The Reddan and Liddy Families: Part II

We saw in my previous post that there were at least three siblings born to James Reddan and Mary Scott of Gortnaglogh, Broadford, Clare. Thanks to DNA matches, clues from descendants, and further research we have learned a little about children Winifred and James and their lives in the USA.

However, what did happen to their older sister Mary?

My theory was that if she had also emigrated to the US we’d likely find her with or near her siblings in Manchester, Connecticut. Did she marry, or did she become her parents’ carer?

I turned once again to the online Catholic parish registers for Broadford, County Clare. Sure enough, Mary Reddan of Gortnaglogh is married on 18 February 1871 to Patrick Liddy from Knockbrack townland in the Parish of Kilnoe. The witnesses once again confirm the family linkages: Pat Tuohy of Knockbrack and Margaret O’Brien from Ballykelly (sister to my 2xgreat grandmother).

REDDAN LIDDY marriage 1871

Marriage extract from the Broadford Parish Registers for 1871.

Pat and Mary Liddy had a large family (baptisms in the Parish of Kilnoe, parents living in the townland of Ballydonaghan):

  1. Patrick 11 Nov 1871 witnesses Michael Reddan and Margaret Liddy

Underneath his name is an annotation to indicate he was married in New York, but unfortunately some of it is obscured. Married to El….Connors (?) at Ascension Church, New York on Oct 9, 191x.

  1. Matthew 28 March 1873 witnesses Michael Reddan and Mary Tuohy
  2. Margaret 7 July 1875 witnesses John Fahey and Ellen Tuohy
  3. John born 1 May 1877 (civil registration)
  4. Bridget 26 February 1879 witnesses John Reddan and Anne Tuohy
  5. Michael born 2 August 1881
  6. Thomas born 30 April 1883 (civil)
Ballydonaghan Askaboutireland

Map of Ballydonaghan townland from Ask About Ireland and Valuations Office.

It seems highly likely that the Tuohy family were close relatives of the Liddy family, perhaps cousins. It’s also relevant that Pat and Mary lived close to Mary’s likely cousin (or 2nd cousin), Honora Garvey at Ballydonaghan. Honora is another sister to my 2xgreat grandmother, Mary O’Brien so this may be how the couple came to know each other.  Pat Liddy is also a witness to the baptism of John Garvey jnr in 1877.

At the time of the 1901 census the family at Ballydonohane (sp) in the DED of Boherglass included Mary 56, John 20, Bridget 18, and Thomas 15 who could all read and write, but none spoke Irish[i]. Mary was already widowed. They were living in a 2nd class dwelling of stone with a thatched roof, 3[ii] rooms and 3 front windows. Their farm included a stable, a cow house, piggery and barn[iii].

By 1911, only John 32, and Thomas 25, are residing on the farm, which had different outhouses: stable, coach house, cow house and calf house.

LIDDY Mary death 1909

Civil registration extract.

It seemed likely Mary had died between 1901 and 1911, so I turned to the civil registration records[iv] to find her death. Luckily, for this period it also included images, so I could confirm I had the right person and learn that daughter Bridget had been present at Mary’s death on 20 February 1909.  Mary was aged 71 (hmm, an interesting age jump since the 1901 census), and she was the widow of Patrick Liddy of Ballydonaghan. In the same way I found Pat’s death on 3 July 1900, aged 61, also witnessed by his daughter Bridget.

OCallaghans estate evictions

Extract of list of tenants on the O’Callaghan estate per Clarelibrary.ie

Although Mary was only 63 at the time of her death, based on baptism dates, she had experienced enormous tragedies. She was born in the depths of the Great Irish Famine yet survived. What impact did it have on her long-term health I wonder? Her son Matthew (17yo) died on 5 February 1891 from “probable meningitis” followed on 18 May 1895 by the death of their youngest son, Michael, aged 13, from pneumonia.  Only five years later her husband Pat died. She must have felt buffeted by some fierce winds of life.

