The second Neary / O’Rourke marriage

It was great-aunt Maggie Neary’s 132nd birthday on 6th April 2017. Right on cue on this birthday, a long-lost photo of Maggie on her wedding day in 1913 emerged from an old family chest. Margaret Neary married John O’Rourke, a fully qualified NYC Civil Engineer originally from Leitrim, on 18th June 1913 in the Bronx.

Just under 10 years earlier, Maggie’s eldest sister Mary Neary married John’s eldest brother, Charlie O’Rourke at St Philip Neri’s Catholic Church in the Bronx. A family tale in New York relates that Maggie’s older sister Bridget once courted John O’Rourke and hoped that he would eventually propose marriage. This romance was progressing steadily as John completed his Civil Engineering studies – and then Maggie Neary arrived on the Bronx scene when she sailed to New York with her brother Matthew in 1905. Poor Bridget Neary’s dreams were dashed when John & Maggie started to “walk out” together at weekends. A few years later, John O’Rourke’s engineering career was flourishing and he was ready to settle down. John proposed to Maggie, and Bridget Neary returned to Ireland broken-hearted. A year after arriving home in Tullinaglug, Bridget married a Sligo man at St Attracta’s church in Tourlestrane – maybe on the rebound.

Meanwhile, Maggie & John married and conceived 5 children, the last being Eileen born in 1925. Eileen O’Rourke’s daughter Maura sent me this great photo on Maggie’s 132nd birthday … after a root about in an old family chest.

1913 photo (Maggie Neary on her wedding day)


1865 – Abraham Lincoln’s funeral procession through NYC

I know … it’s a tenuous link – but if this newly-discovered quad photo really is the work of famed American Civil War photographer, Mathew Brady, then here we have the only known photograph of the momentous funeral procession of Abraham Lincoln’s corpse as it passed through New York City en route from Washington DC to Springfield, Illinois, for burial in April 1865.

And … if … this photo was taken outside of the magnificent Grace Episcopal Church on Broadway, then surely my distant ancestor, Patrick Reilly from County Cavan is in the photo. You see, Patrick worked as an Irish immigrant NYC stonemason on the building of the Grace Church, and he lived nearby in 1865. Four years earlier, Patrick answered the call of Civil War recruiting sergeants and enlisted in the 15th Regiment of the New York State Volunteers. He went on to become a Union Army Engineer, building crucial temporary bridges prior to Union advances into Confederate territory. His President, Abraham Lincoln, personally inspected some of Patrick’s handiwork.

So … there he is … somewhere in this historic snap created by using a four-lens camera and developed on to a large plate glass negative.

1865 April - lincolnfuneral

I think that’s him – 14th from the right, in the Union Army uniform