Friday, September 12, 2014

Forename Friday: Irish Naming Patterns & a baker's half-dozen exceptions...

Those of us who deal with Irish records may be familiar with the idea of Irish naming patterns. There are some researchers who insist that the traditional Irish naming pattern is always used; however, I would argue against that, since my own family tree provides living — and dead — proof that there are certainly exceptions to be found which deviate from the traditional pattern. Also, there are many naming combinations and permutations outside the pattern which may appear inexplicable to us, but fit well within the beliefs and practices of some of our ancestors.

Still in all, if you have hit a brick wall in your research, then you may find revisiting the pattern useful in helping you to break through that dead end.

Here is the traditional pattern:

The 1st son was usually named after the father's father.
The 2nd son was usually named after the mother's father.
The 3rd son was usually named after the father.
The 4th son was usually named after the father's eldest brother.
The 5th son was usually named after the mother's eldest brother.

The 1st daughter was usually named after the mother's mother.
The 2nd daughter was usually named after the father's mother.
The 3rd daughter was usually named after the mother.
The 4th daughter was usually named after the mother's eldest sister.
The 5th daughter was usually named after the father's eldest sister.

Are you still with me?

A baker's half-dozen exceptions to the rules:

Here are listed a half-dozen plus one — a baker's half-dozen, if you will — exceptions to the rules of Irish naming patterns which I have found on my own family tree.

1. Siblings with the same name:

You may find children on your family tree who are named after brothers or sisters who pre-deceased them. Think of Henry Smart in Roddy Doyle's A Star Called Henry. Among our Kettle ancestors there is one family with two girls named Margaret, born just a couple of years apart, signalling the existence of a death record for the first born Margaret. In my paternal Dunne family line, my great-grandmother Mary Dunne Magee had two brothers named William. The first William was born in 1876 and died less than a year later. The second William was born in 1880, and was killed on the field of battle in Belgium in 1914.

2. Superstitious?:

There is a superstition of the 18th/19th century variety, in some Irish families, which held that three living individuals could not bear the same forename. The thinking was that it would portend death for one of them. For example, if there were two elder Patricks alive in the same family, then a new born son would not be christened with that name.

Some names seem to have bad karma attached to them. Three generations in one of our family lines named a son Thomas, and each one of those met a tragic end (see one of those stories here). It appears the fourth generation may have been superstitious about the name since there is nary a Thomas to be found.

3. Mam's maiden name:

If you are in search of the maiden name for one of your female Irish ancestors, and it either pre-dates civil registration, or didn't show up in the civil registration records, then take a look at the forenames of her sons. One of them may very well bear the maiden name of his mother as his forename. One clue is a forename which deviates from usual names in the family. Consider, if you will, the name Coleman O'Brien in a family line in which sons bear the names Patrick, Michael, and Thomas. Turns out their mother's maiden name was Coleman.

4. A boy named Sue... or Mary:

Have you ever had the name 'Mary' show up on a baptism record of a male family member who was born in the twentieth century? If so, don't dismiss it as an error. It is a clue to the fact that the child's mother or father may have been a member of the Roman Catholic organization the Legion of Mary. As a symbol of their devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, some Legion members pledged to include the name Mary as part of the baptismal name of one or more of their children, regardless of gender. It may even show up on a marriage record. One relative of mine who was a Legion member was born Bernadette, but pledged Mary Bernadette as her forename when she married.

5. The Celtic Revival: 

The late 19th and early 20th century time period in Irish history — referred to as the Irish Renaissance or the Celtic Revival — had an impact on Irish names. In 1893 the Gaelic League was established to promote the use of the Irish language and the study of ancient Celtic culture. This became a vitally important part of the lives of many Irish, and is reflected in changes in the forenames (and surnames too) of some persons. Men who had anglicized names on their birth records, such as John, James, and Patrick may have changed those names to Eoin, Séamus, and Pádraig, respectively. If you have Irish forenames on your family tree, and have been unable to find records for them, try 're-anglicizing' (to coin a word) their Gaelic forenames and you may strike gold.

