Tag Archive for Lahey

The Barley Grain For Me (O.J. Abbott and Pete Seeger)

seeger-abbott_newport

O.J. [Oliver John] Abbott, Home Child, singing “The Barley Grain For Me” with Pete Seeger, at the Newport Folk Festival, 1959-60:

How/why did this English orphan from Paddington, London know so many of the old Irish tunes? Because when he was sent to Canada, as an 8- or 9-year old boy, he was placed with some of the Irish farmers of South March (and apparently learned some of his songs from the Laheys of March).

(More on O.J. Abbott in a future entry…he is one of Canada’s most notable folk singers).

Family ties: how far back do they go?

When my paternal grandparents married in 1932, each was marrying into a familiar family. As I’ve mentioned before, my Moran ancestors and my Lahey ancestors have been linked by intermarriage since the middle of the 19th century. Not that my paternal grandparents were first, second, or even third cousins, as best I make out. But each had collateral ancestors who had married the other’s collateral ancestors, if that makes sense (and with collateral ancestry, things can stop making sense very quickly, which is one reason why I love my TNG database).

The first Lahey-Moran connection that I’ve discovered is not a marriage but a sponsorship. On 4 March 1832, my 3x-great-grandparents James Moran and Margaret Jamieson served as godparents to Elizabeth Lahey, born 16 August 1831, the daughter of Patrick Lahey and Elizabeth Wharton. Elizabeth Lahey was probably baptized at March township; the baptism was recorded in the register for Notre Dame, Bytown [Ottawa]. Her father Patrick was the brother of my 3x-great-grandfather James Lahey.

My paternal grandparents Allan Jerome Moran and Mary Catherine Lahey married at Ottawa on 25 May 1932, one hundred years after James Moran and Margaret Jamieson stood sponsor for Elizabeth Lahey. By Canadian standards, those family ties go back very far indeed!

NOTE: A note on baptismal sponsorship and familial relations.

If I’m looking at an Ottawa Valley area RC baptismal record from about the 1850s until about the day before yesterday, I’m going to assume that I should be looking for a blood connection between the baptized child and his or her godparents. And if I don’t readily find one, I’m going to assume that I should be looking harder. Not that I’ll always uncover one, of course, and not that such a blood connection will always exist. But for me, the presumption is always in favour of at least one of the two godparents as blood relation (aunt; uncle; cousin; etc.).

For the 1820s and 1830s, however, things look a little bit different.

In some of the early townships of Carleton County (e.g., Huntley township, where my Moran ancestors very peacefully settled; and March township, where my Lahey ancestors somewhat less than peacefully settled), Irish Catholics were very much in the minority (the same cannot be said of some of the later settlements of, say, Renfrew County, where Irish Catholics, if they did not actually form a numerical majority, certainly managed to achieve critical mass). For early Irish Catholics of the Bytown area, my sense is that strangers from very different parishes and counties of Ireland forged friendships and close ties (it helped to belong to the same New World parish, or perhaps mission, of course) which then led to marriages, and then intermarriages, which then led to close family connections. Well, that’s the story of my dad’s family, at any rate. Someone from Galway marries someone from Cavan in Upper Canada; and then someone’s sister from Tipperary marries (in Upper Canada) someone whose parents came from Galway and Cavan; and by the end of the 19th century, they’re all one big (if confusingly connected) family. Had these folks stayed in Ireland, they never would have married one another, because they never even would have met (originating from such very different Irish counties, after all). In Canada, they become close (if confusingly connected) family members.

Were there any blood ties between the Morans or the Jamiesons and the Laheys or the Whartons? I’ve yet to discover any. Both the Morans and the Laheys were Bytown area pioneers, and amongst the early Irish in the Ottawa Valley.

 

 

School Photo from…St. Malachy’s? St. Patrick’s?

This is a wonderful group photo, taken, I presume, on the steps of a school.

I only wish I knew which school.

My dad is in the second row, third from the left (here indicated with a blue arrow — which I’ve only inserted on a digital copy, of course! not on the original photo). He appears to have a lump on his forehead: perhaps as the result of a fight?

John Alexander Moran (1934-2013) in a group (presumably school) photo. Late 1940s?

John Alexander Moran (1934-2013) in a group (presumably school) photo. Late 1940s?

My father grew up in a working-class Irish and French neighbourhood of Ottawa (Mechanicsville). As children, my sisters and I used to thrill to his stories of “the street”: of street violence, and of street “smarts,” and of a seemingly anarchic, parental-free zone that we could only imagine in our dreams. To hear my dad tell the tale, apparently he and his classmates once threw an English teacher off the bridge into the Rideau Canal! (but did that really happen? er, I don’t know). Well, no doubt he embroidered and exaggerated for rhetorical effect: he always loved a good story. But of his ridiculously strict (by today’s standards) Catholic education, my dad was always dead serious and crystal clear: “We were but savages, and the priests meant to civilize us, and that was the only way out” (out of poverty, and mindless tribalism; and out of lace doilies on the arms of an ugly settee in a small, still, close room; and out of Mechanicsville).

The boy in the front row, second from the left, looks like a Lahey cousin with whom my father grew up, with whom he was especially close; but who knows?

