Saturday, 2 August 2014

A Mother’s Surprise!

Sarah Jane Teeling (1861-1927), Upper Jane Place, Dublin
Sarah Jane Teeling (1861-1927), 
Upper Jane Place, Dublin

This lady was born Sarah Jane McGrane on 19 August 1861, at 41 Mecklenburgh Street, Dublin. Her parents were Myles McGrane and Margaret Doyle. She was a younger sister of my maternal great-great-grandmother, Margaret (McGrane) Byrne, however, she will be better known to my more immediate family as Frank Teeling’s mother.

On 30 July 1879, when Sarah was still only seventeen years old, she married Richard Daly, a man over forty years her senior. Richard lived in Upper Jane Place, off Oriel Street, in Dublin, where Sarah was to spend the remainder of her days.  Richard died on 24 October 1888 and within two years Sarah married Christopher Teeling, a man of her own age.

Sarah gave birth to fifteen children, five with Richard and ten with Christopher. Sadly, many of them died as infants. Her son, Frank Teeling became a sniper in the Irish Republican Army. He was captured, beaten and imprisoned following Bloody Sunday (21 November 1920) during the War of Independence and was sentenced to death by hanging. Frank’s daring escape from Kilmainham Gaol, along with Ernie O’Malley and Simon Donnelly, caused much excitement in Ireland in early 1921. News of the escape even made page 3 of the New York Times, where it was deemed ‘almost incredible’ that Frank could elude justice, when under military supervision in Kilmainham, given its 40-foot walls.

The day after the prison-break, Mrs. Sarah Teeling was interviewed by the Irish Independent and told of her numerous visits to the prison, with food parcels for her son. She advised of her great surprise and excitement when that day her parcel was refused and the soldiers told her that he was gone.

Frank Teeling escapes from Kilmainham
Irish Independent, 16 February 1921, p. 5.

What must it have been like for Sarah to see her son tried for murder, locked up and sentenced to death? How relieved she must have felt on his timely escape.

Sarah Teeling died on 5 June 1927, aged sixty-seven years, and was buried in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery.

Sources: Irish Independent, 16 February 1921, p. 5; New York Times, 16 February 1921, p. 3; other sources available on request. Click on image to enlarge.
Photograph of Sarah Teeling, courtesy of Michael Meehan, In the front gate – and out the back: the story of Frank Teeling (Dublin, 2007).

© 2014 Black Raven Genealogy


  1. What a dramatic story! Did anyone ever figure out how he accomplished such a stunning escape?

  2. There are varying accounts of the escape, Jacqi, mostly involving the help of sympathetic soldiers on the inside and the old IRA on the outside. They got out the back gate, probably with the help of some bolt cutters.

  3. Not just a surprise but a very pleasant surprise! It would have been awful to have a son in jail sentenced to death for standing up for what he believed in. Was her son ever caught or did he get away for good?

  4. Thanks Nancy, luckily he was not recaptured and the Irish Free State was established within the year.

  5. Hello Dara, what a fascinating account. I'm so pleased he escaped!

    Thank you very much for coming to visit my blog. I have a lot to learn about this side of blogging. I sell vintage books and write a blog about that, but this is more personal and somehow more daunting. Your comment was really welcome. Barbara.

  6. Thank you Barbara. Best of luck with your new blog!

  7. Dara, you have such amazing family stories! I love them.

  8. Thanks Ellie, I love them too! Your own are pretty interesting also.

  9. Hi Dara, I presume you are aware of this website which I came across while researching Frank Teeling?

    1. Yes thanks Michael, the author and I have previously collaborated in the search for our mutual ancestors. Are you related to Frank too? I've done a bit of research on him already, so if you've any questions, I'd be happy to help.


I look forward to reading your comments, even more especially if you're related to someone mentioned in this post.

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