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Did it all begin with Henry?

Henry Mulville was my great-great grandfather, on my father’s side. He was born in Newtownsandes (today’s Moyvane) County Kerry in the early 1800’s, and married Mary Meade. They had five children that I know of, born between 1834 and 1858. Patrick was born in Galway city, Henry Junior in Belfast. Edmund (1834), Mary (1845), Ann (1853), Bridget (1855), Patrick (1858), and Henry (1859).

According to the Belfast Street Directory of 1865, Henry and his family lived at 84 Short Strand, Bridge end, right hand side, in Ballymacarrett. He was a railway porter, which probably explains his travels from Kerry to Galway to Belfast. By 1870, Henry is a clerk in a law office, and apparently never retired. He died at home on September 8, 1884, of bronchitis. His daughter Ann was present at his death, her mother Mary Meade had passed away two years before, on August 25.

Ann (1853) and her sister Bridget (1855) continued to live at 84 Short Strand until Ann’s death in 1919. At that point, Bridget moved in with a cousin. Family folklore had it that the sisters were extremely bad-tempered, didn’t like children, yet ran a sweet shop at #84. I don’t know what became of Edmund. Mary married Peter McGoveran, also from Kerry, and Henry emigrated to San Francisco.

Henry’s son Patrick was my great grandfather. Patrick married Margaret Bole at St. Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church on December 25, 1887, the ceremony performed by Rev. F. O’Kane. Pat’s first cousin Patrick Edward McGoveran was his witness, and Margaret’s mother Ellen Bole was her witness. Margaret was Presbyterian, a daughter of James Bole, brass founder. Patrick signed his marriage certificate as ‘Mulvihill’.  

My great grandparents, Patrick and Margaret, set up house at 2 Baltic Street, Ballymacarrett. They had moved to 5 Harper Street, off the Mount Pottinger Road, by 1892. Patrick, known as Big Pat, was a linen lapper by trade. The couple had five children, four of whom survived – Harry (1890), Margaret (1891), James (1893), and Patrick (1894). A second daughter, Mary Josephine (1897), died at home of broncho pneumonia at 2 1/2 years old.

James was my grandfather. Born on January 4, 1893, his Aunt Bridget Mulvihill was his sponsor at baptism. He began life as a cycle mechanic, and lived at 5 Harper Street until his marriage to Margaret McGuinness on August 9, 1914. They married at St. Matthew’s, and lived at 15 Thompson Street. By 1918, James was a motor mechanic. He and Margaret had eleven children that I know of. Margaret (1915), John (1917), Mary (1918), Veronica (1921), Gerard (1921), Sheamus (1922), James (1923), Patrick (1924), Bernadette (1924), Michael (1927), and Albert (1931).  Only seven of the children survived childhood – John, Gerard, Sheamus, and James all died as infants. The older children were born in Belfast, the younger children in Rathnew, County Wicklow.

James had his own garage with petrol pumps in Rathnew village, which he sold in 1959 when he retired. At that point, he and Margaret moved to 4, Fitzwilliam Road in Wicklow, where they both lived until their respective deaths – his on April 4, 1965, hers on March 4, 1975.

Although he passed away before my tenth birthday, I remember him very well. He was incredibly tall, and very quiet. His son Patrick was my father. Paddy was born on January 21, 1926. His father apprenticed him as a motor mechanic, which trade he used to get into the army. He drove a truck during the emergency (as the Irish euphemistically called the second world war).

Following the war, he lived at home in Rathnew with his family, at various points running a taxi service and working as a mechanic. He took a job in post-war Germany, eventually becoming an electrician. He was sent to work in Foynes by his company, where he met my mother, Mary O’Connor. They married at Robertstown Church on November 4, 1954, and had four daughters. Brenda (1955), Margaret (1958), Maura (1962), and Veronica (1966). Paddy and Mary moved to London, then settled in Naas, Co. Kildare, before moving back to Foynes. Brenda died on November 4, 1959, in Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin, following surgery for a brain tumor.

Paddy worked for the Electricity Supply Board, before moving to Post & Telegraphs. He retired in his fifties, to help my mother take care of my sister Vera, who had epilepsy, with frequent Grand Mal seizures. He passed away on April 29, 2010, followed by Mary on February 7, 2012, and Vera on April 7, 2014.

Did our family begin with Henry Mulville in Newtownsandes? What happened to the others? Join me on the journey of discovery!

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