Tom Crean Book – 'Crean – The Extraordinary Life Of An Irish Hero'

Rediscover an Irish Hero

Tom Crean Book – 'Crean – The Extraordinary Life Of An Irish Hero'

Rediscover an Irish Hero

Am I related to Tom Crean? A Genealogical Guide

Tom Crean’s Relations

As referenced to in my book, among the growing numbers of people hungry for more information about Tom Crean, are those seeking to learn whether they may have a family connection to him. Others like myself, are just interested in learning more about Tom Crean regardless of what that information is. Tracing ancestors is a laborious and often confusing task and when writing up the book I concentrated my own efforts upon Tom Crean and his siblings. Through an acquaintance I heard about the work in this area by Dr Jennifer FitzGerald and we corresponded to swap what we had both discovered on Tom Crean’s immediate relatives (his sisters and brothers). Jennifer’s work however goes far beyond my research and I’m delighted to be able to publish it here.

This post, compiled by Jennifer, after extensive research into Crean’s family ancestry, is a comprehensive means of determining a link for those who may be related to him. For those who aren’t, it’s a dedicated study of family documentation that provides a fascinating insight into the origins and the spread of Tom Crean’s family.

Tom Crean’s siblings

Tom Crean’s parents were Patrick H. Crean, b. c. 1843, d. btw. 1917-1924 and Catherine Courtney/Cournane, b. c. 1844, d. 15 Sep. 1924. They married on 29 Jan. 1867 in Annascaul. (Source: NLI Catholic Parish Registers). They had a farm in the townland of Gortacurraun, civil parish of Ballynacourty, near Annascaul on the Dingle Peninsula. They had 11 children:

1. Hugh Crean, b. 7 Nov. 1867, Gortacurraun, d. 24 Mar 1908, Gortacurraun married on 18 Feb. 1896, Johanna Connor, b. 16 Jan. 1871, Derrygorman, Annascaul, d. 31 Mar 1958, Gortacurraun.

Hugh had his own farm at Gortacurraun; he and Johanna had 8 children.

Catherine Crean, b. 23 Dec. 1896

Mary Crean, b. 13 Aug 1898, Gortacurraun, d 20 Jan. 1962, Gortacurraun married on 22 Jan, 1921, Stephen Galvin, b 2 Oct. 1885, Aglish, Lispole, d. 29 Dec. 1958, Gortacurraun; they had at least 4 children. The Galvins were still living in Gortacurraun in the early 2000s.

Johanna Crean, b. 15 June 1900, Gortacurraun, emigrated to the US, arrived New York 12 Jul 1920.

Bridget Crean, b. 6 Oct. 1901, Gortacurraun, d. 7 Aug. 1980, Weymouth, Massachusetts, US, married Michael Mahony, b. 20 May 1897, Glencar, Co. Kerry, d Feb. 1973, Weymouth, Massachusetts, US. They had at least 2 children.

Patrick Crean, b. 10 June 1903, Gortacurraun, d 26 May 1918, Gortacurraun, of heart failure

Ellen Crean, b 23 May 1905; emigrated, arrived Montreal, Canada 12 Jul 1920 to stay with her uncle Martin Crean (1883-1944)

Margaret Gertrude Crean, b 28 Apr 1907, Gortacurraun, d 5 Mar 2005, Weymouth, Massachusetts, US. married 29 Oct. 1934  John A. Chella, b. 6 Aug. 1908, Quincy, Massachusetts, d. 13 Jan. 1993, Weymouth, Massachusetts. They had at least 1child.

Hugh Crean died suddenly of pneumonia on 24 Mar 1908; his wife Johanna continued to run the farm with the help of Crean relatives and her son Patrick, who was designated ‘farmer’ when he died of heart failure at the age of 15. The farm was inherited by Hugh’s daughter, Mary, and her husband Stephen Galvin.

2. Mary Crean, b. 6 Mar. 1869, Gortacurraun. She was living unmarried with her parents in 1911, at the age of 42; her death certificate has not yet been located. In the 1901 Census she is listed working as a servant at the home of Maurice FitzGerald of Drom West, Cloghane, County Kerry. 

