Thursday, 30 July 2009

15: Comerford of Dundalk

Waterford Cathedral (Roman Catholic), where Edward Comerford from Dundalk was the organist. He died in Waterford in 1894. (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2007)

Patrick Comerford

Another family of Comerfords is found in counties Longford, Monaghan and Louth, where the name is often a variant of Comiskey. However, some descendants of the Comerfords of Kilkenny and Bunclody [see Chapter 8: Comerford of Bunclody and Dublin] moved to Drogheda, Co Louth, in the 18th and 19th centuries, and this family may be related to these two families in Dundalk, Co Louth:


PETER COMERFORD (? born ca 1767, or ca 1795) married Mary McIntee or McEntee. They were the parents of at least four children, two daughters and two sons::

1, Susan (ca 1813- ). She was born ca 1813. She married Owen Rice Ireland. They emigrated to North Brookfield, Massachusetts.
2, Michael Comerford (ca 1797 or 1815- ), of whom next.
3, Philip Comerford (ca 1825- ). He was born ca 1825. He married Mary Taggart in Chester, England. They later emigrated to Los Angeles, California, in the 1860s.
4, Mary (ca 1830- ). She was born ca 1830. She married Patrick Kelley in Ireland. They later emigrated to North Brookfield, Massachusetts.

MICHAEL COMERFORD (ca 1797 or 1815- ). According to Barney Comerford, he was thought by his family to have been a native of Co Louth,and was born ca 1797; according to Timothy Holl, he was born ca 1815.[1] He was married twice, firstly ca 1839 to Sarah Jane Jordan or Jourdan, from Dundalk, Co Louth. He is said to have been educated in landscape architecture. After living for several years in Sydney, Australia, he brought his family to San Francisco or Los Angeles, California in 1851. He seems to have been related to some Comerfords who worked in the mines of Virginia City, Nevada.[2]


PATRICK COMERFORD (ca 1812?-1870), was living in Francis Street, Dundalk, Co Louth, in 1837, and later lived at Church Street, Dundalk (ca 1852-1853), and at Seatown, Dundalk. In 1844 he joined the ranks of the Dissenters to O’Connell, and when the Young Ireland Party became a living force in Dundalk, he was among their ranks.

The Louth County Library Service has its origins in the Dundalk Free Library established by the Town Commissioners in 1856 under the Public Libraries Act 1853. It was the first such library to be established in Ireland, and was the achievement of the cross-community activities of four men, the Young Irelander Patrick Comerford; the Church of Ireland Vicar of Dundalk, the Rev Elias Thackeray (1771-1854), a former Fellow of King’s College Cambridge, uncle of the writer William Makepeace Thackeray; an English-born medical doctor, Dr John Browne; and the MP for Co Louth, Chichester Fortescue, who was responsible for the adoption of the Libraries Act 1853 in Ireland. [3]

On the establishment of the library in Dundalk, he became Honorary Librarian, a post which passed through no less than five members of the family. He was Collector of Municipal Taxes for a number of years. He died on 1 April 1870 and was buried in Faughart, Co Louth. He married Sarah McArdle, who died 30 August 1891, aged 77, when she was described as a ‘lady’ and widowed. She was buried with her husband in Faughart. Their children included at least four sons and four daughters:

