Another BillyBuilt Product



       Since this site was first published I have uncovered some more information which appears to shed some light on the mystery surrounding the birth of the man I knew as John Kennelly, my Grandfather.

       Readers who have read through this site will recollect that on the ‘Pre-WWI Page’ I said that neither the Irish civil(5) nor church authorities(6) have a record of a marriage between a John Kinnelly and a Bridget Morarty, but they do record a marriage(5b) on 5 March 1886 between a ‘John Kennelly’ and a ‘Bridget Moriarty’, both of Knocknaboola, a small hamlet just over 2 miles from Killorglin. This is the only recorded marriage of a couple with similar names to those persons named in my Grandfather’s, John Kennelly’s. Marriage Certificate(8) living in the area of Killorglin, the town where John maintained he was born, and this also suggests that the names of his parents were transcribed incorrectly on that Marriage Certificate(8).

       I subsequently argued, on the basis of the available information which I had uncovered  that this John Kennelly and Bridget Moriarty of Knocknaboola were not my Grandfather’s, John Kennelly’s, parents, but that conclusion is now in doubt thanks to a subsequent discovery by me.

       I have now discovered that Bridget Moriarty of Knocknaboola gave birth to an illegitimate son, by name John, on 28 February 1884; no father is named for the child in the civil register(5c) and inspection of the entry makes it clear that this is a deliberate act, not simply a clerical omission. Interestingly, the entry in the civil register makes it clear that the birth was not registered until 19 March 1886, some 2 years after the birth, and 2 weeks after Bridget Moriarty married John Kennelly.

       I have subsequently re-contacted the Diocese of Killorglin but they cannot offer any explanation for the birth of John Moriarty not being registered with the civil authorities for over 2 years, and not until after the marriage of his mother, Bridget, to John Kennelly. Needless to say, the Diocese do not have a baptism record for this John Moriarty either.

       It is also important to note that there is no official record of the illegitimate John Moriarty changing his name to John Kennelly, though such niceties would probably have been dispensed with by poor working families in rural Ireland, even in the late 19th Century.      

 Another interesting piece of information appears in the 1911 Irish Census (5a). The 1911 Irish Census was the first to include entries for the following categories: ‘Children born alive to present marriage’ and ‘Children still living’. In answer to both questions, John Kennelly had entered the figure ‘7’. Seven children born alive, and seven children still living, but the 1901 Irish Census(5a) records only 6 of these children, namely Thomas (age 14), Bridget (age 12), Edward (aged 10), Patrick (age 9),  Norah (Baptised as Honora, age 6), and Mortimer (Baptised as Martin, age 2). There is no mention of a child named John, but could John Moriarty perhaps be the seventh child? If so, he was born out of wedlock (5c) and should not have been included in the 1911 Census Form as one of the ‘Children born alive to present marriage’, regardless of whether John Kennelly had been his father or even if he had subsequently unofficially adopted him as his own.

       It is also notable that my Grandfather, John Kennelly, always maintained that he could not speak Irish, but the 1901 Census records that John Kennelly and his wife, Bridget, spoke both Irish and English, as did the eldest child named on the Census Return (Thomas, age 14), so it would be unlikely that an elder sibling of Thomas would not speak Irish. John Moriarty, or John Kennelly, would have been 17 at the time of the 1901 Census.

       Additionally, as I explained in the ‘Pre-WWI Page’, John Kennelly always maintained to his immediate family that his date of birth was either the 4th or 6th of February, which does not reconcile itself with the date of birth for John Moriarty, 28th February (5c), which was the date his mother, Bridget Moriarty, gave to the Registrar.

       So, the mystery as to who really was my Grandfather’s, John Kennelly’s, parents were, or his actual date and year of birth are not finally cleared up, and probably never will be at this late stage.

       However, if John Moriarty and John Kennelly were one and the same person, it would have made my Grandfather age 17 years and 9 months old (3) when he signed up for the Army on 1 December 1901, which contradicts the information in his Army documents - see Army Forms B.200(1) and B.2079(2), and confirms what I said about this issue in the ‘Pre-WWI Page’.

Copyright © 2020 Liam ÒCionnfhaolaidh

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