Thursday, 27 April 2017
Finding some unexpected
Comerford family roots and
branches in Co Limerick
I have come to this county and diocese with very few family connections with Limerick. I know of a few distant cousins on my mother’s side of the family, but I have been surprised to find many Comerford family connections with Limerick, some dating back to at least the 18th century.
The Ennis Chronicle reported from Limerick on Monday 5 October 1795 on the marriage the previous Thursday at Silvermines, Co Tipperary, of William Ferguson, son of John Ferguson, of Limerick, and a Miss Comerford, daughter of Michael Comerford of Silvermines. The Ferguson family were woollen merchants and drapers in Limerick and also lived in Rathkeale, Co Limerick.
The Limerick Chronicle reported on 18 December 1850 that Anne Comerford of Glentworth Street, Limerick had died at the ‘advanced age’ of 97. She was the widow of John Comerford of Killarney, Co Kerry.
Half a century later, JJ Comerford of Kilkenny, who died on 29 March 1902, was a journalist and former Limerick correspondent of the Freeman’s Journal.
On 4 January 1883, an inquest was held into the death of Mary Anne Comerford, an elderly woman, after an assault. She was 75 at the time.
Delving further into Comerford links with Limerick, I have come across at least one Comerford from a family with roots in Co Carlow and Dublin, who was baptised in the second half of the 19th century in Castletown Church, near Pallaskenry, one of the four churches in my group of parishes; two Comerford nuns who lived about a century ago in a convent where one of the ‘residents’ in the attached ‘Magdalene Laundry’ was also a Comerford; a family of Comerford carpenters who lived in Limerick for at least four generations – some soldiers and RIC constables; and an interesting and unexpected connection between the Comerfords of Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, and Castleconnell, Co Limerick.
In time, I hope to migrate the stories of some of these branches of the Comerford family in Limerick city and council to my site on Comerford family history. But I thought it was worth sharing these stories as I try to disentangle the roots and branches of these family trees.
Comerford of Graigue, Co Carlow, Cork, Dublin and Pallaskenry, Co Limerick
PATRICK COMERFORD (ca 1799-ca 1869) married Sarah Anne …. They lived in Gillignham, Kent, ca 1820, and later lived in Graigue, Co Carlow, in the 1830s, and were living in Dublin by the 1840s. They were living at 3 Sackville Gardens (1840), 6 Bachelor’s Walk, Dublin (1842), 26 Anna Villa, Cullenswood, Ranelagh, Dublin (1853). Their children probably included:
1, Thomas George Comerford (1820-1908), of whom next.
2, Sarah Anne, dressmaker, living in Dublin in 1849 when she was a witness at the wedding of her brother William Comerford. On 29 July 1850, she married Timothy McMahon, tailor, of 128 Upper Dorset Street, Dublin, son of John McMahon, in Saint Mary’s Church (Church of Ireland), Dublin.
3, James Comerford (1830- ), baptised Killeshin Church (Church of Ireland), Co Carlow, 21 March 1830.
4, William Comerford (1832- ), baptised Killeshin Church, 13 May 1832, of whom after his eldest brother Thomas.
5, Helen Mary (1834- ), baptised Killeshin Church, 19 October 1834.
6, Charles Comerford (1840- ), born 24 February 1840, baptised in Saint George’s Church (Church of Ireland), Dublin, 4 March 1840. He was living at 5 Lombard Street, Dublin, on 2 August 1863 when he married in Saint Nicholas Church (RC), Francis Street Elizabeth Letson, daughter of John and Esther (Supple) Letson of 31 Francis Street, Dublin (witnesses Michael Tagan, Catherine Carroll).
7, Samuel Horatio Comerford (1842- ), born 13 December 1842, at 6 Bachelor’s Walk, Dublin. He was baptised in Saint Mary’s Church (Church of Ireland), Dublin, on 28 December 1842.
8, Mary Anne (1853- ), she was born on 23 September 1853 and was baptised on 28 October 1853 in Saint Peter’s Church (Church of Ireland), Dublin.
