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JACK LYNCH: Family history

Updated: Feb 17


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 small farm in the townland of Baurgorm, south of Bantry.’ In addition, he recalls that the family farm ‘was later amalgamated with another and this, in turn, was again amalgamated’. He also reflects that his father had two brothers, Jerry and John. John initially remained on the family farm in Bantry, before following his brother to Cork. Jerry immigrated to America, and contact was almost lost, however in the 1970s, ‘one of our Los Angeles cousins visited us over two years ago. I was out of the country at the time, but some of my brothers met him.’[6]

These statements have enabled the uncovering of some primary source information which may related to Jack Lynch’s paternal family. On the 1901 census, in the townland of Trawlebane, a Lynch family can be found. The parents’ names are Timothy and Hanora, with two sons John and Jeremiah. When looking at the townland maps from Trawlebane and Baurgorm, the proximity of the two townlands can be seen. The 1911 census shows just Timothy and John. Timothy’s marital status is widow, and the absence of Jeremiah would suggest that he immigrated to the United States of America.

Map showing proximity of Baurgorm & Trawlebane

Figure 11: Townlands of Baurgorm and Trawlebane, West Cork.[7]

1901 Census, Lynch family, Trawlebane, West Cork

Figure 12: 1901 Census return, Trawlebane, West Cork.

I have discovered a county of California marriage licence dated 1913 for Jeremiah Lynch. It further records Jeremiah’s parents as Timothy Lynch and Nora Sullivan. It is very possible that all the displayed documents relate to Jack Lynch’s paternal ancestors, however without verification it is also possible that coincidence may be in play.

Marriage License - Jerh Lynch, Los Angeles

Figure 13: Marriage License, city of Los Angeles, Jeremiah Lynch.[8]


Commemoration stamp

Figure 14: Commemorative stamp issued by An Post.

The centenary of Jack Lynch’s birth occurs today and he will be honoured in many various ways. An Post have issued a commemorative stamp and a commemoration ceremony will take place at St. Finbarr’s Cemetery, Cork, the location of his grave. The inscription on his gravestone reads, ‘Happy is the man who finds wisdom’. I hope this blog will impart some wisdom and knowledge in relation to the genealogical history of Jack Lynch.

Jack Lynch, grave, St. Finbarr's cemetery

Figure 15: Jack Lynch grave, St. Finbarr's Cemetery.

[1] Image -

[2] Jack Lynch, Bruce Arnold, Jack Lynch (Dublin, 2001), p. 1.

[3] T. P. O’Mahony, Jack Lynch (Dublin, 1991), p. 26.

[4] Cork Examiner, 1 June 1912.

[5] Dermot Keogh, Jack Lynch (Dublin,2008), p. 15.

[6] Magill, November 1979.



[9] Census returns -

Map of Shandon

Figure 16: Map of Shandon, late 1800s.

Autograph of Jack and Mairin Lynch

Figure 17: Jack and Mairin Lynch's autograph to my aunt Anne and all at 30 Mount Vernon Terrace.


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