Monday, May 30, 2011

A very fine man, indeed: Francis 'Frank' Magee 1902-1974

Francis 'Frank' Magee

When I sat down to write about my paternal granduncle Frank Magee, I felt a little troubled because I want to do his family proud in telling you about him. When I visited with the Magees in Dublin in August of 2010, one thing became abundantly clear to me. Francis 'Frank' Magee was a man who was not only loved by his children and grandchildren, but also greatly respected by them.

Frank Magee was a 20th century hero, but not in the ordinary sense of the word. There are neither war stories about him with which to regale you, nor a caché of special medals to review. Frank Magee is a hero in what I think is the most important sense, as a husband, father, and grandfather, one of those who is rarely celebrated, but should be. He was a hero to his family and to his community, to his beloved wife Mary, to his fourteen children, to his 47 grandchildren, and as a worker and foreman at Jameson Distillery.

Francis 'Frank' Magee was born in Dublin Ireland 16 December 1902, the third born (brothers Patrick William 1898-1900 and Michael Francis 1896-1921) of my paternal great-grandparents, Patrick Magee and Mary Dunne Magee. In September of 1928 Frank and his wife Mary (nee Maher) were married in Aughrim Street Church of the Holy Family in Stoneybatter, Dublin. Frank followed his father Patrick, and elder brother Michael, into the profession of scriber at Jameson Distillery. Frank Magee quickly rose up through the ranks at Jameson, and eventually became a foreman. As part of his responsibilities he had to always be near the Jameson compound and so he moved his family into the huge house on North Ann Street which was part of the Jameson property.
Mary Magee nee Maher


Frank and his wife Mary loved the big house and filled it with family and friends. My mother recalls the very first time she went to meet Uncle Frank. She felt overwhelmed by the sheer size of the six story house, and truth be told, somewhat intimidated by the stature of the man she was meeting. My mom remembers him as a man who very clearly had the respect of all members of his family. She recalls that everyone had to stand behind their chairs at a massive table before Uncle Frank indicated that they might all sit down to dine. I imagine that running the household in an ordered way was the only way to rule a roost with 14 children. Although his children recall him as a man who required great discipline, they also remember a lot of love and laughter in their home.

Frank and Mary Magee




Some of his children recall going around the Jameson Distillery property with their father at the end of the business day when he checked to make certain everything was locked up and that all was as it should be. What a wonderful thing to remember sharing such a time with your father. They spoke of climbing up the many stairs in the facility, making their way close to the tops of the huge distilling vats, and of the huge water container which resembled a giant swimming pool.

One of his daughters told me that although her father was strict, a necessity for keeping fourteen children in line, he had a gentle side as well. If there was a time when he had to discipline them for misbehaviour, afterward, at night when the children were in bed, he would pop his head into their rooms and, not knowing whether they were awake or asleep, he would softly whisper that he was sorry they'd had a disagreement that day.

Frank Magee also had a very positive influence on my father. My dad had many fond memories of childhood holidays spent in Rush with his Uncle Frank, Aunt Mary, Aunt Mollie, and Uncle Willie. Dad also remembered his uncle as a man with an excellent work ethic which my father sought to emulate as he grew into a man. When our family returned home to Ireland for the first time, I remember my father was very excited about going to Ballyfermot to have a visit with Uncle Frank, and to introduce my brother and me to him. Of that visit I recall the sheer joy that was there between my father and his uncle when they greeted each other. It brought tears to my thirteen year old eyes.

Francis 'Frank' Magee died 6 December, 1974 and is interred along with his wife Mary at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, Ireland. Their children and grandchildren visit their grave often.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Surname Saturday: "We're connected because my dad said so..."

Can you prove a connection to all of the names on your surname list?

This post is prompted by an email exchange I recently had with someone who contacted me because of their connection to the Kettle family in the maternal branch of my family tree. The exchange prompted me to consider what it means to say that we are connected to someone who lived long ago. What kinds of research have we done to establish these connections? What do we consider to be a legitimate source for research? Do we document our claims, or are we simply surname collectors? Believe or not, I am surprised to discover what some researchers consider to be acceptable answers to these questions.

