Thursday, April 15, 2021

My Maternal Great-Grandparents Richard Cullen and Anne McCann #Census1901

The fourth and last installment of my quick review of Census data from 1901 relating to my great grandparents features Richard Cullen and Anne McCann - both from Co Wexford. They were married on 12th November 1905 in St James' Street in Dublin. Luckily, I do have photos of both of them - I think they both look very glamorous in the photos below - especially my great-granny Anne.

Richard Cullen (1870 - 1940) 

Richard proved hard to find in the Census. He was from Wexford Street in Gorey, but is not listed in the Cullen family which still lived there in 1901. He was 30 years old at the time of this census - clearly he had moved out. We know he was a plasterer by trade and that he had moved to Dublin. By the 1911 census he lived in Ivar St in Arbour Hill. In a search I found a "Richard Cullen" who was a "Boarder" at a house in Merchant's Quay in Dublin (Residents of a house 18 in Cornmarket (Part) (Merchants Quay, Dublin). His occupation is listed as "Plasterer", and that he was originally from "Co Wexford". However, some doubt arises in that his age is given as 29. As he did not fill the census form out himself, it may be that his landlord guessed his age or didn't bother with accuracy. Nevertheless, I can be reasonably sure this is my fourth great-grandfather in the 1901 census.

Anne McCann (1874 - 1952)

Anne McCann grew up in Kilnahue, near Gorey in Co Wexford. Unfortunately, she is the only one of my eight great-grandparents that is not recorded in the 1901 census in Ireland. In the 1905 marriage registration her address is given as 13 Gambier Terrace in Liverpool, England. Clearly she had moved to Liverpool for work. Unlike in Ireland, access to the 1901 census records in England is not free.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

My Maternal Great Grandparents James Byrne and Margaret Coburn #Census1901

Continuing my research into the 1901 Census, today I am focussing on my mother's side of the family. Her surname was Byrne, but as many before me have found - names have been spelled differently in the past. In the 1911 census, the family record featuring my grandfather Paddy Byrne was "Burns". In the 1901 census, James Byrne and Margaret Coburn are listed as Residents of a house 4 in Ballincor (Redwood, Tipperary) - he was a "Farm Servant" and she was a "Domestic Servant". In this record his surname is given as "Byrne". James married Margaret on 29th January 1903 - their marriage registration shows the surname "Byrne".

The 1901 census form shows that my Byrne/Burns great-grandparents were working as servants on a farm. James is listed as "Can Read", and Margaret is listed as "Cannot Read" - neither are listed as being able to write. Perhaps this might explain some confusion over the spelling of their names. It should also be noted that the census form was probably filled out by the Head of Household Denis Maher, and he may not have checked the spelling of James' surname with him. According to the Enumerator's Return Form, the house they lived in had a thatched roof with either 2, 3, or 4 rooms. With 10 people in the house it must have been very crowded. Though there is no evidence of this, I would not be surprised if some or all of the male servants lived in sheds or farm buildings.

The confusion over the surnames Byrne and Burns has made further research about this side of the family difficult. For example, within the family we know that James Byrne served in the British army from the beginning to the end of the first world war. He most likely enlisted in the Leinster regiment in Birr, Co Offaly - but there is no record of his service. I have never seen a photograph of either of these great-grandparents, though I expect they do exist. My great-grandmother Margaret Byrne lived until 1965 - I remember my mother visiting her in hospital, but little boys were not allowed on the ward. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

My Paternal Great-Grandparents Thomas Hurley and Bridget Murphy #Census1901

For the 1901 Census, my paternal great-grandparents Thomas and Bridget Hurley were already married and had four young children. They were Residents of a house 74 in Newmarket (Newmarket, Cork), which was on Church Street in Newmarket. Thomas was the local Creamery Manager, while Bridget ran a small shop in the ground floor of their house. 

On the census enumerator's House and Building Return form, their house is described as a "Shop" and has a "1st" class rating with a score of "12". This figure was based on adding up scores for number of walls (1), number of roofs (1), number of rooms (4), and number of windows at the front (6). 

In the family listed below, their son Charles became a priest, Tim became a doctor (and moved to Wales), Hannah became a nun (Sr Bridget), and Pat never married.

