The O'Donoghue Society

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


The blogs are for reporting or discussing something or some subject.

As distinguished from our forums which are for family history enquiries and responses as now, where people are looking for someone or something and the journal which is for longer well researched articles usually, but not exclusively, of a historical or genealogical nature.

This page lists all blogs in date order. The links to the left allow you to see the blogs categorised by subject matter.  To add Comments click on the Category and then on the title to the blog you wish to contribute to.

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Basil David O'Donoghue   1914 – 1942
Basil O'Donoghue, (Lieutenant RANVR,) died on 7 December 1942 when the ship he was travelling on, the S.S. Ceramic, was torpedoed off the Azores by the German U-boat U-515.
He was 28 years of age, and the only son of David Flynn and Florence Mary O'Donoghue, of Malvern, Victoria, Australia.  He was also the brother of Kathleen O'Donoghue (Sr. Mary Angela), whose obituary appeared in the July 2018 issue of the O'Donoghue Society journal.
The Ceramic had been built as a passenger liner for the England – Australia run and launched in1912.  During WW1 it was used as a troop ship, and at the end of the war it became a passenger ship again,
After WW2  broke out, some ships had to be used to carry people with a legitimate reason for travelling between England and Australia, and the Ceramic was chosen.
She made several successful trips. It was a calculated risk but okay so long as it succeeded. She almost always carried some women and children.
On 3 November 1942, Ceramic left Liverpool  bound once more for Australia via the Cape of Good Hope. On board were 656 passengers and crew, including military and naval personnel, British Army nursing sisters and more than 100 civilians, including 12 children. Also on board were 16 men from the Royal Australian Navy: three were gunners attached to the Ceramic and the remaining were travelling home to Australia as passengers. Basil O'Donoghue was one of these.
On the night of December 7, 1942, a torpedo hit the ship but didn't sink it. The ensuing story of what happened is tragic. The U-boat Commander, Werner Henke, failed to help the survivors already in lifeboats. 350  people were still alive when the U-boat left the scene.  In fact he actually gave orders for  his sub to submerge even though crew members alerted him to the fact that there were people clinging to it.
He picked up one survivor, sapper Eric Munday, who was taken to a POW camp in Germany, and for ten months relatives of passengers and crew knew nothing of the tragedy.  The sinking of SS Ceramic remains one of the worst shipping disasters of all time.
In an interesting footnote to the tragedy, Henke, was captured by the Americans when they sank U-515 in April 1944  north of Madeira. Believing he was wanted by British authorities on charges of war crimes relating to SS Ceramic, Henke tried to escape, and was shot by guards as he attempted to climb the fence of the POW interrogation centre in Fort Hunt, Virginia, where he was being held.
Submitted by Helen O'Donoghue

Submitted by Dee Gilmore-Stewart


According to family history my great grandfather Captain John O'Donoghue was lost at sea. On the family headstone it has his date of death as 31/12/1902. I don't have any other details such as ship, is there somewhere I could find this out ?

Submitted  by Jim Horgan

I don't have a lot of information about Edward Donohue, he's a distant 2nd cousin.  But he died during the invasion of Normandy June 6, 1944.
Apparently, he was killed while still in his landing craft and never made it to shore.
Not sure this applies to your criteria, but he is the only one I have information on.
Global, Find A Grave Index for Burials at Sea and other Select Burial Locations, 1300s-Current View Record
Name: Pvt Edward D Donohue
Death Date: 6 Jun 1944
Death Place: France
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial Burial or Cremation Place Colleville-sur-Mer, Departement du Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France Has Bio? N
Submitted by Ronnie O'Donoghue

I went to a clairvoyant once who told me my ancestor Ivor O’Donoghue died on the ship emigrating to America - “three of us slipped into the sea together” he said. My first cousin in Glenflesk is called Sean Ivor - he must have been named after Ivor who was lost at sea.

Submitted by Carol Hurley Law

My great granduncle, John Donoghue, died at sea, sometime in 1851, just 7 years old.   Do not know what he died of.  He was the oldest child of my maternal great grandparents, Mary Moynighan and Florence Donoghue, married in Killarney in 1844.   He had a younger sister Mary, b. in 1846.   They immigrated from the Killarney area.   I don't know from where they sailed, possibly Cobh, or where they landed in the United States.    They eventually settled on "Irish Mountain" in Summers County, West Virginia.  Had several more children in America, one being my grandfather, Patrick Donahoe (U.S. spelling) in 1857 (d. 1925), father of my mother, Irene Donahoe Hurley, 1901-1986.     An interesting project.   History tells us that many immigrants died at sea.   Young John is the only one I know about in my family.

Submitted by Barbara Lee

Moses Donohoe of Kilmuckridge, Co Wexford was drowned in the wreck of the Général Abbatucci off the north coast of Corsica on 7th May 1869, while travelling from Marseilles to Civitavecchia. It was involved in a collision with the 500-ton Norwegian barquentine, the Edward Herdt, holed, and sank within two hours.  Moses was 24, and was a recruit to the Papal armies defending the Pope from Garibaldi. He was the son of Peter and Catherine Donohoe of Killincooley, Co Wexford. He is recorded on his father's gravestone in Killincooley Old Graveyard. 
Moses is the subject of "The Ballad of Moses Donohoe" in the book "Songs of the Wexford Coast" by Father Joseph Ranson, a collection of ballads Fr Ranson gathered from old singers.
Moses's elder brother was the priest Fr Michael Donohoe who is buried in Kilmuckridge RC church and who is commemorated in a stained-glass window there.   

