Hennessy WW I Family Mystery

Casualties, conversion and disinheritance

By J C

Dear All,

First, many thanks to all who worked to get this site up. They are invaluable ways to consolidate local resources and provide forums for exchanging information.

I have a family mystery that I am hoping someone can please help me out with.

My great-great grandfather, Patrick Hennessy, (born between about 1861 and 1873 - died March 1943) was from a Protestant family who lived, for a while at least, in Tinahely, Kilcommon. He is supposed to have had several brothers.

Patrick moved to Newmarkert-on-Fergus in Co Clare, where he fell in love with Katherine McMahon, a Catholic lady. Patrick converted to marry her, infuriating his father, who cut him off.

Then, during WWI, all Patrick's brothers were killed, leaving him and his two sons the last men standing. Patrick's father offered to make one of his grandsons his heir, but Patrick would have none of it.

I've not been able to find any other descendants of this family and confirm (or correct) this story. I’ve found the record of a William Hennessy, the son of Thomas Hennessy of Riverview at Tinahely who was killed on the first day of the Somme offensive. But the census returns indicate he was not directly related to Patrick. Tom Burnell, author of The Wicklow War Dead very kindly provided me with details of all the Hennessys from Wicklow killed in the War, but no obvious matches jump out.

I have found a few other inconsistencies in the available records.

Firstly, Patrick and Katherine's marriage certificate from 1904 says Patrick's father was a famer named John and that he was already deceased.

Secondly, in the 1911 census, Patrick indicates he was born in Co Wexford, not Wicklow. But there is a strong family tradition he was from Tinahely.

Notes kindly provided to me by Catherine Wright indicate there were Hennessy families living at Knockatomcoyle and Coolafunshoge, both near Tinahely, who might fit the bill.

But I am wondering of there is anyone out there who may be a distant relative of Patricks and has heard this story being passed down.

Many thanks, JC

This page was added by J C on 04/09/2014.

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