Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill (1915–19xx) of Adderwal, Doochary, Co Donegal
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According to the information recorded on the Doegen speaker questionnaire in September 1931, Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill was born at Clochar na nGabhar in 1915. Her father was a farmer from Clochar na nGabhar, and her mother was from Eadarbhaile. In response to questions, she stated that she spent the first six years of her life at Fintown and Eadarbhaile, and thereafter lived at Eadarbhaile. She attended primary school in Doochary. No occupation is given for her. Irish was her mother language, and she could also speak English. She could read and write both languages. The recording team noted "weak voice but clear".
Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill was the youngest of the Ulster Doegen speakers, and one of the last survivors. Born on 02/04/1915, she was the eldest of the six children of Patrick O'Donnell and Fanny O'Donnell, who were married at Fintown on 09/09/1913. Patrick was a bachelor of full age and a farmer from Clochar na nGabhar; his father was James O'Donnell, also a farmer. Fanny was a spinster of full age from Eadarbhaile; her father was Hugh O'Donnell, a farmer. The witnesses were Peter O'Donnell of Clochar na nGabhar and Minnie Ward.
Patrick O'Donnell was present in Clochar na nGabhar in both 1901 and 1911, but his parents may already have died. In 1901, the head of the household was his older brother Frank 28, while also present were other brothers and sisters Bridget 21, Charles 17, Pat 16, Joseph 15, Rose 10, Maggie 9, Barney 8 and Aggie 7. All were unmarried and bilingual. In 1911, Patrick 25 was now the head of the household, and the only others present were Joseph 24, Rose 23 and Agnes 18. All were again single and bilingual.
Fanny O'Donnell was not present in Eadarbhaile in 1901, but her family consisted of parents Hugh O'Donnell 60 and Rose 55, and unmarried children Mary 22, Manus 20, Kate 18, Annie 17 and Bridget 16. Rose had Irish only, and the others were bilingual. It is possible that Fanny may have been the servant of that name, either in Coolvoy or in Crohyboyle. In 1911, there were Hugh 70 and Rose 70, with Mary 36, Manus 33 and Fanny 25. The parents had been married for 40 years, and 6 of 7 children were living. All the household were bilingual. From civil records, the marriage of Hugh O'Donnell of Arduns and Rose Ward took place at Glenties on 11/12/1871; Hugh's father was Manus O'Donnell, and Rose's father was Condy Ward. From church records, children included Conall (born 13/09/1872) and Manus (born 09/11/1876).
Maighread was, as already stated, the eldest of the family of Patrick and Fanny O'Donnell. She was followed by Rosie, by two further girls including Kitty, then by Anna and finally by son Patsy. Fanny died within days of the birth of Patsy in 1923. The father of the family, Patrick O'Donnell, died in 1974 aged 88 and is buried in Fintown.
The speaker was the subject of the report in "Letterkenny Notes", Derry People (23/01/1932) p 5, that Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill, Doochary, was successful in a Letterkenny competition for Post and Telegraphs, held in October 1931. It was further reported in the Derry People (11/11/1933) pp 1 (Glenties Notes) and 5 (Letterkenny Notes) that "Miss M[argaret] O'Donnell, a native of the Doochary district, and for some time past a female sorter in the Letterkenny Post Office, has been transferred on promotion to Ballina Post Office. Miss O'Donnell was a pupil of Doochary national school and received her secondary education at the M'Devitt Institute, Glenties." In "Letterkenny Notes", Derry People (09/05/1936) p 5, "Miss M O'Donnell, postal staff, Ballina, appointed to Letterkenny."
On 28/06/1948, at Fintown, Margaret Mary O'Donnell, post office official, Adderwal, married James Joseph Toner, mechanic, Letterkenny.
Reilig Bhaile na Finne
The following information was given to me in 2009 by Dr Kay Muhr, and comes from Michael Garvin, who obtained it from his aunt Madge McGlynn (née Boyle, born Drumnaha 20/02/1913, died Letterkenny 21/04/2010) and her friend Rosie O'Donnell, Letterkenny, the sister of the speaker Maighread. Michael uses the first person and the present tense, which I assume refers to 2009.
Maighread married Jim Toner, an insurance agent in Letterkenny. They have 2 living children, Anna who lives in Mullingar and Martin who lives in Kildare. Both Margaret and Jim are deceased and buried in the O'Donnell family grave in Fintown churchyard. They had lived in Doochary.
An interesting side story emerged from my conversations with Rosie and Madge. As time went on [after the death of Fanny] the family decided that Anna, the next to the youngest should get a good education, eventually a good job and be the supporter of the family. Anna had other ideas. One day she walked to Fintown to get a ride to Glenties where, she told the family, she was to buy a bike. In fact she went to Fintown, on to Glenties and from there to the Sisters of Mercy without telling the family. She is still alive in Alabama (USA) and known as Sister Marie Malachy O'Donnell.
Martin, Maighread's son, is more or less the care taker of Rosie.
Patsy died 2 or three years ago. He never married and lived in Letterbrick. Rosie and Anna are in communication with one another. Anna had made several trips to Ireland but for health reasons is unable to travel anymore.
The O'Donnell grave in Fintown reads;
Recent references to Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill include:
An tUltach 20:4 p 4
Nollaig Mac Congáil and Ciarán Ó Duibhín, Glórtha ón tseanaimsir (2009) pp 22–4, 71.
Róise Ní Bhaoill, Ulster Gaelic Voices (2010) pp 80–1, 174–7.
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