Archive for the ‘Ryan’ Category

This is for all those on the Facebook group – Ryans and Roches of Commonealine, County Tipperary.

The file is too big for Facebook. Click on the picture and you will see the chart and then zoom in. I only include information to my parents’ generation, because of privacy.

Descendants of Michael Roche and Mary Wallace

Descendants of Michael Roche and Mary Wallace

This may not be up to date, it’s the one I posted when I started the blog:
Family Group Sheet Ryan Roche

Check out the other posts in this blog – I have other information on the Ryans and the Roches.

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My father’s family moved a lot. They lived in different types of houses, old tenements, old wood frame house, basement apartment, apartments with no indoor plumbing, but in 1938 they settled down.

They moved to 525 West 182nd Street – The Invermark. Here is a picture of the building and the floor plan from Apartment Houses of the Metropolis which can be found in the New York Public Library and on their website. Click on the picture and you can zoom and look at it more closely. Which apartment did the Colberts live in?

The Invermark, northeast corne... Digital ID: 465689. New York Public Library

In 1901 New York city passed a new law regulating tenements. They had to have bathrooms inside each apartment and they had more light and ventilation. Builders started designing the new buildings which came to be called “New Law” Tenements. These were often built on multiple lots or on corner lots. Often they were given names. One of these was the Invermark, built on the corner of West 182nd Street and Audubon Avenue.

They advertised that they had telephone service, but the Colberts didn’t have one in 1940. I’m  not sure when they finally got a telephone.

The Colberts moved in around 1938 or 1939. In 1940 they paid $42.00 a month rent.

Not long after they moved in Uncle Joe acquired a camera and starting taking pictures, so we have a good idea of what the apartment looked like when the Colberts lived there, almost 30 years after it was built.

Uncle Jackie looking out the window of 525 West 182nd Street.

The family had a lot of gatherings there and Uncle Joe documented them. Here’s one of my father on Christmas Day, 1939.

My father has a little fun before Christmas dinner is cooked.

Grandpa in the kitchen. “A candid shot.” snapped by Joe Colbert

Uncle Mike

The relatives came over too.

Front: Larry, Jane, Joan Colbert, Jim Rogers
Back: Peggy Rutan, Aunt Addie, Aunt Elsie, Bernadette Rutan and Josephine Wunderlich

The Invermark wasn’t far from Highbridge Park.

Frances and Larry at Highbridge Park.

Joan and Jack Colbert swimming at Highbridge Park.

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No, it’s not a typo. On November 7, 1918, the country celebrated the end of the World War.

The Evening World, November 07, 1918, Final Edition. Library of Congress, Chronicling America

My father had a great memory. One story he told was about being a very young child and watching, in amazement, as his parents went crazy. His mother ran out of the house, leaving the door open, and his father kissed his mother on the stoop.  In later years he realized it had to be the day the war ended.

Larry and Joe Colbert. Taken around Spring 1918.

I figured it would be easy enough to find out how the people of New York City reacted to the end of the war. After all, I knew the date – November 11, 1918 was Armistice Day.

But I was wrong. The celebrations took place on November 7th – all because the United Press Association reported the armistice had been signed, when it hadn’t.

The Evening World, November 07, 1918, Final Edition. Library of Congress, Chronicling America

The papers knew pretty quickly that the story was false. New York Tribune, November 8, 1918 Library of Congress, Chronicling America

Everyone knew the armistice would be signed soon. On November 11th, the country celebrated again and this time it really was over. No wonder my father remembered the day so well.

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On Saturday I went to Astoria to visit my son, Joe, and my niece, Kate. We intended to tour the neighborhood and see where some of the family lived. My father had quite a few cousins in Astoria: Ryans, Durneys, and Colberts. My mother also had a cousin there – Anne Ahern Getty.

As it turned out we did the Calvary tour. We have a lot of relatives there too. Joe was the driver, Kate the navigator and I realized how congested Queens is and how much easier it is to drive in Dutchess County.

The Calvary office was closed, but I had printed out some maps. Calvary is HUGE and it is easy to get lost, but the navigator and driver were both very skillful. We went to First, Second and Third Calvary. Of course, many of the family sites are missing headstones, but we found a couple:

George Grossman – only his name is on the stone – his wife, Mary Colbert Grossman is also buried here.

Lawrence Coleman, brother of Mary Coleman Colbert         

James and Anne Whelan and their children: Nan, Thomas, William

My father worked at Brewster Aeronautics, by the Queensboro Bridge, from 1939 to 1942. It’s now MetLife. We had a hard time getting there because of traffic detours – we didn’t know it at the time, but it was because they were filming the Dark Knight on the bridge.


By the time we left the old Brewster building it was getting dark, so the rest of the tour of Astoria will have to wait for another visit.

