The Journey Back to Rathcormac

On Day 2, I left Cork and my search for clues to the Denis O’Flynn families and headed back north, about 20 kilometers to Rathcormac — the birthplace of my dad and his mom. Rathcormac was originally on the main Cork to Dublin Road and I remember it to be a very well traveled roadway when we first visited in 1973. In fact my Uncle P. John’s Esso garage on Main St. in Rathcormac was well situated for passing travelers in need of a fill-up.¬† As a 13-year old I wanted to help out around the garage and often served the customers by filling their tanks. I remember on one occasion a Jaguar pulling up and the driver asking me to fill both tanks — I’d never heard of a car having two tanks and ran back into my Uncle and he gently explained that expensive English cars sometimes had two tanks. Who knew!

Well the main road in Rathcormac isn’t as busy now as a result of the construction of the M-8 which is a four-lane express highway through County Cork on the way north toward Dublin. In fact Rathcormac looks a little tired and in need of some revitalization. It is a small village that more recently has become a bedroom community of Cork City — by jumping on the M8 and taking the Jack Lynch Tunnel you can be in the Mahon/Blackrock area of the city in less than 20 minutes. So new homes have been built over the last 10 years but the growth hasn’t translated into a revival of the main business area — a common trait of bedroom communities.

When I drove through the town on Sunday, on my way from the Dublin Airport to Cork City, I got off the M8 to take the R639 through Rathcormac. I hadn’t been there since 2009 and wanted to see how the town looked. For the most part not much had changed but one upsetting change was at the house where my grandparents and dad lived before they immigrated in 1925.

The house is directly across the street from the Garda on what was known as Cannon St. It was a good-sized home for its day and about a 5-minute walk to his Aunt Norah Leahy’s house on the other side of the Ring Public House (now the Rathcormac Inn). It would have also been a quick bike ride or carriage ride (10-15 minutes) to Ballybrowney and for Jack and Molly about a 20 minute walk to Kilshannig House — where the both were working when they were married in 1920.

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The O’Flynn Family residence on Cannon Street in Rathcormac (picture taken in 1998).

When I traveled through the village on my way to Cork, I was shocked by the condition of the house. Apparently a fire in the house in December 2012 killed the owner who, as my cousins told me, had the placed full of newspapers and junk. Here’s a link to the news story recalling the events of that fire: Elderly man dies in Cork house fire .

So this is now the condition of the home…anyone want to purchase it and preserve a little Flynn/Cahill family history?

Next up…a visit to ground zero, the homestead at Ballybrowney and the graves of my maternal great grandfather, Patrick Cahill and great grandmother, Hannah Cahill (nee Egan) — buried in two different cemeteries.

 

Day 1 Of O’Flynn Hunting

Today my cousin Joe and I and his wife Mary spent some time trying to make sense of the stories we heard as children and young adults. After Joe and I drove up to Old Kilcully cemetery on the north side of Cork City to search for Denis O’Flynn’s grave. I have a copy of his interment registry that states that he was buried there on 2 November 1947 and that his son Edmund was the sponsor of the registry. Here is proof that we were there but we weren’t able to find his grave:

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Joe O’Flynn pointing in the general direction of the Old Kilcully Cemetery where his grandfather and my great grandfather, Denis O’Flynn was buried in 1947.

Despite looking for over an hour in the rain, we couldn’t find the grave of Denis O’Flynn but we found these Flynn/O’Flynn graves:

Michael Flynn and Mary O’Flynn — but unfortunately no direct relationship that we could detect.

One of the amazing discoveries today was that Joe’s dad, Terence (Terry) O’Flynn was born on 23 October 1920 — now for my family, that will be a memorable date, as it is the same date that my grandparents (John Flynn and Mary Cahill) were married in Rathcormac. So what’s the big deal — well Terry was John’s half brother — so while John’s father Denis wasn’t invited to the wedding in Rathcormac — Jack and Molly eloped — apparently he would have been able to make it as Denis was busy in Cork helping his wife give birth to his second son, Terry, from his second family.

A busy man indeed that Denis O’Flynn was — and very prolific — nearly 20 children.

The second discovery of the day was at Terry’s tomb at St. Michael’s cemetery in Blackrock, Cork City. As my family and my friends know, on my official signature block I usually sign my matters Terence (Terry) Flynn — because I was once taught by a female Terry Flynn at Syracuse University, so it was a way to differentiate myself.

