The recent availability of the 1911 Census of Ireland on the internet has provided an extraordinary wealth of material for anyone interested in family history or local history. When it comes to computers and the internet I am something of a Luddite, never having quite mastered the technical terms or the computer methods which youngsters learn with such ease at primary school level. Despite these disadvantages I recently ventured onto the internet in search of the 1911 census and found myself immersed in the written material which householders 99 years ago compiled so carefully just three years before the outbreak of World War I.
Like most other people my initial searches were for the families on my fathers and mothers side. Amazingly within minutes I turned up family information and details never before known which clearly signalled the importance of the census returns in genealogical research.
I next turned to those families living in Offaly Street in 1911 to see if any of those named were still represented in the street where I lived from 1945. The census was taken on the night of Sunday 2nd April 1911 when the head of each household was required to make a return of the family, visitors, boarders and servants who slept in the home that night.
Michael Neill, a 67 year old cattle dealer, lived alone in No. 1 Offaly Street. His next door neighbours were the Bradley family. Gregory Bradley, aged 30 years, a baker, was married to Mary Anne. Their three children were May, aged 3 years, Gregory, aged 11 and Kathleen, just 1 month old. No. 3 Offaly Street housed the Dunne family, headed by Peter aged 47 years who was also a baker. His wife Lizzie was 37 years old and they had 6 children, Michael 17 years, James 15 years, Christopher 11 years, Teresa 15 years, Maria 4 years and Thomas Peter, 1 month old. The Dunne family would lose son James five years later. He was killed in action while a member of the 10th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers fighting in France on 13th November 1916.
In No. 4 Offaly Street lived Annie Prendergast, aged 39 years with her five nephews, James, John, Michael, Thomas and Laurence Connell who ranged in age from 28 down to 12 years. All were unemployed with the exception of school going 12 year old Laurence.
Next door lived William Corcoran, an insurance agent aged, 26 years old with his 27 year old wife Julia and their new born baby Thomas Joseph. I believe Thomas who was born in 1911 was the Thomas Corcoran who later became Town Clerk of Newbridge.
Patrick Dempsey, an O.A.P. of 85 years and a widower, lived alone in No. 6 Offaly Street. Two years earlier the Old Age Pension Act came into force giving five shillings per week pension to persons over 70 years old with incomes less than 31 pounds and ten shillings a year. Dempsey’s next door neighbours were the Hayden family headed by Patrick Hayden, a 50 year old widower who worked as a baker. His sons John and Patrick were just 12 and 11 years and living with them was Patrick’s niece Mary Cobbe, aged 28 years. John Hayden played a very prominent part in the struggle for Irish Independence and served a term of imprisonment in Portlaoise jail before emigrating to America. His younger brother Patrick was also involved in the Republican Movement during the War of Independence and like his father, he too worked as a baker. Paddy, as he was known in later life, lived in St. Patrick’s Avenue after he got married and had a family. Edward Duggan, a boot maker, aged 32 years, lived next door with his wife Lizzie who was 13 years older than her husband. Both were members of the Church of Ireland.
Michael Bradley, the Urban District Council Surveyor, was 50 years of age and lived in No. 9 Offaly Street with his 38 year old wife Margaret. Married for 18 years they had 8 children ranging in age from 16 years down to 1 year. John at 16 years of age was employed as a bookkeeper while Mary Kate, Elizabeth, Julia May, Michael and James were noted as scholars and completing the Bradley family was 1 year old baby Margaret.
Next door was Julia Bradley, aged 80 years and living with her were her daughter Elizabeth, a 46 year old dressmaker and a grandson Thomas Breen, a carpenter of 26 years. Mary Hayden, a 9 year old granddaughter made up the Bradley household. Thomas Breen continued to live in Offaly Street after he married and his daughter Nan and her family are today the only direct family links with those who lived in Offaly Street 99 years ago. No. 11 Offaly Street was home to Honoria Salts, a widow of 58 years and two boarders Margaret Hickey aged 26 years, a nurse and Michael Sweeney, aged 34 years, an upholsterer. Her nephew Joseph Reddy, aged 20 years, a grocers assistant, completed the household.
Joseph and Mary Geoghegan with their two children John, 17 years and Josephine, 15 years, both scholars, lived in Number 12. Joseph Geoghegan was a carpenter.
The house and building returns which accompanied the Census showed that the first three houses in Offaly Street consisted of 2 rooms each, while the following nine houses on the same side of the street all had four rooms. The returns give the Protestant Church as the next building which would indicate that the small house presently at the corner of Janeville and Offaly Street was then part of a dwelling facing onto Janeville.