Jeanne Rathbone

My QUINN family connections.

My mother was Eithne Quinn and was one of 14 children born to Edward and Ida. George, Valentine, Eamonn, Redmond, known as Ronnie, Mary, William, Eide, Eithne, Emma, Ida, Peter, Frankie, Stanley, Rebecca known as Ruby.

My greatgrandmother, my grandparents and ten of their children. Two babies died in infancy, Eide died aged twelve and Eamonn was 28 when he died.

The obituary of our grandmother Ida Ward stated that she was educated at the Brigidine Convent and University College Dublin. She also attended Irish language classes as a pupil of Padraic Pearse who was executed after the  1916 uprising. She knew some other leaders in the Irish revival movement. She was a fluent speaker of Irish and French and took a great interest in history and cultural affairs. She married Edward who was her cousin!  He was a gentleman farmer,

gambler, horseman  and one time master of The Galway Blazers hunt.

Great uncle Peter Quinn, my grandmother's brother who was a doctor serving with the British in WW1 but was killed whilst home on leave in 1915 in a motor accident whilst been driven to Lisdoonvarna.

Great uncle Peter Quinn, my grandmother’s brother who was a doctor serving with the British in WW1 but was killed whilst home on leave in 1915 in a motor accident whilst been driven to Lisdoonvarna.

Her brother Peter was a doctor and served in  WW1 in the Royal Army Medical Corps but was sadly killed in a in 1915 in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare.

Dr Peter Jennings Ward was a Captain

Dr Peter Jennings Ward was a Captain


Martin Lydon great, great maternal grandfather resident of Headford

Martin Lydon great, great maternal grandfather resident of Headford


This is a photograph of my grandparents Ida and Edward Quinn.

George was ordained a priest at the Irish College in Paris.  He was the parish priest in Moycullen when he married myself and Dave as well as Marie and Jack Halliday, Ida and Mike Greaney and Carole and Eamonn Marron.

He was a keen historian and initiated the Galway Museum, the renovation of Kilmacduagh Abbey and the development of Coole Park the former home of Lady Gregory. He knew and entertained visitors such as John Huston , Jean Paul Sartre etc.

Here he is with the actor Michael Mac Liammoir, who became one of Ireland’s well known actors who reinvented himself as an Irishman when he came to ireland in 1917 to avoid conscription. He learned Gaelic and was one of the founders of An Taibhearc  – Galway’s Irish language based theatre – and a founder of the Gate Theatre which was established to produce modern plays. He was in an open sexual relationship with his partner Hilton Edwards.

Father George, later Canon Quinn, was very much the patriarch of the family. But he had his bolshie streak too.

Gr George felt very strongly about the rod license as can be seen from this cutting.

Gr George felt very strongly about the rod license as can be seen from this cutting.

Dave wasn’t pleased, he was downright pissed off,  when we were invited by George to go on a boat trip with him up the Corrib with some of my younger cousins which, it transpired, was supposed to be a way of vetting him – an alien Englisman! I wasn’t pleased when he referred to me as ‘ a pseudo intellectual’ at our wedding!

I had an email from William Ruane who was an altar boy at the time in Moycullen parish church. He wrote: “I have great memories of him and of those times, he’d bring us for great fishing excursions up the Corrib. He used to call me Tarzan because I was such a capable and fearless tree climber You mentioned that he performed your marriage service, I may well have been the alter boy at the wedding. My job as alterboy was also to lock up the doors of the church at night, quite the experience for a nine year old, especially the short-cut home through the cemetery.

Eamon became a doctor having trained at Guys Hospital but died soon afterwards and was much mourned by my grandmother. He, and uncle Ronnie had been a supporter of Eoin O’Duffy who was Ireland’s little fascist leader – our wannabe Hitler. They were dubbed the Blueshirts. Ronnie went to fight in the Spanish Civil War on the wrong side along with Franco. Oh dear! Uncle Peter was and probably still is a member of the nasty, right-wing OPUS DEI.

Uncle Peter and Rita’s Wedding

My uncle Stanley, however, seemed to have reacted against all this. He had been given the second name of Mary which  didn’t please him.  He  was reprimanded for bringing a copy of Das Kapital into his school St Mary’s Galway. We used to meet Stanley as he lived in London. He asked Dave, our friend David Andrews and Daddy to become Directors of his company. He thought an economics, a law and civil engineering Directors with letters after their names would look good on his headed notepaper!  He also asked Daddy to lend his name as a director as a Civil Engineer.  They agreed and attended one or two brief meetings in the city.

