Saturday, 15 August 2015

Genealogy Quest: the search for Maryanne – a stroke of luck

This week, as I followed the ancestral trail of Maryanne Donovan, my great-great-grandmother, whose maiden name has long remained unproven, I had an amazing stroke of luck.

Maryanne Coyle  has long been the suspected mother of my great-grandmother, Mary Agnes Donovan, although her parents were named only as John and Maryanne Donovan at her marriage to Charles O'Neill, in 1874.  Now, I have finally found that single shred of evidence to tip the balance of proof from possible to probable.

Happy Days!!!

A while back in my blog  actually, it was over a year ago now  here, I thought it strange to find my great-great-grandfather, John Donovan, buried in a paupers’ grave in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin. Only two years before his death, his wife Maryanne and his suspected mother Catherine had been buried in a full-sized family plot in the same cemetery, and were the only two occupants of the grave.

Well, it pays to be curious!

When I contacted Glasnevin Trust, they confirmed the owner of this family plot was Maryanne Donovan, my great-great-grandmother, interred there in May 1873, the month after Catherine.

And, amazingly, after an investigation, Glasnevin Trust confirmed there were other burials in this grave - burials omitted in error from the grave register I had previously purchased – burial records absolutely critical to my quest.

The newly discovered occupants were erroneously coded as having been buried in the Garden section of the cemetery. They were actually interred, with Maryanne and Catherine, in the section known as Curran Square. So, when I obtained the grave register for the Curran Square plot, their names were sadly omitted.

This was not the only factor conspiring against me. I had also, separately, purchased the burial register for the plot mis-coded as being in the Garden section. Little Thomas, a suspected two year old son of John and Maryanne (Coyle) Donovan was interred there when he died in 1856. But, his grave had been deemed a paupers’ grave, meaning the names of the other occupants were not revealed to me. Seemingly, Glasnevin Trust automatically applies this designation to any grave where the number of occupants exceeds a certain number. Yet, I am glad to say it was not a paupers’ grave.

You see, in addition to Maryanne and Catherine Donovan, there were a further thirteen (yes, I did say 13) family members interred in the grave  fifteen people in this one grave – I can hardly believe it myself. 

That is why there was no room for John Donovan when his turn came.

And, the names of some of those interred help establish the required link back to the Coyles.

More next week...

A Genealogy Happy Dance!
A Genealogy Happy Dance!

See also the previous posts in this quest: 
The Search for Maryanne...
© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy


  1. Congratulations! What fantastic news for your family research. Dara, I almost can't believe how your persistence paid off big time!

  2. Thanks Maryann, it just shows, sometimes you think you are getting nowhere, it seems hopeless, when suddenly it all falls into place.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!