Michael O’Reilly: Staying on Track with the ‘Other O’Reillys’

Are they related?


While researching John and Ellen O’Reilly’s family I kept coming across the family of Michael and Margaret O’Reilly, intertwined one with the another. O’Reilly is a common Irish name but I still wondered if they were related. I first encountered the ‘Other O’Reilly’s’ when I had trouble finding Mary Ellen O’Reilly’s birth in 1888. At this early stage, my dilemma was to ascertain the right parents for Mary Ellen O’Reilly, as there was only one entry for 1888 in the NSW BDM’s births index. After purchasing John and Michael’s death certificates I was able to verify the correct parents. I eventually found John’s daughter, Mary in 1888 as Mary Ellen Rielly.

Once again, while investigating the O’Reilly’s at Rookwood Cemetery, I discovered Michael & Margaret O’Reilly’s grave. It still had a headstone with an inscription that included Michael was from County Kerry. The two families were both on the inscriptions database for Rookwood Cemetery when I tried to identify the children who were unnamed in the family photo or who had died earlier than John. John O’Reilly’s death certificate from 1907 showed he too was born in County Kerry, Ireland but with parents, John O’Reilly and Bridget Costello. As yet, I have no idea who Michael O’Reilly’s parents were. The inscription reads:


In Loving Memory of
My Dear Husband and Our Dear Father
Michael O’Reilly
Died 11 Oct 1911, aged 50 years
Native of Co. Kerry, Ireland
May the Sacred Heart of Jesus have Mercy on his Soul
Also Margaret O’Reilly
Wife of above
Died 1st April, 1937, aged 79 years
Also Josephine O’Reilly
Niece of above, Died ?Dec 1920, Aged ?months.

After checking the certificates, NSW BDM’s index, Rookwood deceased searches and grave inscriptions I guestimated that Michael O’Reilly had married Margaret Sweeney at Sydney in 1883 and probably had the following eight children who had Michael and Margaret listed as parents in the NSW BDM’s and appeared to match those on the death certificates. Josephine appears to be their granddaughter not their niece.

Michael O’Reilly born Ireland c. 1861 died 1911. Buried at Rookwood with wife.
Margaret Sweeney born Ireland c.1860 died 1937.

Joseph John/John Joseph born 1884 died 1887. Buried at Rookwood.
Michael J/Michael Ernest born 1885 died 1959.
Denis born 1887 and died 1963. Buried at Rookwood with wife Maud.
Mary Ellen born 1888. Married? Died?
Lilly M/Margaret L born 1890 died 1890. Buried at Rookwood with John Joseph.
William born 1891 died 1966?
Gracie/Grace A. born 1893. Married?.
Patrick F V/Vincent Francis born 1897 died 1964.

The Sydney Morning Herald from October 16, 1911 had four Funeral Notices for Michael O’Reilly, this was great as it gave us at least two sisters for his wife, Margaret. It was incredibly hard to find on Trove as it was total jibberish, as you can see. Fortunately, this is where the Ryerson Index really helps. Family history teaches us a lot of patience!


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18 thoughts on “Michael O’Reilly: Staying on Track with the ‘Other O’Reillys’

  1. Dear John F. O’Reilly,
    This is a bit of a long shot, but when investigating a family tree, you never know….

    Anyway, I have recently found that two of my great, great grandparents may have been a John Reilly of Ballykissane, near Killorglin, Co. Kerry and Bridget Costello. Their marriage was celebrated in Killorglin Catholic Church in 1848, and they had a child, Julia Reilly in 1850. This is where the records stop.

    Now, owing to gaps in the Killorglin Church records (basically, anything relating to the 1850s seems to be missing, and the 1860s are patchy – why, I don’t know. It could be fire, flood, rampant church mice, or the incumbent parish priest’s rapacious relatives carrying the registers off as part of his personal estate after he died.) I cannot show that John and Peter are indeed the children of John Reilly and Bridget Costello, but my grandfather maintained that those were his grandparent’s names, and my mother backs this up as her grandmother often spoke of her mother-in-law (not always kindly, but still…) as Bridget Costello, related to a family of Costello’s in the village.

