John Lahiff of The Burren, County Clare
John Lahiff was born in County Clare on June 15, 1842 near Magheraweeleen. His father was John Flahy or Lahiff and his mother was Bridget Rohan or Royanne. Little is known about his childhood but that he had several siblings including Margaret, Thomas and Honora.
In 1864, John was living in Magheraweeleen and working as a Herd. He met and married Eliza Fitzgerald, the daughter of a Herd in Poulawack, County Clare on April 3, 1864 in the Roman Catholic Church at Carron. Almost immediately they left Ireland to go to Australia where their first two children were born: Bridget in March of 1865 in Melbourne, Australia and Catherine Kate born in 1866 on shipboard in Australian waters.
They returned to Ireland by late1866. John continued his occupation as a Herd in the Burren taking up residence in Kilcorny, County Clare. His next two children were males, Thomas and Patrick, and both were baptized in St Columba Catholic Church in Carron.
Following the birth of Patrick, John and Eliza, together with John’s mother Bridget and their four children, immigrated to America on the City of Antwerp, arriving in July of 1872. Their plan was to join some of John’s siblings in Providence, Rhode Island. Upon their arrival they passed through immigration at Castle Garden and the two younger children were separated briefly from them, perhaps due to illness.
Eventually they were able to continue on to Rhode Island but not long after arriving, baby Patrick died from Meningitis. Eliza was heartbroken but already pregnant with their fifth child. They settled into Providence living at 6 Jessamine Street and John worked as a laborer using his skills of laying rock and brick. Mary Ellen was born in June of 1873 and when she was a year old, the family left John's mother Bridget with his brother Thomas and sisters Honora and Margaret, and returned with his family to Ireland.
By 1875, they were once again living in the Burren at Kilcorney where John took up his former occupation as Herd. His son Peter was born in April of 1875 and baptized at St Columba’s in Carron. His next four children were all born in the Burren at Ballydoora and baptized at Carron: Honora in November of 1878, Michael John in June of 1881, William Francis in September of 1882, and James Joseph in April of 1888.
When James was a year old, John once again crossed the sea to America arriving in June of 1889 in time for the birth of his first grandson, Cecil M. Stone (Kate’s Son). John located work in Newport, Rhode Island and then returned for his family in Ireland. He brought all of them back through immigration at New York in April of 1891. They resided at 2 Carey in Newport and 2 Lucas also at Newport for many years.
John became a US citizen in 1896 just prior to his wife Eliza’s death in 1899. His son William lived with him, working in a local tavern. Not much later, William and Thomas moved to NYC to seek their fortunes. John lived out the remainder of his life near his children Michael, Mary Ellen, and Bridget.
On the 1st of May 1919 John passed away and was buried at St Columba Cemetery in Newport beside his beloved wife.
He never would know that his son, Bill Lahiff, would go on to own a famous tavern to the Broadway Stars named “Lahiff’s Tavern”. Nor would he know that his grandaughters would grow up to become famous actresses on Broadway in NYC. One of them, Ann Veronica Lahiff (aka Nancy Carroll) was the first female to sing in a "talkie" movie and was nominated for one of the first Best Actress Oscars for her performance in the 1930 movie, The Devil's Holiday.