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MCDONALD (MCDONNELL) of Callowbrack in America.

As was common with so many Irish families in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and particularly during and after the famine calamity many Irish children had to leave their families and home. Many went to England, Australia, New Zealand and particularly America or Canada. In the case of our McDonnell family, the bulk of them went in the first instance to Chicago in the U.S.A.

With the exception of John and Anne - all my other aunts and uncles all migrated to America in the early 1900's . Patrick was registered on the 1911 census as living at Callowbrack with his sister Anne. He may have not have gone to America and possibly that he may have died relatively young. (Patrick was shown as 34 years old on the 1901 census)

As the result of continuing research and a great deal of help from Frank Dyra in Chicago, I have been able to expand my knowledge of what happened to my aunts and uncles in America. I still have a lot of blank spaces about the whereabouts of their children and possible descendants.

The McDonnell (McDonald) migrations of Thomas, Michael, Catherine (Kate), Bridget and Mary to the U.S.A. seems to have occurred before 1911 (the census) and after 1901. The 1901 census also confirms that my father John left at a relatively early age - he was 22 in 1901 and he was not shown on the 1901 census. We do know that Patrick, Ellen and Michael were still in Callowbrack (the 1901 census) and had gone by the 1911 census. The 1911 census reveals that only Anne remained, now married to Patrick Dyra still living with Anne's parents Thomas and Catherine McDonnell. By this time Anne and Patrick Dyra had two children. This census confirms that Ellen and Patrick had left before 1911 although it is possible that Patrick may have died between 1901 and 1911. It is also a supposition that the tenth child - Peter - may have died young.

Thomas McDonnell was 23 years old, when his father Johnny McDonnell first leased the farm at Callowbrack in 1855, and did not marry until about six years later in 1861 aged 29 years. This was some five years before his father Johnny McDonnell died in 1866.

In spite of a visit to the Burrishoole Abbey Cemetery, we have not been able to locate where my McDonnell Grand Parents or Great Grand parents are buried.

Although six of Thomas McDonnell's children migrated to the U.S.A. and settled in Chicago, many of their cousins also went to the U.S.A. These were the children of Patrick McDonnell, the brother of my Grand Father Thomas McDonnell One of these was Nora McDonnell who went in 1916 and who married James Joseph Kilroy. They lived for a long time in Akron Ohio before starting to move west.



Bridget was the eldest of the ten children and born 4th January 1864 and died 20th April 1929

Sometime after her arrival she preferred to use the namd Delia instead of Bridget. It seems that the Christian names of Bridget, Biddy, Bedelia and Delia are all of the same meaning. The suggestion is that Bridget was used too much by rich people to designate an Irish sevant girl and Delia was preferred by the girls later in life.

She was one of the six children who went to the U.S.A. and settled in Chicago. She married Michael Casey from Waterford sometime before 1900 He was born in Clone Parish in 1869 and died 27th.December 1912 in Chicago. It has been confirmed that Bridget used the surname McDonald prior to marriage. It is believed that they ran a Boarding House in Chicago They did not have any children.


Was the second child and the first son and born 4th. March 1866. It is believed he died in the U.S.A. sometime between 1901 and 1911. 1910. He did not marry.


Aunt Mary McDonnell (Tierney) was born 21st January 1869 in Callowbrack, County, Ireland and died 30th. March 1922 whilst living at 6603 S. Carpenter St. Chicago. She also went to the U.S.A. and settled in Chicago. Also used the surname spelling of McDonald. She married John F. Tierney on 6th. June 1900 in Pullman, Chicago. He was born 1st. October 1868 in Kent. Ohio. He died 2nd.June 1945. They had five children some of whose descendants are called Stewart and still live in Chicago.


One of my aunts we seem to most about was Aunt Kate. She was born 27th.May 1871 in Callowbrack, County Mayo, Ireland c. Catherine also settled in Chicago and died on 20th. June 1951. She married a Michael J. Collins who was a policeman in Chicago and he died 3rd. February 1947. The only street names we have when they were living in Chicago was that of Aunt Kate at S. Racine in South Chicago and at 6732 Sangamon Street Chicago as we recall, in the late 1940's. We do have another address of Aunt Kate at S. Racine in South Chicago.The S. Racine area in Chicago is now very much changed from the 1930'. One memory that my sister Elsie Moss can recall was that Aunt Kate may have had three children but that they all died young in the great influenza epedemic in the 1920's. There are a couple of entries listed on the Ellis Island migration records which could refer to Catherine (Kate). She may have first gone in April 1893 when she was 20 years old on the 'Etruria' from Queenstown, Cork and arrived in New York on 24 April 1893. Her place of residence is just shown as Co. Mayo. A second entry for a Kate McDonnel from Newport 5 years later sailing on the 'Campania' also from Queenstown and arriving in New York 9th July 1898. Her age is shown as 25. So this could have been her first trip or a second trip back to the U.S..


Uncle Thomas was born 7th Dec 1873 in Callowbrack, County Mayo, Ireland and died 25th. July 1945. He married married a Barbara Moran, born 13th October 1879,died 22nd. February 1917. They were married in Chicago 4th April 1909.

After the death of Barbara, Thomas married a second time to a Margaret Connors.

