The O'Donoghue Society

For all those interested in history and genealogy and whose names are derived from the Gaelic


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Set in Dublin in 1918 in a hospital ward where expectant mothers who have flu are quarantining together, this is a wonderfully written story of women who cross paths there and change each other's lives in unexpected ways.


Snippets March/April - My ancestors were in Entertainment: Response Two: Joseph Corbett Donohue 1905-1996


Joseph Corbett Donohue 1905-1996


Contributed by Tim Donohue


Joe Donohue was the son of first generation American from a small valley town in Northern California. His Grandfather came to America in 1872 from County Clare. 


Joe graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. He was a gifted student and had a mature charm and kindhearted manner beyond his age. After College he moved to New York City and became the administrative assistant to CBS President and media mogul William S. Paley. At CBS he later became supervisor of news and special events.  He then worked for several advertising and public relations groups including J. Stirling Gechell, William Esty Co. and Buchanan & Co in New York. In 1942 he moved to Hollywood to head the radio department of the Myron Selznick Co. where he represented such talents at William Powell, Pat O’Brien, Robert Benchley, Paul Douglas, Robert Newton and Monty Wooley. At William Esty he worked on the Eddie Cantor show, Burns & Allen and the Blondie radio shows. He launched his 30-year public relations and publicity career in 1954 handling the first Emmy Awards on NBC for the Television Academy. He handled accounts that included the National Football League properties, California Wine Institute, Occidental Petroleum, and the campaign to rebuild the Hollywood sign.


Joe experienced the zenith of Los Angeles and Hollywood media industry which he helped launch. He contributed to the evolution that saw society transition from radio to television in the post WW2 generation. The golden age of media was his career. 


When Joe died his Rolodex of phone numbers contained the personal contacts of virtually every important person in Hollywood. Personal numbers of Studio moguls and Walt Disney among other titans in the industry were his friends and colleagues. One of his best friends was Steve Allen who was one of the biggest radio and TV stars of the emerging media world.


Snippets March/April - My ancestors were in Entertainment: Response Three: Joseph Corbett Donohue Junior 1941-2007


 Contributed by Tim Donohue


Joseph Corbett Donohue Junior 1941-2007


“Corb” Donohue was the son of Joseph Corbett Donohue of Hollywood, California. Born into his Fathers affluence he grew up in a world where everyone hanging out at his home was an A-list talent or celebrity. He learned to ride a motorcycle from famous neighbors Lee Marvin and Keenen Wynn much to the chagrin of another neighbor, the future Governor of California Edmund Brown. After College Corb had his first job on a Hollywood TV sound stage at 21 working as a producer for Steve Allen.  Corb had a great ear for music talent and was drawn to representation and management of the developing music scene of the 1960’s and 70’s.  Having attended the University of California at Berkeley Corb had seen the emerging counterculture in San Francisco changing music.


In the mid-sixties he was back in Hollywood and the Sunset Strip. He was the Artist Relations Manager for ABC Dunhill Records. His clients included the Mamas and Papas, Three Dog Night, Jim Croce, Paul Revere and the Raiders among others. Balladeer Jim Croce became one of Corb’s talents and one of his closest friends. Perhaps his greatest discovery and most impressive talent was Jimmy Buffet who gives credit in his book “A Pirate turns Fifty” to Corb for his success.  Jimmy actually devoted a complete chapter to Corb and his influence on his career.


Over his career Corb was a senior record executive at Motown Records, A&M Records, Elektra Records and was the Music Editor of Daily Variety Magazine. He was a founding partner of the “Leading Psychedelicatessen” near UCLA a founding partner of the Rainbow Bar & Grill in Hollywood and a member of the advisory board of the Surfrider Foundation. Corb who was a the mentor to Jimmy Buffet and inspired his storytelling.


James and Margaret Donahue Vaudeville Tap Dancers
By Thomas and Colleen Donahue Witte
Jim and Peg Donahue Dance Team
          Colleen’s father, James Donahue and his sister Margaret were active in the Edwards Juvenile Kiddie Revue and other vaudeville Groups back in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s in Mankato, MN. They tap-danced as a team and individually. The above photo (surrounded by newspapers articles which mention them) is the only one that we possess where they are together as a dance team. Apparently, they were quite good. Some of the collage of newspaper articles are obscured by the photo and others are blurry. Below I have placed some of them to correct some of the problems and added a couple of others which are not above.

James and Margaret win $25 first prize for their tap dance routine

Advertisement for the contest where James and Margaret won the $25 for their Tap Dancing

A little information on where they traveled on the Black Hills tour.

Kiwanis Charity Ball

James and Margaret at the Gun Club Cabaret Dance
          We do not have the dates of any of the newspaper articles about the events except as the primary photo shows, between 1925 and 1935.

Algernon Charles O'Donoghue, known as Don, was born in Kindat, Burma in 1901. He travelled in 1907 to live in Bath, where his grandmother and some of his aunts lived, while the rest of the large family were spread across India and Burma.

During the First World War, Don enlisted in the mechant navy as a Marconi wireless operator, travelling to such exotic places as China, Japan and South Africa. After returning from Service, he made London his home, but regularly travelled back to Bath to visit his mother.

While in London he met and married Edith Cara Pope, known as Cara, the daughter of Edith Pope nee Batten, a Professor of Music and Richard Pope, a professional flautist.

Don's interest in sound and music led him into working in talking movies in the mid 1920s. This largely consisted in synchronising sound to vision.

Having been a Marconi wireless engineer, and working in the early days of film, he grabbed the opportunity to work in the Sound Department of the British Broadcasting Company before it became the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1927, working both in research and in the largest radio recording studio in Europe at the time.

It was a busy family time too, as my aunt and  father were both born at the very end of the 1920s.

In the 1930s he moved back to films working with Alfred Hitchcock and singer actresses such as Jessie Matthews.

During the Second World War he was at one time drafted to Cairo to work on sound wave detection through water; yet this was only discovered from his notes after he died. Had it been a secret....well, who knows.

Living in the 1920s and being a sound engineer married into a musical family, Don, with Cara enjoyed partying in the midst of the 'glamour' of sound stage and screen.

I am a member of this society and they have uploaded 'The Margaret Higgins Database of Catholics in England and Their Friends : 1607-1840' on the society web site

The Introduction alone is worth a read and contains this paragraph
"A word of warning!  If the researcher is able to use the software, Microsoft Access, it would be worthwhile  to  make  use  of  the  asterisk,  “*”,  in  searching  for  names.    This  wildcard  will  reveal possibilities  for  the  various  spellings  of  names.    In  the  database,  it  is  possible  to  find  nineteen variations of the name “Donoghue” and that does not include the variations for “O’Donoghue”. "

My trip to ireland in September 2017
Contributed by John J Pozega Email: of Groton, Connecticut, USA
Great grandson of John Patrick O’Donoghue  1857/9- 1938.  Born in, Adrigole, Beara, County Cork, Ireland, died Mellen, Ashland County, Wisconsin, USA.

My sister and I flew from Hartford, Connecticut, USA, direct to Dublin on Aer Lingus.  There in Dublin we met 20 other family members from across USA.  We began our 10-day trip of Ireland in Dublin.  An Ireland tour company driver and bus from County Kerry met us at a hotel in Dublin and we ended our first night at the Glasha Farmhouse outside County Waterford.  A beautiful place owned and operated by Miss Olive the owner.

We had a four-course dinner prepared by Miss Olive and her staff the first night in Ireland.  Our group stayed at the farmhouse the first night and had a traditional Irish breakfast the next morning before leaving for the second day of our trip.   Here’s a picture of us along with Miss Olive in the blue and white striped blouse and Mr. Brian our tour guide and bus driver in the tie and shirt on left back row. 


I saw many great things on my trip.  Including churches and religious places, shrines, and castles.

The highlight of the trip was day 3, we had made our way down to County Cork.  In Adrigole on the Beara Peninsula we met cousins and got to see the place where my great grandfather lived with his two brothers and 4 sisters and mother and father in the 1850s in Ireland.  The family home and building for the animals are still standing today and are now used for storage.

 We had tea and scones at the home with cousins on the family land.  Later that night everyone got together for dinner at the hotel where we spent the night before beginning day 4 of the tour.

Here’s a photo taken on Healy Pass on day 3 of the tour just minutes after leaving our cousins and heading to the hotel for dinner.

The rest of our tour was filled with seeing the Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry, Galway, The Cliffs of Moher, The Garnish Islands, Powerscourt, Kylemore Abbey, crossing the River Shannon on the ferry and other adventures as we slowly made our way back to the Davenport hotel in Dublin where we stayed the last two evenings before we all returned to our homes in the  USA from Dublin Airport. All wanting to come back to Ireland again soon.

How the Federal Bureau of Investigation ended up at a Donahue Wedding
By Thomas M and Colleen Donahue Witte
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Colleen Donahue Witte was hired for a stenography position by the FBI Field Office in Minneapolis, MN after she graduated with a degree in Advanced Stenography from the at the North Dakota School of Science and Technology located in Wahpeton, ND in 1967. Colleen and particularly her father James Donahue were elated. James had spent much of his life in law enforcement and the FBI enjoyed a very favorable and prestigious reputation in the country at that time.

She was married to me after a little over a year of working at the FBI. The wedding, held just a few blocks from the FBI office, was attended by the majority of the agents and stenographers etc., who worked at her office. We were married on what should have been her lunch hour (she was kindly given the rest of the day and the day following off).
It was somewhat unusual in that neither of our parents nor any of our family were in attendance. The story of how this came about is long and complicated, so the following account only relates the bare bones of the story.

Colleen and I had been seeing each other prior to my entry into the Air Force in April of 1968. When I finished my schooling, I was given a 30 day leave prior to reporting to Sembach AB, Germany. We had no set plans of getting married at that time. However, the last two weeks of my leave I spent in Minneapolis visiting Colleen while staying with my friend and best man Ron Isley. Very quickly we decided to get married. Colleen was 18 years old and old enough to marry without parental consent in Minnesota. I was less than 21 years old, and therefore needed the consent of my parents. We hurriedly started the paperwork and sent the request for consent back to my folk’s ranch in South Dakota. We then waited! Colleen kept her wedding dress at the FBI office so as to be ready when we obtained the permission. We finally received the necessary papers on the 6th of September 1968 (which was a Friday). On Monday morning the 9th of September we arranged to be married later that day in the Hennepin County Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis. Colleen got into her wedding dress at the FBI office and Special Agent Herbert Eckenroth drove her the few blocks to the courthouse in his convertible so that she could get in without wrinkling her wedding dress and regalia as much.

So, despite the last minute planning and delays, we were married that day more than 51 years ago. I remember that in addition to being very taken with the beauty of my new bride, I was also very impressed with all the special agents (with guns under there coats), telling me to make sure I took good care of her. I left two days later and went to Sembach. Colleen continued to work for the FBI until the end November and then flew to Germany.

So that is how the FBI ended up at a Donahue’s wedding.
Contributed by Tim Donohue

An article July 21, 1903 San Francisco Call describe James Donohue, age 21, as working as a Prison Guard at Folsom Prison which he had begun in the spring. He worked for Warden Wilkinson.  

On Saturday the 18th of July he had mysteriously disappeared after a dance in town and failed to report for his work shift at midnight. Three days later he was found dead.  His body was located in a canal under the Railroad Bridge, between the rock quarry and the Prison. This would be the short-cut path from town to his job at the prison. It’s possible he accidentally fell from the bridge to his death, but the Sheriff believed he was murdered for his money. More details would later emerge and his money was found on him when his body was recovered.

A comprehensive newspaper article on 30 July transports him into one of the biggest stories of 1903. There was a major prison riot and escape that happened a week or so after his disappearance. Folsom history remembers it as the “Big Break” of 1903. Warden Wilkinson and some of his staff were taken hostage by 13 hardened criminals who escaped into the El Dorado hills. Two guards were killed in the melee.  Many historians believe that this riot and escape was the beginning of the prison reform movement. Folsom prison built in 1880 was a very harsh place for hardened criminals. It was constructed of on-site rock and granite by the inmate’s hands. The stereotypical image of an inmate breaking rocks surely began here at the prison granite quarry. The actual penitentiary was considered state of the art but with no perimeter walls that exist today. It was comprised of only a cellblock and a courtyard. Outside it was manned with guard towers and a Gatling gun readied for those who dared getaway. The will to escape was strong and constant.

 The July 31, 1903 article reported that prison authorities speculate that James was killed as he walked to work from the dance. His shortcut late at night was along the wooded Railroad tracks to the prison. He intended to start his midnight shift after leaving the dance about ten PM. Some speculated that he was followed by criminals who knew he had money on him. His robbery and murder would be an easy opportunity.  

It may also be a classic case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. He likely stumbled upon the group of ex-cons who were hiding and lying in wait to facilitate the pending prison getaway. They had stockpiled weapons and even dynamite for the escapees.  The plan was set for the morning of July 27th.  If they let him go all their strategies and planning would be lost. It seems they chose to kill him by throwing him off the Railroad bridge to the canal below. He was fatally injured and drowned. When the “big break” occurred, it was colossal news.  The inside ring leader named “red shirt” Gordon and 12 others killed two guards and made it to freedom while holding the Warden and his staff hostage. The Warden and his group were eventually released. The subsequent man hunts even included the military. Seven of the group were either killed or captured (two were later hanged). Amazingly five of the inmates, including Gordon were never found. It is an amazing story, and because it was so visible, the Warden was fired.  It seems the follow-up investigation into the death of James got lost in the background. I never found any more family information about James, so I assume it was not talked about because it was too painful. His parent Martin and Johanna Donohue must have been beyond sad at the loss of their rising star James J. Donohue. I understand why no one in the family knew the specifics of this unfortunate death as it was just easier to say he drowned at Lake Folsom than revisit the horror of his demise.  There is a movie made in 1951 called “Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison.” It depicts prison life in the early 1920’s during the struggle to implement prison reform. It is an interesting view into both the prison and the times of my Great Uncle James J. Donohue (1882-1903) lived.

Rod:  This prison was immortalised by Johnny Cash in his Folsom Prison Blues
in 1955