Quinns Pictures

Mary (May) Quinn was eighteen years of age when she married and left the home of her father John. This was one of the three thatched farm houses in one farmyard from where the three families of Quinns shared the farm between them. We must go back a long way to find the background to this extraordinary story and that is what we will now attempt to do.

By use of the 1901 and 1911 census returns, recorded details of headstones in Baltyboys Cemetery, the Tithe Applotment Books and the Primary Valuation records all at the National Archives in Bishop Street, Dublin, it has been possible to link the three Quinn families who resided in Ballinahown at the flooding of the area in 1939 to the three Quinn families of Patrick, Myles and John who were joint owners of the 140 acre farm in 1823.

An entry in the Tithe Applotment books shows the name as Quin. This may have been an error in spelling or perhaps it was the correct name at that time.

The farm consisted of arable pasture and island pasturable land totalling 58 acres and bog division of 81 acres and had an acreable valuation of 17s. 0d. per acre. The Island referred to was created by the Ballinastocken Brook, which meandered through the farm.

Some thirty years later in 1854 an entry in The Primary Valuation records shows the same three men as joint owners of the farm which was now 199 acres. The name was then given as Quinn.

The Progenitor or founder of this family, we are reliably informed, came from the North of Ireland. We are not certain why he came south or what religion he may have been. His name could have been either Quinn or Quin. What we do know is that he was born around 1720 and that he had three sons born around 1750 to 1760 and that these three sons were the fathers of Patrick, Myles and John, who were the third generation and first cousins to each other.

An interesting statistic has emerged regarding these three cousins.

          Patrick had a son John, born in 1829, died in 1894

          John had a son Henry, born in 1828, died in 1898                          

          Myles had a son Patrick, born in 1829, died in 1895

All the families, in every generation had at least one son to carry on the tradition. Try not to get confused with the names, as it appears there was a scarcity of them or a desire to repeat them over and over again.

          The Tithe Applotment books were compiled between 1823 and 1837 in order to determine the amount which occupiers of agricultural holdings should pay in tithes to the Church of Ireland, the main Protestant church and the church established by the State until 1871. There is a manuscript book for almost every parish, the amount of land held and the sums paid in tithes.

          The Primary Valuation (also known as Griffith’s Valuation) was carried out between 1847 and 1864. There is a printed valuation book for each barony or poor law union, showing the names of occupiers of land and buildings, the names of persons from whom these were leased and the amount and value of the property held. It was a valuation of land and building holdings, taken to determine the tax an occupier had to pay towards support of the poor.


Quinn Headstones in Baltyboys Cemetery

Erected by Mrs. Elizabeth Quinn of Ballinahown in memory of her beloved husband Myles who departed this life 6th November 1867 aged seventy four years (born 1793)

Her son James who died young

Her son Maurice who died 26th November 1869 aged thirty four years (born 1835)

Her son Patrick who died 26th August 1895 aged sixty six years (born 1829)

Patrick’s daughter Nellie who died 28th October 1932 (born 1883)

Patrick’s wife Annie Quinn who died 18th March 1933 (born 1846)

Patrick’s son Myles, who died 4th January 1926 (born 1881)


Erected by John Quinn of Ballinahown in memory of his father Patrick, who died 9th February 1859 aged seventy six years (born 1783)

His daughter Elizabeth who died young (Sister of John)

The above John Quinn who died 30th March 1894 aged sixty five years (born 1829)

His wife Elizabeth who died 7th July 1920 aged eighty six years (born 1834)

His daughter Lizzie who died 8th July 1921 aged forty seven years (born 1874)

It might be a nice idea to invent a name for the Progenitor. It was almost certain to have been the name of one of his grandsons, Patrick, Myles or John and I’m going to plump for John.

He was most likely to have come from a farming background and was familiar with the system of land-sharing families. We do not know the names of his sons but we do know a good deal about them. The Public Record Office in Belfast has confirmed that apparently this type of farming was common in Northern Ireland. While not unknown, it is certainly unusual, in our part of the country.

John’s father (the progenitor’s son) was your ancestor and perhaps the oldest of the three and he decided farming was not for him and he left the family home and got whatever was agreed by way of inheritance and is supposed to have purchased an Inn and started in the business of being a publican as we would know it to-day.

When he was gone the progenitor, probably unable to decide which of his other two sons should inherit the farm after him, gave each of them a half share and constituted the system whereby they would have an equal amount of arable land and would be allowed to have the same number each of farm animals to graze on a common pasture area. They would also have agreed a rota basis for herding and bringing in the cows to milk and other jobs of a general nature.

This system was no doubt well established when lo and behold the prodigal son returned. He either came back cap in hand, having given up the notion of being a publican or more likely he had money to offer for a share of the farm.

The Progenitor was probably still alive and out of the kindness of their hearts or for the monetary reward, they accepted him back. It was decided to re-arrange the land divide, alter the numbers agreed for farm stock and allow him to live in one of the three houses and get set up with his own farm animals, equipment, etc.

But the decision to accept him back was tempered by the size of the share they gave him. The agreement he made with the others was to persist right down through three generations and was to come back to haunt his great grandson John, when he had to accept a pro-rata share of the compensation money paid for the farm, eventually lost under the lake.

He was allocated one fifth of the arable land or roughly one quarter of what the other two had combined after the deduction of his portion. This divide was carefully drawn up giving him either all of a particular field, none of another and part of another and so on, to ensure that the other two retained all that was best for tillage etc.

The bog area of the holdings which was around eighty acres was also divided in the same ratio as the arable land. Each of the families made use of the bog in various different ways, but in particular for the cutting and harvesting of turf, an important fuel for use with timber to keep the home fire burning in the big open grate.

