What Happened to Mark Mulvoy?

A Grandson Tries to Find out

By Thomas F. Mulvoy Jr.

Boston Irish Reporter


BOSTON, Massachusetts – “Mark Mulvoy died of colo-rectal cancer in Galway General Hospital on March 28, 1915.”

This stark one-sentence note was sent to me recently by my cousin Jim Fahy from his home in County Clare, Ireland. He later sent along a copy of the death certificate, ending my half-century search for the cause of the early passing of my father’s father, a farmer from Rosscahill, Co. Galway.

35 when he died

As most people have learned, when it comes to dates and names in Ireland some 100 years ago as one century turned into another, nothing can be taken for granted. The death certificate said my grandfather was 35 when he died; courtesy of Cousin Jim, I also have a copy of his birth certificate showing he was born on Feb. 6, 1882, some 33 years and two months before his death.

For some reason, what my grandfather succumbed to was not something his widow and their four children wanted to talk about, at least with me. In the 1950s, when I was a teen-ager I once asked my grandmother Barbara, who had just returned from a stay with relatives in Oughterard, what happened to her husband and she shrugged me off in a way that told me I probably shouldn’t pursue the subject. My father, Mark’s boy Tom, told me on numerous occasions that he didn’t know, and my aunts Celia and Agnes and Catherine told me to ask my father.

As a young man, I wasn’t tuned into the importance of knowing what happened to our forebears in medical matters where life and death were concerned, but as my siblings and cousins began to have children of their own, the issue kept coming up.

Mark’s untimely demise remained a mystery

I knew that Granny had died in 1960 of heart failure at 82. I knew that my mother’s father was 74 when his heart gave out at home, and that her mother was 59 in 1941 when she was taken by a stroke at the kitchen table at 6 Allston St. in Dorchester. But the reason for Mark’s untimely demise remained a mystery that I only occasionally thought about – until my father died of colon cancer in 1992, when he was, like his mother had been at her death, 82 years old.

I then renewed my search, but passively, asking friends who visited Ireland regularly, like Gerry Burke and Neil Savage, to see what they could find if they came anywhere near Galway and Oughterard, the town of my father’s boyhood years. Nothing came of this. Then in March 2009 I asked my question in the Irish Reporter and soon enough heard online from a man named Dan Jenkins, who told me he had an interest in such quests and would see what he could do to help.

I know that the search for family roots is a widespread pastime, and that what I was looking for was hardly a singular matter in the annals of genealogy, more like a routine mission by one family member among millions doing the same thing, but what happened after Dan Jenkins so generously wrote to me came as surprise upon surprise.

joined the Irish Police

Dan put me in touch with Jim Fahy, who, after noting my grandfather’s death, described himself as “one of nine children of James Fahy, Gortacarnaun, and Winifred Mulvoy Bohan of Doon. Seven of us are still here. I am the eldest male. I left Gortacarnaun in June 1960 and went to London to work until November 23rd 1960. I then joined the Irish Police where I spent 30 years until retirement in January, 1991. I then occupied myself as a tourist driver — mainly American — until 2003 when I retired for good! I live at 6, College Green, Ennis, Co. Clare, near Shannon Airport. I have been in County Clare since 1968 and I am married to a local woman. We have 3 children — 2 girls 1 boy. Ages 43, 40, 38.” He signed his note, “Jim Mulvoy Bohan Fahy.”


From that introduction flowed from Clare a series of informative missives from his hand about my Mulvoy ancestors — road maps, census data, birth, wedding, and death certificates, and 21st-century pictures of the onetime Mulvoy homestead in the “townland” of Gortacarnaun in Galway just onshore from Loch Corrib and up the road from Oughterard.

One item that Jim laid out for me was a short history of the Mulvoy land and its later disposition by my widowed grandmother as noted in Galway County’s Register of Freeholders:

“I believe that the Mulvoys and others came to Gortacarnaun from the nearby Moycullen barony area in about 1830 to work land owned by a family named Martin,” he wrote. “The acreage of the ultimate Mulvoy holding of your grandmother was 11 acres, 2 roods, 14 perches, statute measure (English), with a one-tenth part of 216 acres of unfenced mountain. Prior to 1922 the land was under the ownership of the governmental District Congested Board, which purchased it from the Martins in 1916.”

According to the Freeholder document provided by Jim, on the first of June 1922, my grandmother (or maybe her representative, as she and three of her four children had moved to Somerville, Massachusetts in 1921), took possession of the property from the Irish Land Commission, and agreed to pay “half-yearly an annuity of two pounds, two shillings, and four pence” until an “advance of 65 pounds had been repaid.”

Went back to Galway in 1931

My grandmother went back to Galway in 1931 and sold the land, which fact suggests to me how a widower-laundress working for a well-to-do Back Bay Boston family was able to put serious money down on a two-family house in Somerville as the Great Depression was darkening the world.

