The Mc Greal Family
These quite unassuming family members were well known in the Carrabawn area of Westport town as landowners & businesspeople.
The Mac Grail Sept of Ireland was a branch of the Mac Neill Clans of the Western Isles of Scotland. These peoples settled during the fifteenth century within Ireland. The name subsequently changed further to O’Neill then on to Mac Neill on arrival in Mayo. Mc Greal family ancestors came from Ulster to Westport as part of the linen workers during the 1700’s. They lived at the original town of Cathair na Mart in Westport Demesne at the east end of Westport House Estate among the seven hundred inhabitants that were evicted when The Browne’s wished to extend their gardens! A stone tablet on the gable of the small chapel across the road from Aughavale cemetery on the road to Louisburgh is inscribed ‘In loving memory of Patrick McGreal Newforest Carnalurgan Husband of Anne, Father of Dr. Patrick, John, Catherine, Domnick and Michael. He died in 1799 age 47 years.’ John Mc Greal of Newforest was herd’s man for Lord Sligo. His lands in Newforest included the former Carrabawn site of Mc Greal’s home & land.
Patrick was born in 1856 at Newforest. He first married Bridget Mc Greal Murrisk who died at a young age: they had one son Domnic (12th July 1890-24/11/1957). His second marriage was to Margaret (Mater) Collins (Glenmask) (1866-28 /1 /1955.) Their family included a set of twin girls Margaret & May, Anne, John then Catherine also baby Bridget (she died 1st January 1894). Patrick’s family lived on the old narrow road from Leenane Road to Aughaval graveyard. His second family is buried in Aughavale cemetery Westport. Their gravestone reads; Margaret Relict of P. (Pat) Mc Greal and son John died January 10th1964. Daughter Annie died March 20th 1973. Daughter Margaret died March 3rd 1982. Unfortunately the headstone was damaged in a winter storm several years ago.
Patrick and Margaret’s family was cousins of the Beckett family, Davitt Terrace, Westport (from Bridget & John Lavelle’s Line) in the town along with Barbara (1872-1 /8/ 1932) & Katie Mc Greal (1868 -23/12/1922) also Fr. John McGreal (1845 – 1906), Bridget (1864-1921) & Margaret (Domnic & Mary Sheridan’s Line). Barbara and Katie were proprietors of a licensed premises at the Octagon (now Hoban’s) also Fr. John Mc Greal was curate at Mayo Abbey & on the the Aran Islands. There is the sad family tale of Katie who was pushed into a fire by a drunken man in the pub one night; although she survived she was left with physical & psychological injuries throughout the rest of her life. Her sister Barbara nursed her along with running the family business.
Sonny (John), born in 1902/3? worked on the farm: he also assisted with the heavy manual work. He sowed the orchard with Gretta. He collected turf from their bog then stocked it at the large shed. Sonny’s demise occurred on 10th January 1964: he is buried with his parents at Aughavale cemetery.
Annie was born in 1899/1901? She later spent over twenty years in the U.S. She was employed in Cleveland by a very wealthy family during the Spring & Fall. They spent the winter in Hope Sound, Florida also the summer in northern Michigan. During the 1940’s she was employed by Richard Rogers of the musical team of Rogers & Hammerstein fame. She returned to live her life at Carrabawn where she died following a long illness in the Sacred Heart Hospital, Castlebar on 27th May 1973. Annie is buried in the family grave at Aughavale cemetery.
May (Gretta’s twin) (May 1895-September 1991) married Percy Hughes in England. They had one son John: he married Josephine Dahdale who in turn also have a son John!
Gretta was May’s twin she was born during 1895. She worked on the family farm. She ran the house, milked the cows, looked after the orchard. She had a business in milk production & wholesale among Westport customers. Gretta was once injured in an accident at the end of the road as a car knocked her off her bicycle. Gretta demise occurred on 3rd May 1982: she is buried at Aughaval in the family plot.
During the late forties Gretta took in a lodger, her cousin Mrs. Minnie Lynch (1883 – 12 /04/1973) following her husband Con Lynch’s demise during 1948. Minnie had been adopted by her Aunt Margaret & husband Michael Keating RIC from Tipperary. They lived on Altamont Street.
Katie (Catherine) was born at the family home. (04 / 01/ 1901-17 /05 /1987). She emigrated to Cleveland, Ohio where she married James Collins from Drummin. He was employed as a barber during the Depression. Later he was employed by Cleveland Transit Co. (31 /10 /1900-02 /05 /1972). They had a son James who died shortly after birth also a daughter Margaret (Rita) During the harsh winters of 1929 / 1903 Katie opened her house to many Mayo people. She kept a stove in her large basement constantly fuelled with coffee on the boil supplied throughout the day for visitors. Her demise occurred on 17th May 1987. Their daughter Rita married Thomas Fitzmaurice, (a policeman) they lived in Euclid, Ohio. Rita’s demise occurred on 11th November 2014. They had four boys; Michael, James, Thomas & John also two girls Catherine also Theresa.
Have recollections of Sonny that included him as he worked in the barn or when he stacked turf from his bog in the shed or again as he swept the large yard. There were days Gretta walked the roads with her milk cans or collected water from the well on Leenane Road. The sight of the aged Gretta sitting in her very dark kitchen at the extremely smoky fire lingers to this day. This was in sharp contrast with the dainty bright sitting room of Minnie Lynch at the front of Gretta’s house! Also remember that when Gretta was in ill health later in her life she kept the turf for her fire in the bath! We often enjoyed lovely fresh fruit from the large Orchard! (NBC)
Johnny Mee in his weekly column on an article on Carrabawn in The Connaught Telegraph stated that ‘in recent times Sonny & Gretta Mc Greal were the salt of the earth, whose home was a popular meeting place for local people.’
The Mayo News 1st February 2022 in an tribute to Martin O ‘Malley it was reported that ‘He was of great help to his neighbours especially Gretta Mc Greal: she enjoyed his visits & entertaining stories.’
Information from Family Folklore including Rita also John Fitzmaurice & personal memorabilia.
Mayo in the Twentieth Century The Mayo News (Mulloy John pages 26 / 27 December 1999)