History Sought On Edmonds/Leahy Families

Dear Editor,

Dear Editor,

Are your readers all sitting comfortably? As the descendant of five Irish emigrants of the nineteenth century I hope that present Tipperary and Limerick residents will spend a few minutes to consider whether they can enlighten me on the history of my great-grandfather, John Edmonds.

John was born in the townland of Camea in the civil parish of Kilfeacle, east of Tipperary Town, evidently in 1841. He was baptised in the Catholic parish of Golden on 15 November 1841. No more is known of his life in Ireland except for vague references to two possible facts: that he was brought up by people who were not his own parents, and that his “parents” were comfortably off and could afford to hire a tutor for John. He emigrated to Australia in 1865 and came on to New Zealand in 1866. His New Zealand death certificate of 1927 states, wrongly, that he was born in Co. Limerick. That information was probably supplied by the daughter with whom he was living at the time of his death, which suggests to me that he used to tell her stories of a childhood in Limerick, leading her to assume that that was his birthplace.

Thus we may imagine a baby being fostered by a moderately prosperous couple in Limerick and growing up there, but that may not be true at all. What I am trying to learn are the circumstances of John’s life as a child and young man, whether in Tipperary or Limerick, before he emigrated. Among your readers there may be unknown distant relatives of myself who can join up some links for me, and thus I now set out some facts to try to establish any such family connections. The data on baptisms and marriage were provided by the very helpful Tipperary Family History Research office when I visited there in 2004.

John’s parents were John and Mary Edmonds. Mary’s maiden name was Leahy. Their wedding was on 16 February 1836 in Tipperary parish. The younger John had at least six siblings, all of whom were baptised in the parish of Golden and all had their address shown as Kilfeacle, not Camea. The names and dates of baptism were:

Sarah 22-1-37 William 26-5-38 Catherine 9-2-40 Mary 29-8-43 Honora 5-7-45 Michael 7-4-52

A number of persons named Edmonds and Leahy ( spelt Lahy) were among the baptismal sponsors.

The census records for 1901 show just one Edmonds household in Kilfeacle. It was headed by William, a blind farmer aged 56. The age suggests that he was not the William listed as John’s brother, but he may have been a cousin or, just possibly, a baby named for a brother who had died. Blind William’s wife was Mary, aged 52, and their four children in the house were Michael, Bridget, John and William, aged from 13 to 19. Ten years later only Mary, John and the son William were in the home. The record states that Mary had had eight children but that only three were alive in 1911.

Allow me to end with a possibly irrelevant anecdote. In 1870, in New Zealand, my great-grandfather John Edmonds married Honora Melican from Co. Clare. She died in 1881 and John married a Mrs. Mary Tobin. They had no offspring together. Mary had been born a Fogarty, somewhere in Ireland, and when I was a boy my grandmother kept in touch with her Fogarty step-cousins in Australia. In 2004 I met a Mr. Fogarty in the Kilfeacle graveyard but forgot to mention my connection with the name. If Mr. Fogarty is reading this I send my greetings.

If anyone can send me any information on my Edmonds/ Leahy interests I shall be very grateful. My addresses are:

8 Norman Bensemann Place,

Takaka 7110,

New Zealand.



Yours sincerely,

Robert Kennedy