An entry in the Quinn genealogy website states that Stanley “was charged and remanded in custody on charges of sedition. He was arrested on 4th June and charged with two counts of sedition, following which he spent seven and a half months under maximum security conditions as a Category A remand prisoner in Brixton jail before being released at the Old Bailey on a suspended sentence in January. Apparently,  he had become a member of the Northern Ireland Minority Defence Force as a reaction to the posturing of the Ulster Volunteer Force and the UDF. This miniscule organisation held meetings at speakers Corner, Hyde Park and at other venues. Stanley himself never spoke at any of these meetings but on June 20th was charged with three counts under the Treason Felony Act 1848, which has not been used since WWII and which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. After unsuccessful applications for bail he and two others appeared at the Old Bailey in January, pleading not guilty to all the charges, whereupon the treason charges were dropped.”  In fact, the death penalty was still in place for treason until 1998. The last person executed for treason was William Joyce, another Irishman, known as Lord Haw Haw. He was executed in 1946.

It is treason felony to “compass, imagine, invent, devise, or intend”:

  • to deprive the Queen of her crown,
  • to levy war against the Queen, or
  • to “move or stir” any foreigner to invade the United Kingdom or any other country belonging to the Queen.

I signed a petition which said the Queen should choose between being Head of State and being the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. In a way this is imagining to ‘deprive the Queen of her crown’. Could I be accused of treason felony?

Dave had been asked by Stan’s legal team to be a character witness but was not called upon as he waited at the Old Bailey. The whole episode had occurred because Stan had become angry that a gang of weapons-brandishing Unionist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland called a press conference and there were no arrests. So bolshoi Stan decided to pull the same stunt in England but with very different results for him. We were very sympathetic to Stanley and appreciated his stance.

I am now moving from fascist inclined uncles to one who was charged with treason felony in England to another relative – our cousin Edel Quinn who is now the venerable Edel.

Edel Quinn

Edel Quinn

The EDEL QUINN connection.  William Quinn , my grandfather, and Edel Quinn’s father, Charles, were brothers. Edel Quinn is my first cousin once removed. There is a strong resemblance between her and my mother. My mother Eithne Quinn If you google her name you will find hundreds of entries. She is on the waiting list for canonisation as a SAINT. In the patron saints index it describes her as ‘a secular virgin of the Legion of Mary’. The Edel Quinn Page has lots of stuff on her.

The Venerable Edel Mary Quinn (September 14, 1907 – May 12, 1944) was an Irish lay missionary. Born in Kanturk County Cork. Edel Quinn felt a call to religious life at a young age, but ill health prevented it. She joined the Legion of Mary in Dublin at age 20 and gave herself completely to its work in the form of helping the poor in the slums of Dublin. In 1936, at age 29 and dying of tuberculosis, Quinn became a Legion of Mary Envoy, a missionary to East and Central Africa. Fighting her illness, in seven and a half year  she established hundreds of Legion branches and councils in today’s Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and Mauritius. She died in Nairobi, Kenya, of tuberculosis and is buried there in the Missionaries’ Cemetery.The cause for her beautification was introduced in 1956. She was declared venerable by Pope John Paul II on December 15, 1994.


Whenever we had visitors to my primary school I would be singled out by the nuns and this fact about being a cousin to Edel Quinn which was relayed in reverential tones. Spooky.

Edel as a girl

Edel as a girl

Her name was a mistake as she should have been called Adele. It was usually fathers that organised the christening which they are very hasty to perform in Ireland. However, between fathers and priests something quite often got lost in translation or on the way from the pub! Edel is a popular girl’s name in Ireland. My sister who is known as Marie was probably the first to be officially named Edel after Edel Quinn. I have two cousins called Edel one of whom is also Edel Quinn and is a nurse at the University College in Galway.

Edel on a recent cover of Ireland's Own magazine

Edel on a recent cover of Ireland’s Own magazine

One Quinn relative left for America and married a Mexican women. Anthony Quinn, the actor, came calling to my grandmother’s home in Tuam as he tried to trace his ancestry. I believe my uncle Peter was unhelpful to him and dismissed the the possibility of a connection!

I was born in Headford in my uncle Billy’s home. I was fond of my uncle Billy who remained a bachelor although there are a few tales to tell about him.

Billy after his horse fell.

Billy after his horse fell.

He was a great horseman and he appeared as a jockey wearing magenta pink in the race in the film THE QUIET MAN. He maintains that he would, of course, have won the race but he had to let John Wayne win it.

The riders lining up for the race in the The Quiet Man. Billy is second from left.

The riders lining up for the race in the The Quiet Man. Billy is second from left.


In the book The Complete Guide to The Quiet Man by Des MacHale he says of Billy: Next in line is a local horseman  named Willie Quinn riding a brown horse with a white spot on his forehead. The horse’s name is meant to be Minotaur and the rider in real life was a bachelor farmer from Headford County Galway where he lived in a picturesque 200-year-old thatched cottage. He was a renowned showjumper and won many prizes riding both for himself and for Joe Fair. For identification in the race he is wearing the pinkish outfit and is the only rider not wearing a cap. 

He left his home to his nephew and namesake Billy who is an archaeologist and currently a bachelor and beer-maker in the ancient way.Bronze Age brew proves a vintage ale – Telegraph


Billy beer making in Cordara, Headford.

