Humphrys genealogy

Genealogy research by Mark Humphrys.

My ancestors - O'Mara - Contents

James Mark Sullivan

(Left) Jim Sullivan. Detail of 1910 photo.
(Right) Nell O'Mara. Detail of 1905 photo.

James Mark Sullivan,
Jim Sullivan,
born Dromaloughane, near Killarney, Co.Kerry, 6 January 1870.
Irish-American lawyer, journalist and diplomat.
Pioneer of film in Ireland.
See Wikipedia.

He was taken to US as child, probably 1884.
He was educ at schools in Palmer, Massachusetts.
Reporter for Hartford Courant and Waterbury American.
Worked as night clerk, Hotel Jefferson, 440 State St, New Haven, Connecticut, 1898-1902 (while going through college). The hotel is apparently demolished (see street view).
He was educ Yale Law School, New Haven, Connecticut. Entered 1899 (age 29). Won various prizes. Class Orator. LL.B. 1902.
Lawyer in New Haven, 1903-04.
Registered as lawyer in New York, 1904-16.
His daughter Sheila said he worked on the high-profile celebrity murder trial (1907-08) of Harry Kendall Thaw. But [Felter and Schultz, 2004] found no record of this. Possibly he worked as a junior lawyer on the case for a short time.
His dau Sheila's mar cert calls him a "solicitor".
He had Irish nationalist views.
He met the O'Maras when he was visiting Ireland, giving a speech at a grave.
Living New York at time of his marriage in Ireland in 1910.

He mar 11 Oct 1910 to Nell O'Mara [Ellen, born 6 June 1882].
They mar at St.Munchin's, Limerick. See mar cert from here. He was age 40, she was age 28. Obituary says mar 10 Oct 1910.
He is listed as living NY state at time of appointment 1913.

U.S. ambassador to Dominican Republic, 1913-15:
He was appointed Aug 12, 1913 as U.S. Minister to the Dominican Republic, West Indies (the Dominican Republic occupies E half of island of Hispaniola, W half is Haiti). He is sometimes described as "Minister to Santo Domingo", the capital (the oldest European city in the Americas).
See State Dept list (and here and here). He is listed as "Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary" (plenipotentiary, diplomatic envoy, representative, invested with full powers of independent action), "Non-career appointee".
He is listed as in Santo Domingo at Stephen's birth in Limerick, 2 Sept 1913, listed as "Governor of Sandomingo".
His sister Ellen was there with him in Nov 1913.
It is said that when the British ambassador visited, Sullivan insulted him by receiving him in his underwear.
There was fighting between insurgents and the native government 1914. US sent warships to patrol the island 1914 [DANFS]. He was on 3-man US commission to mediate a peace, Aug 1914. "Both sides ultimately accepted the American suggestions which provided for the establishment of a constitutional government and the institution of elections under United States "observation"" [DANFS].
He left post, June 20, 1915.
US finally occupied the country 1916.

He settled in Ireland.
He established the Film Company of Ireland in Mar 1916 (NOT 1915) [Barton, 2004], [Felter and Schultz, 2004].
He was one of the pioneer film-makers in Ireland. The Film Company of Ireland was "the first indigenous Irish film company". The most important Irish film production company of the silent era. It had no permanent studio. Movies were made on location or in foreign studios. Actors were Abbey Theatre people and independent actors.
They aimed to make films to aid the nationalist cause. James J. Walsh was a director of the company.
Headquartered on Sackville Street. The offices, along with 3 early short Irish theme films, were lost in the April 1916 rising.

Fought in 1916 Rising:
He was pro-Sinn Fein. He fought with the rebels in the 1916 Rising:
He was living 43 Pembroke Rd, Dublin, at time of 1916 rising, near The O'Rahilly and the Humphreys'. He is listed there in [Thom's, 1917].
He went out to fight on the first day of the Easter Rising, 24th Apr 1916.
He was jailed after the rising. Was in Arbour Hill prison. Was in Kilmainham with Dick Humphreys.
Pat Lavelle said: "My brother in law Dick Humphreys told me that Uncle Jim Sullivan was the life and soul of the prisoners up at Kilmainham gaol. Dick knew because he was one of them. He said that they were all feeling very gloomy, most of them sentenced to death or likely to be, and that Uncle Jim came in on them like a fresh breeze with his hearty laughter and his big voice and American wisecracks and without a tremor of fear; for who could touch an American citizen if all came to all".
Apparently he was under threat of execution "but not executed due to his American diplomatic passport". (Unlikely he would have been executed. Many rebels were under threat of execution, but after 15 were executed, public opinion was so negative that executions were stopped.)
Nell Sullivan's niece Eithne O'Mara stayed with her at the time of the rising, when Nell's husband was in jail along with Eithne's future husband Dick Humphreys.

Film Company of Ireland moved office (must be later in 1916) to 34 Dame St, Dublin, top floor. Listed there (as "Irish Film Company") in [Thom's, 1917].
See Films of James Mark Sullivan, 1916-20.
He produced the major Irish film Knocknagow (1918).
He was a friend of Michael Collins, with whom he made the Republican Loan film (1919).