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One of the best places to get help on genealogical questions is a Rootsweb mailing list. There are mailing lists available for surnames, countries, states, military, and just about anything you can think of.

The Tipperary mailing list is very active and I sent them a question about the meaning of the townland names and within a short time I received a response and a link to a great website: Bunachar Logainmneacha na hEireann or Placenames of Ireland.

You type in the name of the townland and will see a list of townlands throughout Ireland with than name. There is often more than one townland with the same name, and in some cases, there are many. Click on the one you want and you will go to a site where you can toggle between a map and data. The data section usually has an attachment which has a list of the various spellings of the townland over the years and the meaning of the name.

I went through the list for the townlands of the Ryans and Roches and this is what I found:

Foilinefingoe (Turraheen Upper Thoirthín Uachtarach) – Foilinefingoe is not found in townland listings, probably because it was part of Turraheen Upper for so long.   Meaning – not sure – looks like it might mean “the stream called”  (Lawrence Ryan was born here)

Commonealine  Comán Laighean – little hollow of the flax  (Lawrence Ryan and Johanna Roche were living  here at the time of their marriage and when their daughter Maggie was born.

Bahagha – Na Beathacha – birch lands (Michael Roche and Mary Wallace lived here and most of their children were born here)

BirchgroveGarrán Beithe – Estate of G. J.Birch (one of the children of Michael Roche and Mary Wallace was born in Birchgrove)

GlengarAn Gleann Gearr – short glen (Michael Ryan was born here in 1879)

Turtulla –  Thorclaigh – no meaning given (Mary Ryan was born here in 1880)

Now if only I could figure out how to pronounce these names!

I will go through the listings and post the townlands for other Colbert-Whelan families in a future post.

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My father knew very little about his family history.

He knew his grandparents, Lawrence Ryan and Johanna Roche, were from Ireland where they were married and where their first three children, Maggie, Mike and Mamie were born.

But what part of Ireland?

Fortunately, Larry and Johanna Ryan were married after Ireland started civil registration and it was fairly easy to find their marriage certificate. They were married in the Chapel of Doon, County Limerick on February 2, 1875, and lived in the townland of Commonealine, County Tipperary.

When my parents visited Ireland in the 1980s they went to the chapel and my father saw the marriage record. He also had the opportunity to visit Commonealine.

Larry Colbert in front of the church and rectory, Doon, 1984

Little did he know that years later, after he died, I would be able to find even more records. A few years ago, some church records became available, for a fee, at The Irish Family History Foundation.  I was able to find baptismal records for both Larry Ryan and Johanna Roche, plus the 1841 marriage record for Johanna Roche’s parents.

The Pastor of Doon holding the Ryan-Roche marriage record.

Turned out, they weren’t baptised in Doon, but in Kilcommon parish. Johanna lived in Bahagha, not far from Commonealine, and Lawrence lived in Foilinefingoe, Upper Turraheen, about 5 miles from Commonealine.

Foilinefingoe, Commonealine, and Bahagha

The Ryans and Roches lived in a remote mountainous area with many hills and valleys. Commonealine (Cuimin an Fhaill) means the commons of the cliff or the hill of the common land. Foilinefingoe (Foileen na Finoga) also meant cliff, but I don’t know the rest of the meaning; this townland was in a more mountainous area of the county than Commonealine. Bahagha? I’m sure it has some meaning, but I have no clue what it might be.

The Ryan part of the book is almost done, at least the first draft. Next on the list –  the Colberts. They were the first of the family to arrive in New York, just before the Irish famine.

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Josephine Ryan

When my father would talk about his mother, Josephine, he would inevitably say something like “But that wasn’t really her name”.

Her name was Johanna, the same as her cousin Johanna Durney who was a few years older and lived in Queens. According to the story my father told, the two girls were at the zoo, saw a monkey named Johanna, and promptly changed their names to Josephine.

I always wondered about that monkey, but how could I ever prove the story? There must have been hundreds of monkeys at the zoo and which zoo – Central Park or Bronx?

Last year, through the magic of the internet, I was able to find my Durney cousins. It turns out their Great Aunt Josephine, who was called Josie, lived a long life and they knew her well. They had also heard the story of the name change, with one slight, but significant difference: it wasn’t a monkey, it was a gorilla.

Gorillas are a bigger than monkeys, in more ways than one – they’re much bigger news. I went straight to the internet and sure enough Johanna the gorilla was big news in 1894 when my grandmother was 7 and her cousin 11.

She was part of Barnum and Bailey’s circus and spent the summers touring and the winters in Central Park Zoo. She arrived in December 1893 to great fanfare. Every newspaper carried a story, often illustrated, with descriptions of what Johanna ate, her temper, her appearance, and her “husband”, Chiko. She was the star of the day.

Those two little girls must have been mortified to have the same name as the gorilla in the zoo, no wonder they changed their names.

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