A tour of the McMahon family tree!
(Be aware that dates and facts listed below may change as research yields new facts and stories)
I’m going to take you on a tour of the McMahon family tree and families we have intermarried with like the McEnhills, Mullans and McGales. Hopefully, the following may give you clues about how you are related to me – if indeed at all.
Let’s start with me – Tony McMahon (1963-), christened Anthony Ross McMahon in 1963 in north east London. My father – Peter (1937-2021) – was born in a town called Pettigo, famously divided down the middle between County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland and County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. His wife, my mother – Alice (1932-2016) – was Portuguese – from the city of Porto.
My father’s sister – Marie (1948-) – married Terence Murphy (1942-2006) in London back in 1970 and has four sons – who were all born and live in the UK. Now let’s go back a generation…
My father’s father was Felix McMahon (1908-1966) from Rossbeg, Dungannon. And his wife was Norma McEnhill (1909-1975) from Omagh. Both Omagh and Rossbeg are in County Tyrone. Most of our family and those we married into are based in Tyrone.
Felix’s father Peter (1867-1935) was a miner or mining engineer who trained in the US. He was married to Margaret Daly (1866-1929). Peter had a brother George (1870-1925) who also worked in the mining industry and went to live in the north east of England.
We witness yet another McMahon/McEnhill marriage with Peter’s brother John (1872-1951) marrying Mary Anne McEnhill (1868-1951). There’s plenty of intermarrying between these Tyrone based clans of McMahon, McEnhill, Mullen and McGale. And different spellings of those names including in Gaelic. It can drive you to distraction!
Another brother of Peter, Felix Patrick (1877-1942), had a son Charles (1904-1987) – or “Charlie” – who was shot by British armed forces in 1921 during the burning down of the Dublin Customs House. He was a Republican insurgent. Two of Peter’s sisters were nuns – Margaret Ann (born 1877) in Belgium and France while Mary (born 1879) went to a convent in Colorado, which she found very tough.
Eugene Owen (1830-1902), born at the start of the nineteenth century, was the father of Peter, George, John, Felix Patrick, Margaret Ann and Mary. The death of him and his wife Mary Heatherington (1843-1901) are mentioned in a letter from Mary, then a nun called Sister Jesse, in Colorado. She wanted flowers from their grave sent to her.
Eugene Owen had a sister Anne (born 1815) who married Charles Bradley (1818-1872), a railway construction worker. We see a pattern of movement from Ireland to Scotland and then on to the United States and sometimes back again. Charles and Anne end up in Scotland. Their children emigrate and die in the US. One of them, Margaret Bradley (1840-1928), becomes a nun in an American convent taking the name Sister Pantaleon.
Another child of Charles Bradley and Anne McMahon is called Eugene Owen (1848-1910) – after Anne’s brother – and one of his children, Cyprian Bradley (1884-1965), becomes a Benedictine abbot in the US.
Let’s to back to my father’s father – Felix McMahon (1908-1966) – and he has a brother, yet another Eugene Owen (1905-1956) who was a Northern Irish Catholic in the then Protestant dominated Royal Ulster Constabulary. He married Mary Loughran (known as Molly) and their children are still Ireland based. Sadly, Peter McMahon (1951-1979) was killed in a road accident.
Felix McMahon also had a sister, Annie Mary (1900-1964) who became a nun as Sister Benignus, another sister Margaret who died young and then Jean (1904-1974), known as “Jennie”. She adopted several children and one, Elizabeth (died 2012), was tragically killed in a house fire.
Felix’s wife Norma McEnhill (1909-1975) had two brothers, Hugh (1911-1964) and Peter (1913-1959) who died in what we would now regard as middle age. Her father – another Hugh (1877-1956) – married Catherine Mullan (1868-1933). When she died, he later remarried.
Catherine Mullan’s siblings included Bella, Margaret Mary (1866-1952/53) who moved to London and died in the great smog of the early 50s and Dorothy (1882-1984) who married an American – Edward Shortt (1878-1959) moved to Connecticut and lived to the ripe old age of 102. I have met her grandson Peter Mayer (1936-). Dorothy was also known as “Delia” and never returned to Ireland. The Shortt family emigrated to Ireland in the mid-19th century and changed their name from McGuirk to avoid anti-Catholic persecution in their new home.
Back to Hugh McEnhill (1877-1956), husband of Catherine Mullan. He had two brothers who emigrated to the United States. Francis McEnhill (1872-1909) married into a very well connected American military family and ended up a lieutenant in the US Cavalry, fighting in the Spanish American War. James McEnhill (1863-1943) was a school superintendent in New Jersey but decided to go and fight in the Boer War – on the Boer side against the British. John Joseph McEnhill (1860-1925) married a McEnhill cousin requiring a special certificate from the church to permit such a union.