Sunday, 5 August 2018

One more mystery solved

Bernard (Barney) O'Connor Dublin and Kiltimagh
Bernard (Barney) O'Connor
Do you remember this chap? 

A few months ago, I published this little photograph and asked 'Who's in the picture?' His was an 'orphan' photo, from 'Black Raven', our house in Malahide, Co. Dublin. 

Well, somewhat to my surprise, a lady found my post and contacted me this week, saying:

Hello Dara, I am so excited by the photograph of Who's in the picture as the photograph is of my Father Bernard (Barney) O'Connor.  Barney was the son of Bartholomew and Winifred O'Connor (nee Earley) from Irishtown, Dublin.

Isn't that wonderful! 

I now know exactly who he was.

Barney O'Connor was Arthur O'Neill's step-son. Arthur was my granduncle, my Granny Lena's brother. Lena obviously received a copy of this picture and kept it, which is how it came to be at 'Black Raven'.

Barney's father, Bartholomew O'Connor, died in a tragic accident at work, in January 1913. He worked for Dublin Corporation, in the City's main sewage works, which was situated at the Pigeon House Fort. When his colleague was rendered unconscious, eleven feet under, in a culvert at the pump house, Bartholomew immediately went to his rescue. However, he too was overcome by the fumes. The first man died at the scene and Bartholomew died two days later in hospital. He was only about twenty-nine years old. 

The Royal Humane Society posthumously awarded him a medal for his bravery. His son Barney kept the medal in a silver box, and treasured it all his life. But, at the time, Winifred was left alone with four young children - Barney was five years old, Ellen was three, Winnie was nearly two, and Bart was born eight months after his father's passing. According to her granddaughter, when Bartholomew's died, Winifred earned her living by running the shop and Post Office at Bath Street, in Irishtown. 

And, it was there she met Arthur. He came into the shop one Sunday morning to buy a packet of cigarettes, on his way to watch a band playing in Sandymount. They obviously hit it off. They were married on 1 December 1917, in the Star of the Sea Church in Sandymount. 

In 1925, Arthur answered a newspaper advertisement seeking a hairdresser in Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo. The job supposedly came with a three bedroom detached house with lots of space. By then, Arthur and Winifred had four children of their own, to add to Winifred's four. Arthur got the job, and the whole family moved West. Barney trained as a hairdresser with Arthur, in Mayo. 

And, they all lived happily ever after, or so the story goes. 

Thank you so much to Arthur's step-granddaughter for all the information she has provided about my O'Neill family. I do hope you enjoy the photograph of your father, which is making it's way to you in the post.

19 comments:

  1. So this must be the epitome of success in naming an unknown person in a photo, Dara! Honestly, how often does this happen that someone finds a random photo and knows who's in it? Wonderful!

    Have you joined Random Acts of Kindness Photo Restoration Group on Facebook? If not you should think about it. The members perform magic with old photos and I know someone (or two or three people) could repair the cracks in this photo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a miracle to reunite the photo with his daughter after all these years. I will check out the facebook page during the week, when I get a moment, sounds very interesting, thanks.

      Delete
    2. Hi all,

      I came across this story of Bernard O'Connor in the St John Ambulance Brigade records (Dublin). Several men were awarded Lifesaving Medals and Certificates of Honour (Vellum) for attempting to save both men.

      Kind regards,

      Pádraig Allen
      padraig.allen@stjohn.ie
      Archives Manager

      Delete
  2. Wonderful! This is why we blog. We send questions out and -sometimes- we get answers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, and now I'm waiting for Karma to deliver a photo of one of my unseen great-grandparents - just joking - sort of ;-)

      Delete
  3. Happy to hear the photo of this handsome young man is headed home to a close relative! This is a wonderful conclusion to the "mystery photo" story.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love when messages arrive that contain a wonderful surprise! How amazing is that, that a researching person came across the photo you posted and was a relative. Good show!

