Saturday, 28 December 2013

Daughter of Eve…

Well ok, I have not traced my matrilineal ancestors back to Eve. I have only traced it back about 200 years, but without the assistance of DNA testing.


My grandmother, Annie Byrne, was born on 26 August 1910, the youngest in her family. Her mother was Christina Devine who was born on 19 December 1867, at 2 St. Laurence Place, North Strand, Dublin. Christina was the sixth child of John Devine and Maryanne Keogh. She married James Byrne, a carter, on 29 August 1897 in their local church, St. Lawrence O’Toole’s, North Strand. James and Christina had eight children, two of whom died as infants. On 16 May 1947, aged seventy-nine years, Christina passed away, having had a stroke the previous month. Her husband James died the following year. Both are interred in the St. Patrick’s section of Glasnevin Cemetery, with their son Frank and their daughter Kathleen.

Christina’s mother was Maryanne Keogh. Maryanne married John Devine in September 1859, in St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Dublin. They also lived in the North Strand area of Dublin city. John Devine was a labourer. He worked in the Dublin’s docks, situated close to their home. They had seven children that I know of, but three died as infants and only one, my great-grandmother, lived to old age.  Maryanne died of jaundice in May 1893, aged about fifty-three years. She was buried in the Garden section of Glasnevin Cemetery, with her husband and their two daughters, Catherine and Anne.

Maryanne’s mother was Jane Crosby (Crosbie). Jane married Jeremiah Keogh on 26 April 1833, at Lucan, Co. Dublin.  Jeremiah was a bricklayer. He probably died fairly young as Jane had to work in her later years. Her occupation was given as a room-keeper on her death certificate. Jeremiah had died by 1866, according to the marriage certificate of their son Thomas. Jane died of old age in March 1891, aged eighty-six years, putting her birth at about 1806. At the time of her death, she lived with her daughter, Maryanne Devine. Jane’s son Thomas Keogh organised her burial, in the Garden section of the Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.  Jane’s origins remain obscure.

Unfortunately, Jane’s parents are not recorded on her 1833 marriage record and it is proving difficult to identify any further documentary sources that might help establish the name of Jane’s mother. For Christmas, Santa Clause brought me two DNA test packs (Family Tree DNA’s Autosomal Family Finder) and both Mam and Dad have promised to take the tests. DNA testing may be just the tool to help extend my matrilineage back in time.  

Results to follow!

Sources available.

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© 2013 Black Raven Genealogy

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Beannachtaí na Nollag / Christmas Greetings


Nollaig shona agus Athbhliain fao√≠ mhaise duit
(Happy Christmas and a prosperous new year to you)

Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Malahiders

Not long ago, I came across a book called West Briton, an autobiography by Brian Inglis, who grew up in Malahide in the 1920s. Malahide was then a small village in north County Dublin, the home of my ancestors. In his first chapter, entitled ‘Our Set’, Inglis talks about his early years. He describes his ‘set’ as the ‘old Protestant Ascendancy’, which was ‘so firmly established there [in Malahide], they could live their lives almost as they had before the Treaty of 1921 [creating the Irish Free State]’.1 My own family were Roman Catholic and of nationalist stock – small farmers, labourers and tradesmen – most definitely not part of this ‘set’. In his book, Inglis tells of his family’s attitude towards my ancestors and their neighbours. His description is hilariously inciteful:

‘these, we would point out to visiting friends as really Irish – Murphy the gardener, Christie the post-man, Vincie the ferryman – with their fine flow of language, their gift for casual repartee, and their instinctive ability to put a stranger at his ease by making him feel intelligent and perceptive and popular. [Stop reading now if you might be offended by old racial or class prejudice!] We loved them as a landowner in the deep south loves his negro servants, because they knew their place and stayed in it; but we did not think of them as people; pets, rather’.2

Two of the men mentioned by Inglis can be found in Malahide at the time of the 1911 Census: Christopher Dunne, postman, Yellow Walls, Malahide and Vincent Patrick O’Brien, boatman, Strand Street, Malahide.3  

While Inglis himself seems to have had a genuine regard for  ‘his countrymen’, thankfully, this social structure disintegrated before my grandparent’s time and economic growth in Malahide ensured they were no longer ‘content to be pushed around by the old ascendancy’.4 

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© 2013 Black Raven Genealogy




1 Brian Inglis, West Briton (London, 1962), p. 13.
2 Ibid., p. 15.
3 National Archives of Ireland, 1911 Census.
4 Inglis, pp 31-2.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Peter Radcliffe seeks a fair rent, Malahide, 1882

After the Famine, the main objectives of the land struggle in Ireland became known as the ‘three Fs’ – fair rent, freedom of sale and fixity of tenure. Legislation in 1881, based on these principles, transformed the relationship between Irish tenants and landlords and newly established Land Courts gave tenants access to a judicial rent review. We learnt all this in school, but it never held any real context until I could apply it to people that I ‘knew’.

