Last year was our 80th anniversary and we launched a story writing project to collect your stories of favourite Irish born ancestors. Throughout the year, we heard tales from all over the world describing the colourful lives of men and women across the last 300 years.
Some sought new lives in new worlds, perhaps fleeing the Great Hunger or just seeking new adventures. Some stayed in Ireland and worked the land. Several became soldiers, fighting for causes foreign and domestic. Some had interesting professions that allowed them to establish successful businesses abroad. Women had stories to tell that were sometimes heart-breaking but often uplifting, with several becoming matriarchs of large extended families. Some stories gave a very personal view of important world events, particularly those that shook the world in the first half of the 20th century.
We have taken these themes as our inspiration for chapters and have completed the publication of the archive with the updated links below. Be sure to take a look at the stories in our “And Finally…” section that didn’t quite fit into these chapters or perhaps strictly adhere to the rules of submission but we felt were too good not to include.
Who knows, you may find a missing branch of your own family tree or be inspired to hunt further afield for missing ancestors? Or perhaps these very personal stories will help you imagine what your ancestors’ lives might have been like day to day as they lived alongside these people as neighbours or fellow soldiers or colleagues?
If you think that some of the people in these stories might be connected to your own family history, then please get in touch with the Society via our Contact Form and be sure to mark your subject as “80th Archive Contact” and we will contact the author with your request for information.
Finally, a big thank you to IGRS Council member Ruth Mathewson who ran this project for the Society.
20th Century Lives
Ned Keogh (1898-1957) by Helen Byrne, Ireland Irish Republican
Annie Molloy (1884-1953) by Claire Melvin, UK Wife of a Russian oil magnate
Annie Kerr (1905-1942) by Claire Melvin, UK Nun in WW2 Malta
Patrick O’Donnell (1887-1973) by Marilyn Cropley, USA Early 20th Century US emigrant
Mary Stack (1889-1987) by Kathleen Banks, USA WW1 “GI” Bride
Dr Hugh Flack (1903-1975) by Angus Martin, Australia Doctor in India and South Africa
William Robert Rangecroft (1910-1993) by Angus Martin, Australia South African Shopkeeper
Cornelius J. Harrington (1802-1878) by Maureen Dwyer, USA Ice–cream maker
James McGuire (1804-1874) by Wendy McGuire, USA Umbrella maker
Eyre John Powell (c.1812-?) by Lorian Edwards, UK Scottish policeman
Joseph Perry Price (1824-1874) by Kendrick Price Daggett, USA Wheelwright and Actor
Delia (Teevan) Lewis (1860-1932) by Gail Gruetzman, USA Successful milliner
William Henry Fitton (1780-1861) by Richard Marston Crabbe, Canada Geologist and Doctor
Rev. Charles Gayer (1804-1848) by Anthea Mitchell, Australia Church of Ireland Minister
Michael O’Sullivan (1838-1889) by Patricia Candler, UK Tinsmith and Zulu War soldier
Daniel J Dwyer (1850-1943) by Richard F Kunz, USA Master Mason and Montana Mayor
Moses A Boggan (1859-1950) by J P Marthia, USA Ship’s Captain on the Great Lakes
Dennis Manning (1798-1859) by Peter Manning, UK Royal Navy Greenwich Pensioner
James Guerins (c.1859-1919) by Claire Bradley, Ireland Victorian Irish soldier
(A word of warning, this story contains a photograph you might find upsetting)
John McHugh (1820-1889) by Susan Rock, USA US Civil War soldier
Robert Bruton (1823-1865) by Jeanne Rollberg, USA US Civil War soldier
New World, New Lives
Thomas Sadler (c.1790-1857) by Warren Sadler, Canada Blacksmith and early emigrant to Canada
Patrick Coffey (1794-1863) by John Coffey, Canada Early emigrant to Canada
John Dorsey or Darcy (1828-1904) by Joseph Dorsey, USA Texan pioneer and Civil War soldier
William McNaughton (1780-1857) by Louise Benson Griffin, USA Settler in French Canada
Joseph Cochrane (1823-1875) by Wanda Hopkins, Australia Fought in the Maori Wars
Jane Clement (1839-1918) by Barbara Holt, New Zealand New Zealand matriarch
Terence Ahern (1845-1904) by Robert Frewen, Ireland Former Cork butcher in Australia
Phillip O’Reilly (c.1856-1947) by Teresa O’Reilly, New Zealand Not quite a centenarian
Women Surviving and Thriving
Jane (Lloyd) Bonynge (c.1812-1886) by Susan Strange, USA A marriage promise broken
Elizabeth Little (1832-1898) by Beth Golden, USA A letter sent across the years
Rose Switzer (1835-1920) by Jill Thomas, Australia “Inheriting” a sister’s beau
Ann Campton (1790-1863) by Taylor Wright, USA Pioneering in the American south
Abigail Lowe (1832-1896) by Diane Granger, Canada A tangled matrimonial tale
Rachel Castles (1834-1914) by Ruth Mathewson, UK From Wicklow to Leicester via Bengal
Rachel Mary Gilmore (1855-1930) by Alison Kilpatrick, Canada The Irish wash lady
Elizabeth Scott (1872-1964) by Pattie Morgan, USA Oregon bound
Annie Love (c. 1830’s-1897) by Vanessa Kiessling, Australia Transportation to Tasmania
Tales of the Famine and Working the Irish land
Bartholomew Corry (1811-1865) by Anne Herdman Martin, UK Poor Law Guardian
Samuel Henry Wood (1862-1897) by Alison Carter, UK Romantic gamekeeper
James Eagan (1795-1880) by Thomas Eagan, USA Farming through the Famine
Henry Hutton Maddock (1821-1905) by Hilary Jarvis, Canada Isle of Man connections
John Barry (1824-1900) by James Barry, USA From Cork to Pittsburgh
William Diver (1864-1943) by Aiden Hodson, Ireland Farming in Co. Donegal
And Finally …!
This last group of stories don’t neatly fit into the themes above but we felt were worthy of inclusion for the following reasons;
Christopher Elliott (1809-1859) by Roz McCutcheon This man’s story – the Seventh Son – was the original inspiration for the 80th Anniversary Archive project from one of our Vice-Presidents.
Christmas Weekes (1756-1828) by Julie Retallick, Australia This man has not only the most wonderful moniker but his is also a tale of extraordinary philanthropism. Incidentally Rose Switzer who features in the Women chapter is this man’s grand-daughter.
Dominick O’Kane (1866-1944) by Timothy Kane, USA “Of Kittens and Biscuits” This is the Project Editor’s pick as strictly speaking Dominick was not Irish-born but he was most definitely of Irish lineage. And of course the feline related joke made us laugh!
The Red Letter that was Read by Andrew Galwey, UK This is another one that didn’t fit the rules but made us laugh too and is our Chairman’s pick – you will never throw away misdirected mail ever again!
***(A word of warning, this story contains a photograph that you might find upsetting.)
All views, opinions and statements made are those of the individual writers and are not necessarily shared by the IGRS.