3. John Crean, b. 14 June 1870, Gortacurraun. No further information has yet come to light.

4. Cornelius Crean, b. 27 Sep 1871, Gortacurraun, d. 25 Apr 1920, Ballinaspittle, Co. Cork married on 11 Sep. 1906 Annie Stanton, b 8 Nov 1877, Knockglass, Co. Cork, d 22 May 1944, Crosshaven, Co. Cork.

They had 1 son:

William Patrick Crean, b. 31 Au. 1907. d 4 Aug. 1982.

Cornelius, the fourth born of Patrick and Catherine Crean’s children, joined the Royal Irish Constabulary and was stationed, as was the rule, outside of his native county. He was a sergeant leading a three-man patrol when they were ambushed by the Irish Revolutionary Army seeking to intimidate the forces supporting the British government in Ireland. Cornelius and and Constable McGoldrick were killed. 

5. Daniel Crean, b. 15 Mar. 1873, Gortacurraun, d. 3 June 1932, Gortacurraun, married on 3 Feb. 1912 Margaret Curran, b. 1878, Minard East, d. 18 Jan, 1947, Gortacurraun.

They had at least 4 children:

Patrick Crean, b. 4 February 1913, Gortacurraun.

Kathleen Crean, b. 11 June, 1914, Gortacurraun.

Hugh Crean, b. 11 August 1916, Gortacurraun.

Mary Crean, b. 20 June, 1918, Gortacurraun.

Daniel lived with his parents and took over the Gortacurraun farm on his father’s death (sometime between 1917 and 1924).

6. Patrick Crean, b. 24 Mar. 1875, Gortacurraun. No further information has yet come to light.

Thomas Crean - Irish Antarctic Explorer - Tom Crean's Family 7. Thomas Crean, bap. 16 Feb. 1877, Gortacurraun; civil registration: 25 Feb. 1877, d. 27 Jul 1938, Bons Secours Hospital, Cork.

The baptismal record is considered the most relaiable source of a person’s birth and it can be determined that Tom was born on or shortly before 16th February. Catholic babies were baptized as soon as possible after birth, since doctrine dictated that an unbaptized baby would spend eternity in limbo, not heaven. Country dwellers would have to go to town during office hours to register the birth with the civil authorities. This might happen months after the birth and the informant might only guess at the date of birth. In Tom’s case, the child baptized is given the name ‘Johanna’, probably a transcription error from the initial record paper later entered into the formal record. One can see how the ‘J’ could look like ‘T’, the ‘h’ of Thomas pushed to read the ‘h’ of Johanna; in addition, the previous child on the baptismal list was a Johanna. See: married 5 Sep. 1917 Ellen Herlihy, b. 9 May 1891, Ballyvelly, Tralee; d 2 Jan. 1968, Annascaul.

They had 3 daughters:

Mary Crean, b Sep 1918, Annascaul, d 3 June 2018, Camp, Tralee, married March 1936 Robert Joseph O’Brien, b. 1918, d. 8 Jul 1962, Tralee

Catherine Crean, b 1920, Annascaul, d. 6 Dec. 1924 (3-years-old on death certificate), Annascaul

Eileen Crean, b. Dec 1922, Annascaul, d. 30 Nov. 2004, Ballyvelly, Tralee, married Thomas J. O’Brien, b 1919, d. 14 Apr. 1988

8. Michael Crean, bap. 14 Mar. 1879, Gortacurraun. Emigrated, travelling aboard the SS Commonwealth and arriving in Boston on 20 Jun 1901. Commonly believed to have gone to sea and to have gone down with the ship yet no documentary evidence of this has come to light.

9. Johanna (Hannah) Crean, bap. 14 Mar. 1879, Gortacurraun, d. 2 Jun 1943, Glen Minard, Lispole. Married on 22 Feb. 1908 Thomas Devane, b. c.  1874, d. 22 May 1944, Glen Minard, Lispole.

