Sunday, 7 March 2021

Two newly discovered granduncles - two little dotes

It always gives me great pleasure to rediscover the long-forgotten infants of the family, the ones who died way too young. This was a good week for that. In preparation for my A-Z Challenge in April, while searching for my great-grandfather’s funeral notice, I instead came across these previously unseen birth announcements for two of his children.

Cork Examiner, 4 November 1886, p. 1

O'NEILL - October 27th, at 60, Irishtown road, Dublin, the wife of Charles F. O'Neill, of a daughter.

The first relates to Teresa Annie O'Neill, my Dad's Aunt Tess, who we already know was born on 27 October 1886, in Irishtown Road. She married Richard Greer on 5 August 1928. They had no children together and Teresa died on 1 August 1951.

However, the second birth announcement was for an unidentified son.

Freeman's Journal, 15 January 1889, p. 1

O'NEILL - At 27 Bath avenue, Beggarsbush, Dublin, the wife of Charles F. O'Neill of a son.

His birth register shows Daniel Charles O'Neill was born on 9 January 1889, to Charles Francis O'Neill and Mary Anne Merrins. Charles worked as a clerk, like my great-grandfather, but my great-grandmother's name was Mary Agnes Donovan - not Mary Anne Merrins. It was presumably an error, right?

To confirm, I found his baptism register. And, when Daniel Carolus (Latin for Daniel Charles) was baptised on 21 January 1889, his mother's name was given as Mariae Donovan, which was more in line with my truth. Ellen Day, the mid-wife who registered his birth, similarly made a mistake registering the birth of my grandaunt Johanna O'Neill in 1892, then saying Mary Agnes' maiden name was Donaldson, not Donovan. Obviously, Ellen Day wasn't good with names.

Daniel Charles O'Neill, my newly discovered granduncle, the son of a solicitor's clerk, died of 'measles pneumonia' on 10 January 1890, aged one year and one day. His father registered his death. I'm delighted to now include him in our family tree, so he won't be forgotten again.

Then, I found a baptism dated 10 November 1890 for Franciscus P. (Latin for Francis P.) O'Neill of the same address, 27 Bath Avenue. He was said to have been born on 31 October 1890, to Caroli O'Neill and Mariae Donohoe - again not Donovan - and presumably yet another error. What is it about Mary Agnes's name that makes it so difficult to remember?

Francis's Godmother was Francesca Rice. I've no idea if she was related to my family, or just a neighbour bringing the child down to be baptised. Maybe she had forgotten Mary Agnes's maiden name by the time she got to the church.

But when Ellen Day registered Francis's birth, she agreed with all aspects of the baptism record, apart from his mother's maiden name. She named Francis Patrick O'Neill as the son of my great-grandparents, Charles Francis O'Neill, a clerk, and Mary Agnes Donovan, getting the name right on this occasion. So Francis Patrick O'Neill was also my granduncle.

Sadly, he died of bronchitis at home barely two months later, on 3 January 1891. His mother registered his death. He passed away one week before his brother Daniel Charles - not a great start to 1891 for my O'Neill family. Still, now we can honour little Francis's memory too.

On another note, my great-grandfather, Charles Francis O'Neill, is my biggest, longest-standing genealogy brick-wall. I wonder if Teresa Annie's birth announcement in a Co. Cork newspaper offers any hint as to his origins? 

  1. Newspapers online at $ Irish Newspaper Archives.
  2. Copy birth register, Daniel Charles O'Neill, 1889, Group Registration ID 10473018, Civil records,
  3. Baptism register, Daniel Carolus O'Neill, 1889, St Mary's Haddington Road, Church records,
  4. Copy death register, Daniel Charles O'Neill, 1891, Group Registration ID 6666307, Civil records,
  5. Copy birth register, Francis Patrick O'Neill, 1890, Group Registration ID 10380081, Civil records,
  6. Baptism register, Franciscus P. O'Neill, 1890, St Mary's Haddington Road, Church records,
  7. Copy death register, Francis Patrick O'Neill, 1891, Group Registration ID 3698883, Civil records,


  1. I call these the "Forgotten Ones." They are the reason I look for all children of a couple even if they were stillborn or died in infancy. Family trees that ignore these children annoy me as they are disregarding important events in the family's timeline. Wonderful finds, Dara.

    1. I agree Cathy, it's good we can remember and talk about them now. In our past, it was not acceptable to speak of / dwell on the infants that died.

  2. It is heart-warming that you are discovering and memorializing these ancestors who died way too young. They will not be forgotten!

  3. What a fabulous idea for this challenge. My problem would be that many of my ancestors' grave are unmarked.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!