Billy beer making in Cordara, Headford.

Billy in fron t of the house

Billy in front of the house 2014

He has made a wonderful renovation of the thatched house at Cordara and he has opened up again the upstairs which uncle Billy had decided to block off as he didn’t use it. It has been such a delight to revisit the home I was born in and to meet up with Billy junior. I have no doubt that uncle Billy would have approved both of the renovation and the beer making.

Eamonn, Billy’s brother, is a teacher in Holy Rosary School in Mountbellew and he wrote the song for Malala which he recorded during lunch break with some of his pupils.

Eamonn QuinnYouTube

Malala and Eamonn

Malala and Eamonn

Malala has been jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Kailash Satyarthi and they will continue to campaign for education for all and against child trafficking and child labour.


Here is a notice of a Quinn Gathering in Tuam in 2012

 You are invited to join the Quinn Gathering taking place in Tuam onMay 5th & 6th, 2012

We are hoping to bring together as many  descendants of William Quinn(1828- 1910) as possible to share our family story, to reconnect, reunite and indeed in some instances, meet for the first time. On Saturday May 5th,5pm                

Dr Tony Claffey of the Old Tuam Society will lead a  walking tour of Tuam, visiting sites in the town close to the Quinn family , departing from Quinns Shop, Bishop St.


Returning to the Ard Ri House Hotel, food will be available in the bar or restaurant for those wishing to dine

On Sunday, May 6th, 12.30pm – The Quinn family will be included in prayers at mass in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Tuam for those  wishing to attend mass.

 2 pm   – Soup & Sandwiches at Tuam Golf Club (land formerly owned Edward Quinn)

    6 pm   –  Ard Ri House Hotel – Family Dinner served at 7pm

If you wish to join us in Tuam over the Bank Holiday weekend, the price per person attending the Quinn events is  €50 per person .

Price includes Sunday lunch in Tuam Golf Club, Sunday evening dinner in Ard Ri House Hotel, Donations to Old Tuam Society and Tuam Cathedral.

Accommodation can be booked directly with the Ard Ri House Hotel at or 093 40100

If you have photographs you are willing to share, please email or post to me- I am formatting a slide show and all photographs will be returned once scanned.



Please RSVP no later than Monday, April 23rd .

Cheques can be made payable to Deirdre Hart and sent to12 Ashthorn Avenue, Headford, Co Galway.

If you wish to transfer payment electronically, please phone or email for banking details.

Should you require any further information, please feel free to contact me on 086 856 2250 or at

I will not be attending. I wasn’t much pleased about the mass in the cathedral. I reckon that religious stuff should be kept out of these family reunions. Cousin Lorraine rang to say that she and Graham will be attending. I am sure they will enjoy catching up with cousins and revisiting Tuam which is a place I hardly know having only stayed there one night at Barnacurra, with my friend Kathryn to attend a Garda dance with uncle Peter. I am not sure how it came about but I do remember dancing with the playwright Tom Murphy, who hails from Tuam. I do admire his plays especially Bailegangaire which I saw at the Donmar with Siobhain McKenna and Marie Mullen. We saw  The Homecoming there and The Sanctuary Lamp at the Arcola.

No doubt I will hear about the family reunion. I wonder will there be any representatives of Anthony Quinn there?

It sounds like it was enjoyed by all. My  three sisters Ida, Marie and Carole attended with Bryan my brother. I like the quote from my cousin Graham about Quinning from ear to ear. 

Since I have been a Humanist celebrant I have been fascinated by people’s lifestories and their family dynamics. I have enjoyed sharing my own little bit of family lore about mu Quinn connections.


3 Responses

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  1. Jennell Quinn said, on March 17, 2011 at 2:25 am

    Hello my name is Jennell Quinn from the John and William Quinn family from Kilkenny .

  2. William Ruane said, on March 15, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Hi, Your relation Fr Quinn, was a priest in Moycullen, around what time? I would think around 1967- 1971 ish. I was an alter boy then along with my brother. If it was the same Fr Quinn, I have great memories of him and of those times, he’s bring us for great fishing excursions up the Corrib. He used to call me Tarzan because I was such a capable and fearless tree climber You mentioned that he performed your marriage service, I may well have been the alter boy at the wedding. My job as alterboy was also to lock up the doors of the church at night, quite the experience for a nine year old, especially the short-cut home through the cemetery. If you have any copies of photos from the service outside the church, I might be there. We were a fairly poor large family in Moycullen at the time, no camera, therefore no photo exists of poor me; the seventh of eight children. My name is William Ruane, I enjoyed reading your article very much.
    William Ruane


  3. Cedric Picardo said, on May 16, 2012 at 5:50 am

    Edel Quinn, founded, the precidium of The legion of Mary, in Kampala, Uganda. I became a member after completing, my GCE o levels at st Marys college Kisubi, in 1959. The older members, still remembered her. They, had fond memories and often spoke kindly about her.
    GOD bless her and every body else.

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