The first-named son of Patrick and Sarah Anne Comerford was:
THOMAS GEORGE COMERFORD (1820-1908), born in Gillingham, Kent, 16 July 1820 (birth records; 1901 census). He was a sailor and living at 36 Harcourt Street, Dublin, when he married on 9 November 1846 Mary Whiston, daughter of Isaac Whiston, in Saint Peter’s Church (Church of Ireland), Dublin (witnesses: Thomas and Grace Dary; the Revd Richard Stack, curate). They later lived in Cork (1853-1864), at 5 Tivoli Terrace, Harold’s Cross, Dublin (1867), and 157½ Church Street, Dublin, when he was the sexton at Saint Michan’s Church, Dublin (ca 1871-1892). He was widowed when he died there on 12 April 1908.
Thomas and Mary Comerford were the parents of at least four sons and two daughters:
1, Thomas George Comerford ( -1886), sanitary officer; living in 1885, and present at the death of his brother Isaac. He died on 4 June 1886, and administration was granted to his father.
2, Isaac Whiston Comerford (1851/1852-1885), clerk, living with his father at Saint Michan’s, 157½ Church Street, Dublin, on 24 April 1883, when he married Mary Tobin, daughter of John Tobin, carpenter, of 8 Curzon Street, Dublin, in Saint Michan’s Church (witnesses Michael Tobin and Margaret Tobin). The wedding was conducted by the curate, the Revd Michael Burchell Buick (later Bewick), previously curate of Saint Michael’s, Limerick. Isaac Whiston Comerford died at Saint Michan’s, 157½ Church Street, Dublin, at the age of 34 on 13 June 1885.
3, James Richard Comerford (1853-post 1904), of whom next.
4, Emily, (1864/1865-1949) born Cork ca 1864/1865 (aged 36 at 1901 census), living with her father from 1883, when she is a witness at weddings in Saint Michan’s Church; she was there at the 1901 census, and present at her father’s death at Saint Michan’s in 1908. Died 20 May 1949, unmarried, at Saint Joseph’s, Portland Row, when her age is given as 80.
5, Samuel Henry Comerford (1867-1890), born 11 April 1867, baptised in Holy Trinity Church (Church of Ireland), Rathmines, by the curate, the Revd Loftus T Shire (1819-1902). He was a photographer. He died on 28 February 1890, at the age of 20 (sic), at the Lodge, Saint Michan’s Church, Dublin.
6, Elizabeth, who married Frederick Crofton Dawson, compositor, son of William Dawson, compositor, of 11 Berkeley Road, Dublin, on 25 February 1892, in Saint George’s Church, Dublin (witnesses Thomas George Comerford and George Gerald Dunbar; priest, the Revd Thomas Long, Rector of Saint Michan’s). Frederick Dawson was born on 14 April 1860, and baptised on 3 June 1860 in Saint Mary’s Church (Church of Ireland).
The third son of Thomas and Mary Comerford was:
JAMES RICHARD COMERFORD (1853-post 1917). Clerk, bookkeeper. He was born in Cork in 1853 (1901 census, 1911 census). Clerk. He was living at the Lodge, Saint Michan’s Church, Dublin, where his father was the sexton, on 15 February 1886, when he married Ellen Eva Dowling, daughter of John Dowling, army pensioner; she was born in Co Kildare (1901 census). The witnesses were his brother Samuel Henry Comerford and Maria Madden.
James and Ellen Comerford later lived at 27 Upper Dorset Street (1886), 33 Upper Gloucester Street (1887), 50 Upper Dorset Street (1888, 1889, 1901 census), 37 Nelson Street (1892, 1893), 6 Bolton Street (1895), 32 Upper Dorset Street (1900), 1 Blessington Place (1904), Henrietta Street (1911 census) and 16 Saint Michael’s Terrace, Blackpitts, Dublin (1917, Ellen’s death, Alice’s marriage).