1, Mary, baptised on 30 September 1834.
2, John Comerford (1845-1873), of whom next.
3, Catherine Comerford (ca 1846-1917), of Clanbrassil Street, Dundalk. She was born ca 1846. The 1901 census show Catherine Comerford, shopkeeper and delph merchant, aged 55 and single, living at 40 Clanbrassil Street, Dundalk, with her two unmarried nieces, Sarah Comerford, librarian, aged 21, born in Salford, England; and Teresa Comerford, aged 20, shop assistant, born in England. She died on 7 December 1917 at 37 Clanbrassil Street, Dundalk.
4, Teresa (1852-1898), baptised on 15 February 1852, she died at Clanbrassil Street, Dundalk, on 13 August 1898, when her age was given as 45.
5, Francis Comerford (1853-1885), horse dealer, of Church Street,Dundalk. Baptised on 24 December 1853. He married Mary Browne. He died on 5 September 1885, aged 32, widowed, was buried in Faughart with his parents. They were the parents of:
● 1a, Kathleen Comerford, born 19 October 1895, at New Street, Dundalk.
6, Mathew Comerford (ca 1857/1860-1934), of Jenkinstown, Co Louth, Clanbrassil Street and Jocelyn Street, Dundalk, Co Louth. He was born ca 1857, and was aged 54 in 1911. He was Town Clerk of Dundalk, and one of the subscribers to Saint Christian’s New Church, Tullyallen, near Mellifont, Co Louth.[4] In 1901, he was living in Jenkinstown, Co Louth, aged 41; in 1911, he was living at 38 Jocelyn Street, Dundalk, aged 57. He died in 1934, aged 77. He married Anna Kathleen McPoland (ca 1877-1941). Anna was born in Liverpool ca 1875/1877 and died in Dundalk in 1941, aged 66. They had at least six children, three daughters and three sons:
● 1a, Mary Catherine Comerford (1898-post 1911), born 28 April 1898, aged 12 in 1911.
● 2a, Eileen Theresa Comerford (1901-post 1911), born 11 October 1901, aged 9 in 1911.
● 3a, John Gerard Comerford (1906-post 1911), born 15 February 1906, aged 5 in 1911.
● 4a, Mathew Comerford (1908- ), born on 30 September 1908.
● 5a, Bernard Comerford (1911- ), born on 11 June 1911.
● 6a, Elizabeth Comerford (1916- ), born on 4 June 1916.
7, Edward Comerford (18??-1894), an accredited musician and skilled organist of Waterford Cathedral, where he died in 1894.
8, Joseph Comerford (ca 1862-1887), horse dealer, died on 25 February 1887, aged 25, and was buried in Faughart, Co Louth, with his parents.

The first named son:

JOHN COMERFORD (1845-1873), of Dundalk, Co Louth. He was baptised in Dundalk on 1 February 1845. He joined the Irish Brigade under Major Myles O’Reilly in 1866 to fight in the Papal army against Garibaldi in the Italian War of Unification. He died on 7 March 1873 and was buried with his parents in Faughart, Co Louth.

SARAH ELIZABETH COMERFORD (ca 1879-1966) was still a librarian and living in Dundalk in 1933. She died died unmarried in 1966, aged 87.

© Patrick Comerford, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2020.

Sources and Footnotes:

[1] See Barney Comerford, pp 117, 228, 368; Email from Timothy Holl, dated 12 June 2011.
[2] See Barney Comerford, pp 384 and 483; Email from Timothy Holl, dated 12 June 2011.
[3]Harold O’Sullivan, Gerry Clarke, Dundalk and North Louth: Paintings and Stories from Cuchulainn’s Country (Dundurn Press Ltd., 1997), p. 38.
[4] Dundalk Democrat, 18 November 1898.

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Last updated: 17 December 2007, 15 and 17 August 2009; 9 August 2010; 14 June 2011; 11 April 2013; 16 July 2014; 4 November 2015; 27 July, 2020.


Tim Holl said...

Hello Patrick,
Just a short note to note the source's my information regarding Michael Comerford's year of birth.
1841 census of Great Boughton, near Chester, England he lists his age as 25; bc 1816.
1843 Emigration Papers to Australia, age listed as 28; bc 1815.
1852 census of California he lists his age as 40; bc 1812.
1860 US census of California he lists his age as 45; bc 1815.
in 1870 US census of California he gives his age as 72; bc 1798 and in the 1880 US census of California he lists 88 as his age; bc 1792.
Because of these firsthand sources from his early life, I believe 1815 is closest to his actual year of birth.
Tim Holl

Michael said...

Hi Patrick
I remember two Comerford sisters living in St. Mary's Dundalk in a very nice small Georgian house in a small terrace between the Marist Church and a Meeting hall of some sort (it's still there). They were quite elderly during the 60's and I seem to remember someone telling me that they were daughters of a Town Clerk.