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Irish COVID-19 Oral History Project

Dublin City University this month has launched the Irish COVID-19 Oral History Project. Same focuses on orally archiving the Irish lived experience of the COVID-19 pandemic, for historical purposes.

Led by Ms Caitriona Ni Cassaithe and Professor Ms Theo Lynn, the project is intended to curate a collection of oral histories, detailing the Irish experience of the COVID-19 pandemic and how Irish communities are living through it, both at home and abroad.

These findings are intended to be used by historians, researchers and policymakers in years to come to inform responses to future pandemics.

It was initially inspired by work being undertaken by Professor Jason Kelly (IUPUI) on the US-based COVID-19 Oral History Project, a partner project of ‘A Journal of the Plague Year’, and efforts are being coordinated with the IUPUI project.

All data will be stored in Ireland and managed by DCU, but will be shared with the wider research community, including IUPUI, over time on an open access basis.

The team behind the oral history project are asking the general public to go to the project website, View HERE, record their answers to the questions asked and upload them.

For those who cannot record their submission for whatever reason, there is an option to submit a written response on the website.

Caitríona Ní Cassaithe, from the School of STEM Education, Innovation & Global Studies, stated “History is experienced and viewed differently by the various people who shape it and are impacted by it. Our current moment in history is one that will be debated, discussed and contemplated for decades, if not centuries to come.
Oral histories can be used to give a voice to the silent or neglected Irish communities – those people whose voices are not always heard in history.”


Case Of Michael Ryan, Quarry Street, Thurles, Co. Tipperary

Can any of our readers shed further light on those named hereunder or indeed are you in anyway related to this Ryan family who emigrated from Mitchel Street, Thurles, Co. Tipperary?
We would love to hear from you, as indeed would living family relatives who are currently actively tracing their Irish roots.

Michael Ryan was born probably on Saturday November 22nd or Sunday November 23rd, 1834 to parents Cornelius (Con) Ryan (1803-1868) and his wife Margaret (nee Riordan) Ryan (1810-1888), here in Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Approximate area of thatched house No. 62, now demolished, at Lisheen Terrace, Mitchel Street, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, latter street known in the 19th century as Quarry Street, Thurles, Co. Tipperary and once the home of Michael Ryan.

From our records we find that Cornelius ‘Con’ Ryan resided in a single story, thatched, terraced house at No. 62, latter positioned on the south side of Quarry Street, in Thurles (today Quarry Street in Thurles is named Mitchel Street). This terrace of houses was completely demolished, possibly about 1909, and replaced then by more modern two-story terraced structures and named ‘Lisheen Terrace’. The Irish word ‘Lisheen’ translated into English means ‘Small Ring Fort’. A ring fort can be found north east of Mitchel Street (Quarry Street), overlooking Lisheen Terrace.

[Interestingly also born on Quarry Street was Paddy Ryan, (‘The Trojan Giant’) and Heavyweight Bare-Knuckle Boxing Champion of the USA (May 30th 1880). Latter was born on Friday March 14th 1851, further east, also on the south side of Quarry Street, at No. 78.]

Michael was baptised in the parish of Thurles on Wednesday 26th November 1834, with his sponsors in attendance named as Richard Brett and Mary Barry.

Note: It was generally accepted in those days that all baptisms should take place within 3 days of the date of birth, with the birth mother not necessarily in attendance at the baptism.

Michael Ryan and a friend (possibly a cousin) John Cahill, were both sponsored immigrants to the south-eastern Australian state of New South Wales; sponsored by James Cahill, latter who was already residing in New South Wales, living in the town of either Yass, (latter name derived from an Aboriginal word, “Yarrh”, said to mean “running water”) or possibly the valley farming region of Burrowa village (latter name again derives from the local Aboriginal language and referring to a native bird, the Australian Bustard, a large ground dwelling bird).

Michael was given a reference by Thomas Bourke, then Post Master in Thurles and his address was given as Quarry Street, (today named Mitchel Street, after Londonderry born Irish nationalist activist, author, and political journalist John Mitchel), in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, where he lived with his parents the aforementioned Cornelius (Con) Ryan, (Occupation shoemaker) and Margaret Ryan (nee Riordan).

Michael Ryan and John Cahill made their way to Liverpool, where they boarded the “Hannah Moore”, arriving in Sydney on Sunday 6th May 1860.

In February 1863 Michael Ryan married Honorah ‘Norah’ Mahony at Yass, New South Wales; Norah having emigrated from Banteer, Co. Cork. Michael and Norah then moved to Burrowa, where Michael, like his father, conducted a boot making business.