Nell dies, 1919:
Jim is still described as of 43 Pembroke Rd in Feb 1919 [CO 904]. He was then in America, and had trouble getting a visa from London to get back into Ireland. He was in America when Donal died Apr 1919, and took the first boat back, only to see his wife die May 1919.
Nell's address in grave record is still 43 Pembroke Rd, Dublin.
She died 17 May 1919, Strand House, Limerick, age 36 yrs [death notices], [grave], [GROI]. [Family bible] is wrong to say 19 May.
[GROI] says she died of "enteric fever" (typhoid). [Family bible] also says typhoid. Apparently she got it from Donal.
The story that she died in Flu Epidemic of 1918-19 is false.
See death notice in Irish Independent, May 20, 1919.
Her body was brought to Dublin, funeral from Kingsbridge, 20 May 1919, bur Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin. W.T. Cosgrave was at her funeral.
See death notice in Irish Times, May 24, 1919.

Jim was left to raise family on his own. He moved to 4 Palmerston Park, Rathmines, Dublin. He never went back to his former home after Nell died.
He produced the film Willy Reilly and his Colleen Bawn (1920).
The Film Company of Ireland was wound up 1920.
Jim went back to US, taking the children. He and the 3 children are listed in [New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957] as sailing to New York from London, April 20, 1921, on the Saxonia.
[Obituary] describes him as "first representative of Irish Provisional Government in America 1920-22". Not sure if this is true. Perhaps confusion with his brother-in-law James O'Mara.
Registered as lawyer in New York, 1924-30.
The family is listed in US Census, 1 Apr 1930, in Flushing, Queens, NY. He is "lawyer". From here.
He retired 1930, settled in St.Petersburg, Florida.
See argument with Alice Cashel about the Blennerhassetts, at unknown date.
Address in grave record is 235, 11th Ave NE, St.Petersburg, Florida (see map).

Jim dies, 1935:
He died 15 Aug 1935, St.Petersburg, Florida [grave], age 65 yrs.
Body brought back to Ireland in 1936. See funeral notice in Irish Independent, Saturday, June 27, 1936.
Body brought back on the California, landed at Dublin Sun 28 June 1936. See item (and headline) in Irish Independent, Monday, June 29, 1936.
Funeral at Pro-Cathedral, Dublin, 29 June 1936, bur with his wife in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.
See brief biography.
Jim and Nell had issue:

  1. Donal Sullivan,
    born 1912, Ireland.
    "Dono". NOT Donald.
    He is written as "Donal Dhu" on grave ("Black Donal").
    Una Lavelle had photo of "Donal" as infant 1916 with his mother.
    He died 10 Apr 1919, age 7 yrs [grave],[grave record], shortly before mother. NOT 1918.
    He died of same cause as mother [apparently she got it from him].
    Cannot find death in [GROI].
    He was bur Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

  2. Stephen Sullivan,
    Steve, listed as "Stephen O'Mara Sullivan" at mar,
    born 2 Sept 1913, Strand House, Limerick [GROI].

  3. Ellen Sullivan,
    Nell, birth cert has her as "Ellen O'Mara Sullivan", bapt "Ellen Sinn Fein Sullivan",
    though later she went as "Ellen Maureen Sullivan",
    born 11 May 1916 (just after 1916 Rising, father must have been in jail), 43 Pembroke Rd, Dublin [GROI].
    She mar 22 Aug 1935 to Marlow White [born 31 July 1915] and had issue.
    They mar at St.Paul's, St.Petersburg, Florida.

  4. Sheila Sullivan,
    born 1917, Ireland.
    Listed as "Julia", age 12, in [US Census, 1 Apr 1930]. Note her grandmother was Julia.
    Can't find birth in [GROI].
    1930 census says she was born New York, but this may not be true since it also says her siblings were born New York.
    Her father died in Florida 1935.
    She went back to Ireland at age 18, 1935.
    At mar 1941 she is living 20 Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin. This is the home of her cousin Eileen Spain.
    See letter of 11 Sept 1941 from her uncle James O'Mara about the forthcoming wedding.
    She mar 29 October 1941 to Michael Callaghan and had issue.
    They mar at St.Andrew's church, Dublin. See mar cert from here. They were mar by Fr.Paddy.

Jim Sullivan, 1913.
See larger and full size.

Jim Sullivan.
See larger and full size.

Must be Nell O'Mara.
See larger and full size.

Nell O'Mara's wedding, 1910, Strand House, Limerick.
On benches: Bill O'Sullivan (left), Fr. Paddy (right).
Front centre group: Phons (left), the 3 Rynne children, Joe (right).
Main row (left to right): Frank Healy, Norrie (front), Ethel O'Neill, Kat, Nell, think Stephen, Ellen Pigott, Stephen O'Mara, Jim Sullivan, Ellen Sullivan, Mary, James, Agnes Cashel, (unknown priest).
This is front door of Strand House.
Note US flags.
See larger and larger and full size. See other copy.

Nell O'Mara's wedding, 1910, Strand House, Limerick.
Left to Right: Nell O'Mara, Norrie O'Mara, their mother Ellen Pigott (died Oct 1910), Mary O'Mara, sister-in-law Agnes Cashel.
At front: Kat O'Mara.
See larger and full size.

Nell O'Mara's wedding, 1910, Strand House, Limerick.
The 2 parents and the 9 children.
Back (Left to Right): Stephen, Fr.Paddy, Nell, Norrie, Stephen O'Mara, Mary, Joe, James,
Middle: Ellen Pigott.
Front: Phons, Kat.
See larger and full size. See other copy.

Must be Nell O'Mara with one of the children.
Location: Front of Strand House.
See larger and full size.
See other copy. From [P40/910]. Used with permission of [UL Archives].

Extract from p.97 of [Link, 1954].
Arthur S. Link describes Sullivan's term as U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic as "one of the most disgraceful chapters in the history of the American foreign service".


Films of James Mark Sullivan, 1916-20



Sources yet to be consulted


Piaras Beaslai papers

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