Identify O'Mara house on Roches St (has been re-numbered).
James O'Mara and Honora Foley and some of their children.
This is the younger group of 4 boys
(12 years younger than Stephen)
Baby and older children absent.
Must be: Back (left to right):
James O'Mara, Jack (bapt 1856), Jim (bapt 1858),
And: Front (left to right):
Honora (bapt 1860), Honora Foley, Joe (born 1864), Frank (bapt 1862).
Photo must be c.1868.
See full size.
born 1817, would be born Clonmel, Co.Tipperary.
His family always used spelling "O'Mara".
Founded the O'Mara's bacon company,
the source of generations of family wealth.
High Sheriff of Limerick city.
Family origin story:
The family origin story
is as follows:
James was from Toomyvara, N Co.Tipperary.
As a young man he walked out of Toomyvara
across Co.Tipperary to
Clonmel, S Co.Tipperary.
James may have worked in woollen mills near Clonmel,
but this was his mother's family Casey,
not his wife's family Foley.
He did not marry in Clonmel.
He married in Limerick.
His wife's family
seems to be a Limerick family, with no connection to Clonmel.
He set up the bacon business in Limerick before he got married.
He was not totally poor.
His family were literate, wrote letters
in the 1860s,
and ended up doing decent jobs and running successful businesses.
But James certainly started out poor compared to
what he became later.
The rest of his family
also used the name "O'Mara".
If it ever was "O'Meara", the change in spelling happened earlier.
So from what we can see, James grew up near Clonmel.
It seems he worked for a time
in the woollen mills near Clonmel.
His mother's family Casey are said to have owned a woollen mill at
Clogheen, near Clonmel.
Comes to Limerick:
James' brother Andrew moved to Limerick and married there in 1837.
James came to Limerick before 1839.
Probably lived with Andrew for a time.
In Limerick he worked in the wool trade, before he got into bacon.
says that years later the
O'Mara's still did a thriving business in wool with the
during the slack bacon period.
Settles in Mungret St:
settled in Mungret St, Limerick.
His brother Andrew
lived on Mungret St.
James may have lived with brother for a time before he married,
but later they clearly have two different houses on Mungret St.
got a job with Mattersons bacon factory,
Roches St, Limerick,
as a clerk.
(See Matterson of Roches St listed
under "Provision Merchants" in
[Slater's Directory, 1846, p.276].)
The story is he
went home from Mattersons one day
and said: "This is the last day I'm going to work for anyone".
He set up business on his own.
opened O'Mara's Bacon Company in 1839.
He originally sold for Mattersons, then started curing his own.
mar 2 Oct 1841 [St.John's, Limerick]
[born 1822, or poss. 1818].
This is the mar of "James O'Mara"
to "Honora Fowloo",
wit Thomas Durkin and Julia Sullivan.
is a variant of "Foley".
James and Honora lived Mungret St, Limerick.
living Mungret St around 1844-1860 (their children baptised in nearby St.John's).
"It was in the basement of this house in Mungret Street that bacon was first cured by them."
His wife worked in the business with him.
Slowly, over the years, he worked his way up to become one of the
prominent businessmen of the city.
Honora worked with her husband in setting up O'Maras through the terrible years of
The Famine (1845-50).
Think he is spelt "O'Mara" in all children's baptisms after 1844.
He sp bapt of his nephew Michael O'Mara Sept 1846.
"James O'Mara" is listed on
Mungret St in Griffith's Valuation, 1850.
He is leasing a very modest house, at plot 28. He is clearly not rich yet.
They are right beside Honora's sister
Mary Foley and her husband Andrew Lynch
at plot 30.
Also on Mungret St in Griffith's Valuation is
James' brother Andrew
other people of interest.
"James O'Mara" wit mar of his niece
Margaret O'Mara 1858.
Move to Roches St:
James set up a dedicated
O'Mara's Bacon Factory
on Roches St, Limerick.
James and Honora were living on
as at children's births 1862-1866.
Children now baptised at St.Michael's
on Denmark St.
listed as "James O'Mara", "provision merchant" at
children's births and marriages.
"James O'Meara" sp bapt of Mary O'Mara 1868.
Obituary says he was "an ardent Nationalist".
He was an
early supporter of
Home Rule movement.
He was a
member (with his son Stephen)
of the famous Butt Committee,
which secured Butt's election for Limerick city, in by-election, 20 Sept 1871.
"James O'Mara" is listed
in contributors to
"The Butt Testimonial" in
May 5, 1875.
"James O'Mara", of St.Michael's par, Limerick,
is among those writing an open letter, 4 May 1877, to the
Bishop of Limerick,
expressing their wish to organise celebrations of the
Pope Pius IX
(50th anniv of him becoming a
9 May 1877.
Honora dies, 1878:
30 Aug [grave]
or 31 Aug [GROI]
age 56 yrs [grave]
or 60 yrs [GROI].