They had at least 7 children:

Michael Devane, b. 17 Dec. 1908, Gortacurraun

Mary Devane, b. 2 Dec. 1909, Glen Minard

Catherine Devane, b. 6 Jun. 1912, Glen Minard

Patrick Devane, b. 27 Nov. 1913, Glen Minard

Maurice Devane, b. 21 Jan. 1915, Glen Minard

Hanna Devane b. 7 July 1917

John Devane  married 27 Feb. 1943 Ellen Moriarty

10. Martin Crean, b. 15 Mar 1883, Gortacurraun, d. 7 Oct. 1944, Ottawa General Hospital, Ottawa, Canada

Martin emigrated to Montreal, Canada aboard RMS Virginian arriving in Quebec on 6 May 1912. In 1922 he was working in Montreal railway station when his niece Catherine Crean (daughter of his brother Hugh) came to stay with him on the first stage of her emigration. He remained single, dying in Ottawa in 1944.

11. Catherine Crean, b 28 Aug 1887, Gortacurraun. Married on 21 Sep. 1915  Daniel Donovan, R.I.C. Constable. Government policy required the R.I.C. to serve outside their county of origin so Daniel was not a Kerryman (father’s home illegible on certificate). If he stayed remained a policeman, the I.R.A. war on the R.I.C. from 1919 to 1922 would have made Daniel’s employment very treacherous. He may also have been posted to another station.

Catherine and Daniel had four daughters:

Mary Donovan, b. 1916
Kathleen Donovan, b. 1921
Veronica Donovan, b. 1925
Theresa Donavan, b. 1927

Tom Crean’s father’s family (grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins)

On their civil marriage certificate, Tom Crean’s father, Patrick H. Crean, resident in Ballynasear (Ballynasare), states that his father is Hugh Crean, farmer of the same place (although the ecclesiastical record gives his residence as Ballynacourty). Ballynasare helps us identify him: several children were born to Hugh Crean and his wife Mary Connell of Ballynasare Beg between 1848 and 1865. Patrick, born c. 1843, is not one of them. Hugh and Mary were not natives of Ballynasare. They married on 23 Feb. 1840 in Keelballylahive near Castlegregory, in the civil parish of Killiney, where their daughter, Mary Crean, was baptized on 24 Apr 1842. There is no baptismal record of Patrick in either Castlegregory or Dingle parishes (the ecclesiastical parish for Ballynasare Beg). He may have been born when his parents lived in Keelballylahive or after they moved.

Hugh Crean’s death certificate in 1893 gives his age as 88, suggesting that he was born c. 1805. Mary Connell died in 1881 at the age of 60, suggesting that she was born in 1821.

Children of Hugh Crean and Mary Connell

1. Mary Crean, baptized 24 April 1842, Keelballylahive, Castlegregory, died 7 Oct. 1865, Gortacurraun, Annascaul. Married on 21 Feb. 1860 James Mannix, b. c. 1834, Analack, near Annascaul; died 15 Nov. 1879, Gortacurraun, Annascaul.

In 1853, at the time of Griffith’s Valuation, James Mannix, or his father, also James, were farming at Ballynasare Lower, next to Ballynasare Beg. By 1862, James Mannix, his wife Mary Crean and their children were farming at Gortacurraun, also next door to Ballynasare Beg.

Mary Crean and James Mannix had three children:

Mary Mannix, b. c. 1861, d 20 Dec. 1879

Ellen Mannix, bap. 28 Sep. 1862

Thomas Mannix, b. 2 Oct. 1865,

Mary Crean died on 7 Oct. 1865 of puerperal fever after the birth of her son Thomas. James Mannix married again, on 2 Mar. 1867, Johanna Murphy (1848-1928) by whom he had 7 more children (biologically unrelated to the Creans, but half-siblings of Hugh’s grandchildren). James died of typhoid fever on 15 Nov. 1879, passing on the infection to his daughter Mary Mannix, who died on 20 Dec. 1879.

2. Patrick H. Crean, b. c. 1843, d. btw. 1917-1924, married 29 Jan. 1867 Catherine Courtney/Cournane, b. c. 1844, d. 15 Sep. 1924. They had a farm in the townland of Gortacurraun, civil parish of Minard, near Annascaul on the Dingle Peninsula. They had 11 children (see ‘Tom Crean’s siblings’)

3. John Crean, bap. 26 Oct. 1848, Ballynasare Beg. No further information has yet come to light.

4. Cornelius Crean, bap. 17 Mar 1851 Ballynasare Beg, d. 21 Feb. 1910, Ballynasare Beg, married on 20 Feb. 1881 Bridget Dowd, b. c. 1856, Kilmore, Castlegregory, d. 23 Feb. 1928, Annascaul.

