Family:Michael Dowd and Mary Reynolds (1)

Facts and Events
Marriage[1][2] 22 Jan 1874 Limerick, County Limerick, Republic of IrelandSt. Mary's Roman Catholic Parish

1874-1893: First marriage

Michael Dowd (oftentimes O'Dowd), bachelor, and Mary Reynolds, spinster, married 22 January 1874 in an unknown Roman Catholic church in St. Mary's parish in Limerick City. Preceding the wedding, Mary, aged 16 was working as a housekeeper and living on a street known as Sir Harry's Mall. Michael, aged 20, was living on Mungret Street and his occupation is given as victuallar. His father is listed as John Dowd, also a victuallar. Martin Reynolds, shoemaker, is listed as Mary's father. The witnesses to the ceremony were Patrick Sheehan and Bridget Barrett.

By October, the couple were living on Sand Mall (also known as Sandmall, apparently part of Sir Harry's Mall) and expecting their first child. Michael is now described as a cattle dealer. According to civil records, James O'Dowd was born October 30 but experienced convulsions from birth (possibly neonatal seizures related to preterm labor) and survived only three hours (possibly a typo for 30 hours), dying on November 1st (or October 31st). The informant for both the birth and death registration was Sally Gleeson of Jones' Place. A baptism date of November 14, 1874 is provided on the birth registration.

A year later, the couple had moved to Rathbane Street in the parish of Donoughmore within Limerick City, where Philip Dowd was born 7 November 1874 and baptized the following November 29th (online database church records give the baptism as 31 October, which must be inaccurate, given that the informant for the civil information was Mary Reynolds Dowd). The sponsors at the baptism were MI (presumably Michael) Sheehan and Mgt (presumably Margaret) Reynolds. The Reynolds family were from Ennis, Clare, but Mary's father, mother, her half-brother and sister and two younger full sibling had immigrated to Hampden, Massachusetts in 1864, leaving Mary in Ireland, likely with two older full or half sisters. This Margaret Reynolds could be a sister, and aunt, or her paternal grandmother. Research must proceed carefully as there is a Martin Reynolds in Limerick who married as a bachelor in 1866 (potentially a collateral relative, but not her father).

The family was still living on Rathbane a year and a half later when Catherine was born. She was baptised August 5, 1877 and the sponsors were Jn (John) Dowd, possibly her paternal grandfather, and Wm (William) Moloney (Michael's maternal grandmother was a Moloney and this may be a cousin). The family was living on Rathbane through to 1879, when Patrick was born on 22 March (baptized 9 May), at which point Michael is listed in the civil registration as a butcher. A Mary O'Dowd was the informant for the civil registration and while this could be a failure to distinguish that the informant was the mother, it could also indicate someone else, perhaps Michael's paternal grandmother Mary Harty O'Dowd.

Michael was born 26 November 1880 and by this time the family was living on Roxboro (Roxborough) Road. He was baptized 4 January 1881 and Michael is again listed as a cattle dealer, the occupation he retained in official documentation for the remainder of his life.

When Johanna Dowd is born 24 August 1882, the family's address is again "Rathbane." The family was shifting between residences, possibly living with extended family at certain points, and family lore indicates this may relate to Michael's ownership of two butcher shops in the neighborhoods, Rathbane/Roxboro and Thomondgate. They would live for an extended period on Roxboro in the 1880s and 1890s. Johanna was baptized 5 October 1882.

