Remembering our mother on the centenary of her birth

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Maud Clinton on the wall at Newtownforbes Station c. late 1930s

100 years ago, on Saturday January 19th 1918, in Kishawanny, Co Kildare, our grandparents, Christopher Robert Clinton and Jane Williams welcomed their first child into the world. She was our mother and was christened Sibyl Maud at Holy Trinity  Church in Derrinturn on January 27th with William Clery and Bridget Clery as godparents.

IMG_3054As was common practice – certainly in the early 20th Century – she was known by her second name, Maud, a name that recurs time and again in her paternal grandmother’s family, right down to this day.

She was the eldest of 5 children, two girls and three boys. At the time of her birth, her father was a foreman at Carbury Station, where his father was Stationmaster. It was possibly at the home of her grandmother in the townland of Kishawanny that she was born, but they may also have lived nearby. Her brother was also born in Kishawanny in 1920.

The probable site of  the home  of our mother’s grandparents in Kishavanna, Co Kildare.

Kishawanny, usually called Kishavanna by locals, has a small number of houses. According to Griffiths Valuation, the site of this house is on the same plot as the home of  Jane’s grandparents, our mother’s great grandparents.

As an employee of the Midland Great Western Railway, her father had to relocate and we next find the family living at Railway Cottage, Mullingar, where, three more siblings were born. Family lore has it that they also lived in Goresbridge Co. Kilkenny. This photograph was in our mother’s collection, marked ‘Goresbridge, Co Kilkenny’. It is possibly where the family lived.

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Goresbridge Co Kilkenny. Was this the family home?

The family moved to Newtownforbes Co. Longford, when their father was appointed Stationmaster here. We know they lived there in the late 1930s as an entry in the Schools Collection from Duchas.ie has a contribution from one of our mother’s brothers.  It was here too that our mother received music lessons at the local Convent of Mercy. She was an accomplished pianist and had a wonderful ear and could play anything after hearing it just once. Two of her sons are dedicated musicians.

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Station House Newtownforbes, Co Longford. Date possibly 1930s

Our mother did not often talk about her relatives, but her Granny Williams was an exception. Her maternal grandmother, who lived at Kishavanna, was an important figure in her life. She spent summer holidays with her, and often spoke about ‘living ‘ with her. Perhaps her grandmother lived alone and there was an element of caring for her. In any event Granny (Kate) Williams died on November 22 1933, at the age of 68. Our mother would have been just 15 years old.

Her father was a wonderful gardener as can be seen from the photos above. He was usually to be found in his vegetable garden tending to his vegetables. He won awards for his beautiful flower beds and our mother inherited her green fingers from him. I can still hear her saying ‘Daddy loved Alyssum’ or ‘Daddy wouldn’t have Red Hot Pokers about the place’. He was the guru when it came to growing and she quoted him on a regular basis!

She embarked on a career as a telegraphist. As the eldest she was expected to send money home to help with the younger children. There would not have been much left after paying rent. Unfortunately we do not know much about where she did her training or where she worked. She may well have worked in Longford town initially, but she  was in Dundalk during World War 2 as she spoke of fear of bombs and she spoke of running for shelter. A bomb was dropped on Dundalk in July 1941, but we don’t know if she was living there then. As a wireless telegraphist she used Morse Code.

Sligo was the next posting for her and she had fond memories of living and working there as a telegraphist.

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Photo we believe taken in Sligo early 1940s

She was then posted to Letterkenny and it was here that she made contact with our father who was appointed postmaster in Carrigart following the sudden death of his father in 1944.

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1944 at  Port na Blagh Co Donegal

In January 1946 they were married in St Andrews Church Westand Row. See post here.

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Number 1 son arrived arrived 13 months later and this we believe is a photo taken with him in 1947. (If it is not him, then it must be me!)

After 10 years of marriage there were six of us. Our mother knitted all our jumpers and cardigans, she sewed dresses and trousers. She made rugs from old sacks with rags stitched on, she made curtains, she covered chairs, she baked bread and cakes, she made pancakes, she crocheted and did artwork on mirrors. And she permed my hair (to my horror). She knitted and darned and sewed in every spare minute and played the piano. And always there were flowers inside and outside the house.

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She also had time for fun–this photo was taken at an annual dinner dance at the Port na Blagh Hotel. I  remember this dress so well – it was a beautiful soft pink with a huge wide skirt that went on forever! For the following year’s dance, it was dyed black and looked fabulous.

