Sunday, 9 May 2021

Obituary: Francis Byrne (1876-1950), Dublin city, Ireland

Francis Byrne was a younger brother of my maternal great-grandfather, James Byrne. There were nine boys in the family, that I know of, two older than Francis - Myles and James, and six younger - Charles, John, Michael, Patrick, Paul and Benjamin. Plus, they had four sisters - Margaret, Mary Anne, Jane and Kate. I’ve written about most of them before, but not yet about Francis (or Frank, as he was known to his friends). So this week, given I’ve just found his obituary online, I’m going to share a little about him.

Death of Francis Byrne, Evening Herald, 16 Dec. 1950, p. 9

Frank was born at Upper Mayor Street, Dublin, on 21 February 1876, the son of Francis Byrne and Margaret McGrane. He was baptised shortly thereafter in St Laurence O’Toole’s Church, where his maternal aunt, Sarah McGrane, was his Godmother.[1]

After he left school, Frank worked as a labourer and a carter. His obituary shows he was employed by John Willis and Son, then one of the main transport firms in Dublin.

He doesn't turn up in the records again until 18 May 1896, when he married Mary Anne Drennan, in St Agatha’s church, Dublin. Frank and Mary Anne’s first child, named Francis like his father and paternal grandfather, was born on 6 July 1897, followed by a son James Joseph, on 3 October 1899.[2]

The family of four were found living in an impoverished tenement, at 10 Commons Street, at the time of the 1901 census. There were numerous other families living in the same building, so many in fact, the census enumerators took shortcuts completing the form, so it’s not even clear if the Byrne family had their own room, or had to share with others.[3]

And, the family seem to have been missed completely by the 1911 census enumerators - or perhaps their street was missed when the census was put online.

Like many people living in tenements, the Byrne family frequently picked up their few belongings and moved from one house to another, all in the same small area. They lived in Lower Jane Place in 1903 when their son Myles Leo was born, in Beaver Street when son Patrick was born in 1907, in the Corporation Buildings in 1909 when their daughter Margaret Mary arrived, and in Newfoundland Street in 1912, when their youngest child Mary Esther came on the scene.[4]

In 1914 and 1915 Francis Byrne lived at the rere of number 2, Elm Cottages, on Newfoundland Street, sharing the yard.[5] The family were likely at this address in 1911 too, as Newfoundland Street appears to be missing in the online census returns.[5]

Between then and 1921, when their eldest son Francis first married, the Byrne family had moved to their permanent home, at 3 Emerald Place.[6] Emerald Place was situated just north of the River Liffey, in Dublin’s inner city. It was a stone’s-throw from my great-grandfather’s home in Lower Jane Place. My great-grandfather was also a carter, so the two brothers may have remained life-long friends.

Frank Byrne died of stomach cancer on 14 December 1950, at the home of his daughter, Mary (Byrne) O’Hanlon. His son Myles registered his death.[7] His wife and other children seemingly all predeceased him. He was buried on 18 December 1950 in St Mary's section of Deansgrange Cemetery, at plot J6. He shares a grave with his wife Mary, his son James and his granddaughter Rosanna.[8]

He was survived by his youngest brothers, Paul and Benjamin Byrne, and his sister, Mary Anne (Byrne) Vickers. Benjamin lived in Liverpool, hence the request for English papers to copy the notice, but as for who lived in Canada, I don't know.

  1. Francis Byrne, 1876, St Lawrence, Baptism records,
  2. Marriage of Frnacis [SIC] Byrne and Mary Drennan on 18 May 1896, Group Registration ID 2254754; birth of Francis Byrne in 1897, Group Registration ID 11938732; birth of James Byrne on 03 October 1899, Group Registration ID 9948219; Civil records,
  3. Residents of a house 10.5 in Common Street (North Dock, Dublin), Household Return (Form A); House and Building Return (Form B1), pp 1-2; 1901 Census, National Archives of Ireland.
  4. Birth of Myles Byrne on 08 September 1903, Group Registration ID 4631391; birth of Patrick Byrne on 15 February 1907, Group Registration ID 669141; birth of Margaret Byrne on 22 July 1909, Group Registration ID 837365; birth of Mary Byrne on 03 April 1912, Group Registration ID 1012260, Civil records,
  5. 1899, 1908 to 1915 Electoral Rolls, Dublin City Public Libraries & Archive.
  6. Marriage of Francis Byrne and Annie Coyle on 30 May 1921, Group Registration ID 1167391, Civil records,
  7. Death of Francis Byrne in 1950, Group Registration ID 2180631, Civil records,
  8. Burial register, Francis Byrne, 1950, Burial records, DĂșn Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.


  1. Impoverished tenement - I can't even imagine what that was like. I suppose if that's all you ever knew, you didn't know to feel uncomfortable. I'm a big baby.

  2. I can't imagine it either, Wendy. We are so spoiled today, though not everyone has the luxuries we take for granted.

  3. Sounds like a hard life. And to lose so many children, I sometimes wonder how they carried on? No choice I guess.

  4. Yes, we have it easy now by comparison, though I think they were quite happy, and didn't feel some of the same stresses so many people feel nowadays.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!