According to St Michael's parish church records, Margaret Dowd was born on 9 July 1884, Bridget on 6 February 1886, Mary on 31 October 1887, and Anne (Annie M. T.) on 17 March 1890. Mary Reynolds died at some point between Annie's birth on 17 March 1890 and Michael's second marriage, as a widower, on 11 July 1893. The early 1890s were tragic for the family as, in addition to Mary's death, it seems likely that Patrick died in April 1893. While no death certificate has been located, a Limerick Chronicle article from 8 April 1893 refers to "The Sad Drowning Accident" (and Patrick does not appear on the 1901 census listing with the rest of the family under the age of 16):

An inquest was held yesterday by Mr. Coroner Cleary, touching the death of a boy named Patrick Dowd, of Roxborough Road, who as reported in our last issue, was drowned in a quarry at Garryowen on Thursday. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death, adding that the place where the fatality occurred should be better protected than it is. The Coroner said he would have the matter reported to the proper quarter. Constable Curran, Blackboy, appeared on behalf of the police.

Michael and Bridget are also missing from the 1901 census for the family.

1893-1922: Second Marriage and Emigrations to New York

By July of 1893, the family's address was 14 Roxboro Road, Limerick. Michael and his second wife, Catherine O'Keeffe, would have six more surviving children and Catherine would effectively raise Mary's three youngest children. Michael and Catherine's children were born in 1894 (John Joseph), 1895 (Elizabeth Mary), 1897 (Michael Patrick), 1900 (James Joseph), 1902 (a stillborn), 1903 (Eva), and 1905 (Catherine). The address listed on Michael's 1897 birth registration was 25 Roxboro Road but by Eva's birth in 1903 they were living on Quarry Road, some distance across Limerick, and across the River Shannon, in Thomondgate, St. Munchin's parish.

By naming another son Michael, it seems likely that Mary's son Michael, born 1880, had passed away by 1897. The family living together on the 1901 census included Michael and Catherine and the following children: Philip (aged 24, unmarried, also a cattle dealer), Margaret (16, scholar), Mary (14, scholar), Anne (11, scholar), John (7, scholar), Elizabeth (5, scholar), Michael (4), James (9 months). All the children up to Anne could both read and write, while John and Elizabeth could read but not yet write. Their school is currently unknown.

Johanna had emigrated to New York in April of 1899 on the S.S. Umbria and Kate had preceded her there as she was listed as Johanna's destination household.

Michael died of pneumonia, aged 50, after an illness of 10 days, on 9 November 1906 at the family's then address of 17 Quarry Road in Thomondgate, Limerick. His death likely threw the family into some turmoil and almost all of his surviving children from both marriages would subsequently emigrate to New York (the exceptions being his eldest son Philip, his daughter Maggie, and his youngest daughter Catherine).

By 1908 Margaret had married Thomas Hehir of Carry's Road, Limerick. Mary had immigrated to America, settling at 1038 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, while Annie was working as a waitress in Kilkee, on the coast in County Clare. On 3 October 1909, Annie left Ireland via Queenstown to join Mary in Brooklyn. She sailed on the S.S. Arabic and Maggie paid her passage. Annie is described on the passenger manifest as five feet two inches tall with a fair complexion, dark hair, and dark eyes (Annie would marry John Vaughan, who was also of Quarry Road, in Brooklyn four years later).

John made the voyage on the S.S. Arabic in September 1910 and by this time his mother had left Quarry Road and was living, presumably with or near Maggie on Carry's Road. John joined his sister Mary Dowd, who was living at 995 Myrtle Street in Brooklyn, very possibly still with Annie, who married from 638 Myrtle Street three and a half years later.

Michael sailed on the S.S. Lapland in November 1914 (at which time his mother Catherine is back living in Thomondgate) to join the household of his sister Annie, Mrs. Vaughan.

James, known as Jim in America, left Ireland on the S.S. Celtic in February 1921. While he died childless, he was in contact with Annie's children from her second marriage well into the 20th century.

Eva seems to have been the last to leave for America, immigrating in October 1922 on the S.S. Scythia. At that time her mother was living at 1 Dominick Street in Limerick and Eva joined her brother John at 11 Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn.

  1. Civil Marriage Record, in Irish Family History Foundation. RootsIreland. (Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland).
  2. Church Marriage Record, in Irish Family History Foundation. RootsIreland. (Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland).