PATRICK McNeil had a dying wish before he passed away in San Francisco.
That was to find out who his parents were.
After being declared an orphan by order of the Kingstown District Court in 1914, he lived in a number of institutions before emigrating to the US where he died in 1982.
Ray Brennan, from Glasnevin, has made his grandad’s last wish to find out who his parents were his own personal mission.
For the first five years of his life Patrick lived with the Brady family in Dun Laoghaire until he was found to be destitute and an orphan by order of the Kingstown District Court in 1914.
His following seven years were spent at Cappaquin orphanage before he was sent to the Artane Boys' School.
The Brady family who took him in as a child up to five years of age were the ancestors of the famous singers, Willie Brady and Anne Byrne of the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
Ray has established that Patrick’s parents spent a week in Cork for his birth and baptismal.
His father, James McNeil, was a seaman and Margaret McNeil, who was his wife, was formerly Morgan.
However, that is where the trail goes cold.
“There was never a trace of James McNeil after this short period,” Ray revealed. “Patrick had a very faint, distant memory of his mother as a very young lady arriving at the Brady home daily with food and clothes. He seems to recall that she worked at the Salthill Hotel in Kingstown.
“To date no record can be found of a marriage cert for Patrick’s parents. However, I have established that a seaman by the name of James McNeil was born in Dunoon, Scotland on March 6, 1886 as a James McNeilly and soon became an orphan himself, as was his younger brother, Patrick.
“He later became a Chief Steward on various vessels that departed Glasgow from about 1906 until his retirement. One of the ships he worked on was torpedoed by a U-Boat on route to Rio Di Janero but he survived.
“Ship records show his wife as an M McNeil and I was hoping that this would be revealed as a former Margaret Morgan but it turned out to be a woman who was formerly Margaret Bruce. For me, the plot thickened.”
According to Ray, a Margaret Morgan, supposedly the young wife of James McNeil, disappeared from the records around 1912.
“Patrick also felt that he had a sister called Mary but could not recall any details, meaning that they were either separated at a very early age or it was a distant story told to him as a child.
“One document at the national archives shows an attendance by a Patrick MacNeill with his mother Margaret at Loughlinstown Hospital when was 18-months-old with an address of Sallynoggin. This could be Patrick McNeil spelt wrongly.
“There is another possibility that a Margaret Morgan, born in Collinstown /Moortown Co Westmeath in 1895 and who was a servant at the Keegan farm in Kiltiernan, Co Dublin by the 1911 Census, was the young mother of Patrick McNeil.
“This Margaret May, as she became known, died in her early 20s in Moortown, and was buried at Delvin, Co Westmeath. However, a few mismatching dates and the fact that she must have been pregnant at 14 leave a lot of doubt.”
The ongoing mystery has added to the intrigue and Ray is hoping that somebody, somewhere might be able to help solve a 100-year-old mystery.
“Closure for the family would be a wonderful gift,” he added.
Contact Ray Brennan on 01-8855555 or email ray@ raybrennan.com
His website is www.ray brennan.com/ancestorMore Information - http://www.ray brennan.com/ancestor