    ReplyDelete
  5. In all the excitement of your being contacted by Barney's daughter and having the photo identified, the sad story of how his mother Winifred carried a child eight months while she was likely mourning the loss of its father hits you. It was nice to read Arthur and Winifred hit it off and her having children was not a hindrance for the marriage. Kudos to Barney's daughter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The tragedy would bring a tear to your eye, Cathy. Arthur's father died when he was very young, and although his mother remarried quite quickly, his siblings were all flung apart, with some faring better than others. I'd say it never entered Arthur's mind to let history repeat itself.

      Delete
  6. Love this story, through the sadness and the happiness... thanks, Dara.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That's wonderful Dara! So glad for you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
    https://thatmomentintime-crissouli.blogspot.com/2018/08/friday-fossicking-10th-august-2018.html
    Thank you, Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks again Chris, much appreciated. I'm delighted you enjoyed the story.

      Delete
  9. A good story. Here are a few more details on the events at the Pigeon House Works, as they appear in a book I am working on about lifesaving in Ireland.

    Tallant, John. 1st Mate, SS Shamrock. RHS silver medal; OStJLSM in bronze. 4.1.1913. Dublin.
    Awards: Tallant received both medals for the same rescue efforts on 4 January 1913. At between 9 and 10am that day a workman, Christopher Leonard (24), descended into a sewage culvert at the Dublin Corporation’s Pigeon House Sewage Outfall Works apparently to collect a lamp that had been left there. He was overcome by sulphurated hydrogen gas and Bartholomew O’Connor (referred to in some initial accounts as Bartle Connor) descended, with a handkerchief over his mouth, to render assistance; he was also overcome by the gas. Michael Roche, Samuel Beamish and Patrick Saunders descended in turn with the object of saving the two men, but all of them feeling themselves getting overcome by the gas, returned without success. The alarm having by now been raised, the captain (Patrick Archibald) and some of the crew of the sewage vessel SS Shamrock, which was lying at the wharf nearby, arrived on the scene. Second Mate Henry O’Brien, of the Shamrock, tied a rope to himself and taking another to tie to one of the unconscious men, descended but was hauled back by Captian Archibald in an unconscious state before he had been able to secure the rope to either Leonard or O’Connor. First Mate John Tallant, of 7 Pigeon House Road, Ringsend, now arrived and performed artificial respiration on O’Brien. As soon as the latter’s breathing was restored, Tallant provided himself with ropes in the same way as O’Brien had done. He descended into the culvert and tied the spare rope around O’Connor, who was brought up and regained consciousness. Tallant came up and after remaining in the fresh air for a short time, descended again. He now tied the rope round Leonard who was brought up. In the process of doing this Leonard’s body became caught in the ladder and Captain Archibald went down to free him. Unfortunately, Christopher Leonard did not recover consciousness. Brought along with O’Connor to Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital by the Corporation ambulance which had arrived on the scene, Leonard was declared dead, while O’Connor was detained in a critical condition.

    The case was first brought to the attention of the Royal Humane Society by the Society’s Dublin representative, Captain Thomas McCombie. O’Connor died on Saturday 11 January 1913 from the toxic effects of the gas. The Society considered the circumstances at its committee meeting on 14 January 1913 and in addition to awarding the silver medal to Tallant, they granted their bronze medals to Bartholomew O’Connor and Henry O’Brien (all these being announced in the Weekly Irish Times, Saturday 25 January 1913, p. 16). The Society sent all three awards to McCombie on 11 March 1913 for him to organise their presentation. RHS case no. 39732. The Royal Humane Society awards were presented to Tallant, O’Brien and O’Connor’s five-year-old son Bernard by the Lord Mayor of Dublin at the quarterly meeting of the Dublin Corporation in the Council Chamber at City Hall on Monday 7 April 1913 (Irish Times, Tuesday 8 April 1913, p. 10). The case then was considered by the Order of St John, whose Chapter-General approved the award of the Order’s bronze medal to John Tallant on 25 February 1913 (Minute Book, p. 16). For further details see the Weekly Irish Times (Saturday 11 January 1913, p. 1 and 4).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! Thank you Roger, for all this information, especially the accounts from the Times newspaper. I didn't know Bart's medal was presented to Bernard directly. That must have been a great honour, for a broken-hearted child.

      Delete

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

Comments are visible publicly. You may also contact me privately by email - blackraven.genealogy [at] gmail [dot] com.