In September 1862, Michael, himself, sponsored the emigration to New South Wales of his sister Mary Ryan (aged 20 years, born 1842); her occupation “a house servant” from Thurles, Co. Tipperary “who can read” (Same ability rare enough in those times). Mary arrived the following year in September 1863, aboard the passenger/cargo ship “Peerless”.

In 1864 Michael also sponsored the emigration of his brother Edmund Ryan, a labourer from Thurles, who arrives aboard “General Caulfield” in October 1865.

Michael and Norah would go on to parent ten children: Margaret, Cornelius, James, Thomas, Mary Ann, Ellen, Honorah (1st), Edward, Honora (2nd) and Michael. [Note: Often if an Irish child died within a family, as possibly in this case this female, the next female child born would assume the same name, e.g. Honorah (1st) / Honora (2nd)].

Michael died after an “operation for dropsy” (latter an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the body, recognized as a sign of underlying disease of the heart, liver, or kidneys), aged 48 years at Burrowa, New South Wales, Australia in February 1882.


Seeking Info. On John Bourke, Born 1869 Thurles, Co. Tipperary

John Bourke (1869 – 1928)

John Bourke was born in Thurles, Co. Tipperary in 1869, to parents James and Johanna Bourke.

John migrated to Australia with his family in 1876. He would later marry Catherine Bedelia Maddin on February 19th, 1901, in the Rural town of Jackson, Queensland. They went on to have three children; James Francis, Kathleen Veronica and Michael Alphonsus.

John was occupied as a Railway Maintenance Inspector and with a gang of ‘Lengthsmen’, was responsible for the laying of miles of railway lines through Western Queensland, providing transport for passengers and goods. [Note: Lengthsman – initially someone who kept a “length” of road neat, tidy and passable in the 1700’s, with particular emphasis on boundary marking. Lengthsmen were also later used on canals and railways]

John Bourke died on May 1st, 1928 in Richmond, western Queensland and was buried in Richmond Cemetery.

The cause of his death was assessed as ‘Acute Dilation’ of the heart, due to the fact that a week earlier, when a heavy hand operated railway trolley came off the tracks, rather than having his men take the load, he lifted the trolley back on to the tracks by himself. He was well known for being a very strong man who would lift heavy loads.

John was well respected and known as a man who shared his friendship with everyone. His funeral was attended by his fellow railwaymen and residents of Richmond.

He remained always proud of his early beginnings as an Irishman.

Has any of our readers any further information on this same Bourke family named above or indeed are you possibly a relative?
We would love to hear from you, as indeed would family relatives currently, actively tracing their Irish roots.


Case of Mary Ellen Morris, Thurles, Co. Tipperary

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history”.

[Above quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. American Christian minister and activist, who became the most visible spokesperson and leader of the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.

The Sad Case of Mary Ellen Morris, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Born May 11th, 1877; Mary Ellen Morris was aged in her 10th year, when she was admitted to the Thurles Workhouse, on November 29th, 1887. It is recorded that on her entry, to this same establishment, that she suffered from ‘sore feet’.

A map showing the now demolished outline of the Thurles Workhouse building, once situated at Castlemeadows, Gortataggart, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, now home to Thurles Hospital of the Assumption.

So far as we are aware, no other Morris family member is on record as having being admitted to the Thurles Workhouse.

We are aware that Grandfather Morris was an engineer with the mines in the Slieveardagh hills, at Earlshill, Thurles.

[We are also aware that here on October 20th, 1845, a person named as Martin Morris, an underground steward, was shot, presumably by contractors annoyed at the introduction of direct labour by the Mining Company of Ireland. Was he a relative?]

Grandfather Forde was a National School teacher, at Glengoole, Thurles.

Images of the former Thurles Workhouse, shortly prior to its demolition in 2005. Photography G. Willoughby

Mary Ellen’s father, William Bourke Morris died of Tuberculosis (TB) on May 23rd 1887, aged just 38 years old. William was formerly a colliery manager with the Irish Mining Co. situated at Earlshill, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Later, when he moved his family from Earlshill to Thurles town, in or about the year 1883; William worked for a time as an auctioneer, until his health worsened and he died.

Mary Ellen’s mother, Ellen Forde-Morris, now a widow, found herself with six dependent children under her care. A seventh child, a toddler, had sadly died six months previous to her husband’s death.

A decision was now made, possibly with the help of her father-in-law, Wm Morris, to emigrate to America, where she had two sisters living with their families in Providence, latter the capital city of the U.S. State of Rhode Island. Ellen planned to take her two eldest children with her; her sons William Joseph and Patrick Timothy.

Her three daughters, Barbara (8 years), Anna (6 years) and Florence (4 years) were sent to live with grandfather Morris and an aunt living in Tuam, in Co. Galway, where the latter managed a hotel.

