Brosnan/Brosnahan: Thady Mick’s crew

At Easter this year I was honoured to be invited to address the descendants of Timothy Michael “Thady Mick” Brosnahan, a famous figure among the Kerrytown Brosnahans, as they gathered in Timaru and Kerrytown for a family reunion.  It was my first real ceremonial function as Ceann Fine since the Gathering in 2013.  Margaret and Bernard Hempseed, there as members of Thady Mick’s descendant group, had also been present with me in Kerry and were inspired to have a sash made to add to the accoutrements of my role.  I had my hawthorn stick of course and was proudly showing it off when they made the surprise presentation.  I was very grateful for their thoughtfulness.

With my new "Ceann Fine" sash in Kerry colours, Easter 2014.

With my new “Ceann Fine” sash in Kerry colours, Easter 2014.

The descendants of Thady Mick form a fascinating example of the optional spellings of the Brosnan/Brosnahan surname when it is used in the English form.  Thady had two wives, each of whom bore him children.  Those born to his union with Mary Sullivan went by the Brosnahan surname.  When she died and he remarried Bridget O’Neill, the children of the ‘second’ family went by Brosnan.  I suppose it was one way of keeping clear as to who belonged to who.  Anyway it means that Brosnan and Brosnahan are mixed up in this particular way in a manner that is untangleable (if that’s a word).

To add to the confusion, Margaret Hempseed’s mother married first a Brosnan (of the Thady Mick line) and then a Brosnahan.  Margaret, born to Winnie McGuire and Fergus Brosnan, was therefore a Brosnan.  Her sister Claudia, meanwhile, the daughter of Winnie and her second husband Harold Brosnahan, was a Brosnahan (of the John ‘Peg Leg’ line).  I made some play of this in my address to the reunion, pointing out that however our surname if spelt in English, it is an Irish name and O’Brosnácháin is the ‘proper’ spelling of the name.  I heard an Irish speaker in a TV documentary refer to the Brosnahans collectively as what sounded like “Na Brosnacháiní” which I guess is the plural.  Please correct me if this in wrong.

Tony Brosnan outlines the schedule for the Brosnan/Brosnahan reunion at Kerrytown, Easter 2014.

Tony Brosnan outlines the schedule for the Brosnan/Brosnahan reunion at Kerrytown, Easter 2014.

Thady Mick Brosnahan's descendants at Kerrytown, Easter 2014.

Thady Mick Brosnahan’s descendants at Kerrytown, Easter 2014.

The reunion itself was a fun gathering with visits to farm properties at Kerrytown that are no longer in family hands, a dinner, a Mass and a lunch at Temuka.  I really enjoyed meeting a whole new set of Brosnans/Brosnahans, seeing so many physical and social characteristics that seem to  be common to all the Kerrytown families, and hearing stories of this vibrant energetic branch of the tribe.  Na Brosnacháiní go bragh.

Margaret Brosnan Hempseed at Kerrtown, Easter 2014.

Margaret Brosnan Hempseed at Kerrtown, Easter 2014.

Margaret Brosnan Hempseed with her Kerry flag at the site of the old Kerrytown convent, Easter 2014.

Margaret Brosnan Hempseed with her Kerry flag at the site of the old Kerrytown convent, Easter 2014.

Plaque commemorating the old Kerrytown convent site.

Plaque commemorating the old Kerrytown convent site.

Rare postmark from the old Kerrytown post office, thanks to Bernard Hempseed.

Rare postmark from the old Kerrytown post office, thanks to Bernard Hempseed.

All photographs above courtesy of Bernard Hempseed.

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6 comments on “Brosnan/Brosnahan: Thady Mick’s crew

  1. Tim Brosnahan says:

    An old relation of mine asserted that “our” Brosnahans are related to Thady Mick’s through “Peg-Leg” being a cousin of his. I’m so sorry that I missed this reunion event.

    • thebrosnan says:

      That seems fairly likely Tim, just a shame we can’t confirm those sorts of connections. I just adopt the policy that we are all cousins, whatever the number of ‘removes’ may be involved. I’d love to add some photos of your family line to this blog. Old Peg Leg seems to have more descendants that still carry the Brosnahan name around South Canterbury than any of the other families. Do you know anything about his accident and losing the leg? I’ve tried searching Papers Past for any report but so far have drawn a blank.
      Cheers

      Seán

  2. tbrosnan@xtra.co.nz says:

    Thanks Shaun Anthony Tony Brosnan

  3. Dorothy Dowgray says:

    What a wonderful gathering it would have been. Congratulations to all the descendants of Thady Mick and his families. I am a descenadent of Thady Mick’s sister, Johanna Brosnahan, who married James Poff. Dorothy Dowgray

    • Eileen O'Dowd says:

      Hi Dorothy. I have just come across this site as I have been trying to research my family history. My name is Eileen O’Dowd and I live in Co Down, Ireland. My grandfather was Michael Brosnan from Kilfiem. His father, Timothy had a brother Jeremiah who I think is the man mentioned in the book, and he seems to be a cousin of Johanna Brosnan who married James Poff.
      AI also know that Marion Simmonds visited my mother some years ago and she was descended from Johanna and James Poff. I was wondering if you could help fill in the gap. Am I right in thinking possibly that Johanna’s father Michael was a brother of Timothy and Jeremiah? I would love to be able follow the line of Johanna and James to the present day also.

      Eileen

      • Dorothy Dowgray says:

        Hullo Eileen I have only just read your comment. Many apologies. It certainly sounds as though we are related. Marion Simmonds passed away 2 years ago. Her husband Tony was my mother’s first cousin. I would love to explore this further with you. Perhaps we could do so by email. My address: jddowgray@yahoo.co.nz
        Kind regards, Dorothy Dowgray

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