Ellen died on 28 August 1917, aged 55, at 16 Saint Michael’s Terrace, aged 55, with her husband James present.
James and Ellen were the parents of 13 children, eight of whom were living in 1911. They included:
1, Mary Catherine (1886-post 1911), born 1 December 1886 at 27 Upper Dorset Street. School teacher (1901 census), Living with her parents in 1911, Church of Ireland, factory worker.
2, Thomas George Foy Comerford (1888-1888), born 31 August 1888, baptised Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Dublin (sponsor Catherine Madden). Died aged 3 months, 50 Upper Dorset Street, 10 December 1888.
3, Alice Josephine (1889-post 1917), born 16 September 1889, baptised Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral (sponsors, Christopher Kelly, Ida Madden). Living with her parents in 1911, Church of Ireland, factory worker. She was living at 16 Saint Michael’s Terrace when she married David William Alford (1886-1941), painter, in Saint Nicholas Church, Francis Street, on 7 February 1917 (witnesses Michael Foy and Emily Eileen Comerford). They lived at 10 Saint Michael’s Terrace, where he died on 4 August 1941.
4, Emily Eileen (1892-1963), born 8 February 1892 at 37 Nelson Street, Dublin. Living with her parents in 1911, Church of Ireland, factory worker; living at 16 St Michael’s Terrace, when she married Joseph Monks of 26 South King Street, Dublin, in Saint Nicholas Church, Francis Street, on 28 September 1921 (witnesses: Edward Monks, Ellen Eva Comerford). They lived at 24 Crampton Buildings, Dublin. She died on 11 December 1963, aged 71.
5, Ellen Eva (1893-1954), born 7 July 1893, 37 Nelson Street. Living with her parents in 1911, Church of Ireland, factory worker, died 1954.
6, James William Comerford (1895-post 1901), born 31 March 1895, 6 Bolton Street, Dublin. Living with his parents in 1911, Church of Ireland, factory worker.
7, (1897- ), born 13 February 1897, baptised Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Dublin. Living with his parents in 1911, Church of Ireland, factory worker.
8, Frederick Robert Coleman Comerford (1900-1962), born 8 March 1900. Living with his parents in 1911, Church of Ireland. Lived at 16 Saint Michael’s Terrace, Blackpitts, Dublin. Brush maker. Unmarried. Died 18 March 1962.
9, Charles Stewart Parnell Comerford (1904-post 1962), born 10 October 1904 in the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin. Living with his parents in 1911, Church of Ireland. Cabinet maker. He lived at 16 Saint Michael’s Terrace, South Circular Road, Dublin (1943), 3 Mount Street Crescent, Dublin (1962). On 28 July 1943, he married Sarah Coogan of 51 Percy Place, Dublin, in Saint Mary’s Church, Haddington Road.
The fourth child and third-named son of Patrick and Sarah Anne Comerford appears to be the same person as:
WILLIAM COMERFORD (1832-post 1853), baptised Killeshin Church, 13 May 1832; porter, of 128 Upper Dorset Street, Dublin (1849), 5 Granby Place (1850) and 133 Stephen’s Green (1851). He married on 9 April 1849, in Saint Mary’s Church (Church of Ireland), Dublin, Bridget, daughter of Timothy Baker (or Barker), clerk. They were both minors at the time of their marriage. The witnesses at their wedding were Anthony Farington and William’s sister, Sarah Anne Comerford.
They were the parents of a son and two daughters:
1, Bridget (1850- ), born 5 Granby Place, Dublin, 29 May 1850, baptised the same day in Saint Mary’s Church, Dublin.
2, James Comerford (1851-1894), of Pallaskenry, Co Limerick, and Gardiner Street, Dublin, of whom next.
3, Mary Anne, born 23 September 1853 at 26 Anna Villa, Cullenswood, Ranelagh, and baptised by the Revd John James MacSorley in Saint Peter’s Church (Church of Ireland), Dublin, on 28 October 1853.