[GROI] lists her as "Honor O'Mara".
bur 31 Aug or 1 Sept [burial record]
at Mount St. Lawrence cemetery, Limerick.
James erected grave, spelt name "O'Mara".
In 1878 he moved house to
17 Thomas St
(just N of Roches St),
one of the old town houses.
The factory stayed on Roches St.
His wife's address is still listed as Roches St in burial record 1878.
He is listed at Thomas St from 1878.
He is listed as "James O'Meara, merchant"
at Jack's mar 1880.
He became a Limerick
Poor Law Guardian,
listed as such
at time of appointment as High Sheriff.
High Sheriff of Limerick city 1887:
High Sheriff of Limerick City
in Irish Times,
December 10, 1886.
On Sat 26 Nov 1887,
while High Sheriff,
he received an Irish-American Fenian come to Limerick
to deliver an oration at the unveiling (Sun 27 Nov)
a memorial to the
of Nov 1867 (20 years before).
See long article
in Irish Times,
Mon 28 Nov 1887.
(who was a Fenian in his younger years)
was also present.
James was succeeded for 1888 as High Sheriff by his son
He became a Town Councillor (T.C.) on Limerick Corporation.
He is "James O'Mara"
listed as Town Councillor
for Dock Ward
at least 1888 to 1898.
says he was
known as "The Grand Old Man" in later life.
This refers to a letter of 31 Dec 1889:
"Give my best love to dear Mr. James O'Mara - our own Grand Old Man
- to see him jumping into the Pollock Holes last summer
like a young boy.
I never saw anything like his vitality."
(The Pollock Holes
are deep pools off Kilkee.)
There was a Christmas dinner custom in the O'Maras
that none of the many children or their husbands and wives or the grandchildren
were allowed to speak a word during dinner, no matter how old they were.
Great opportunity for the parents to expound their views.
In 1891 he bought the rights of the
Russian Bacon Company,
and until 1903 they leased and worked the slaughter and curing houses,
situated in or nr Gryazi,
on the railway line,
near Lipetsk, Russia.
"A Russian manager carried on the business
and produced bacon which was shipped to Dad
in London"[Pat Lavelle].
He is "James O'Mara",
T.C. (Town Councillor),
14 January 1892,
Thomas Ray's funeral 1892.
Listed as "TC" at a talk in Limerick in Oct 1892.
described as a Justice of the Peace at his son Jim's
death and funeral 1893.
Limerick Corporation passed a Vote of Condolence, saying that the father
was "long connected and much associated with the Corporation".
listed as J.P. at son Jack's mar 1895,
also at death 1899.
[Modern Ireland, 1899]
says he was also a member of the Limerick Harbour Commissioners,
a Governor of the Fever Hospital,
and a Trustee of the Limerick Savings Bank.
Obituary says he was a magistrate of Limerick,
and a "Visiting Justice of the Male and Female Prisons".
still listed as Town Councillor for Dock Ward in
Looks like he was NOT
Obituary 1899 says he represented the Dock Ward until he resigned at
"the termination of the old council".
Obituary says he was nominated for
Mayor of Limerick
"Bridgy" in brother Stephen's letter,
[O'Mara family tree],
born 1841-43 (according to age at death).
She is probably Bridget O'Mara, bapt 29 Dec 1842,
with an error made in the name of the mother.
She is described as "formerly O'Meara" at son's birth 1868.
Her marriage was
witnessed by John Hayes and Mary A. Lynch.
mar 11th Sept 1861 [St.John's, Limerick]
to Michael Cusack
and had issue.
born St.Stephen's Day, 26 Dec 1844, Mungret St, Limerick
bapt 26 Dec 1844 [St.John's, Limerick],
sp Thady Shughrue and Jane Meehan.
His letters to his wife are all signed "Stout". Martin O'Mara
called him "Steve".
would be after grandfather,
bapt 11 Mar 1847 [St.John's, Limerick],
sp Andrew O'Mara
and Bridget Mulcahy.
He died as a baby.
the story that his father had some business that took him to
for a while.
On his return
"he embraced his wife and all the children and distributed the small gifts he had brought back.
After a while he asked casually:
'And where is the baby?'
Then Great Grandmother answered:
'I meant to tell you that he went to heaven one day last week.'"
Maggie, Maggy, Mag, NOT Minnie,
would be after grandmother,
bapt 28th Aug 1848 [St.John's, Limerick],
sp Michael Garvey and Anne Shanny.
"Margaret O'Mara" sp the baptism of James O'Mara 1873.
"Margaret O'Mara" wit mar of her 1st cousin
Catherine Lynch in 1875.
