to ask where or why. Research revealed 40 Upper Fitzwilliam Street within sight of the National Maternity Hospital in Holles St.

Sara's Sendoffs
Mam worked in the Labour Exchange in Beresford Place and, when she was leaving the office to get married, she was presented with two valedictory poems.

The Gem
My parents ran the Gem shop in Howth between 1942 and 1949. Then the runners did a runner.

Somme 1916
When I started following up the family history I was aware that my uncle, my father's brother - John P Dwyer, had died on the Somme in the First World War (or the Great War for Civilisation as it was then known). I have since learned that my granduncle, my mother's uncle - John Burgess, also fought there and was invalided home. And, his grand-daughter Marie subsequently married Wolfgang, whose own grandfather served there - but with the opposing side. Stille Nacht!

Corporal Thomas Mortimer
This is still a serious mystery. Corporal Thomas Mortimer died in Ranikhet, India, in 1892 while in service with the Prince's Own West Yorkshire Regiment. I haven't yet determined where he fits into the family.

Wedding Photos
I'm putting up mapped photos of weddings in this section. These occasions are gold dust to the genealogist as whole families assemble. They are all the more valuable when you can get a family member to identify the participants.
Rita Kelly's wedding
Pattie Fleming's wedding
Nuala Kelly's wedding

Four Generations of Coopers
Four generations of the Fleming family were coopers in Guinness.

Three Generations of GAA
Three generations of O'Dwyer descendants have played for their counties (O'Dwyer, Fahey and Devaney).

Griffiths Valuation
The Griffiths Valuation records individual property owners from 1848 onwards. It can be a useful substitute for individual pre 1901 census returns, virtually all of which were destroyed. The 1821-51 returns were lost in the PRO fire in 1922 and the 1861-91 returns had already been destroyed by the authorities pre 1922. I have not yet looked closely at this source. I extracted relevant data from John Hayes's excellent site and arranged it by surname and county.

The Jewish Connection
Extremely tenuous connections with the Dublin Jewish Community and with things Jewish.

In the course of following up different strands of this research I kept coming back to the same places. This gave rise to the rather fanciful page on synchronicity, or coincidence of location.

This section does not pretend to be a comprehensive guide to sources. Rather it is a record of my own use of particular sources so far. It does not, as yet, include online sources, of which I have made very little use so far.

Back to Póló's home page
Related Blog Posts
The links below are to posts on my blogs which relate specifically to family history.
Was I Somebody?.
Some recent developments (Jan. 2010)

Taking Sides .
A delicate family balancing act
(as Gaeilge)

Shoots, Leaves and Branches.
December 2007 Update.

Dublin in the rare oul times
Changing Dublin through family eyes.

My Tachondria and other trivia
Background, gene pool and trades in the family.

From small acorns ...
Starting out researching the family tree.

Traitors all!
Family involvement with the (British) authorities.

Seek and ye shall find
Of visions and baptism certs.


The Shoemaker's Daughters
The Burgesses of James's Street

A Policeman's Lot
The Dwyers of Cappanahanagh

The Medlar's Gotcha
The Medlars of James's Street

Related Broadcasts

Sloinne & Seoladh
I took part in some of the programmes in Micheál Holmes's series for Radio na Gaeltachta "Sloinne agus Seoladh" dealing with family and local history.

Feel free to leave a comment in the guestbook or to mail me if you don't want to go public.