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IT'S BEEN A BUSY WEEK HERE at Waterford Origins and Great Great Great Family Trees...

Posted by Waterford Origins on April 18, 2015 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (3)


It's been a busy week here at Waterford Origins and Great Great Great Family Trees.

Mon. Morning: sent off 1st draft of family tree to client in Spain. 90 names, 8 generations, 18 photographs. Ancestors include Dean of the Royal College of Science, Governor of Hong Kong, first organist of the Pro-Cathedral Dublin, a bunch of classical musicians and the head greenkeeper at Milltown Golf Club Dublin.

Mon. Evening: gave lecture to 2nd Year Dip. in Genealogy class in University College Cork - 'Tony's Top 5 Genealogy Websites'.

Tues. Morning: Found the faint footprints of the Waterford born ancestor of Newfoundland client whose forbear left our shores c.1830. His baptismal record dated 1820 shows he was from the little fishing village of Passage East in Killea RC parish. Gold dust.

Tues. Evening: 1st Year Dip. in Genealogy UCC - 'Where's William? Case study of a Royal Dublin Fusilier'.

Wed: Missing relative case - English marriage record arrived in post. Turns out she married a foreign student 11 years her junior. The plot thickens...!

Request for research from an Irish American coming home in May. Found her emigrant ancestor's 1818 baptism in Kilrush near Dungarvan. A Famine graveyard in same townland - closed in 1847 due to being 'full'.

Thurs. Morning: Final draft of a mighty impressive family tree I've been working on arrives back from the printers. A1, 95 names, 9 generations 30 photos including 7 beautiful old wedding photos. May be my best yet.

Thurs. Evening: Lecture to University of Limerick genealogy class. Record class and post online to off-campus students.

Friday: Client's granny is a Donovan from Slieverue, Co. Kilkenny. Following a hunch she's related to John O'Donovan (1806 - 1861), the greatest of all Gaelic Irish scholars, I meet with 2 O'Donovan experts. Yes there's a link! I can now connect into the recorded genealogy of O'Donovan, Lords of Clancahill which spans over 100 generations. Client will be chuffed.

As I say - it's been a busy week! 

Tony Hennessy


The Flanagan Brothers - a musical journey from Waterford City to New York City and beyond!

Posted by Great Great Great Family Trees on October 9, 2014 at 6:05 AM Comments comments (3)

WATERFORD NATIVES THE FLANAGAN BROTHERS were to become one of New York's biggest musical entertainment acts of the 1920s and 1930s where they played nightly concerts and dancehalls and beamed out live on the radio as well as very impressively recording over fifty 78s. Through those recordings the Flanagan Brothers became extremely popular with the Irish emigrant populations in US, and Britain as well as Australia and New Zealand. And with us here in Ireland too of course!

The Flanagan Brothers consisted of Joe (Arthur Joseph b. c.1895) on accordion and Mike (b. 1897) on banjo and mandolin. Their brother Louis (b. 1896) sometimes joined them on guitar and banjo and occasionally the more exotic harp guitar. They also sang. They were all self-taught musically and their repertoire ranged from driving energetic reels, jigs and hornpipes to sentimental Irish ballads with funny skits and sketches thrown in for good measure.

The Flanagan family hailed from Summerhill Terrace in Waterford City. Their father Arthur worked on the docks. He also played accordion. He and his wife Ellen (nee Keane), who were married in the Cathedral in 1890, also had three daughters.


Young Joe emigrated to America in January 1911, the rest of the family following on in April the same year. They settled in Albany New York. Arthur and Ellen had lived in America previously and evidently some of their children including Joe were born there.

The Flanagan Brothers and their recordings are held in the high esteem by traditional Irish musicians and lovers of Irish music in all parts of the world. After he died Mike Flanagan's banjo was given to Frankie Gavin of DeDanann. I'm sure he was happy to receive it.

It must be time for Waterford City to honour the Flanagan Brothers. And a Waterford Civic Trust Blue Plaque should maybe be unveiled. And then, in the nearest dancehall, in the company of the great and the good of Irish music, we could CELEBRATE.

Feel free to comment in the box below - share your stories too. 

Do you have a  story of the Flanagan Brothers?  

Do you play their music? 

Do you have one of those old 78s?  

If so let us know below...

An Elusive Ancestor

Posted by Great Great Great Family Trees on October 3, 2014 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (2)

M0ST FAMILY TREES include at least one elusive ancestor or relation who seems to just disappear from history, whose personal file seems to have been stolen from the collective memory bank and whose story is deemed to remain untold. And then sometimes, just when you think there is no more to be found and they are resting in an uneasy peace in your shoebox, up pops some gem that opens the door to the final chapters of the tale.


Many years ago my father told me his grandfather had a brother called Richard Hennessy who died in the Great Earthquake in San Francisco in 1906. I discovered Richard was born in 1877 in Forenaught, Killea here in Co. Waterford but he was on the missing list by the time of the 1901 census. I could not find his name on any emigrant or ship's passenger list. I once checked a list of those 500 or so souls who died in the earthquake but Richard wasn't among them. And so he slowly over the years became a kind of exotic, mythical member of the family, half real half imagined.


A few weeks ago I met a distant cousin of mine, Pat Hennessy, at a funeral. That wasn't so unusual - he's an undertaker! He had lately seen a Hennessy family tree I had drawn some years ago which included the elusive Richard. He told me, to my total amazement, that there was, among his late father's belongings, a photograph of Richard and a photograph of his gravestone!! In the photograph Richard looks like he was doing well for himself. He's smartly dressed with a fancy ring and pocket chain visible. He also sports a magnificent moustache. He looks very like his older brother, my greatgrandfather Maurice Hennessy, in a photograph of the Ballytruckle hurling team taken c.1900.


Richard died six months after the earthquake which was on 18 April 1906. This tallies with a family story that he had survived the quake itself but died some months later from complications. It also explains why he hadn't appeared on the list of the dead.


The information on the tombstone lead me to a newspaper obituary for Richard and the discovery of 'his cousin Michael Hennessy'. Who the heck is he....?

Today's lesson: Cast your net as wide as possible among the extended family. You'll be surprised what exotic creatures you might catch.


Great Great Great Family Trees.  + 353 87 152 8582 and speak to Tony Hennessy.