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Genealogy research by Mark Humphrys.

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My ancestors - O'Mara - Contents


James O'Mara



James O'Mara and Honora Foley and some of their children.
This is the younger group of 4 boys (12 years younger than Stephen) and Honora.
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.




James O'Mara (see here),
born 1817, would be born Clonmel, Co.Tipperary.
His family always used spelling "O'Mara".
Founded the O'Mara's bacon company, Limerick city, the source of generations of family wealth.
Became High Sheriff of Limerick city.

Family origin story: The family origin story is as follows:

Family origin story seems false: Most of the above story seems false:

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.
[PAT/1, p.10] says that years later the O'Mara's still did a thriving business in wool with the Ebrills during the slack bacon period.

Settles in Mungret St:
James 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.
James 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. He opened O'Mara's Bacon Company in 1839. He originally sold for Mattersons, then started curing his own.

He mar 2 Oct 1841 [St.John's, Limerick] to Honora Foley [born 1822, or poss. 1818].
See entry. This is the mar of "James O'Mara" to "Honora Fowloo", wit Thomas Durkin and Julia Sullivan.
"Fowloo" is a variant of "Foley".

James and Honora lived Mungret St, Limerick.
They were living Mungret St around 1844-1860 (their children baptised in nearby St.John's).
[PAT/1, p.4] says: "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 and 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 Roches St as at children's births 1862-1866. Children now baptised at St.Michael's on Denmark St.
He is listed as "James O'Mara", "provision merchant" at children's births and marriages.
"James O'Meara" sp bapt of Mary O'Mara 1868.

Nationalist politics:
Obituary says he was "an ardent Nationalist".
He was an early supporter of Isaac Butt's 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 Irish Times, 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 Golden Jubilee of Pope Pius IX (50th anniv of him becoming a bishop).
See letter in Freemans Journal, 9 May 1877.

Honora dies, 1878:
Honora died Kilkee, Co.Clare, 30 Aug [grave] or 31 Aug [GROI] 1878, age 56 yrs [grave] or 60 yrs [GROI].
[GROI] lists her as "Honor O'Mara".
She was 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: He was High Sheriff of Limerick City for 1887.
See appointment reported 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) of a memorial to the Fenian Manchester Martyrs of Nov 1867 (20 years before). See long article in Irish Times, Mon 28 Nov 1887. His son Stephen (who was a Fenian in his younger years) was also present.
James was succeeded for 1888 as High Sheriff by his son Stephen.

He became a Town Councillor (T.C.) on Limerick Corporation.
He is "James O'Mara" listed as Town Councillor for Dock Ward in [Thoms] at least 1888 to 1898.
[PAT/1, p.7] 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), in Limerick Chronicle, 14 January 1892, and at Thomas Ray's funeral 1892.
Listed as "TC" at a talk in Limerick in Oct 1892.

He is 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".
He is listed as J.P. at son Jack's mar 1895, also in [Thoms, 1898], 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".
He is still listed as Town Councillor for Dock Ward in [Thoms, 1898]. Looks like he was NOT an Alderman.
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 but declined.

James dies, 1899:
James was living 17 Thomas St, Limerick, at death.
He died Thur 20 Apr 1899, 17 Thomas St, Limerick, age 82 yrs [obituary], [grave], [death cert].
See death cert from here. He is "bacon manufacturer".
See obituary in Limerick Chronicle, 20 April 1899.
Funeral Sun 23 Apr 1899 [funeral report]. NOT 21 Apr [burial record].
He was bur Mount St. Lawrence cemetery, Limerick.
Letter of 25 Apr 1899 confirms he died Thur and was bur Sun.
See funeral report in Limerick Chronicle, 25 April 1899.
Attendance included Bishop of Limerick and "Lord Emly" (would be Gaston Monsell, 2nd Baron Emly).
"James O'Mara", "bacon manufacturer", probate of will granted to his sons Stephen and Frank, estate £5,000 [NAI], this is about £2m in today's money.
James and Honora had issue:


  1. Bridget O'Mara,
    NOT Nora,
    "Bridgy" in brother Stephen's letter,
    born 1842 [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.
    She mar 11th Sept 1861 [St.John's, Limerick] to Michael Cusack and had issue.


  2. Stephen O'Mara,
    born St.Stephen's Day, 26 Dec 1844, Mungret St, Limerick [family bible],
    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".


  3. Peter O'Mara,
    would be after grandfather,
    bapt 11 Mar 1847 [St.John's, Limerick], sp Andrew O'Mara and Bridget Mulcahy.
    He died as a baby.
    [PAT/1, p.6] tells the story that his father had some business that took him to Liverpool 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.'"


  4. Margaret O'Mara,
    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.
    Letter of 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.)
    She was living Thomas St, Limerick, at mar.
    She mar 11 June 1878, St.Michael's, Limerick [GROI] to Michael Judge and had issue.