However, this is “only” some of the challenges of her life. She and Pat had also experienced the drama and near-tragedy of being evicted from O’Callaghan’s estate in Bodyke. These evictions are infamous as one of the key factors in the Land Wars. The Liddy family appears on the list of tenants of the estate, and another Liddy/Lyddy family from the townland of Clonmoher was among the two families evicted on the first day[v]. The O’Callaghan estate files are held in the National Library of Ireland’s reference library and may contain some additional information on this family, as they do for the Garvey family.

Given the notation of son Patrick’s baptism, it seems likely he had emigrated to the United States either before Pat snr’s death, or between that of both parents, however I have been unsuccessful in tracing his immigration or naturalisation. It is unknown what happened to their daughters Margaret (pre-1901) or Bridget[vi] (after 1901): did she die, emigrate or marry in the USA or Ireland? John Liddy married Margaret Ryan in Ogonnoloe on 13 February 1912[vii] and presumably remained on the family farm.  Younger brother, Thomas, emigrated on 6 June 1913 on the Mauretania[viii]. The passenger record shows his former residence is with his brother John at Ballydonehan, Bodyke and he was planning to stay with his brother Pat at 1804, 3rd Avenue New York. Thomas states himself as a 22 year old labourer.

Mauretania Tyne and Wear Museum

Mauretania on her maiden voyage in 1907, leaving Tyneside. Image from Tyne and Wear Museum.

Meanwhile, what became of the Reddan property at Gortnaglogh? The Valuation Revisions indicate that ultimately the farms of James and Pat Reddan were combined and inherited by Michael Reddan by at least the early 20th century. As yet, it’s not known what kinship exists between Pat Reddan’s family and that of James Reddan but is seems likely they were cousins of some degree. Pat Reddan died in 1892, aged 97, on 7 February, and his widow, Winifred, aged 92 died on 10 February. Both deaths were witnessed by son Michael. Of course, like so much in genealogy, one discovery arrives with more questions. Where did this Winifred come from? I can not find their marriage, and the mother of Winifred, James and Mary was stated as Mary Scott….did she perhaps have a two first names, based on the naming patterns?  The Michael Reddan who resides at Gortnaglogh in 1901 is the correct age for the one born to Pat Reddan and Mary Daniher…so who is Winifred? What am I missing here?

REDDAN Patrick and Winifred deaths 1892

Image extracted from ID 3709465 on irishgenealogy.ie Civil Registrations.

The bonus of DNA is that it has established a kinship connection between James and Mary Reddan’s children, Winifred, James and Mary.

I wonder if a Liddy match will come up at some stage?

I’d be very interested in hearing from any descendants of these families, either in Ireland or in the USA or elsewhere.

I’m also curious how many east Clare descendants have had their DNA tested…feel free to contact me if you wish.

—————————-

[i] Householder’s return (Form A)

[ii] House and Building return. (Form B1)

[iii] Out offices and farm steadings return (Form B2)

[iv] https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/civil-search.jsp

[v] My assumption re this family is based on the fact that the other eviction that day was of the widow Margaret McNamara who also lived at Clonmoher.

[vi] I can not find her marriage or death in the Irish records, nor an obvious immigration record. She is not the Bridget Lyddy who emigrates on the Celtic in 1910 as her former residence is with her father, John at Bodyke and it seems likely this is John Lyddy from Clonmoher townland.

[vii] Civil registration 1971946

[viii] Donated material on the Clare Library website from Ellis Island information.

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Week 5 Life experiences: Finding Mary O’Brien

Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog, in conjunction with Geneabloggers, has a new series of weekly blogging prompts for 2012 and the theme is 52 Weeks of Abundant GenealogyWeek 5’s topic is Life Experiences: Sometimes the challenges in life provide the best learning experiences. Can you find an example of this in your own family tree? Which brick wall ancestor are you most thankful for, and how did that person shape your family history experience?

This gorgeously framed photo of Mary O'Brien was given to me by my Sydney cousins.

This is a tricky one and after some reflection I decided on my ancestor Mary O’Brien from County Clare.  Why? Well for two reasons really. Firstly, with a name like that from Clare, you’d have had more chance of finding the proverbial needle in the haystack and secondly, her own life experiences gave her the fortitude to make her new life in Australia.

