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I am trying to find out more family information about my Great Grandfather John O'NEILL (1858-c1901).

He was born in December 1858 at Leany, CAR, the son of Michael and Mary O'Neill (née Lennon), and was baptised on 5 December 1858 at St Brigid's RC Church, Clonegal, CAR.  The Baptism Register records his name as John Neill; his parents as Mick and Mary Neill; his residence as Leaney; and his godparents as Rich Fitzharris and Biddy Kehoe.

He married Ann Downs on 22 July 1883 at St Brigid's RC Church, Clonegal, CAR.  The Marriage Certificate records John Neill as being of Full age; a Bachelor; a Smith; resident in Raheengraney; and his father as Michael Neill a Smith.  It records Anne Downs as being of Full age; a Spinster; a Servant; resident in Raheengraney; and her father as James Downs a Servant.   John Lennon and Mary Carroll witnessed their marriage.

After their marriage, they lived in Ballinmtemple, WIC, where John was a blacksmith.  They had two sons, both born there:  Michael O'Neill (1885-1964) and James O'Neill (1886-1957), James being my grandfather.

A family rumour passed down from my mother Margaret Mary O'Neill (1919-2009) says that he died from a fever whilst on board a ship and was buried at sea, but despite extensive searches nothing has been found to prove this.  I suspect this may not be correct as why would a blacksmith from Ballintemple have been on a ship.  He possibly died before 31 March 1901 as his wife Anne is recorded as being a widow in the 1901 Census of Ireland.  However no death entry has been found in the Marine Deaths section of the General Register Office Death Index.

Any information on this O'NEILL or DOWNS family would be appreciated.

Best regards Richard

Richard Whitchurch-Bennett

Thursday 9th July 2020, 11:41AM

Message Board Replies

  • As far as I know deaths on board ships were supposed to either be reported in the next port, or in the country where the ship was registered. I can only assume if the death aboard ship story is true then he was travelling somewhere… hardly likely to be emigrating, unless maybe there was some promising job he heard about, e.g. in England or Scotland ?

    Are there other areas of this O’Neill/Lennon or O’Neill/Downs families you are searching for - you seem to have established plenty of good detail already ?


    shanew147, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 23rd July 2020, 07:29PM