6. A change of heart?:

Baptismal Record for Joseph Augustine Geraghty.
You may have an ancestor whose parents decided to change the child’s forename after his/her name was already registered. This was the case with my paternal great-grandparents Patrick and Margaret Geraghty and the name of their fifth born son (eighth born child). Born in Dublin on 24 December 1899, he was christened at the Church of St. James on 2 January 1900 with the name Joseph Augustine. Seems someone had a change of heart, because nine days later on 11 January 1900 his mother Margaret registered his birth name as Arthur. Then, in January of 1914, Margaret swore an affidavit before Registrar John P. Condon "correcting" the child's name from Arthur to Joseph Austin. My father and his siblings knew their uncle not as Joseph, but as Austin, and everyone called him Uncle Audie.

Civil registration record for 'Arthur' Geraghty.
On the right, note the explanation for the 1914 change to the name 'Joseph Austin'.
7. A missing child and tragic loss: There may be some forenames in a family tree which do not appear to have been bestowed on descendants; however, such names may provide a clue to a 'missing' child. On my maternal tree, it initially appeared that Jane — the forename of my great-grandmother Jane Early — was not passed down as anything more than a middle name. After some research, I discovered that there had been a daughter named Jane who tragically died at only 18 months of age. Not only was her forename never again used, but the existence of this child was unknown to members of my family born after her.

Like the name Jane, another forename on my family tree appeared to inexplicably disappear, again showing up only as a middle name. If they had been following the naming pattern, my paternal grandmother, Anne ‘Annie’ Magee Geraghty should have been named Catherine after her maternal grandmother, mother of Mary Magee (née Dunne). In 1881, when Mary Dunne was only seven years old, her mother Catherine Dunne (née Brien) died in childbirth. In 1900 when her own first daughter was born, instead of christening her with the name Catherine, Mary gave her the name Anne Mary. Mary Dunne's second born daughter should have been called Elizabeth, after her paternal grandmother, but was given the name Mary Catherine. We can only speculate, but perhaps Mary did not give either of her daughters the forename Catherine because of the tragic loss attached to it.


Of course, the other side of the argument is that some ancestors did in fact stick like glue to naming patterns, a practice which can result in nightmares for the lonely researcher. In one time period on my family tree, there are four Kettle men who not only have exactly the same forename, but the same middle name as well, and three of them lived in the same household. At least it would have been easy to call all of them to the dinner table at the same time.
A matrilineal line of 'Mary'

The name Maria (pronounced Mariah), anglicized to Mary, is a very popular one on my Irish family tree. Almost 25% of the women on my family tree bear the forename Maria 'Mary', and several women have Mary as a middle name.

As I mentioned above, one woman on my maternal tree added the name Mary onto her legal forename when she and her husband registered their marriage with the civil registration authority. Numerous women had Mary added upon baptism, and at least one man had the name added to his baptismal name.

What is your experience of naming patterns 
on your family tree?

(some of this post originally appeared in 2011 and 2012)
Click on images to view larger versions.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Travel Thursday: At Maynooth, the National Seminary for Ireland

St. Mary's Church, across from the archway as I prepare to enter the grounds.
Located about twenty-five kilometres (15 miles) south of Dublin City, in the village of Maynooth, County Kildare, is the National Seminary for Ireland. Called Maynooth College and/or St. Patrick's College, the school was officially established as the Royal College of St. Patrick in 1795. It was here that my paternal grandfather's brother Michael was educated, taking the vows of the priesthood in 1918.

At the age of eighteen, Michael Joseph Geraghty began his religious education 29 September 1911, in the First University class of the seminary at Holy Cross College, Clonliffe. Leaving Holy Cross College, he was sent to complete his degree at the prestigious seminary of St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth.

Here, on 28 April 1918, at the age of 25 years, he was ordained Father Michael Joseph Geraghty by Bishop Patrick Morrisroe.