The allocation of stock allowed for grazing in the common pasture area, known as the “mullauns” was as follows. He could have half the quantity of animals as each of the others. They were allowed eight cows and eight cattle each and he could have four of each. They were allowed two horses each, whilst he was limited to one. Similar proportions applied to geese, as they were classed as grass eaters. Each family could have as many pigs, asses and poultry as they so wished.

The herding arrangement was also allocated proportionately, the two larger shareholders doing it for two weeks at a time whilst the smaller holder had responsibility for a one week period at a time. 

On May day each year an inventory was carried out on the numbers of stock and any adjustments required were done. If as happened on occasions that one had too many cattle or whatever, they would arrange for them to be brought elsewhere for grazing. To demonstrate this we know that the smaller share holder had a pony as well as one horse, but because of the restriction imposed, the pony had to be kept in a stable. These agreements passed down from one generation to the next and are within living memory of the families’ descendants. It was never known to cause any friction between them as each family knew the rules and adhered to them rigidly.

Having only one horse was a big drawback. It gave rise to difficulties at harvest time as most farm machines were designed for two horses. Borrowing a horse was not very practical so your ancestor decided to purchase a one horse mowing machine, which was a very unusual piece of equipment, for which he paid £24-0-0, a big outlay at the time. He also had a one-horse plough and these machines gave a great deal of comfort under the circumstances.

Pigs were an important part of the farm plan of these people.  All the families had piggeries for the breeding and rearing of pigs. So much so that outsiders referred to Ballinahown as ‘Pigtown’. Young pigs, known as bonhams, were sold on for fattening elsewhere, providing a steady income. A pig would be fattened up for killing and would then be salted and hung from the rafters, to be  cut up as required to provide good nourishing and tasty food for any meal of the day, breakfast, dinner or tea.

How well respected the pig was is seen in the preparation for the birth of the bonhams. The sow was brought into the kitchen some time before the event to enjoy all the comforts that could be provided. Selling of other farm produce was dealt with by the womenfolk. They travelled regularly a distance of ten miles to the market in Naas by the very dependable but also very slow  ass and cart. Here they sold home-made butter, chickens and eggs and brought home the groceries including the flakemeal for the stirabout and the flour for the home-made bread.

The fields at Ballinahown each had its own distinctive name and were known as:

The Calf Park                Richardsons Acre

The Nursery                  The Lower Lodge

The High Field               Shearmans Bank

We will now show how the three separate families created by the Progenitor’s sons have evolved through the years and how they learned to live and work together comfortably on what could be described as a small farm.

One of these sons had a son Patrick, born in 1783, who died on 9th February 1859. We don’t know his wife’s name. They had at least two children, Elizabeth who died young and John who was born in 1829, who died on 30th March 1894. John married Elizabeth (Eliza) Fitzpatrick, (1835 - 1920). They had seven children, five of whom survived, who were born as follows: Mary - 1868, Patrick - 1870, John - 1872, Lizzie - 1875 and Joseph - 1877.

When Eliza died in 1920, this portion of the farm passed to her son John. John did not marry. He was known locally as John the Baker. The photographs show his house and at the rear of same, we see him operating a horse-powered milk churn, said to be over three hundred years old. This was also used for threshing and grinding corn.

In 1939, John retired from farming and left Ballinahown to live in a house at Ballinatona, Valleymount, Co. Wicklow, where he died in 1944.

Another of the three sons had a son Myles, born in 1793 - died on 6th November 1867. He was married to Elizabeth, having had at least three children, a son James, who died young, a son Maurice, born in 1835, died on 26th November 1869 and a son Patrick, born in 1829 and died on 26th August 1895.

Patrick married Annie Farrell, (1846 - 1933). They had five children. This family was known as the ‘Cocoa Quinns’.  Their children were born as follows: Eliza - 1879, Myles - 1881, Ellie - 1883, Joseph - 1885 and Patrick - 1887. Myles ran this portion of the farm until his demise on the 4th January 1926 and his mother Annie continued to do so until she died in 1933. Joe, who had left and bought a farm at Alliganstown, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare, returned and ran the farm until 1939, when he went back again to his own home. Joe married Julie Keogh and had four children, Patrick, James, Anne and Joseph.


We turn now to the third of the Progenitors sons who had a son John, born around 1780 and as this is your direct ancestor, we will take a closer look at this part of the family. His wife’s name was Anne and they had at least three children, Bridget, Elizabeth and Henry.

                                             THE STORY OF BRIDGET QUINN  -  PHIBBS  -   MACKEY

2011: This has to be the greatest story never told, also the most tragic as the facts emerge to tell the background to the life and death of this remarkable woman.

Born in the family home of her parents John and Anne at Ballinahown, Blessington Co. Wicklow in  1835, Bridget grew up as so many others have done, on the shared farm of the three Quinn families. We only know of two siblings, her brother Henry who married Eliza Mullee from Kilbride in 1866 and her sister Elizabeth who married Garreth Doyle from Baltiboys in 1860. 

About the year 1857, Bridget married Thomas Phibbs in Blackditches Roman Catholic Church and set up home at his place in Lug na Gun.

Thomas was the son of  Patrick (1782-1866) and Mary (Nee Tyrrell) who died on the 14th November 1864. Thomas and Bridget were blessed with a daughter Mary and two sons, Patrick and John.