Cornelius took over his father’s farm in Ballynasare Beg. He and Bridget had at least 5 children:

Mary Crean, b. 18 May 1882, Ballynasare Beg. She may have emigrated to the US between 1904 and 1910to work as a domestic.

Ellen Crean, b 21 Jan. 1884, Ballynasare Beg, married on 21 June 1913 Eugene Courtney, b 29 Aug. 1880, Ballynacourty, d. 4 Apr 1949, Annascaul.

Eugene was a butcher in Annascaul. He and Ellen had at least one child.

Hugh Crean, b 22 May 1885, Ballynasare Beg, d. 30 Dec. 1921, Ballineetig, Dingle, married on 13 Feb. 1912 Catherine O’Donnell.

Hugh took over the Ballynasare Beg farm, originally farmed by his grandfather Hugh. He was knocked down by a train and killed at the age of 35. His widow kept the farm on.

Hugh and Catherine had at least 4 children born in Ballynasare Beg.

5. Hugh Crean, bap. 14 Apr. 1853, Ballynasare Beg, d aft. 1911, Commons of Milltown, Dingle, married 19 Feb. 1889 Mary Begley, b. 14 Jan. 1869, Ballynasare Beg, d ?6 June 1942, Dingle Hospital

Hugh was living in Ballynasare Beg when he married. He acquired a farm in Commons of Milltown, near Dingle town, which originally belonged to the Curran family. They transferred ownership to him when the last of the Currans emigrated to Boston c. 1892.

Hugh and Mary had no children.

6. Johanna Crean, bap. 29 Apr 1855, Ballynasare Beg, d. 30 Oct. 1945, Gortacurraun, married on 31 Jan. 1874 Maurice Curran, Gortacurraun, d. 1888, had 7 children, 5 emigrated to Holyoke, Massachusetts. 

Patrick Curran, b 5 Mar 1875, Gortacurraun, d. 19 Mar 1949, Holyoke, did not marry.

Jeremiah (Jerry) Curran, b 3 Jan. 1877, Gortacurraun, d. 17 Jul 1946, Gortacurraun married on 28 Jan 1913 Mary Fitzgerald, Minard West, had two children, Maurice b. 28 Mar 1915 (did not marry) and Johanna (Josephine) b. 3 Oct 1919.  Jerry took over his father’s Gortacurraun farm.

Catherine (Kate) Curran, b 10 Feb. 1879, Gortacurraun, d 9 Feb 1955, Holyoke, Massachusetts, was the first to leave, lodging with her aunt Margaret (Crean) Curran in 1900 Holyoke census, did not marry.

Cornelius Curran, b 9 Jun 1881, Gortacurraun, d. 2 Mar 1955, Tralee, married on 24 Feb 1914 Bridget Kennedy, had 6 children in Gortacurraun, Mary b. 11 Mar 1915, Maurice b. 30 Mar 1916, Hannie b. 31 Mar 1917, David b. 29 Sep 1918 (died very young), Jeremiah b. 9 Jan 1920 and Patrick b. 2 May 1922, (did not marry). Cornelius recorded his occupation as labourer until 1917, when he is recorded as a farmer at Gortacurraun.

Mary (Mae) Curran, b 27 Jun 1883, Gortacurraun emigrated to the US, married on 1 Jun 1910 in Holyoke, Massachusetts Benjamin Brooksbank, b 12 Mar 1883, Yorkshire, England, d 12 Mar 1942, Holyoke, Massachusetts, 6 children in Massachusetts, Charles b. 13 Oct 1911 (did not marry), John b. 1 Jul 1913, Helen b. 15 Oct 1915, Dorothy b. 6 Oct 1917, Thomas b. 12 May 1920 (did not marry) and Benjamin b. 10 Jan 1923.  Mary d. 16 Mar 1964.

John Curran, b 27 Jun 1883, Gortacurraun, d 31 Oct 1954, Holyoke, Massachusetts, emigrated to the US in 1910 or 1912, lodging with his sister Mary and her family in 1920 Holyoke census. He did not marry.

