Turtle Bunbury

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This is a working document, designed to try and make sense of miscellaneous branches of the family that are less well-known than others. My hope is that by having this information online, others will find this page via Google and add further details that may help clarify who was who. In the compilation of this report, I would like to thank to James Doyle, Peter Bunbury, Gill Miller, Maurice O'Neill, J. J. Woods, Maria O'Brien, Verlaine Bennett, Jean Casey, Paul Gallagher, Father Liam Morgan (tinrylandparish@gmail.com), Dermot Mulligan and a special thanks to Michael Purcell (of the Pat Purcell Papers) and Michael Brennan (of Carlow Rootsweb - http://goo.gl/67Vce).

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Above: The grave of Patrick and Ann Bunbury of
Ardnehue in Benekerry, Co. Carlow. The gravestone,
numbered CW007-027, was broken but has since
been repaired with both the break & repair going
through Ann's name.

(Photo: Dermot Mulligan).


The townland Ardnehue lies in the Parish of Killerig, County Carlow, directly east of Carlow Town and close to the townlands of Benekerry and Johnstown in the Parish of Urglin. As you drive from Killerig to Carlow, if you pass the two sharp bends at Friarstown and then take the bend just before the long straight there is a house on the right. Just after that there is a long lane on the right (opposite a gate to a field), which leads to Ardnahue House, home of the Keogh family. The house was reputedly built to accomodate workers from Duckett's Grove.

This area was of central importance to the Bunbury family from at least the 1660s when Benjamin Bunbury settled at Killerig. His eldest son Joseph Bunbury was the first to settle at Johnstown House.

One of the lesser known branches of the Bunbury tree is a Roman Catholic family of that name who lived in Ardnehue (or Ardenhoe as it is sometimes spelled) during the 18th and 19th century.

The first members of the family that we know about thus far are Patrick and Ann Bunbury who lived in Ardnehue House around the 1770s. This house may have been burned or knocked down as the present Ardnahue House (now owned by the Keogh family) was built in the mid-19th century. We don’t yet know who Patrick’s father was but, by dint of location and the names of his sons, it seems likely he was an off-shoot of the main Bunbury of Johnstown branch.

Patrick and Ann had at least two sons Henry Bunbury (born 1771) and Robert Bunbury (born 1773). They may have been the parents of Christopher Francis Bunbury, who was transported to Australia for life in 1802 for being a United Irishman.

Patrick and Ann were also probably the parents of Benjamin Bunbury of Ardnehue House. (The use of the name Benjamin links this branch of the family back to the original Benjamin Bunbury of Killerig.) A notice in the Liverpool Mercury of 7 August 1858 refers to the marriage at St James's Catholic Church, Bootle, of a Denis Bunbury, 'son of the late B Bunbury late of Ardnehue House, county Carlow, to Miss M. P. Berrill, daughter of the late Mr P. Berrill of this town'. M. P. Berrill is assumed to have been Margaret. Denis was recorded in the 1851 Census of England residing with his cousin William. Another notice in the Liverpool Mercury from 22 June 1881 refers to Catherine Brennan, 'relict of John Brennan and eldest daughter of Benjamin Bunbury of Ardnehue', and states that she doed aged 54 at her residence, 33 Smith Street, Liverpool, on 20 June. She was thus born about 1827. According to a record of births sent by Father Liam Morgan in June 2012, Benjamin Bunbury and Mary Murphy of ‘Arnehue’ [sic] had four children– Catherine (born 26 September 1820), Mary (born 27 December 1825), Frances (born 30 April 1829) and Denis (born 11 November 1834). [With thanks to Maria O'Brien]

Robert Bunbury, son of Patrick and Ann, was approximately 36 when, circa 1809, he reported the theft of his family's Silver bowl and Ladle by a housemaid called Ann Fowler. This theft was detailed in the Pat Purcell Papers, kindly made available by Michael Purcell in the Carlow Rootsweb page (http://goo.gl/67Vce). As the late Peter Bunbury noted in 2012, Robert clearly employed several servants and had a house with a Library room, indicating that they were possibly Protestant and of a social background of higher standard than many farmers.[i]

From Pat Purcell Papers.
Notfication of Keeping Arms.
As directed by the Act of the 47. Geo. 3. Entitled an Act.
To prevent improper Persons from having Arms in Ireland.
I Robert Bunbury of Ardnyhue in the Parish of Killerig in the Barony of Carlow in the Townland of Ardnyhue Do hereby give Notice that I keep Arms, and that the place where the same are usually kept, is at my Dwelling-House at Ardnyhue in said County - and the Number and Description of said Arms are ~ one pistol.
I Robert Bunbury do swear that the above Notification is True and that I believe I am by Law entitled to Keep Arms.
(signed) Robert Bunbury.
Sworn before me at a Sessions held in Carlow this 9th Day of January 1810
(signed) Hen. Bunbury , [ ? ] Bennet.

It is thought that Robert Bunbury was the father of a branch of the Bunbury family who settled in Liverpool. It is also thought that his brother Henry was father to Mary Elizabeth Bunbury who married the Catholic priest Robert Joseph Silva. Further details of the Liverpool connection follows below

Patrick Bunbury died on 10 January 1814. It is believed Ann died in 1821, aged 82. They are buried in Bennekerry graveyard along with some of their children and grandchildren. Their headstone was broken at some point but has been repaired; it now reads 'Patrick and An___ Bunbury' because the break and repair runs through Ann's name.

In June 2012, James Doyle re-visited the old cemetery in Bennekerry where they lie are buried. On the back of their headstone, he found an inscription running the whole length of the headstone. He removed all the ivy from the back and but suggested one would need a large sheet of paper and chalk to accurately trace the inscription. The top of the headstone had been repaired at some point and the inscription appeared to be dedicated to a lady called Susan from Liverpool who may have been Patrick’s niece. From what James made out, it read:

‘In memory of his beloved daughter Susan died 10th? September 1836 aged 19 years. It goes on to say, a treasured tribute to a/his? beloved niece … Dearest Susan, though aged ... Possessed many... in your youth ... A beauty by nature, adorned with grace ... with innocence and dinnour [?] angelic...’

