When I saw this week's Sepia Saturday prompt, I immediately thought of my mother and father, for theirs is a proper Valentine’s Day story. Born one day short of a year apart, they've known each other their entire lives and really never had eyes for anyone else. Well, it sounds so much more romantic than how I met my own husband - in the basement at work, while having a sneaky cigarette - don’t you think? (for those of you who may have forgotten, I've long given up smoking)
My father’s family were farmers, from the then small village of Malahide in north county Dublin. My mother’s family were true Dubs, from Dublin’s inner-city. They were, perhaps, unlikely to have met, if it wasn't for their fathers’ long-time friendship. As a child, Mam often spent her holidays in Malahide, beside the sea, visiting with Dad’s family. Mam had ancestral roots in Malahide, which were probably the source of the bond between the two families. Yet, the length of their association, over many years, came somewhat as a surprise. The families’ friendship spanned six generations, before finally culminating in my parent’s marriage in 1966. It may date to even earlier times, but this is as far back as available evidence confirms.
My grandfathers were close friends - close enough for one to have been the best man at the marriage of the other. When my granddad James Byrne married my grandmother Lena O'Neill in Malahide, in 1934, he asked my granddad Kevin Wynne to be his best man. Now, that is one best man speech I would dearly love to have heard!
Kevin Wynne was born in Dublin city in 1909, the son of Patrick Wynne and Teresa Carroll, both also born and bred in the city. However, as mentioned last week, my grandfather Kevin was raised by his maternal aunt, Mary Carroll, not by his parents. Aunt Mary was born seventeen years before Kevin’s mother, at a time when the Carroll family lived in Balheary in Swords, barely a stone’s throw away from Malahide. The family did not move into Dublin city until the late 1880s, so Mary grew up in Balheary and, despite the eight mile distance, she maintained close ties with her friends in Malahide. Mary likely brought Kevin with her on visits ‘home’, and thus he met and became pals with James Byrne.
At the dance
It was Anne (Radcliffe) Carroll, Mary’s mother, who had the actual connection to Malahide. Born about 1849, Anne's mother died when she was an infant, supposedly in April 1853, and her father migrated to Australia soon afterwards. We know nothing about her mother, other than her name Mary, so it may well have been her paternal grandparents, Peter and Anne Radcliffe from Malahide, who raised her. Anne certainly had a close relationship with her paternal uncles, Peter and Joseph, who lived in Malahide, as they became Godparents for her children, Aunt Mary, born in 1871, and Thomas Carroll, born in 1873.
The earliest evidence of a relationship found between my parent's families far predates even Anne (Radcliffe) Carroll's time. It goes all the way back to her grandfather, my fourth great-grandfather, Peter Radcliffe. This now gets a wee bit complicated, so bare with me. First, my grandfather, James Byrne's mother was Elizabeth Mahon. Elizabeth’s grandparents were Patrick and Jane Mahon. They were contemporaries of Peter Radcliffe and they asked Peter to be Godfather at the baptism of their son John, Elizabeth Mahon's uncle. John Mahon was baptised in August 1823, proving the friendship between my mother's and father’s families dated as far back as then.
So, it was a long time coming, but they were obviously destined to be together.
Happy St Valentine's Day, Mam and Dad!
To get your fill of the rose-mantic stories, dreamed up by other Sepians this Valentine’s Day, see here.
© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy
© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy