Doherty Family


From the middle of the nineteenth century when William Doherty came to live in Kilkee, his family have been to the fore in the political, commercial and religious life of Kilkee. On his retirement in 1898 a local newspaper carried the following report:

“Mr. William Doherty, Kilkee, one of the leading men of the Town, after fifty years of active commercial life, has just retired to a well-earned rest after a just and honourable career. Mr. Doherty by his energy and great moral worth built up the splendid business bearing his name at the West End, winning the highest esteem of the inhabitants and visitors alike. Linked up also with the interest of the town he has been foremost in every project for its welfare… and in its advancement from a mere fishing village to a foremost place among the health resorts of Ireland he can justly claim no small measure of the credit”

William Doherty of Kilkee and Adare

William Doherty of Kilkee

William Doherty (1826-1903) was born in Adare, Co. Limerick to James (1790-1860) and Susan (1787-1855) Doherty. His father worked as a land agent on the Dunraven Estate in Adare and had acquired considerable wealth by the time of his death bequeathing numerous houses as well as monies to the value of £1,400 to his children.

William was one of a family of ten, four brothers, John (1812-1887), Gerald (1820-1879), James (1823-1880) and Edward (1825-1854) and five sisters Diana (c.1810-1863), Mary (c.1815-1891), Jane (1817-1890), Eliza (1828-1889) and Suzanna (1830-1906). All of his siblings, with the exception of Suzanna who emigrated to North America, lived in Co. Limerick throughout their lives. It is unclear why he either moved to or chose to live in Kilkee or when exactly he did so. However, all of the family fell under the patronage of the Earl of Dunraven, John was house steward, Gerald was a gamekeeper, James was a clerk and William was a Relieving Officer in Croom. The Earl had a holiday home in Kilkee and it could be that William was assigned duties there and decided to stay. At a committee meeting in January 1880, he refers to the fact that he has lived in Kilkee for 27 years suggesting that he most likely came in 1852. This fits in with his marrying in Croom in 1851 and the first official confirmation of his residing in Kilkee which is through the Vestry Book of St. James’s Church of Ireland, Kilkee in which it is documented that he was a warden in the church in 1853.

First Marriage

William married Anne Keane (1823-1868) in Croom Parish Church in 1851. Her father, Patrick, was a shopkeeper. William is described in the marriage certificate as a Relieving Officer. Griffith’s valuation of 1855 has them living in Queen St., now O’Connell Street, Kilkee.  Circa 1860, he acquired what had been the old boat house and which later became the West End Stores. This purchase coincided with his receiving a bequest from his father’s will of “a slated house and premises in Adare, £150 and a grey mare” as well as an eight day clock, viz. one that only had to be wound every eight days.  Hogan’s directory of 1863 lists him as having grocery, wine and spirits shops at 1, Market Square and at 1, Wellington Square and as residing at 11, Market Square. He moved to 3, Doherty Terrace in April 1870. By then, Anne had died in February 1868 of consumption and he had re-married Harriette Corneille.

William and Anne had 6 children, Gerald (1853-1878), James (1855-1892), Susan (1857-1859), Marianne (1861-1890), William (1864-1864) and Louisa (1866-1949).

Gerald died in Kilkee on the 18th August 1878. Cause of death is unknown.

James emigrated to Australia. He married Mary Agnes Maloney (1855-1926) and they had a daughter, Mary Geraldine (1890-1891). They lived in Queensbury Street, Melbourne.  Mary Agnes grew up and was principal of a school in Bendigo. Bendigo was associated with one of the Australian gold rushes. James is buried in White Hills Cemetery, Bendigo. He was a steward of the Celtic Club in Melbourne which was involved in promoting Home Rule for Ireland.

Susan is buried in a vault in Kilfearagh graveyard where it is suspected that William is also interred but there is no inscription to confirm his interment there.

Marianne married Robert Young (1854-1897) in Kilkee Church of Ireland on 04-11-1884. Marianne and Robert variously lived in 28, Catherine St., Limerick, 6, Alphonsus Terrace, Limerick and at the time of his death his residence was 2, Shannon Terrace, Limerick. Both died in Kilkee of consumption and are buried in St. John’s Church Graveyard, Limerick.  They had three children, Frances, Harriette and Gerald.

Following the deaths of their parents the Young children came to live with their grandparents in Kilkee. Tragically, all three children, like their parents, died from tuberculosis.

Frances (06-01-1886 – 31-05-1916) died in 3, Doherty Terrace, Kilkee. Described as clerk.

Harriette (09-02-1887 – 11-11-1919) died in Peamount Sanatorium. Described as a governess.

Gerald (12-02-1890 – 16-03-1919) died in hospital in Cork. Described as an ex-soldier.

Robert Young was a commercial traveller. His father was William James Young (1826-1895) and his mother was Frances Drought (1826-1876), daughter of Robert Roland Drought (Police Constable). She was from Glin, Co. Limerick.