My father attended St. Patrick’s College, Ottawa for secondary school (high school), from roughly 1947 or 1948 to 1952 or 1953 (I don’t have the exact dates, though I probably could, and perhaps should, figure this out). For the later years of his elementary education (grades 7 and 8?), he was at St. Malachy’s.

Did your father attend St. Pat’s, Ottawa? Or, perhaps, St. Malachy’s? Do you see him in this photograph?

UPDATE (6 August 2013): The boy in the front row, second from the left, is indeed the Lahey cousin (a son of Clifford Lahey and Stella McDonnell) with whom my father grew up. This cousin’s daughter is almost certain that this photo was taken in front of St. Pat’s, but is going to ask her father.

UPDATE (15 August 2013): The above photo was taken in front of St. Patrick’s, school year 1947-48.

 

Home Children: Open Secrets (Part 1)

“Could you look up Mary Hogan?” asked my dad’s cousin Aggie. “I think she may have been,” and this added sotto voce, as if, even after so many years, there might yet be something to hide, “a Home Girl.”1

A Home Girl?

At the time, I knew next to nothing about the Home Child movement, the child emigration scheme which saw over 100,000 children sent from Britain to Canada between 1869 and 1930. And yet, I must have already encountered the term somewhere, because the “Home Girl” designation immediately made some sort of sense to me. I imagined an orphan: an orphan from England? (though Hogan is an Irish surname, obviously, and from the description provided by my father and his cousin Aggie, Mary Hogan certainly sounded Irish).2

Well, I had heard of the “Barnado Boys,” of course. Indeed, I had no doubt first encountered the term as a young girl, when I avidly devoured Lucy Maud Montgomery’s series about Canada’s most beloved (though fictional!) orphan girl ever. As a childhood devotee of “Anne with an e,” I had read of Marilla Cuthbert drawing a line in the sand at the thought of a Barnardo Boy, or, in a phrase which captures the casual racism of the time, a “London street Arab.”3

My father and his cousin recalled Mary Hogan from their childhood as a somewhat elderly and somewhat eccentric fixture on the Burke family farm: not quite a blood relation, perhaps, but no mere “hired girl,” either, and “almost family” through affinity and through sheer length of tenure: apparently she had been with the Laheys and the Burkes since forever.

Well, since at least as far back as 1891, at any rate…

  1. Oral interview with Mary Frances Agnes O’Neill, January 2007.
  2. As I was later to learn, there was nothing unusual about “English” Home Children of Irish origin. In fact, Ottawa (more specifically, St. George’s Home on Wellington Street in Ottawa, now Holy Rosary Rectory) was one of the main receiving centres for Catholic children sent to Canada from Great Britain under the auspices of various English Catholic “protection societies,” which apparently set themselves up as Roman Catholic alternatives to the Protestant-centred Barnardo scheme. Many, probably most, of these Catholic children were of Irish background. For more on the Catholic Home Child movement, see  Frederick J. McEvoy, “‘These Treasured Children of God': Catholic Child Immigration to Canada” (CCHA, Historical Studies, 65, 1999, 50-70).
  3. “‘At first Matthew suggested getting a Barnardo boy. But I said “no” flat to that. ‘They may be all right — I’m not saying they’re not, but no London street Arabs for me,’ I said. ‘Give me a native born at least. There’ll be a risk, no matter who we get. But I’ll feel easier in my mind and sleep sounder at nights if we get a born Canadian.'” Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, cap. 1

Johnny Moran sings ‘The Jolly Tinker’

John Alexander Moran, Ottawa, early 1960s

John Alexander Moran, Ottawa, early 1960s

My dad loved life; and family; and food; and drink; and song: he loved life, he loved it all.

He had a big heart. And he loved life: he loved it all.

As a younger man, when he was hale and hearty, he had a beautiful singing voice too. And he knew so many songs!

He taught us some of the old Irish ballads, and some of the newer Irish tunes too (yes, I can sing ‘The Dutchman’ from start to finish, without a cheat sheet: thanks, Dad!), and some Canadian folk songs, and a couple of dear old French Canadian numbers, as well. He taught us to always have a ‘party piece’ or two with which to entertain the company.

Here his voice had weakened, and he couldn’t remember all the lyrics, so my sister got the lyrics up through google, but he had trouble reading them from the screen. But as sick as he was here, he was game, he was ready to sing, and still his voice  rings true.

So  here he is, loving life while dying of cancer, singing “The Jolly Tinker.”1. He loved life; and family; and song: he just loved it all.

 

  1. Canadian Thanksgiving, 2012 = October 2012

Tithe Applotment Books online

When I get a chance (which won’t be until after Christmas), I’m going to post an entry about searching the Tithe Applotment Books for various ancestors. I think I have found my Lahey ancestors, for example, who emigrated to Upper Canada from Killycross Upper, Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary.

But for now, just a brief post to note that the Tithe Applotment Books (one of the most important census substitutes for Irish genealogy) are available online at two  different locations:

  1. At familysearch.org: Ireland, Tithe Applotment Books, 1814-1855
  2. At the National Archives of Ireland: Tithe Applotment Books, 1823-1837

The National Archives of Ireland’s The Tithe Applotment Books: About the Records is well worth reading.