        Mary, who was apparently reared by the Phibbs family, was later to marry Michael Nolan from The Commons Newtown Co Kildare in  circa 1886. They had six children John [1887]  Thomas [1889]  Ellen [1890]  Bridget [1891]  Mary [1893]  William [1895]'

         In the 1901 census Michael was shown to be a widower and his wife Mary would have died between 1895 and 1901.

  • Patrick was born on the 13th December1862. He was later to Marry Kate and they had two children, Thomas born in 1891 and Katie born in 1889. In the 1901 census they were living in Watkins Buildings Dublin.

  • John who was born on the 22nd May 1864. He was later to emigrate to New Zealand and it was there in The Catholic Church, Lyelle, Westport, South Island, o.n the 10th April 1893, he married Margaret Edge, who was then aged 16. They had a large family and both of them died during the black flu in 1917. There are many descendants of John and Margaret in New Zealand and elsewhere. One of their grand daughters, Sister Anne  Phibbs, a Brigidine Nun in New Zealand, has rightly claimed Bridget Quinn as her Great Grandmother.

Bridget’s short lived happiness in Lug Na Gun turned to tragedy, when on the 4th October 1864, her husband Thomas died with ‘a stomach disease’. His death, coming as it did only five month’s after the birth of their son, caused very serious problems for Bridget. There was now no place for her and her children on this farm and she had to leave. Patrick, a brother of Thomas, who was married to Mary Lynch,  took over the tenancy of the farm. We are grateful to Maureen Phibbs of Blackrock for this information.

Luckily for Bridget and her children, she was able to return home to Ballinahown. However long this arrangement might be for, as her brother Henry was planning his own marriage to Eliza Mullee on the 30th August 1866. 

 Bridget’s fortune took a turn for the better and the first day of her new life began, with the arrival of a new man in her life. He was Thomas Mackey, son of John and from one of the two Mackey families that held tenancies on the Brady Estate in Lackan. There is not a lot known about Thomas, other than the courage he showed when taking on the ready made family, that Bridget brought with her.

They were married  in The Roman Catholic Church of Blackditches, by Father John O’Reilly, on the 4th March 1867. Best man was John Clarke and the Bridesmaid was Elizabeth Quinn. Bridget used her maiden name Quinn, although she was recorded as being a widow. So for the second time Bridget had married a man named Thomas and moved in to his house in Lacken, hoping for better luck this time, than she had in Lug na Gun.

Alas this was not to be the case.

No doubt it was with great joy that they welcomed the arrival of their daughter Ann, on the 15th December 1867.

But not so the arrival of their son, who was born on the 31st of December 1869.

He only lived for four hours and was described on his death certificate as ;

"A weakly infant with convulsions and died without any medical attention". Both his birth and death certificates record that he was unnamed. Had this child survived he would have been christened John, after both his grandfathers.

If things could get any worse, then they did when Bridget was found to have developed Metritis, described in medical terms as "Inflamation of the uterus following childbirth ".

This was not regarded as uncommon and there were several known, natural remedies, herbal treatments, holistic cures and alternative medicines available. 

However none was found to be of any help to Bridget and after five days suffering she succumed and died on January 5th 1870.

A tragic loss to her family at the age of 35.  Her husband Thomas, who marked both death certificated to indicate he was present, would soon realise the problems he now faced.

Married to Bridget for just three years, he was left to care for three small children, his stepsons Patrick aged eight and John aged six, his own daughter Ann aged two, while his own son lay buried with his mother.

Subsequent revelations give an indication of what appears to have happened to Ann.

The closely related Mackey family of Thomas and Eliza took Ann into their care and she was reared with them as one of their own. They had a son William who was born in 1869 and so it is not surprising that Ann's children and in particular, May being the eldest, regarded this man as their Uncle Bill and his three sons as their first cousins. Although this was not technically correct, so be it.

As of yet there is no indication as to how Thomas managed to rear his two step sons, until their time came to leave home.

It could have happened that all three of Bridget's children by her first marriage, were reared by the Phibb's family.

There is a suggestion that Ann Mackey had been away from home for a number of years perhaps working in one of the Estate Houses and had returned to look after her ailing foster mother Elizabeth, when we find real news about her again.

True love came late to Ann when at the age of 34 she married her uncle Henry’s son, her mother Bridget’s nephew and her very own 27 year old first cousin, John Quinn of Ballinahown. They were married in Valleymount Church on the 19th February 1901. The best man was Pat Healy and the bridesmaid was Kate Quinn, later to join The Good Shephard Nuns as Sister Bridget. So it was that Ann had come to live in the same house, where her mother Bridget had been born and reared.

Ann had six children for John in the space of nine years, the last of them, Bridget when she was 43 years of age. The eldest of these Mary (May) married John Byrne of Baltyboys and she was the only one of the six to have any family. They had 14 children leading to an impressive array of descendents now starting into the fourth generation. 

Ann died at her home in Ballinahown on the 15th April 1917, at 49 years of age. Her death certificate confirms that she died from Pneumonia in her right lung.

She was quickly replaced in Ballinahown when John Quinn married again, to Margaret Kavanagh on the 4th February 1919. They had one daughter Kathy, who married Walter Balfe.

We hope this story of  Bridget Quinn will link together the two families she produced and that are now living a world apart from each other, through the birth of her son John with her first husband Thomas Phibbs and that of her daughter Ann, with her second husband Thomas Mackey.

