Thomas Martin and Mary O'Connor

Thomas Martin and Mary O'Connor were my grandparents. They moved from County Kerry, Ireland to the United States in the early 1900s. They settled in Westfield, Massachusetts where they raised their four children.

1. Thomas Martin - Gortadoo

My grandfather, Thomas Martin, was born on June 14, 1892 to James Martin and Elizabeth Landers. He was raised in the village of Gortadoo, which is in County Kerry, Ireland.

The house pictured on the right was where he grew up. The Martin property contained the main house and six other buildings: a stable, cow house, calf house, dairy, piggery and fowl house.

In 1911, at the age of 19, Tom was living in the nearby town of Ballyferriter and renting a room with the Granville family. The head of the house, Michael Granville, owned a forge in Ballyferriter and Tom worked there as an apprentice ironworker. Tom continued this line of work when he later moved to America.

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2. Thomas Martin - Siblings

This document from the 1901 Irish census is a record of those living in the Martin house in Gortadoo. At the time, Tom's father James was 40 years old and mother Eliza was 35. Tom's grandparents (Patrick and Johanna) were also living with them and the children. Everyone in the house spoke Irish and English except for Tom's mother and grandmother, who spoke only Irish.

Tom had 6 siblings: 4 brothers (John, Patrick, James, Michael) and 2 sisters (Mary, Nell). Michael and Nell are not listed in the census as they were born after the census was taken in March 1901. Here is additional information on the siblings:
John:Born February 22, 1887. Also known by his Irish name Sean.
Mary:Born March 24, 1889. Married to Rayel Garfinney.
Patrick:Born July 24, 1890. Also known as Paddy. Patrick was married and lived in Dingle, but did not have any children.
Thomas:Born June 14, 1892. My grandfather. Married and had four children.
James:Born May 21, 1897. Also know by his Irish name Seamus. At the age of 19, he took part in the 1916 Irish uprising. He married Eileen Devane in 1920 and they had four children. He inherited the Martin house and farm. See his obituary below.
Michael:Born in 1901 and passed away as a boy.
Eileen:Born in 1902. Also known as Nell. She immigrated to America and worked in New York City for years. She moved back to Ireland late in life and passed away in the early 1990s in a nursing home in Dingle. She never married and didn't have any children.
Obituary for Seamus Martin. (From the Irish Evening Press. August 16, 1980.)

Photo courtesy of Seamus's grandson, Michael Ryan.

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3. Mary O'Connor - Ventry

My grandmother, Mary O'Connor, was born May 23, 1891 in Ventry, Ireland.

Her parents were John O'Connor and Kate Kevane. She had 4 brothers (Patrick, John, Thomas, Michael) and 5 sisters (Brida, Ellen, Hanna, Kate, Peg).

Mary lived with her family in the house pictured above. The house is located in the Coumaleague section of Ventry. Mary immigrated to Boston in 1912 at the age of 21.

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4. Mary O'Connor - Family Tree

This tree shows my grandmother Mary along with her 9 siblings (blue boxes) and all of their children (grey boxes).
Many of them immigrated to England and the United States.

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5. Dingle Area Map

This map shows Mary's hometown of Ventry on the Dingle Peninsula. The Dingle Peninsula is located in southwest Ireland.

Tom's hometown of Gortadoo is located 4 miles north-west of Ventry. Gortadoo is not labeled on the map, but its location is indicated by the smaller red circle.

Tom and Mary both spoke English, but they also spoke Gaelic. The majority of the people in this part of Ireland still speak Gaelic as their first language.

Location of the Dingle Peninsula on the west
coast of Ireland. Image courtesy of Google Maps.
   Location of the Martin house in the village
of Gortadoo. Image courtesy of Google Maps.

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6. O'Connor Family Photo

This is an O'Connor family picture taken around 1917 in Ventry, Ireland. Mary's mother Kate and father John are at the bottom center of the photo. The two babies in the picture are Mary's nephews. The rest of the people in the photo are Mary's brothers and sisters. Mary was living in the United States at the time and the family sent her this picture.

Back row: Tom (b. 1895), Pat (b. 1890) (man with the hat), Bridget (b. 1898), unknown woman holding grandson John O'Connor, Ellen (b. 1900)

Front row: Mike (b. 1906), Katherine (b. 1909), Grandmother Kate O'Connor holding grandson Pat O'Connor, Grandfather John O'Connor, Margaret (b. 1911)

 Photo of Mary's sister and niece.
Photo taken in the village of Gortadoo.
They sent her this picture in 1957.

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7. St. Catherine's Church

St. Catherine's Church in Ventry, Ireland.
Mary O'Connor and her family attended services here.

  St Catherine's Church as it appears today.

Map that shows the location of the O'Connor farm (red circle) in relation to St Catherine's church.
Image courtesy of Google Maps

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8. Great-grandmother O'Connor

  This is Catherine 'Kate' Kevane. She was Mary's mother and my great-grandmother.

Kate married John O'Connor on Feb 9, 1889 in Dingle, Ireland and together they had 10 children. Mary was their 2nd child.

Kate lived her entire life on the Dingle Peninsula. Barely visible in the background of the picture is a typical landscape of the area: fields divided by stone walls that lead up to hills used for grazing sheep.