And through Dan Jenkins’s intercession, I heard from another relative, a “third cousin once removed,” as Moria Gardner of Santa Rosa, California put it in a letter to him: “ I am aware of Thomas Mulvoy of Boston and have read his Irish articles online with great interest.  I have often thought about writing to him. My name is Moria Sullivan Gardner.  I am the great-great granddaughter of Winifred Mulvoy Gorham, the daughter of Patrick Mulvoy and Bridget Curran.  Patrick and Bridget had three children of whom I am aware. They were Thomas (who married Cecelia Burke and whose son was Mark Mulvoy), John (who married Mary Faherty) and Winifred (who married Patrick Gorham of Roscahill, Galway, Ireland).”

My cousin Moria has been unstinting in accumulating knowledge of our scattered family and sharing her research with me since we first communicated. In fact, she has compiled a family tree for the descendants of Mark Mulvoy that extends to the latest arrival, not-quite two-year-old Cooper Driscoll, son of my brother Bob’s daughter Stacey and her husband Mike.

So by asking a simple question in the Irish Reporter , I not only got my answer, but through Dan Jenkins, Jim Fahy, and Moria Gardner and friends , I also have accumulated for myself and my family a trove of information about my direct blood links to the hardy Mulvoy clan, men and women of the island of Ireland who carried on through the Great Famine and the relentless harsh circumstances of the 19th century to make a family that has had staying power into the 21st.


Thomas F. Mulvoy Jr., retired managing editor of The Boston Globe and professor at Boston College and now the managing editor of the Boston (Massachusetts) Irish Reporter, is the son of the late Thomas F. Mulvoy, who, as a 12-year-old and with his mother and two of his three sisters, left Oughterard for Boston in 1921.






This page was added on 10/05/2011.

Comments about this page

  • Hi Julia,
    Wondering if you have any information on Redmond & Julia’s other son John who married Margaret Tierney in Ashland, MA on June 3, 1886. I’m from Ashland and some how Margaret and John’s son Bartholomew (Bartley) Molloy was a Nephew of my Great Grandparents who also were born in Oughterard. When Margaret died my Grandfather and his brothers were the pallbearers and when my Great Grandmother’s sister died Bartley, my Grandfather and his brothers were pallbearers and referred to as her stalwart nephews. This is one mystery that I would love to figure out.
    Thank You
    Geri Vasile

    By Geri Vasile (04/09/2021)
  • Julia,
    Thank you for reaching out to help me wade through the duplicate family names over the generations!

    By Erin O’Brien (11/07/2021)
  • Jim,

    Many belated thanks for your response and helpful suggestion in your spirit of community.

    Recently I contacted a gentleman in the UK via an ancestry website, who was also on a quest to find Molloys. Around the same time, I received a message from a member of the Oughterard website. To my delight, I learned the two parties themselves have been in contact with one another.

    It’s been validating to share research of familiar Molloy family names, and unravel mysteries of our extended family’s past in the same community spirit.


    By Erin O’Brien (11/07/2021)
  • To Erin O’Brien and Kathleen Briggs:
    My great grandfather was Bart Molloy, father of Francis (Babe) Malloy of Portsmouth, NH. My grandmother Julia Barbara Malloy Twomey was Francis’ eldest sister and I live in the family home. Bartholomew Joseph b.6/25/1864 and married Anne Elizabeth Connelly of Cuiltybo, Mayo, b. 7/25/1861.
    Some of Bart’s 8 children (or Barthly as he was called) chose to keep the spelling of “Molloy” while others opted for “Malloy”, reasons unknown. Great great grandparents are Redmond and Julia, GGG John “Mulloy” and Anne Conneely m. 1/22/1855. My sister and I have also visited Oughterard and visited Bart’s grave and seen the Main Street home; he returned to Ireland and remarried Mary Roland following Anne’s death.

    By Julia B. Robb (01/07/2021)
  • Regarding Query – Redmond Molloy and Julia Walsh

    Hi Erin,

    Perhaps you could give some further detail, years, County of origin etc

    State records are from January 1st 1864.

    Parish records vary from approx. 1820 for Roman Catholic churches and in may instances birth, marriage and death records were never made. Oughterard records are from 1809 with some missing years.
    You can access them http://www.nationalarchives.ie/ Catholic Records

    The more family information you give, the better the chances of succeeding.


    By jim.fahy (14/11/2019)
  • Hello, Nov. 10, 2019
    My great great grandparents were Redmond Molloy and Julia Walsh. Their son, Bartley Malloy, was my great grandfather. (He married Mary Agnes Shea.)

    (The spelling of the surname Malloy appears to have changed in my gg generation, and a great uncle named John wished to change it back to “Mo” according to my mother.)

    My heart leapt to see these two familiar names mentioned here! Hopeful that I’m not too late in responding to this post, and most grateful for any further information.

    My fourth visit to Galway, and first to Oughterard, is planned for June 2019.

