Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Finding the Irish Family

Thanks to the great co-operation of the Parish priest at St. Maur’s church, Rush I have found the graves of my great grandparents. Father Coghlan replied to my email promptly and enthusiastically. He crucially passed on my query to a lady in the town, Eithne Jones, who gave me the name of the graveyard in Baldongan and the telephone number of Billy Ryan in Loughshinny who knew the family.

Baldongan Graveyard

This magical place sits atop a hill just north of Loughshinny, it has an impressive history dating back to the Knight’s Templars.

History of Baldongan on Patrick Comerford’s blog;

The small graveyard surrounding the ruin is where the grave of Laurence McNally stands close to the castle wall.

In Loving memory of Laurence McNally

Who died 21 February 1942

His wife Margaret

Who died 15 March 1942

And his daughter Catherine Clifford

Who died 25 September 1930

And Margaret McNally

Who died 14 May 1964/1??


Right next to the grave is another McNally family

Erected by

Catherine Mcnally, Ballykea

In loving memory of her husband

Laurence McNally

Died 26th April 1934 aged 84 years

And of their children

Patrick and Laurence McNally

Who died young

Above named Catherine McNally

Who died 30 July 1941

And also her nephew Laurence

Who died 30 March 1942/3? Aged 20

I can’t work out how these people are related to us but they obviously are. They are on the 1901 and 1911 census living opposite our family. There are now three brothers living in houses that they built on the land. I also found some of them in the graveyard at Kenure old church.


A visit to Loughshinny to meet Billy Ryan, gentleman and scholar and custodian of local history told me lots more about grandad’s family. Billy and his brother Francis remember some of the sisters well.

Mary died in 1988 and is also buried at Baldongan. There isn’t much information about her life. Billy and Francis tell the tale of one of the sisters being about to marry a man from Skerries but he turned up drunk one day and unapologetic with it, ‘if you don’t want me drunk then you won’t have me sober either’ was the ultimatum, so no wedding took place. The problem is they don’t agree whether this was Mary or Janie.

Catherine died in 1930 which means she was only 29 years old and married to a Clifford. When the house was sold in the 1980s part of the estate went to Catherine’s daughter, Maureen Colgan.

Margaret (1903) died from cancer in 1964. They remember her as Moggie who worked as a caretaker at the school and also at The Yacht Bar at the crossroads which is up for sale now. My father told me about his trip to Loughshiny in 1945 in the company of his aunt Maggie who worked at the buffet bar at Manchester Victoria railway station. Billy and Francis don’t remember that Moggie ever went to work in England so maybe she wasn’t there for very long. She died just a short time after grandad.

Janie was a priest’s housekeeper at St Peter’s church in Phibsborough, Dublin until she retired back to live in the house in Loughshinny next to the old school, she died in 1988. She is also in the Baldongan grave although her name is not on the headstone.

We then went to visit Rush library where the old Catholic Church has been lovingly restored into a jewel of a library.

It is still possible to feel the faith of the worshippers and imagine our ancestors sending their prayers to heaven via the stained glass saints in the high windows and confessing to their god in the wooden confessional boxes that still sit in the alcoves.

Swords Heritage centre gave me access to church records from Rush and Skerries and a whole new generation and two more surnames to add to the tree.

Arthur McNally was baptised in Skerries on 06 June 1814, his parents were John McNally and Catherine Connolly.

Arthur’s wife Catherine Ryan was born in Rush parish on 09 May 1822, her parents were Patrick Ryan and Alice McCann.

Arthur and Catherine married on 24 February1848.

Peter was born 29 June 1857 (which seems a long time after the wedding for the first son to be born).

Laurence (my great grandfather) was born 24 July 1859.

Mary Ann, 15 August 1865.

Michael 27 May 1869.

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