So how do you solve a problem like Mary O’Brien from Co Clare? I’d have to say that to a large degree I got lucky. I’d been doing my family history less than 12 months when I sent out a barrage of letters to people with the Kunkel surname in and around Toowoomba. What’s Kunkel got to do with it? You see Mary O’Brien, an Irish lady, married George Kunkel, a proud Bavarian and also a strong Catholic. Luckily for me, the Kunkel surname is an unusual one and my father always said anyone with that name in Australia was related…not 100% correct as it happened but about 97%.

Anyway, by pure chance one of my letters went to an unknown cousin who had close links to the surviving grandchild of Mary & George Kunkel and after they’d spoken to her, got in touch with me. Before long we’d organised a meeting in Toowoomba…it was the strangest feeling to find myself amidst a group of equally tall strangers who were really 2nd or 3rd cousins. Anne Kunkel, the granddaughter, was by then in her mid-80s and steadily going blind but her memory was as sharp as a tack. She quickly told me the family tree, who was whom, where they lived, and where they fitted in. She confidently knocked on the head that George and Mary had a daughter Elizabeth, but did have one called Louisa….one and the same person as it turned out.

During a few visits over the coming year or two, we met up again and Anne filled in gaps for me about her grandmother Mary O’Brien, telling me she came out to work for a sea captain, that she had a job lined up “before ever she got here”, that she was 16 when she left Ireland and was six months at sea. Despite the fact that Anne thought two of her sisters, Bridget and Kate, came to Australia with her, I have proved that Kate came later but have never found Mary and Bridget’s immigration records. Anne also knew the names of Mary’s siblings who stayed behind in Ireland.

Anne couldn’t remember Mary’s place of birth but thought it was something like Longford. She did however remember the name of Mary’s sisters in Australia including Bridget’s married name of Widdup. Mary’s death certificate hadn’t obliged me with anything more than the usual “Co Clare”. Luckily her sister’s death certificate was more helpful and named Broadford as her place of birth though mixing up the parents’ names. It also enlightened me that Bridget had spent a year in Queensland and the rest of her Australian life had been lived in New South Wales. This tends to support the story that Bridget and Mary arrived together. The benefits of tracing siblings!

Another of Anne’s historical gifts was the name of family members in Sydney. Through these cousins I was able to combine their personal knowledge with archival and other research to confirm the links in Australia and Ireland.  Through them, too, I was able to link up with some of Mary’s sister’s descendants who live in the USA.  The triangulation of the family names in the record sources meant I could pin down the family in the townland of Ballykelly in the Parish of Kilseily, Broadford, Clare.

I’ve never regarded oral history as one of my strong suits so I’m eternally grateful that Anne Kunkel was the perfect interviewee, clear and accurate in her responses in ways that could often readily be verified in the official records. Her closeness to her grandmother as a small child meant that she had kept these stories close to her heart through all those years, to pass on just before her own death. But her gifts didn’t stop there. She also provided me with stories of their farm and the day to day life (she, her brother and her parents had come to live with the Kunkel grandparents in their old age). The stories of George Kunkel preparing his sausages and the ways of the farm are treasured parts of our family history. Without Anne Kunkel’s gifts, her grandmother would have remained just another Mary O’Brien from Co Clare, never to be distinguished from her many compatriots of that name.

Mary’s own life experience and stamina

Mary O’Brien was born around 1834 in rural Clare. She would have been about 12 when the Irish Famine decimated its people. Because the parish registers only start in 1844, there is no record of Mary’s birth, nor that of any siblings born before that time.  Catholic registers don’t usually record deaths and the Church of Ireland records, which did sometimes include all burials, no longer exist, so there is no way of knowing how many of her family may have died, though if they were typical perhaps as many as half would have fallen victim through this terrible time. What is clear from the registers is how the marriage and baptism rates plummet during the Famine.