    Kind regards,

    By Erin O’Brien (11/11/2019)
  • Hi,
    Yes they are my relations I’ve not seen the 1891 census as I am using ancestry and they don’t seem to have records such as the 1891 census, any christening records off my great grandfather and his sisters or the 1911 census for him either which I thought was bizarre. I will have to try find past.
    Thanks for taking your time to reply it’s mean a lot.
    Best wishes
    R Mulvoy

    By R Mulvoy (12/05/2016)
  • Hi,

    In relation to previous post on “John Mulvoy”, records show that he married Mary Doyle in the 2nd quarter of 1887 in West Derby. He also appears in the English census for 1891 where he is described as being 38 years of age and a coal weaver by trade. His residence is given as 5, Howe Street, Bootle. His wife Mary is recorded as 28 years with children Mary, Bridget and Ellen.

    Having regard to the age of John Mulvoy in the 1891 census he would have been born c1852.
    At No. 4 Howe Street is Thomas Hart, Sailor, born in Ireland and at No. 6, Jeremiah Murphy, Ships Foreman, born in Wexford.
    There was also a “John Mulvoy” who married in Bury in 1885. He is also Irish born.
    On June 12th 1910 an Agnes Mulvoy married a Walter Gerard in St. Peters Church, Liverpool. Brides father:
    John Mulvoy.
    Hopefully this information will elicit some information on the origin of your great grandfather.



    Credits: http://www.findmypast.ie

    By Jim Fahy (14/04/2015)
  • Hi,

    In relation to John Mulvoy in Liverpool, the information provided is too sparse to be able to trace his background in In County Galway. The “Mulvoy’s” were mainly concentrated in Moycullen parish, with some in Killannin parish and Galway city.

    The 1911 census for Liverpool records a “John Patrick Mulvoy” born 1894 in Liverpool, apprentice upholsterer, and residing alone.

    There is a death record for a “Mary Mulvoy” in 1929.

    Any connection to those ?

    I suggest that you get a copy of John Mulvoy’s marriage to Mary Doyle. This should show his fathers’ name.



    By Jim Fahy (14/04/2015)
  • My great great grandfather was John Mulvoy I am guessing born about 1861 in Galway Ireland he married a Mary Doyle from Cork and they lived in Liverpool and had the following children Mary Margaret, Bridget Agness, Margaret, Ellen and John Patrick. I have no other information regarding his parents and I think we probably share the same ancestors do you have any info?

    By R Mulvoy (05/01/2015)


    Further to previous post, Kilcummin records show a “Redmond Mulloy” baptised on May, 4th 1817. Parents: John Mulloy and Anne Conneely. Sponsors: John Conneely and Ellen Haughigan (Geoghegan). Address: Derryglynn.

    Marriage: Redmond Molloy to Judith Walsh, January 22nd 1855. Witnesses: Mathias Conneely and Margaret Conneely. No address.

    Children recorded to this couple: Anne 1859, John 1862, Bartholomew 1864, Martin 1869.

    1901 census records a “Redmond Molloy” aged 80 years and wife Susan in Fough West – http://www.nationalarchives.ie/census

    I cannot see any connection between Redmond Molloy and the Mulvoy’s of Gortacarnaun. There is a possibility that Barbara Molloy, daughter of Timothy of Derreenmeel and who married Mark Mulvoy in 1908 could be connected.


    By Jim Fahy (26/04/2014)
  • Hi,

    In relation to your query – Mary Molloy and James Molloy.

    James Mulvoy was born in 1879, son of Thomas Mulvoy of Gortacarnaun, Killannin parish and Cecelia Bourke(Burke) of Ballygally, Kilcummin parish (Oughterard). He emigrated to Milford, MA, arriving Boston May 13th 1900. He is shown on records in 1905 to be married to a Sarah Catherine O’Connor.

    Ships record show him as “James Mulloy” - Milford record “Malloy”.

    James was a brother of Mark Mulvoy, grandfather to Tom Mulvoy, Boston Globe. I have no knowledge of Mary Molloy.

    Because of name changes it is difficult to identify the various families. Oughterard area has had many families with the name “Molloy”. Mulvoy is more associated with Moycullen parish. Perhaps you could give further information on Redmond Molloy and Julia Walsh.


    By Jim Fahy (25/04/2014)
  • I am interested in the ancestry of Mary Molloy and James Molloy to see if they are related to my family. My father, Francis Thomas Malloy (Molloy) was son of Bartholomew Joseph Molloy, grandson of Redmond Molloy and JuliaWalsh.

    By Kathleen Malloy (Molloy) Briggs (21/04/2014)
  • I enjoyed reading some family history. My mother, Mary Molloy Parker, daughter of James Molloy of Oughterard, was a first cousin of your father. We were close to your Aunt Agnes, who lived nearby in the Los Angeles area. Whenever I saw your father, he took great pride in talking about you and your brothers.

    By Edwin James Parker (27/11/2012)
  • I appreciate the addition of the map to help with the presentation of this story. — Tom Mulvoy

    By Tom Mulvoy (12/05/2011)

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