15 Mary Casey, Newtown, Partry

Mary McAndrew nee Casey 1954
Mary Tiernan
McAndrew passport photo 12th July, 1923
Mary Tiernan
Bridget Casey nee Philbin c 1927
Mary Tiernan
Thomas Casey c 1935 with daughter and grandaughter, Miss Butler
Mary Tiernan
Thomas Casey c 1910
Mary Tiernan
Fire Station Equipment 1904 - 1912

My memories now are both precious and treasured of Mary McAndrew (nee Casey) my grandmother 1897-1975 who in her later life after returning from living a decade or so in  Chicago, lived seven years in my family home at Currabee, Ballinrobe. After completing my Leaving Certificate in 1965, she came over from the U.S., organised my Green Card for permanent entry and took me over to Chicago where I lived, of course under her thumb, worked a short time for Wieboldt’s Department Store, then the remainder of my stay at Allstate Insurance Co., went to night college, enjoyed a wonderful happy number of years, making new lifetime friends, had a great social life, exposed to new customs and cultures that have enriched me to this day for which I am very thankful. She was noted for her good humour, common sense, cheerfulness, could speak Irish, sent lovely handwritten letters, cards and the familiar parcels that the awaited postman brought on his bicycle most of the time, and always showed good example. I am extremely grateful to her for the family she reared, firstly in giving me Bridie my mother, a wonderful caring, kind, generous, good humoured, full of fun hard working woman who never saw us wanting for anything, my wonderful aunt Kathleen, uncles Joe and Tom, also acknowledging one who did not survive and was later lay baptised Franceis. She often agonised over Limbo and did not know where the exact burial plot was located as that was the custom of the time.

She reminisced of the hardships of the times back then, war time stories that sent the odd big teardrop roll down her cheek, rationing of food, fuel and the ration books, helping outside on the farm when needed, rearing fowl, disappointments and grief, how she always looked on the bright side of life, taking strength from her faith and trust in God, would religiously say her rosary and novena to St. Joseph every evening, talked about when the Missioners would come to the Parish Church and the fear that would be instilled into her and everyone else as well. She always had a warm welcome and time for the neighbours who called to visit her, often sharing with them what she had and them with her when needed.

I loved my many visits to her newly built home in Newtown, Partry, where i would be let stay for a few days, having been brought up on the bus by my mother Bridie. She would bring me to her friends’ houses to visit where they related stories to me especially about Seán na Sagart, whose name was John Malowney from a few miles up the Castlebar Road, the Catholic priest bounty hunter in the 18th century and a chase that took place through her field next to her house known as The Screg, and that he was eventually killed nearby. That area of ground was enveloped in white thorn bushes and briars with narrow paths for their milking goat and kid to roam about in. She would carry clean ice-cold spring water taken from a well there in a white enamel bucket, previously scalded for tea making and drinking. She would be up early to put the fire on in the open hearth with two black and white delph dogs sitting at each end of the mantelpiece and a black wind up alarm clock in the middle with the tea caddy at the end. I loved the sound of the kettle singing as it hung from the black crane dangling over the black stone turf fire which by then would be red, my grandfather having cut and saved the foot long narrow hard sods known as stone turf in the nearby bog at Derrymore where he had turbary rights. The small aluminium saucepan with cooked porridge (pinhead oatmeal) which had been soaked the night before and hot milk would be sitting to the side on some coals to keep it hot. As a treat for me a freshly baked white batch loaf would be purchased in Manny Gibbons shop wrapped in beige coloured tissue paper a feature of that time, a few sweets consisting of Bulls Eyes, the white powdery hard toffee Bon Bons while not forgetting the liquorice stick. Later in the morning when the fire was red she would cut a slice of it, thread it onto a two pronged long handled fork and hold it near the red turf coals to toast it, checking and turning it a few times until it was golden in colour. Then a light skim of her freshly churned homemade butter was spread on it. I can still remember the warm crunchiness as I took a bite with its mouth-watering aroma wafting up.

