Saturday, 1 February 2014

Uncle Michael married Aunt Kate

Ok, don’t get me wrong – I don’t hear voices or anything. I’m not that mad yet – but sometimes, when I am researching an ancestor, I get a sense of someone guiding me. This sense seemed to have been very strong when I was trying to find out what happened to Catherine (Kate) Devine, a sister of my great-grandmother, Christina Devine.

My Mam had told me that Kate Devine lived with my great-grandparents, Christina and her husband, James Byrne. Her niece and namesake, Kathleen Byrne, was supposedly very fond of her Aunt Kate.  This may sound weird in today’s world, but my Mam even remembers a ponytail of long black hair, streaked with grey, and said to have once belonged to Aunt Kate. It was still in a wardrobe in my great-grandparents house when my Mam was young. However, the Irish Census returns did not reflect Kate Devine living with my great-grandparents in 1901, or in 1911, and I could not find her anywhere in Ireland.

Byrne Household, 31 Jane Place Lower, 1901 Census of Ireland (NAI)

The last record of Kate Devine found was dated March 1898, when she registered her father’s death. She would have been nearly thirty-four years old then, still single and living at home with her father. I thought she had never married. Perhaps I associated her with her fore-mentioned niece, Kathleen Byrne, who also never married, but lived with my grandmother for many years.  So, without success, I searched for a record of Kate Devine’s death.

The census records do show that my great-grandparents shared a house with Michael McGrane and his wife Catherine. The Byrnes and the McGranes were living at 31 Lower Jane Place, off Oriel Street, Dublin in 1901, when each family occupied two rooms of the four roomed cottage. Both families also shared a cottage at 13 Lower Jane Place, in 1911. However, little did I twig that Catherine McGrane, wife of Michael McGrane, was the same person as Aunt Kate. 

Form B1, House and Building Return, 1901 Census of Ireland (NAI)

I knew the McGranes were relatives on James Byrne’s side. His mother was born Margaret McGrane and further research proved that Michael was his maternal uncle. Michael was also my great-grandfather’s best-man, at his wedding in August 1897.

Then, I obtained the burial records for the Devine grave in Glasnevin Cemetery, where Kate had buried her father. They showed that Michael McGrane’s wife, Catherine McGrane, of 13 Lower Jane Place shared their grave.  She died on 1st July 1917, stated age forty-four years. Aunt Kate would have actually been nearly fifty-three years of age then, so I still didn’t associate her with Catherine McGrane.  I remember thinking that my great-grandmother must have been very close to Uncle Michael’s wife, to bury her with her own parents.

It wasn’t until a distant McGrane cousin gave me access to her online family tree that I saw that Michael McGrane had married a Catherine Devine. Then, I understood. They married on 20 November 1898, in St Lawrence O’Toole’s Church on the North Strand in Dublin. This marriage certificate confirmed that Uncle Michael had married Aunt Kate! Aunt Kate did live with my great-grandparents, just like my Mam had said.

‘Hallelujah!!!’ sang the heavens, when it all fell into place and I had a sense of Aunt Kate breathing a huge sigh of relief as her silent messages finally got through.

Sources available on request.

© 2014 Black Raven Genealogy


  1. Congratulations Dara! Don't you love it when it all comes together?

  2. Yes Ellie, it really is a great feeling.


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