Family History: The Irish Kellys

The photo attached to this story shows three members of the Kelly family from Ireland. George Kelly married Elizabeth Holmes on 12 July 1869 in Portarlington, Laois, and they went on to have ten children over an 18-year period. The Irish Census of 1901 and 1911 gives us a snap shot of the lives of the family at the time. In 1901 George and Elizabeth are renting their home. George is a tailor and five of their children reside with them. By 1911, life seems to have improved for the family as they own their home and George, still a tailor, is now farming as well. At this time only two of their children still live with them, but they are also caring for their grandson Joseph. All the family can read and write and the children, who are now young adults, all have employment.

Lucy Kelly, born in 1883, married in Ireland but moved to England around 1910. Lucy and her husband James went on to have 5 children, losing one daughter in infancy. They had only been married for 13 years when James died of a heart attack in 1923. Lucy raised her children without remarrying, dying in 1942. All of their children ended up emigrating to Australia.

Michael Cyprian Kelly was born in 1872 and entered the Congregation as a Christian Brother in 1888, at age 16. ‘Brother Kelly was formerly Superior of the Order’s school in Kilcock and of the other Orphanages at Glin, Co. Limerick, and Letterfrack, Co. Galway’.[1] He celebrated his Diamond Jubilee as a Christian Brother on the 19 March 1948, an event that was commemorated in St Patrick’s with Mass and Benediction. The Irish Independent reported that Kelly was a popular and kind member of the Congregation who ‘endeared himself to his pupils and their families’. Brother Kelly died on 27 March 1950. His funeral was at St. Patrick’s, Baldoyle. He had served 62 years in religious pursuit. Interestingly, Cyprian was not the only family member to choose a religious path. His brother Joseph Alphonsus also became a Christian Brother and their sister Elizabeth became a Nun.


Brother Cyprian, Lucy and George Kelly about 1890.

Brother Cyprian, Lucy and George Kelly about 1890.

[1] Irish Independent, 25 March 1948.