Another sister Elizabeth, was married to a local man named Garrett Doyle. They had a son John, born around 1860, who inherited the tenancy of their farm in Baltyboys. About 1887 he sought clearance from the Landlord to marry his girl friend Mary, but was impeded by the fact that his two sisters were still in residence at their home place.
Without much consideration as to their well fare he evicted them  from the family home and left them on the side of the road.
Their first cousin John Quinn, in an effort to obtain compensation for the sisters, took a case against the Doyle's to the Assizes in Wicklow, but due to legal restraints, he lost the case. There is no knowledge as to what eventually became of them. 
As can be understood this incident was to cause bitter animosity between these two families and only waned with the passing away of those familiar with all the details.
Henry was born in 1828 and died on the 18th February 1898. In 1866 Henry married Elizabeth Mullee 
(1840 - 1898 ). They had eight children, five girls and three boys.

We will now take a look at the life and times of this generation of the Quinn family over the period from 1866 until the death of the last one in 1964. Click on blue links for Nuns stories.
                                                         MARIANNE  QUINN
                                                                  1867 - 1939

The eldest of Henry and Eliza’s children, Marianne was born on the 1st of October 1867, she grew up in Ballinahown and might well have worked away from home before getting married to near neighbour Richard Pender in October 1895,( Richard’s sister Kate married James Byrne of Baltyboys in April 1895.)

The Penders went to live in Dublin, where Richard got a job in The Guinness Brewery. In the 1901 census they were living at No.7 Geraldine Square, Merchants Quay and three children had been born, George, Henry and John. Also living with them as a boarder was Marianne’s brother Patrick Quinn.

The next we hear of them is on the 1911 census when three more children had arrived, James, Mary Anne and Elizabeth.

They were now living at No. 50 Marrowbone Lane and sometime later they moved again to No. 6 Dolphin Barn Street.

              " Assuming that Richard filled in the census form in 1901, it certainly was not him that filled in the   

                 form in 1911, because in fact he was not there on the night of April the 2nd.

                 It was very likely that Marianne herself  filled in the form and in a reference to Richard,

                 who was described as a Brewery Labourer, she correctly added a note to say,

                 "He was out in Co. Wicklow," clearly indicating that he would not be listed elsewhere."                  

Marianne was five years older than Richard and in both census returns she falsified her age, for some reason or other, to give the impression that she was a year younger than him.

As time progressed Richard was upgraded from being a labourer in the Brewery to a higher level with more responsibilities.

We are not privileged with having the exact details of what happened, but an incident occurred in an area where Richard was responsible for.

The Brewery, while giving good constant employment, demanded in return a high degree of honesty and fidelity from all its workers and any breach of trust was dealt with severely and in Richard’s case, lead to his instant dismissal.

This setback had a devastating effect on himself, his wife and growing family and worse was to follow.

Richard does not appear to have ever got another job and it seems he spent a lot of time at his sister Kate’s place in Baltyboys. Helping with the various farming tasks, working alongside his brother in law James Byrne and their teenage son John.

It was while cutting hay from a rick that Richard suffered a hearth attack and died on the 19th of Nov. 1919 aged 56 years. Although his death certificate gave his age as 46, confirmed by his wife Marianne.

He was buried in the old Burgage Cemetery and re-interred in the New Cemetery in 1939.

Back in Dolphin Barn Street things could not be any worse as Marianne struggled to survive,

In the meantime in Baltyboys John Byrne had married her niece, May Quinn, daughter of her brother John and created a double inter family relationship.

John and May had four children, Kathy, James ,John and Richard, all born at home in Baltyboys.

As another confinement was imminent and some concern was being expressed about the need for hospitilisation, Marianne offered to facilitate this by bringing May in to her house, which was adjacent to the Coombe Lying In Hospital.

So it was that Anne (Nan) was born there on the 15th of March 1929.

The Byrne family continued to expand and Gretta and Tom were born at home followed by Maura and Betty, both born in Holles Street Hospital, when in 1939 with the outbreak of World War 2 imminent, another situation developed similar to 1929 and the Coombe was the preferred hospital with the pre confinement facility available at Dolphin Barn Street.

However things were not the same as before and the feeling is that Marianne was no longer there, having become a patient in Saint Kevins Hospital following a stroke.

May had her baby Phyllis, in the Coombe on the 31st of August 1939 and Marianne died in Saint Kevins on the 16th of October 1939, from Cardiac Failure following Paralysis.

Her remains were brought to their Parish Church, Our Lady of Dolours in Dolphins Barn on Tuesday Oct.17th and after Mass on Wednesday morning she was buried in Burgage Cemetery.

This New Cemetery had just opened to replace the Old Burgage Cemetery, which was about to be covered over and lost forever under the Blessington Lakes.

Ironically at this time between July 3rd.and Sept. 23rd, also in the year 1939, the mortal remains of those buried in the old cemetery were removed to a section reserved for them in the new one, including those of her late husband Richard, buried there in Nov.1919. After the sudden death of Richard, he was interred in the Pender family grave and lay there in peace with his father George, until this upheavel. As the exhuming of the remains took place, Richard's were claimed by his brother George, with the following details recorded.;

      Richard Pender, aged 56 years, Roman Catholic, Farmer. Address Baltiboys, Buried Nov.1919.      Despite the errors in this, the proof of identity is acceptable.

 Also on record as having been buried in this plot are the following;

George Pender, aged 86 (Richard's father) also buried originally in 1919, John Pender aged 86, Michael Byrne, aged 70 and Mary Byrne aged 86. There was no mention of George's wife Mary Anne (Savage)

As there was no Headstone, all the remains in this grave were re-interred in the New Cemetery, with only a marker stone to confirm that a burial had occurred. The exact location of the grave originally numbered in the records as 576 -577- 578,  has now been established and it is situated just after turning left at the cross roads in the cemetery, on the left hand side and beside the Headstone erected to the memory of Benjamin Butler and other family members.