See the January 2012 journal for the ballad of Moses Donohue

Submitted by Diane Donohue

From British Newspaper Archive
I recently bought a book called "the Scattering, Images of immigrants from an Irish County " by Ann Jones.  I thought it would be historical in nature and was a bit taken back when I found that it was really a contemporary look at a more recent group of people who find their life away from County Clare.  History tends to focus on the 19th century Irish famine but this was a different look through the eyes of those a century later still looking for life affirmation far from their home land. 
I would have never thought this would be interesting until it was presented to me. I learned a lot.
The site is filled with the old missing relative adds and although it has never served me I know from talking to people they have found it a good resource. Apparently this was an easy way for 18th century newspapers to get revenue from new immigrants with the hope of finding a loved one. 

Submitted by Tim Donohue
"I mean they say you die twice.  One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time."  Banksy

Isn't this what we do as family historians?  We never let the memory vanish...
Lord, help me dig into the past
and sift the sands of time
That I might find the roots that made
This family tree of mine
Lord, help me trace the ancient roads,
On which my father's trod
And led them through so many lands
To find our present sod.
Lord, help me find an ancient book
Or dusty manuscript,
That's safely hidden now away
In some forgotten crypt
Lord, let it bridge the gap that haunts
My soul, when I can't find
The missing link between some name
That ends the same as mine

Shane Patrick O'Donoghue submitted

"I recall my Irish family forebears saying how the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1917 had affected the venues of Sunday Mass attendances in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia
In line with Government decree in this country at that time, gatherings of 20 or more people within a building were prohibited because of the fear of contracting the lethal flu that would often follow.
Therefore, whether in rain, hail or sunshine, despite the encumbrance, all Masses were still well attended, (especially by the large Irish population) in the Bendigo area, but were held outside, often beside the Churches.
The priest would have the altar arranged often on the steps of the entry to a Church and the large gatherings of worshipers would balloon out over the Church grounds.
I have seen a photo of such in years gone by, but can not locate same presently."
I emailed everyone on 5 April

"I was driving back from a game of golf this morning and was listening to a radio programme on the Spanish flu epidemic in 1917.  I had a thought! 
When I ask for journal articles they may seem like a lot of work to some, but if I just threw out a limited subject like the Spanish flu and suggested that folk just send me a small bite on how it affected their family, perhaps that may seem more doable.   no need to conjure up beautiful prose.
So once a month I will email a subject and ask for Snippets about it.  If you want to send me subject ideas that would be great.  Everything will be published in the blog on the web site.
A member has just sent me one of those messages that people put in the newspapers in the second half of the 19th century to try to trace missing relatives.  So this might be the sort of subject that I have in mind The Daily Telegraph, Sydney, NSW. Saturday 1st September 1906. Page 7.
DONOGHUE, Patrick, Left Manningham, England for New South Wales & was last heard from when going 250 miles from Sydney to work at railway construction. Sister Ann Donoghue, 55 Beamsley St, Manningham, Yorkshire seeks you.
I will try and add something to each Snippet if I have the knowledge.  For instance I could add some of the messages posted in the Boston Pilot from 1832 to 1920 to this one.
If you think this is a rubbish idea, I have no problem with you telling me."

The responses confirm that it is A Good Idea so I will do it!

Timothy Donohue emailed me with

The site is filled with the old missing relative adds and although it has never served me I know from talking to people they have found it a good resource. Apparently this was an easy way for 18th century newspapers to get revenue from new immigrants with the hope of finding a loved one.


Kim Cannon emailed me with
"I was trawling through some online newspapers today to hopefully find some missing clues to illuminate the disappearance of some particular elusive relatives who have so far escaped every past line of enquiry - when I saw the following MISSING advertisement for a Donoghue. Perhaps it is just the clue to someone’s immigrant ancestor that they have been looking for. Because the ad gives the person’s address it can easily be followed up. The National Library’s online website (TROVE) is a wonderful resource to find ancestors in early Australian newspapers & can often save one the cost of a certificate in identifying births, deaths and marriages. I recently found a marriage & birth in Papua New Guinea which I doubt whether I would have ever discovered otherwise.


Information from TROVE - so the original can easily be read online.

The Daily Telegraph, Sydney, NSW. Saturday 1st September 1906. Page 7.

DONOGHUE, Patrick, Left Manningham, England for New South Wales & was last heard from when going 250 miles from Sydney to work at railway construction. Sister Ann Donoghue, 55 Beamsley St, Manningham, Yorkshire seeks you."

People became completely lost to their families and were desperate to find out what had happened to them.

From Ancestry

For nearly a century, the Boston Pilot served as a beacon for Irish immigrants seeking information on loved ones they had lost contact with. Between 1831 and 1920, more than 45,000 advertisements were placed in the newspaper by recent immigrants looking for family who had come over earlier, by relatives back in Ireland, or by families seeking information on people who had moved elsewhere in the U.S. looking for employment.