Through the archway on to the grounds.
Father Geraghty served in eight separate appointments for the Catholic church in the diocese of Dublin. In 1969 he was, in the words of the church, 'created a canon'. The last parish church at which Father Michael served is Our Lady of Dolours in Glasnevin. Very Reverend Michael Canon Geraghty died at Glasnevin on his 81st birthday, 3 May 1974 and is interred in the Prospect Cemetery at Glasnevin, Dublin.

Through the little door in the door,
my curiosity led me to follow someone inside.
At the age of thirteen, I first set eyes on St. Patrick's College at Maynooth, and it was mightily intimidating. Perhaps my discomfort was sparked by memories of family stories which characterize the Very Reverend Michael Canon Geraghty as disapproving, even spiteful (see A Saint and A Sinner: The lives of two brothers). My imagination created a picture of him raining down fire and brimstone upon his congregation, flailing arms, booming voice and all.

Perhaps it was my own childhood experiences of raging priests, but whatever the reason, fear of Father Michael created trepidation about visiting the place at which he was educated. Thankfully, the passage of time now makes St. Patrick's College at Maynooth appear only tranquil and beautiful rather than frightening. The buildings and grounds are deeply quiet and inspire contemplation, and it is tempting to imagine what life might have been like here for my granduncle.

Truth be told, I still feel slightly uneasy at the place. It didn't help that on the Sunday of this visit there was a deep grumbling within the clouds of the chalky grey sky; and, when I explained to the woman in the office that my granduncle had attended seminary school at Maynooth she was less than welcoming.

The halls which overlook the inner green space are lined with portraits of priests and bishops down through the ages.
I searched through them for an image of my grandfather's brother, Michael Canon Geraghty.
Another hall of portraits, and no sign of the Very Reverend Geraghty.
At the back of the college, the entrance to the church.
Another rear view.
At the back of the college, a path through this enormous green leads to a gate which leads into a special space (see below).
This beautiful 'cathedral' of trees leads to the small cemetery used for the burial of clergy.
To view photographs I shot in 2012 which show the small cemetery at the end of this walk,
visit my cemetery blog, 'Over thy dead body'.
(*Click on images to view larger versions.)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mappy Monday: On a map, the fortunes of an ancestor

In order to gain a better understanding about the lives of our ancestors, it is an interesting exercise to map out the homes in which they lived, as well as other places, such as hospitals and cemeteries, which are a part of their history. Such maps not only give you a good picture of the migratory patterns of your ancestors, but may even offer you some idea about how the family fared. Did they remain in Ireland, or did they travel to England or to Continental Europe for work? Did they begin life in a poor part of the town in which they lived, and end it in a wealthy neighbourhood? Did they emigrate away from Ireland to Australia, Canada, or the United States?

All of the family members in this post lived out their lives in Ireland. Some appear to have been given the benefit of good fortune, while others were given, at best, a middling serving of fortune's favour. Still others appear to have suffered, seemingly doomed by the Fates.

View The world of Patrick Geraghty & Margaret Toole Geraghty in a larger map

The lives of my paternal great-grandparents, Patrick Geraghty and Margaret Toole Geraghty, began in the west country of Ireland. Both were born just outside of Westport, County Mayo, in the village of Leckanvy (Lecanvey), near the shores of Clew Bay on the Atlantic Ocean. Following their marriage in March of 1885, and the birth of their first born son Thomas in April of 1886, Patrick and Margaret made their way east to make their life in Dublin. The map of the Geraghty homes in Dublin City very much speaks to Patrick's ambitions and rise in fortune. In 1887, they began their Dublin life in a poor area of the city, living in a tenement on Townsend Street, with Patrick working as a labourer. Between 1887 and 1895, they moved four times.