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The Annual Dinner Dance at Port na Blagh Hotel c. 1956. From left to right Johnny Sweeney, Mary Josie Sweeney, Mum and Dad.

Mum was very friendly with Agnes McFadden (Aggie Big Pat) who would come to our  house every Thursday when they would exchange English Sunday newspapers and eat sandwiches and drink tea. Lena McGinley was another good friend and laughter was a huge part of these two friendships.

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Mum and Dad with two of the younger children – numbers 4, and 5 . c 1959-60

All of this came to a grinding halt when her youngest child, our brother, was killed just after 3 pm on Tuesday June 30 1959. He was 15 months old. It is unimaginable for any mother to have to pick up her dead baby off the road with a horrific head injury. See post here .

1959 still had not finished with her. Less than 6 months later and just before Christmas her beloved father, who she absolutely idolized, died suddenly. See post here.

These events were to have a terrible impact on her, and some years later having moved to England they carved out a new life with a new love –  her Cocker Spaniel, Kerry, who she adored and who was her faithful companion for over a decade.

Our parents, Berard and Maude Gallagher holidaying in the Dingle Peninsula c 1980s with their cocker spaniel Kerry

Mum, Dad and the faithful Kerry on tour. c.1980s

After they returned to Ireland on retirement, more hounds were added and beautiful gardens evolved yet again. I have never seen such a wonderful collection of Fuchsias which she loved. Bird tables and feeders abounded, roses scented the air, Clematis twined, flowers made a stunning display, and Dad kept horses in his field.  Grandchildren came and went in droves, as did her good friend Ethna who was always a special guest who they loved to see coming!

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Family reunion at Carrigart c. 1986

Although she had some health issues later in her life, our mother was very resilient and continued with her gardening, bird feeding, seed ordering, piano playing and reading. So many books!

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Visit from USA by Dad’s brother Séan and wife Mary in 1998 – the last photograph

August 1998 brought the death of her last remaining sibling, her sister Eva and it distressed her greatly. I can still her her crying out in grief –  ‘They are all gone, they are all gone’. As the eldest of the siblings she had not expected to be the last one. At Christmas 1998 she was in good form but only days into the new year she began to show signs of  confusion and restlessness. Some weeks later she was transferred to hospital on a Sunday evening. She became very lucid and kept addressing Granny Williams for a couple of days. The doctor thought she might last 24 hours and suggested the family be called urgently.  As our sister, her youngest child, was in New Zealand there was no way she could get home in 24 hours. But she left New Zealand anyhow and headed to Shannon Airport, a journey of two days. The palliative staff said they had seen patients defy the odds to ‘wait’ for someone.  Eva arrived in to Shannon Airport at 1 pm on Wednesday and she and I stayed on the night watch  while the others went home to bed. She died at 6.10  am on Thursday  morning, 25 March 1999 as a blackbird sang his heart out just outside her room window.

Our mother was born 100 years ago today, 19 January 2018.

19 Comments

Filed under Family History, Ireland, Oral History

19 responses to “Remembering our mother on the centenary of her birth

  1. A beautiful tribute to a lovely lady..I think her daughter has inherited much from her. One hundred years..it doesn’t seem possible that we remember those born so long ago, so very well. Thank you for sharing your memories.

  2. yardsailor

    This was lovely, an idea I love, will be starting a memory page for both of my parents, my Dad would be 100 this year and my Mom 104, their lives and accomplishments need to be written down, thank you for reminding me.

    • Its a good way to keep a record as there is more to family history than just names ..imagine being born 100 years ago with the world at war and everything totally different to the world we know. And the knowledge we have of them will die with us if we dont record it. I look forward to reading yours! Thank you for dropping by!

  3. Lovely post SV. Your Mum and other antecedents are now properly recorded for posterity. We now have the means to make these stories permanent. I grieve at all the history that never was, and never will be, recorded.

  4. What a beautiful tribute to an exceptional lady. I can still remember passing the hotel at Port na blagh on the way home for our summer holidays. It is long gone.

  5. Poignant post thanks for sharing – what a wonderful history and tribute to your mum 🙂

  6. Robert I Stewart (with genealogic ties to Carbury)

    A beautifully written remembrance of a loved one. A great tribute to her!

