The Mahoneys of County Cork
The Mahoney name has a long history that begins with Brian Boru, one of Ireland's greatest heroes. Brian Boru was the high king of Ireland in the eleventh century and it was he who united the many smaller kingdoms of Ireland against the tyranny of the Saxon invaders. Brian Boru's daughter, Saidbh, married Cain mac Maol Muadh, Prince of Raithleann and had a son named Mathghamhna (pronounced Mahowna), which means bear in Irish. Mathghamhna, along with many other Irishmen including Brian Boru, fell at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 AD. Mathghamhna's descendents called themselves O'Mathghamhna in his honor. This surname became O'Mahoney and by 1890, the 'O' had been largely dropped and simply Mahoney was the most common spelling.
The Mahoneys are found primarily in County Cork in the lands that used to form the Mahoney territory, stretching from the modern barony of Kinelmeaky and extending to the sea.
Researching the Mahoney Name
A map of southern Ireland, the area where our Mahoney ancestors came from.
Researching the Mahoneys is very difficult simply because there are so many of them! So often, there are several Mahoneys listed in a record that might be an ancestor but it takes a lot of research to figure out which one is really the relative I am looking for. This is only complicated by the fact that there are many different ways to spell the Mahoney name. So far, in the records I have found for my family, the name has been spelled Mahoney in America and Mahony in Ireland but it is not uncommon to also see it spelled as O'Mahony, Mahowney, or even McMahony.
I would like to mention here that without the help of my great-uncle Dan Mahoney, I could never have found as much information as I now have nor would I have been able to take the family history back any farther; I owe him a great debt of gratitude.
Our Mahoney Lineage
Our Mahoney history, as far back as can now be traced, begins with Jeremiah Mahoney and Hannah Cronin who lived in the area around Inchigeelagh in the north of County Cork, Ireland. There is very little information about the couple, but the birth records show that they had seven children:
- Hannah Mahoney, christened 18 January 1819 in Inchigeelagh Parish
- Hannah Mahoney, christened 14 March 1824 in Inchigeelagh Parish
- Hannah Mahoney, christened 27 February 1826 in Inchigeelagh Parish
- Jeremiah Mahoney, christened 4 September 1828 at Turnaspidogy, Inchigeelagh Parish
- Dan Mahoney, christened 25 April 1831 at Turnaspidogy, Inchigeelagh Parish
- Michael Mahoney, christened 28 September 1833 at Turnaspidogy, Inchigeelagh Parish
- Ellen Mahoney, christened 21 January 1838 at Turnaspidogy, Inchigeelagh Parish
I believe that Jeremiah and Hannah's first two daughters, both named Hannah, passed away at a young age; it was a fairly common practice to reuse the given name of a child who died at a young age so as to keep the name in the family.
Jeremiah and Hannah's son Michael Mahoney married Anne Buckley, daughter of Michael Buckley, on the 30th of January, 1881 at Johnstown, County Cork. They raised a family in the nearby town of Graigue:
- Jeremiah born Dec. 2, 1881
- Bridget born Jan. 30, 1884
- Timothy born Dec. 5, 1886
- Daniel born April 20, 1890
- Cornelius born March 22, 1891
- Hannah born April 15, 1892
- Michael born May 10, 1894
- John born June 5, 1896
- Patrick born Jan 28, 1898
- James born (unknown)
The family was very poor in those troubled times in Ireland; both John and James died at a young age and every other child except Daniel left for America. Daniel stayed in Inchigeela and married Mary OLeary. They had one son, Michael, who was the local postman. He has since passed away but his wife still lives in the Mahoney home in Inchigeela.
It is not known which of Michael and Abbey's children came to America first but what is certain that all the brothers and sisters ended up in the San Francisco bay area, each sending money back to Ireland so that the others might make the trip.
Timothy Mahoney came to America on May 10, 1911 on the ship S.S. Carmania (see his passenger record). As soon as he landed in New York he left to meet his brother John who was in San Francisco. Once there, he got a job working for the Southern Pacific Railroad and was later a Motorman on the Market St. Railway. During this time he met Mary Sullivan, another Irish immigrant from Glengarriff, County Cork who was working in the city as a Domestic. They were married and moved into a cottage together at 315 27th Street in San Francisco. Timothy got a new job as a Car Inspector to support his wife and two sons, Michael and Jerry (born Dec. 17, 1917 and Nov. 15, 1919 respectively). Late in the year of 1920, the Mahoneys moved to a bigger house at 355 Clipper St. Daniel was born there on (living) and Timothy got a job as a San Francisco Police Officer shortly thereafter to support his growing family. Margaret (Sep. 26, 1923) and James (June 6, 1925) were born at the house on Clipper St. before the family moved in 1929 to a house at 1339 15th Avenue in a neighborhood of mostly Irish immigrants. Emmet was born shortly after the family moved there and this is the house that all of the kids would grow up in. They all went to St. Annes Grammar School.
On November 1st, 1953, Timothy died at the age of 67 while still working as a police officer. Mary would follow him in death on October 2nd, 1967 and they are buried together in Holy Cross Cemetery just outside of San Francisco (view Timothy's and Mary's obituaries).
Jeremiah Mahoney moved to Sacramento and married Sheila OLeary. He had six children; Timothy, Margaret, Michael, James, Terence, and Sheila. He joined the Air Force during WWII and he was the chief of the Division of Real Estate for the State of California for 20 years. He died on December 15, 1970 at the age of 51 (view Jeremiah's obituary).
Daniel Mahoney married Marie. He joined the army in WWII and then became a police officer in San Francisco in 1947. He is still living in San Francisco and he is the one who provided me with a lot of the information on the Mahoneys in Ireland.
Margret became Sister Mary Patrick when she joined the Sisters of Presentation in San Jose. She was always close to all of her brothers and sisters and all of their children. She passed away on February 18, 1976 at the age of 52 (view Sister Mary's obituary).
James married Dottie OBrien and joined the Navy during WWII. He also joined the San Francisco Police Department in 1947 after he had returned from the war. He had six children; Thomas, Edward, Patrick, Timothy, James, and Diane. After working as a Motorcycle policeman, he worked as a circulation driver for the San Francisco Examiner. He died on April 17, 1970 at the age of 44 (view James' obituary).
Emmet, born John Emmet, married Chevis Rothell around 1955. They lived in Redwood City where he was a worker for PG&E for 39 years. They had six children; Robert, Reece, John, Michael, Gerald, and James. He passed away on March 19, 1992 at the age of 62 (view Emmet's obituary).
My grandfather Michael Mahoney graduated from Maryknoll College in Mountain View in June, 1936 and went to MacMaster-Paine College for a short while thereafter. He married Mathilda Coughlan on May 14, 1941. They met during an event sponsored by the catholic clubs that they belonged to. They lived in several houses around the bay area while Michael worked in the wholesale liquor distribution business where he would eventually become the Vice President of McKesson Liquor Distribution. They would eventually settle at 14601 Aloha Ln. Saratoga, California and have 6 kids: Timothy, Daniel, Gerald, Patrick, Marilyn, and Ann.