I've been taking a closer look at my Lawlor/Lalor ancestors lately. I have them in two branches of my family tree, both on my paternal grandmother's side. One line is on her fathers side, the Rathvilly, County Carlow Lawlers, and the other is on her mother's side, the South Tipperary Lawlers. Both are peripheral relatives, by marriage, but the children of these unions would be my distant cousins, so I find them worth taking a second look at in view of my someday trip to Ireland.
Today I searched the Census Return Forms at the Irish National Archives site where I found Anne Lawlor, born at Rathvilly Parish to Thomas Lawlor and Winifred "O'Hara". I know from years of research that this Winifred is in fact Winifred Hore/O'Hore, not O'Hara, and she is the oldest sister of my great-great-grandfather James Hore who along with most of his family emigrated to America during the famine. Winnie however, stayed in Ireland and raised a family there. For an explanation of what the Census Return Forms are, check this earlier blog written at the time of their online premier.
At first glance there doesn't seem to be much of use here other than Anne's parent's names, but there is actually lots of relevant information contained in this form. Right at the top is "Date of receipt". Anne must have filed this with the authorities on January 28, 1916. The address is interesting also, 3 Aston's Quay in Dublin. So now I know that in 1916 Anne was living in Dublin. Nineteen sixteen was a momentous year in Dublin, that was the year of the Easter Rising! And my cousin Anne was there, I find that quite exciting. She must have heard the British artillery open up near
the castle on Easter Tuesday, and certainly the onslaught that commenced
three days later at the GPO. I never knew any of my family were in Dublin in 1916. The Carlow relatives, which Anne was, were the closest to the city, but their home was still 57 miles away.
Peter Conway, the name given with the address on the form may have been her employer or contact if Anne was illiterate. He may even have been her husband. And she might or might not have actually lived at number 3 Aston; it could have been the address of Mr. Conway and/or his place of business--but she surely was in Dublin. I ran a few searches for "Peter Conway" and "3 Aston Quay" without much luck. The 1911 census lists Catherine Cummins, an elderly widowed piano dealer living at number 3 Aston, which the house and building return terms a "dwelling and shop". Two widows and a child also lived at that address. Perhaps after Mrs. Cummin's demise the property was purchased by Mr. Conway, or he boarded there.
Also of note, Anne wasn't sure where she might be found in the 1851 census, which was taken about the time of her birth. On the line for "Residence in 1851" she gave two possible townlands, Ballyoliver and Coppenagh. A few lines further down is "Return searched by" and here we can see that Anne wasn't found in either place. It's entirely possible she was born too late in 1851 to be included in the census, or perhaps not until 1852. So why not just search the 1861, 1871, 1881 or even 1891 censuses you may wonder? Because they had been destroyed. Intentionally. Cringe. Sad to say, the 1861 and 1871 censuses were destroyed shortly after they were taken and the 1881 and 1891 were pulped during the First World War. This is the stuff of genealogist's nightmares.
I don't think Anne was any clearer on her age than she was on her residence in 1851, so it's really not surprising her name wasn't found in the census. The Old Age Pension Act of 1908 provided for individuals of 70 and upwards, Anne was probably five or six years away from her 70th birthday in 1916 but again, if she was illiterate she may not have kept close track of her age. Finding Anne in Dublin makes me wonder how many other relatives wound up there, and if any of them took part in the rising? That would be beyond awesome!