Mary’s survival will no doubt have given her a high level of immunity to illness, as well as the strength as an adult to persevere when life’s challenges may have seemed insurmountable. She was a country girl, used to hard work and few frills, and life as a pioneer demanded all the skills, courage and stamina she could bring to bear. In her old age she was able to travel by train to Sydney to see her daughter and her sister’s children. I wonder did she ever meet up with her sister Bridget again after they parted in Moreton Bay in the 1850s? No one seems to know. Although she herself couldn’t write, the families plainly knew where each was, and must have kept in touch somehow. Perhaps her husband, who could write, had been able to keep them connected. Sadly no letters survive from their life in Murphys Creek, either in Australia or Ireland…at least as far as I can determine. How strange then, to meet with the inheritor of the O’Brien land in Ballykelly and both be astonished at our mutual knowledge of the family.

The power of oral history and personal knowledge! Oh, yes, and someone, somewhere has photographs.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Week 48: Thanksgiving for family history blessings

Having been following the 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series devised by Amy Coffin’s and Geneabloggers, I was initially disappointed to read that Week 48’s topic was Thanksgiving, with the questions of: What was on your family’s Thanksgiving table? Do you serve the same dishes now as your family served in the past?

As an Australian plainly I wasn’t going to be able to respond to the question in this way and I really wanted to finish the 52 weeks now I’ve come so far. I decided to draw on the tradition of gratitude by offering my own thanks for the many people who’ve contributed directly or indirectly to my family history…a genealogical Oscars Awards speech. I’d like to thank:

A page of Kunkel and O'Brien photos from Nora's family album.

*        All my pioneer families but especially my early Queensland ancestors, for their courage, hard work, tenacity, determination, and open-mindedness in emigrating so far from home and family.

*        Anne Kunkel, grandchild of George & Mary Kunkel for sharing an oral history of these ancestors and their family, and for linking me to Mary O’Brien’s sister’s families interstate (Widdup,Garvey and Hogan).

*        My 4th cousin Nora in Sydney for sharing her stories and connections with the O’Brien families in Australia and USA not to mention a host of wonderful old photos.

*        Cameron, local historian for Murphy’s Creek, Queensland and the nearby Fifteen Mile, for sharing his knowledge.

*        The church archivists who have helped me in my pursuit of family and “my” Germans –a huge thank-you to Gabrielle!

*        All those who’ve shared their knowledge and enthusiasm for the specialty areas over the years.

GSQ publication indexes: the 1988 Bicentennial Muster roll and the Q150 updated version on CD as well as the stories of Qld Pioneers.

*        Family members, and others, who’ve shared their family’s stories and photographs and brainstormed links.

*        Betty and Carmel, the first two researchers with whom I worked on family history (it transpired we had all attended the same school, despite our geographic dispersal and different ages).

*        All those valiant people who indexed and transcribed records long before the digitisation of (some) records and whose publications are still out there waiting for new researchers to discover them.

*        Those who have written theses about my places and topics of interest.

*        Georg Veh for his local histories of Dorfprozelten, Bavaria.

*        The parish priests in Tullamore, Gorey, Broadford and Dorfprozelten, for showing me the church registers with my families’ baptisms and marriages.

*        The acting parish priest for Kilseily, Broadford, Co Clare in 1992, for dropping us at the doorstep of the unsuspecting family who inherited the O’Brien family farm.

An array of published indexes by QFHS and one by Dr Perry McIntyre.

*        Paddy who walked us over the old farm at Ballykelly townland and exclaimed in astonishment at the Australian half of the story, and Nancy who fed us and dried muddy shoes on our return.

*        My parents for clarifying more recent family and answering myriad questions.

*        The archives, libraries and universities which are digitising records eg the TextQueensland collaboration between State Library of Queensland and The University of Queensland; the wonderful George Washington Wilson photo archives at the University of Aberdeen which includes some old photos of Australia; and my old favourite the Clare County Library.

*       The innovative local councils which have made it possible to search their cemeteries’ graves databases online.

*        The family history libraries where I’ve researched.

*        Family history bloggers who’ve become part of my community.

*        Mr Cassmob who has visited countless cemeteries, listened to countless ramblings and supported my genealogical flights of fancy.

You are all STARS in my family history galaxy.