Saturday 20 August 2016

More about my Great-Granduncle, John Byrne

Last week, I wrote about my Granny's favourite cousin and the difficulties I experienced tracing her father, John Byrne. A John Byrne married Margaret Burke from Summerhill, on 18 September 1910 in the Pro-Cathedral. And, apart from a single big anomaly – the groom’s father was named Thomas, not Francis – everything suggested this John was my missing great-granduncle.

First, at the time of their marriage, John resided at 9 Lower Jane Place, the same street in Dublin city where my Byrne family had lived for decades. Secondly, John was a sailor, and although other records show our John also worked as a factory operative and a labourer, his grandfather and his brother Benjamin both went to sea. Thirdly, Patrick Byrne was the best man at John’s wedding, and, while his name was not exactly unique in Dublin, our John’s next born brother was also Patrick. But, this whole issue became moot when I recently met my mother’s second cousin online. She confirmed her grandparents were indeed John Byrne and Margaret Burke.

Six months into their marriage, at the time of the 1911 census, John and Maggie, as she was known, lived at 7 Lower Sheriff Street, just around the corner from John’s parents. John was a sailor and must have been on shore-leave at the time. The young couple rented a room from the Dalton family. William Dalton, aged sixty-three years, was a master mariner, so perhaps he worked with John.

John and Maggie went on to have six children – all girls. Their names were Margaret, Elizabeth, Mary, Anne, Kathleen and the youngest who is still living.

By the time their daughter Margaret married James Norton in 1935, the family had moved back to 31 Lower Jane Place. This street contained thirty-one cottages, with those numbered 1 to 15 running along one side, returning with houses 16 to 31 on the other. The extended Byrne family occupied quite a few of the cottages.

For example, John’s brother James, my great-grandfather, lived at number 3. The family of John’s eldest brother Myles, who passed away in 1928, lived at number 8. The Fays, descendants of his sister Jane, lived at number 1. Can you imagine, growing up with all your cousins barely a stone’s throw away!

Like his siblings Myles and Jane, John also died young. He passed away at his home in Jane Place, on 15 January 1930. He was only forty-four years old. His registered cause of death was ‘congestion of lungs’, though he suffered ‘cardiac failure’ at the end. His heart-broken widow was left to raise their six girls by herself.

For at least eight years afterwards, on the anniversary of John’s death, his family remembered his passing by placing a notice in the newspaper.

Death of John Byrne, 31 Lower Jane Place, 1930
Irish Press, 15 January 1933

Death of John Byrne, 31 Lower Jane Place, 1930
Irish Press, 15 January 1938

When her eldest daughters had both married, Maggie and the four younger girls moved back to her family home, in Summerhill. There, she lived with her sister Annie who never married and her sister Agnes who was also widowed young.

Maggie outlived John by thirty-five years. In June 1965, she finally joined her husband and her sister Annie in the grave they all share at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

© Black Raven Genealogy


  1. It would be fun to live nearby houses full of cousins. ha!

  2. It certainly would be fun, Colleen :-)

  3. You're doing great work on your Byrne family Dara!

  4. Thanks Ellie, and with the imminent release of the copy BMD Registers, if they really are FREE, there'll be no stopping me :-)


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!