This is Thomas Hurley's signature:

Monday, April 12, 2021

My Paternal Great-Grandparents Joseph O'Loughlin and Julia Murphy #Census1901

Following on from my recent post about the 1911 census which featured three of my Grandparents, I knew that in my Ancestry family tree that I did not have all census details for my eight Great-grandparents - so I decided to see if I could find them at the National Archives. Here are two of my paternal great-grandparents:

Joseph O'Loughlin (1864-1916)

The common (and annoying) practice of dropping the "O" and the apostrophe from surnames made finding Joseph a little difficult. By the 1911 Census he had been widowed twice and did not marry again. In the 1901 census I found him under the surname "Loughlin". I already knew that he was born on 10th April 1864 in Tureenclassagh in North-west Co. Cork. I found a "Joseph Loughlin" living on his own in house 11 in Tooreenclassagh (Williamstown, Cork). The writing is identical to that on the 1911 Census. However, I am only 99% certain that this is my Great-grandfather - his age given in 1901 is 32, but he is 46 in the 1911 (which would be correct based on his date of birth). Did he lie about his age on the 1901 census? He later moved to Barnacurra (about 20 kms away) where he lived in 1911. Here are his details from the 1901 Census:

Here is his signature from the 1901 Census form:

Curiously, in the 1911 census form, while he filled the form out - he did not sign it. It is signed by the Enumerator (Thomas Brien) - who added other bits to the form which was obviously not completed correctly by Joseph.

Julia Mary Murphy (1876 - 1907)

My great-grandmother Julia Murphy was from Lisrobin (about 6 kms from Tooreenclassagh). As she died in 1907, she is obviously not listed on the 1911 Census. But I found her in the 1901 census living as Residents of a house 1 in Lisrobin West (Meens, Cork). She married my great-grandfather on 16th February 1904. She came from a very big family - she was the fourth youngest of the 14 children of Daniel and Mary Murphy. She was just 31 years old when she died. Here are her details from the 1901 Census:

Trivia: it is through Julia's mother Mary (née Finucane) that I am related to the late broadcaster Marian Finucane - she is my 2nd cousin x2 removed!

Monday, April 05, 2021

50 "How To... Programme in R" Videos

Today marks the publication of the 50th video in my "How To... Programme in R" series - I have been posting videos every week day since the launch in mid-January. I don't know how many more I will do, but I estimate that I am about half-way through my former "Programming for Big Data" module that I used to teach in NCI. The 50th video is about how to reference data in a matrix:

Unfortunately, so far the series hasn't really taken off. To date, the How to... Programme in R series has garnered just 3,845 views for all 50 videos. In contrast, my most popular single video How To... Perform Simple Linear Regression by Hand achieved 46,600 views during the same period. I do expect that when I create videos about performing statistical tests later in the series that the view count will go up. I also would like to be able to figure out how to group the videos into lessons without having to re-record. The 50 videos that I have created equate to six out of 12 classes that were in my module. I did not intend that I would create a full course - there's too much competition for that, but it might me a nice option to have.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Census Data 1901/1911

Wednesday was the 120th and 110th anniversaries of the 1901 census and 1911 census respectively. For anyone who has searched through their family histories they are a mine of information, and a fascinating look back in our history. It is also interesting for me and others of my age in that they were taken at the time when my grandparents were small children. My maternal grandmother Kathleen Cullen was born on the 14th April 1911, so missed out by two weeks on being recorded for posterity. However, both my grandfathers and my maternal grandmother were recorded.

Patrick (Burns) Byrne

My maternal grandfather Paddy Byrne was born on 20th July 1905 and was 5 years old for the 1911 census. His record was difficult to find due to the spelling of his surname. His father (James) spelled the surname with "Burns", which became "Byrne" in the 1920s. The record is located at Residents of a house 17 in Ballyquirk (Lorrha West, Tipperary)

PJ O'Loughlin

My paternal grandfather was born on 22nd December 1904 and was six years old for the 1911 census - he was an only child. His first name is recorded as "Pattie", and the surname is spelled "Loughlin" instead of "O'Loughlin". His mother Bridget had died in 1906. Note also that there is a cousin "Eugene" listed. The record is located at Residents of a house 3 in Barnacurra (Barnacurra, Cork).