"Recently visiting the old Bennekerry Cemetery, it’s now long closed. I found resting under a large Horse Chestnut tree a tombstone to the Bunbury family of Ardnehue house, Ardnehue, Co. Carlow. The last person interred was a William Bunbury in the early 1920's" - Maurice O’Neill.

The Dunleckny Parish Registers 1836 records the christening on 7 Feb, 1836 of Bridget Bunbury, daughter of Patt Bunbury? And his wife Margaret (nee McGrath). James Morris stood as sponsor. Nothing further is known of Bridie, Paddy or Maggie. What's the most likely theory? A renegade son who had a greater leaning towards the old Mass Book than the Book of Common Prayer?

Similarly, J. J. Woods encountered two references to Bunburys of Ardnehue in the Tinryland birth registers. The first was in 1824 when James Woods, son of James Woods and Mary Kearney, was baptised with sponsors James Kane and Eleanor Bunbury. The second came two years later when James and Mary's son Patrick Woods had a Mary Bunbury stand as his sponsor in 1826.

Amongst the Bunbury graves in Bennekerry Old Cemetery is one for a Patrick Bunbury dating back to 1827. (Thanks to James Doyle).




Christop Bunbury [aka Christopher Francis Bunbury] was born in about 1774. His timing suggests he could have been a son of Patrick and Ann Bunbury of Ardnehue House but I have no proof of this. He was tried at the the Carlow Lent Assize on Friday 18th April 1800 for a crime. He was found guilty and transported for life to Australia. It would seem that he was among the members of the United Irishmen convicted following the 1798 Rebellion. [Ann-Maree Whittaker, 'Unfinished Revolution: United Irishmen in New South Wales', p. 217. Ann-Maree Whittaker also wrote 'Sword to Ploughshares: The 1798 Rebels in New South Wales.' Further details should be found in 1800 “Presentments, Co. Carlow, Lent Assizes” 4to., 2Opp., G. Cooke, Market Cross (Nat. Lib.), and possibly in the Leighlinbridge Keogh/Kehoe family papers (sometimes known as the Jackson Collection.)

The constiution of the Grand Jury must have been something like it was for the Summer Assize that year, viz. 1. William Burton, Esq; 2. Sir Rich. Butler, bart. 3. D. Latouche, Jun. Esq; 4. J.S. Rochfort, Esq; 5. Walter Ravanagh Esq; 6. William Browne, Esq; 7. W. P. Butler, Esq; 9. Hardy Eustace, Esq; 10. A.C. Best, Esq; 11. John Steuart, Esq; 12. Robert Bayly, Esq; 13. William Rudkin, Esq; 14. James Butler, Esq; 15. Sam. Carpenter, Esq; 16. John Humfrey, Esq; 17. Pat. Cololough, Esq; 18. Thos. Bernard, Esq; 19. Wm. Duckett, Esq; 20. Robt. Eustace, Esq; 21. John Butler, Esq; 22. R.M. Fish Bourne, Esq; 23. Wm. Fishbourne, Esq; Wm. Knott, Esq; Sheriff

Aged 28, Christopher sailed on the 435-ton convict ship Atlas 2 which left Cork on 2 September 1801 with 151 male and 28 female convicts on board. 66 males and 2 females had died by the time they reached Port Jackson on 7 July 1802. [From 'A list of criminals who were tried and sentenced in Co Carlow and then transported to Australia' via Carlow Genealogy Rootsweb. The spelling of his name was much altered by officials and included 'Bambury', as the officials couldn't always spell.] See further details below.

In March 2015 I was contacted by Marianne Cowan of Australia who told me Christopher Francis Bunbury was her 3rd great-grandfather. Samantha Gerada, another descendant, who contacted me in January 2019, added that Christopher married Eleanor Mould, one of 327 convicts transported on the ships Indefatigable (to Van Diemens Land) and Minstrel (to Sydney) in 1812. Eleanor had been convicted at the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Quarter Sessions for a term of 7 years on 16 January 1811. She was the wife of John Mould when she departed UK so her marriage to Christopher may not have been legal.

In April 1817, Christopher got in trouble again for stealing a horse harness in Paramatta from Mr. Larra, for which he was sentenced to one month's solitary confinement on bread and water in the cells at Sydney. [Sydney Gazette, 26 April 1817, p.3]. On Christmas Day of that same year, Christopher and Eleanor had their first and only child, a daughter, Mary Ann Elizabeth Bumbery (1817-1887), who was born in Prospect, New South Wales. [466/1817 V1817466 11] She wasn't mentioned in the 1822 census but her parents both were; with Christopher, free by servitude, working for a Mr Johnson of Liverpool; and her mother Eleanor Mould being employed by Christopher himself.

According to the Sydney Gazette of 1 May 1823, four men were indicted for a violent burglary in the 'humble cottage' of Christopher Bumbury, at Minto, on 30 January. Christopher, who was badly bludgeoned by the men, was descibed as 'an apparently emaciated old man [who], deposed, that he had been in an ill state of health for 16 months prior to the affair.' His wife, 'the laundress for the gentry in the neighbourhood', was also beaten up. 'She still implored mercy, though her little daughter of 6 years old, who was huddled up in the blankets, besought her mother to be silent, for fear of being killed. The four men were part of a clearing gang on Mr. Howe's estate at Minto, four miles from Bumbury's hut. John Smith, Henry Price, and John Wotton were duly remanded for sentence. A fourth man George Barwick was found Not Guilty.

Eleanor was still abiding with Christopher in the 1825 census but working as servant for Wilson of Minto.

