For St Patrick’s Day- another Patrick Sheehan turns up (and two more Johns…)

It seems appropriate on St Patrick’s Day to add another Patrick to the family tree. I’ve also found two more John Sheehans- one of whom was the (presumably) proud father of seven daughters!

We’ve known for some time now that our great grandparents were Patrick and Bridget (Doody) Sheehan. Last summer the newly published Catholic Parish Registers provided documentation that Patrick’s parents (and our great great grand parents) were named John and Bridget Sheehan. [Note: when I speak of “our great grandparents”, or whatever, I’m speaking of my generation: the grand children of Ellen Sheehan in Ireland, and of Ellen’s brother Nicholas Sheehan and their sisters Margaret (Sheehan) Powers and Bridget (Sheehan) Greene in America.]

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that John and Bridget had more children than just our great grandfather Patrick- and I recently came across a document that provides more information on Patrick’s siblings.

An extract from the 1851 census lists John and Bridget, said to have been married in 1839, and their children Mary (11 years old), Patrick (8) (our great grandfather), and Ellen (6 months). There is another child not listed on the extract- because he hadn’t yet been born. That child, born in about 1857, was named John, after his father. We know this because he is the person who requested the census extract from the records office in 1921, probably as documentation for a pension application. A note on the extract refers to the “applicant” as John Sheehan of Coolnagapoge, son of the head of household in the census record.

The 1901 and 1911 census records show a Sheehan family living in Coolnagoppoge, which is between Fenor and Tramore. The head of household was a John Sheehan, born in about 1857. His wife’s name was Kate Corbett. Based on the 1851 census extract, it now appears certain that this John Sheehan was the son of our great great grandfather John, and the brother of our great grandfather Patrick.

That means that we probably have more Sheehan relatives in the area. They may not be easy to find, however, since seven of John and Kate’s eight children were girls, and so would have changed their names if and when they got married. The son was named Patrick. He was born in about 1891, and was still alive twenty years later, at the time of the 1911 census. That would make him about the same age as Ellen Sheehan, and about ten years younger than Ellen’s brother, and my grandfather, Nicholas Sheehan. (And just to add some confusion to the tree, this Patrick is about the same age as the Patrick who died in World War I, who was his second cousin) So, assuming this Patrick went on to raise a family, there may well be some of his grandchildren still around!

So that’s our new Patrick, and one new John. The other “new” John in the family tree is the child of our great grandparents, Patrick and Bridget. According to the Fenor church records, John Sheehan was baptized on 31 March, 1880. That’s about all I know about this John at the moment. He doesn’t appear on the 1901 census with the rest of the family, but that wouldn’t be unusual. At the age of 21, he could very well be working for wages on someone else’s farm, just as his younger brother Patrick was at the time of the 1911 census.

It’s also possible, of course, that this John Sheehan didn’t live to adulthood. But there’s an even more intriguing possibility- that he came to America. That’s actually a very likely scenario, because six of his seven siblings born prior to 1886, are known to have emigrated. So we may very well have more Sheehans to find on both sides of the Atlantic!

A tree sculpture for the Fenor graveyard

Just happened to come across this news video from RTE about a chain saw sculpture that now graces the Fenor churchyard. This is the church Grandfather Sheehan would have attended before he emigrated. It’s also the final resting place of his brother Patrick, who died in World War I, his sister Ellen, and Ellen’s sons Edmond and Maurice (aka “Mossey”).

F57b_SheehanThis is the stone marking the Sheehan Family plot. There is a separate stone marking Patrick’s grave. I would have thought that Grandfather’s parents, Patrick and Bridget (Doody) Sheehan would have been buried here as well, but their names don’t appear on the grave listing that the parish of Fenor has published online. As a matter of fact, “our” Sheehans are the only ones said to be buried here. There are no Doodys either.

More on Patrick Sheehan and the Machine Gun Corps

Insignia of the Machine Gun Corps
Insignia of the Machine Gun Corps

I posted a while back about some additional information I’d found on our grand-uncle, Patrick Sheehan, who is buried in the Sheehan family plot in the Fenor Churchyard. Patrick was the brother of Ellen Sheehan, and of my grandfather, Nicholas Sheehan. His gravestone indicates that he was a member of the Machine Gun Corps in the British Army in World War I, and his grave is listed in the Commonwealth War Graves directory. The medal card I found online in April didn’t really provide much beyond confirming that Patrick did see active duty on the continent, so I contacted Graham Sacker at the Machine Gun Corps database web site to see if he might have any additional information on Patrick. The response was a bit disappointing (a large number of British military records, likely including Patrick’s, were destroyed when a German bombing raid struck the War Office repository in 1940), but provided useful background on the MGC, and how Patrick may have ended up in the corps: Continue reading “More on Patrick Sheehan and the Machine Gun Corps”