    The thing is, when researching these marriages and births through the Church records on the irishgenealogy.ie website, the only marriage in 19th Century Kerry that it has between a Catholic John Reilly and a Catholic Bridget Costello is this one in 1848. There do not seem to be any Church of Ireland Reilly – Costello marriages in 19th Century Kerry either. And, of course, this is too early for civil records in Ireland.

    Now, I can find Bridget on the 1901 Irish Census, living with her son Patrick and his family, whilst my great grandfather, Peter and his family lived next door, all of them about five miles away from Ballykissane, but still in the parish. As to the rest of their children, Julia is in the records somewhere, I hope, and when the Irish Government grant access to the civil records indices again later this year, maybe I’ll be able to winkle out some others.

    Best Regards,

    Mike Griffin, London, England

    1. Hi Michael. Thanks for the info, it’s a tangled web we weave half way across the planet but as you say the more records come online the more chance we have. In case it helps, I have since received John Reilly & Ellen Sullivan’s 11 Feb 1877 marriage certificate at Killorglin RC Church. John was 24 yrs old (c.1853?) & from Cromane. His father was named as Cottier, John Reilly but it doesn’t name Bridget Costello. However, she is on his NSW death certificate.ET

      1. Hello again ET,
        That’s interesting, as I’ve just looked at the Church records on irishgenealogy.ie for John and Ellen’s marriage, and it’s not there. Is that a civil certificate, as RC marriages were included in civil records after 1864?
        Best Regards,
        Mike Griffin

      2. Civil Registration. Killorglin, Killarney, Co. Kerry 12 March 1877, Reg No. 1855175. Ellen Sullivan was aged 20 & from Lonart. Her father was Jeremiah Sullivan, a farmer.

  2. Hi ET,
    Cromane, Lonart and Killorglin are all in the right zone for my Reilly ancestors, but once again, the digitised Church records don’t have anything of use. Only one record in the 1850s even mentions Lonhart / Lonart / Lonert, and that’s a baptism of a Shea boy. 1857 has two Sullivan baptisms, but not Ellen’s.

    As I say, later on this year, the microfilm Church records held by the National Library of Ireland are to be digitised and released. Another blogger, Kay Caball of My Kerry Ancestors, has a page with some pictures of the microfilms. The quality of what’s available depends on the state of the written originals, and also on the way that the filming was conducted. Some are more legible than others, but however legible they are, ALL the records are in Church Latin. I foresee a boom in sales of “Kennedy’s Latin Primer”!


  3. Hi ET,
    I’ve had a look into the RC births in Kerry for a Michael Reilly born ca 1860. There are two born in the diocese in 1860.

    1. Michael son of James Reilly and Catherine Brennan, born in the townland of Knocknaboola on 15 February 1860, and baptised 16 February 1860 in Killorglin Church.

    2. Michael son of Patrick Reilly and Julia Foley, born in the townland of Ohermong and baptised the same day, 21 December 1860, at Caherciveen.

    It’s possible that there may be others. The records are spotty at best. Knocknaboola is a couple of miles south and west of Killorglin, and maybe a mile east of Caragh Lake. It’s not impossible that he would be related to your John O’Reilly and my family of Reillys, but this is pure conjecture at this point.


    Mike Griffin

  4. Hi ET,
    Yesterday, the indexes to the Irish BMD records on the portal irishgenealogy.ie became available again. They were released last year in July, but withdrawn after two or three days when it became apparent that birth and marriage details for people born or married in 2013 were visible. The Irish Data Protection Commissioner blew a fuse and ordered the portal closed.

    You can now see civil birth records from 100+ years ago, marriages from 75+ years ago, and deaths from 50+ years ago are available in theory, but the latest births, marriages and deaths appear to stop at 101, 76 and 51 years ago at the moment.

