Friday, April 25, 2014

Running in Flannery Circles

Have you ever felt like the white rabbit in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, pulling out a pocket watch and tapping it impatiently as if to say, “I’m late for an important date”?

I realize it is only April—and autumn is still a long way off—but I’m beginning to feel as if I’m running in circles in this Flannery pursuit. It’s been such a struggle to find pertinent records on this family. Meanwhile, there is so much more to do before we can head off for Ireland and test our research skills there next fall. With only a few more items to note on what’s been found on the Flannery family, the best strategy for now will be to take the next few days to wrap it all up—all that can be found to this point, that is.

Since we had just been exploring the discovery of one of the missing Flannery siblings—Ellen, daughter of Edward and Margaret, sister to Patrick—let’s see what else has been found on the Flannery patriarch, Edward.

The last we had seen of Edward was in the 1871 census for the county of Brant in Ontario, Canada. There, he and his wife, Margaret, were now the only ones left in their household, as all their sons had grown and moved to their own homes, wherever those might have been. Ellen, as we’ve just seen, was now married to Thomas O’Neil, and with her husband and two young sons, was living next door to her parents.

The 1871 census was the last appearance Edward Flannery was to make in the decennial event, for another record revealed his passing the very next year. There, in the tiny village of Paris, Edward lived out the last of his estimated sixty five years, and as a Catholic was—presumably, as I can’t find any record of it yet—buried in the Sacred Heart Cemetery there.

The death records for that time period were frustratingly silent on those types of details a family history researcher clamors for, yet repetitive on, say, name of physician (and signature of “informant,” who typically was that same physician). Best I could tell from the challenges of handwriting issues coupled with faded ink, Edward died on June 30, 1872, though the event wasn’t registered until the following October fourth.

Left with very few usable details, my eyes wandered to the other responses on the form, such as cause of death: “Quinsey eight days.”

So what might “Quinsey” be? And why the need to track its eight-day progress?

Unbelievably, my go-to site for archaic medical terms failed me on this one. Undeterred, I turned to Google™. Surely somebody knew what a diagnosis like that meant.

Thanks to the never-ending resources at Wikipedia, those of you with strong stomachs coupled with your curiosity may view the complete answer here. For those, like me, who wished they hadn’t looked, the answer is that Edward Flannery lingered for eight days over an abscess in the back of his mouth close to his tonsils.

Although I haven’t yet found any record for this, I presume Edward’s wife Margaret was not long in joining him. I had hoped, at one point, that the widow would have led me to one of those four sons I have yet to discover, but that is a loose end leading nowhere right now.

Reading such melancholy transcripts of bare-bones facts—name, age, birthplace, profession, date of death—reduces a life down to near non-descript terms. Oh, that enough of life’s residue could be left to pass the tale on to another generation.

Above right: artwork by Sir John Tenniel accompanying the original edition of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, 1865; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain. 


  1. First of all -- eewwww.
    Second -- how many families are you looking for? I think I would start compiling a list of documents that I want. Then I'd find out where the documents will be housed in Ireland, IF they exist at all. I'd also note location and operating hours.

  2. Definitely time to make a list and prioritize a little too..

    Poor Edblot... that was a gruesome way to go - I bet it hurt like heck too. :(

  3. Hi Jacqi, hope you don't mind, I had a look for your Flannery baptisms in Ballina and found Cornelius in 1835, Matthew in 1840 and Ellen in 1843, born to Edward/Edmund Flannery and Margaret. Free search would not give up Margaret’s maiden name. See also Griffiths Valuation (free on Ballina is in the civil parish of Templeachally, where a Denis Tully had a holding (no Ed... Flannery listed). The Nenagh parish of Youghalarra also looks interesting. An Edward Flannery married Margaret Hogan there in 1825. Hogan was not the name provided in the Ballina baptisms.

  4. He must have suffered for those eight days:( I didn't know what quinsey was either..thanks I learn something new everyday:)


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