  5. Mary O'Mara,
    "Poll", Polly,
    bapt "Mary Anne", between 18 and 31 Oct 1850 [St.John's, Limerick], sp Michael Dillon, Anne Kennedy.
    She mar 1874 to Tom Ray and had issue.
    This would be "Polly's marriage" referred to in letter of 23 July 1875.


  6. John O'Mara,
    bapt 27th Dec 1852 [St.John's, Limerick], sp Denis Gunes, Mary Lynch,
    died in infancy.


  7. Kate O'Mara,
    Katie,
    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,
    mar 1881 to Dick Ray and had issue.


  8. Jack O'Mara (second John),
    born Limerick,
    bapt 26th Dec 1856 [St.John's, Limerick], sp William Sheahan, Bridget Lynch.


  9. Jim O'Mara,
    bapt James, 23 Nov 1858 [St.John's, Limerick], sp (maybe Thomas Lynch) and Mary Anne Lynch.


  10. Honora O'Mara,
    "Nora" on grave, "Norah" on [O'Mara family tree],
    bapt Honora, 24 Oct 1860 [St.John's, Limerick], sp Michael Lynch and Mary Lynch.
    She is "Noney" mentioned in letter of 7 Aug 1877.
    Letter of 12 Sept 1878 says "Noney" is ill.
    She died 1 Oct 1878, age 17 yrs [grave], a month after her mother died.
    She was bur Mount St. Lawrence cemetery, Limerick.


  11. Dr. Frank O'Mara,
    born Limerick,
    bapt Francis, 18 Sept 1862 [St.Michael's, Limerick], sp Michael Cusack and Brid Mulcahy.


  12. Joseph O'Mara, the opera singer,
    Joe, written as "Joseph F. O'Mara" at death,
    born 16 July 1864, Roches St, Limerick [GROI],
    bapt Joseph, 16 July 1864 [St.Michael's, Limerick], sp Thomas Ryan and Catherine Lynch.


  13. Nan O'Mara,
    Nanie.
    She was born "Anne Mary", Roches St, Limerick, 1866.
    [GROI] says born 15 Sept 1866, but this cannot be true. The baptism date of 21 Aug 1866 is clear among the other entries. 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 [St.Michael's, Limerick], sp Michael Maher and Honora Lynch.
    Her mother died 1878.
    She must be "Anne O'Mara" who wit Frank's mar 1894.
    She didn't marry.
    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 [Pat Lavelle].
    She died 28 Jan 1905, 6 Alexandra Terrace, Limerick, age 38 yrs, of "dilatation of heart", condition of duration 4 years [GROI].






The O'Mara origin story at the start of [Lavelle, 1961].
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.



James O'Mara.
See full size.



James O'Mara.



O'Mara family, Kilkee, 1895.
2nd row from front has line of old James O'Mara, Ellen Pigott, Stephen O'Mara.
See larger and full size.

  

Detail of above 1895 photo.
Back (left to right): Old James O'Mara, Ellen Pigott, Stephen O'Mara.
Front centre looks like James O'Mara (age 22).
The girl leaning into Stephen O'Mara's lap must be his darling daughter. No one else would be so familiar. This must be Mary O'Mara (age 19) or Norrie O'Mara (age 15).
See larger and full size.



4 generations photo, 1898.
James O'Mara, his son Stephen, his son James, his son Stephen (born Sept 1896).
See larger and full size.
See close-up of old James.
See crop of old James. From [P40/916]. Used with permission of [UL Archives].



These are the sisters Mary O'Mara (think back)
and Margaret O'Mara (think LHS front) and Kate O'Mara (think RHS front).
Think 1874.
See larger and full size.



Joseph and Nan (the two youngest children).
See larger and full size.


  

Children's baptisms

  

Baptism of a Bridget O'Mara, 29 Dec 1842 [St.John's, Limerick], 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].
From here.



Baptism of Peter O'Mara, 11 Mar 1847 [St.John's, Limerick].
From here.



Baptism of Margaret O'Mara, 28 Aug 1848 [St.John's, Limerick].
From here.



Baptism of Mary O'Mara, between 18 and 31 Oct 1850 [St.John's, Limerick].
From here.



Baptism of John O'Mara, 27 Dec 1852 [St.John's, Limerick].
From here.



Baptism of Kate O'Mara, 10 Nov 1854 [St.John's, Limerick].
From here.



Baptism of Jack O'Mara, 26th Dec 1856 [St.John's, Limerick].
From here.



Baptism of Jim O'Mara, 23 Nov 1858 [St.John's, Limerick].
From here.



Baptism of Honora O'Mara, 24 Oct 1860 [St.John's, Limerick].
From here.



Baptism of Frank O'Mara, 18 Sept 1862 [St.Michael's, Limerick].
From here.



Baptism of Joseph O'Mara, 16 July 1864 [St.Michael's, Limerick].
From here.



Baptism of Nan O'Mara, 21 Aug 1866 [St.Michael's, Limerick].
From here.


  

The "horse traders" (or "horse thieves") story




AI animation

AI animation of old photos.
Made using Deep Nostalgia at MyHeritage.
  

AI animation of old James O'Mara in 4 generations photo, 1898.



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