In this particular email exchange the author, whom I will call 'Andy'** since I don't have permission to use his/her name, wrote about having discovered my blog in the course of doing family history research. In the first message Andy claimed to be an "immediate" descendant of Andrew J. Kettle. I was a little flummoxed by the use of the word 'immediate', because I have always understood 'immediate' to be a referent for the closest family members of a person. For example, as his daughter, I am an 'immediate' descendant of my father. Setting aside meanings, I continued to read the message. Andy explained that, as the official family genealogist, for years every family member has relied on Andy to do all of the family history research.

I was very excited to be contacted by this fellow family member and so wrote back right away explaining that my maternal great-great grandmother Mary Kettle Fitzpatrick is Andrew J. Kettle's sister. I outlined the maternal branch of my family tree in order to demonstrate my connection to her, and explained that I would be happy to share my sources and documentation. Then, I asked how Andy is connected to the family. The answer I received very much surprised me. Andy said the following, "Our family surname is Kettle, and my dad said we are descended from Andrew J. Kettle, the Irish Land Leaguer".

Thinking my question had been misunderstood, I wrote back asking about Andy's lineage. You know, which child of Andrew J. Kettle is your great-grandmother, grandmother, great-grandfather, grandfather, or whatever? The email reply I received almost knocked me over. Andy repeated that their surname is Kettle, and that their dad told their family they were 'immediate' descendants of Andrew J. Kettle.

Okay, I admit it, I was like a dog with a bone on this one. I wrote back and explained that I did not understand the way in which Andy was using the term 'immediate', and asked for clarification. Also, I included the names of all of the Kettle children and asked, of the names I had listed, to whom is Andy related?

Big surprise (not): I did not receive a reply. So...I guess Andy is descended from Andrew J. Kettle because Andy's dad said so. The source is not a record or even a family tree; the source is insistence.

My dad once mentioned that our family is connected to St. Laurence O'Toole. I have not yet done the research to prove or disprove that the connection to this 12th century Irish saint is a legitimate one, but hey "my dad said" we are connected. If I use Andy's logic that would mean my dad's claim must be true. That would be a very good thing because then I would have a direct connection to Heaven, and I might very well need one.

Click on photo to view larger version.
Copyright©J.Geraghty-Gorman 2011.

Note:**I am using the alias "Andy" as gender neutral: it is not my intention to embarrass this man or woman and so I am not identifying this person as a man or a woman.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Matrilineal Monday: Liverpudlian birth records in Latin, and a nice surprise

As I have shared with you in past postings, the family of my maternal grandmother Mary Angela Fitzpatrick left Dublin sometime after the birth of her younger brother Joseph in 1895. The family headed to Liverpool England where their father Thomas found work on the docks. While they were in residence at Liverpool the family not only suffered the loss of six year old Joseph, in November of 1901, but also welcomed two more boys. Thomas Andrew was born on 27 April 1899, and John came into this world on 27 August 1901.

During their tenure in Liverpool, the Fitzpatrick family lived in the densely populated wards of Kirkdale and of Scotland. Despite the hardships they endured, the family remained deeply religious and were members of St. Alban's Roman Catholic Church, a church which stood just inside the Scotland ward near Athol Street. At the time of Thomas's birth the family was living at 19 Milford Street in the Kirkdale ward; by the time of John's birth they had moved to 360 Great Howard Street in the Scotland ward. It is in the parish records of St. Alban's Roman Catholic Church that I located the birth records for John and Thomas.

The records are interesting in and of themselves because they are written in Latin, the language of the Roman Catholic Church well into the 20th century. Most, if not all, of the records I have so far gathered have some Latin words or phrases in them; however, despite the fact that my research dates back to the 1740s, these are the first records I've found in which the information is disseminated entirely in Latin. In my opinion the Latin version bears a certain elegance that I find attractive. The records are also interesting because of what they include and what they do not, and the nice surprise which showed up on one of them.

Here is a list of the Latin terms used in the record translated into English:

Anno: "In the year"
die: "the day of"
mensis: "of the month"
natus: "was born" (male)(female would be 'nata')
baptizatus: "was baptized" (male) (female would be 'baptizata')
filius: "the son of" (daughter would be 'filia")
olim: "in times past": in other words the maiden name of the mother
conjugum: "married couple"
a me: "from me"
Patritia: Priest (not an exact translation, but you get the picture)
Patrinus fuit: "godfather was"
Matrina fuit: "godmother was"

Before we even look at the forenames, which are also recorded in Latin, some of the word endings (as noted above) tell us that this is a male child. Also, in this case I am fortunate because the forenames closely mirror their English language counterparts, so there is no confusion.