    Mike Griffin

  5. Hello again ET,
    The digitised microfilmed Catholic Parish Registers are now available on the National Library of Ireland website, but there are no records for Killorglin RC parish, because they were never microfilmed – bad news.

    Meanwhile, Jack’s wife Catherine Maud O’Reilly’s student file has been found by the Royal College of Art in Kensington covering her time there, April 28th 1925 to 17th July 1925 – good news. I may be in touch again soon.

    Mike Griffin

    1. Mrs Catherine Maud O’Reilly, aged 39, departed the UK aboard the SS BARRABOOL on August 5th, 1926. Profession “Artist”!

      Last UK Address is given as 9 Camden Avenue, Peckham, London SE15. (The address may have been Camden Grove, and may have been hit during the London Blitz in 1940/41.)

      On arrival, she said she was staying at “The Glade”, Branch Hill, Hampstead Heath, London NW3. Other single Australian nurses also gave that address on the inbound passenger register, so it may have been a boarding house.

      During her studies, her registered address was 16 Nevern Road, Kensington, London SW5, about a mile away from the College.

      By the way, during this trip in 1926, there is no sign of John Reilly being in the UK.

      However in 1937, they came over as a couple, and gave their intended address as “Avon House, High Street, YARK, Yorkshire”. In fact, this turns out to be (today) Nos 1-7 Blen Avon Cottages, High Street, YARM, Yorkshire. Her mother’s family came from Stockton, just the other side of the River Tees from Yarm.

      1. Just checked Maud’s family and realised that the nurse who also gave “The Glade” in Hampstead as her intended address was Mary Hurley – Maud’s half sister.

        Mary Josephine Hurley was still in Hampstead / Finchley area in 1929, and there was a woman with the same name staying as a staff member at the Regent Palace Hotel up to 1951. Not sure if they are the same person, though, as other researchers have her returning to Australia, then, in 1934, emigrating to the USA, and naturalising there in 1940.


  6. Hi,
    Catherine Maud Wormersley was the daughter of George B B Wormersley and Mary Elizabeth Harrison. After George’s death in 1887, Mary married Bernard Patrick Hurley, and had a further six children by him between 1888 and 1894, including Mary Josephine Hurley, and Francis James Hurley, who, despite the name being very similar is NOT the Antarctic photographer.

    Wikipedia says that James Francis (Frank) Hurley’s parents were an Edward and Margaret Hurley – which just means that the celebrated photographer MIGHT be a cousin of Mary Josephine and Francis James.

    I see that Frank Hurley was on Shackleton’s 1914 expedition. So too was Tom Crean, a Kerryman from Anascaul. There is a campaign running to get the Irish government to recognise Tom Crean’s exploits on that expedition, and there have been hints, that as Crean was a Royal Navy seaman, one of the Irish Navy’s ships may be named for him.

  7. Hello again,
    I’ve had a closer look at Mary Josephine Hurley, and a timeline has emerged which has thrown up some possible additional relations of hers and (maybe) Maud’s (and possibly, even Maud’s husband John’s).
    So, on March 14, 1925, Mary and Maud arrived in Southampton, England aboard the SS Hobsons Bay. Maud was to take her ceramics course at the Royal College of Art in Kensington. The course ran from 28 April to 17 July 1925, and Maud went back to Australia on August 5th on the SS Barraboola.
    Mary stayed on, probably working as a nurse in the Hampstead area, because on the first ever electoral register to feature ALL women over the age of 21, in 1929, she is registered at 3 FELLOWS ROAD, CAMDEN.
    However, on 14 June 1930, she left England for New York aboard the SS CALGARIC, giving her address at Fellows Road. On her US arrival form on June 24 1930, she stated that her nearest relation in England was a cousin, MISS MARY LODGE of FLAT 6, 71 HOLLAND PARK, LONDON. She also stated that she was going to stay with her aunt, MRS MARY O’REILLY, of 1920 SOUTH CENTRAL PARK AVENUE, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.

