Saturday, 7 February 2015

Snippets from the life of a Grandfather I never knew


Sepia Saturday prompts bloggers to share family history with old photographs. Their suggestion this week featured a classroom of pottery students, painting their ceramic pots, reminding me of my maternal grandfather, Kevin Wynne, who loved to paint. 

Even as a child, Kevin was interested in painting. In March 1926, aged sixteen years, he entered a colouring competition, advertised in the Irish Independent newspaper. The next week, Kevin Wynne, with an address at 22 Upper Rutland Street, Dublin, was announced as one of their six winners. He joined-the-dots and artistically coloured the following picture. 

Kevin Wynne, Winner, reported 21 March 1926
Irish Independent 14 March 1926,
Kevin Wynne, Winner, reported 21 March 1926

In later life, Kevin became a talented artist. His daughters remember him painting wonderful murals on their bedroom walls. Some of his best works featured the champion Irish show-jumper, Iris Kellet, and her much-loved chestnut gelding, Rusty.  Sadly, none of my grandda’s paintings survive today.

Luckily for Kevin, he earned his living doing what he enjoyed most – painting. Here is one of his Business Cards from the 1950s, depicting him as an ‘Aero-Painter’- an expert painter in ‘Spray, Plastic, Sign & Mural.’  It also contains a sample of his signature.

Kevin Wynne (1909-1960), Dublin
Business Card, Kevin Wynne (1909-1960), Painter

Until I saw the following picture, I never knew my Grandda smoked a pipe. Truth be told, I never knew my grandfather at all. He died years before I was born. (It strikes me that there are people reading this blog who did know my grandfather. Wouldn't it be great if they each shared with me another little snippet about his life?)

Kevin Wynne (1909-1960), Dublin
Kevin Wynne, Whit Sunday, June 1933

This snapshot was taken on Whit Sunday, 4 June in 1933, probably on a day out with my grandmother, Annie Byrne. 

My grandda was born on 16 December 1909, in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, the third son of Patrick Wynne and Teresa Carroll. His two elder brothers were Maurice, then aged three, and Brendan, aged 18 months.  When Kevin was born, the family lived at 16 St. James Avenue off the Clonliffe Road in Dublin, but within two years of his birth, his father went to Australia. The intention was he would send for the family when he became established. It seems his mother took their three boys and followed her siblings to Newcastle upon Tyne in England. They never made it to Australia. One of my Wynne cousins told a story, passed down from Teresa (Carroll) Wynne herself, that following the sinking of the Titanic in 1911, Teresa was too afraid to risk the lives of her family on the long sea journey and she requested Patrick return home. He came back about 1915. 

It was around this time that little Kevin’s life changed dramatically. Not because his father came home, but because his parents, bizarrely, left him behind in Dublin to be raised by his mother’s elder sister, Mary Carroll, and they returned to live in England with the two older boys.  Kevin’s Aunt Mary never married. She had no children and undoubtedly, Kevin had a very lonely childhood, missing his parents and brothers. He was a little boy, with an English accent, left alone in Dublin, just as the Irish War of Independence was breaking out. Really, what was his mother thinking? The family were fairly successful in Newcastle, so, they hardly left him behind for economic reasons. Kevin only got to visit them in the holidays.

Kevin Wynne (1909-1960), Dublin
Kevin Wynne, cyclist, c. 1930

My grandparents married in St Laurence O’Toole’s Roman Catholic Church, Dublin on 10 August 1936. It was a glorious sunny day, a welcome change from the unusually wet and stormy weather of the previous month. No doubt, my granny looked lovely, in her pale-pink, satin wedding dress. Their witnesses were Kevin’s brother, Brendan, who came over from England, and Annie’s sister Kathleen. Afterwards, the newly-weds sailed to Rhyl in Wales, where they spent their honeymoon.  It was not long, only ten months later, before their eldest daughter was born. They had nine children in total, although two died in infancy.

Kevin Wynne (1909-1960) and Dympna Wynne (1956-2007)
Kevin Wynne with his daughter, Dympna, c. 1957

Kevin suffered from a heart condition for many years and, on 16 January 1960, it finally stole him from his wife and children. He was only fifty years old when he died. His youngest daughter, Dympna, was only three at the time.  Kevin was interred in Mount Jerome Cemetery in Harrold’s Cross in Dublin, a grave he shares with his Aunt Mary and his infant son, Kevin.

Wynne headstone, Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin
Wynne headstone, Mount Jerome Cemetery

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.


.…………….
© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy

20 comments:

  1. I found this very interesting. The name "Wynne" got me from the start as when I was a child, we had friends with the surname Wynne.

    I hope that you have family members contact you with additional information!

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  2. Thank you Sharon, already I've learned some new things about my granddad.

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  3. Nice tribute to your grandfather.

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  4. your grandda was a handsome man and the pics were great. Isn't strange that the more that we delve into the past there are always more unanswered questions. Guess that is what keeps us searching eh?

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    1. That's what keeps me searching anyway, Joan.

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  5. I cannot imagine leaving a child behind to be raised by someone else while still keeping two other children? There must have been a reason - long lost now, I suppose. One can only hope it was a really good one! I was only 2 1/2 when my maternal grandfather passed away, & only 6 when my paternal granddad died. I have no memory at all of the one, and only vague memories of the other, so I can empathize with your wishing to know more about your grandda. Little by little I've learned a bit more about both. I hope you're successful in your endeavor to learn more, too.

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  6. I guess we will never know why Kevin was left with his aunt. Maybe his aunt wanted a child.

    I never knew either of my grandfathers. One died fairly young years before I was born and the other when I was a few months old.

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  7. Sad that his parents left him behind...but I'm willing to bet that their reasoning was sound! You've posted a wonderful tribute to him here!

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  8. A great post. The best family stories make the reader wish they had known the person too.

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  9. It's great you have that many pictures of him. But I just feel so bad for him being separated from his family and left behind. I just can't imagine doing that or experiencing it. How totally awful. I hope you hear from more relatives to round out your mental picture of him..

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  10. What a fascinating story and what excellent illustrations. My father was apprenticed to a sign-writer but it was later discovered that he had left school too early to take the job (school leaving age was 14 back then) so they made him go back to school for a term and he lost the job!

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  11. A sad yet lovely story of your grandfather's life. What a pity there are no photographs of his paintings.

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  12. An interesting, but somewhat short, life. I can’t imagine how his parents could leave him to be brought up by a spinster so far from home. Poor little lad.

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  13. Maybe one of Kevin's murals will turn up when a building is renovated. I wonder if he signed his work.

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    1. That would be wonderful, Lorraine.

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  14. Dara, Kevin led an interesting life. It is a shame it was such a short life and none of his art work remains. Your story helps him to live on.

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  15. What a wistful story, Dara. It is so hard to write about a relative that could have been known--but for an untimely death. It is sometimes hard to figure out why our relatives did the things they chose to do.

    Like others here, I hope you someday uncover some of your grandfather's artwork.

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  16. Hi Dara,
    Kevin Wynne's painting Mad Music won a competition at the School of Art in Dublin and was bought by Maurice McGonigal or Sean Keating who were his teachers. I think it was Mr McGonigal. It might survive in their family collection. His son was an art critic. My mother did not like the painting. She said it was macabre. It should modern people dancing wildly and reflected the frightening events taking place in Europe.
    Love,
    Anne

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    1. Thanks Anne, Maybe someday we'll get to see it - wouldn't that be great!

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