Thursday, February 14, 2013

On this St. Valentine's Day: A roll call of love on our family tree

In honour of this St. Valentine's Day, I am taking a look back at some of the couples on both sides of my family tree, whom I hope were brought together by love.  Of course, I may be idealizing some of these unions.  It is entirely possible the couples in question may have gotten together over such unromantic notions as strengthening the power and social standing of a particular family. Some matches may have been based on the fact that the woman was from a family known for birthing male children. Attachments might have been made quite simply because the families of the betrothed lived in close proximity to one another. There is at least one head scratcher in the mix, the 1928 marriage of my paternal grandparents Anne Magee and Patrick Geraghty. I often wonder what brought these two together, she the anti-British revolutionary, and he the son of a very conservative Irish family who were confirmed royalists.

However....

Since this is Valentine's Day, I prefer to think it was all for love.

1760/61

JOHN CAVENAUGH joins with ALLICE HOWARD

John and his girl Ally, my maternal fifth great-grandparents got together sometime around 1760, although the definitive proof of a marriage record continues to elude me.

Married or not they christened their first born child, a son, William on 24 December 1761.  Over the years following the birth of William,  John and Allice welcomed at least three more children, two girls, Elizabeth (born 1763), Mary (born 1766), and another son, Christopher, born 1778, a full seventeen years after the birth of his elder brother.

1798

WILLIAM 'BILLY' CAVANAGH plights his troth to MARY BRIEN

Ah yes, William, my maternal 4th great-grandfather, son of John and Ally, promised to be truthful and faithful to his Mary on a snowy December day.  I remember it well, for the two became one on 30 December 1798 in Donabate, County Dublin, Ireland.

According to the memoir of their grandson, Andrew J. Kettle, William and Mary were quite an extraordinary couple. Both were involved in the 1798 Rebellion, with Mary secretly transporting pikes into North County Dublin, and providing shelter for insurgents after the rising was quashed. 'Billy' was briefly imprisoned since he was a member of the United Irishmen. Thankfully the wealth of his family saved him from the hangman's noose. It was perhaps in celebration of their survival that William and Mary wed on the penultimate day of December in the year of the Rebellion.

Together William and Mary shared at least three children, including their second born child Alice, my third great-grandmother, who was christened Ally on 5 March 1800, a namesake for her grandmother, Allice Howard.

1830

ALICE 'ALLY' KAVANAGH falls for THOMAS KETTLE

Ally, daughter of William and Mary, enjoyed 25 years together with her beloved husband Thomas.  Ally and Thomas welcomed many children — at least six — including my great-great grandmother Maria 'Mary' Kettle and her brother Andrew Joseph Kettle.

Sadly, Ally died 24 September 1855.  Upon his death 22 September 1871, Thomas was interred with his 'beloved' Alice in St. Colmcille's Churchyard, Swords.

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In the case of the Cavenaughs, it is interesting to note how much their surname 'morphed' on documents over three generations of the family. This speaks to the dominance of oral culture over written. In other words, the person noting family passages in parish registers, whether sacristan or priest, wrote what he heard. Uniformity of surnames did not become the order of the day until the 19th century. By the time her son Andrew J. Kettle was writing his memoirs in the early 20th century, he wrote that O'Kavanagh was his mother Alice's surname.

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1857

MARIA 'MARY' KETTLE weds JOSEPH FITZPATRICK

On the bright morning of 14 September 1857 Maria, called Mary, daughter of Thomas and Ally, took the plunge with her beau Joseph.

Together they had nine children, including my great-grandfather Thomas Fitzpatrick. They had fourteen years together, when sadly, Mary died 23 April 1871.  Her youngest child Teresa was only ten months old at the time.  Mary is interred with her mother and father in St. Colmcille's Churchyard, Swords.

1893

THOMAS FITZPATRICK marries MARIA 'MARY' HYNES

Like his parents before him Thomas took his bride in a September wedding. Thomas and Mary were united on 23 September 1893. They faced hardship during their married life, but they endured.

Together they left Ireland for Liverpool England, and then returned to Ireland again. Their marriage brought them six children, including my grandmother Maria 'Mary' Angela Fitzpatrick, and her little brother Joseph Fitzpatrick, who died in Liverpool at the age of six.

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1884

FRANCIS BALL pledges his troth to JANE EARLY

Up to this point in my 'roll call of love', I have laid out the family line which resulted in the birth of my grandmother Maria 'Mary' Angela Fitzpatrick. Although I won't include his complete line here, I do want to add the parents of Mary's husband, my grandfather Patrick Joseph Ball.

