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Updated: Sep 7, 2020


John Mary Lynch was born on this day 100 years ago, 15 August 1917. John Mary, I hear you ask? Of course he is better known as Jack Lynch, corkonian, sportsman, barrister and politician. The fifth of seven children, Jack was born to the sound of the Shandon Bells, on the second floor of a house on Bob and Joan’s Walk.

Figure 1: Jack Lynch with his mother. Birthplace of Jack Lynch, Shandon, Cork.[1]



Jack’s father Daniel, was a tailor, and can be found on the 1901 census living in Bantry where his occupation is a journeyman tailor. His employer, Cornelius Downey was a merchant tailor and employed a number of men who travelled around the countryside staying in big houses making clothes for the occupants. Sometime between 1901 and 1909, Dan moved to Cork City and met his future wife Nora O’Donoghue, marrying her on the 30 September 1909 in the North Cathedral.

1901 census Dan Lynch

Figure 2: 1901 Census, Main Street, Bantry, Co. Cork.

At that time Nora, was living with her parents and siblings at 67 Dominick Street, whilst Dan was living at 68 North Main Street. Both were working for Daniels and Sons, 81 Grand Parade, he as a tailor, she as a seamstress.[2]

Marriage certificate Dan Lynch & Norah O'Donoghue

Figure 3: Marriage certificate, Daniel Lynch and Norah O'Donoghue, 7 September 1909.

Following their marriage, it seems that Dan moved to Dominick Street, where his first two sons were born, Timothy John (Theo) and James Francis. In 1912, Nora’s father, James died, and it is evident, from the birth certificate of Jerome Charles (Fr. Charlie) that the Lynch’s had moved to St. Ann’s Shandon to live with Nora’s mother, Margaret. Sadly in 1915, James Francis died aged three years. Over the next number of years Finbarr, Jack, Rena (Irene) and Eva were born in Shandon.

Death certificate James Lynch 1915

Figure 4: Death certificate, James Lynch.

The two storey building, complete with basement, is located in Bob and Joan’s Walk, and on several records pertaining to the Lynch family, the address is noted as being, ‘Churchyard, Shandon’, (figure 4). The building, which has since been restored, was purchased by the Cork Corporation in 1986 for £16,000, following a proposal by Fine Gael TD, Bernard Allen.[3] The Lynch family lived in the house until Jack’s beloved mother, Nora, died in the North Infirmary on 6 October 1932, aged just fifty-one (although her death certificate states forty-five).

Death certificate, Nora Lynch, 1932

Figure 5: Death certificate for Nora Lynch, 6 October 1932.


Jack’s maternal grandfather James O’Donoghue married Margaret McCarthy on 30 July 1874 in the Roman Catholic parish of Glounthaune. The newlyweds lived in Glouthaune for a number of years but when Jack Lynch’s mother Nora was born on 23 February 1881, they were living at 23 King Street. James O’Donoghue was a publican at the time running the Cork Arms. The pub is still in business in the renamed MacCurtain Street.

Birth certificate, Nora Lynch nee O'Donoghue

Figure 6: Birth certificate of Nora Lynch (nee O'Donoghue).

James O'Donoghue, was originally from Lackenroe, in the Roman Catholic parish of Glounthaune, where his father, Denis farmed approximately eighty-six acres. The 1901 census shows that he is living in Dominick Street, no longer working as a publican but engaged as a cornbroker. In 1911, James is still working as a cornbroker, but on this occasion, his address is Shandon Churchyard. It should be noted that the return states that he had ten children born, four of whom are still living. However, it would seem, this question has been misinterpreted as the number of children living in the house is four.

House & building return, 1911, Shandon Churchyard

Figure 7: House and Building return, 1911, Shandon Churchyard.

Guys Postal Directory - Glounthane

Figure 8: Guy's Postal Directory, 1875.

On the 1901 census, the Lackenroe farm has been taken over by James’ brother John, and also to be noted is the presence of James O’Donoghue’s son Charles (Jack Lynch’s uncle), described as a visitor on the return. Another primary source cements the identity of Jack Lynch’s paternal grandfather, when the death notice of James O’Donoghue published in the Examiner, notes that he is the eldest son of Denis.

Death notice James O'Donoghue

Figure 9: Death notice of James O'Donoghue, 31 May 1912.[4]

James’ wife, Margaret, died, seventeen years later in 1929, and her headstone which records many of her family, is located in Caherlag cemetery just north of Glounthaune.

O'Donoghue graveyard plot, Caherlag

Figure 10: O'Donoghue gravestone, Caherlag Cemetery.



Very little information is available about Jack’s relatives in West Cork. It is noted on his father’s marriage certificate in 1909, that Jack’s grandfather was Timothy Lynch, a farmer. In Dermot Keogh’s wonderful biography, it is stated that Jack’s grandfather was Thady Lynch and his grandmother was Nan O’Sullivan.[5] Following extensive searches, I discovered the birth registration of a Daniel Lynch in 22 December 1881, which shows that his parents’ names are Timothy and Hanora nee O’Sullivan. The residence of the family is Raheen, in the parish of Kilmocomoge.

This does not quite tie in with Lynch’s own recollection, when he stated in an article in Magill, that his ‘father's family came from a sm