The O'Donoghue Society

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


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Thomas Witte, responding to ‘Irish Ghettos, where did the Irish settle in large numbers in your hometown?’ introduces us to some Connemara Irish who settled in an area of St Paul Minnesota which became known as Connemara Patch.
This was so extensive I felt it should be given the length of a journal article and with full picture content.


Contributed by Mike Donahue

My g-grandfather, Patrick O'Donoghue immigrated to Chicago with his wife, Mary Kelly in the 1850s. He joined his brother, Michael and his wife, Catherine Harty.  They settled in a heavily Irish neighborhood 3 miles south of downtown. Over the years, this neighborhood was called "Hard Scrabble," then "Cabbagetown" and finally, Bridgeport.

Work digging a canal was plentiful for men with strong backs; one brother was a laborer, the other was a teamster. St Bridget's church opened about the time Patrick arrived and with it came a school. Though conditions were better than they were in Ireland, this ghetto was tough. Here's a quote that appeared in a Chicago newspaper in 1867:

“ 1867 Chicago’s captains of industry called in the state’s militia to repress Irish strikers in Bridgeport, a suburb dominated by packing houses, rolling mills and workers’ shanties. In short, as one outraged immigrant declared,  the life of an Irish laborer in mid-century America was often “despicable, humiliating, (and) slavish”… there “was no love lost for him - no protection of life- (he) can be shot down, run through, kicked, cuffed, spat on -- and no redress, but the response: served the damn son of an Irish _____ right, damn him.”

Contributed by Thomas Witte
Colleen Donahue Witte and the Cemetery Lots

Recently I was engaged in a conversation with my wife (Colleen Donahue Witte} that started me thinking of things that had happened when we lived Duluth, MN and of dying and of graveyards.

We had bought a home on London Road in a lovely area across from Lake Superior. While we lived there we enjoyed walking along the Lake Superior shore. Very near our home was a small lovely looking cemetery situated on a slope gently leading down to a small cliff overlooking Lake Superior. We very often walked by it and at times would walk through it. 

When we bought our house, the intention was to remain there for the rest of our days. I remember that I would joke that the only future move that I was going to make would just be across London Rd and down a couple of blocks. I of course was referring to the cemetery. 

I remember that we wondered if burial plots were available in the nice little cemetery. I did some checking at a local funeral home and found that it was the oldest cemetery in Duluth. Further I found that lots were available and who I could contact. My wife and I talked it over and thought in the interest of planning ahead that we should look into the matter. I called the contact person and made an appointment to see what was available and the cost etc. 

The man showed us four available plots and left us to consider what we would do.

I told my wife that she could choose which two to take. I recall how she would walk back and forth between the two sites which were separated by some distance. I would follow. She would ask questions such as “at which end of the site will our heads be.” She would then think some more and say something like, “This site doesn’t have as good of a view of the lake, or this one is further

away.” or “This would be the best if we could be sure that our heads would be on this end”. And on it went for about three quarters of an hour. She thought and pondered and walked and pondered and thought. Suddenly she said abruptly, “I don’t like this place!! I don’t want to be buried here!!!” I remember laughing because I knew now as then, that it was the thought of being buried that had suddenly gotten to her. I knew then that it would be best not to take her grave hunting anymore. Someone else would have to tend to that matter.

I had really wanted to get a place there and at that time was a little angry about her ways. But later I thought it was just as well because we left London Rd and moved far away. Besides the site I wanted probably required your head to be on the wrong end and “I wouldn’t get a good view of the lake”!!!.


From Winona Republican-Herald, Dec 10, 1942;  

Jefferson Township is in Houston County, MN 

The History of Houston County MN says thus: “The first births in the township of which there are any record were those of Michael and Patrick Donahue, twin sons of Patrick Donahue. They were born in July, 1856. Their father Patrick Donahue was one of the first three supervisors of the township. 

