Mary Anne Dooley by Flora Monaghan

Before I did my research, all I knew about my great grandmother, Mary Ann, was that she had reared my father and his two sisters from a very young age. In 1908 her daughter, my grandmother, Mary died at the age of thirty and Mary’s husband, Joseph, my grandfather, died three months later. She never got or looked for any help because she was afraid the children would be taken from her and put into an orphanage. At this stage in her life Mary Ann was a widow for the second time. She worked as a dealer in Patrick Street to support the family. Her son Patrick lived with her in Francis Street.

As I did my research on my great grandmother I learned what a strong independent woman she was who had a lot of tragedies in her life. She was born in Dublin in 1851, just after the famine years into a poor family of dealers, a trade that Mary worked at all her life. In 1870 she married Patrick Burke, they had a son Patrick in 1871. Her husband died in 1874 she then married Patrick Dooley. In 1875 she had my grandmother, Mary. A son, Valentine was born in 1878. In those days, life was very hard if you were left a widow with children you had no support, so women tended to marry again for security. In 1879 Patrick Dooley her second husband died, Mary Ann was left with three young children.

In 1905 on Christmas Eve, Mary Ann’s son, Valentine was found dead in the river Liffey in Dublin, he was twenty-six years of age. They never found any evidence of foul play. He had been drinking the night before with his stepbrother, Patrick. Mary went on to rear her three grandchildren. My father always spoke of her with great affection, as did my two aunts. Mary Ann died in 1926 at the age of seventy-seven she is buried in Deans Grange cemetery in Dublin.