Place of migration:
Migrated to /Born in Canada

There are many reasons family trees get broken, and ours was broken long ago. Was it bad blood?  A feud?  Was it the distance brought on by immigration or was it just apathy? We’ll never really know, but the one thing I can say is a broken tree can be rebuilt. Sometimes frustrating, sometimes exciting, the number one thing required is patience.

It took me 4 solid days of intensive research to go from nothing but a single date of birth to 6 generations of ancestors. After that is where I got stuck. 18 months later we have a full tree replete with branches spanning 13 generations, 6 countries, 2 continents, and dating back to 1674. There are no celebrities in our tree. No one’s famous, except to us. And as we continue to compile the facts -much more slowly this time- a narrative emerges.  

There are questions we can never fully answer but an understanding of context and historical customs help shape our story.

My 3rd great grandmother, Bridget Landy, came from Roscrea, Tipperary, right near the border of what was then King’s County.  That’s where her father, my 4th great grandfather, and his people were from.  They lived in Roscumroe.

The family immigrated to Canada in 1855 when Bridget was either 11 or 13 years old.  (It’s hard to tell – there are 2 baptismal records in the same parish register, 2 years and 18 pages apart.  The only difference is that her mother is called “Peggy Maher” in one and “Margaret Maher” in the other.) The family immediately established themselves in St. John’s Ward, a notorious neighbourhood in Toronto, first stop for many immigrants hoping for a better life. There, her father James worked as a contractor while Bridget became a “tailoress” (which is a unique distinction in the many census records from “dressmaker” or “seamstress.”) Her brothers would go on to become successful bookbinders and respected lawyers, and her sister would have a large family of her own.

Her mother, Margaret, passed away in 1867, the year of Canadian Confederation.  

Her father would remarry in 1871, with future son-in-law James O’Reilly as a witness, but that was to be a stormy affair.  An article from the 13 April, 1883 edition of The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, shows they were on a “drunken spree” when his 2nd wife was arrested for threatening to “cut his throat with a knife.”   The case was dismissed as James assured the magistrate he would “forgive her because she did not mean it.”

It’s no surprise that when he died 5 years later, there would be no funeral announcement or death notice.  He’s buried with both his wives in St. Michael’s, Toronto’s historic Catholic cemetery.

Bridget got married a month after her father to a fellow Irish immigrant, James O’Reilly.  Himself a successful tailor, he’d emigrated with his family from Cragard, outside of Ennis in County Clare, in 1845.  Together they would grow a family of 8, though 2 of their children would die in infancy.  From the pieces we’ve assembled, theirs seemed to be a happy marriage, centred around family and the church.

Bridget Landy O’Reilly died in Toronto in 1919.  Her obituary, though brief, is one of the great treasures we’ve uncovered along this journey.  Titled “Pioneer Passes”, it tells the story of the turn of the century, the birth of a new world, and a family that would flourish on to this day.

Additional Information
Date of Birth 4th May 1842 VIEW SOURCE
Date of Death 30th Mar 1919  


  • My great aunt Lucy Fingleton married Thomas O'Reilly in Roscrea in 1925. Michaels parents were Richard and Mary nee Troy. Possible siblings were Margaret, Mary, Annie and Sarah. Thomas (born 1901) was a soldier and stationed at Curragh camp.  Could these be part of Bridgets family?


    Saturday 24th October 2020, 01:03PM
  • Hi Lynn,

    Bridget's maiden name is Landy.  Her husband, James O'Reilly, is from Clare.  He immigrated to Canada in 1845, aong with his brother Michael and their mother Ellen (nee McNamara).  His father, Thomas, passed away sometime before that, but I haven't been able to find a death record.  My O'Reilly line hits a dead end there - I can't trace back any further - and I'm not sure who the rest of the family who stayed in Ireland are.

    Sorry I couldn't be of more help.  




    Thursday 29th October 2020, 03:44PM