Dunne Connections: Path to Madness

In 1944, my grandmother BRIDGET DUNNE PRICE provided hospice care in her home for the dying THOMAS DUNNE. I’ve spent countless hours with fellow family historians figuring out how he fits it. An 1896 immigrant to St. Louis, he sponsored the passage of my great aunt ELLEN DUNNE PRICE and great-great uncle MICHAEL MARTIN.

I thought the case was settled when we discovered his wife DELIA MARTIN was, in fact, my grandmother’s maternal aunt. How Thomas Dunne might be related became irrelevant.

But last night I spent some idle time checking the new “matches with common ancestors” feature on Ancestry. Up popped a match to my Aunt Mary Ellen, suggesting the common ancestor was ELIZABETH LAWLOR. Back to the drawing board .

Sorting through the generations of Michaels and Thomases, Here’s what I can figure out:

  1. The DNA cousin has a clear family tree connected to JULIA DUNNE, who married JOHN COLLINS (Rushestown). After they had children, they picked up and moved to Ohio.
  2. JULIA DUNNE is our THOMAS DUNNE’s aunt, the sister of his father THOMAS DUNNE. The father Thomas married HONORIA LOHAN and their marriage record provides his parents’ names: MICHAEL DUNNE and BRIDGET WARD.
  3. There is a baptismal record for MICHAEL DUNNE, showing parents MICHAEL DUNNE and ELIZABETH LAWLOR, but I see now the record is from Newtown, which I confused with the closer Newbridge or Newforest — so speculative at best. (The DNA Cousin may have copied my if-fy info.)
  4. If DNA proves we are related, who is the missing link between our two families?
  5. Hypothesis 1. MICHAEL DUNNE (b. ~1795) had a brother “GG3,” who fathered MICHAEL DUNNE (b. ~1840) of Ballaghduff. I have found the baptismal record for a sister Elizabeth, but no other clues emerge. In this scenario, my great-grandfather MICHAEL DUNNE and St. Louis’ THOMAS DUNNE are second cousins.
  6. Hypothesis 2. The DNA connection is not through the Dunnes at all, but through the WARDs of Rushestown. THOMAS DUNNE and DELIA MARTIN would then of course be second cousins, not unheard of in tight-knit communities. Evidence would include a Martin family descendant (but not of Catherine) finding a similar shared ancestor link in their DNA listing.

As we’ve agreed, doing family history for our little Dunne-Martin corner of east Galway is about discovering community. Years ago, I learned about the Ohio Dunnes from a fellow St. Louisan who was researching her LOHAN roots, which had led her to Thomas Dunne. Like the Irish roads, all paths are crooked and many circle back.