Christoper died in 1827. Mary Ann's name is spelled Bombry on her marriage certificate in 1838 at St John's Catholic Church Campbelltown NSW, to Henry Murphy (1819-1883). [29/1838 V183872991]. They had an impressive fourteen children, including two sons named James Robert and Henry Maxwell ... it is notable that Robert and Henry were names favoured by the Bunburys of Ardenhue. Their children are thought to have been:

1. Bernard John Murphy (1839 Molonglo, NSW).
2. Ellen Murphy (b 1842 Molonglo)
3. John Joseph Murphy (1844 Michelago NSW- d 1917 Goulburn) - who married Mary McLaughlin- and had several children, one of whom Sam Gerada descends from.
4. Thomas Joseph (b 1846 Michelago d. 1919 Queanbeyan)
5. Bridget Murphy (b 1849 Bungendore) m Robert Cosair Queanbeyan
6. Mary Jane (b 1850 Bungendore ) m Joseph Hallam in Goulburn in 1867 possibly Mary R Hallam d Wagga 1933
7. Catherine Ann Murphy (b 1852 Bungendore) unsure if died while young
8. William Edward (b 1853 Bungendore d. 1917 West Wyalong)
9. Frances (b 1855 Bungendore ) A Frances Elizabeth Murphy m Henry Hall in 1875 in Bellingen River but not sure if this the same person
10. Henry (b 1857 Bungendore d. infancy1857 Queanbeyan)
11. Julia F Murphy (b 1857 Bungendore) Julia Murphy married William Unwin in Queanbeyan and Julia Unwin died 1898 in Bungendore.
12. Henry Maxwell (b 1860 Bungendore d. 1950 Young )
13. Francis Christopher (b 1862 Bungendore d. 1883 Queanbeyan )
14. James Robert (b 1865 Bungendore d. 1935 Young)

With thanks to Maria O'Brien, Michael Purcell, Sam Gerada and Marianne Cowan. See also appendixes below for more on this.



It is possible that Patrick and Ann had another son Thomas Bunbury who may have married a Mary Noulan (Nolan). According to the late Peter Bunbury, Thomas was born in Amehue House, Johnstown, abt 1765 to parents Patrick and Ann Bunbury and died about 1827. Amehue is resumably Ardnehue? It seems likely that Thomas and Mary were the parents of three Bunbury boys who were born in Johnstown and went to America in 1838, namely Edward Bunbury (born 29 July 1818), James Patrick Bunbury (born 17 March 1819, St Patrick's Day) and Mathew Bunbury (baptized 2 September 1821). They sailed on the vessel Republic, which arrived in New York on 3rd August 1838. All three moved west to Michigan, Illinois and Iowa respectively, where they married and had families.

Roger Nowlan proposes two origins for Mary Noulan (Nolan):

       (1) Mary may have been related to a prominent Nowlan family of Co. Carlow. A Nowlan-Bunbury family link may have come about as a result of socializing between Powerscourt Demesne and the Fassaroe big house, the latter lying nearby in a NNW direction going towards Bray which lies along the Wicklow coast south of Dublin. The latter Fassaroe house had a link to the Warren and Nowlan families of Co. Carlow, both of which owned land in the Ballon area (see genealogy at end of this note for more details). The Ballon area is where is found the Ballykealey townland home to the last known historic Nolan chief, namely a Cahir O'Nolan who was "captain of his nation" in 1518 or, according to a more recent finding, a Peter Nowlan of Ballykealy who was arrested in 1744 and hanged for high-treason at Clonmel in 1745 and identified as the last Nolan Chief.

      (2) Mary Nowlan may have been a sister of the Martin Nowland who was married in the early 1800s to a Bridget Young and lived in the townland of Rathsallagh in the west of County Wicklow. Martin and Bridget's sons Matthew and John went to Australia in 1841. Matthew settled in the Hawkesbury region, and John at Palmers Island, in northern New South Wales. Another brother (Edward) arrived later. (Ref: Reference: 1999 - Cecily Ryan - cecilyr@comcen.com.au ; most likely a discontinued Email address).

      (3) Mary may have been a sister to a Matthew Nolan of Co. Carlow who settled in Trooperstown, Co. Wicklow, after his marriage in the early 1820s to a Marcella Byrne. See what Roger has written up at his website on this family here. Owen Nolan, a son of the above Matthew Nolan, emigrated to Australia in 1853 and settled in the area of Sydney. Here is a link to the early settlement story for Owen Nolan in Australia:

A story from another source, a Matthew Bunbury who lives in Madison, Wisconsin runs like this:-

"A Thomas Henry Bunbury was born Jan 4, 1827 to Patrick and Mary in County Wicklow. Mary fell ill and passed away shortly afterward. Patrick wanted to make a better life for his 3 children, so he left his children with his brother John. In 1835 Patrick arrived in Pennsylvania. It was not long until he headed west and claimed some land in Kalamazoo. He then sent for his kids. Thomas was 10 and he had a older brother named Henry, I do not know anything about the other sibling. Thomas next shows up in the census reports in Mineral Point, Wisconsin."

Peter Bunbury felt this probably explained the origin of some of the Wisconsin Bunbury, although he believed the 3 young Bunburys who arrived on the "Republic" in 1838 were different from Matthew's story as a Jackie Dubois descends from the eldest boy James Patrick who died in Waterloo Iowa in 1860, and Donna Atto descends from the youngest one Matthew, both of them from the distaff side of things. A memorial stone on James Patrick Bunbury's grave in Waterloo gives his date of death as 8 April 1861; Peter Bunbury maintained this was an error and that the date should read 1860.

One of Edward’s neighbours in Michigan was John Bunbury, said to be the son of Denis and Bridget Bunbury, who may well have been a cousin.



One of the Bunbury houses at Ardnahue was a servant’s house which was occupied by the Byrne family at the time of the 1911 censuses.[ii] Amongst those staying in the house was a four year old ‘nurse child’ called Marianne Errill who had recently been adopted by the Byrnes.[iii]

She may have originally come from Jacksons foster home in Carlow but there were no official records at that time. An exhaustive search by Marianne’s grandson to find any trace of her parentage has not yet yielded anything. (July 2012).