Francis Ball and Jane Early were joined in marriage at St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral on the 24th instant of August 1884. It was an illustrious beginning to a marriage plagued by loss, but I like to imagine it was a happy union which produced the gentle soul who was my grandfather, the first born son of Francis and Jane's five children.


1921

MARIA 'MARY' ANGELA FITZPATRICK ties the knot with PATRICK JOSEPH BALL

Although it is alleged that case maker Patrick Joseph Ball may not have been her family's first choice as a perfect match for Maria 'Mary' Angela Fitzpatrick, these two are said to have adored one another. They wed on 1 June 1921, and shared just over fifteen years of marriage.

Together they had eight children, with seven living to adulthood, including my mother Mary Jane Ball.  Their baby son Thomas died when he was just over 10 months old.  Sadly, Mary Fitzpatrick Ball died 18 December 1936, at the age of forty-two; her youngest child John was less than a year old at the time.

1928

ANNE MAGEE gets hitched to JOHN GERAGHTY

As I mentioned at the outset of this piece, the union of these two has me flummoxed. Minimal details of their relationship, as outlined by one of my father's sisters, make it appear as though Anne and John mixed as well as fire and water. I do not know how they met, but have surmised the introduction may have been made by Anne's father, Patrick Magee, perhaps in the hope of reigning in the revolutionary inclinations of his eldest daughter. As the manager of the Jameson Distillery, Patrick Magee knew John Geraghty, the son of wealthy car proprietor Patrick Geraghty who owned the car company favoured by Mr. Jameson.  John and Patrick often interacted since John was the driver who 'squired' Mr. Jameson to the Smithfield distillery.

No matter how the relationship began, with Anne almost 28 years old, she was on the cusp of the age when 'the bloom is gone off the rose', as they say, and so it would have been important to get her married.  John was significantly older than Anne, eleven years her senior, and just a couple of months shy of his 39th birthday when they wed on 15 February 1928. The marriage produced seven children, including their second born son, my father Michael. The couple had been married for just over twenty-four years when Anne suddenly died. Some of the Geraghty children remarked it was only after their mother's death that they realized their father truly loved her, and was completely lost without her.

1954

MARY JANE TERESA BALL captures the heart of MICHAEL FRANCIS GERAGHTY

My mother and father first laid eyes on one another when she was eighteen and he was twenty.  Mom recalled his beautiful blond hair, the crease of his trousers, and the brilliant polish of his black leather shoes.  Dad noted her gorgeous brunette hair falling in waves to her shoulders, and her beautiful eyes, one of them half blue and half hazel. His aunt Mollie wanted him to court one of my mother's sisters, but he only had eyes for Mary Ball.  It was a long courtship, five years, but finally they were married 2 August 1954, and had been married for over 45 years when my dad died in March of 2000.


HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY ONE AND ALL!
May you have much love in your life today and always.


Copyright©irisheyesjg2013.

Thanks to The Graphics Fairy for the Valentine images.

10 comments:

  1. I offten wonder about my mum and dad as she came from Caven and he from Portlaoise. She was Catholic and he Church of Ireland but I do have a poem I will show some time to say it was for love.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Bill,

      Thanks for your comments. Sounds as though you have an interesting story to tell about your mum and dad, and how lovely to have that poem.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  2. Loved this when you posted the original last year. It made me think about my own family and how couples got together. Love the updates, like the head scratcher. Maybe he was trying to get back at his parents some how. Were they still alive when he and Anne got married? Happy Valentines Day Jenn.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Charlotte,

      Thanks for your comments, and your question. Glad you liked the updated post. Glad you like the 'head scratcher' too. John's relationship with his family was a very complicated one. His parents were alive when John and Anne married. In fact, they lived with John's family for a short time when they were first married, and then moved back close to Anne's parents. Given John's personality, as described by my father and some of his siblings, I don't believe he would have been the kind of person to defy his family, but you never know. I do know that although John's father wasn't too impressed with Anne, his mother liked her very much. Still a lot of the story left to tell.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  3. Fabulous post! Simply fabulous!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Carol! Hope you had a great Valentine's Day.

      Cheers,
      Jenn

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    2. STILL loving this post! Almost like reading it for the first time (oh, that would be my leaky memory). Lovely as always Jen.

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    3. Thanks Carol! I have a new one for tomorrow, but this one has always been a favourite of mine too. Wishing you and Man a very Happy Valentine's Day!

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  4. Whether romantic love or pragmatism, their commitment lasted and the generations are proof of that. I hope you had a good Valentine's Day showered with love.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Pauleen! So very true. Thank goodness for them or we wouldn't be here. My husband and I had a lovely Valentine's Day, and I hope you did too. I feel very blessed.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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