From what we have established it can be assumed that Marianne was interred in this grave alongside the remains of her husband Richard      

To complete the Byrne Family makeup, Bridie, twins Teresa and Bernie and Paddy were all born in Holles Street Hospital.


Elizabeth was born in 1872 and lived to be ninety two years of age, dying in 1964. She spent her life mainly in the convent of Mercy, Mount St. Josephs, Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia. Her religious name was Sister Mary Xavier. 

Jane was born in 1869 and lived to be eighty four years of age, she died on 29th August 1953. She spent her life in the Convent of Mercy, St. John’s, Newfoundland and was known in her religious life as Sr. Mary Berchmans. 

Bridget - Sr. Mary Kierans, was born in 1876 and died in 1960. She was based in the Convent of Mercy, All Hallows, Brisbane, Australia.

Kate was born in 1882 and before joining the nuns she was bridesmaid at her brother John’s wedding to Annie Mackey. Unlike her sister nuns, who were in the teaching profession, her calling was to nursing and unfortunately she contracted the dreaded disease of leprosy and died at the young age of thirty years in 1912. She spent her short religious life in the Convent of the Good Shepherd, Bangalore, India. She chose the name Sr. Mary Bridget.

What a marvellous record this was with four sisters from the one family in the small townland of Ballinahown who gave their lives in the service of God in far flung parts of the world. Never again were they to see each other and only one of them, Aunt Jane ever got home to the land of her birth and to see her family again. Their only contact with each other was by letter and the letters they wrote home regularly, always indicated that they were up to date with news of the others. Remarkably, they were in time, writing to and getting letters from grand nieces they hadnever seen, and sending holy pictures and medals, perhaps hoping for more postulants to follow them into the religious life but alas, with one exception, it was all in vain.

Now what happened to the three sons of Henry and Elizabeth.

                                                      PATRICK QUINN OF BALLINAHOWN

                                                                      1879 - 1947

Big Pat as he was known by, was born in Ballinahown

on the 23rd of December 1879. He grew up on the shared farm

of the Quinn families  and he was aged 19 when both his parents died in 1898.

Pat would have known only too well, that with his older brother John, the new man in charge, there was going to be no place for him here and it was time to be making a move.

As luck would have it his sister Marianne had married Richard Pender and they were living in Dublin. With Richard already in the Guinness Brewery and they crying out for well recommended strapping young country men, Pat ticked all the boxes.

Not only that but with a little adjustment the Penders were able to invite him to come and be their boarder.

So it was with the Penders that we find Pat in the 1901 census

living at 7 Geraldine Square, Merchants Quay, then aged 21.

This house was sub divided in three parts, No7A, 7B and 7C.

each part having two rooms.

A family named Daly, from Cavan occupied 7A, probably the ground floor. While the Penders, Richard, Marianne and three children aged 4, 2 and 3months, along with Patrick Quinn occupied the first floor 7B.

It was what happened regarding 7C that raised a query.

The census enumerator, Patrick O’Meara, decided to fill in a form for 7C in the name of Patrick Quinn, stating that he could not read or write, entitling himself to put a mark for Patrick’s signature.

This was highly irregular as the Pender’s return clearly showed Patrick Quinn in 7B and stated that he could read and write.

If there was an extra person recorded in the census of 1901, it had to be Patrick Quinn, late of Ballinahown.

Proof that Patrick could indeed read and write came from another source. In a letter that his sister, Sister Bridget ( Katie)

sent from India to her sister in law Ann on Dec 9th 1905, she referred to her brother Pat as follows;



      Many thanks for the photo. Please thank Pat for me.

      What a fine strong man he has grown into in a few years

       He was so boyish looking when I left home, I hope his leg

       gives him no pain. Please tell him I should have been much

       better pleased if it had been accompanied by a letter from    

       himself for I know he has got plenty of time at his disposal.

       It would not take him long to write a few lines.

The next big event in Pat’s life was his marriage to Mary Anne Molloy, which took place in the Church of the Three Patrons Rathgar, known as the Maids church, on the 27th Sept. 1906.

They were both aged 27 years.

Mary Anne came from Kylebeg, Lacken and there is no indication that her family were in any way related to Pat’s mothers family from Kilbride.

She gave her address as 32 York Road where she was employed as a servant in the home of Frances and Matilda Price, aged 81 and 77 and members of The Irish Church.

Her bridesmaid was Rosanna Maguire also from Kylebeg and a servant in the home of Nicholas Hore at 18 New Street.

Best man was Michael Clarke from Ballinahown, who later owned a pub in Francis Street.

There were two glaring pieces of misinformation on their marriage certificate.

His father Henry and her father Daniel, both deceased

would have been none too pleased to have seen their children refer to them as labourers, whereas they were both farmers of long standing. So what was the reason for this calculated error? 

Father Charles Malone who performed the marriage ceremony would have been none the wiser as to their background.

Accepting that they came from labouring families, he probably would have been satisfied with a fee of ten shillings, whereas if he had known they were farming people, he would have at least expected a pound.

Their first child Elizabeth, (Lil) named after Pat’s mother, was born on the 11th of June 1907. The others arrived in quick succession, Mary, Berchi, Margaret, Dan and Harry.

In the 1911 census they had settled in Rialto Cottages, which was a typical Guinness residential area and where they spent the rest of their days. Pat died on the 4th of February 1947.

                                                      JAMES QUINN OF BALLINAHOWN

                                                                        1884 - 1907    

James Quinn was born on the 29th of August 1884, in the home of his parents, Henry and Eliza at Ballinahown, Blessington Co. Wicklow. He was the youngest of eight children and he was 14 years of age when his parents both died in early 1898.