Thomas Andreas Fitzpatrick is Thomas Andrew Fitzpatrick.
His father’s name is noted as Thomae instead of Thomas.
His mother Meariae Teresae Fitzpatrick is Mary Teresa Fitzpatrick.


Literally translated Thomas Andrew Fitzpatrick’s record reads as follows:

In the year 1899, the day of 27, of the month April was born, and in the year of 1899, the day of 8, of the month May was baptized Thomas Andrew Fitzpatrick, the son of Thomas and Mary Teresa Fitzpatrick (in times past Hines), married couple: from me Father Francis Keating. Godmother was Elizabeth Christie.

You will notice there is no godfather named on the record. Also, after the priest's name there appears a phrase which is abbreviated. I cannot say for certain what it is; however, it may be 'missio adiuncti' meaning "associated to the mission of" the church.

John Fitzpatrick's birth record has a few interesting quirks in comparison with his elder brother's.


Literally translated John's birth record reads:

In the year 1901, the day of 27, of the month August was born, and in the year of 1901, the day of 30, of the month August was baptized John Fitzpatrick, the son of Thomas and Mary Fitzpatrick (in times past Hynes), married couple: from me Father Francis Keating. Godmother was Anna Kennedy.

John's record is a excellent example of the need to search such records carefully. His name is recorded as 'Joannes', which is the Latin rendering of 'John'. On first sight an English reader might pick it up as a female name. Again, the word endings of 'natus' and 'baptizatus' confirm this as a male child. Also, his mother's forename is recorded as Maraie (Mary) and her maiden name is recorded as 'Hynes', not 'Hines' as it is on his brother's; however, I have seen these incarnations before in records of Mary's other children. Once again you will notice the name of the godfather is curiously absent, and the odd little abbreviation follows the priest's name. The godmother in this case is Anna Kennedy.

Also, there is a wonderfully interesting notation in the column under the home address, the nice surprise to which I alluded in the title of this piece. It reads, "Matrimonius junctus Mariae Donegan in Ecclesia Inchicore Dublin Eire die 11th Augustus 1940. T. Carney". This translates to "joined to a marriage with Mary Donegan in the Church of Inchicore, Dublin, Ireland, the day of 11 August 1940". I am very grateful to T. Carney, whoever he/she was for what looks like a good lead to John Fitzpatrick's marriage record.

The search continues...

Copyright©2011 J. Geraghty-Gorman. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Time for a refreshing change

Enjoying rain and more rain here, but at least the flowers in the garden are happy, and Spring seems the perfect time to hit the refresh button on this blog.

I have changed the blog template so that I might add the pages you see in the tabs above. The page entitled "Finding Bits: Research Aids" is comprised of a list of websites on which I have literally found "bits" of material which have proven very worthwhile. I hope that within the list you find sites which may aid your own Irish family history research.

At the suggestion of a fellow researcher, I've also popped in a copyright and disclaimers page.

Also, If you're having any trouble at all interviewing living family members, then some or all of the questions on the interview page might prove helpful. With my own family members I find sometimes it's hard to reel them in to focus on family history. Sometimes it's just more fun to get into a real chin wag about some Irish legend or other.

I am still playing with the background image; this one is another version of the Cliffs of Moher, but I'm not totally settled on it yet.

Anyway, I hope the research page proves to be some help to you. As always feel free to email me anytime at irisheyesjennifer at gmail dot com; I'm always happy to help in any way I can.

Cheers, and Happy Researching!

Jennifer

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Never Forget: The Hungry Heart, a Famine Memorial

'The Hungry Heart' by Edward Delaney, St. Stephen's Green, Dublin


Click on photographs to view larger version.
Copyright©J.Geraghty-Gorman 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: 7 days in November: Joseph Fitzpatrick and grave #A64

Yesterday I recounted the history of little Joseph Fitzpatrick, younger brother of my maternal grandmother Mary Angela Fitzpatrick Ball. At the time I uncovered the information about Joseph I did not know where he was buried, but now at last I have found him. I should feel happy about this coup in the work of family history, this 'great find', but it is only deeply unsettling. Joseph's story is already more than sad enough, but the facts of his burial take it beyond the pale for me.