On Saturday evenings in preparation for Sunday morning Mass she would gently brush my tangled long blonde hair to get those dreaded knots out of it, no detangling lotion then, roll it up in strips of long white cloth which previously would have been cut from washed white flour bags before going to bed. The next morning on opening and releasing the cloths numerous ringlets would tumble down my back. She would bring me the short journey on the back carrier of her bicycle to the Church in Partry. I loved to hear her rattle off a few tunes on the melodeon. At night neighbours would drop in for a visit, catch up on local news and tell a few ghost stories before departing for their homeward journey on foot or a bicycle.


One frosty night circa February 1955 Mary took the eggs in their white rectangular enamel bowl with the blue stripe on its edge in from the pantry that had no heat source as it was a food storage area and left them in the coolest area of the kitchen near the back door for the night as she was afraid the frost would get them. Grandfather instantly disagreed with her decision, got up from his wooden kitchen chair, took them and put them back on the shelf where they normally were kept and he said they would stay fresher there, no radio for weather forecasts then. I was awoken in the morning with loud talk, I was down into the kitchen in a skip and jump for the excitement, a calamity, frozen cracked eggs, a red-faced grandad with a stern faced grandma standing in silence glaring at him over the rim of her glasses. The solution was to use them that day and the next, she sent some of them to Mary Connor a neighbour who they could depend on to return the compliment when needed preferably of unfrozen ones. Eggs would not be available in the shop as hens slow down laying in winter and sometimes cease for a few months due to very cold weather and lack of light.

She told me she was born in 1897 in Newtown, Partry, the 9th of 11 children, Michael, Catherine, Patrick, Margaret (Maggie), Bridget (Delia), Julia, Thomas, Annie, Mary, John and Helena (Lena) most of whom immigrated. She did not remember her oldest brothers who had immigrated when she was very young and possibly before she was born. How she grew up in a cosy warm thatched whitewashed rectangular farmhouse, with it’s four front windows and front door facing south, it had a kitchen with a settle bed, one of the two bedrooms was divided, as they kept a lodger Mary Moran who used to work nearby in the Barrack, then its roofless ruins standing over in the nearby farmyard. She finished school in 6th class which was documented in the school roll book, had a nice female teacher and good memories.

Her parents Thomas known as Tomás hSeán was born in 1851-1919 and he married Bridget Philbin born 1861 in Tourmakeady Church in 1879. I have the privilege of being the custodian of her White Delph Teapot with it’s pink flower which I treasure and it was full of red jam when she purchased it.

Bridget’s parents were the Philbin’s from the nearby lovely village of Kilkeerin overlooking the scenic Lough Carra. Their old white washed thatched cottage has been revamped over the years and is currently known as Teach Philbin. John was born in 1815 and Julia in 1821, having survived the Big Wind of 6/7th in January 1839 and the great potato famine of 1845-1849. They were alive for the 1901 census, a hardy and resilient people with determination to overcome a very dark time in our history. Their means of communication then was spoken Irish.

Mary’s paternal grandfather was John Casey who married Catherine Horan 24 years in 1841 from across the wall and they had 5 children, Michael, Pat, Bridget, Thomas and another son Thomas as a very young child died previously in 1844 and Bartley born 1863.

Catherine’s brother Patrick Michael Horan 1810-1897 married Mary Heneghan Partry in 1839. In 1849 accompanied by other family members they emigrated to America with their three young children, Michael 1yr, Bridget 3yrs and Mary 5yrs, intending to land at New Orleans but were not allowed to disembark due to an outbreak of Cholera, but were sent up river and disembarked at Beardstown, Illinois and made their way to DeKalb County, Illinois by horse and wagon or small boat on a tributary. Following on five more children were born over there, Catherine, Stephen, William 1851-1899, who was ordained a priest, organised the building of four churches, two schools and two convents, and Margaret who married Eugene Owen Donnelly who had 160 acres of farmland in Afton Township, DeKalb. In the 1870 Census of DeKalb, Patrick Michael Horan is listed as a farmer.

