d.4 Nov 1893 Monasterevin, County Kildare, Ireland
Facts and Events
Maurice Cleary was born about 1812, but has yet to be positively traced prior to his marriage in 1845. Family tradition has it that he was the son of another Maurice Cleary, whose father was a Thomas Cleary who had been involved in the Wolfe Tone rebellion of 1798 at Monasterevin in County Kildare. Apparently Thomas was a blacksmith who had made swords for the rebels and sheltered a local priest, Father Prendergast, who was sympathetic to the rebels. For these acts, Thomas was hanged by the Government forces and his wife and children were made to watch. The truth of this family tradition is hard to prove or disprove given the shortage of contemporary records.
Possible clues from the records as to other members of Maurice's family come from the Maurice's children's godparents, three of whom were called Cleary - Bridget, Margaret and William. Maurice married, had all his children and died at Monasterevin in County Kildare, which (coupled with the family tradition) is highly likely to be where he was from too; the Catholic parish records there only start in 1819, so would not have recorded a birth or baptism in about 1812.
Maurice's first confirmed sighting is on 29th November 1845, when he married Ally Dunne at Monasterevin in County Kildare. They went on to have six children together between 1846 and 1857, all of whom were baptised at Monasterevin. At the time of their marriage they both lived in the town itself, but later settled at Skirteen, a townland to the west of the town on the opposite side of the River Barrow. Here, Maurice had his smithy (being a blacksmith) beside a lock linking the River Barrow to the Grand Canal.
After suffering from chronic stomach disease for several years, Ally died on 2nd March 1872 at Skirteen, aged 57. Maurice was left with their six children, who then ranged in age from 25 down to 14.
Maurice outlived Ally by over twenty years. He lived to see his daughters Mary and Bridget marry and have children. He also outlived his youngest son, Joseph, who died aged 31 in 1888. Maurice stayed at Skirteen, living with his daughter Eliza and son Thomas, neither of whom married. Thomas also became a blacksmith and eventually took over Maurice's smithy. Mary and her husband John Reid settled a couple of hundred yards down the road at Coole. Maurice's grandson Michael Reid (Mary's son) later recalled being told stories by Maurice and remembered aged about six or seven trying to smoke Maurice's pipe and not enjoying the experience.
Maurice died at Skirteen on 4th November 1893, aged 81.