The McGrath family


The McGrath family have lived in the townland of Coolagarranroe in the civil parish of Templetenny, County Tipperary since at least the middle of the 19th century.  The surname was quite common in the area and there were a number of other families with the same surname living in neighbouring townlands. Their relationship to my ancestral McGraths has yet to be determined.

The area which includes the townlands of Coolagarranroe and Skeheenarinky is known locally as Caherghaul and at the time of the Great Famine was owned by the Earl of Kingston.  Shortly after this time and whilst the devastating effects of the famine were still being felt, the Kingston Estate went bankrupt and land in Counties Tipperary and Limerick was sold to a land committee who then administered this former part of the estate.  At this time, John McGrath, whom I believe to be my ancestor was living in the townland of Coolagarranroe in the house shown in the picture below.  It was here that his children were born and raised.

The original McGrath house occupied by John McGrath and his family and by subsequent generations.

John and his wife Bridget Walsh had married in 1829 at the Church of the Assumption, Ballyporeen.  At the present time, five children are believed to have been born to the couple between the years of 1839 and 1848 - Mary, Patrick, Honora, Michael and Margaret.  Baptismal records for all but Patrick have at the present time been located in the registers of the Church of the Assumption.

Judging from land records, it would appear that John McGrath lived on the property until at least 1881 when the house and land passed to his son Patrick.  In the 1850s, the property consisted of 4 acres of land and a number of outbuildings in addition to the original house.  John may also have held other plots of land nearby - also with cottages on them - which he sublet to other relatives, however if these were in fact leased by John they eventually passed to a Michael McGrath (perhaps a brother or nephew).  Only the original property on which John lived passed to Patrick.

By this time, ownership of the land where the McGraths lived had passed to Nathaniel Buckley, a member of the original land company which had purchased the land from the Kingston Estate.  Buckley was an absentee English land lord who hired a manager named Patten Smith Bridge to administer the estate.  Contemporary reports indicate that Patten Bridge oversaw the enforcement of steep hikes in the rent paid by tenants and as a consequence was responsible for the eviction of many tenants unable to meet the increased rental payments.  For many in the area living conditions varied between difficult and appalling.

Despite this, the McGraths managed to retain their property and finally, with the introduction of new land laws in the late years of the 19th century, Patrick was able to purchase the 4 acres of land on which his family had lived for at least half a century.  At about this time he also purchased two other blocks of land and was able to build a new home for his large family.  This building, which stands immediately in front of the original house (now used for storage), is still occupied by the family today.

The new McGrath house built by Patrick McGrath around the turn of the century.



As indicated, Patrick McGrath inherited the family farm in about 1881 having recently married - most probably in the previous year.  His wife's name was Bridget Kearney.  Patrick and Bridget raised a large family of nine sons and a daughter.  They were:  John Francis (married Margaret Mary O'Brien), Thomas, Mary, Patrick (married Brigid Carroll), Michael (married Margaret Ryan), William, Roger, Maurice, Gabrielle (married Nora) and Edward.

The eldest, John Francis, moved to New Haven, Connecticut in the United States in 1904 where he became a naturalized citizen, married and raised a family of four.  His descendants still live in various parts of the US to the present day.  Thomas, the second son of Patrick and Bridget remained in Ireland, but it was their third son - also named Patrick - who inherited the family property in his turn and eventually passed it to his own son - John.  It has been suggested by the Australian Barry/McGrath descendants that a Pat McGrath (most probably this one) spent time in Australia avoiding trouble with the Black and Tans back home in Ireland.  Other children of Patrick Junior were Rodger, Patrick, William, James Ned and Breeda, the only daughter who died as a child.

Patrick's sojourn in Australia is yet to be confirmed and clearly he returned to Ireland to marry and raise a family, however it does seem likely in view of the fact that at least two of Patrick Senior's sons were members of the Third Tipperary Brigade who fought against the English in the Irish War of Independence (January 1919-December 1921).  They were Maurice (Mossy) and Gabrielle (Gabe).  Both were members of Sean Hogan's elite Second Flying Column.  These men were amongst those most wanted by the British authorities and were responsible for much of the opposition faced by the British.  Members of the flying columns effectively lived on the run, taking shelter with sympathetic locals or living rough.  They never stayed in the one place for too long.