Margaret Curran b 25 Feb.1888 Gortacurraun, d 30 Sep 1947 Holyoke, Massachusetts, emigrated in 1908, lodging with her sister Mary and her family in 1920 Holyoke census.  She entered a convent in Holyoke as Sr Bernardus.

7. Ellen Crean, b. c. 1858, Ballynasare Beg, d 10 May 1883, Ballybog, Minard, Dingle, Co. Kerry, married on 27 Jan. 1883 Michael Currane b c. 185, Caherard, Kildrum, Dingle, Co. Kerry

Ellen died of typhus 3 ½ months after her wedding, in the presence of her brother Cornelius. Two years later husband, Michael Currane, married Catherine Aherne, by whom he had at least 3 children.

8. Margaret Crean, bap 13 June 1860, Ballynasare Beg,  emigrated to the US in 1892, married on 30 Aug 1896 in Holyoke, Massachussetts Patrick Curran, b. 8 Mar 1863, Lismakealwee, Cloghane, near Castlegregory, Co; Kerry; d 14 Feb. 1908, Holyoke.

No children have so far been traced.

9. Catherine Crean, b. 7 Feb. 1863, Ballynasare Beg, d. 10 Apr 1933, Reask, Smerwick Harbour, Dingle Peninsula married on 4 Feb. 1883 John Lynch, b c 1860 Ballinranning, Dingle peninsula, d 7 Jun 1914, Reask, Smerwick Harbour, John Lynch was a farmer, publican and district councillor. They had at least 11 children:

Mary Lynch, b 21 Jun 1884, Ballybog, Minard; d 3 June 1948, Lateeve Beg, Smerwick Harbour married on 10 Feb. 1904.  John Moran, b 3 Jul 1881, Lateeve Beg, d 13 Apr 1958, Dingle Hospital. They had at least 6 children in Lateeve Beg:

Catherine Lynch, b 15 Aug 1886, Ballybog, Minard married on 28 Jan 1913 Thomas Brosnan, b. 5 Jan.  1880, Lateeve Beg, Smerwick Harbour,

They had at least 2 children in Lateeve Beg.

Patrick Lynch, b 17 Mar 1889, Ballinrannig, Smerwick Harbour,  married on 18 Feb. 1912 Ellen Connor, b 20 May 1891, Glynns, Dingle

At the time of his marriage, Patrick was a tailor, eventually living with his family in Dingle. Patrick and Ellen had at least 4 children in Ventry and Dingle.

Timothy (Tadhg) Lynch, b 24 Oct. 1891, Ballinrannig, Smerwick Harbour, d 24 Sep 1962, Dingle District Hospital m 24 Jan. 1923  Mary Moriarty

No information on any children; Kerry birth records post 1919 so far unavailable.

John Paul Lynch, b 24 Oct. 1891, Ballinrannig, Smerwick Harbour, married 14 Feb. 1925 Hanna Murphy, b 14 Nov. 1892, Rahinanne, Ventry, Co. Kerry.

In 1911, John Paul was living with his uncle Hugh Crean at Commons of Milltown, Dingle, probably attending the Christian Brothers secondary school in Dingle. He became a National School Teacher.

No information on any children; Kerry birth records post 1919 so far unavailable.

Norah Lynch, b 26 Nov. 1895, Ballinrannig, Smerwick Harbour

Peter Lynch, b 22 Mar. 1898, Ballinrannig, Smerwick Harbour married on 8 Feb. 1922 Mary Manning, b 20 Feb. 1899, Lateeve Beg, Smerwick Harbour

No information on any children; Kerry birth records post 1919 so far unavailable.

Thomas Lynch, b 7 Oct. 1900, Ballinrannig, Smerwick Harbour

Ellen (Ellie) Lynch, b 26 Feb. 1903, Ballinrannig, Smerwick Harbour

Hanna Lynch, b c 1906. either Ballinrannig or Reask, Smerwick Harbour

Marcus Lynch, b c 1908, either Ballinrannig or Reask, Smerwick Harbour

10. Bridget Crean, b. 17 Feb. 1865, Ballynasare Beg, d 15 Oct. 1865, Ballynasare Beg; cause of death: croup, 1 day.

Tom Crean’s mother’s family

Tom’s mother, Catherine Cournane or Courney or Courtney, was born around 1839.  Her death certificate identifies her as a widow aged 85 when she died on 15 Sept. 1924; the 1901 and 1911 censuses suggest she was born around 1839-1844. The ecclesiastical marriage record gives her pre-marriage residence as Ballynacourty (this could be a mistake, since the civil certificate gives Ballynacourty as her husband’s residence), a reference either to the townland of Ballynacourty (which adjoins Gortacurraun) or the civil parish of Ballynacourty, which contains 11 townlands.

