Researching family history can be a frustrating business, but Tawa resident Paul Kelly was delighted to come across a heritage site which is a goldmine for descendants of families from the town of Boyle in Co Roscommon.
Paul’s grandfather, John, grew up at No. 7 Green Street in Boyle. The site allowed people to click on a house number and add photographs of family members who had lived there. Paul added family photos which can be viewed under ‘People’ on the homepage.
Paul was also able to piece together the Kelly family history from the 1901 and 1911 census records on the site. The 1901 census in Green Street was taken just after the death of Paul’s great grandfather, also named John.
He and his wife, Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Catherine Kelly, were not recorded in that census and it is thought that Lizzie had died before her husband, around 1899. The family story is that Lizzie was a cook and midwife who died when going from one birth to the next. A photo on the site shows Lizzie holding her first son, Patrick, Paul’s great uncle.
By the time of the 1901 census, 17-year-old Patrick Joseph Kelly, an unmarried tailor, was the head of the household. Also living at number 7 were his brothers John William (Paul’s grandfather), who was a ‘solicitor’s articled clerk’, and Robert Edward, 13, and Peter Joseph, 11, both schoolboys.
Not all of the family were there on that census day. Paul was told the two youngest, Francis and Elizabeth Mary, had been placed in a children’s orphanage until the Catholic priest had them removed. Of two other brothers, one – Gustava – is not recorded, while George Francis had died at birth.
Without their parents, the Kelly children found it tough going and Patrick was not able to hold on to the family tailoring business. He went down to Dublin to work as a tailor and save for his passage to New Zealand, and to gradually pay for the rest of his siblings to migrate too. Patrick arrived here in 1904 and Paul’s grandfather John followed in 1905. The whole family eventually came out but Francis thought Invercargill was too cold and later moved to California.
Around 140 Kelly descendants now live in New Zealand and Paul has been in contact with many of them through his research.
The two-storey house sits next to the ruins of an old bakery. Boyle is in the north of Roscommon and was once on the main road to Sligo until a bypass was put through in 1999. Paul has not yet visited there but has heard it’s in a beautiful setting with a number of lakes nearby.
Good friends and in-laws Jack and Joanne Doherty have visited and as they passed through they saw a man the spitting image of Paul pushing a bicycle up the street. Without knowing anything of his Green Street heritage, they joked that the Kellys must have come from Boyle of Co Roscommon.