He would have attended the local primary school and be a valuable help in working the farm now in the ownership of his elder brother John. 

James was still living at home in 1901 when John got married to his first cousin Ann Mackey and probably because of him being too young at 17, he was not invited to act as best man at the wedding. Or maybe it was because there was enough family involvement with sister Katie acting as bridesmaid.

In 1902 with John and Ann’s first baby born and another on the way, his sister Katie well advanced with her arrangements to become a nun in the Good Shephard Order, his sister Bridget also deciding to leave her place of employment in Dublin and follow her two sisters by joining the Mercy Order of nuns.

James had also decided that there was no place for him at home in Ballinahown and for some reason or other made his way to the town of Gorey in Co. Wexford.

Legend has it that he actually cycled there, perhaps maybe only the once or he may have returned home to visit on occasion, using the same mode of transport.

We come now to the year 1905 and there is reason to be concerned about his well being when we see a reference to him in that famous letter written by his sister Katie, now Sister Bridget in Bangalore, India.

Written on the 9th of Dec.of that year she says to her sister in law;

 “ I was so very sorry to hear of poor James being ill. I hope

    he is nearly alright again, I shall pray much for his recovery.

    I hope to write to him soon”.

What ever about the letter arriving, the prayers were not heard because James became more unwell and whoever he worked for as a clerk, or whoever he stayed with, were unable to mind him any further and he was committed to the Gorey Infirmary where he died on the 28th of June 1907. In the very month that his Brother Patrick’s first child Elizabeth ( Lil) was born.

The Gorey Infirmary was used up to the late 1930’s.

It was really the Hospital of the Gorey Workhouse and was situated in an adjoining field.

It was the only available Hospital at the time and a patient who survived described her vivid recollections of the draconian systems that applied there.

James died from Empyema – Phthisis – Pulmonatis, in short

Tuberculosis and because of the nature of his illness his burial would have been done quickly and unceremoniously.

Burials in Gorey had reached crisis point, with the Rector of Kilnahue parish refusing any more in their churchyard and the Guardians of Clonattin Cemetery would only allow burials from the Workhouse and unclaimed bodies from the Infirmary, to be buried in a mass grave.

As a relief situation the local landlord Mr. Ram decided to grant one acre and two roods of land formerly known as Charlottes Grove at the rear of the Workhouse, as a burial ground for a charge of £4-0-0 per annum.

A reference to it in 1999 stated; This Workhouse Cemetery, where so many are interred is neglected and overgrown, a poor memorial to our people of Gorey.

That was the situation until in 2004 a local man, Derek O’Sullivan and his wife Tina along with their two children

Ronan and Tara, decided to undertake the massive task of

cleaning up the burial ground and using their own machinery they have converted what was a wilderness into a beautiful lawn cemetery. James is buried here with nothing to show where.

There are no headstones here, only marker stones and these have been re-arranged to allow for proper maintenance.

Pattern Sunday (The Blessing of the graves) will now be held on an annual basis with mass being celebrated at the new altar.


1874 - 1940    

John, the eldest son of the family was born in 1874 and he died on 29th August 1940. On the 19th of February 1901, John married Ann Mackey who was born in 1868 and died 15th April 1917. Ann was John’s first cousin by virtue of the fact that his father Henry and Annies’ mother Bridget were brother and sister. They had six children:

·       Mary born in 1901 married John Byrne.

·       Henry born in 1902, stayed on the land and later married Nan Kelly.

·       Elizabeth born in 1905 married James Taffe and they had no family.

·       Thomas born in 1907 remained single and worked as a barman in Dublin.

·       James born in 1909 remained single and stayed on the land.

·       Bridget born in 1910 remained single and worked in fine houses in many parts of the country and is now quietly retired and living in Dublin...known to all and sundry as Aunt Bridie.

( Bridget died on the 9th of march 2009 at the age of 98, the last of the family )

John’s wife Annie died on 15th April 1917 and he decided to marry again, to another near neighbour Margaret Kavanagh, who was born in 1872 and died on the 10th September 1945. They were married in February 1919 and they had one daughter Kathy born in 1920. Kathy married Walter Balfe and lived in Carrig until she died on 16th November 1993. Margaret, or Mag, as she was better known, seems to have got on well with her six stepchildren.  She was a kind and loving type of person and was particularly good to Mary (May ) and was ever ready to help out any time she was needed in nearly Baltyboys.

John had inherited this portion of the farm when Henry died in 1898 and ran it until the lake came in 1939. He was known locally as Long John. He re-settled in a farm at Donadea, Co. Kildare, where he lived until his death on 29th August 1940. As can be seen he did not live long after the upheaval in his life style. His sons Harry and Jim also made the move to Donadea with him as did his second wife Margaret and her daughter Kathy. The womenfolk obviously did not like living  in Co. Kildare and soon after they returned to Margaret’s ancestral home in Carrig.

The house and farm at Donadea where Harry had developed a substantial cattle business, has been sold. Harry’s wife, Nan, was a local woman from Co. Kildare and she now lives in a Nursing Home. Harry married late in life and they had no children. Harry’s last will and testament is an interesting insight as to how things changed in the period from 1939 to 1991. Previous to that the value and extent of the Quinn holdings in Ballinahown had altered little for the three generations that we have looked at. Harry was one of the lucky ones who had to move out. The farm in Donadea gave him opportunities that the restrictive impediments in Ballinahown would never have permitted. The farm in Donadea of approximately 70 acres cost no more that £1500 when they bought it. In 1986, he sold 64 acres and retained 6 acres which included the residence and farm buildings. The combined value of both were in the region of £170,000 when he died in 1991.

