Saturday, 15 July 2017

Myles Joseph McGrane (1904-1977)

My third great grandparents, Myles McGrane and Margaret Doyle, had at least twelve children, seven of whom survived childhood and got married. Six had children of their own and all six named a son in honour of their father:

  • Myles Byrne (1873-1928), first son of Francis Byrne and Margaret McGrane (my great-granduncle);
  • Myles McGrane (1888-1892), first son of Francis McGrane and his first wife Margaret Byrne;
  • Myles Joseph McGrane (1904-1977), first son of Francis McGrane and his second wife Mary Fay;
  • Myles O’Daly (1882-1968), second son of Richard Daly and Sarah Jane McGrane;
  • Myles Jackson (1892-1897), fourth son of Benjamin Jackson and Mary Anne McGrane;
  • Myles McDonnell (1899-1918), second son of Peter McDonnell and Catherine McGrane;
  • Myles Vickers (1900-1970), second son of James Vickers and Alice McGrane.

In a previous post, I shared photographs of Myles Byrne and his wife Elizabeth, as displayed on their Memorial Card. And, Myles Vickers’ bizarre involvement in a court case in Dublin has also been discussed. So today, I’d like to tell you a little about Myles Joseph McGrane, the son of Francis McGrane with his second wife Mary Fay.

According to the register of his birth, Myles Joseph was born at 25 Lower Jane Place, Dublin, on 26 February 1904. He grew up in a large family of five older half-siblings, Elizabeth, Francis, Maggie, Maryanne and Thomas and two younger brothers, James and Michael. 

Still a boy, Myles took part in the Irish War of Independence. Some years ago, the medals awarded to him, for his part in the struggle, came up for sale at an auction in Dublin, and a photograph of them appeared in an online catalogue.

Black and Tan Medal, Survivors Medal,
‘Irish Independence’ medals awarded to Myles Joseph McGrane

  • In 1941, Myles was awarded the Service Medal 1917-21’ (first on the left), better known as the ‘Black and Tan medal’ due to the colour of the ribbon. Myles’ medal featured the additional ‘Comrac’ bar, indicating that, despite his youth, Myles was an armed member of the Old-IRA. The ‘Comrac’ bar was only added to the medals of those who actively participated in armed service, during the War of Independence. 
  • In 1971, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the War of Independence, the Department of Defence issued the ‘Truce Commemorative Medal’. This became better known as the Survivors Medal as it was issued to surviving veterans of the War of Independence, who had already received the Black and Tan medal. 
  • Myles was also awarded the ‘Na Fianna Eireann Golden Jubilee Medal’ (far right in the photograph), which was issued in 1959, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of The Fianna. The Fianna was an Irish nationalist youth organisation.

After Independence was granted, when Myles was just eighteen years old, he became a sergeant in the Irish Free State Army, thus siding with Michael Collins on the Treaty side of the Irish civil war.

Myles McGrane, Irish Army Census, 1922, Gormanston, Co. Meath
(Click on image to enlarge) 

He attested at Gormanston in Co. Meath in September 1922. He was stationed there, with the Second Eastern Division, when the Irish Army census was taken that November. He still lived with his parents at the time, at their home in Upper Oriel St, Dublin, and he named his mother, Mrs Mary McGrane, as his next-of-kin.

After the civil war, when things quietened down in Dublin, Myles became a motor driver. On 26 September 1928, he married Ellen (Nellie) Fairclough, from Clonliffe Gardens, Dublin and they raised their family at Ellenfield Road in Whitehall. Sadly, Myles and Nellie lost a seven-year-old son, Gerrard, to measles in June 1942.

Myles died, aged seventy-four years, on 28 June 1977. His wife died ten years later, on 26 February 1987. The couple share a grave at St Fintan’s Cemetery, in Sutton, Co. Dublin.

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© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Traditional Irish Naming Customs – a McGrane Case Study

Irish Naming Patterns

Families across Ireland often adhered to a specific naming convention when it came to choosing names for their children. These naming practices endured from at least the end of the eighteenth century until well into the twentieth century, and are often used by genealogists today, when searching for their ancestors' unknown lineages. In fact, traditional Irish naming customs are sometimes considered the place to start, especially if there’s little to go on.