It seems likely that the name ‘Marianne Errill’ was made up as part of a general cover up over her true parentage. The ‘Errill’ name does not exist in Ireland but it is also perhaps relevant that the name ‘Berril’ was closely connected with the nearby Bunbury family at this time, not least given the Bunbury-Berrill-Byrne connections.

The man believed to be her father was Dr Edward McDonald, a member of a family long associated with the national movement and a well known Carlow family. He lived at Burrin Street, Carlow and formerly of Primrose Hill, Carlow.[iv] His family included a respected magistrate, a nun and some senior members of the Catholic clergy.[v] The Carlow Union Minute books noted that Dr. McDonald’s nephew Richard McDonald (son of his brother Richard) was Chairperson or Secretary of the Union for fostering children at that time of Marianne’s adoption.

Dr. McDonald was registered on the medical register on 22nd May 1897 and was appointed dispensary officer at Ballyroan, Co. Laois, the following year. From 1912 to 1926 he was tuberculosis officer at Carlow, as well as dispensary officer. He was also an officer of Carlow Urban District Council. Dr. McDonald died on 21st September 1936 aged 67.

By the time she went to Bennekerry National School in October 1906 school, Marianne Errill was known as ‘Mary (Sis) Byrne’. It is possible that her original name was ‘Mary Anne’ rather than ‘Marianne’ and that she simply ceased using ‘Anne’. She did not know about her earlier name until she was obliged to find out who her father was for her marriage certificate. She subsequently changed her name to Mary McDonald, and insisted on being called Mary and no other name. She was married to John Sweeny of Friarstown and later lived near Duckett’s Grove. John Sweeny was a son of Patrick Sweeney of Grange and his wife Winifred (nee Byrne of Killerig, kinsfolk of the John Byrne who lived in the old Iron Gate Lodge at Ducketts Grove). John was elected Secretary of Carlow GAA and served on Carlow County Board (1911-1924), becoming a Trustee in 1926. Carlow’s GAA Sweeney Cup is named after him and his brothers. He was also a cousin to John Sweeney of Pollerton, Carlow, Captain of Carlow Fire Brigade for 40 years, for whom John Sweeney Park in Carlow was named.

Following John’s death in 1939, Marianne was married secondly and so became Mary Walsh. On her second marriage, her date of birth was recorded as October 1906.


It is possible that Denis Bunbury and his wife Margaret Berrill were the parents of Frances Bunbury, born on 20 August 1873 in Ireland, possibly Kildare.

In April 1912, Frances Bunbury married Patrick Byrne in Dublin. It is not yet known whether Patrick Byrne was one of the Byrnes of Ardnahue, but this does leave room for a possible link between the name ‘Errill’ and ‘Berrill’. Francis Bunbury Byrne, wife of Patrick Byrne, Carlow, died 1951, aged 54. [check this inscription as date does not add up …] Patrick Byrne is thought to have been one of thirteen children born to Daniel and Mary Byrne of Ardnahue, although he was clearly not their son Patrick who was born in 1864 but died in 1885 aged 21. Daniel Byrne died in 1888 aged 70.

There is a grave in Benekerry which records Benjamin Berril [?] Bunbury who died 15 August 1923 [1823?] aged 60.

Patrick and Frances had a son called Sergeant Philip Denis Bunbury Byrne (534732), who served as a Flight Engineer with 15 Squadron of Royal Air Force. He was killed aged 28 when his Blenheim was shot down over Holland on 25 or 26 July 1942. He is buried at Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Netherlands, and recalled on the Pembrokeshire War Memorial. He was survived by his widow, Elsie Mary Byrne, of Pembroke.



This branch should not be overly confused with the branch of the Bunbury family who lived at Johnstown House. What we know is that the Tithe Applotment Books for Johnstown in 1830 list a Denis Bunbury with 7 acres, Anne Bunbury with 1 and Thomas Bunbury with either 6 or 8. William Bunbury was born on 19 January 1841, the son of Denis Bunbury of Johnstown by his wife Anne (nee Doyle, who was born circa 1810).[vi]

William married Juliana Fitzharris and lived at Johnstown. This is probably the William Bunbury of Benekerry who subscribed to a fund for the relief of the French Sick and Wounded after the Franco-German War in 1870. (Carlow Post, 1 October 1870). William and Juliana's son Denis Bunbury was born on 6 January 1877 but died aged sixteen on 24 May 1893 and was buried in Benekerry. William died less than a year later, on 5 May 1894, aged 52.

As well as Dennis, William and Juliana had another son William (born 30 July 1878, known as Willie) and three daughters Marian (born 8 Feb 1880), Julia (born 16 December 1881) and Martha (born c. 1884).

At the time of the 1901 census, the household comprised of the widowed Anne Bunbury (aged 90), Julianna (aged 50) and Juliana’s children William (Willie, aged 21), Juliana (aged 18, aka Julia) and Martha (aged 16). There is no mention of Marian who must have been elsewhere at the time. Also present was Juliana Bunbury’s brother Peter Fitzharris, a 52 year old dairy man from Co. Carlow, who was visiting. Another visitor was 7-year-old Edward Hennessy, whose son ‘Ol Hen’ contacted me by Facebook in September 2013 and explained how Edward’s mother had died ‘and he used to go to them a lot’. The family also kept a 60-year-old general labourer called John Anthony (a married man).[vii]

Juliana died aged 53 on 22 December 1902 and old Anne Bunbury passed away on 8 April 1905. (An inscription – not sure where – claims she was 100, but the 1901 census would suggest she was closer to 95).

On 20 September 1910, 30-year-old Willie Bunbury married Ellen O’Meara (known as Elly), the 43-year-old Benekerry schoolteacher who grew up in Mountrath, County Laois. The witnesses were William Treacy of Johnstown and Maggie O'Rourke of Carlow. Elly Bunbury, who was born on 8 September 1867, was seemingly eleven years older than Willie and is believed to have succeeded Margaret Muldowney as Principal of Benekerry National School, commencing on 1 January 1904. She was a daughter of John O’Meara, a carpenter from Roscrea, County Tipperary, and his wife Anne (nee Tynan, born 12 July 1835), a bootmaker, daughter of Patrick Tynan and Ellen Keating of Mountrath. [John and Anne O’Meara were married on 1 Nov 1863]. Thanks to Paul Gallagher for these details.

