05 August 2020

A Comerford family that moved
from Portarlington to Kilmainham

Saint Michael’s Church, Portarlington, built in 1839-1842 … nine Comerford children were baptised in Portarlington between 1857 and 1874 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

I am currently continuing research into a branch of the Comerford family that originated in Portarlington, Co Laois, and that later lived in the Kilmainham and Inchicore areas of Dublin. I plan eventually to migrate this research over to my Comerford family genealogical site after I have found out more about this branch of the family.

Edward Comerford, metal caster and iron moulder, of Portarlington, married Mary Byrne. They were the parents of at least nine children:

1, Mary, baptised Portarlington, April 1857.
2, Edward Comerford (1858-1938), baptised Portarlington 1858, of whom next.
3, Thomas Comerford, baptised Portarlington, September 1860.
4, Christopher Comerford, baptised Portarlington December 1862.
5, Patrick Comerford, born March 1865, baptised Portarlington, April 1865.
6, Catherine, born 21 August 1867, baptised Portarlington, September 1867.
7, Joseph Comerford (1869- ), born 23 October 1869, baptised Portarlington, of whom after his brother Edward.
8, Francis Comerford, baptised April 1872.
9, Anne, baptised Portarlington May 1874.

Mary Conway married Edward Comerford in Saint James’s Church, Dublin, in 1880

The first-named son:

Edward Comerford (1858-1938), iron moulder, Great Southern and Western Railways, Inchicore, Dublin. Born Portarlington, November 1858. Living at 35 Kilmainham (1880), Richmond Road, Kilmainham (1884), 2 Saint Mary’s Terrace, Inchicore (1886-1888), 4 Woodfield Cottages, Inchicore (1890), 31 Phoenix Street, Kilmainham (1892), 25 Phoenix Street (1894-1898), 19 Abercorn Terrace, Dublin (1900-1911). He married Mary Conway, daughter of John Conway, smith, and his wife Mary of 34 Kilmainham, on 17 September 1880, in Saint James’s Church, Dublin (witnesses, James McDonald, Margaret Conway).

Edward Comerford died on 26 May 1938 at Our Lady’s Hospice, Dublin; his widow Mary died on 11 March 1942 at 3 Wharton Terrace, Harold’s Cross; they are buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

They were the parents of at least 13 children:

1, Margaret (1883-1883), born at 3 Saint James’s Place, Inchicore, 3 January 1883, died 5 January 1883.
2, Ellen Christina (1884-1957), born Richmond Road, Kilmainham, 17 January 1884; ‘tailoress.’ She married on 12 January 1910 Richard Cullen (1875-1947), bookbinder, of 10 Turvey Avenue, Kilmainham, in Goldenbridge Church, Dublin (witnesses Daniel Joseph O’Neill, Catherine Comerford). They lived at 3 Tyrconnell Street. Richard died 10 November 1947; Ellen died 14 March 1957. They are buried in Old Lucan Cemetery.
3, Catherine (‘Kitty’), born at 2 Saint Mary’s Terrace, Inchicore, 11 April 1886; she married twice.
4, Elizabeth (‘Lily’), born at 2 Saint Mary’s Terrace, Inchicore, 1 June 1888, married on 23 November 1910 Henry Baldwin, fitter, of 19 Abercorn Terrace, son of John Baldwin, fish merchant, in Saint James’s Church (witnesses John Comerford, Kathleen Gallagher). The family lived in Santry. They were the parents of nine children, including two who died young: Ned, aged 3, and Margaret (‘Moggy’), as well as: Cissie (Mary), unmarried; Charlotte (‘Lottie’), married Jimmy Devlin; Kitty (lived in Oldham), married Joe Thornton; Lily (lived in Leyland), married Mick Kane; and Doreen, married Patrick O’Malley.
5, John (‘Johnny’) Joseph Comerford, born 4 Woodfield Cottages, Inchicore, 16 April 1890; he later lived in Drumcondra.
6, Edward (‘Eddie’) Comerford, born 31 Phoenix Street, Kilmainham, 5 April 1892. He married Maggie Clarke, and lived at 19 Abercorn Terrace. He died in the 1970s. They had no children.
7, Anne (1894-1895), born 25 Phoenix Street, 10 May 1894, died 26 August 1895, buried Kilmainham.
8, Patrick (‘Paddy’) James Comerford (1896-1966). He was born 14 March 1896, 25 Phoenix Street, Kilmainham; he married Josephine Reilly (born 1896) and they lived in Mount Brown, Kilmainham, Dublin. He died on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1966, and is buried in Bluebell Cemetery. Their children include two daughters: Rosaleen, who died in 1997; and Anne.
9, Jeanette Frances (1898-1900), born 27 February 1898, 25 Phoenix Street; died 27 June 1900, 19 Abercorn Terrace; buried in Glasnevin.
10, Margaret Anne (1900-1909), born 18 March 1900, died 25 April 1909, 19 Abercorn Terrace; buried in Glasnevin.
11, Michael (‘Mick’) Thomas Comerford, born 8 March 1902, 19 Abercorn Terrace.
12, William (‘Bill’) Laurence Comerford, born 2 February 1904, 19 Abercorn Terrace.
13, Alfred (‘Alfie’) Bernard Comerford (1906-1941), ‘machinist’, born 25 April 1906, 19 Abercorn Terrace, died 10 September 1941, buried Bluebell Cemetery.