Little Joseph Fitzpatrick died 19 November 1901, just one month after marking his sixth birthday. On 22 November 1901, three days after his death, Joseph was interred in grave #A64 in Liverpool's Ford Catholic Cemetery. He is interred with 22 other people. These 23 individuals were interred in grave #A64 between 20 November and 27 November 1901. Seven days. In these seven days in November of that year 21 families buried 22 children; all of them were under the age of 9. One adult is also interred in the grave. On the day in which Joseph's family buried him three other children were interred, the youngest was 2 days old, and at six years of age Joseph was the eldest. For three of the children their last place of residence is recorded as "Liverpool Coroner", and for one his last place of residence is the "Liverpool W.house", translation: Liverpool Workhouse.

Grave #A64 is located in A section of the cemetery on the far right of this map

At the time of Joseph's death his family was living at 50 Paget Street in the Ward of Scotland, Liverpool, an area known for its transient population of workers, many of whom were Irish. Little money and no dependable work for the head of the household meant living either in substandard housing or being forced to move to many different accommodations depending on what they could afford. In the six months prior to Joseph's death, the family lived at four different Liverpool addresses: 19 Milford Street, 249 and 360 Great Howard Street, and 50 Paget Street. Often times they were packed into housing with other families who found themselves in the same situation. Their standard of living meant that they were subject to malnutrition and infectious disease.

I understand these 'facts' of poverty for the Irish in Liverpool in this period; however, understanding the facts certainly doesn't make it any easier to accept the situation in which my ancestors, and many other Irish, found themselves. The fact was that most Irish families living in the Scotland Ward of Liverpool quite literally had nothing. The fact was that Thomas Fitzpatrick was one of many Irishmen who had to humiliate himself on a daily basis, essentially begging for work on the docks. Standing together in a group very early in the morning, standing and waiting while another man decided his fate for him, decided whether or not he would be given a day's work, decided whether or not he would have money to feed and house his family.

Little Joseph Fitzpatrick is interred with 22 other people because this would have been the only way his family could afford to bury him. There is the so called "public" grave section in the Ford Cemetery in which people with no money at all were interred. These graves are in what looks like a large green lawn; those interred in this space were denoted by an X. There were no markings because apparently being dirt poor meant you did not deserve to be remembered, although in recent years the cemetery has mounted a plaque in remembrance of all those interred in unmarked ground. Joseph is in a marked grave, that is, a grave marked with a number which corresponds to the register. This is the kind of remembrance a very little money could buy, this and nothing more.

My mother remembers so very well the darkness which always shadowed her grandmother's face. Although the children were never allowed to look directly at their grandmother when she addressed them, occasionally my mother would take a sideways glimpse of her, and she was struck by how sad 'Grannie' always looked. How could a mother be anything but sad given the way in which her first born son was lost to her? Joseph was lost to her both in life and in death. With their return to Ireland her separation from him was complete, because never again would she cast her eyes upon his final resting place, nor lay flowers in remembrance of his young life.

Here are the names, last addresses, and ages of those interred in grave #A64 in those seven days in November of 1901. They are listed as they appear in the cemetery register.

20 November

KELLY, Ann
4c Clare Street
age: 8 months

DUNNE, Mary Josephine
25 Bankhall Street
age: 1 month

WALLACE, Mary
39 Beechwood Road
age: 5 weeks

NOTHES, Ada
Liverpool Coroner
age: 14 days

21 November

HENNESSY, Kate
33 Pluto Street
age: 56

DEEGAN, Joseph
14 Stitt Street
age: 2 months

McINERNEY, Margaret
10 Carlton Street
age: 1 month

DALY, Ellen
Liverpool Coroner
age: 19 months

BURNS, Hugh
5 eleanor? Terrace
age: 16 days

22 November

O’REILLY, Daniel
Liverpool Workhouse
age: 3 years

LAIRD, Robert John
29 Orry Street
age: 4 years & 8 months

FITZPATRICK, Joseph
50 Paget Street
age: 6 years

DENNISON, Margaret
8b Birchfield Street
age: 2 days

23 November

DORAN, Cecilia
Liverpool Coroner
age: 3 months

SINGLETON, Robert
5 Wallasey Blds.
age: 9 days

CALLAGHAN, Joseph
12 Clement Street
age: 1 year

24 November

TRAYNOR, Michael Joseph
92a Forth Street
age: 7 months

McGREGOR, Andrew
39 Hoole Street
age: 6 months

DUFFY, Thomas
3c Beresford Street
age: 3 months

GOTT, William Edwin
31 Lionel Street
age: 6 months

LYNCH, (Isabella) Agnes
72 South Chester Street
age: 9 months

TREVARKIES, John & Catherine
10 Thornton Street
ages: 11 days & 15 days

27 November

EGAN, Arthur
5 Tenderden Street
age: 9 years and 5 months

©Copyright J. Geraghty-Gorman 2011.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Matrilineal Monday: Little Joseph Fitzpatrick 1895-1901

