Crowley Clan News from Around the World

Jackie Ingram, South Wales

I started to do family genealogy in my twenties, and then it fizzled out as my life got busier and busier. But now, in my fifties, I have more time and have rekindled the interest. I had part of the story of my dad's Irish ancestors, but some key pieces of information were missing until I visited the Gwent archives in Ebbw Vale and found what I needed - the Wales census for 1881 recorded the family as coming from Cork. From there I was able to find a lot of information from the Bandon genealogy site and the Great Famine to understand the circumstances that brought my Burchell (sometimes spelled Burchill) Protestant ancestor, Thomas Burchell, and my Catholic ancestor Ellen Crowley to Monmouthshire, South Wales.

Thomas Burchell and Ellen Crowley married in the mid-1850s at Usk Catholic Church. I had moved as a nine year old to the small market town of Usk, and so I was fascinated to learn that they had married at the lovely little church in the town where I had grown up. I was born in a mining village called Abersychan which is where Ellen and Thomas settled and brought up their five children. Thomas and his sons were coal miners and I found a very sad story about Ellen.

On 6th February 1890 there was a huge explosion at Llanerch coal mine killing 176 men and boys. It is recorded in the Trevethin church records where many of the dead were buried, that Ellen "died of shock on hearing of the Llanerch pit explosion". Ironically, her husband and sons survived the explosion, but returned home to find that she had died. Ellen is the only woman commemorated in the book of remembrance, "Eastern Valley Mining Fatalities 1829-1899". How tragic that Ellen had survived the Great Famine and the hardships of the journey from Cork to South Wales and then died like that.

I had been to Cork before, but had not realised that this is where my ancestors came from. Also, my Dad had been to Cork and probably through Bandon and not known that is where they were from. Sadly, Dad passed away a few years ago before I was able to share this with him.

So, this year a visit to West Cork was planned for the last two weeks of July, and I couldn't wait to look up some of the towns and places that my ancestors came from, seek out some traditional Irish music and … drink some Guinness.

Jackie Ingram with Dierdre CrowleyMy family is artistic and musical. Both my children have careers in the art world and my sister's family is well known as folk musicians locally in Monmouthsire, South Wales. They play a lot of Irish folk music and have been instrumental in establishing Celtic nights in local pubs in Usk and surrounding areas. I was fascinated then to see Deirdre Crowley's art gallery in Clonakilty and ventured in to meet Deirdre. Deirdre's family come from Bandon and her mother goes to church with Burchills, so there was a definite connection between us down the generations. Deirdre paints lovely landscapes of Ireland, and I loved looking at her work. There are no other artists in Deirdre's family so she was delighted to learn that there are artists in my family (My daughter runs her own design company, and my son is a graphic designer with Dyson). The artistic gene has survived down through the generations and across the Irish Sea.

My next job is to update the story of the Burchell-Crowley family for all my aunts and cousins in South Wales with the next installment following my visit to County Cork. I hope to make it to the Clan Gathering next year as I'd love to meet some more Crowleys.

Stephanie Farrell Grohs, Napa Valley, CA, USA
My colleague and I have written a book that was recently published. The story is based on Rev. Denis Oliver Crowley's tenure in San Francisco and the Napa Valley. I was excited to learn about this extraordinary man through the Beara Historical Society website. I thought you and all the worldwide Crowley's would like to know about this book. My dream would be to come to Ireland and visit Castletowne, Beara and share my experience writing this story.

Frankie's Journey, The Silk Road to Napa traces the 1908 trek of an imaginary San Francisco boy from his home at the Youth's Directory, a Catholic charity in San Francisco, to St. Joseph's Institute, an experimental farm in Napa County founded by Rev. Denis Oliver Crowley. There has never before been a book about this extraordinary experiment in the rehabilitation of street children utilizing the teaching of agricultural skill including silk cultivation.

The book is based on historical events, and we have chosen to tell the story through the diary of a ten year old boy. A note of interest is that the silk cultivated at St. Joseph's Institute in Rutherford and milled in Petaluma won a Grand Prize at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915.


P.S. I would love to be in contact with any Crowley visiting the Napa Valley. My contact information is on the website above.

The Crowley Clan Newsletter is
compiled by Marian Crowley Chamberlain