Ballynacourty lies in the ecclesiastical parish of Annascaul which holds no baptismal records for the period 19 Mar. 1839 and 2 Oct. 1851. Catherine is likely to have been born and baptized between those dates.

Her civil marriage certificate names her father as John Courney, farmer; one of the witnesses is Edmund Cournane (on the ecclesiastical certificate the witness’s name is Edward Courtney; there is no father’s name).

At first glance, the most likely candidate is Catherine Cournane of Coumduff (in Ballynacourty civil parish), daughter of John Cournane and Ellen Kennedy. But this Catherine Cournane was baptized on 24 May 1856, making her 10 years old on 29 Jan. 1867, when, according to their civil marriage certificate, Patrick Crean and Catherine Courney were both of ‘full age’, that is, 21 years old. Investigating the possibility that the father’s name was mistakenly switched with the witness’s, there is also an Edmund Cournane of Coumduff, who married Mary Cournane; their daughter Catherine Cournane of of Coumduff was baptized on 9 Feb 1854, and therefore not yet 13 on 29th Jan. 1867. This Catherine is the elder sister of Hanoria Courtney who married Timothy D Foley of Shanahill in 1896 at Annascaul (He is the grandfather of Tim Foley)

Other Cournanes with children baptized in Annascaul parish before 1839 or after 1851:

John Cournane of the civil parish of Kilgobbin (on the northern coast of the Dingle peninsula, east of Castlegregory) married Gobnet/ Deborah Griffin on 18 Feb. 1835; their daughter Ann, born in Garrihies, Kilgobbin, was baptized on 28 Jul 1837.

John Cournane married Mary Sheehan; (some of) their children were born and baptized in Logher/Lougher in 1852-3 (halfway between Annascaul and Camp). John is probably too young to be the father of Tom Crean’s mother; when he died on 17 Oct. 1892, aged 70, his daughter Kate Courtney (not Kate Crean) was present.

There is no baptismal record of a likely Catherine Cournane in Dingle or Ballyferriter ecclesiastical parishes. The Castlegregory records show:

John Cournane and Catherine Hickson have a daughter, Catherine Cournane of Farrentuleen (just west of Castlegregory), baptized on 5 July 1835. She may be the Catherine Cournane who married Denis Cronin of Keelballylahive on 1 Dec. 1860.

John Cournane married Margaret Sullivan in 1831; their daughter Catherine of Maherabeg (on the Maharees Peninsula, northwest of Castlegregory) was baptized on 3 Nov. 1840. She may well be the Catherine Cournane who married Thomas Quirk of Maharabeg on 1 Mar 1862 (with Johanna Cournane as a witness; this Catherine had a sister Johanna born in 1838).

Cornelius Cournane and Mary Flaherty of Castlegregory baptized their daughter Catherine on 18 Nov 1839, with Daniel Cournane Catherine McCarthy as sponsors

Edmund Cournane married Catherine Greany on 9 Feb 1833; their children were born in Garrihies and Ballyknockane (on the northern side of the peninsula, near Camp).

There is no evidence to suggest that any of these Catherines was Tom Crean’s mother; so far Catherine Cournane’s family has not been traced.

Other relatives of Hugh Crean (and thus Tom Crean)

In Keelballylahive

Hugh Crean and Mary Connelly were married, and lived in, Keelballylahive near Castlegregory, where records begin in 1829. We do not have their baptismal records with information as to their parents. However, family lore indicates that Jeremiah Crean (1821-1891) of Keelballylahive, was Hugh’s brother. After Hugh left for Ballynasare Beg, Jeremiah continued farming in Keelballylahive, succeeded by his son John Crean (1854-1925) and later generations. The Keelballylahive land is farmed today by Jeremiah’s great-great-grandson.

