Monday, August 25, 2014

Mappy Monday: On a map, the fortunes of an ancestor

In order to gain a better understanding about the lives of our ancestors, it is an interesting exercise to map out the homes in which they lived, as well as other places, such as hospitals and cemeteries, which are a part of their history. Such maps not only give you a good picture of the migratory patterns of your ancestors, but may even offer you some idea about how the family fared. Did they remain in Ireland, or did they travel to England or to Continental Europe for work? Did they begin life in a poor part of the town in which they lived, and end it in a wealthy neighbourhood? Did they emigrate away from Ireland to Australia, Canada, or the United States?

All of the family members in this post lived out their lives in Ireland. Some appear to have been given the benefit of good fortune, while others were given, at best, a middling serving of fortune's favour. Still others appear to have suffered, seemingly doomed by the Fates.

View The world of Patrick Geraghty & Margaret Toole Geraghty in a larger map

The lives of my paternal great-grandparents, Patrick Geraghty and Margaret Toole Geraghty, began in the west country of Ireland. Both were born just outside of Westport, County Mayo, in the village of Leckanvy (Lecanvey), near the shores of Clew Bay on the Atlantic Ocean. Following their marriage in March of 1885, and the birth of their first born son Thomas in April of 1886, Patrick and Margaret made their way east to make their life in Dublin. The map of the Geraghty homes in Dublin City very much speaks to Patrick's ambitions and rise in fortune. In 1887, they began their Dublin life in a poor area of the city, living in a tenement on Townsend Street, with Patrick working as a labourer. Between 1887 and 1895, they moved four times.

In 1895, their move to 6.5 Bow Bridge marked a great change in the family's means. Sometime between 1889 and 1895, Patrick's working life changed from that of a labourer to that of a 'car' driver (funeral corteges, hansom cabs, carriages, etc.), and by 1899 he owned his own car proprietorship. Both the family home and the business were housed at the same location. The business was a great success. Among his clientele Patrick counted Mr. Jameson of the famed distillery, as well as the controversial Lord Lieutenant French, Viceroy of Ireland. By the time of Patrick Geraghty's death in 1947, and that of his wife Margaret Toole Geraghty in 1948, they were 'independently wealthy', and had been living in one of the finest areas of Dublin. Patrick, Margaret, and other members of their family are interred in the family vault at Dean's Grange Cemetery in Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, Dublin. (Click on the map above for more detailed information about the sites in which they lived).

View The world of Anne Mary 'Annie' Magee Geraghty 1900-1953 in a larger map

As a member of Cumann na mBan, my paternal grandmother 'Annie' (Anne Mary 'Annie' Magee Geraghty) was working for the freedom of the entire island of Ireland; however, her own world was a relatively small one. Annie began life with her family in one room of a tenement house at 33 Upper Dorset Street, Dublin. The Magee family, which then numbered four, shared the house with four other families, including my great-grandfather Patrick Magee's sister Mary and brother Francis.

When Patrick Magee became a skilled craftsman — working as a scriber at Jameson's Distillery — the family fortunes began to change. Patrick's position enabled him to qualify as the tenant of a single family artisan's cottage in Stoneybatter. They were given lease on a cottage on Ostman Place, in which the family of four eventually grew to six. It was there that Annie's family was living during the Easter Rising, when her brother Michael fought as a Section Commander, under the leadership of Ned Daly in the Four Courts Battalion. It was from Ostman Place, during the War of Independence, that Annie joined Cumann na mBan, while her brother Michael was 2nd Lieutenant, 'A' Company, 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade (A.S.U.).

On 21 January 1921, it was at Ostman Place that Annie and her family learned that Michael had been wounded and captured, as British forces showed up at the cottage to ransack and search it. It was from there that Patrick Magee went to George V Hospital (St. Bricin's) that night for news of his son's condition. They learned from other sources that Michael had been mortally wounded; he died 22 January 1921. It was from the little cottage on Ostman Place that Patrick Magee went to the hospital each day to claim his son's body, until the British finally released the remains on the night of 25 January.

Sometime after Michael's death, and before Annie's 1928 marriage to John Geraghty, the family moved to a larger home on Murtagh Road. Annie's marriage first brought her to a house on Manor Street, just a few blocks away from her family's home. Later, Annie and John moved further away to a house on Leix Road in Cabra, Dublin. The last house in which Annie lived was on Kildare Road in Crumlin, Dublin. Annie is interred with her mother, father and elder brother Michael in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. Her husband John Geraghty is interred with his parents and other family members in the family vault at Dean's Grange Cemetery. (Click on the map above for more detailed information about the sites in which Annie lived).