Traditional Irish Naming Customs
First son named after his paternal grandfather
Second son named after his maternal grandfather
Third son named after his father
Fourth son named after his father's eldest brother
Fifth son named after his mother’s eldest brother

First daughter named after her maternal grandmother
Second daughter named after her paternal grandmother
Third daughter named after her mother
Fourth daughter named after her mother's eldest sister
Fifth daughter named after her father’s eldest sister

So, taking my McGrane family as an example, I thought I’d check out just how effective this tool may be.

My great-great-grandfather, Myles McGrane, was born in November 1830 and his wife, Margaret Doyle, in January 1831. Both were reared in Dublin city. They got married in the Church of Saints Michael and John in Dublin on 26 January 1851. Myles and Margaret lived smack bang at a time when our traditional naming practices were supposedly most prevalent, so they should make for an interesting case study.

Their parents’ and many of their siblings’ names are reasonably well documented (by standards for the time and place), so we can easily evaluate the results.

The twelve known children of Myles McGrane and Margaret Doyle were:

Child’s name
Date of baptism
Date of death
Margaret McGrane
Dec 1851
9 Dec 1930
John Laurence McGrane
Aug 1853
15 Mar 1854
Patrick McGrane
Feb 1855
21 Mar 1855
Francis Joseph McGrane
Apr 1856
18 Feb 1931
Catherine McGrane
Oct 1858
14 Jan 1860
Sarah Jane McGrane
Aug 1861
5 Jun 1927
Mary Anne McGrane
Jul 1863
2 Nov 1937
Catherine McGrane
Jul 1865
10 May 1912
Michael McGrane
Apr 1868
23 Dec 1929
Alice McGrane
Mar 1871
14 Feb 1927
Rosanna McGrane
Feb 1873
16 May 1879
Elizabeth McGrane
Jul 1878
21 Aug 1881

By applying the Irish naming pattern to the choice of children’s names, we would conclude Myles’ parents were John and Catherine, while Margaret’s were Patrick and Margaret.  We’d have been mostly wrong, except that Myles’ father was John. But, we would have received some very useful clues - the order of the grandmothers’ names was merely switched. It’s only Margaret's father who was completely overlooked.

My third great-grandparents were in fact John and Margaret McGrane, and Paul and Catherine Doyle.

No surviving child was named after Paul, or after Myles himself. Yes, there are some small gaps in the birth order, making it a tad feasible the names Paul and/or Myles were given to an infant that was born sickly, baptised at home, and whose name never made it into the baptism register. But, the especially important family names were usually repeated if the first child died – e.g. Catherine - and these names were not.

So, perhaps Paul Doyle was an unlikeable character, who they all wished they could forget. We don’t know much about him. He was a weaver or a dyer by trade. He died in January 1872, stated age seventy-two years, having suffered an accident of some sort. He survived the accident by eleven weeks, but did not receive any medical attention. 

It’s also possible Myles and Margaret just did not like either of these two names. Neither of them were particularly popular in Dublin then.

Margaret’s two brothers were John and Patrick, her sisters were Sarah Anne, Catherine, Mary and Ellen. Myles’ surviving brothers were Francis and Michael and he also had a sister called Alice. It’s easy to see these names being featured prominently among Myles and Margaret’s own children. I’m not sure where the names Rosanna and Elizabeth came from, possibly they were simply fashionable at the time.

So, while the traditional Irish naming customs were not followed exactly in the order specified, the names of most of the children’s grandparents, aunts and uncles are manifestly obvious. Naming practices therefore do provide important clues regarding what to look out for. 

And, during the search for ancestors, if you are lucky enough to identify more than one potential family, naming patterns will likely come in handy, when narrowing down the options, at least initially.

But, BEWARE, they are not sufficient to provide conclusive evidence as to any individual ancestor’s actual name.

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© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 24 June 2017

DNA Diary: Calling all Cousins!


