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My great grandmother NORAH FLANNIGAN emigrated to Australia in the 1870s. During her life she gave various birth dates and ages, but she consistently describes herself as from Fermoy. Despite these various ages, she would have been born in the 1850s (sometime). Her father, HENRY FLANNIGAN, was a butcher. Her mother is BRIDGET FLANNIGAN (nee FOX). 

She was 18, or 21, when she emigrated from Fermoy to Queensland in Australia. Eventually she moved to Sydney, NSW.

Could anyone in this group help me with Fermoy birth records. I would like to pinpoint a right birth date for her and also to find out any information about her parents and where she might have lived. I'm curious also about her traveling at such a young age to the other side of the world and this makes me curious about what drove her to move. The Great Hunger?

Her youngest son, Alfred, is my grandfather.

Sadly Norah had a rough time in Australia. A short-lived marriage with her husband deserting her, a longer unmarried relationship with a man who is the father of her many children. Sadly he also left her. She lived in slum areas of the inner city of Sydney and many of her children died at birth or shortly afterwards. Norah was arrested many times for so-called 'crimes' which were simply poverty-related e.g. vagrancy, drunkeness and using 'abusive words' in a public place. She spent time in gaol for these crimes. I have located her grave and placed flowers upon it. I feel strongly drawn to her and am trying to put together something about her life in Fermoy prior to leaving Ireland.

I'm a reasonable researcher, but finding the parish births, deaths and marriages tricky to use. Is there any online access to Fermoy records? Were there local newspapers at this time? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers, Kimberly O'Sullivan, NSW, Australia

Kimberly O'Sullivan

Monday 11th January 2021, 09:59AM

Message Board Replies

  • Hello Kimberly,
    It looks like Bridget and Henry had ten children (as per RootsIreland). Here is a transcription of your great-grandmother's baptism. Note that Nora and Honora are the same name.
    Name:Honora O Flannagan
    Date of Birth:
    Date of Baptism:11-Sep-1853
    Gender:FemaleCountyCo. Cork
    Denomination:Roman Catholic
    Father:Henry O Flannagan
    Mother:Bridget Fox
    Sponsor 1 /
    Informant 1:John O Flanngan
    Sponsor 2 /
    Informant 2:Honora Fox
    © 2021 Copyright Mallow Heritage Centre (Cork North & East)
    Any questions, please email


    Monday 11th January 2021, 03:56PM
  • Hi,

    Emigrating in the 1870s, it wasn’t the Great Hunger that forced her to emigrate as the Great Hunger was 1845 to 1847 or so.

    There were Cork newspapers in the 1870s. I did a search for Henry Flannigan and Norah Flannigan, but found nothing.

    There are historical directories for Cork city and county at this link: You might find something in these if Henry was a butcher.

    Fermoy parish records are available online at this link: They are not that easy to read unless you know exactly what you are looking for with a known date. But they can be some help. is a pay site (30 Euro per month to search as much as you like [within reason]) where the registers are transcribed and searching is possible.  

    Henry and Bridget were married on Jan 20 1846. No detail of address is give. The witnesses were Michael and Mary Regan. Their parents names are not given.

    I have searched the old cemetery records for Henry and Bridget, but again there was no record.

    Hope this helps. 

    Best wishes, Kieran Jordan

    Kieran Jordan, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Monday 11th January 2021, 11:23PM
  • Hi Patricia

    I want to thank you so, so much for your wonderful, detailed reply to my request for information on Norah Flannigan. I was so thrilled with your reply – indeed overwhelmed – when I read it I had tears in my eyes. Her life has been quite hidden in my family, I believe due to her criminal record and her time in gaol. My grandfather would never talk about his mother and father; I asked my own mother and she said she had also asked him about his Irish mother but he used to say “we just don’t want to talk about that”.

    So much of what you wrote makes sense. She often is listed as ‘Honora’ as well as ‘Norah’ in records in Australia. I’ve wondered about this. I thought it might be that the person recording her details was writing what they heard i.e. with her Irish accent did they hear ‘Honora’ rather than ‘Norah’?

    And as an ‘O’Sullivan’ I am absolutely chuffed that the family name actually had an ‘O’ and it was O’Flannagan!

    As you can see I am writing from my work email address, I am a Local Studies Librarian in the Hunter Valley of NSW, so I was frustrated at my inability to find this information which you have found so quickly.

    I am sure that you must have become aware from helping people on the Ireland xo site – which so wonderful and I’ve only JUST discovered it! – how many of us with Irish heritage, but living outside Ireland, carry Ireland in our hearts. My heritage all the way back from (some) grandparents and (all my) great grandparents are Irish. I feel very much that I am an Irish-Australian. I have visited Ireland three times and adored it. Every time I have left I’ve been sobbing at the airport because I had to leave and didn’t want to.

    In my day-to-day life I watch Irish media, read Irish papers online, listen to Irish music, read Irish books and listen to Irish podcasts. So I feel very connected to the country! My heart is breaking for the dire COVID-19 situation you are now in.

    Once again thank you so much for the time you have generously taken to do this research for me. I appreciate it more than you can know. I sent this email to your email address: '' but it came back as undeliverable. I wanted to reach out to you which is why I am reposting it here.

    With my very best wishes and gratitude,

    Kimberly O'Sullivan (

    Kimberly O'Sullivan

    Tuesday 12th January 2021, 04:05AM
  • Hi Keiran

    A huge thank you for your quick and informative reply. It means the world to me! I've been struggling with the Irish records online and your links are very helpful. I have been searching for years to uncover Norah (Honora) Flannigan's life and have now done quite a bit, including the gaol records for her and her daughter (who was quite an expert shoplifter!). I'm now keen to know why an 18 year old girl leaves her country and goes to the other side of the world. Of course I won't know her personal motivation, but I wanted to uncover more about her family and her life. 

    Of course I got the dates of the Great Hunter wrong - silly me. But I do know there was mass emigration after the Great Hunger when things were so dire for those who survived. I'm assuming she was part of that tragic huge emigration out of Ireland - much of which was to Australia. 

    You've been so quick getting back to me and so generous with your time. I really appreciate it. You might see from my reply to Patricia that I very much identify as an Irish-Australian. Ireland is in my heart and I try to stay connected to what is going on in the country via the media, books and podcasts.

    I'm so thrilled to have heard from you.

    Wishing you all the best and with gratitude,

    Kimberly O'Sullivan (

    Kimberly O'Sullivan

    Tuesday 12th January 2021, 04:13AM
  • Hi Patricia and Keiran

    Here's a picture of Norah - Honora - Flannigan or O'Flannagan. So she becomes real to you both.

    She's not looking happy as this photo was taken on her entry to Darlinghurst Gaol in Sydney on 18 July 1896.


    Kimberly O'Sullivan

    Kimberly O'Sullivan

    Tuesday 12th January 2021, 04:19AM

    Attached Files

  • Thanks so much for your kind words, Kimberly, and for sharing Norah's photo. It's sobering to see it.

    Norah had at least nine siblings, so there may be plenty more research in your future.

    Please let us know if you need further assistance.


    Tuesday 12th January 2021, 05:20PM
  • Kimberly,

    Thank you very much for the photo. Its great to add a face to a name.

    Best wishes, Kieran

    Kieran Jordan, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Tuesday 12th January 2021, 10:40PM