    (I am not aware of having any relations in Chicago, but I would not be surprised to find I do! If so, she may be the wife of an uncle to John Francis Benedict O’Reilly and my grandfather.)

    Mary says on her statement that she does not want to stay more than 6 months, and that she will return whence she came, and that she does not want to become a US citizen.

    Roll forward to 3 December 1934. Mary is re entering the USA after a visit to Melbourne, Australia, which she left on 10 November 1934, sailing on the SS MARIPOSA. She had stayed in the US between June 1930 and January 1934, presumably returning to Australia then.

    Her US arrival record now shows that she has an immigrant visa (QIV13) issued by the US Consulate in Melbourne on 23 OCTOBER 1934. She now wants to stay permanently in the US and to become a citizen.

    Her nearest relation is given as her sister MAUD O’REILLY of 6 CHAMO(R)UNI STREET, MELBOURNE, and she is going to stay with a (FR- friend?) MRS NEVA LUMLEY of 302 JUDD STREET, WOODSTOCK, ILLINOIS.

    Mrs Lumley’s husband VINCENT S. LUMLEY, a prominent local lawyer, and their daughters also stay at this address. I suspect that Mary is going to work there.

    On November 1942, Mary became a naturalised US citizen, giving her address as 676 IRVING PARK ROAD, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.

    She lived to about 1972, so about 84 years.

    I hope that this is useful to you, or possibly the Wormersleys.


  8. Hallo again,
    Some further digging in the archives ahs revealed some further information about Mary Hurley and Maude O’Reilly.

    Mary was, from 1942 on, a US citizen, and when a US citizen dies abroad, and the death is reported to the US Embassy or Consulate, they have to file a report with the State Department in Washington D.C.. Mary Hurley died on FEBRUARY 13 1970 at CHERMSIDE HOSPITAL, CHERMSIDE, BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND.

    The Consulate applied for a copy of the Death Certificate (No 73755) and attached it to their report.

    The person who informed the American Consulate was none other than Maud O’Reilly, who was then resident at UNIT 2, 8 FLORENCE STREET, ASCOT, BRISBANE.

    Mary had travelled back to Australia on her US Passport, No G522378 issued at Chicago on 6 JUNE 1966, but I cannot find a passenger list entry showing her departure from the US or her arrival in Australia. (Probably, it is too soon for records covering passports and travel in the 1960s to be available yet, as many travellers then might still be alive.)

    The consulate also informed the US Social Security Administration of Mary’s death, quoting her Social Security Number 322-28-6561A. If you are interested, the US SSA will provide her address and a photocopy of her application form at the time she began to contribute to the US scheme, probably in about 1950 or 51, for a fee.

    Mary was buried according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church in PINNAROO LAWN CEMETERY, ASPLEY, BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND.

    Since Maud also died in Brisbane the following year, it might be possible that she is buried there too.

    Finally, Mary’s parents are listed on the death certificate as BERNARD PATRICK HURLEY, a MINER, and MARY ELIZABETH HARRISON, and that she never married or had children.

    Best Regards,
    Mike Griffin

  9. Hi again,
    I’ve found the Inward passenger list for Mary Hurley. She was travelling as Josephine Hurley, and gave her date of birth as 11 SEP 1888, not 10 Sep (which is also repeated on the Death of American Citizen Report).
    Mary left Los Angeles aboard the SS MONTEREY on 7 OCTOBER 1966, and arrived at SYDNEY on 17 OCTOBER 1966.
    She says she was last in Australia 32 years before (which ties in with her move to Chicago), and intends to live permanently in Australia with Mrs C.M. O’REILLY of UNIT 3 WHITE HOUSES, ESPLANADE, BURLEIGH HEADS, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA.

    This is on Pages 211 and 212 of NAA : Series A1197 JUL-DEC HUNTING – ICONOMOP Barcode: 9788317 at the National Archives of Australia (NAA.GOV.AU)
    Best Regards
    Mike Griffin

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