1952-ish: Hessions in Ballaghduff

This cluster of 8 photos were all printed together and seem to be all from the same visit home to Ireland by Nora Stephens Hession and Margaret Dunne Hession, who were living in Chicago. Several group photos were taken, but the reason for the visit is unknown. Maybe they were just empty-nesters who decided to go on a holiday without their husbands… The women in our family know when they need to get up and go.

Nora Stephens Hession (1889-1965) was James Stephens‘ sister (Mary Dunne Stephens’ sister-in-law). She emigrated to the U.S. in 1907 on the same boat as Michael Martin and Ellen “Helen/Auntie” Dunne [Price]. She married Patrick Hession (1882-1966, b. Ballyglunin, Abbey Knock Moy) and settled in Chicago.

Her husband’s nephew William Hession (1906-1977) married Margaret Dunne (1902-1982, who had been working as a domestic for Mrs. Johnson in St. Louis). “Aunt Nora” became a central figure in helping others migrate to the U.S., notably Vera Stephens [Whelan] to St. Louis, Mary Stephens [Barry] to St. Louis, and possibly their brothers Mike and Jack to Chicago. She had 5 children.

Also of note is a rare photo of Bridget Coughlin (1896-1974), the daughter of Catherine Martin Dunne’s sister Mary Martin Coughlin (1872-1947). She would have been Margaret Hession’s first cousin. Family lore makes her our “Portia,” after Shakespeare brilliant advocate for the life of Antonio in “Merchant of Venice.” When the Black and Tans pulled her brothers Michael and John out of their home to kill them (circa 1920), she stood on the porch and argued for their lives. Her brothers were saved.

Among the family group photos we also see Father Tom Hanley (1902-1991). He was also Maggie’s first cousin, but on the Dunne side. He too was a family advocate, but that’s a tale for another day.


The print paper is stamped on the back “Kodak VELOX paper,” which dates it to the 1950s-1960s. The faux-deckled edges are also typical of the 1950s, to disguise perforations in a bound pack of snapshots. It’s hard for me to date the adults, but the child Mick Collins was born in 1940 and is still in short pants, so 1952-ish feels right.

Katie Dunne Collins, Peter Collins, Lill Collins, Bernie Collins

This set was reproduced from dusty, scratched negatives (or even originals), so the same print paper may not have been used on the originals. (I spent some time cleaning up the cropped versions in Photoshop.)


We don’t know who owned the camera that took the photos. But these prints were saved and labeled by Bridget Dunne Price (safeguarded by Jackie Price Wilson).

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