So as I stood at the grave of Terry O’Flynn I couldn’t help but see a similarity — see if you can find it:

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So let’s confirm a few facts to remind ourselves that Joe O’Flynn and I are related:

  1. We both have our father’s names
  2. Joe’s dad was born on the same day that my grandparents were married
  3. Terry and I use the same Terence (Terry) — even though I never met him.

Here are pictures of Chrissy and Terry in the 1970s and on their wedding date in 1944 in Birmingham England — of yes, the same year as my parents were married!

One last comparison, Terry was my grandfather’s half brother and was 25 years younger — can you see the similarities in the two?

It’s been a great couple of days with Joe and his wife Mary and his mam Chrissy and his sister Kathleen. Here is a picture for dinner tonight — Joe’s favourite, Chinese.

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Tomorrow it’s off to Rathcormac to spend sometime with the Hoskin/Cahill clans exploring the Cahill family from Ballybrowney.

 

All My Bags Are Packed…

Well, sort of. I still have a few more hours till I have to head out to the airport in Toronto. But all the research has been organized and I’ve prepared all my technology to take my mobile office to Ireland. My overnight flight from Toronto to Dublin lands me in the emerald island mid-morning and then after picking up my rental car I’ll be heading to the Rebel County — Cork to stay with my cousin, Joe O’Flynn, and his family for a couple of days.

There I’ll have the chance to reunite with Chrissy O’Flynn — the wife of my namesake, Terry O’Flynn, who was one of my great-grandfather’s children from his second wife Madge Morey, whom he married in 1919. Interestingly Terry was born the same year (1921) as my dad (Patrick Joseph O’Flynn¬† — Canadianized to Joe Flynn) — and Terry would have been his half-uncle (my grandfather’s half-brother). Terry died in 1983.

In Cork I’m staying with Terry’s youngest son Joe whom I met in 1996 at a family reunion in Batesville Indiana about a month after our dad died. It was an interesting first meeting — “Hi, I’m your cousin Joe O’Flynn” he said. “Wow, that was my dad’s name” I replied. “My name is Terry Flynn” I said. To which he replied “Wow, that was my dad’s name.”

In 1998, Stephanie and I stayed with Joe and Mary at Shaneville, their home in Cork. We had a wonderful time with their son Conor and Joe’s sister’s Margaret and Kathleen.

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July 1998: Stephanie, Terry, Joe and Mary.

Joe’s a very busy guy and with the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, he has a number of functions to attend, but he has assured me that we will be talking about all things Flynn/O’Flynn in the hopes of gathering more information on his grandfather and my great-grandfather, Denis O’Flynn. I’ll also spend some time in the Cork City/County Archives to get a sense of life in the area at the turn of the 20th century. I want to visit some of the places where Denis and his families lived between 1894 (the year he married Bridget O’Leary) and his death in Cork City in 1947.

Given the celebrations that will be taking place to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Rising, I may have to bend Joe’s ear to try and get a sense of his understanding of the local politics of the day.

From Cork City I’ll be heading to Ballynagore — on the outskirts of Rathcormac where my cousin Joan Hoskins (nee Cahill) leaves with her husband Pat to stay for a couple of days to do some research on the Cahill family. I first met Pat and Joan in 1973 on my first trip to Ireland — they were engaged and about to get married. In July 1998, Stephanie spent a few days with Joan, her mam (Aunt Peg) and her brother Pat Cahill and Joan and Pat’s daughter Martina. It was a lovely visit. A year later, my brothers (Pat, K.C., Larry, Sean and I) stopped by for a visit at the farm as well.

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July 1998: Pat Cahill, Pat and Joan Hoskins, Aunt Peg Cahill (nee Lane) , me and Martina Hoskins.

The Cahill clan are from my grandmother Molly’s side. Molly was born and raised on a farm at Ballybrowney, just a couple of kilometers outside of Rathcormac. She met and married my grandfather John Joseph O’Flynn in Rathcormac and they were married in October of 1920 in the chapel of the Church of Immaculate Conception in Rathcormac. Their world was rather compact as Rathcormac and Ballybrowney were all within a 10 kilometer radius.

So stay tuned…the fun is just beginning.