Kathleen Hurley

My maternal grandmother was born on 28th August 1903 and was seven years old by the time of the 1911 census. Interestingly, her first name is recorded as "Katty". This family was originally hard to find, but one of my cousins living in Newmarket found a "Hurby" family recorded and sent me the link. The hand writing on the original census form is difficult to make out, but this "Hurby" family names, age, and location matched my grandmother's family, so I reported the error in the surname and it was corrected within a few weeks. The record is located at Residents of a house 2 in Church Street (Newmarket, Cork).

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Happy 90th Birthday Dad!

For the month of March I have been taking a break from blogging, but I cannot let the month go by without paying tribute to my wonderful Dad Joe who is 90 years young today. Born on 31st March 1931 in Dublin, he has lived all his life near Carnew: first in Tomacork before moving to Ballingate in 1960. Despite the Lockdown, he is keeping in great spirits and has not lost his sense of humour or love of music and singing. What a pity we cannot celebrate with a big party - no doubt we will be able to get together as a family later in the year.

Here are some photos of Dad over the years:

Tomacork, c1933.

With sister Breda, and brother Pat.

Joe, Breda, Pat, Charlie, Mary, and Eileen O'Loughlin ( Tomacork, early 1950s).

Mid 1950s.

The Mikado - Gorey Musical Society 1956. Dad at centre of front row
(and Mum 3rd lady from left in second row).

Joe and Phil Engagement, 1957.

On FCA parade for the Séamus Wrafter monument unveiling in Enniscorthy, 14th Sept 1958.
Dad is under the letter "J" on the shop sign.

22nd October, 1958.

On stage with the late Pat Sheppard (HMS Pinafore).

O'Loughlin family gathering in Ballingate (1977).

Dad with grand-daughter Claire - new Oak Tree plantation, Ballingate (1995).

40th Wedding Anniversary (1998).

75th Birthday Party (2006).
With Joseph, Brian, Kathleen, Eugene, and Phil O'Loughlin.

With Mum and the late Pat Sheppard (2007).

The Farmer's Journal, 10th December, 2016.

Three Joe O'Loughlins! (2011)

Still working - 1st March 2021

Dad and I in the yard at Ballingate (1st March 2021)

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Disconnecting Blog from Linkedin and Twitter #ImRetired

For several years I have been using the platform to automatically post all my blog posts to both Linkedin and Twitter. This was both to keep up some traffic on Linkedin and Twitter, and to save manually posting anything I wrote. Even though several of my posts over the years were not really suitable for a professional network like Linkedin (eg posts about family, and bells!), I felt that I had enough writings about education, video, data analysis, books, etc, to justify the automatic reposting.

As a retired person I feel I no longer need to keep up with everything on Linkedin. I am fed up of getting messages about recruitment, even though my status is "Retired". I am becoming less and less interested in posts from others, though I still love to see postings by former students announcing promotions and new jobs. I am not leaving Linkedin and Twitter altogether - I'm just not auto-posting any more starting March 1st. I can manually repost anything if I think it is suitable. I don't use Twitter that much, but I have found it handy for technical support and am keeping it for that purpose only.

Does a retired person need Linkedin? Comments welcome!

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Sound of the Ballingate Bell

A newspaper article about a bell is of course lacking one major aspect of the story - sound. My "Ballingate bell calling the faithful in Zambia" story is about the quest to find the bell nearly 60 years after it left Ireland. But I also wanted to hear it!

Shortly after photographs and other evidence from the Franciscan Missionaries in Zambia helped us to trace the bell to a church in Malengwa, my Franciscan contact there Br Owen Mwene, made a short video. Several of his colleagues surrounded the bell as many were interested in the story of where the bell came from. I was delighted to hear the bell for the first time. It sounds just like any other bell, but after the long quest to find it I felt a strong attachment to it. 

