Sunday 24 October 2021

Reconnecting a lost branch to the family tree: James Byrne

Periodically, I revisit each line of my family tree in turn to examine any documents released since my last round of research. This time, while checking my maternal third great-grandparents Francis Byrne and Jane Daly, I discovered a new branch on my family tree.

Francis and Jane married in Dublin city on 11 October 1846 and had five known children:


Birth date

Death date

Spouse, marriage year
Francis Byrne
Bef. c. 1850
19 Dec 1912
Margaret McGrane, 1871
Hannah Byrne
Oct 1852
3 Apr 1926
John Comiskey, 1869
Charles Byrne
c. 1858
19 Nov 1888
Mary McCarthy, 1878
Jane Byrne
c. 1860
24 Jan 1887
William Cunningham, 1878
Catherine Byrne
4 Jan 1861
1 Jan 1930
Charles Carroll, 1920

Over the last few years additional Irish death records have been released online, including those of Charles Byrne and his sister Jane (Byrne) Cunningham.[1] Sadly, both of them caught phthisis (tuberculosis) and died young, but interestingly, Charles' death was registered by his brother - a new-to-me brother - James Byrne.

Death of Charles Byrne, Irishtown Road, Dublin, 1888

Subsequent searches showed James Byrne of 12 Upper Jane Place, the son of Francis Byrne, married Ellen Sweeney in St Laurence O'Toole's church, on 2 October 1885.[2] Their son James was born on 8 September 1887, followed by daughter Julia on 16 November 1890, son Francis on 12 July 1892 and daughter Ellen Mary on 12 August 1894.[3] They were all together at 16 Brighton Terrace, Ringsend, in 1911, along with Charles' children Edward and Ellen.[4]

Household of James Byrne, Brighton Terrace, Dublin, 1911

James, who was born about 1851, worked as a glass bottle maker. Charles had been a bottle blower. I'm not sure what the difference was between a bottle maker and a bottle blower, though obviously the blowers were the ones who shaped the molten glass into bottles. I suspect the bottle maker was the boss.

Charles and James settled in Ringsend, on the other side of the River Liffey to Jane Place, where their mother and brother Francis, my direct line, lived. Ringsend was known for its bottle factories.

The Byrnes had known ties to Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire), further south along the coast, but perhaps they had a prior connection to Ringsend too. Records for St Mary's, Star of the Sea, the church serving the area, were not captured as part of the National Library's Catholic Parish Registers, so it could explain why so few baptism records for the family were found.

Like all specialist trades, sons followed fathers, and it would have been nigh on impossible for an outsider to get an apprenticeship as a bottle blower. So the question is, who got the Byrne boys in? Their father Francis Byrne, who was dead by 1869, was a stoker or fireman. I always suspected he worked in the engine room of a steamship, but maybe not.

This discovery presents a number of new clues. And it shows, even when you think you've found all there is to find, there may be something new waiting to be discovered. 

Granny's relationship with James and Charles Byrne

  1. Copy death register, Jane Cunningham, Dublin North, 1887, Group Registration ID 6873739; Copy death register, Charles Byrne, Dublin South, 1888, Group Registration ID 7051208;
  2. Copy marriage register, James Byrne & Ellen Sweeney, Dublin North, Group Registration ID 2344539,
  3. Copy birth registers, Dublin South: James Byrne, 1887, Group Registration ID 11893293; Julia Byrne, 1890, Group Registration ID 9536729; Francis Byrne, 1892, Group Registration ID 9342758 & Ellen Mary 1894, Group Registration ID 11441412,
  4. Byrne household, 16 Brighton Terrace, Pembroke West, Dublin, 1911 Census, National Archives of Ireland.


  1. Congratulations! Don't you love those surprises?

  2. Thanks Ellie, yes, agree, the surprises are what keeps me going :-))


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!