Russelman on Family Tree Circles
The article states that the family hailed from Rathmelton, in Donegal. This link is not known to the family, although I don't doubt that we may have distant cousins there. I, and other family members have carried out research into the history of the wider family and collected a significant quantity of documentary and other records.
William Gallagher, was born in 1821 in Donegal, Ireland. Little is currently known about his early years but in 1847, as the country was gripped by famine following the failure of the potato crop he married Catherine. They set up home in a small, thatched cottage in the village of Ballyholey, in the townland of Ballyholey
Far, Donegal. William worked as a labourer on the land and by April 1849, Catherine gave birth to a daughter, Anne (known as Nancy). By 1850, they had a son, James, followed, in 1854 by another son, Charles. Other children were to follow; Matthew, circa 1858, William in March 1860, Daniel in May 1862, Catherine (Cassie) in 1863, Mary Anne in 1864 and Mary Jane in February 1866. William became a well-known character in Ballyholey, growing to almost seven feet tall and earning the nickname ‘Lang Willie’. William’s life was to be tainted through tragedy, losing three of his four sons to illness. Little is known about Matthew, although family folklore suggests he may have been a Fenian who fled to Argentina to escape arrest. It is believed that he died in Buenos Aires in 1885, cause unknown.
Charles met and fell in love with Mary Lecky, from Drumbeg, near Raphoe, Donegal, and on 23 July 1882, he married her in the Roman Catholic chapel in St Johnston, Donegal. His brother William and Mary’s brother James Lecky stood as witnesses. Shortly afterwards Charles and his new bride emigrated to Glasgow, in Scotland. They set up home in 52 Blackthorn Street, Maryhill where, on 16 July 1883 their daughter Catherine was born.
Sadly, less than a fortnight later, on 29 July 1883, Charles’ father died of pneumonia in his cottage in Ballyholey. He was 62 years old. His wife Catherine was to join him following her death from heart disease on 6 February 1891, aged 72 years.
Following the death of his father Charles returned to Donegal where, in 1885 his wife gave birth to a daughter, Mary Anne. Three years later came the birth of a son. He was baptised William, in accordance with the family tradition of naming the eldest son of the eldest son after his grandfather.
The family subsequently left Donegal and moved to the nearby city of Derry. They set up home at No.137 Lecky Road, where six other children were born between 1889 and 1898. These were; Margaret (28 June 1889), Jane (5 May 1891), James (18 May 1893), Charles (11 May 1897).
By 1901, the family were living at No. 1 Donegal Place, in Derry. William was initially a messenger boy who subsequently found work on the docks in Derry. Some years later the family moved again, this time to No. 72 Foyle Road in the city. It was from this address, on Christmas Day 1916, that William married Mary Feeney, the daughter of a sailor,Daniel Feeney, in the nearby Long Tower chapel.
Mary had been a neighbour of Williams, living at No.28 Orchard Row and they subsequently set up home together at No. 31 Orchard Row.
In 1917, William and Mary were blessed with a son, named Charles after his grandfather. Two years later a second son was born. He was named Daniel, after his maternal grandfather.
During World War Two Daniel was a member of the Irish army. It was while posted to Cork in the Irish Republic he met and subsequently married Monica (Mona) Roche. As the war progressed Daniels father died in 1942, aged 54 years. When the war ended, Daniel became a clerk for the Irish Electricity Supply Board
(ESB) and was posted to Ballyshannon, in Donegal.
Post Script; The descendants of Williams sons Charles and 'Lang Willie' remained close and many remain in touch to this day.It is not known if any of the other siblings survived or had descendants. It would be wonderful to find out if there were offspring from the other children of William (James, Charles, Daniel, Mary Anne and Mary Jane).