By the time of the 1911 census, 34-year-old Willie was living at house 3 in Ballinakilbeg (Johnstown, Carlow) with Ellen, their 8-year-old Dublin-born nephew Fintan O’Meara, and 16-year-old servant Katie Byrne.[viii] Mrs. Moore of the pub in Grangecon informed me in the early 21st century that she was taught by a Mrs. Bunbury of Johnstown Lane, Benekerry (what years?) whose husband Willie Bunbury was connected to her father, Edward Hennessey. Ol Hen also writes: ‘I recall going to see Willie in Johnstown when I was a child. I recall a big open fire with a bellows to pump now and then to make the embers glow.’

As John Brown, the former Benekerry Principal, notes in "The History of Education in Bennekerry 1824-2013" (published in 2013 for the Bennekerry "Past & Present" Gathering weekend):

"There is quiet an exchange of letters when it came to her retirement. She was going to be 60 years of age on the 3rd of September 1927 but because women teachers rated "efficient" could work beyond this age, it was recommended that she continue in her position up to 30th September 1928. Fr. David Gorry, P.P. (1925-1933) was to be notified. Her pension was approved from the 1st October 1932.

Each following year the extension was approved with James T. Dick, District Inspector, advising to do so on the two occasions and for the final extension to the 30th September 1932, the new Inspector C.O. Cinnéide wrote "as Ghaelige" to approve. Her claim for pension was sent on to the T.P.O. (Teachers' Pension Officer). On the 9th July 1931 Ellen Bunbury herself was notified that she was 65 (as if she didn't already know!), with a copy of the letter going to Fr. Gorry. Still there was further business to be done before she left.

A letter to Fr. Gory on 29th July 1932 confirmed her retirement and continued "I am to say that in view of the average attendance and enrolment of pupils in Bennekerry N.S., the successor to Mrs Bunbury should be a master who has given at least five years efficient service or who is highly efficient and has given at least three years' service, two of which were "highly efficient" and who possessed the necessary qualifications".

In a letter dated the 28th of September 1932, Fr. Gorry confirmed that Mrs Bunbury "has given up possession of the school-house, Teacher's residence, furniture, records stock etc" for which there is a Surrender Certificate as confirmed by C. O'Cinnéide on the 21st of October 1932.

Willie and Ellie Bunbury lived in Johnstown Lane on the farm later purchased by Bennie Lawlor in 1958. After Ellie's retirement, she returned to her native Mountrath, where she lived at Market Square for the next twenty years. She died in Abbeyleix on 17th March 1952 and is buried in nearby Clonina cemetery.

[With thanks to James Doyle]

Julia Bunbury died in Greece on 13th February 1951 aged 68, and was interred in Athens. In his Facebook message of October 2013, ‘Ol Hen’ suggested that the other sisters had also spent time in Greece as governesses. ‘Martha and Maryanne ended their days in a house across from my parents on the Main Street, Castledermot. Martha was the taller of the two. Maryanne was a beautiful woman, very kind.' At the Tullow Feis in 1915, Martha Bunbury of Johnstown came third with an exhibit of 'Wool, Silk or Linen' in the Lace Embroidery and Fancy Work. (New Ross Standard , 9 July 1915).

In 2012, James Doyle also found an inscription on the side of Denis Bunbury’s headstone which he read as: ‘His sister Mary Anne Bunbury died November 9th [1961?] aged 81. His brother William Bunbury died February 24th [1966?], aged 87. His sister Martha Bunbury died February 29th 1976 aged 91.’



In October 2009, I received an email from Maurice O’Neill who told me he had spent over 55 years living on Bunbury's bog. ‘As a small boy we [would] play in the old whitetorn grove (shelter for stock) in the upper part of the bog, pick wild mushrooms (so tasty when cooked in the ashes of the fire with a pinch of salt to raise the juice) peep down the old well shaft beside the ruins of the old house at the corner of the disused old road. Glynn's old Grey Fordson TVO tractor and their Ransome's of Ipswitch thresher (mill) humming away on barley in the upper part of the now reclaimed Bunbury’s bog. Mr Benny Lawler on his little Fergie drawing the full sacks grain. Fond, happy childhood memory's of a vanished Eire. Mr Willie (Buttermilk) Bunbury, as he was then known, and Mrs Bunbury lived and farmed on Johnstown Lane, where the Lawler Family live now. As a child, my Mother and the other local children would often pick potatoes for old Willie. His motto was ‘load the basket lightly and go often to the horse cart.’ It is thought that the Bunburys purchased the bog from Captain Connelan, Johnny Couchman’s forbears, in the early 1900s.

‘Miss Bunbury taught my late Father and Mother in the old Bennekerry schoolhouse,’ continued Maurice. ‘The school is now long gone. As a child, my father would light the old pot belly stove with turf for Miss Bunbury to warm the one room school on winter mornings.’ Mary Moore of Moore's pub in Grangecon once told me she was taught by two sisters, both Bunburys, somewhere near Johnstown so I presume this was the same school. I'm still unclear as to who these gals were. Maurice O’Neill says that the large hedge or dike that divides Bunbury's Bog from the townsland of Busherstown is also called the Landlord’s ditch in memory of the Bunburys.

(Busherstown House was home to relatives of Captain Myles Keogh who commanded the 1st Troop in General J.A. Custer's ill-fated 7th Cavalry at famous battle of the Little Big Horn River in Montana).



It is to be noted that a Mrs Bunbury of Benekerry is recalled in this incomplete doggerel. The author is unknown but it may have been a Mr Nolan of Myshall.


Come all ye lads and lassies and listen to my song

It’s only a few verses and it won’t detain you long

It's all about a dance we had out there in Staplestown

You would not see the like of it from this to the County Down.