There's quite a bit of wind noise in the video. It was my original intention to try and make a documentary of this story. One idea I had was to actually go to Malengwa to see and ring the bell for myself. I planned to collect recordings, I already have some of my father telling the original story, a neighbour recounting hearing the bell and what it was used for, and a retired friar telling me about life in Zambia (all done on my Google Pixel 3a phone). Once I realised that a documentary was not going to happen, I got the story published in The Wicklow People instead.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Bell Manufacturing in Ireland

The Ballingate Bell, now ringing in Malengwa in Western Zambia, was manufactured in the Murphy Bell Foundry in Dublin in 1889. This foundry was based at 15 Thomas Street - it is long gone and is now a car park according to Google Maps. According to the June 2002 edition of "The Ringing World" journal, John Murphy and his son John J. Murphy made bells for churches and cathedrals all over the world. Here's an extract from the article:

Rings of bells by Murphy included those for Melbourne in Australia, St Thomas the Apostle in Douglas in the Isle of Man, St Mary's RC cathedral in Cork, the fine-spired Church of the Immaculate Conception in Wexford, Mount St Alphonsus' Monastery in Limerick, Thurles cathedral in Co Tipperary, St Nicholas' in Cork and Ss Augustine and John in Dublin.

Murphy bells were also "awarded prizes at the Dublin and London Exhibitions and First Prize in 1900 at the Paris Exhibition".
The Ballingate Bell.

There were other bell foundries in Dublin including the Eagle Foundry run by James Sheridan in Church Street, and a bell foundry run by Thomas Hodges in Sackville Street (now O'Connell Street) before moving to nearby Middle Abbey Street. Clearly the church building boom of the late 19th and early 20th century fuelled the need for local manufacturing. In a time before telephones of any type, bells were also used as a form of communication. I recall visiting my Aunt Sr. Bridget in the Loreto Convent in Bray - straight after arriving a bell would ring out to signal to her that she had visitors. There were two rings, then a short pause, and then four rings - her number was 24.

Bells on top of houses were not uncommon, and many still exist today, though are no longer in use. Not far from Ballingate there are two bells located on what was the Coolattin Estate. On the roof of Coolattin House you can clearly see a bell when walking from the 16th to 17th tees in the adjoining golf course. Not far away on the road to Shillelagh there is another bell on what was the Building Yard. I'm sure there are many more around the country.

Coolattin House.

Close up of bell on Coolattin House.

The Building Yard bell.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

My great-grandfather Thomas Hurley 100th Anniversary

In this time of centenaries in Ireland, there are of course many smaller and minor centenaries that every family will have. Today, 20th February 2021, is the 100th anniversary of the death of my great-grandfather Thomas Hurley. He was just 54 years old.  His wife Bridget had died in 1916, leaving him with a family of six - including my grandmother Kathleen. He died in The Mercy Hospital in Cork due to septicemia as a result of a cut in his finger.  

Thomas Hurley was a Creamery Manager and lived in Newmarket, Co Cork. The house in Church Street (see photo below taken in 2008) where he lived was demolished in recent years. I can't tell for certain, but the modern day Kerry Foods Newmarket Cooperative Creameries Ltd premises is located right behind where this house stood. My Dad tells me that Bridget Hurley ran a small shop from their house.

Thomas and Bridget Hurley.
Death registration of Thomas Hurley. Source: Irish Genealogy.

At the graveside of Thomas and Bridget Hurley (2008).
Clonfert Cemetery, Newmarket, Co Cork.
Old Hurley House (2008), Church Street,
 Newmarket, Co Cork.

The family photos shown here were probably taken around 1910. My grandmother, Kathleen, was born in 1903 - so I'm guessing that she is about seven years old in the photo below. While very serious looking, I think you can tell that Thomas and Mary are very proud of their family. You can imagine the excitement of getting dressed up for the photography studio, and waiting probably a week or more for the photos to be developed and delivered. Another noticeable thing is Thomas's lack of hair - a gene which he unfortunately passed on to his great-grandson! In this family Charles went on to be a priest in Dublin. Tim became a doctor and moved to Wales where he practiced medicine. Hannah joined the Loreto Nuns. Eileen ("Mrs D" to us) married Joseph Dwyer in 1934, but was widowed shortly afterwards - she never married again and had no family. Pat never married. And Kathleen married PJ O'Loughlin (also from Newmarket) on 23 January 1930 - they moved to Tomacork just outside Carnew in Co Wicklow, and had six children (including my Dad Joe).