JAMES COMERFORD (1851-1894), butler, of Pallaskenry, Co Limerick, and Gardiner Street, Dublin. He was born at 133 Stephen’s Peer (?) on 20 August 1851, and was baptised on 29 August 1851 in Saint Peter’s Church (Church of Ireland), Dublin, by the curate, the Revd John James McSorley. He gave his address as 96 Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin, when he married in Saint Thomas’s Church (Church of Ireland), Dublin, on 17 May 1873 Elizabeth Lightly, daughter of Henry Lightly, hotel operator, of 96 Lower Gardiner Street.
They were living in Pallaskenry, Co Limerick (1875), and at 96 Lower Gardiner Street (1880). He was a witness on 20 January 1883 at the marriage in Saint Thomas’s Church (Church of Ireland), Dublin, of Elizabeth’s sister, Maria Lightly, of 3 Upper Gloucester Street, and John Drew, house painter.
He died on 6 February 1894 at 3 Upper Gloucester Street, Dublin, with his son WH Comerford present.
They were the parents of two sons:
1, William Henry Comerford (1875-post 1894), born 5 February 1875 in Pallaskenry, Co Limerick. He was present at his father’s death in Dublin in 1894.
2, Charles Samuel Comerford (1880-post 1901), born 3 October 1880, hall porter, Mercer Street (1901 census).
Two nuns in Limerick
Sister Mary Comerford and Sister Catherine (‘Kate’) Comerford, both born in Queen’s County (Co Laois) were nuns living in the Good Shepherd Convent, Clare Street, Limerick in 1901 and 1911.
When Sister Catherine died at the age of 40 on 13 November 1921, it was noted that she was originally from Clonegal, Co Carlow. Sister
The Good Shepherd Convent became known as one of the ‘Mother and Baby’ homes or ‘Magdalene Laundries.’ Ironically, one of the women buried in the convent cemetery is Bridget Comerford who died there in 1958 at the age of 56.
A family of Limerick carpenters
MICHAEL COMERFORD, carpenter, of Limerick, was the ancestor of a long-tailed family of carpenters associated with the Island in Limerick over four generations. He lived in the mid-19th century and was the father of at least two sons:
1, Michael (‘Mick’) Comerford (ca 1850-post 1887), carpenter of The Island, Limerick, of whom next.
2, James Comerford (ca 1850-post 1901), carpenter, of King’s Island, Limerick, of whom after his brother.
The first named son was:
MICHAEL (‘Mick’) COMERFORD (ca 1850-post 1887), carpenter of The Island, Limerick. He married in 1868 Johanna (‘Hannah’) Hartigan. They were living at Castle Street (1869), King’s Island (1871), and Mary Street (1884), Limerick. They were the parents of three daughters:
1, Mary, born 21 February 1869. On 3 March 1895, she married in the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Limerick James Keane, labourer, son of John Keane, Palmerstown.
2, Margaret, born 31 July 1871.
3, Anne, born 8 October 1884.
Hannah Comerford died in 1887, aged 30. Michael Comerford was a widower when he married on 23 April 1887 in Saint Michael’s Roman Catholic Church, Denmark Street, Limerick, the widowed Bridget McMahon, of Punche’s Row, Limerick, daughter of John O’Hara, farmer. They were living at Bridge Street, Limerick (1887), and he had died by 1895 when his daughter Mary married James Keane.
The second named son of the elder Michael Comerford, carpenter, of Limerick, was:
JAMES COMERFORD (ca 1850-post 1901), carpenter, of Castle Street (1869), King’s Island (1870-1876), and Francis Street, Limerick (1870-1872). He married ca 1868 Mary Elligott. They were living in Little Dominick Street, Limerick, at the census on 31 March 1901. Their children included three sons and four daughters:
1, Mary (1869- ), born 25 May 1869, died in infancy.
2, Michael Comerford (1870-1907), born 17 December 1870, died 1907, of whom next.
3, Margaret (1871- ), born 31 July 1871.
4, Mary Anne (1872- ), born 10 July 1872. At the age of 19, she married on 16 January 1892, Thomas Joseph Jones (23), a soldier.