My 4th great-grandfather, Peter Radcliffe, and a number of his neighbours in Malahide, Co. Dublin, were tenants of Lord Talbot de Malahide. In October 1882, they applied to the Land Courts to have a fair rent set.  Peter was well into his eighties at this time, but it was not the first time he had taken Lord Talbot to court.

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Irish Land Courts, 1882 (Freeman’s Journal)
The case was heard by the sub-commissioners in Balbriggan Co. Dublin, headed by Mr. R. Kane. While a reduction in rent was granted, it was not without controversy and it is unlikely that Peter and his neighbours felt they had received a fair deal. The sub-commissioners set the ‘fair’ rent at a figure exceeding that which Lord Talbot’s own appointed agents had argued was fair.  The controversy was reported in the Freeman’s Journal on 11 October 1882. 


The sub-commissioners’ ruling was also published in the House of Commons sessional papers in 1882.[1] Peter Radcliffe was said to have leased just over 4 ½ acres in the townland of Yellow Walls, Malahide. His annual rent was reduced by over one pound a year, but nevertheless, Peter still had to pay one pound and eight shillings a year more than Lord Talbot’s agent had determined was a fair rent.

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(Freeman’s Journal, 1882, Malahide tenants)

The Land Commission report also shows that Peter Radcliffe’s rent had previously been increased in 1850 and in 1855. Talbot had increased the rent by 11 shillings a year in 1855, when a drainage system was installed on the land – not exactly an incentive for tenants to make improvement to their holding. At least with the land court decision, Peter’s rent was fixed for a further fifteen years, even if he did make improvements.



[1] Irish Land Commission, return according to provinces and counties of judicial rents fixed by sub-commissions and Civil Bill courts, as notified to the Irish Land Commission during the months of September, October, and November, 1882, specifying dates and amounts respectively of the last increases of rent where ascertained, H.C. 1882 (c. 3451), lvi, 889, pp 72-3.

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© 2013 Black Raven Genealogy


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Petty Sessions Records, Swords Court

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Scales of Justice
The Petty Sessions, were a prelude to the District Courts in Ireland, where Justices of the Peace (usually local landlords) had summary jurisdiction in minor criminal and civil matters. The petty sessions order registers for the court in Swords, Co. Dublin, which covered the parish of Malahide, have recently been released online by genealogy vendor Findmypast.
The registers released span the period 1872 to 1913, the time of my great-great-grandfather, James Mahon (1823 – 1903), as well as his son-in-law, my great-grandfather, Michael Byrne (c1865 – 1929).  So the search began… 

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An Irish goat
There was only one possible reference to my great-great-grandfather in the Swords registers. Sergeant William Sandes charged James Mahon of Yellow Walls with… wait for it… allowing one of his goats to wander on the public road near his home. On 11 June 1887, the case was heard and James was fined six pence, plus costs.

This story reminded my Dad of another time a goat got loose. Until the 1960s, my family's nearest water supply was from a pump at the top of the road. One day, during the rut season, my grandfather, James Byrne, went out with his bucket to get water. Half-way up the road, a billy goat forced him into retreat. My grandfather backed up, all the way home, keeping the bucket in front of him, for protection against the goat's long horns.  

My great-grandfather also featured in the Sword's court records. On 26 July 1913, Michael Byrne of Yellow Walls was charged with keeping his son, also Michael, home from school, without excuse, contrary to an attendance order. He was found guilty and fined three shillings. Young Michael was born on 18 October 1899, so being three months shy of his fourteenth birthday, he was still obliged to attend school.

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Michael Byrne in the Swords Petty Sessions, 1913

Compulsory school attendance, for those aged between six and fourteen years, was introduced in Ireland in 1892, but only in urban areas and many rural local authorities delayed its introduction. Compulsory attendance was presumably a fairly recent requirement in Malahide in 1907, when the attendance order was issued to my great-grandfather. Traditionally, parents kept children home from school for any reason and the majority of children had left school by Michael’s age, so my great-grandfather probably resented the state's interference in what had always been a family matter. My young granduncle was quite likely out picking potatoes or doing other summer jobs to help feed the family, when he should have been in school. He may even have started in paid employment.


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© 2013 Black Raven Genealogy