1891. Aug 22, Ballaghduff, in the parish of Kilkerrin. John is born, the second child and eldest son of Michael and Catherine Dunne.
1900. At about the age of 9, John is enrolled in the Curraghmore National School, with his 8-year-old brother “Mike” (or so it appears from school enrollment records).
At some point during the late 1900s, the family acquires farmland a few kilometers south of Ballaghduff, in Cooloo. In 1901 , the census shows that Cooloo has only four dwellings, occupied by the extended Donohoe family. By the census of 1911, six additional families have established homes there, including the Dunnes. As a teenager, John no doubt participates in the building of the second family house and its outbuildings. It is a sturdy four-room house with a metal or slate roof (instead of thatch). They also build a stable, a cow house, and a piggery. [1911 Census]
1911. With his parents managing two farms, 20-year-old John is tapped to live in the new house. The census shows him “in charge,” with 17-year-old sister Bridget and 11-year-old brother Pat staying with him. [The ages on the census form don’t coincide with the ages I got from records. My grandmother Bridget once told me that ages were approximate things in Ireland because they celebrated saints’ days, not birthdays.]
As many young men do in those days, John also helps the family by working in the English coal mines when they can spare him from farm work.
1920. When the British Black & Tans overran eastern Galway, he joined the IRA to fight for Irish independence.
1930. By the age of 41, after four sisters and brother Pat have emigrated to America, John is ready to establish his own roots. On Dec. 11, he marries Julia Fleming in Tuam’s Abbey Church.
Johnny and Julia go on to have seven children: Patrick “Patsy,” Michael “Mick,” Catherine “Kitty” [Monaghan], Julia [Furnival], Carmel [Ghee], Mary “Maura,” and Sean.
1950. Tragedy strikes. On October 11, 48-year-old Julia dies, leaving behind children ages 4 to 19. [Cause unknown]
1952. Two years after Julia’s death, their 19-year-old daughter Mary dies. [Cause unknown]
1960. Another tragedy: their 19-year-old son Sean dies from a sudden illness.
John carries on.
1962. John’s eldest son Mick is married to Noreen Mullen. [I have no dates for the marriages of Kitty, Julie, or Carmel.]
Over the next decade, he is able to greet grandchildren.
1972. On August 25, three days after his 81st birthday, John passes away.