Jeremiah’s eldest son, Patrick (1852-1924), moved south as his uncle Hugh had done, becoming a shoemaker in Annascaul. Patrick’s son, Diarmuid Crean (1886-1954) of Annascaul, was close to his second cousin, Tom Crean. They spent a great deal of time together in Annascaul after Tom retired from the Royal Navy and after Diarmuid was fired from his Royal Mail post in East Africa, as a result of his presumed role in Roger Casement’s arms shipment to Tralee Bay during the 1916 Rising. After independence, Diarmuid was employed in the court service in Tralee; Tom always met up with him whenever he went to Tralee. It was Tom who introduced Diarmuid, a widower, to the family of his second wife, acting therefore as matchmaker. Tom may have performed the same service for Diarmuid’s sister Mollie. Mollie married naval pensioner John Evans from Minard (a couple of miles west of Gortacurraun) who enlisted in the Navy two months after Tom and, like Tom, at Minard coastguard station. It is more than likely that these two boys, of the same age, from the same locality and serving on the same training ship in England, became friends, a friendship which continued when both retired home.

Further indications of the ongoing relationships between the Keelballylahive and Ballynasare/Gortacurraun Creans is the fact that the 1901 census shows Tom’s eldest sister, Mary (b. 1869), working as a servant on the FitzGerald farm in Drom West, beside Cloghane, the next town to Castlegregory. She may well have found this employment through the Keelballylahive family’s contacts. Years later, in 1921 when Tom’s first cousin, Hugh Crean of Ballynasare, was killed by a train, the Keelballylahive family were deeply concerned for his young children; Diarmuid Crean of Annascaul seems to have named his youngest son after this cousin. On Tom Crean’s unexpected death, Diarmuid’s brother travelled from his post as a teacher Co. Wexford to attend the funeral.

There were other Creans living near Keelballylahive who could be siblings or cousins of Hugh and Jeremiah Crean; the names of marriage witnesses and baptismal sponsors overlap with those of  Jeremiah’s family and other nearby Creans. The present-day Creans of Keelballylahive report a family story that one of the Creans married a Coffee. This might be Catherine Crean who married John Coffee of Glanlough (Glanlough West borders Keelballylahive; Glanlough South and North are one townland over) on 20 Apr 1836. Mary Crean married Michael Moore, with children born in Glanlough between 1829 and 1845; John Crean married Margaret Moriarty with children born in Glanlough between 1832 and 1848; Johanna Crean married Michael Hannafin of Shantalliv (bordering Keelballylahive), with children born in the 1840s; Margaret Crean married John Connell, with a child born in Keelballylahive in 1838. Another Margaret Crean (1803-1884) married Daniel Shea and had children in Keelballylahive. Also living in or near Keelballylahive/Shantalliv was Jeremiah Crean who married Johanna Murnane, Julia Crean who married John Real, Michael Crean who married Honora Real. The names recorded as marriage witnesses or baptismal sponsors for these families connect them to each other, and to Hugh Crean’s presumed brother Jeremiah Crean (1821-1891) in Keelballylahive.

There are generations of Creans at Aughacasla on Tralee Bay, within a couple of miles of Keelballylahive, including Hugh Crean (1786-1874) who married Mary Custello/Costello and their children; Mary Crean who married Maurice Harrington; Martin Crean who married Margaret Scannell. There are more generations of Creans on Maharees peninsula, just west of Castlegregory which may include relatives of Hugh Crean.

In Ballynasare and Banogue

There were Creans in Ballynasare before Hugh arrived in the mid-late 1840s: Ellen Crean, married to John McKenna, lived in Ballynasare from at least 1839. There were other Creans in Banogue, just north of Ballynasare Beg. A Thomas Crean leased land in both Banogue South and Banogue North. He may well have been born in Banogue (as the baptismal record of ‘Banagin’ suggests), baptized on 6 Dec. 1827, son of John Crean and Joanna Minihin. His godmother was Ellen Crean – perhaps the same Ellen Crean who married John McKenna.

There is no way to know if these Ballynasare and Banogue Creans were relatives of Hugh of Keelballylahive but if they were, it might explain Hugh Crean’s decision to move south.

Relatives of Mary Connell (and thus Tom Crean)

We have no record of the baptism and parents of Hugh Crean’s wife Mary Connell. But we can surmise some relationships through the names of witnesses and godparents at Connell weddings and baptisms in the Keelballylahive area.