The Ganger Neill was head man, a bad one I hear

Supported by Pat Nolan and Fitzpatrick from Kildare

Joe Foley from the Fighting Cocks, was another of the band

The last was Jerry Nolan of Staplestown Command.

Said the Ganger to Pert Nolan “A dance we’ll organise,

It will make for us some money, and we will laugh at all the boys”

“Right you are”, said Nolan, “young Neill I’m with you there.

Then they went to Father Gerry to settle the affair.

They interviewed His Revenence, and he gave them his consent,

From that to Mrs. Bunbery, in Bennekerry, they went,

They laid their case before her, and got the Chapel seats,

To keep the crowd in Staplestown from dancing off their feet.

And now to tell you all about the people that was there,

They came from the Counties of Carlow and Kildare,

There was Civic Guards from Carlow, and beet-men from Strawhall

I don’t know in the name of God where they got them all.

Miss Bullogue from the Bawnogues, and her Brother too was there,

And a lot of other dancers from the County of Kildare.

Miss Lawlers, three from Ballyburn, there brother, that was four,

Came along with Rupert Curran and Jim Nolan from Rathmore.

There were Bank-clerks, and railway clerks galore,

I'm sure the like was never seen in Staplestown before,

Paddy Reddy, he came up from Closh, and he enjoyed the sport

And for the Nationalist and Leinster Times he made a good report.

The big Sergeant brought some whiskey, how much I am not sure,

In the morning when he went to drink he was very sore

For some of the boys had pinched it and found it very good

And after that they didn’t know where it was they stood.


George Bunbury of Johnstown married Bridget Kilfoyle and they were parents of William (5th February 1815), Martin (9th February 1823), George (22nd February 1826) and John (31st May 1829). [ix] So who was he!?

There is also a record of a William Murphy of Johnstown, baptized a Catholic in Tinryland, Co. Carlow, on 7 May 1834. He was the son of Mathew Murphy and Anne Bunbury. His sponsors were William Gallivag and Matilda Bunbury. Who were they!? (Thanks to Anne Marie Kalishoek)

Patrick Bunbury was born on 5th February 1827, the son of Thomas Bunbury and his wife Judith Connor of Rutland, Co. Carlow. [x] Who he!?

Michael Purcell has a deed of Thomas Bunbury, owner of the Bear Inn (on the site of the present day Post Office) and other Carlow Town property in 1723. He bought the pub from Theo Purcell, ancestor of Michael.


NB: One well known character in Benekerry during the 1960s was John 'Cowboy' Whelan who owned some land near Johnstown. He always wore cowboy boots and a cowboy hat and frequently went to the Coliseum cinema in Carlow. He used to ride in on a horse, tie it up outside the Guard's barracks and go to cowboy films. He always sat at the back where he had to pay for two seats as he liked to put up his feet on the seat in front. He was subsequently moved to St. Dympna's Hospitial, Carlow, after he was seen burning money in bonfires. His land is now farmed by Hailstone Byrne. I include Cowboy in this piece simply beause I don't know where else he should go!

Ardnahue House is where Gloria Nolan has the ponies now.



Other Bunburys listed in the Carlow area in 1911 are Thomas Bunbury, farmer, and his wife Margaret Bunbury (nee Mulhall) of Creerin (Clonmore), aged 76 and 73, both Roman Catholic and married for 32 years. They married in the parish of Clonmore on 5th Sept 1878 so it may be possible to source their marriage certificate which should identify their parents. Both are buried in Crecrin cemetery.

Mary Bunbury, Natural causes, Clonmore, Sept. 1849. [From the Inquest Returns 1841 - 1851, copied in the Pat Purcell Papers]


The Carlow Cathedral Marriage Register contain the following references: [xi]

6th July 1840: Luke Franklin to Anna Bunbury. Sponsors; William Bunbury and Mary Bunbury, Castle Street, Carlow.

26th August 1839: By permission of the Bishop Dr. Doyle, Maurice Nolan, a Catholic, to Clare Acheson, a Protestant. Sponsors: Luke Franklin, William Bunbury, Mary Bunbury.

The above documents lead Gill Miller to produce the following:



Gill Miller writes: “I feel Luke Benjamin Franklin and Hannah Franklin in Liverpool are the same people as Luke Franklin and Anna Bunbury in Carlow”.


1846 ¼ 3: MARRIAGE Liverpool JOSEPH SILVA and CATHERINE BUNBURY Liverpool 20 448 – Aug 12 1846 Joseph Silva, father Manuel Silva, Catherine Bunbury father Robert Bunbury, both residing in Liverpool, witnesses LB Franklin and Hannah Franklin. (Liverpool, Lancashire, England, Catholic Marriages, 1754-1921)

Gill Miller writes: ‘I feel Catherine Bunbury’s father Robert is more than likely the son of Patrick and Ann Bunbury of Ardnahue House. I have nothing to go on other than various other relationships mentioned in Catholic Parish Registers in Liverpool.’


1848 ¼ 4 BIRTH Liverpool 20 291 ROBERT SILVA
1848 19 Dec BAPTISM St. Marys, Liverpool ROBERT parents JOSEPH & CATHERINE da SILVA, Godparents Albert Zeniza? and MARY REYNOLDS (Liverpool, Lancashire, England, Catholic Baptisms, 1802-1906). Robert Joseph Silva trained as a Catholic priest and died, aged 36, in Lancashire in 1886. His parents appear to have moved to Flintshire, North Wales and died there in 1879 (Catherine aged 54) and 1888 (Joseph aged 67)


1866 19TH Jan: Letters of administration of the personal estate and effects of Hannah Franklin late of Earle Street, Liverpool, in the county of Lancaster, widow, deceased, who died 2nd January 1866 at Carlow in the county of Carlow in Ireland were granted at Liverpool to Benjamin Franklin of 17 Earle Street aforesaid medical student the son and one of the next of kin of the deceased he having been first sworn. effects under £200.

