Saturday, 22 August 2015

Genealogy Quest: Striking Gold - the search for Maryanne

Just as I was beginning to conclude my latest genealogy quest would not be completed any time soon, I had an amazing stroke of luck. Finally, I had the documentary evidence to connect my great-great-grandmother, Maryanne, with her would-be maiden name, Coyle.

As a result of a coding error, Glasnevin Trust originally reported my great-grandmother and her suspected mother-in-law were the only two occupants of a full-sized family plot in Glasnevin Cemetery. Now, they have admitted there were actually fifteen people buried there.

This family grave is nearly as old as Glasnevin Cemetery itself. The gates to the north Dublin graveyard first opened in February 1832 and on 3 August 1832, a ‘Pat Donovan of Gt Strand Street’ was interred there. Next followed five decades of family burials, giving me thirteen newly discovered ‘ancestors’ to investigate – an absolute goldmine of family history to have finally found! 

But, as it turns out, I’m already familiar with some of the occupants of the grave and their presence in with my great-great-grandmother helps to solve my biggest Donovan family mystery – her maiden name.

Remember, my hypothetical great-great-grandparents, John Donovan and Maryanne Coyle, married in February 1851 and had the following children: 
  • Thomas Joseph Donovan, born 11 March 1854
  • John James Donovan, born 18 November 1855
  • Thomas Laurence Donovan, born 20 June 1857
  • Francis Donovan, born 16 September 1858
  • Catherine Donovan, born 18 March 1860
  • Teresa Anne Donovan, born 18 May 1862 

Well, it now transpires that the Maryanne Donovan, established as being my great-great grandmother,  shares her grave with four of these children. The eldest child, Thomas Donovan, was buried on 23 July 1856, aged two; the second Thomas Donovan was buried on 21 March 1859, aged one; Francis Donovan was buried on 23 March 1861, aged two; and Catherine Donovan was buried on 6 April 1861, aged one.

Even in the midst of my excitement at this discovery, I can only feel sorry for John and Maryanne. They must have been inconsolable with grief at losing so many of their babies, one after the other. Of their remaining two children, I've found no confirmed subsequent record of John James, as yet, while I have already discussed what happened to Teresa, during my post Genealogy Quest: Expanding the search via a collateral line.

So, given four of the infant children of John and Maryanne (Coyle) Donovan were buried in the same grave as my great-great-grandmother, Maryanne Donovan, also the wife of a John Donovan, and the owner of the plot, it now seems most likely that my Maryanne and the former Maryanne Coyle was one and the same person.

The coincidence, otherwise, is just too great – don’t ye think?

Striking gold!

See also previous posts in this quest: 


  1. I would like to have seen that Happy Dance when you got this information.

  2. Wonderful discovery! I would say that is Maryann Coyle.

    1. Thanks Colleen, I’d still really like to find Mary Agnes' baptism, but that might not be possible.

  3. One of my best finds, Michelle, thank you for commenting.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!