Last July I wrote about discovering that my maternal grandmother had a little brother named Joseph, a brother about whom nothing was known until I came across him in the records. Recently I discovered the site of Joseph's burial, the story of which I will share with you tomorrow. First I would like to recount the story of Joseph, a story which began with my discovery of him on the 1901 U.K. census. Joseph, then aged 5 years, is recorded in the census as the middle child in a family which in 1901 included two other siblings, eldest sister Mary Angela, aged 6 (my maternal grandmother), and baby brother Thomas, aged 2.

By 1907 the Fitzpatrick family has returned to Ireland. In the 1911 Irish Census, Thomas and Mary Angela are both listed in the record, as are siblings John, Leo, and Francis; however, of Joseph there is no account. What happened to him I wondered? Searching in both Irish and U.K. materials, I discovered him in November of 1901. On the 18th day of October of 1901 Joseph had marked a birthday; however, just one month later on 19th day of November, at the age of 6, Joseph was dead.

Having learned that Joseph died during the family's residency in Liverpool England, I applied to the U.K. General Register Office for his death certificate. When I received the document I was shocked by what I read. This is the certificate:

The cause of death is listed as "probably General Debility". How on earth does a six year old child die from 'General Debility', a cause which since the 18th century has been used to account for the death of persons of very advanced age? I was truly shocked by this. Further research was a necessity.

Liverpool in the early 20th century was a densely populated city, made more so by the influx of Irish labourers crossing the Irish Sea in search of work. Joseph's father Thomas has been described as a "coal labourer"{1}, a "general labourer", and a "dock labourer"{2}. An article in Blackwood's Magazine for 1901 estimates that a stevedore (i.e. someone who loads and unloads cargo from ships) earned on average about £2 a week; however, casual dock labourers might only make 8-12 shillings. They were subject to abuse by employers who might release them without notice, or short them in their wages, actions for which they would have no recourse. More likely than not Thomas Fitzpatrick falls into the latter category of casual labourer. Many Irish were employed as casual labourers in the South Docks area of Liverpool, jobs for which they would be chosen from among a large group of individuals. Under such conditions it would have been very difficult to provide for a wife and family of 3 children.

Courtesy of Liverpool County Library

The Blackwood's article emphasises the importance of the waterfront as a source of employment for Irish immigrants and describes it as "a magnet for close settlement". At the time of the March 1901 UK Census the Fitzpatricks are living in rooms in Great Howard Street; by November they have moved to 50 Paget Street. It is in 50 Paget Street that little Joseph dies. Both homes lie in close proximity to the docklands, and both are in densely populated areas in which the living conditions are, to put it mildly, less than ideal.

In 1901 the infant mortality rate among this population is very high, and there is a cause of death which appears more often than should be the case; that cause is "general debility". General debility is a phrase used in reference to children to describe death by emaciation. In other words, it is likely that little Joseph Fitzpatrick aged 6 starved to death. General debility would manifest in a slow suffering, a general weakening and wasting of the body. One night he would have gone to sleep, never to awaken again.

I have cried for this little child, one whom I never knew, and could never know. When I first discovered him I used to dream about him and my grandmother on their adventure in Liverpool, thinking them fortunate to have been able to accompany their father as he travelled from their homeland for work. I imagined them running and playing in the streets, making new friends, and exploring new places. I see his little face; I imagine grasping his tiny hand, but this is all a fantasy. I knew the history of the place and the time, but hoped that somehow they might have lived outside of that history, so to speak.

That phrase "probably general debility" will hold a place in my mind for a long time to come, and I will never forget little Joseph Fitzpatrick.

References:
Liverpool County Library
movinghere.org.uk
Blackwood's Magazine, 1901
Lancet Journal of British and Foreign Medicine, 1908.
{1} Thomas Fitzpatrick is named as a coal labourer in the 1911 census of Ireland.
{2} Thomas Fitzpatrick is named as a dock labourer on his son's death certificate, and as a general labourer on the 1901 UK Census.
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