Author Archives: eibhlin

Margaret Cronin Tormey, ca. 1898

This is the only known photo of my great-grandmother, Margaret Cronin Tormey.

Margaret Cronin Tormey

Margaret was born in Glenanare, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Ireland on 1 July 1866. Her parents were Michael Cronin (1830 – 1910? originally of Co. Cork) and Ellen Roche (1833 – 1901, dau. of John Roche and Hanora Conners).

Around 1894, she married John Tormey (son of James Tormey and Ann Barrett, of Co. Meath, Ireland).

According to some stories, that wasn’t his real surname, and he was on the run from the British, so he’d fled to America. That story doesn’t seem to have much credibility.

John had at least two sisters in America, Annie and Maggie, who may have lived near Boston, MA, possibly Jamaica Plain. (According to stories, at least one of them had a goiter scar on her neck and wore a little ribbon to conceal the scar.)

One or both sisters were alive in the early 1920s, but one or both may have died from coal gas, later.

Early in Margaret and John’s marriage, he had a drinking problem. His daughter, Margaret Ann Tormey Bernier, later claimed that he’d “fallen into a ditch, broke his leg, and died.” (In fact, he went to Bridgewater State Hospital where he was housed with many other indigent Irish immigrants, and died in the mid-to-late 1920s.)

They had at least three children, Margaret Ann Tormey Bernier, Mary Ellen Tormey Sullivan, and James Earnest Tormey. (Also see Tormey Mystery Child photo.)

Margaret Cronin Tormey took in laundry and worked part-time for the James family near Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA (USA). Her aunt, Hanora T Cronin (1868 – 1955) was a maid in that household.

Since Margaret Cronin Tormey often took her children to work with her, Margaret Ann Tormey Bernier (one of the children) had many stories about playing in the backyard at the James’ house. She had several happy memories about William and Henry James, as well.

After Margaret Cronin Tormey’s death, her wedding ring remained in the family. I have it, and I wear it almost every day.

Margaret Cronin Tormey’s Siblings

Margaret Cronin Tormey’s Irish-born siblings included the following, all of whom emigrated to America, as far as I know:

  • Dennis “Dinny” Cronin (Unknown-1935), was a police officer around Tewksbury, MA. No known issue.
  • Mary Cronin (1864-Unknown), no other information.
  • Hanora “Aunt Nora” T Cronin (1868-1955), never married, died without issue. Wonderfully eccentric woman.
  • John “Uncle John” Joseph Cronin (2 Oct 1870-1948) arrived in August 1889, aboard the ship Pavonia, which had sailed from Queenstown, Ireland. John married Sarah “Aunt Sarah” Louise Green (1869 – 1911), had at least 8 children including Helen Cronin Kirk of Belmont, MA, Timothy Stephen Cronin (married Dorothy Steele and had 16 children), and Michael Francis “Frank” Cronin who married Margaret Coveney.
  • Michael Cronin (1872-1932), married Katherine Hunt, had at least one child, Timothy “Big Ted” Cronin (1904-1984) who worked at Beacon Hill (Boston) for the MA State legal system, as did his attorney son, also called Ted.
  • Timothy Cronin (1876-1945), married Honor Quinn (1880-1958), had at least two children including Margaret Cronin Holden (of RI) and Mary Cronin Kelly (Arlington, MA).
  • James “Jamie” Cronin (1878-1904), never married and died without issue.

Margaret Cronin Tormey’s death record

Margaret Cronin Tormey death certificate 1909

Here’s the transcript:

Margaret Cronin Tormey - death 1909


Additional Notes


For more about the Cronin family, see’s records. (However, remember that these kinds of names — including the Cronin surname — are popular in Ireland, USA, Australia, and throughout the diaspora. The names are easy to confuse with one another.)

Also, let me know if you find any errors in my records. It’s so easy to make a mistake, I’m happy to change anything that’s not right.

Michael Cronin – Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Ireland

This is a photo of my great-great grandfather, Michael Cronin of Kilmallock, County Limerick, Ireland.

Michael Cronin of Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Ireland

Michael was originally from Co. Cork, possibly on the border of Co. Limerick. He married Ellen Roche of Kilmallock, and moved in with her family.

Michael and Ellen had at least eight children. Michael emigrated to America with most (or all?) of his children, leaving Ellen Roche Cronin back in Ireland. (Records show that she later died in the poorhouse. They still owned a house with 1/4 acre of land, so I’m not sure what happened.)

According to family stories, Michael landed in America, spent a few days there, and decided he didn’t like it. So, he turned around and went back to Ireland. The photo (above) was taken when he was about 100 years old, and blind.

I’ve found no death record for him — not in the US and not in Ireland — so I can’t verify that tale. And, I’ve not found him in any US census records, either. (So, since my US research has been very thorough, I’m pretty sure he went back to Ireland, as claimed.)

For me, the interesting thing is that — in that era — Irish immigrants were often packed into ships formerly used to transport slaves. The Atlantic crossing could be difficult and take over a week.

Nevertheless, Michael supposedly hated America so much, he was willing to make the trip a second time, returning to Ireland… if not to his wife, who remained in Kilmallock.

James Cronin of Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Ireland

This is a photo of James “Jamie” Cronin. He may have been one of the youngest of about eight children born to Ellen Roche and her husband, Michael Cronin of Glenanare (or Glenanaire), Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Ireland. He emigrated to America with his siblings.

James Cronin of Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, IrelandJamie had been everyone’s favorite in the Cronin household. I think he worked at a hospital, but I’m not sure.

According to stories, Jamie was engaged and soon to be married. Then, he contracted spinal meningitis and died suddenly. His death was a terrible loss, especially since it was so sudden. Everyone thought he’d be one of the most successful of the Cronin children.

In one version of the story — which was not true — he and my great-grandmother had a huge fight and weren’t speaking, and then he died before they could reconcile. In that tale, my great-grandmother committed suicide.

The fact is, Margaret Cronin Tormey (my great-grandmother) contracted tuberculosis and died several years later, in a hospital in the northern part of Massachusetts. (I can’t recall the location at the moment, but I’ll update this when I think of it.) So, the suicide story is very odd and I haven’t found anyone else in the family who’d killed themselves.

Jamie’s good looks continued in the family, and a later descendant of the Cronins — Robert “Bob” Holden — had a strong resemblance to this photo, in his youth.

Tormey Mystery Child

This is a photo my grandmother (Margaret Ann Tormey Bernier) described as a family photo, showing her with her siblings. The problem is… there are four children and we only know about three of them.

Tormey family children - around 1899

When I asked my grandmother about the fourth child, she seemed puzzled. Then said it must have been her cousin, Margaret Cronin Holden. Or, maybe it was her cousin Helen Cronin Kirk, who later lived in Belmont, MA.

I suppose either is possible, but it seems unlikely. Why would they add an extra child in what’s clearly a photo of siblings? (Also, my grandmother sometimes revised history. For example, she insisted that her father died when she was a toddler. He actually survived until after my grandmother had married and my mother — Muriel Bernier [Morey] — was a child.)

My grandmother insisted that she was the youngest child in the photo. I suppose that’s possible, but since she was only two years younger than her sister, Mary Ellen Tormey Sullivan, I’m more inclined to think my grandmother was the toddler standing up.

So, I haven’t a clue who the fourth child really was.

James Earnest Tormey never married and died without issue.

Mary Ellen Tormey Sullivan (Mrs. Charles Sullivan) had children Isabel Sullivan Beagan (spelling?) and Leo Sullivan. Isabel married Jack Beagan (?) and had at least two children. Leo was a fireman (in Belmont, MA) and never married, as far as I know, but he had at least one child. I think the baby’s mother’s name was Gloria, but I never met her, though I recall it as a long-time romance for Leo.

Ellen Donnelly McLaughlin

This is a photo of Ellen “Nell” Donnelly, who became Mrs. John McLaughlin.

Ellen Donnelly McLaughlinHer sister was Jane Donnelly (Mrs. Charles Boyle), who was the mother of Mary Ann Loretta Boyle Morey.

I’m pretty sure John and Ellen Donnelly McLaughlin had just one daughter, Mary McLaughlin, who never married and — as far as I know — died without issue.

Mary was a sharp-tongued woman with long, grey hair that she pinned up. She traveled a lot, collected things for resale, and left a considerable fortune when she died… almost all of it to charity.

So, people like my father — who spent a lot of time with Mary in her late years — were kind of stunned when she left them nothing.

The thing is, she’d often mentioned “someone’s” will she’d read, and the person left everything to charity, a little here and a little there. She kept saying how it was one of the most interesting wills she’d ever seen. To this day, I have no idea if she’d copied the idea herself, or if she was simply dropping hints to everyone, describing her own will.

I liked her a lot. She was a merry woman with a hearty laugh, and she was always very entertaining. I think she had a falling-out with my maternal grandmother over some joke Mary had made, but that incident was far beyond my understanding. Mary was a fun relative, and I’d enjoyed every time she visited us.

Eileen’s Childhood Photos – Page 1

The following are some photos of Eileen (Eibhlin) Morey, from childhood.

The first is from Mt. Trinity Academy, Watertown, Massachusetts. It’s probably from 2nd or 3rd grade. Eileen is in the lower right corner of the photo. (I have no idea why I wasn’t in uniform, like the other girl in the photo.)

Eileen Morey at Mt. Trinity, around 2nd grade