The photo below is a view facing southeast towards Ventry Bay. The O'Connor farm is on the far right side of the photo. St Catherine's church is located 1.5 miles down the road just before reaching the bay.

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9. Ellis Island 1914

In May 1914, Tom left Gortadoo bound for America. He likely took the same route as many immigrants from the area. The journey would start by taking a horse drawn cart to the train station in nearby Dingle. This would be followed by a narrow-gauge train that ran from Dingle to Tralee (a 30 mile trip). Finally, there would be a trip on the rails from Tralee to Queenstown.

Queenstown was a major port from which immigrants left Ireland for America. It was renamed to Cobh after Irish independence in the 1920s and is located 15 miles from the city of Cork in the south of Ireland.

On May 14, 1914 Tom departed Queenstown by ship and arrived 6 days later in New York City. He was 21 years old and 1 month shy of his 22nd birthday.

The picture below shows the S.S. Oceanic, which is the ship that Tom sailed on.
The other image shows Tom's name on the ship's manifest as recorded after arriving at Ellis Island on May 20, 1914. The manifest indicates that he was a laborer, that his race was Irish and that he could read and write.

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10. Working in America

 After arriving in the United States in 1914, Tom worked for a short time on the New York City subway before eventually settling in Westfield, Massachusetts. In Westfield he was employed by the Plainville Casting Company.

In this photo he is on the front porch of his house at 1 Crown Street in Westfield.

After Mary came to the United States, she settled in Holyoke, Massachusetts. She worked for a few years as a domestic servant for a Protestant minister and his family.

On the right is a photo of the house where she lived and worked. It's located at 181 Elm Street in Holyoke. In the photo is Mary's son John along with his daughter and grandchildren.  

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11. Tom and Mary's Wedding

 Even though Tom and Mary were from the same area of Ireland, they did not know each other there. After immigrating to the U.S., they met in Holyoke, Massachusetts. They were introduced to each other by a mutual friend who knew they were from the same area of Ireland.

Tom and Mary were married on Oct 24, 1922 in the Sacred Heart Church in Holyoke. The church is located at 435 Maple Street. The image above is of their marriage certificate. Tom's occupation is listed as a 'melter'. Mary's occupation is listed as a 'domestic'.

The flowergirl at their wedding was a young relative named Kay Sullivan. Kay was 8 years old at the time and recalled that the wedding was on a weekday (Tuesday) and that she left school in the morning in order to attend the wedding. The wedding party took a trolley from Westfield to Holyoke for the ceremony. Kay recalled that Mary wore white gloves and a blue bonnet.

The photo below was taken at the Sacred Heart Church in 2011. In the photo is Tom and Mary's son, John, and his children and grandchildren.

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12. Martin family photo 1931

 After they married, Tom and Mary bought a house in Westfield, Massachusetts where they raised four children.

This picture was taken in the summer of 1931 with three of their children.

From left to right:
- Mary O'Connor-Martin
- James (born 1923)
- Kathleen (born 1925)
- John (born 1930) (my father)
- Tom Martin
Not pictured: Maureen (born 1934)

Below is a photo of Tom and Mary's children taken in 2001.
From left to right: James, Kathleen, John and Maureen.

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13. Westfield circa 1940

This is a photo of Tom and Mary circa 1940 in Westfield. Their youngest daughter Maureen is sitting next to Mary on the first step. Tom is upper left.

After settling in the United States, neither Tom nor Mary ever got a chance to return to Ireland. They did, however, have many family members come to Westfield, both to visit and to live permanently.

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14. Tom and Mary - 1960s

This is a picture of Tom and Mary Martin taken in the 1960s. Tom passed away in 1969 at the age of 77. Mary passed away in 1984 at the age of 93.

They had four children, ten grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.

Photos below from Mary's funeral in November 1984. On the left are Mary's nephews Pat, John and Maurice O'Connor.

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15. Ballyferriter, Ireland - 1991

My parents (John and Mary Louise Martin) standing in front of Saint Vincent's Church in Ballyferriter, Ireland.

Ballyferriter is located 2 miles from Tom's hometown of Gortadoo and this is the church where Tom Martin and his family used to attend services in the early 1900s.

My father, John Martin (standing on the right), is Tom and Mary's third child. This photo was taken on our 1991 trip to Ireland.

The other image shows the location of Saint Vincent's Church in the town of Ballyferriter.
Image courtesy of Google Maps.

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16. Ventry, Ireland 1991

Ventry, Ireland. Mary O'Connor's hometown.

This picture was taken when my parents, sister and I visited in November, 1991.

Mary used to tell us how she would walk along this beach in Ventry to get to school.

In the background is Mount Eagle and just beyond that is Dunmore Head, the westernmost point of Ireland.

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17. Dingle Peninsula - Google Map

Interactive Google Map of the Dingle Peninsula.

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18. Resources

In addition to family documents, pictures and stories, these websites were also useful for gathering information.

Irish census - Contains Irish census records from 1901 and 1911. - Subscription site that offers a free trial.

Ellis Island - Free site where you can search for passengers who arrived between 1892 and 1924.

Google maps - Great for searching for towns, streets and other locations.

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