Ellen’s father Timothy Forde had passed away in 1865 and her mother Mary Commons/Cummins-Forde in 1886.

This left only the aforementioned daughter Mary Ellen, aged 10, who was frail and possibly, either couldn’t make the journey to America for health reasons or pecuniary reasons or indeed because her grandfather and aunt already had accepted 3 other charges to their care.

For whatever reason, most likely due to Mary Ellen’s health condition, she was admitted to the Thurles Workhouse. Mary Ellen’s mother was overwhelmed, but she had no choice but to hope the infirmary and school at the Thurles Workhouse would take good care of her daughter.

On October 25th, 1893, Mary Ellen Morris, now frail, small, and aged 16, died (although report state she was only 14). On that day she was at school in the Thurles Workhouse and suffered a ‘seizure’ or heart failure, falling to the floor as she was reading her catechism.

Due to the nature of her death, an inquiry was commissioned and a report rendered. In this inquiry, it was stated that an inmate by the name of Mrs. Commons was in charge at the time of Mary Ellen’s death, as the teacher was outside of the room.
Mary Ellen’s mother, Ellen Forde-Morris passed away a year later in Providence, Rhode Island. She was aged just 44 years old and the doctor listed her cause of death, also, as heart failure.

Mary Ellen’s mother’s mother (her grandmother) was Mary Commons/Cummins-Forde, school teacher in New Birmingham/Glengoole and had passed away in 1886, in Graine, Co. Kilkenny.

Can any of our readers shed further light on those named above or indeed are you in anyway related to either of these families?
We would love to hear from you, as indeed would family relatives currently today, actively tracing their Irish roots.


Thurles On-Street Pay Parking Required From Tomorrow, Monday June 8th

Local Councillor Mr Sean Ryan.

According to the Thurles Municipal District Council’s Twitter account [TipperaryCoCo@ThurlesMD], on-street pay parking requirements will resume in the towns of Thurles, Templemore and Roscrea from tomorrow, Monday, June 8th 2020.

Parking bye laws, which have totally destroyed every single business; both big and small, in Thurles town centre have remained in ‘token place’ in recent months. However these bye laws have not been enforced by traffic wardens; latter who rightly vanished into isolation; cocooning since our caretaker government’s Covid-19 virus restrictions were introduced back in March.

However do take note, Thurles Municipal District have confirmed that full enforcement of pay parking in car parks will NOT resume until Monday July 20th, 2020.
This statement was announced on Twitter on the morning of June 5th last

Previously, it had been further confirmed by Tipperary County Council’s Mr Marcus O’Connor (Director of Services for Roads), who stated “We will only be enforcing it on the streets and people will be able to park in the car parks for free, until Monday 20th July 2020.”

With regard to other matters raised with our elected Councillors; [View HERE (Thurles Heritage In Grave Danger) and HERE (What Future For 1798 Memorial In Liberty Square Thurles?)], silence continues to reign.

In relation to the 1798 Memorial issue we discussed, one would have expected at least a firm “Tiocfaidh ár lá” (Irish -“Our day will come”) from local Irish republican supporters, who before the last 2019 local elections, were to be found laying wreaths at the foot of this same “Stone Man“. No, not a word, not even an “Up the Ra” from Waterford TD David Cullinane.

There were no protests by the public on Liberty Square either, reminissent of the An Post protest, organised by Thurles Chamber, when the former decided to leave Liberty Square. Such a pity as same would have granted some local Councillors that inevitable cynical photo opportunity, to be loaded onto their social media platforms.

Of course this ‘Stone Man’ could fit nicely on top of the Roundabout at Thurles Shopping Centre, joining its old friend An Post once again; you know the circular intersection I mean, that costly ornamental pile of stones offering no practical purpose and referred to as “The Thurles Town Folly”, which successfully blocks the vision of every travelling motorist.

Who did actually acknowledge the “Double Ditch” issues aforementioned :-

Ms Josepha Madigan, TD, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Ms Emily Beedham, (LUC) Thurles Renewal Strategy project.
Ms Louise Croughan, Minister Madigan’s Office.
Thurles local elected Councillor Mr Sean Ryan, Littleton, Thurles, (latter pictured above), the only elected member of the Thurles Municipal District Council to reply.

Nothing from TD’s and the County Manager. ✘

But of course the local elections are over since early 2019 and that €17,000 minimum annual income, earned by municipal district Councillors, remains relatively safe in these uncertain times; until sometime in early 2024 at least, God willing.

One hopes now that there will be no sudden rush by those other Thurles elected representatives, latter unable to read their emails, offering us conference calls on Zoom, wearing only a shirt and skimpy underpants, while scratching themselves; following in the new trend set by Ming ‘The trourserless’.