The Ellis Island Immigration records showed that a Thomas McDonnell, Irish, Place - Calragh, arrived in New York 17th April 1902 aged 19, male and single. He arrived on the Cunard liner 'Teutonic' from Cork. With a tendancy to amend their ages I believe that this was Thomas reduced his age by exactly 10 years. The place of origin of 'Calragh' is probably a shortened corruption of 'Callowbrack' sometimes written as 'Calrebrack'

It seems that Uncle Tom McDonald was closer to his sister Catherine (Kate) and as well as Aunt Kate we do have a little knowledge about him. (We have a photograph of Aunt Kate and Uncle Tom with two of sons taken about 1939 in Chicago).

Barbara and Thomas had two daughters, Mary born in 1912 and died a few days later. Margaret J. was born in 1912 and died in January in 1916. There were three sons John Francis, Thomas Joseph and James P.

Thomas Joseph was born in March 1911 and married on 12 June ? to Eileen Burke. Thomas Joseph served in the U.S. Army up to at least 1945 when his father died.

John Francis was born in November 1912 and married on 6th. June 1942 to a ?Gianna ?Vanian. John Francis served in the U.S. Air Force up to at least 1945 when his father died.

James P. probably was born after 1912 he served ed in the U.S. Navy up to at least 1945. Not known if he married.

Frank Dyra confirmed the names of the Thomas's sons and whom they married by means of newspaper cuttings and church marriage registry entries. I have two snapshots. One of Aunt Kate with one of Thomas's sons and also of another son with his father Thomas, probably taken before 1940 and before the sons were in the U.S. Forces.


Ellen (Helen) was born 12th. July 1876 in Callowbrack, County Mayo, Ireland and died 23rd. June1945 and is buried in St. Marys Cemetary. Evergreen Park. Illinois. She married Owen Lamb born 1886 and died 18th. May 1958. Like her sister Bridget (Delia), Ellen used the Helen spelling for her name. When Ellen died in 1945 she was living at 5741 Union Av.

From the Ellis Island Migration Records Ellenl arrived in NewYork on board the Cunard ship 'Campania' on 14 April 1901 when she was 23 years old. The' Campania' had sailed from what was then called Queenstown, Cork, Ireland. Interestingly, in spite of using the McDonald spelling for their surname the McDonnell spelling was used by Ellen on the Passenegr List. Ellen must have left for Cork very soon after the 1901 census was taken on 31st March 1901 where she is shown as living at Callowbrack with her parents and her brothers, Pat and Michael and her sister Anne.


John was born 5th August 1879 LEFT Ireland as a young boy and died in Leeds Yorkshire England 30th. September 1950.

John is buried in Killingbeck Cemetary Leeds.

On 28th. August 1918 he married Elsie Maude Rose at St. Edwards Church, Birmingham, England after he was invalided out of the British Amry (The Connaught Rangers) due to wounds received in Mesopotamia in 1916. Elsie Maude Rose died 10th. June 1972 in Adelaide South Australia. They had six children:


Anne was born 5th. November 1883 and died 28th. December 1919. On 9th. February she married Patrick Dyra, born about 1879 and died 9th. July 1954 They five children:

After Anne died in 1919 Patrick Dyra remarried a Bridget Gorman and had a further four children.


Michael E.was born 2 nd AUG 1885 and died in Chicago U.S.A. 23rd November 1952 and it was from his death notice, in a Chicago newspaper, we learned about his sons. Michael married Mary Regan who died in 1963. Her death notice said that she was survived by ten grandchildren.with the youngest two being born between 1952 and 1963. There is a reasonable chance that some of these grandchildren are still living and it would be very interesting to hear from them.

From the Ellis Island Migration Records Michael arrived in NewYork on board the Cunard ship 'Majestic' on 11 May 1905 when he was 19 years old. The' Majestic' had sailed from what was then called Queenstown, Cork, Ireland. I believe that Michael would have been one of the last of his brothers and sisters to leave Ireland for America. Interestingly, in spite of using the McDonald spelling for their surname the McDonnell spelling was used by Michael on the Passenger List

The only family legend we have about Michael concerns that of a Walter McDonald (McDonnell). Apparently in the mid 1940's during the war, Elsie Moss (McDonnell) recalls, that Aunt Kate sent us a newspaper cutting to us when we were living in England, giving details of the sons of a McDonald (McDonnell) family all serving at once in the American Armed Forces. They were in various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and at least one of them in the U.S. Airforce. Elsie specifically recalled that one son was called Walter and that there may have been seven sons. In 2000 Frank Dyra was able to locate details of my Uncle Michaels sons and whilst this did confirm their existance it turned out that there were only five sons. It is worth a special mention that one of them, John Joseph McDonald was Killed in action in December 1944 whilst he was in the 306th Infantry Regiment, a part of the 77th U.S. Infantry Division. I have all the background details about his service.

John Joseph married to Elizabeth Marguerite DOYLE on 12 June 1943. They had a son John Denis McDonald born 12 March 1944. I have been unable to locate what happened to John Dennis. Some years later Elizabeth married to James B. Larkin.

The names of the fiive sons of Michael E. were John Joseph, Michael, William,Thomas and Walter.


As far as is known Peter was born in 1890 and died as a very young baby.Therefore, if Catherine were born in 1842 she would have been 22 when she had Bridget and aged 48 when she had Peter in 1890.

To Be Done: