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From Kilmurry village to The White House

KILMURRY Ibrickane native, Connie Corry has unearthed fascinating information relating to the parish’s connection with Jackie Bouvier, who married Senator John F Kennedy in 1953.

He has traced Mrs Kennedy’s family background back as far as 1839, when Maria Corry was born in Kilmurry village, Shandrum in August of that year. Her father’s name was Frank (Francis) Corry and her mother’s was Margaret Corry.

The village stood one mile from the sea, just off the Miltown Malbay road to the Kilrush/Kilkee area.

“The village area took up 14 acres and had a school, post office, shops, pubs, a forge and other small businesses. Fairs were held on May 17 and August 25. In 1841, when Maria was two years old, the village consisted of 15 houses, with a population of 91,” Connie explained.

Maria’s older brothers, Anthony and Francis, ran the family farm, quarry and pub. During the Famine, Anthony was a relieving officer and at the Kilrush Law Union meeting held on March 24, 1849, Anthony’s tender for broken stones at the crop of Kilmurry at 7d per yard was accepted.

Francis and Anthony owned a forge, which they had leased out. Anthony later left his section of the farm and his house to his daughter, Margaret, and son-in-law, John Griffin, before emigrating to the US. Maria had other siblings, including Margaret, Anne, Susan, William and Michael.

Maria’s father died on February 20 1860 and Maria, aged 22, emigrated the following year to the US. Maria’s elder sister, Margaret, had emigrated to the US in 1849.

“Maria married a fellow Clareman, Thomas Merritt from the Kilmaley/Kilnamona area, on June 6, 1875 in Manhattan. Thomas Merritt’s parents were listed as Samuel Merritt and Margaret Chambers. Come the 1880 US census, Maria and Thomas had three children, Samuel born 1876, Margaret born in 1877 and Thomas born on April 16, 1879,” Connie explained.

Baby Thomas died on August 1880 and was buried in a grave bought by his aunt, Margaret Corry, on April 29, 1855 in Calvary And Allied Cemeteries New York, near Queens. Maria’s mother, Margaret, died in Kilmurry in 1890 aged 95 years, while Maria’s husband died on November 27, 1893 aged 52. He was buried in the same grave as Maria’s brother, William, who had died on November 7, 1882 aged 48.

“Maria and Thomas had lived in Henry Street, Manhattan, New York. The 1900 US Census shows the household of Maria Merritt at 107 West 94th Street, NYC. Maria was a widowed mother of three children, two now surviving, Samuel a clerk and Margaret listed as a teacher, both living with her,” Connie revealed.
Maria’s daughter, Margaret Merritt, married James T Lee on October 7, 1903 and had three daughters, Janet, Marion and Winifred.

“In the 1910 United States Federal Census we find Maria aged 72 living with her daughter, Margaret and son-in-law James T Lee, with two children, Janet aged four and Marion aged two, all living together in Manhattan Ward 12, New York.

“Janet Lee married Jack Bouvier on July 7, 1928, the same year that Maria Corry Merritt (her grandmother) died. Maria was buried in the same grave as her husband, Thomas Merritt, and her brother, William Corry. Jacqueline, the first child of the marriage, was baptised on December 22, 1929 in New York in The Church of St Ignatius Loyola. Jackie married Senator John F Kennedy in 1953 and the rest is history,” Connie concluded.
John F Kennedy became the 35th President of the US in 1961 and served until his assassination in 1963.

 

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