After the war, Mossy settled nearby his home town, possibly in Clogheen or Burncourt whilst Gabe joined his brother John in the US.  He lived in New York in the affluent area known as Bronxville.  He also became a citizen, married and raised a family.  His wife was Nora and his children (neither of whom married) were Edmond and Margaret.

Gabe and John were joined in the US by their brothers William and Michael.  William also lived in New York, married and raised a family whilst Michael lived closer to John, in Waterbury, Connecticut.  For 27 years, Michael worked at the Scovill Manufacturing Company.  He was also a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, perhaps an indication that he also fought for Ireland's freedom.  Michael and his wife Margaret did not have children.

 Of Patrick Senior's remaining children, it is believed that his youngest son, Edward, died at a relatively young age.  Rodger lived in Ireland as did the only daughter, Mary who married a local man - Edward Fox.

Patrick Senior did not live to see Ireland's freedom.  It is said that he was killed on his own doorstep in the presence of his young grandson.  Shot by the Black and Tans who were so opposed to his sons' activities.  It is not presently known what became of his wife.


Honora McGrath migrated to Queensland, Australia in about 1862.  Around nine years later in 1871 she married Patrick Slattery at St. Mary's Church, Ipswich.  Patrick was also from the Ballyporeen area and almost certainly known to Honora when she lived in Ireland.

Patrick and Honora raised a family of seven - Catherine Teresa (married Patrick Joseph Gleeson), Thomas (died as a young child), Bridget (married Alfred James Boatright), John (married Ellen Welsh), Mary (married Michael Sylvester Maloney), Johanna (married John Joseph Rodgers) and Patrick Joseph (Elwine Crepin), all born between the years of 1872 and 1885 in Ipswich. With the exception of Thomas each of Patrick and Honora's children raised families of their own and their descendants can still be found in Queensland today.


In 1869, Margaret McGrath, stating her place of residence as Cahergale (Caherghaul), County Tipperary, married John Barry of Gera (Geeragh), County Limerick.  Their marriage produced five children, of whom three survived to adulthood.  They were Margaret Mary Agnes (married Walter Cannon), Bridget Josephine (married William Alfred Stafford) and Thomas Joseph Barry (married Catherine Ann Little), all born during the 1870s.

Margaret Barry (McGrath) with her great-grand daughter Bubbles.

Four generations: Margaret Barry (McGrath) (left) with her grand daughter Alma (back), daughter Bridget (right) and great-grand daughter Bernice Eldred (Bubbles).

The Barrys lived for a time near Margaret's parents in the townland of Skeheenarinky and later in the village of Clogheen.  However, in 1878 John Barry died in the Mitchelstown workhouse in County Cork.  The following year, Margaret and her children migrated to Queensland, Australia where they settled in Brisbane.  Her son Thomas, went on to become a successful business man whilst her daughter Bridget was active in her local church community.

Margaret Barry (McGrath)  spent her later years at the the Villa Maria Hostel in St. Paul's Terrace, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane where she was visited by her children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.  The Villa Maria Hostel was established by the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, a Brisbane based order of nuns founded in 1874.  Dedicated to poverty, chastity and obedience, they supported themselves by doing needlework.

It was likely no accident that Margaret entered the hostel as it is believed that a relative (probably Margaret's sister) had joined the order in 1881, where she took the religious name of Sister Mary Raphael.  It has not yet been possible to trace Sister Mary Raphael, but a Bridget McGrath (parents' names Patrick and Margaret) seems a likely candidate, despite the names stated for her parents.  Bridget was known as Sister Mary Raphael and entered the order in 1881.  Her date of birth was around 1853 and she was born in County Tipperary, Ireland.  Bridget died in 1937 and is buried at the Nudgee Roman Catholic Cemetery in Brisbane.

Margaret died at the hostel in 1933 and is also buried in the Nudgee Cemetery.  Some years later, her daughter Bridget and son-in-law William Stafford were also buried in the grave.

The grave of Margaret Barry (McGrath) at Nudgee Cemetery, Brisbane.


For further details of the descendants of Margaret and John see my Barry page:

If you have information to contribute, would like further information on the McGraths from Coolagarranroe and Skeheenarinky or if you think you might be related please contact me:

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