View The world of Jane Early Ball 1852 - 1914 in a larger map

The map of the homes of my maternal great-grandmother, Jane Early Ball, speaks to the waves of change in fortune which affected her life. Jane spent her childhood living with her family in various homes in the Liberties area of Dublin, an area notorious in the 19th century for its poverty. The baptismal records of Jane and some of her fourteen siblings show that though the Early family stayed in generally the same area of Dublin, they moved many times. (For more details about Jane's life, see Jane & Teresa...A brief history of two sisters)

Marriage to a successful carpenter in the person of Francis Ball brought Jane to a life in a better area of Dublin, only a stone's throw away from the beautiful parkland of St. Stephen's Green. Fortune's wheel then brought major negative changes to her family life, with the death of two of her children and her husband's encroaching dementia.

On two occasions in 1907, Francis Ball was committed to the infirmary of the South Dublin Union  (SDU) workhouse to be treated for a disorder of the nerves. As Francis' death registration bears out, he was suffering from dementia. The family lost their home on Montague Street and moved into a tenement on Merchant's Quay — living with Jane's sister Teresa and her family — and then on to another tenement on Fishamble Street.

No longer able to cope with her husband's declining health, in January of 1908 Jane committed Francis to the infirmary at the SDU, where he died in July of 1909. At the end of her life in 1914, Jane Early Ball was living with her eldest surviving son in rooms on Mountjoy Street. Jane is interred in an unmarked grave at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. (Click on the map above for more detailed information about the sites in which Jane and her family lived.)

Have you mapped out the lives of your ancestors?

(Sections of this post originally appeared in 2012).


  1. This is fantastic. What a great job you did Jennifer.

    1. Thanks for your comments Carol. They are very much appreciated. I have found that creating maps like these really gives me a sense of what life may have been like for them.


  2. A great idea Jennifer. I've used it recently to map the moves of some Dorfprozelten emigrants to the USA.

    1. Thanks for your comments Pauleen. They are much appreciated. I'm glad to know you've used the map exercise with some of your Dorfprozelten family members. It proves very useful, doesn't it?


  3. These are good, but how on earth did you know, for example, where your great-grandmother lived in 1852? As far as I know the only existing censuses for Ireland are 1901 and 11. Research seems so easy for some people. Did your parents tell you or what? What website did you use to find the addresses? I have no idea where my ggm lived. I am very frustrated. I commented before but it didn't take it.

    1. Hello Catherine,

      Thanks for your comments and questions. Your frustration is clear, but I hope you will not be bowed by it, and I hope my reply will be of some help to you. If you would like to email me at irisheyesjennifer at gmail dot com, I would be happy to offer suggestions and sources for your own research.

      First off, in my experience, research which results in maps such as these is never easy, but instead is very painstaking and time consuming, so you have to be committed to the task. It takes a wide variety of resources — BMD records, parish registers, census records, land records, electoral rolls, etc. — to get you to the point of being able to create a map. To be perfectly frank, much of this is not available online, but it can be accessed by other means.

      As for the research on my maternal great-grandmother whom you mention, I began with only the fact of her name — Jane Early Ball — and the knowledge that she had lived in Dublin City. Beyond that my mother knew nothing.

      I did consult the 1901 and 1911 censuses for my great-grandmother’s family (Ball), and was fortunate to find her (and them) in the records. One of the most helpful things I did in this case was obtain the civil registration records for the birth and marriage of Jane’s son — my grandfather Patrick — at the General Register Office in Dublin. The records confirm that his parents were Jane Early and Francis Ball (the address at the time of his birth and marriage are also included). From there I continued to work back by obtaining the civil registration record for Francis and Jane’s marriage (also from the GRO in Dublin), Further, I confirmed the details of that registration by consulting their marriage record in the parish register of St. Catherine of Alexandria Church, Meath Street, Dublin (this particular parish register, along with some others is online at

      The civil registration and parish register for Francis and Jane’s marriage revealed that Jane’s parents were Thomas Early and Julia Moss. From there I sought out Jane’s baptism record and those of all of her siblings, and was very fortunate to find that most of them included the home addresses of the Early family at the time of the births and baptisms of the children. As I mentioned, for addresses around 1901 and 1911, I did use the census records which are online via the National Archives, but beyond that I looked at such sources as electoral rolls and directories in the Dublin City Archives and in the National Library of Ireland, as well as burial records in cemeteries such as Glasnevin. Lots of research; lots of time.



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Cheers, Jennifer

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