The witnesses at Mary Connell’s marriage to Hugh Crean of Keelballhylahive on 23 Feb 1840 were Maurice Connell and Michael Moore. A Michael Moore married a Mary Crean before 1829; the surviving records show children born in Glanlough (bordering Keelballylahive) from 1829 to 1845 – possibly a sister of Hugh Crean? Thus one witness at the wedding of Hugh Crean and Mary Connell could be Hugh’s brother-in-law Michael Moore. The other witness is Maurice Connell, possibly Mary Connell’s brother.

Mary Connell’s siblings

Maurice Connell married Mary Murphy; they lived in Keelballylahive c 1836-1838 and nearby before and after. The godmother of Maurice’s daughter Honora Connell, b 21 Nov 1836 in Keelballylahive, was Mary Herlihy, the mother of Catherine McCarthy, wife of Jeremiah Crean, Hugh Crean’s assumed brother. The godparents of Maurice’s daughter, Catherine Connell, are Julia Crean and her husband John Real of Illauncaum, c 2-3 miles from Keelballylahive. Julia may be an aunt of Hugh and Jeremiah Crean.

John Connell married Margaret Crean, who might be Hugh’s sister. The godfather of John and Margaret’s daughter, Johanna Connell, born in Keelballylahive in 1839, was Eugene McCarthy, the father of Catherine McCarthy, wife of Jeremiah Crean and husband of Mary Herlihy, godmother of Maurice Connell’s daughter Honora in 1836 (see above).

Catherine Connell who married Patrick Deen of Kilballylahiff on 8 Feb. 1849, could be Mary Connell’s sister. One of the witnesses was John Connell (presumably the John Connell who married Margaret Crean). Jeremiah Crean of Keelballylahive, whom we assume to be Hugh’s brother, married Catherine McCarthy, just 12 days later.

Elizabeth Connell married John Quin of Illaunaum (a couple of miles west of Keelballylahive) on 19 Jan 1844. Their witnesses were Thomas Quin and Maurice Connell. We may speculate that Elizabeth, as well as Maurice, was Mary’s sibling (or cousin?).

My thanks to Jennifer for compiling this great piece of work on Tom Crean’s family. I’m sure it will prove invaluable for people seeking more information on their family roots and if you do discover you are related to Tom Crean through any of his family then let us know in the comments section.

Compilation of the Civil records for births is a continuing task and at the time of writing this post, births registered up to 1918 are included in the online records. Because of this any family births registered after 1918 are not incorporated and only descendants familiar with their own family history can assist in filling in any missing information.

To discover and investigate your own ancestry I recommend three excellent online resources and they are:

Irish Genealogy – Both Church and Civil records for Births, (1864 to 1918), Marriages (1864 to 1943) and Deaths (1878 to 1968)  (All periods shown are those available at the time of writing this post)

National Library of Ireland – Catholic Parish Registers. Deciphering information from the ledgers written up by a parish can be difficult and depends in the main, on the legibility of the writing style of the person who entered the information. Nevertheless it remains a valuable source for births, deaths and marriages across Ireland.

Irish Census –  Includes the 1901/1911 Census along with fragments and substitutes of the Censuses between 1821-51

Discover Tom Crean’s Story Revealed As Never Before

Tom Crean's biography - A book review to revel in. Tom Crean BookTo learn more about this incredible man I’ve written a fully-referenced account that in March 2021 gave rise to substantial revisions to Crean’s story in the Dictionary of Irish Biography.

The book addresses a number of inaccuracies previously written about him and it reveals his incredible life with events and new stories that have never before been published.

All formats of the third edition of the biography ‘Crean – The Extraordinary Life of an Irish Hero’, including a hardcover version and an audiobook, are available via all major online retailers

Tom Crean's biography - A book review to revel in. Tom Crean BookFor children, aged 6-10 years-old, it was important for me to chronicle Tom Crean’s story for the younger generation. The book ‘Tom The Mighty Explorer’, is based on the research I undertook for the grown-ups biography. Like the adult version, it’s generating excellent reviews from those who’ve read the print version or who have listened to the audiobook. Available via all major online booksellers, you can discover more about where to order the books here.

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