In 1895, their move to 6.5 Bow Bridge marked a great change in the family's means. Sometime between 1889 and 1895, Patrick's working life changed from that of a labourer to that of a 'car' driver (funeral corteges, hansom cabs, carriages, etc.), and by 1899 he owned his own car proprietorship. Both the family home and the business were housed at the same location. The business was a great success. Among his clientele Patrick counted Mr. Jameson of the famed distillery, as well as the controversial Lord Lieutenant French, Viceroy of Ireland. By the time of Patrick Geraghty's death in 1947, and that of his wife Margaret Toole Geraghty in 1948, they were 'independently wealthy', and had been living in one of the finest areas of Dublin. Patrick, Margaret, and other members of their family are interred in the family vault at Dean's Grange Cemetery in Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, Dublin. (Click on the map above for more detailed information about the sites in which they lived).

View The world of Anne Mary 'Annie' Magee Geraghty 1900-1953 in a larger map

As a member of Cumann na mBan, my paternal grandmother 'Annie' (Anne Mary 'Annie' Magee Geraghty) was working for the freedom of the entire island of Ireland; however, her own world was a relatively small one. Annie began life with her family in one room of a tenement house at 33 Upper Dorset Street, Dublin. The Magee family, which then numbered four, shared the house with four other families, including my great-grandfather Patrick Magee's sister Mary and brother Francis.

When Patrick Magee became a skilled craftsman — working as a scriber at Jameson's Distillery — the family fortunes began to change. Patrick's position enabled him to qualify for a single family artisan's cottage in Stoneybatter. They were given a cottage on Ostman Place, in which the family of four eventually grew to six. It was there that Annie's family was living during the Easter Rising, when her brother Michael fought as a Section Commander, under the leadership of Ned Daly in the Four Courts Battalion. It was from Ostman Place, during the War of Independence, that Annie joined Cumann na mBan, while her brother Michael was 2nd Lieutenant, 'A' Company, 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade (A.S.U.).

On 21 January 1921, it was at Ostman Place that Annie and her family learned that Michael had been wounded and captured, as British forces showed up at the cottage to ransack and search it. It was from there that Patrick Magee went to George V Hospital (St. Bricin's) that night for news of his son's condition. They learned from other sources that Michael had been mortally wounded; he died 22 January 1921. It was from the little cottage on Ostman Place that Patrick Magee went to the hospital each day to claim his son's body, until the British finally released the remains on the night of 25 January.

Sometime after Michael's death, and before Annie's 1928 marriage to John Geraghty, the family moved to a larger home on Murtagh Road. Annie's marriage first brought her to a house on Manor Street, just a few blocks away from her family's home. Later, Annie and John moved further away to a house on Leix Road in Cabra, Dublin. The last house in which Annie lived was on Kildare Road in Crumlin, Dublin. Annie is interred with her mother, father and elder brother Michael in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. Her husband John Geraghty is interred with his parents and other family members in the family vault at Dean's Grange Cemetery. (Click on the map above for more detailed information about the sites in which Annie lived).

View The world of Jane Early Ball 1852 - 1914 in a larger map

The map of the homes of my maternal great-grandmother, Jane Early Ball, speaks to the waves of change in fortune which affected her life. Jane spent her childhood living with her family in various homes in the Liberties area of Dublin, an area notorious in the 19th century for its poverty. The baptismal records of Jane and some of her fourteen siblings show that though the Early family stayed in generally the same area of Dublin, they moved many times. (For more details about Jane's life, see Jane & Teresa...A brief history of two sisters)

Marriage to a successful carpenter in the person of Francis Ball brought Jane to a life in a better area of Dublin, only a stone's throw away from the beautiful parkland of St. Stephen's Green. Fortune's wheel then brought major negative changes to her family life, with the death of two of her children and her husband's encroaching dementia. The family lost their home on Montague Street and moved into a tenement on Merchant's Quay — living with Jane's sister Teresa and her family — and then on to another tenement on Fishamble Street.

No longer able to cope with her husband's declining health, in 1909 Jane committed Francis to the Infirmary at the South Dublin Union Workhouse. At the end of her life in 1914, Jane Early Ball was living with her eldest surviving son in rooms on Mountjoy Street. Jane is interred in an unmarked grave at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. (Click on the map above for more detailed information about the sites in which Jane and her family lived.)

Have you mapped out the lives of your ancestors?

(Sections of this post originally appeared in 2012).
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