So now we see how the carefully planned farming scheme of the three Quinn families designed back in the late 1700's came to an end by the development of the Poulaphuca Reservoir in 1939 (for more information see Beneath the Poulaphuca Reservoir). It would be pure guesswork to imagine how it would have ended if there never was a lake but it is obvious that the name of Quinn, so staunchly handed on up to then, would have disappeared in at least two of the families.

The first indication of how the divide was agreed came from the Griffith Primary Valuation records of 1854, (note ) which showed how the then owners were levied. Patrick and Myles paid £30.0.0 each and John paid £15.0.0. Proof eternal that the system survived is to be seen in the compensation paid by the E.S.B. and agreed by arbitration in 1939.

·       John Quinn Senior, grandson of Patrick, was paid £1,400.0.0 for 73 acres of land and a house.

·       Joe Quinn, grandson of Myles, was paid £1,350.0.0 for 72 acres of land and a house.

·       John Quinn, grandson of John, was paid £800.0.0 for 38 acres of land and a house.

These three men were third cousins to each other. John Quinn senior was obviously given this title to distinguish him from the other John, who was two years younger. This correct information refutes the version of the families relationship to each other, which is written in chapter 25, page 933 of the book “Wicklow History and Society”. and copied in later publications.

Before completing the Quinn story, we must record some details of a mysterious health problem that entered your section of the family when Henry married Elizabeth Mullee. Elizabeth who was twelve years younger than her husband, was a victim of this malady, having inherited it from either her father or her mother. This very rare problem, to which there is no known cure, is only now being investigated by the medical profession. It is a muscular disorder, where the muscle wastage is not replaced naturally and it has been described, but perhaps not fully explained, as a form of Muscular Dystrophy. It is very inhibiting, effecting all parts of the body, but particularly noticeable in the limbs. It is not life threatening as many of the victims have lived normal life spans. It has no defined criteria and can be passed from father to daughter or from mother to son or vice versa. It has one very positive feature in that if an offspring in a family is not effected, then it will not occur in any of their descendants. Elizabeth passed this on to only one of the eight children she had with Henry.

Their fourth child and eldest son John, was the one it passed to. As we have seen, John had six children in his first marriage and all of his three sons but none of his three daughters were effected and this is how it became isolated to one family only, (these sons did not have children)  His one daughter, Kathy, of his second marriage was effected.  Four of her daughters and none of her three sons were effected. Two of these girls have passed it on, in one case to both of her children and in the other case to one only of her two children.

By a strange co-incidence also, the great World War 11 began in September 1939, just as these families in West Wicklow were forced to move from their homes. Because of a worldwide scarcity of almost everything, rationing was introduced for food, footwear, clothes, flour, etc., adding to the misery of everyone.

I hope that everyone noticed that all the direct ancestors we have written about were farmers. Byrnes and Quinns, their in-laws and their neighbours farmed their lands for centuries and no doubt they were a hardworking, God-fearing type of people, who lived and learned and passed on the faith.  Noticeable too was the fact that most of their marriages were to local farming people, uniting families of the areas in which they lived.

This was a very resilient family, having survived right through the famine period without any deaths being recorded. This, despite the fact that the population of parts of Wicklow, were halved in the period from 1841 to 1861. Between the years of 1868 and 1887, a total of 20 births were recorded in the three houses in Ballinahown. The next birth recorded was in 1901 and a total of eight were recorded up to 1932, when the last child to be born in the Quinn’s houses was Joseph, son of Joe Quinn, whose other three children were born in their home at Alliganstown, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare. Joseph was actually born during the great snow storm of 1932 and cousin Henry (Uncle Harry) and neighbour John Byrne were obliged to fetch the doctor who travelled on horseback by various diversions to arrive on time.

Comparing your lifestyle with theirs would be a futile exercise, but it might be no harm at all to give a few insights into how they managed to do things that you would take for granted. Take electricity for example and think for a minute how anyone or any house could manage without it to-day. Pause for a moment and remember it was the making of electricity that drove your ancestors out of their houses and their farms. The thatched farmhouses you see in the photograph of Ballinahown are typical of the type of houses that were to be found all over Ireland North and South. They were thirty five to forty feet long, twenty feet wide and the walls were six feet six inches high. They were divided into three rooms, (no bathroom) and with only one external door.

There is one of these houses, re-built exactly as it was, in the Folkpark at Bunratty in Co. Clare.  The house stood originally where Shannon Airport is to-day. A visit to this or other Folkparks is well worthwhile, as there you will see the irons, toasters, cookers, washing machines, food mixers, cooking utensils, fridges, wardrobes, beds and bedclothes of the bygone era, that people of our generation can still remember very well.

Having told you all about her family let us now tell you something's about Mary Quinn or May as she was known by her family and friends.

Being the eldest child of a family in those days was a different story than it is today. With the rest of her brothers and sisters born over a space of ten years, she would quickly have become a second mother and have to do many chores around the house and farm.

The norm would have included getting water from the well, milking cows, feeding calves, helping in the fields with the haymaking and on the bog with turf cutting, washing clothes by hand in a large tub and ironing them with an iron heated in the open fire. Daily chores would also have included cooking and baking bread on the same open fire with the pots suspended from an overhead crane. Minding her younger siblings would have also featured greatly in her already busy life. She went to school in Lacken, walking the three miles there and back every day.

May also became good at dressmaking, passed down to her from her mother, this being a most important trade to learn. She could make frocks for her sisters and in later life for her own daughters, in turn passing her skills on to them.