Gill Miller writes: ‘Mary Reynolds was born Mary Elizabeth Bunbury in Carlow c.1810 and married John Reynolds in Liverpool 1842. One of the witnesses was Philip O’Donnald – could he have been an ancestor of Edward O’Donald? Mary Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry Bunbury. I feel that this Henry is the son of Patrick and Ann Bunbury of Ardnahue House for the same reason I think of Robert. Mary Reynolds features in a number of baptisms / marriages / probates in Liverpool. She was at some stage a licensed victualler in Toxteth Park and I found a page from a book saying Fenian sympathisers would meet in her pub. It was known that supporters would meet in pubs … Hannah Franklin was also a licensed victualler at some point, as was Mary’s brother John Patrick Bunbury.

Mary Elizabeth and John Patrick had a sister Elizabeth who firstly married Patrick Smith and secondly James Burns. Could the Burns surname be a corruption of Byrne? Both spouses were born in Ireland and both marriages took place in Liverpool. There were three children in total from the marriages. James was a shipwright but I can’t make out what Patrick was other than a dealer.

Among other Bunburys in Liverpool at this time is one who could be the Henry Bunbury who in 1848 married Alicia O’Beirne in Dublin. A Henry Bunbury / Alicia O’Burn / Alice Berne are in Liverpool in the 1850s.’


PATRICK BUNBURY, born 1807 in Johnstown, County Carlow, Ireland. IGI - No verification that this is my Patrick.

Could not find a birth date or place for MARY GORMAN.

Haven't yet found a marriage for Patrick and Mary.

THOMAS BUNBURY, born Jan. 4, 1827, County Wicklow, Ireland. IGI - Parents are Patrick Bunbury and Mary. Thomas was a witness on a Civil War affidavit , which gave his date of birth as 1828.

MARGARET BUNBURY, born in 1830, in Ireland. Information taken from 1851 census of New Brunswick, Canada

Patrick and Mary and their two children entered New Brunswick, Canada in April of 1831. I have not been able to find the name of the ship or the port of entry.

Their third child, ELEANOR (ELLEN) was born the 5th of August, 1831 in Newcastle, New Brunswick, Canada. Records of Diocese of St. John, St. Patrick Parish, New Brunswick.

MARY BUNBURY came next on the 6th of Sept. 1833. She was Baptized on the 6th of Oct. 1833 in the New Brunswick parish. US- Canada film of the Mormon Church #0861221.

MARIA, MARY OR MARIE BUNBURY, born in 1835 in New Castle, New Brunswick,, Canada

PATRICK BUNBURY, JR. was born next in 1840 in New Castle, New Brunswick, Canada

SARAH BUNBURY, b. 1842 in New Castle, New Brunswick, Canada

ELIZABETH ALICE, b. Oct. 8, 1843 in New Castle, New Brunswick, Canada

I am descended from Thomas BUNBURY. He and his family came to the US in 1881.


1. James Bumbery of Colt, Queen’s County (in which county he was born). He was a 23 year old General Labourer, Roman Catholic, unable to read or write, spoke English and worked as a servant. At the time of the 1901 census he was employed by Thomas and Maraget Higgans.

2. Mary Bumbery of Kilminchy, Queen’s County (in which county she was born). She was a 30-year-old Roman Catholic domestic servant who could read and write. She was unmarried.

3. Bridget Bumbery of Acraboy, Ballykisteen, Co. Tipperary, was an unmarried 43-year-old domestic servant at time of 1911 census when she was living with National Board teacher Mary Sophia Houston and her brother Robert Houston.




"The Irish authorities permitted the prisoners to be embarked in a deplorable state of health, and the avariciousness, neglect and inhumanity of the master of the Atlas, Richard Brooks turned the voyage into one of the worst in the history of transportation. The Atlas embarked her first prisoners at Dublin. They were brought out to her in the three brigs and all were more or less unhealthy, suffering from Typhus or dysentery and should never have been embarked. The Atlas completed her complement of convicts at Cork where a number were convalescents from recent illness. Surgeon Elphinstone Walker viewed the embarkation of these prisoner with alarm but did not feel empowered to refuse to accept them." [Extract from The Convict Ships 1787-1868 by Charles Bateson]

The Atlas arrived in Port Jackson on 6 July 1802.

Elphinstone Walker wrote to the Commissioner for Transport on arrival. His letter was published in Chapter 11,
‘Journey into Hell of Beyond the Sea’ by Brian Ahearn, p.22, via

Surgeon Walker to the Commissioners for Transport:

Port Jackson 8th July 1802, Gentlemen, I have the honour to inform you of the arrival of the ship Atlas, Captain Richard Brooks, in this port on the 7th July 1801, and from the great mortality which has been on board I think it my duty to inform you of the cause. The first prisoners we embarked were from the three brigs that came from Dublin, one of which, named the Henrietta, were very sickly, and I was informed of the dysentery accompanied with a typhus fever. The other two brigs were also in a bad state of health. Most of the prisoners from the Henrietta were embarked on board this ship; we also embarked prisoners from the other two brigs.

The weather being then very cold, the washing of them and shaving their heads must, in my opinion, be very much against people in their sickly state. Some of them were embarked actually in the disease, and a great many convalescents. The rest of our prisoners embarked from Cork, many of whom were also convalescents. One old man, in particular, who was sent to be embarked was labouring under a very heavy sickness. Seeing that he could not survive long I thought it best to send him back, and he died before the boat reached Cork. One of the prisoners from the Henrietta died five days after he came on board; another also died before we left the harbour, which was on 28th November 1801.

After sailing from the Cove of Cork we experienced very bad weather, and the convalescents began gradually to relapse into their former sickness. When we arrived at Rio de Janeiro 30th January 1802, I had upwards of seventy sick, and was then myself recovering from a very heavy sickness. The prisoners were put on shore on one of the small islands for the recovery of health, and the number of sick began now to diminish from the benefit of fresh provisions and other comforts.