From Thomas M Witte (apparently not related to Colleen’s Donahue family but settled in same area) 

Contributed by Sarah Smith

Funny family story - passed down from my Aunt. I have not researched my family at all - no time! - so can't provide the detail you may require. However, I have no reason to disbelieve my Aunt!
My great grandfather O'Donoghue was the son of a local squire in the Kilkenny area. He eloped with one of the household maids to London and set up an antiques shop in Brompton Road. He was cut off without a penny and eventually abandoned his wife and children (one of whom, my grandfather, contributed to the household coffers by delivering papers from the age of six and lost part of his ear to frostbite in the process). She struggled on with the shop alone for a while and during that time she, in common with other local businesses, was approached by a businessman who was intending to form a limited company and transform the small department store he had just bought into what he apparently described as a Magnificent Emporium. He asked if she would like to buy some shares in his expanding business venture.  She apparently pooh-poohed the idea, saying, "what do I want with pieces of paper?"  What was the store called? Harrods. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.

Contributed by Mike Donahue

My g-grandfather, Patrick O'Donoghue immigrated to Chicago to join his brother, Michael in the late 1850s. The brothers settled in a neighborhood called Bridgeport on Chicago's south side; they raised their families living next door to each other. All official records of the two brothers and their families, census, city directories, church records, spell their name "Donohue." That is, until I found my father's baptismal record. Someone, probably his father, wrote over the second letter 'o' in his name and changed it to the letter 'a.' Clearly, there was a disagreement in the family that was serious enough to motivate this change in spelling. Though I don't know what it was; since 1910, we've signed our name Donahue.


Reference Case Two.  I do not know by whom this was submitted

I, too, have an Irish maternal grandmother's maternal grandmother, pop up in Canada, amid all the French Canadians. The priest recorded the marriage record in English, but did give the bride's parents' full names & county of origin in Ireland. I am not sure if Eliza was born in Canada or Ireland, since she claims both on different censuses. I am trying to separate all the Donohoes & Murphys in the area into family groups, but I still don't know if she was alone in Canada or when she came over. Her husband is usually known as Pierre Marleau or Peter Marlow. KMC



         M # 4                             The tenth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and fifty

PIERRE MALO                      four, We the undersigned Priest, after a dispensation of the

           &                                  three banns of marriage was granted between Peter Malo, son

ELIZ DONOHOE                   of age [adult son - KMC] of Peter Malo and of the late

[IN MARGIN)                         Mary-Anne Câron of the Parish of Ste-Philomène in the Diocese

                                               of Montreal on the one part, and Elizabeth Donohoe of this

                                               parish, daughter of age [adult daughter - KMC] of John

                                               Donohoe and Elizabeth Murphy of the County of Carlow, Ireland,

                                               on the other part, by His Lordship the Bishop of Bytown [now

                                              Ottawa - KMC], and no impediment having been discovered, I

                                              have received their mutual consent of marriage, in the presence

                                              Louis Biva [or Riva?? -KMC] and Elizabeth Sullivan, who, as well

                                              as the contracting parties, can’t sign.

                                             [Signed] James Hughes, P P

[Original in English - KMC]

Parish registers of St-Paul, Aylmer, Quebec, Canada, (1852-1863, view # 55/223, Marriage # 4, Folio # 44, Vol B.

in the website.



Contributed by Anita Donohoe

The Curse:

"In every generation, only one son will have a son who will carry on the family name."

There is a legend/curse in our Donohoe line where, in every generation, there will be only one male who will carry on the family name. Cursed by a widow, whose only son was tossed over the parapet by the 'O'Donohoe'. So far, it has held true.
Contributed by Marcia Anne Donahue

To be honest, I proudly come from a long line of black sheep, so rather than having a black sheep in the family, I have a family of black sheep - Need I say more?

Rod:  I love it!


Contributed by Kielan Donahue

My second cousin’s wife, upon meeting his mother, says her[the mother in law's] first words to her[the wife] were something along the lines of “Oh, I heard you’ve met my son, I’m sorry”. If that doesn’t qualify as black sheep I don’t know what does