Our Connaughton Relatives Who Stayed in Ireland

This is the third in a series of posts about my family history.
One goal of our recent trip to Ireland was to find out what happened to our Connaughton relatives who stayed when Honorah Connaughton left Bookala in the early 1870s. Honorah’s son, Richard Joseph Dillon, was my great grandfather. Pictured below are my aunt, Mary Leonard, on the left, and my mother, Patty Crosby, in front of a house where Nora’s niece, Mary, and nephew, Michael, lived.

Mary Leonard met Mary and Michael Connaughton in the early 1970s when she and her husband, Tim, and son, Sean, visited Ireland. At the time, Mary Connaughton was pleased to have recently gotten electricity to the house, proudly showing off the wire clamped the front of the house and coming in through the front door. She and her brother, Michael, who shared the house, enjoyed listening to the radio. At the time, Mary cooked using a fireplace, fueled with peat from the bog. Michael farmed on a nearby plot.

Here’s a page from Mary Leonard’s photo album of that trip.

We were told that the home is now owned by a couple who live in England. They have made improvements on the property, including adding a bathroom on the back. The shed no longer has a thatched roof.

We know from church and census records that Honorah Connaughton lived in Bookala with her parents, Michael and Mary (nee Dillon) Connaughton, and five or six siblings. We would have to do more land research to determine whether they lived in the house pictured above. Honorah’s brother, John, married Katie Ryan on March 17, 1899, and they had two children, Mary and Michael. These are the siblings who were living in the pictured house when Mary Leonard went looking for Connaughtons in the 1970s. John and Katie Connaughton each lived to be 83 years old. Mary and Michael never married and had no children. Mary lived to age 85; Michael to age 76.

The rural road in front of the Connaughton family place reminded me of rural Mississippi where I grew up.

Before our trip to Ireland, we made arrangements to host a gathering of any Connaughtons who might be family. With help from the proprietor of Gleesons Townhouse, we spread the word to local people. They posted a flier, we took out an ad in the newspaper, and we announced the gathering at mass at St. Bride’s in Ballintuber.

In addition, Mr. Gleeson put us in touch with Mr. William Gacquin, the county historian in County Roscommon. When he came to our gathering, he brought a paper he had written in 2000 on the Connaughton family name. As of 1994-95, Connaughton was the 50th most popular name in County Roscommon.

However, it appears that in our line of Connaughtons, the name has died out in Ireland. Since we have only been able to trace Honorah’s descendants in the United States, we do not know of any Connaughton relatives in the U.S., either. In my grandfather’s generation, they were Dillons, Webers, and Middendorfs. In my mother’s, they became Crosbys, Weldes, Leonards, Dillons, Fishers, Sanfords and the Weber women’s husband’s names, and the Middendorf women’s husband’s names.

Back in Ireland, here’s what we know about Honorah’s other sibling who stayed, his children and theirs:

Patrick Connaughton, who appears to have been Honorah’s oldest brother, married in 1875, the same year his father, Michael, wrote to Honorah in Lowell, Mass., to thank her for sending money and reporting on the family’s condition and health. Patrick, a tailor aged 26, married Mary Gara, a dressmaker aged 23. They settled in Castleplunkett, where Mary Gara’s father farmed. Patrick lived to 96; Mary to 78. They had nine children: Mary Kate, Michael, Patrick, Thomas, Brigid, an unnamed baby daughter who lived three hours, Anna, Sarah, and Lizzie.

  1. By 1901, Mary Kate, age 25, was a teacher in the National Schools and lived in County Louth. Living with her were two of her younger sisters: Anna, 9 years younger, and Sarah, 11 years younger. We learned that Anna also became a teacher in the National Schools. In 1911, she was boarding with a Jacob family in Leixlip, County Kildare. She died in 1921 at age 26 of a burst appendix. Eilish Feeley, a genealogist with whom we worked, located a will indicating that Anna left 100 pounds to her father. This was a relatively large sum. We don’t know if she was very frugal and saved nearly all her earnings or whether the money was a death benefit from some kind of insurance.
  2. We also have a death record for a Sarah Connaughton in Louth; she died at 64 of Parkinson’s disease and is listed as a retired dressmaker. Her age at death does not seem to match our Sarah’s age.
  3. Michael, a tailor, married Kate Dufficey. They had no children. Michael lived to 83 and was listed as a farmer when he died.
  4. Thomas married Matilda McCormack. She died in childbirth with daughter Mamie. (A family story has it that Mamie went to live in Dublin with one of Thomas’ sisters. Maybe Mary Kate?) Thomas then married Bridget Harte. They had eight children: Thomas (known as Tommy Joe, he moved to US and applied for US citizenship in xxxx), Patrick (died without children), Elizabeth & Anne (twins who moved to the US around 1948; Elizabeth, known as Lilly, returned to Ireland in 1951. Anne married a James Dolan who was in the U.S. Army), John (died young), Micheal (married Mary Forkan, settled in Castleplunkett, farmed, had six daughters), James Desmond (died young), and Peter Gerald (lived most of his life in England; he and his wife died in Dunboyne, Ireland; they had no children).
  5. Brigid married Patrick Keane and they had two children: Joseph and Patrick. Brigid and Patrick had three grandchildren: Tony, Des (Milltown, Ireland) and Martin (Ballintubber).
  6. A census record also indicates that the youngest of Patrick and Mary’s children, Lizzie, was training to become a teacher. As I noted in a previous post, many of Honorah’s descendants who live in the United States are teachers. Several are also accomplished sewists.

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