5, John Comerford (1876- ), born 7 July 1876.
6, Bridget, born ca 1877/1878, seamstress, aged 23 and living with her parents at the census in 1901. On 28 July 1901, in Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, she married Michael Hourigan (23), sailor, of Shannon Street, Limerick. Their children included two sons and two daughters: Mary (born 18 March 1903, died in infancy); James Hourigan (born 18 March 1903); Mary (born 16 June 1910); and Michael Hourigan (born 25 February 1914).
7, James Comerford (1879-post 1901), born 15 May 1879, carpenter, aged 22 and living with his parents at the census in 1901.
Mary Comerford died aged 52 on 9 October 1908.
The first named son was:
MICHAEL COMERFORD (1870-1907), carpenter, of Limerick. He was born 17 December 1870. He married in Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Limerick, on 2 March 1889, Mary Ann O’Dea, daughter of John O’Dea. Their addresses in Limerick included Mary Street (1892), King’s Island (1893-1895), Bank Place (1896), Saint Nicholas Street (1899), Castle Street (1900, 1901), Robert Street (1902), 18 Arthur’s Quay (1903-1904) and Edward Street (1905).
Michael Comerford died in 1907 at the age of 36. Mary Comerford was a widow, aged 38 and living at 11 Arthur’s Quay, Limerick, on the census night 2 April 1911. They seem to have had 13 children, although the 1911 census said they were the parents of 12 children, six of whom were still alive:
1, John (‘Jack’) Comerford (1889/1890-post 1915), general labour, of Limerick, of whom next.
2, Mary, aged 19 when she married in Saint Michael’s Church, Limerick, on 19 September 1890, Robert Murphy, aged 21, pork butcher, of Humphries Lane. Their children included three sons and a daughter: Michael Murphy (born 25 April 1910); Margaret (born 15 April 1911); John Murphy (born 15 October 1912); and Robert Murphy, born 6 March 1914.
3, Hannah (1892-1893), born 15 May 1892, died 3 November 1893.
4, …, an unnamed daughter, born 14 September 1893, who probably died at birth.
5, James Comerford (1895-1895), born 4 July 1895, died 9 July 1895.
6, James Comerford (1896-1901), born 13 July 1896 at the Lying-In Hospital, Bedford Row, Limerick; died 11 February 1901.
7, Michael Comerford (1898-post 1911), born 8 April 1898, aged 12 at the 1911 census.
8, Hannah, born 23 September 1900, died in infancy.
9, Bridget (1899-1958), born 10 August 1899, aged 11 in 1911, she was unmarried when she died on 22 July 1958, aged 59.
10, Norah, born ca 1901/1902, aged 9 in 1911.
11, Christopher Comerford (1902-1904), born 22 May 1902, died 18 March 1904.
12, Martin Comerford (1903-post 1911), born 9 November 1903, aged 7 in 1911.
13, Katie, born 30 December 1905, aged 5 in 1911.
Mary Ann Comerford married her second husband, Michael Downey, clerk, of 9 Tailor Street, Limerick, son of John Downey, in Saint Joseph’s Church, Limerick, on 17 August 1915.
The eldest son of Michael and Mary Ann Comerford was:
JOHN (‘Jack’) COMERFORD (1889/1890-post 1915), general labourer, of Limerick. He was born ca 1889/1890, and living with his parents, aged 21 at the 1911 census. On 29 April 1911, he married in Limerick Roman Catholic Cathedral Mary Ellen Bennis.
John and Mary Comerford lived at Sullivan’s Row, Clare Street. Their children included one son and four daughters:
1, Martin Comerford (1911- ), born 20 August 1911.
2, Maryanne, born 11 August 1911.
3, Mary Ellen, born 20 September 1913. She married in Limerick Roman Catholic Cathedral on 4 September 1938 Christopher Kennavane.
4, Josephine, born 11 March 1915.
5, Mary Bridget (1922-1923), born 1922, died 3 March 1923, aged 12 months.
