Stafford O’Neill (1825-1883) and family

 

Stafford O’Neill, the younger brother, born around 1825, probably in the townland of Ballymacpeake [Google Maps], received a canonical dispensation to marry Cecily O’Neill in 1853. Of their ten children, five emigrated to New Zealand, three emigrated to the USA, and two remained in Ireland. Stafford died of typhoid in 1883 aged 58, and Cicily died in 1890 aged 60.
The children who remained in Ireland were:

  • James (1855-1936) became a Sergeant in the Royal Irish Constabulary, but later took on the family farm; his descendants still live around Ballymacpeake.
  • Margaret (1872-1935), who married Edward Downey and had eight children; many of their descendants still live around Ballymacpeake.

The children who emigrated to New Zealand were:

  • Pat (1857-1938) married Margaret McKee from Eden, in Dunedin in 1882. He worked for some time on the construction of St Joseph’s Cathedral, but for most of his working life he was employed by the New Zealand Railways.
  • Staff (1860-1932) travelled first to the USA, and worked in a brickyard in New York City. Then he went back to Ireland and on to New Zealand with the ship “Bombay” (both sail and steam, and built of iron) as a steerage passenger. He arrived at Port Chalmers (Dunedin) on 24 January 1884. On his first night in Dunedin he stayed at the Gridiron Hotel, now (2016) the site of the law firm O’Neill Devereux (founded by Staff’s first cousin twice removed John Stafford O’Neill Jr). Later Stafford travelled to Tasmania. While he was there, the bank he had his money in went broke. He then came back to New Zealand, where he married Bridget Herlihy (whose sister Nellie had married his cousin John), and settled as a farmer at Patearoa in Central Otago.
  • John (1862-1907) married Bridget Keane from Co. Mayo, at Oamaru in 1888, and lived in the North Otago area until 1906. He was a hotelier at Kurow for some time, and for a short time also had a farm near Oamaru. While out hare shooting near Omarama, he was run over by a buggy wheel and badly hurt. The whole family then moved to the Masonic Hotel in Wellington, where John died in 1907. Bridget and family then continued as hoteliers at Inglewood, Taranaki.
  • Mary Jane (1864-1936) left Ireland with her brother Neal and cousin Margaret as an assisted immigrant, for Rockhampton, Queensland. Legally, they were meant to stay two years there, but they came on to Port Chalmers in 1890. She was met at the ship by her cousin Jane (O’Neill) Mulholland and husband John Mulholland. Mary Jane soon settled in Oamaru, where she and her husband Edward were the first couple married in St Patrick’s Basilica.
  • Neal (1869-1928) married a Kiwi-born girl, Maggie Donnelly, in Hastings in 1895, and lived there for the rest of his life, where he was a foreman at the Whakatu Freezing Works. He died as a result of being knocked off a bicycle by a car.

The children who emigrated to the USA were:

  • Hugh (1866-1921) married a Co. Clare girl, Johanna Dillon, in New York City in 1905, and settled at Newburgh in upstate New York. For a time he was a ship’s mate for the Central Steamboat Co.
  • Sinney (1868-1907) also settled in Newburgh NY, where he married Sarah Convery in 1896. He was a railway car inspector, and was killed in a train accident in 1907. It was only when Sinney’s son John visited Co. Derry in the early 1980s(?) that contact was reestablished between the New Zealand and US sides of the family, and thus also with the descendants of Hugh O’Neill.
  • Joseph (born in 1872), “died early in America”, according to notes received in 1980, possibly through drowning or being mugged. Research in the early 1980s drew a blank.

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