We lost by sickness fifteen male prisoners and a soldier from the time of their embarking till our arrival, and during our stay two male prisoners and one female died. We sailed from Rio de Janeiro 26th February 1802.

A short time after leaving that port a general sickness prevailed amongst the soldiers, which I attributed to poison, and I at the same time had a return of my sickness. A mutiny was at this time going on amongst the prisoners, which on being discovered caused them to be more closely confined, and which consequently was much against the sick. We arrived at the Cape of Good Hope 12th April 1802, having lost by sickness six male prisoners, one soldier and serjeant's wife on our passage between Rio de Janeiro and the Cape. The number of the sick was now considerably diminished.

We had here a supply of fresh provisions for the prisoners. I also obtained a supply of some medicines and fumigating apparatus. During our stay here we lost one male prisoner. We sailed from the Cape on the 19th April, some time after leaving which port the scurvy made its appearance, which soon became general, and amongst those who were formerly sick it made great havock. Having few or no antiscorbutics, I was forced to palliate with medicines. The weather was in general very bad from the time of our leaving the Cape till on arrival at Port Jackson, and we lost by the scurvy and dysentery forty three male prisoners and one female, several of whom were after our arrival, at which time I kept about twenty of the worst of my patients on board, they being incapable of being removed, and had a supply of necessaries for them from the hospital. They soon began to recover from the benefit of the vegetable diet. By this gentlemen, I have endeavoured to state, from as exact a point of view as I possibly could, the causes of the great mortality which has prevailed on board this ship. (1)

The situation of the Passengers was unpleasant in the extreme. Surgeon Thomas Jamison's cabin was filled with provisions and Richard Brooks stowed packages in there as well so that he was constantly being disturbed. Thomas Jamison left the Atlas at Rio De Janeiro and embarked on the Hercules for the remainder of the voyage to Port Jackson.

Further Reading

Reakes, J., comp. Australia, Convict Index, 1788-1868 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2001.
1788-1868 Convict Records. Records kept at the New South Wales State Records Office, P.O. Box R625, Royal Exchange, NSW 2000; at the Archives Office of Tasmania, 77 Murray St., Hobart, TAS 7000; and at the State Records Office of Western Australia, Alexander Library, Perth Cultural Centre, Perth, WA 6000.



[i] From Pat Purcell Papers. 1809. Before Henry Bunbury, Esquire, one of his Majesties Justices of the Peace for Carlow.

[ii] http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1911/Carlow/Johnstown/Ardnehue/311431/ ...

[iii] ‘I notice that on the 1911 census her name is written in different writing from the rest of the family as if they didn’t know how to enter her on the census or what to put her name down as. It looks like the person doing the census completed my grandmother aged 4 on the census.’ - James Doyle, June 2012.

[iv] Dr. Edward McDonald became a doctor in the late 1800's. He is listed in the 1901 and 1911 censuses in Burrin Street Carlow.

[v] The doctors father Michael McDonald came from Cloughna, Milford. Doctor McDonald’s brother, Richard was Magistrate and later Coroner for Carlow and lived in Tiny Park (near Tinryland), Carlow, and on the Athy Road near the Courthouse. Richard was very involved in Carlow politics, serving as a member – and often as chairman - on most public bodies, including the Carlow Board of Guardians. During the Land Wars he actively fought for tenants rights and became a strong supporter of robust Nationalsim, throwing his support behind Sinn Fein in 1918 when he presided at the public meeting held in Carlow. In latter years he was a prominent member of the Farmers Union. He extensively engaged in the farming industry, holding large farms in Kildare and Carlow.

July 21st 1920: Mr Richard P.McDonald of Tinypark, Carlow, Coroner for County Carlow, tenders his resignation as a Magistrate to the Lord Chancellor. The letter is published in the Nationalist and Leinster Times: 'My Lord -- As a protest against the brutal, stupid, and unconstitutional manner in which England is attempting to govern this country, I hereby resign my Commission of the Peace for the counties of Carlow and Wicklow --Yours faithfully, R.P.McDonald.' (PPP)

Another brother was Fr. Andrew McDonald, a priest in Blackrock, while Dr. McDonald would later leave everything to his sister, Sr. Camillus McDonald (born Eliza Kate McDonald), Convent of Mercy, Newry, founder of a sewing and lace school and designer of Clanrye Lace. His will was written in his own handwriting a month before he died. The McDonalds’ mother Joanna was an O'Shea from near Callan, Co. Kilkenny. His uncles included the Rev Fr A. McDonald PP Mountrath and the late Mr. Patrick O’Shea, both prominently identified with Catholic publications in America, while their great-uncles included priests such as Rev Thomas O'Shea, co-founder of the Tenants’s Rights Movement, and Archdeacon Robert O’Shea, Ballyhale, Co. Kilkenny. Doctor McDonald was a Fianna Fail man and sought election but failed. He was involved in getting the TB hospital for Carlow and there are minutes in Carlow library which mentions this. His funeral in 1936 makes him out to be an important man with stately people present and approx. 24 priests.

[vi] This date is ascertained from a record of births sent by Father Liam Morgan in June 2012.

[vii] See http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1901/Carlow/Johnstown/Johnstown/1041766/

[viii] See http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/search/results.jsp?census_year=1911&surname=Bunbury&firstname=&county=Carlow&townland=&ded=&age=&sex=&search=Search&relationToHead=&religion=&education=&occupation=&marriageStatus=&birthplace=&language=&deafdumb=&marriageYears=&childrenBorn=&childrenLiving=

Katie Byrne would appear to be a different person to the Katie Byrne who knew that Sis was Dr. McDonald’s daughter. The latter Kate was a daughter of Mary Byrne of Ardnahue and was aged 21 on the 1911 census.

[ix] This information is ascertained from a record of births sent by Father Liam Morgan in June 2012.

[x] This information is ascertained from a record of births sent by Father Liam Morgan in June 2012.

[xi] Extracted by Jean Casey, c/o http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/IRL-CARLOW/2010-03/1269786832