Mary’s father known as Thomas hSeán used to go to work in America coming home every few years for a period of time. Records show that he immigrated to DeKalb a short time after his youngest child Helena was born. His 3rd child Patrick James 21yrs sailed out of Queenstown on the Celtic ship and docked at Ellis Island on the 13th May 1906 stating that he was going to his father in DeKalb. In 1910 Thomas hSeán at the age of 57 was living with his first cousin Michael Horan and his Ohio born wife Bridget Murray of Irish parents. He was working in a Wire Mill in DeKalb, Illinois, making barbed wire that had recently been invented there in the era of the horse and wagon, sending home dollars regularly and came home every other year or so to help with the busy time on the farm. My grandmother Mary recalled to me how he would come home with his hands in a terrible and rough state. She and her mother Bridget would be making up mixtures and concoctions with leaves to put on them to smooth and heal them, he would only allow my mother Bridie to put the paste on as she was a child and would have a gentle touch that was barely tolerable. On his last trip he worked on a relative’s farm in DeKalb, either his uncle or first cousin. That area has very fertile deep topsoil, the most likely crops produced there was corn and soya beans for shipping worldwide. That was the hunting ground that the Indians were chased from by the new modernised settlers, the Indian tribes did not cultivate the land as they were hunters gathers. Returning home from that last trip he had a few trunks, full of clothes, shoes, furs for the women, numerous items of course and some of the dollars. He successfully grew a very tall tree from a seed that he brought over which produced the most delicious large yellow American apples that I have ever tasted but we had to wait for them to drop down to us. I believe he lived to be about 68 years, a few years previously he got an insect bite/sting on his cheek that did not heal and eventually turned septic which proved fatal. He was laid to rest with those gone before in Ballyovey Cemetery in the era of the horse and side car which was a familiar sight on the roads them days according to my grandmother Mary.

On 2nd April 1918 Mary Casey age 21yrs married Michael McAndrew age 28yrs, Funchiona, Cross, in St Mary’s Church, Partry. Following the marriage Mary and Michael went to live at his home and farm with his widowed mother. Approximately five years later, they applied for a passport and had the photo taken with three children in Ballinrobe on 12th July, 1923 as they were intending to immigrate to Omaha, Nebraska, USA, however, that did not happen. After a few years circa 1926 due to unforeseen circumstances in the Casey household, Michael McAndrew sold his house and holding of land and they moved to Newtown, Partry. That was a challenge for a mother with three young children, as the only means of transport available was the horse and cart, a journey of about 20km which took a good few hours on rough roads carrying all their belongings, fowl and other small animals. In 1937 Thomas Casey transferred the land and thatched house at Newtown, Partry which he had previously inherited from his father John in 1901 to his son-in-law Michael McAndrew and sometime afterwards they built a new house which now stands derelict due to war time sub-standard building materials not fit to stand the test of time.

Three of her four surviving children immigrated and when she and her husband were in their mid to late sixties they closed up their home, rented the farm and went to live with their married daughter Kathleen to help with rearing her 3 young children, Michael Joseph, Margaret Mary (Maureen) and Thomas Francis (Frank), while she and her husband Michael Connolly went out to work to get on the property ladder which they did successfully, purchased a home and ran their own Tavern (public house) for many years in Chicago at Harlem/Addison avenue, now a tyre centre. She faced the big challenge in adapting to a new culture and climate. Seven years later Michael her husband while on holidays from Chicago in my family home at Currabee, took ill and shortly afterwards passed away on the 45th Anniversary of their marriage, both he and Mary are laid to rest in the New Cemetery, Ballinrobe. Unaware of this information I got married on 2nd April.

Go ndéana Dia trócaire orthu go léir; (may God have mercy on them all).



Mary McAndrew nee Casey

Bridget Hennelly nee McAndrew

Thomas Hennelly

John Bernard Hennelly

Census of Ireland 1901 and 1911

Hennelly Mcloughlin, Peter: Partry People of Co. Mayo, Family Histories 1856 and beyond.

Margaret Mary & Thomas Francis Connolly

Mary Trench



No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *