The O'Donoghue Society

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


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McMECHEN — Almost 62 years ago, three local parish priests had a dream for a Catholic high school in Marshall County, which came to fruition as Bishop Donahue Memorial High School in 1955.

However, after the sudden announcement over the winter that the school would close after classes ended this year, the community is now left with a vacant structure and no answers regarding the building’s future.


During the early 1950s, Wheeling had two Catholic high schools, but few students from Moundsville, McMechen and Benwood could afford to attend. In 1952, the Most Rev. John J. Swint, bishop of Wheeling; the Rev. Benjamin F. Farrell, pastor at St. Francis in Moundsville; the Rev. Joseph J. Daly, pastor at St. James Catholic Church of McMechen; and Rev. John J. Griffin, pastor at St. John Catholic Church in Benwood, formed a partnership to make the dream Bishop Donahue a reality. They purchased property adjacent to St. James Church, McMechen, midway between Moundsville and Benwood. The doors were first opened in September 1955 to an enrollment of 43 freshmen, who made up the first class of Bishops.

A few years later, 35 students became the first graduates in 1959.

During the first years of the school’s history, Sister Mary Gilbert and Sister Ellen Francis, both natives of Brooklyn and faithful Dodgers fans, taught all subjects to the new freshmen for the school’s initial two years.

What’s Next?

Last month, Bishop Donahue graduated its final class, following the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’s decision to close the school, announced in January. The historic building’s future is now uncertain.

According to Tim Bishop, marketing and communications director for the diocese, no decisions have been made regarding the McMechen structure. Bishop previously stated the diocese had no plans to sell the building, and said it would continue to be used for “educational” purposes.

“There are no current plans for use of the building,” Bishop said. “I know that the principal and many of the teachers are still in the building collecting paperwork and tying up loose ends.”

A sports uniform giveaway is also planned for June 8 from 6-8 p.m. at the school. It will be held on a first-come, first-served basis for student-athletes and alumni.

Some educators at Bishop Donahue already have moved on to find other employment. This past week, science teacher Jarett Kuhns was hired by the Diocese of Steubenville as principal of St. John Central Elementary and High School in Bellaire.

And Bishop Donahue guidance counselor and religion teacher Amy Granato will soon begin employment at Weirton Madonna High School as a religion teacher, but said she will never forget Bishop Donahue’s impact.

She said Bishop Donahue staff are currently archiving transcripts and records for storage, to be completed by June 30.

“They can shut the building, but they can’t snuff out the spirit of this community and family. It just isn’t going to happen,” she said. “Our kids are still going to be who they are and they will take Bishop Donahue with them wherever they are. They will bring the spirit of the school to all of those other schools.”

Keeping a Legacy Alive

Anna Lehew, a member of the Save Bishop Donahue Foundation, recently said students are making an effort to keep the school’s Blessing Box, an outdoor food pantry, open. It will remain stocked throughout the summer, as it is housed outside of St. James Church.

“This is a perfect example of what Donahue teaches — to be a vessel for God and to serve others,” Lehew said. “This was their concern (on the last day of school), to not leave the Blessing Box empty. This is what sets this school apart from others. They didn’t learn to serve from their shepherd in Wheeling, they learned this in between the walls of that tiny school.”

Graduating senior Junior Holmes said his last day at school was bittersweet.

“It’s somewhat difficult and somewhat peaceful,” Holmes said. “I’m moving on now into my life, but at the same time I’ll miss going through the halls and knowing who everyone is. I know most of the students aren’t going to have that at other schools.”

Soon-to-be junior Josie Purpura will attend The Linsly School this fall after spending two years at Bishop Donahue.

“It’s really sad,” Purpura said. “I’m friends with everyone here and we will be split up. There won’t be as much time to hang out with everyone.”


An 'All-Star Benefit & Tribute to Jerry Donahue' took place on Tuesday 28th April 2017 at BOGIES, 32001 Agoura Road, Westlake Village, CA91361. Hosted by Freebo (world-renowned bassist, singer/songwriter) the show will feature Albert Lee, Laurence Juber, Carl Verheyen John Jorgenson and Peter Asher. Also as part of the night signed guitars were auctioned to help raise precious funds.

Jerry is battling the effects of a recent massive stroke and there is no better way to help out than by presenting an evening of music he loves performed by his friends and peers to raise some money.


Brendan O’Donoghue regained the Irish National Senior Championship after a 7-3 victory over Rodney Goggins at the Ivy Rooms on Sunday.

Goggins O'Donoghue 17

O’Donoghue, second from right, completed the hat-trick in Carlow. Photo credit: PJ Nolan

The Nenagh native had been one of the pre-tournament favourites after a strong season which saw him capture two out of the six previous ranking events this term.

After emerging from an extremely tight and tense semi-final tussle with Tom O’Driscoll 6-5, O’Donoghue recovered from a slow start in the final to claim his third domestic championship.

It places the 34 year-old, who enjoyed prior successes in 2003 and 2015, on a par with the likes of TJ Dowling, David Morris, and Vinnie Muldoon.

O’Donoghue is now one behind Martin McCrudden’s tally of four, which stands as the modern day record for most national crowns.

The former European Championship runner-up pocketed €1,000 for his efforts and also finished the season as the top ranked player in the country.

Goggins, national champion 17 years ago, had dispatched of defending champion Dowling in the last 16 before comprehensive thrashings of Colm Gilcreest and Philip O’Connor.

In the final showdown, Goggins established an early 2-0 lead but could only muster one additional frame as O’Donoghue took control.


Only fragments and substitutes of the 1821-51 Irish censuses survive. Search surviving records online at FindMyPast


The Global Research Library has announced a major new genealogical and historical search engine website, known as ‘’ Noel Elliot, Director of Research, said, ‘Although our website features every academic subject one could study, it has a particularly valuable feature of both genealogy and history, because of my own personal interest over the last 42 years’. The website is new, but the research library was created in 1981.

There are more than 52 million resources included in’s electronic index, with an average of one million being added every month. Elliot stressed, ‘The largest portion of our index are eBooks and textual documents, although we continue to add more images, audio and video resources as well.’ All 52 million resources are free to download. The website features valuable resources in other subject areas that are useful to researchers, such as 9 million maps that identify and show - worldwide - even the smallest places and geographical features. Of special importance are property or ‘plat’ maps. These show the names of property owners on their piece of land a century or more ago.



Name and Place is a dynamic new database and mapping application designed for One-Place Studies, One-Name Studies, Surname Studies and Local History Projects and will be formally launched later in 2017. Cofounders Paul Carter (Technical Lead) and Pam Smith (Content Lead) originally created and developed an application robust enough to cope with the manipulation of diverse historical data in varying formats and size for a One-Place Study. This has since been expanded into a digital and archival database managing layers of census, baptisms, marriages and burials, together with maps, wills, deeds, manorial rentals, old postcards, photographs and more.

The final result is a product representing three years’ hard work. It is both an intuitive and exciting application, which is easily searchable by the user. It produces graphs and reports which display the raw data to its full potential thus establishing migration, population and occupation trends for a whole community. This application provides each study together with a photo gallery. The fields and filters enable multi-faceted views of the data which can be searched by name, gender, occupation or any other relevant attribute of a location.

The recently launched website and blog can be found on: which will be updated with more news and details of the features of Name and Place over the coming months.  Follow Name and Place on social media: Twitter @nameandplace;


Pinterestnameandplace; Instagram @nameandplaceapp.


Harvard’s online collection ‘Women Working, 1800-1930’ features digitised diaries, memoirs, autobiographies, and journals, providing a broad record of daily life in the 19th and 20th centuries. Here you will find stories and recollections of women astronomers and doctors, preachers and missionaries, reformers and suffragists, school girls and school teachers, a philanthropist and a ‘country woman’ and, in the publications trade, several authors, an editor, and a book agent.


Genealogist Josephine Masterson re-created abstracts of information from the 1841 and 1851 Irish censuses. Her largest source for the abstracts were old age pension records. Old age pensions for those age 70 and above began in 1908. However, civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths in Ireland did not begin until 1864. To prove their eligibility, applicants submitted facts that were checked against entries in 1841 and 1851 census records. These findings were recorded in summary books before the census was destroyed by fire. Masterson also used of available census fragments, certified copies of portions of some returns, and family transcriptions. The abstracts can be searched online at Ancestry


Although no part of the 1881 Irish census survives, the general report gives a fascinating insight into the information returned that year. If you know where your Irish ancestors were living at the time, it is worth checking this online at the Histpop site: The report includes maps and diagrams, literacy levels and other useful details.



HELSINKI — Something crazy happened on the way to the world championship bronze medal for the American ice dance team of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.

Halfway through their four-minute free dance, as they entered into the beginning of one of the staples of any ice dance program, the twizzle sequence, Donohue slipped and fell. Falls might be commonplace in men’s, women’s and pairs skating, but not in ice dance. The crowd gasped.

“I saw him in my peripheral vision on the ice,” Hubbell said later, “and I was like ‘Um, I guess I should keep going. Sometime, he’ll catch this back up.’ But I was aware of what was going on and I just knew that he would be there as my third twizzle ended and through the rest of the program and that’s what he did.”

The fall was devastating. Instead of receiving more than eight points from the judges for the sequence, Hubbell and Donohue got nothing. Zero.

So, instead of hanging onto their third-place position after the short dance, they fell like a rock through the standings, finishing ninth overall. Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the 2010 Olympic gold medalists, won the world title upon their return to competition after a two-year break.

France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, last year’s world champions, finished second. Two-time U.S. champions and 2016 world silver medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani were third.

“I’ve been replaying it in my head over and over,” Donohue said. “It’s a moment of calm and control, and just being focused in the moment, and next thing I know I was reacting to falling. It came out of nowhere and I was surprised the moment I felt myself going down.

“There’s that moment of, ‘Get up, you stupid idiot, get up and go.’ I’ve got stuff to do and I’ve got to keep moving.”

The irony for Hubbell and Donohue is that things had been going so well for them until that moment.

“It was very smooth, one of our best skates ever up until that point,” Hubbell said. “That’s the nature of doing a really difficult sport, it might look effortless or easy but we go into our twizzles with a lot of speed, we accept that risk, and every once in a while, whether it be something on the ice, whether it be the catch of your blade, the fluke happens. Unfortunately, that was today.”