Are you related to someone mentioned in this blog?  Do you even share their surnames and place of origin? And, have you already tested your autosomal DNA?

It has come to my attention there are quite a few people out there researching my ancestors and potential ancestors, who have already tested their DNA. But, they used a different testing company. So, we have no chance of ever matching, UNLESS we both upload our results into the same database.

I’m no expert, but, I've also recently concluded the only way to really progress on this DNA Genealogy journey is to gather together an assortment of my parent’s known second, third and maybe fourth cousins. This way we’ll be able to identify the matches we have in common and flag them as probably being related somewhere on our common lineage.

This will help bring my DNA research back in line with the basic principles of genealogy research - i.e. start with what is known and work backwards from there. And, working together, we might discover another cousin, who also matches us on the same shared segment, enabling us to identify the specific ancestor, or ancestral couple, who bequeathed that DNA segment to us all.

Down the road, we might meet enough cousins to be able to label all our DNA segments with the name of the ancestors who donated them. Then, we’d know anyone else sharing the labelled segment must also be related, somehow, to the named ancestors. Well, that would be the dream!

So, if you’ve already tested your autosomal DNA at AncestryDNA™ or 23andMe©, PLEASE upload your test results to GEDmatch. It’s easy and FREE and it only takes about ten minutes. And, let me know if you do! Even if we don’t match, you will gain access to another list of DNA cousins, perhaps including that one person who will help you knock through your genealogy brick-wall.

Also, you can now upload your results to Family Tree DNA, again without it costing another penny, and gain access to all your matches in their database too.  You never know where your cousins are hanging out. 

Image courtesy of PhotoFunia

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© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 17 June 2017

A grave error? - Charles Byrne (1878-1879)


Charles Byrne was the fourth son of Francis Byrne and Margaret McGrane, and a younger brother to Mam’s grandfather, James Byrne. He was born at 12 Upper Mayor Street, in Dublin, on 6 March 1878, and was baptized in St Laurence O’Toole’s church that same day. He was probably named after Francis’ brother Charles.

Margaret did not get around to registering her son's birth until the end of June. Presumably to avoid a late registration penalty, she then claimed Charles wasn't born until 4 April 1878, by which time the family had moved to 18 Upper Jane Place. Still, her delay provides an accurate timeline for when the Byrnes first lived in Jane Place, a neighborhood that became their home for nearly a hundred years.

Soon after his first birthday, little Charles died of scarlatina, otherwise known as scarlet fever.  His no doubt heart-broken mother carried his remains to Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery, where he was buried on 13 April 1879. He was interred in the section of the graveyard known as St Patrick’s.

When Charles’s father died many years later, in December 1912, he was buried with another baby named Charles Byrne. Their grave was in the St Bridget’s section of the cemetery. This little Charles died in 1891, coincidentally when he was also a year old. Initially I thought our family was somehow related to the second baby too, or that there was a mix-up of some sort with the graves.

This Charles was the son of George and Harriet Byrne. George worked as a policeman, living on the south side of the river Liffey. Our Francis was a labourer, working in the Dublin dockyards, and living north of the river. Their lives were quite different and no connection between them could be found. 

Now, Glasnevin Trust have confirmed my great-great-grandmother only purchased the grave in 1912, two days after her husband’s death and twenty-one years after the funeral of the second Charles. There is no longer any reason to suspect a connection with George and Harriet. The cemetery was known to sell on graves, if they had not been purchased outright, after a specified time had passed.

Glasnevin Trust also confirmed our baby Charles was buried in an Old Angels’ plot. Such plots were communal graves, shared by many other babies. Being what was considered a ‘poor ground plot’, it would never have been available for Margaret to purchase. But, I wonder did she know this in 1912? Did she think her husband was laid to rest with their baby son? Or, was it merely a coincidence a so-named child shared his grave? 

Sources: Church and civil records on Irishgenealogy.ie; Burial register for Glasnevin Cemetery (pay-as-you-go); Image from Pixabay.

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Black Raven Genealogy