Ellen Christina Comerford and Richard Cullen were married in 1910

One of Edward Comerford's younger brothers was:

Joseph Comerford (1869- ). He was born on 23 October 1869, and baptised in Portarlington. He moved to Dublin and married Margaret Murray, daughter of John Murray, a labourer, on 22 June 1896 in Saint Audeon’s Church, Dublin. They lived at 12 Thomas Davis Street, Dublin. Their children included:

Joseph Patrick Comerford (1901- ), who was born at 12 Thomas Davis Street on 7 December 1901. He took part in the Easter Rising in 1916. He married Mary Morrissey, machinist, daughter of Patrick Morrissey of 39 South Earl Street, were married in Saint Catherine’s Church, Dublin, on 2 June 1926 (witnesses: Daniel Morrissey and Margaret Comerford). Their children included:

1, Joe Comerford (deceased), a taxi driver.
2, Madge, a seamstress who married Tony Clabby. She died at the age of 46 and was the mother of five children, including the singer Imelda Mary Higham (born Imelda Mary Clabby 10 July 1974), professionally known as Imelda May

Joseph Comerford and Mary (née Morrissey) … grandparents of the singer Imelda May

Last updated: 26 October 2020

The ‘Lichfield Mercury’ has
been off the streets since
April … can it be saved?

A glass of wine with an old friend … the Lichfield Mercury, first published on 7 July 1815, has not been printed since 9 April 2020 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

I began my career as a journalist as a freelance feature writer in the Lichfield Mercury almost 50 years.

Now, half a century later, the future of the Lichfield Mercury looks grim. Although the newspaper’s publishers are maintaining a skeletal-like presence on Facebook and other social media platforms, no print version of this 200-year-old local newspaper has been published for the past four months.

The Lichfield Mercury, now a free newspaper that depends on advertising for revenue, has not been printed since April 2020. Due to the fall-off in advertising revenue, the main source of income, the parent company Reach plc decided the Mercury could not survive and stopped printing it.

Now a petition has been launched by Lichfield photographer Robert Yardley to bring back the Lichfield Mercury as a paid-for weekly newspaper.

‘If there are enough people supporting the petition, I am optimistic this will work,’ he says.

Lichfield is well-served by a local monthly magazine CityLife in Lichfield and by a daily news blog, Lichfield Live, with an active Facebook feed. But he believes the Lichfield Mercury as a paid-for newspaper could ‘be as good as the Tamworth Herald, with more content than before. You will be informed of public notices, road closures, council decisions, news of new housing developments, and more.’

To illustrate his argument, he looks at the HS2 project, and says ‘there are ground investigation survey works that Balfour Beatty will be completing during 2020/2021, and the work is planned to re-commence in August 2020. You would be able to read about this and more if we had the Lichfield Mercury.’

He suggests, ‘When you are in the newsagents next time, have a look at the Tamworth Herald to see what it could be like.’

The Ma Ma Thai restaurant at No 17 Bird Street … the home of the Lichfield Mercury in the 1970s (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The editor of the Lichfield Mercury, Charlotte Hart, said the newspaper had paused publication after the edition on 9 April 2020 because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on advertising. She said the company is taking ‘a break’ from printing the paper.

The decision came after the owner Reach PLC confirmed plans to cut all staff pay by 10% and furlough others.

‘We have all been affected by the coronavirus outbreak,’ she told readers. ‘Unfortunately, because a lot of the businesses that advertise their services with us have had to stop trading, we have seen a dramatic fall in our revenue.’

She added: ‘It’s becoming a real struggle to deliver your paper free of charge at the moment. So, it is with a heavy heart that we have decided to take a break from printing our newspaper. The decision has not been taken lightly, but businesses up and down the country are being forced into making unprecedented choices.’

Reach PLC, which owns the Lichfield Mercury, said the measures were needed to help the company navigate the current outbreak.

The Lichfield Mercury and Midland Chronicle was first published on 7 July 1815 by James Amphlett at premises in Bore Street, Lichfield. The back page carried news from the Battle of Waterloo.

John Woolrich bought the newspaper in 1821, then sold it on in 1825. By 1834, the Lichfield Mercury was published every Friday by George Walker Hinde ‘in the ancient house at the corner of the Market Place in which the celebrated Dr Johnson was born.’ Hinde, who was previously editor, had become the owner and publisher, but the paper was then discontinued.

Frederic Brown, a printer and a Conservative, established a new Lichfield Mercury in 1877 in opposition to the Lichfield Chronicle, of which he had previously been a proprietor. When Brown died in 1901, ownership passed to his brother Edward. He in turn sold it to WH Smith & Son in 1905.

The title was later acquired by Allison & Bowen, owners of the Staffordshire Chronicle. It was sold on to a syndicate that incorporated the Lichfield Mercury Ltd in 1934.

An exhibition marking 200 years of the Lichfield Mercury was on display in the Dyott Chapel in Saint Mary’s Church in the Market Square, Lichfield, in July 2015, and the first 200 visitors were presented with a collectable ‘2015’ teaspoon courtesy of the sponsor, the Lichfield company Arthur Price.

The newspaper is now part of the Reach group, Britain’s largest national and regional newspaper publisher, with titles that include the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Sunday People, Daily Record, Daily Star, OK! and regional titles including the Birmingham Mail, Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo and Bristol Post.

You can click the link to sign Robert Yardley’s petition HERE and to share it with friends.

An early masthead of the Lichfield Mercury, which was revived in 1877