About March 1943, Miss Mary Keane of 93 Fox Hill Road, Nahant, Massachusetts, received a letter from Gaillimh (Galway) Ireland.1 Can this postmark tell us anything about her family's Irish origins?
Mary E Keane was born February 24, 1910, in Nahant, Massachusetts, the first child of Michael F Keane and Mary T Nolan. Michael and Mary had been married in Nahant on April 14, 1909. Both had been born in Ireland.
In 1940 the family was living at the address on the letter, 93 Fox Hill Road, Nahant. With Mary and her parents were the two other children in the family: Katherine Theresa, born August 5, 1911, and James John, born September 3, 1917. Her father was working as the manager of a state boat house. His later information said that this was for the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC).
Mary Keane remained single and lived most of her life in Nahant, dying on January 15, 1997, in Lynn. She is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery, Nahant, with her parents and her brother James.
Michael F Keane of Island Eddy and Nahant
When Mary's father was married, he stated that his parents were James Keane and Maria Connolly. I spent a long time looking for the ship manifest for his arrival, hoping that it would tell me at least his county of origin in Ireland. I was unsuccessful and was ready to give up on finding his birth family, until I remembered the trick of looking for siblings. So I went to familysearch.org and looked for anyone with those two parents.
There were a number of matches, but the one that stood out was Honora "Nora" Keane, who was born in Island Eddy, Galway, and married in Lynn, Massachusetts. Although the names Keane and Connolly are common enough, I thought that it had to be more than coincidence that both a Michael and a Honora Keane would settle in the Lynn/Nahant area. They were very likely brother and sister. And so it turned out to be. There was a record for a Michael Keane, born October 12, 1877, in Island Eddy as well.
Interestingly, Michael wasn't actually born on that date. The Irish Catholic parish records are now online and Michael's baptism was on September 11, 1877. That same record says he was born September 6. Since you can't get baptized until you are born 🙂 I believe the date of birth on this record is the correct one. What probably happened is either that his parents registered his birth on the October date, or they gave that date as his birthdate so they wouldn't have to pay the fine for a late registration.
Michael Keane, baptism record, page 1
Michael Keane, baptism record, page 2
Michael and Honora, or Nora, as she was called, are on the 1901 Census of house 4 in Eddy Island, Clarenbridge, Galway, with their parents James, age 60, and Maria, 50, along with their brothers and sisters: Thomas, Catherine, John, Martin, Winnie and James. Michael might have been visiting from America, because he was naturalized in 1904 and I am pretty sure the residency requirement was 5 years.
Mary T Nolan
What about Mary T Nolan's Irish origins? When Mary was married, she said that her parents were Thomas Nolan and Mary Tilly. On Griffith's Valuation of Ireland, taken in the 1850's and 1860's, those two surnames occur together only in Belfast, Dublin, and Co. Laois.
When Mary arrived in America she said she was headed for the home of her cousin, Annie Long, in Lynn. There is a birth record for an Annie Long in Abbeyleix, Co. Laois, that could be her, but I suspect it is a common name. I was unable to find a birth record for Mary Nolan, or any of her siblings.
If this were my family, I would probably plunk down a few dollars at rootsireland.ie and look through the index for children of Thomas Nolan and Mary Tilly. Then go to the Parish Records at the National Library of Ireland, nli.ie, and look for the baptisms. However, the records might not be complete or the family just might not have been recorded. Still I would start looking in Laois.
I looked through the baptisms in Co. Laois for children of Thomas Nolan and Mary Tilly, and didn't find any. Your mileage may vary, as they say. Or try rootsireland.ie, since that is supposed to be the best site for the Irish parish records.
So although the postmark of "Galway" didn't give us much to go on this time, at least we were able to determine the Irish county of origin for the recipient. To clinch the matter, I found a post at facebook that mentioned a "Jim Keane of Nahant MA. USA ... [whose] father was from Island Eddy." That would be Mary E Keane's brother James J Keane.
There are a few other Galway families on the site. Click on the Co. Galway category at the top of this post. Sources and more information on the Keanes are in the New England Families tree on my other website.