Sunday, 26 March 2017

What happened to the Leahys?

This week, I continued the search for my third-great-grandparents, Michael and Bridget Leahy, the known parents of Alicia (Leahy) Byrne and her sister Mary. I discovered a likely couple living in Dublin city, and am now attempting to trace them forward via a son Michael, born in January 1835.

As mentioned last week, Michael married Ellen Hyland in 1854. He worked as a servant, just like his father. There is no indication my third great-grandfather was a servant, but it cannot be ruled out. He was once said to have been a clerk, except two other records indicate he had ‘no trade’. So, there’s confusion surrounding his occupation, and in most other respects this Leahy family closely matches mine.

The trouble is, the very last record discovered relating to Michael and Ellen was the baptism of their son Michael, in 1865. And, even though BMD (birth, marriage, death) registration commenced in Ireland in 1864, no further mention of them was found anywhere, not in Ireland, not abroad. They seem to have just vanished, without leaving any trace!

I may have found another record of Michael Leahy, the father - my would-be third great-grandfather. But, the news is not good. He was admitted and discharged from the South Dublin Union Workhouse – twice - once in 1867 and again in 1868. Then, he too vanished without a trace.

Map of Dublin City 1863, Thom's Directory

Here’s the information gleaned from the Workhouse Admission and Discharge Registers[1]:

Pauper number:
Pauper’s name and surname:
Michael Leahy
Michael Leahy
60 [born c. 1807]
60 [born c. 1807]
Religious denomination:
Electoral division / townland:
Union/123 Francis St.
Union/25 Meath St.
Date admitted:
9 Nov 1867
1 Jan 1868
Date discharged:
16 Dec 1867
19 May 1868

So, if this was my ancestor, his wife Bridget, my third great-grandmother, was already dead by November 1867.

Michael’s stay in the workhouse came not long after his son’s apparent ‘disappearance’. And came just after my relatives married their husbands - Alicia Leahy married John Byrne in January 1867 and moved to Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) in south Co. Dublin. Their son Michael Byrne was born there on 2 December 1867. Mary Leahy married Christopher Radcliffe in May 1866 and moved to Malahide in north Co. Dublin. Was Michael Leahy left alone in the city, leading to his spell in the workhouse?

And what happened to him after he was released the second time? Did he move to Co. Meath, where another source dated 1873 indicates he lived (or once lived)?  No likely death record has yet been found.

This search may be better left until the General Register Office release the rest of the copy BMD registers, for free, online. Those with an inside source suggest they’ll be available ‘in a couple of months’, but I’m not holding my breath.

See previous posts: Homing in on Alicia and More Leahy Family Research.

[1] Accessed on Findmypast.

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