A Cork and Limerick family:
RICHARD COMERFORD, pork butcher, of Limerick (? born ca 1850). He was the father of:
PATRICK COMERFORD, saw mechanic or mill sawyer, of Henry Street, Limerick. He was born in Cork ca 1869/1871. He was 31 when he married in Saint Michael’s Roman Catholic Church, Limerick, on 1 February 1911, Mary Noonan (aged 23). They were the parents of two sons and two daughters:
1, Mary, born 10 March 1911.
2, Patrick Comerford, born 21 March 1912.
3, Richard Comerford, born 29 March 1914.
4, Margaret, born 12 August 1915.
Soldiers and Constables in Limerick:
Two men named Daniel Comerford, one a police constable, and the other the father of a soldier, and a second policeman, Thomas Comerford, an RIC sergeant, are also found in Limerick in the late 19th century.
JOHN COMERFORD, farmer, was the father of:
DANIEL COMERFORD, constable, Royal Irish Constabulary, Limerick. He married on 12 July 1898, Saint Michael’s Roman Catholic Church, Limerick, Mary Anne Murphy. They lived at 3 Veyes Fields. They were the parents of:
JOHN ALPHONSUS COMERFORD, born 2 June 1899.
DANIEL COMERFORD, labourer, was the father of:
JAMES COMERFORD (1875-1940), soldier, New Barracks, Limerick, aged 23, when he married on 20 April 1899 in Saint Michael’s Roman Catholic Church, Limerick, Nora Robinson, daughter of Joseph Robinson of Laurel Hill Avenue, Limerick.
They later lived at 4 Saint Joseph’s Place Limerick. Nora died on 25 November 1936, aged 59; James was a British army pensioner and a widower, aged 65, when he died on 3 August 1940.
1, Josephine married Ivor Francis Widger, soldier, of New Barracks, Limerick, son of Frank Widger, on 1 September 1920, in Saint Joseph’s Church, Limerick.
THOMAS COMERFORD, a sergeant in the Royal Irish Constabulary, and his wife, Mary Agnes (Little), were living in Ieverstown, Co Clare, when their daughter, Agnes Margaret Comerford, was born in Limerick on 24 November 1899.
A Rathdrum connection:
OWEN COMERFORD (1869-1945), who died at Gardenhill House in Castle Connell, Co Limerick, on 15 June 1945, was a member of the Rathdrum branch of the Comerford family from Co Wicklow who lived at Ardavon House, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, and owned Rathdrum Mills.
Owen Comerford was born on 11 December 1869. He was educated, with his brothers Edward Comerford (1864-1942) and James Comerford (1868-1924), at Oscott College, Birmingham (1880-1883). He was a shareholder in Rathdrum Mill. On 8 February 1898, in Saint Michael’s Church, Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire), he married Kathleen Byrne, daughter of Laurence Byrne of Croney Byrne, Rathdrum. They later lived at ‘Coolas,’ Seafield Road, Clontarf, and he was still living there in 1940. Kathleen died on 17 October 1932.
Owen later went to live with his daughter and son-in-law, at Gardenhill House, Castleconnel, Co Limerick. This house, built by the Blackhall family, is a substantial version of the characteristic three-bay two-storey house. Retaining much of its original form, the façade is enlivened by the timber sliding sash windows, limestone sills and slate roof. The ornate doorway adds artistic interest to the façade. The outbuildings add context to the composition and enhance the overall group setting.
Owen Comerford died at Gardenhill House, Castleconnell, Co Limerick, on 15 June 1945. Owen and Kathleen were the parents of an only daughter:
1, Nora Kathleen (‘Norrie’). On 23 September 1940, she married James Henry Montgomery, civic guard, of Chapelizod Garda Barracks, Co Dublin. They later lived at Gardenhill House, Castle Connell, Co Limerick (1945). They had no children. Norrie Montgomery died in 1972.
Last updated with additional photographs: 5 November 2017; 6 November 2017; additional update: 24 November 2019.