May’s father John, was a very strict man, not unusual in those times. He would set standards of behaviour and discipline that had to be maintained at all times. He was never away from home except when on Jury Service in Wicklow. These breaks were very much appreciated by the family. When May married at such a young age, she would have had all the experience needed to live and work on a farm. Her new home at Baltyboys was perhaps more modern than Ballinahown, but it would not have any extra luxuries. The same pattern of work applied in all households in those days.

Six of the Byrne children were born in the house at Baltyboys, under the guidance of the local midwife, Nurse Harte. The nurse was collected from her home in Blessington by the horse and trap as required.

Here again, the eldest child was a girl, Kathy, and she very quickly had to adopt the same responsibilities as her mother had before her during her young life in Ballinahown. There were ten in the family when the big upheaval came in 1940, with the move to Burgage and here four more children arrived bringing the total of May’s family to fourteen. 

For May, nothing much changed in any of her three houses in townlands all beginning with the letter “B”. The comforts that came to rural Ireland with the arrival of electricity, alas, came too late for her to enjoy them. She was in many ways like her father, strict to the letter, and dolled out the jobs around the house and farm in her own special way: “Your turn to scrub the table and chairs on a Saturday, churn the milk, milk the cows, polish the shoes, darn the socks” or worst of all “straighten the stones around the flower beds in the yard”.

Of course, there was no escaping the farm work either, from haymaking to cows calving and from stucking barley to digging potatoes. All in the family were expected to do their share.  Here again the dreaded turf cutting every year, on the bog on Kippure mountain, entailed a journey by bicycle of up to twelve miles, there and back.

 May would make sure that everyone had good clothes to wear to Sunday Mass. When she came to Burgage to live, the Church was as far away as it had been from Baltyboys. Mass in Cross Chapel meant a walk of three miles each way, whatever the weather.

It was 1946 before a church was built in Blessington, even then a mile away from Burgage. Ask all the questions you can of those who savoured the good life in the country. Find out what life was like when only very few people had motor cars. When a trip to Dublin was required, it meant walking miles to get on the Steam Tram that preceded the buses and ran on tracks from Terenure to Poulaphouca. In the days prior to central heating, keeping warm meant sitting close to the open fire and in bed getting what heat you could from the hot water bottle or jar. 

How did every house seem to be near a well, which gave a constant supply of good clear drinking water up out of the ground. This was supplemented by a barrel which captured the rain water off the roof and which had fine hair washing qualities. This was life before the country people ever heard of taps and tanks and cylinders, now a part of every household.

Housewives of May’s era had lots to think of as one day followed another, with the same need for things to be done mostly by hand, when labour saving devices were of their own making. May did everything in her life at an early age and unfortunately she left it all behind in the same way. When she died at the age of fifty-two, on the 4th June 1953, it is sad to say that she only lived to see two of her forty-three grandchildren.

John, her husband continued to run the farm with the help of his sons and daughters until his death on the 10th April, 1968. His son Richard inherited the farm and continues the family tradition started back in Baltyboys. Many improvements have been made over the years making Burgage a far cry from what it was when his parents first came there in 1940.

The homestead at Burgage, where you are always made welcome, is the last frontier to the farming traditions of your  families.

Burgage is a very historical area as is shown in the extract from “Memories of the Liffey Valley”. The whole area including Blessington was once known as Burgage. “Burgage lies at the southern end of the town of Blessington. It was near here that the Kings River joined the Liffey before the valley was flooded. It was near here too, that the original Burgage Bridge crossed the Liffey. Burgage first finds mention in Irish records as ‘Domhnach Imleach’, meaning the Boundary Church, between 700 and 800 AD (Hawkes, 1953). The word ‘Imleach’ occurs in a number of placenames.  The oldest form appears to be ‘imlioch’, probably meaning ‘around a wet place’ or ‘marshy land’.  (Price, 1945)

The Normans who invaded Ireland in 1169 made settlements at Burgage and the surrounding area. To Domhlach Imleach came Walter Comyn whose family changed the name of the area to comyn’s Town which later became Blessington. There were two holy wells at Burgage, Saint Matthew’s and Saint Mark’s and two highcrosses of the same names. St. Mark’s cross was moved when the valley was flooded and relocated in the new cemetery outside Blessington town as noted earlier. Both crosses belonged to the early Christian period”.

The following picture shows how it looks today with the Byrne farm on the front left hand side.



As well as the very accurate information available in the National Archives, thanks is due in no small way to members of the family - Bridget Quinn (Aunt Bridie), daughter of John, born in Ballinahown in 1910, the only surviving family member who actually lived there.  Aunt Bridie passed away on 9th of March 2009 aged 98 years.

Her niece Kathy (Tyrrell) and her nephews Jimmy and Dick Byrne, all of whom lived nearby in Baltyboys, who from their own memories coupled with titbits of information handed down to them, have helped to compile this history of their ancestral families. Also her niece Bridie (O'Hanrahan) whose original idea inspired the creation of this book. Kathy passed away on June 20th 2013, aged 92 years.

The descendants of John and Mary Byrne recorded on the following pages show the situation as it is to-day. Fourteen children born and still living, one nun..Sr. Margaret - Haifa Israel, one priest. Fr. Paddy - Malawai, Africa, 4 daughters-in-law, 8 sons-in-law (two deceased), 43 grandchildren and 43 great grandchildren. The 67th great grandchild born to Sheelagh Geoghegan, was born in July 2013.,

Subpages (2): Quinn Bishops Quinn Nuns