Monday, August 25, 2014

Mappy Monday: On a map, the fortunes of an ancestor

In order to gain a better understanding about the lives of our ancestors, it is an interesting exercise to map out the homes in which they lived, as well as other places, such as hospitals and cemeteries, which are a part of their history. Such maps not only give you a good picture of the migratory patterns of your ancestors, but may even offer you some idea about how the family fared. Did they remain in Ireland, or did they travel to England or to Continental Europe for work? Did they begin life in a poor part of the town in which they lived, and end it in a wealthy neighbourhood? Did they emigrate away from Ireland to Australia, Canada, or the United States?

All of the family members in this post lived out their lives in Ireland. Some appear to have been given the benefit of good fortune, while others were given, at best, a middling serving of fortune's favour. Still others appear to have suffered, seemingly doomed by the Fates.

View The world of Patrick Geraghty & Margaret Toole Geraghty in a larger map

The lives of my paternal great-grandparents, Patrick Geraghty and Margaret Toole Geraghty, began in the west country of Ireland. Both were born just outside of Westport, County Mayo, in the village of Leckanvy (Lecanvey), near the shores of Clew Bay on the Atlantic Ocean. Following their marriage in March of 1885, and the birth of their first born son Thomas in April of 1886, Patrick and Margaret made their way east to make their life in Dublin. The map of the Geraghty homes in Dublin City very much speaks to Patrick's ambitions and rise in fortune. In 1887, they began their Dublin life in a poor area of the city, living in a tenement on Townsend Street, with Patrick working as a labourer. Between 1887 and 1895, they moved four times.

In 1895, their move to 6.5 Bow Bridge marked a great change in the family's means. Sometime between 1889 and 1895, Patrick's working life changed from that of a labourer to that of a 'car' driver (funeral corteges, hansom cabs, carriages, etc.), and by 1899 he owned his own car proprietorship. Both the family home and the business were housed at the same location. The business was a great success. Among his clientele Patrick counted Mr. Jameson of the famed distillery, as well as the controversial Lord Lieutenant French, Viceroy of Ireland. By the time of Patrick Geraghty's death in 1947, and that of his wife Margaret Toole Geraghty in 1948, they were 'independently wealthy', and had been living in one of the finest areas of Dublin. Patrick, Margaret, and other members of their family are interred in the family vault at Dean's Grange Cemetery in Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, Dublin. (Click on the map above for more detailed information about the sites in which they lived).

View The world of Anne Mary 'Annie' Magee Geraghty 1900-1953 in a larger map

As a member of Cumann na mBan, my paternal grandmother 'Annie' (Anne Mary 'Annie' Magee Geraghty) was working for the freedom of the entire island of Ireland; however, her own world was a relatively small one. Annie began life with her family in one room of a tenement house at 33 Upper Dorset Street, Dublin. The Magee family, which then numbered four, shared the house with four other families, including my great-grandfather Patrick Magee's sister Mary and brother Francis.

When Patrick Magee became a skilled craftsman — working as a scriber at Jameson's Distillery — the family fortunes began to change. Patrick's position enabled him to qualify as the tenant of a single family artisan's cottage in Stoneybatter. They were given lease on a cottage on Ostman Place, in which the family of four eventually grew to six. It was there that Annie's family was living during the Easter Rising, when her brother Michael fought as a Section Commander, under the leadership of Ned Daly in the Four Courts Battalion. It was from Ostman Place, during the War of Independence, that Annie joined Cumann na mBan, while her brother Michael was 2nd Lieutenant, 'A' Company, 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade (A.S.U.).

On 21 January 1921, it was at Ostman Place that Annie and her family learned that Michael had been wounded and captured, as British forces showed up at the cottage to ransack and search it. It was from there that Patrick Magee went to George V Hospital (St. Bricin's) that night for news of his son's condition. They learned from other sources that Michael had been mortally wounded; he died 22 January 1921. It was from the little cottage on Ostman Place that Patrick Magee went to the hospital each day to claim his son's body, until the British finally released the remains on the night of 25 January.

Sometime after Michael's death, and before Annie's 1928 marriage to John Geraghty, the family moved to a larger home on Murtagh Road. Annie's marriage first brought her to a house on Manor Street, just a few blocks away from her family's home. Later, Annie and John moved further away to a house on Leix Road in Cabra, Dublin. The last house in which Annie lived was on Kildare Road in Crumlin, Dublin. Annie is interred with her mother, father and elder brother Michael in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. Her husband John Geraghty is interred with his parents and other family members in the family vault at Dean's Grange Cemetery. (Click on the map above for more detailed information about the sites in which Annie lived).

View The world of Jane Early Ball 1852 - 1914 in a larger map

The map of the homes of my maternal great-grandmother, Jane Early Ball, speaks to the waves of change in fortune which affected her life. Jane spent her childhood living with her family in various homes in the Liberties area of Dublin, an area notorious in the 19th century for its poverty. The baptismal records of Jane and some of her fourteen siblings show that though the Early family stayed in generally the same area of Dublin, they moved many times. (For more details about Jane's life, see Jane & Teresa...A brief history of two sisters)

Marriage to a successful carpenter in the person of Francis Ball brought Jane to a life in a better area of Dublin, only a stone's throw away from the beautiful parkland of St. Stephen's Green. Fortune's wheel then brought major negative changes to her family life, with the death of two of her children and her husband's encroaching dementia.

On two occasions in 1907, Francis Ball was committed to the infirmary of the South Dublin Union  (SDU) workhouse to be treated for a disorder of the nerves. As Francis' death registration bears out, he was suffering from dementia. The family lost their home on Montague Street and moved into a tenement on Merchant's Quay — living with Jane's sister Teresa and her family — and then on to another tenement on Fishamble Street.

No longer able to cope with her husband's declining health, in January of 1908 Jane committed Francis to the infirmary at the SDU, where he died in July of 1909. At the end of her life in 1914, Jane Early Ball was living with her eldest surviving son in rooms on Mountjoy Street. Jane is interred in an unmarked grave at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. (Click on the map above for more detailed information about the sites in which Jane and her family lived.)

Have you mapped out the lives of your ancestors?

(Sections of this post originally appeared in 2012).
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