Thomas and Bridget Hurley with their six children.
Back row left-to-right: Charles, Hannah Mary, and Tim.
Front row left-to-right: Eileen, Pat, and Kathleen.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Relatives in the Missions

Two Murphy brothers from Newmarket in Co Cork, Patrick and Edward, joined the Franciscans in 1939 and 1946 respectively. I am related to them via my paternal great-grandmother Julia Murphy who is a sister of their father (Edmond). Two of their sisters joined the nuns in St Mary of the Isles in Cork. Patrick took the name "Hugh" and was ordained a priest on 5th June 1947. He went on the missions in December of that year and stayed there for the rest of his life. He died in 1990. Edward took the name "Theophilus" and was ordained a priest on 23rd May 1954 - he also went to Zambia in 1954. He retired to Cork, but died shortly afterwards in 2006. Fr Theophilus was the central character in my Ballingate Bell story.

I am fascinated by the faith and dedication of these two men who left everything behind in Ireland. The Murphy family was a very big one - their father Edmond was one of 14 children. Even though they had each other in Zambia, it must have been difficult to be parted from family and friends. Of course, in the 1940s and 1950s, the seminaries were full in Ireland. In 1956, there were 5,489 priests in Ireland - that's one for 593 Catholics (Newman, 1958*). 

Below are some photos that I came across during research for the Ballingate Bell story. I feel that these men could very soon be forgotten as the generations pass. All of the photos below were taken in Zambia and reproduced here courtesy of the Capuchin Archives. Two other people of note in the photos are Br Crispin Brennan, who was also a central character in the Ballingate Bell story, and a young Kenneth Kaunda who would go on to be the President of Zambia from 1964 to 1991.

Fr Hugh (left) & Fr Theophilus (right) with Br. Godfrey Sinvula (centre), in Senanga 1970s. 

Fr Theophilus (standing at left) and Br Crispin Brennan (seated mid-right).

Silver Jubilee of Br. Albert Hayes, in Maramba Livingstone, 13th May 1959, with Bishop T.P. O’Shea Top left:  Hugh and top right: Theophilus. On left of Theophilus is Br. Ronan Herlihy (from Castleisland). In the Middle row, far right: Br. Crispin Brennan from Carnew.

Fr Theophilus (second left) with the then future President of Zambia Kenneth Kaunda (centre).

* Newman, J. (1958). Priestly Vocations in Ireland. The Furrow, 9(11), 710-721. Retrieved February 19, 2021, from

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Mission Bells in Zambia

While searching for the Ballingate Bell in Zambia, we came across three other bells that were discounted as being the Ballingate Bell for a variety of reasons. 

We established from the Capuchin Archives that my cousin Fr Theophilus Murphy was based in Mangango (Western Zambia) from 1962 to 1968, but that the Ballingate Bell was not there. Theophilus was based in Sichili from 1954 to 1961 - the bell here is mentioned in my Wicklow People article, but no photos were displayed. We discounted this bell as it is stamped with the date 1959. Interestingly, a crest on the bell indicates that it was manufactured in Saarlouis in Germany, and I wondered how it ended up in Zambia - it surely had its own story to tell.

The Sichili Bell

A second bell was located in Lukulu, where Fr Theophilus was based from 1968 to 1973. We ruled this bell out as well because of its colour, size, and shape. It turned out to have been manufactured by Rudolf Perner in what was then Czechoslovakia. Perner was a famous bell maker who specialized in bells for West Africa. It is not the Ballingate Bell, but I wonder how did it too end up in Zambia? 

The Lukulu Bell

A third bell was found hanging from a tree in Lumulunga – it was clearly stamped with the word “Zealandia” and the date “1875”. Though a possibility, we ruled it out due to its very wide shape. This bell is almost certainly to be from the SS Zealandia which was a ship built in Glasgow in 1875, but that ran aground in 1917 near Liverpool. It was carrying a cargo of mugs, sheep, and treacle. Again, I wondered how the ship’s bell ended up in Zambia, and what story this and the other bells could tell if they talked.

The Lumulunga Bell

I'm sure that there are many other bells in Zambia and other countries where missionaries worked and who brought what they could from home. It would be an interesting study to find them all and track down their original locations and how they made the long journey to their current location. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Ballingate bell calling the faithful in Zambia via @WicklowPeople

Thanks to the Wicklow People, my story about The Ballingate Bell is now available on-line for all to read. So if you did not get your hands on a paper copy of The Wicklow People, you can read it here: 

Several photos from the print edition, are not posted, but I will be sharing these and more detail about the bell here over the next week or so.

Please share!