Jane Kavanaugh O’Neill was born in 1812 at Meeting of the Waters in Wicklow, Ireland. She was married to James O’Neill and had five children between 1837 and 1855. After 1855 James died at some point and Jane for some reason decided to head for Canada. She is said to have brought with her chests full of teas to sell when she arrived. It is also said that she worked on barges going up and down the Rideau Canal selling tea but I can find no record of that in census’ in regard to occupation etc. She was also nearing 50 years of age by the time they arrived in Canada. Her daughter Sarah married my gr grandfather Patrick Keating.
Jane obviously was a woman of great determination to bring her children over to Canada to start a new life. They did well and Sarah married well. Her son Patrick married twice, the first wife died and left him with a young daughter. His second wife had no interest in this daughter and eventually Rose Mary O’Neill entered the convent and became a teacher. In 2003 Mary Kaiser and I found some information about her so I contacted the order of nuns and they sent me a packet about RoseMary. When her father died she did not go home for the funeral. I would suspect that was a bit of a difficult relationship. She was in contact with her aunts and cousins though. There are pictures of her.
John O’Neill married Ann Callary and had a large family. From that family my mother had cousins that she was particularly close to such as Ann Collins who became Ann Comerford mother of John who many of us knew and know today and his children.
Her daughter Jane (Jen) never married and ended up taking care of Sarah’s children after Sarah died from TB in 1892. My grandmother was about 12 when her mother died after taking in an orphan boy who’s mother had died, he brought TB into the house and in the end Sarah, her husband, two of her daughters and her sister died from the disease. Luckily Jane Kavanaugh died in 1890 so this was not while she was still alive. She actually died two months after taking a bad fall.
Her last child was Catherine known as Kate who married Martin Meagher. AFter Martin died my grandmother took Kate into the house and my mother always told me how terrible she treated grandmother and would reduce her to tears. My mother also told me she hated Aunt Kate because of this. Now my uncle Ferg wrote in his book “Because you asked for it” that he loved Aunt Kate and how she would take the boys downtown and buy them suits and things. Guess she liked the boys better than the girls in that house. Oh well.
That is the story of Gr Gr grandmother O’Neill. I just see her as this very strong woman who sought out a better life for herself and her children in Canada. Having been to Meeting of the WAters I can see that it had to have been hard on her there as it is in the woods and a lovely beautiful place but maybe not a place where during hard times in Ireland you would be able to support yourself well.