31 Mar 1878
by her brother Stephen to his wife says:
"I saw Judge yesterday, and I almost agree with Maggy in thinking him a very shy and bashful fellow.
He was certainly put about" [disturbed]
"when he saw me
and seemed half afraid to enter on the subject but after a few minutes we got into it and talked it out.
I may tell you I like him ... he seems to be a real nice fellow with no affectation".
(However later in 1879
Stephen does not have a positive opinion.)
living Thomas St, Limerick, at mar.
She mar 11 June 1878,
to Michael Judge and had issue.
bapt "Mary Anne", between 18 and 31 Oct 1850 [St.John's, Limerick],
sp Michael Dillon, Anne Kennedy.
She mar 1874 to
and had issue.
This would be "Polly's marriage" referred to in
23 July 1875.
bapt 27th Dec 1852 [St.John's, Limerick],
sp Denis Gunes, Mary Lynch,
died in infancy.
born Limerick city,
bapt Catherine, 10 Nov 1854 [St.John's, Limerick],
sp James Hartney and Alicia Shughrue,
she must be "Kate O'Mara" who wit her sister Margaret's mar 1878,
she is written "Kathleen" at death,
and had issue.
"Nora" on grave,
[O'Mara family tree],
bapt Honora, 24 Oct 1860
sp Michael Lynch and Mary Lynch.
She is "Noney" mentioned
in letter of 7 Aug 1877.
12 Sept 1878
says "Noney" is ill.
died 1 Oct 1878, age 17 yrs [grave],
a month after her mother died.
She was bur Mount St. Lawrence cemetery, Limerick.
She was born "Anne Mary", Roches St, Limerick, 1866. [GROI]
15 Sept 1866, but this cannot be true. The baptism date of 21 Aug 1866 is clear among the
Birth was registered later (on 16 Oct 1866)
and an error must have been made in the birth date.
Perhaps born 15 Aug 1866.
She was bapt "Anne", 21 Aug 1866
sp Michael Maher and Honora Lynch.
Her mother died 1878.
She must be "Anne O'Mara" who wit Frank's mar 1894.
Lived with her father at
17 Thomas St, Limerick.
Her father died 1899.
She had serious illness, confined to bed for long time before died
She died 28 Jan 1905, 6 Alexandra Terrace, Limerick, age 38 yrs,
of "dilatation of heart", condition of duration 4 years
The O'Mara origin story at the start of
In 2020 I discovered that most of this origin story is wrong.
The marriage of James O'Mara to Honora "Fowloo" (Foley)
in 1841 in the register of St.John's, Limerick.
See full size.
somehow got into
the Sighle Humphreys papers, in
(She is not related to O'Mara. O'Mara is her brother's wife.)
It is mis-labelled in P106 as "David Humphreys
and the Humphreys family, c.1890".
But it is O'Mara. Apart from the obvious identification of some people,
it is also found in the Rynne family:
and full size.
Baptism of a Bridget O'Mara, 29 Dec 1842
dau of James O'Mara and "Honor Mulcahy",
sp John Griffin and Bridget Mulcahy.
This is probably Bridget O'Mara
above, with the surname of the sponsor accidentally transferred to the mother.
See full size.
Baptism of Stephen O'Mara,
26 Dec 1844 [St.John's, Limerick].
Baptism of Peter O'Mara, 11 Mar 1847 [St.John's, Limerick].
Baptism of Margaret O'Mara, 28 Aug 1848 [St.John's, Limerick].
Baptism of Mary O'Mara, between 18 and 31 Oct 1850 [St.John's, Limerick].
Baptism of John O'Mara, 27 Dec 1852 [St.John's, Limerick].
Baptism of Kate O'Mara, 10 Nov 1854 [St.John's, Limerick].
Baptism of Jack O'Mara, 26th Dec 1856 [St.John's, Limerick].
Baptism of Jim O'Mara, 23 Nov 1858 [St.John's, Limerick].
Baptism of Honora O'Mara, 24 Oct 1860 [St.John's, Limerick].
Baptism of Frank O'Mara, 18 Sept 1862 [St.Michael's, Limerick].
Baptism of Joseph O'Mara, 16 July 1864 [St.Michael's, Limerick].
Baptism of Nan O'Mara, 21 Aug 1866 [St.Michael's, Limerick].
The "horse traders" (or "horse thieves") story
Kate O'Brien wrote an epic novel,
Without My Cloak (1931),
about the rise of the
"Considine" family of "Mellick" (Limerick).
Many people saw parallels with the O'Maras (Kate O'Brien's in-laws).
In the novel,
the Considine who came to "Mellick" in 1789
was a horse thief.
His son founds the family business in 1810 and
rises to great prosperity.
There have been stories that the O'Maras came to Limerick as
(or even "horse thieves").
But there is no evidence for this.
It is possible this comes entirely from Kate O'Brien's book.
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