Saturday, 12 July 2014

A lady named Margaret Fay

Do you remember the post, Uncle Michael married Aunt Kate, where I wondered why a Catherine McGrane shared a grave with my great-great-grandparents, the Devines, and it turned out that she was their married daughter? Well, I think it has happened again. A lady named Margaret Fay, who died on 25 July 1932, aged 43 years, was buried with my great-great-grandparents, Francis and Margaret Byrne of Lower Jane Place, Dublin.1 I've long wondered who she was. Now, it seems that Margaret Fay was Francis and Margaret’s married daughter. She was Granny’s aunt.

In my defence, my great-grandaunt was born Margaret Mary Byrne on 15 November 1879, making her four months short of 53 years old when she died, not 43.2 Also, I had originally tried to prove that she had married a man named Fay, but Margaret Byrne was just too common a name in Dublin and the Irish civil marriage indexes did not reflect spouses’ names. The cost of ordering that many research certificates, in the hopes that one might prove the theory, was too much for my pocket.

In a recent bout of research into my maternal Byrne lineage, I learned that it was Margaret’s younger sister, Jane, that had married a James Fay. Their wedding took place in St Laurence O’Toole’s Church on 25 April 1915.3 So, it would have been more reasonable for Jane Fay to share her parent’s grave, not Margaret. Then I discovered that Jane had died young, on 17 March 1919.4 The burial records for various graves at Glasnevin Cemetery facilitated the creation of this simple timeline of events, from which I noticed something unusual:-




Last Address
Francis Byrne, my gg-grandfather
1 Lower Jane Place, Dublin
Jane Fay
1 Lower Jane Place, Dublin
Margaret Byrne, my gg-grandmother
1 Lower Jane Place, Dublin
Margaret Fay
1 Lower Jane Place, Dublin
James Fay
1 Lower Jane Place, Dublin

James Fay had continued to live in my great-great-grandparent's home, not only after the death of his wife, Jane, but also after the death of his mother-in-law. He died there in 1946.5 He must have remarried a lady named Margaret and continued to live in their home with her and not only that, when she died, he buried her in their grave. Now armed with the newly released ‘Civil Records’ on, where marriages from 1912 are indexed by couple, I searched for the index for this second marriage.  And here it is – just one year after Jane’s death –  James Fay, with his surname transcribed incorrectly as ‘Foy’, married Margaret Byrne in Dublin.6 

On 10 October 1920, Margaret Byrne, then aged 41, must have married her sister’s widower and helped to raise his two little boys, James and Frank. Apparently, this was not at all uncommon and it certainly explains why Margaret Fay was buried with my great-great-grandparents (her parents). 

I'm totally convinced that this was our Margaret, but nevertheless, I've ordered a copy of their marriage register and will let you know if I’m wrong.

1 Burial register, grave DH 193.5, Glasnevin Trust
2 Church records on
Copy marriage register, General Register Office. 
Copy death register, same.
5 Glasnevin Trust. 
Civil records on

© 2014 Black Raven Genealogy


  1. The twist and turns of genealogy! Great work Dara.

  2. Thanks Ellie, you certainly learn something new every day!


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