  7. Liam Moore

    Hi there Silver Voice,Beautiful Memories,Born in Kishawanny railway crossing house in 1944,I remember a house known as Williams,s house Down Pat Earls lane,over the stone-Boyne bridge and down on the left you turned up a short lane to the left just before you came to JJ Macks House on the left also,they were the only two houses on that lane-IE =the lane to the Ramper Bog-or if you prefer call it Pat Earls Lane,Regards Liam.

    • Hi Liam. How very interesting. I spoke with lots of people in the area last year and none recalled the Williams name. Where is Pat Earls lane? We. Identified the house via Griffiths Valuation and I wonder where the place you mention is? Thanks so much for making contact! Much appreciated !

  8. Liam Moore

    Hi there ,Yes -Coming from Edenderry toward dublin-past the first large farmhouse on the right,it was Clarkes farm,a half mile further on there is a small lane on the right, they called it Pat Earls Lane, there may be a house there at the entrance to the lane now,go down that lane about one and a half miles-over a stone bridge that goes over the Boyne river,Further on about 1/2mile there is a short lane on the left ,up there on the right is-was a house=Williams,s there was a well in the front yard covered with a big metal plate,I remember two different families living there,Regards

    • Hi Liam
      Very interesting and I must look back at our records to see if this might fit with some of the locations I have. The time frames might be out – my great grandfather Thomas Williams allegedly went to America in about 1894. He was from Edenderry – I don’t know where as there is no specific address in anything – in all probability he lived in the town. The address on the marriage certificate is Edenderry and my grandmother (the only child) was born in Edenderry. In 1901 Thomas’s wife Kate and my grandmother were with Kate’s mother in Kishawanny. In 1911 Kate was at a different address as a servant in Clonkeen, recorded with her maiden name. She died in the 1930s. I wonder if the place you mention would have been associated with her?
      Thanks so much for making contact – I appreciate it very much

  9. Liam Moore

    The Williams,s lived there pre 1950.there was another Williams house down Derrycoris lane Edenderry,they were bonesetters,the house is still there ,Joseph Locke,was the last I knew to live in it.There was also a Williams house up near Blundell Castle,and of course the Williams business Purchased by MP o Brien Ltd in Main Street,Edenderry,Regards Liam.

    • My Great grandfather was an only son. He and his father PAT were labourers although that does not rule out bonesetting! Is that Joseph Locke the singer? If so my mother used talk a lot of him, so maybe it was because of his fame rather than a family tie. I gather that we are not related to the business owners in town. Stephen Pearce the carriage maker remembered the family and used correspond with my mother. No info at all on the Willams other than some tracing using church registers that I had confirmed by the local Roots Ireland people. I have not been able to add any ‘colour’ to the name Thomas Williams. Did he go to USA? Did he really leave Edenderry when his daughter was an infant – the only passenger list with that name is in 1894 … Was he a bit of a lad? Who were his sisters ? I must take a trip back to Edenderry maybe next summer to get a better look at the place. It was my first time last year and loved the town. Did a walking tour with Ciaran which was great.
      Thanks so much for your interest.
      Best regards
      Angela

  10. Liam Moore

    Hi Angela Do you mind if I ask what was the religous denomination of your family,There is another Williams man I knew who had connection to Kishawanny,Micky–I remember him and his wife and child to live in a tumbledown house in KW,at the top of our lane at the junction to the Cadamstown–Edenderry road It was in an old farmyard,called Malones yard.Afterwards owned by Artie Tyrrell.that man is dead since though his son is living in Edenderry,Regards Liam.

    • Liam I seem to have missed this comment from November. Apologies! My great grandfather was RC and he married Kate Cleary from Kishawanny. The Kishawanny connection is through Kate’s family – her mother was Kinsella and we located their house using Griffiths Valuation. It’s beside Midland Veterinary, on the main road side.

      • liam moore

        Hi Angela,I remember Clearys house well, there was Jack Cleary living there in my time,I think his wife was Kate,she died when i was very young but i think I remember her,also there were other clearys in edenderry. regards Liam.

      • That’s very interesting Liam. The name Jack doesn’t ring any bells. There were a few Cleary families about the place. I am not sure who of the next generation lived in my great great grandmother’s house. I will look further and may look for your assistance when I get round to it later in the year if that is ok?

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