Louisa, the youngest child of the marriage, emigrated to New Zealand in 1885. There, she married in 1886 at Mercury Bay, an English man, Charles Bright (11-07-1858-) described as a mill hand.  They lived in Tairua, North Island. His parents were Charles Bright and Ann Alen. Charles was born in Lyndhurst, Hampshire. Louisa and Charles had three children, Annie Louisa (1887-1948), Charles James (1890-1891), Charles Rupert (1891-1893). They moved to Australia in the late 1880s and lived initially, in Melbourne, most likely as her brother was living there. Louisa moved to Sydney in the mid1890s. She had two more sons, Roy (1896-1931) and Cyril (1899-1973) through her relationship with George Langford. Louisa married in 1921 to a Henry Dempsey (1863-1940) who was a seaman. They lived in Paddington, Sydney. She died on 22-12-1949 and is buried close to her daughter in Matraville Cemetery, near Botany Bay, Sydney.

Second Marriage

Following Anne’s death, William re-married on 03-12-1868. His second wife was Harriette Corneille (1846-1924) from Rathkeale, Co. Limerick. She was a descendent of one of the Palatine families who fled the Palatinate, Germany because of religious persecution in the early 1700s and were offered the opportunity by Lord Southwell to settle on his lands around Rathkeale. (Harriette’s parents were Christopher Corneille (1824-1887) and Mary Anne Vokes (1814-1883) who married on 24-03-1845).

William and Harriette moved to live in Doherty Terrace (also known as Geraldine Place) on the 17th April 1870. Over time, he acquired, in all, five houses (Nos.1-5) on the terrace in addition to the shop. No. 5 was acquired from Mrs. Captain Fitzgerald in 1885. The other three houses (nos. 1,2 and 4) were all in his ownership by the mid1880s.

Doherty Terrace 1893

Doherty Terrace 1893

In addition to his house purchases in the West End, he also bought a house on the Circular Road in 1890 and built another one there in 1896. Eventually, he owned eleven houses in the town (5 in Doherty Terrace, 3 on Circular Road, 2 in Corry Lane and one on the Marine Parade) including St. Gerard’s on the Circular Road and No. 3 Marine Parade. The Paddock Field was bought from Col. McDonnell in 1881 and he later donated a site on it to the Methodist congregation on which to build their church in 1900.

William and Harriette had five children: John (1873-1874), Susan (1875-1961) William Charles (1876-1959) John Thomas (1878-1960) and Evelyn Harriette (1883-1974). All, bar John Thomas, are buried in Kilfearagh. John Thomas is buried in Sutton, Co. Dublin.

John died in his infancy on the 28-07-1874.

Susan married John Thomas Bradley (1870-1942) in November 1900. She lived with him at 3, Marine Parade. The marriage ended in 1901 but not before Susan was pregnant with their son, William. Susan was elected to Kilkee Town Commissioners in 1915.  She subsequently moved to Limerick before returning to Kilkee before her death where she lived with her sister Evelyn at 4, Doherty Terrace.  William (1901-1955) married Doris Callender in 1947. They lived in Roxboro. He worked in Ranks, Limerick. William is buried in Kilfearagh.

John Thomas Bradley who was from Kilrush emigrated to the Seychelles where eventually he became the Chief Medical Officer and was awarded an OBE for his services to the Crown in 1933. John Thomas wrote a book called “The History of the Seychelles”.  He is buried in the Seychelles.

William Charles married May Fitzgerald (1883-1956) in 1913 in Kilkee Catholic Church. The marriage was inter-denominational and wasn’t officially recorded in state records until 1915. May was the daughter of John Fitzgerald (1846-1911), Kilkee and Maria Hickey (18– 189-) Kilmurray McMahon. They owned a hotel and pub in Kilkee. William Doherty was a Justice of the Peace and auctioneer. He served on Kilkee Town Commissioners for forty-nine years and was Chairman from 1910-1919 and again in 1921. He was a well-known Unionist but didn’t let this colour his attitude to the anti-conscription movement as can be seen from the Testimony by Major David Joseph Conroy, Inspector-in-Charge, Auxiliary Services, Union Defence Forces, in connection with his association with the National Movement in Ireland from 1917 to 1921.One pleasing incident of this fight was when I took the Anti-Conscription Pledge to William Charles Doherty, a Justice of the peace, and a Protestant who was looked upon as an Imperialist. He was the first to sign my list which he did on the Billiards Table of a small club, alongside the Stella Maris Hotel, Kilkee of which we were both members”.

William Charles is buried in Kilfearagh while May is interred with her daughter, Irene, in Kiltinnaun cemetery in the Fitzgerald vault where May’s grandmother and siblings are also buried.

William and May had four children, Vera (1916-1988), William (1919-2009) Irene (1920-2011) and Noel (1922-1982). William and May bought Brighton House No.1 in May 1931 following the death of Mary Sikes and lived there until their deaths. They re-named it Sykes House and ran it as a boarding house.

The site on which Brighton House Nos. 1 and 2 now known as Clifton and Sykes Houses were built was sold by Rev. Richard Dickson to Francis Cherry Sikes in June 1845. The 2 houses were built by 1849.  The Sikes’s were a Quaker family. Francis Sikes was a Tea Merchant. Ultimately, two of Francis Sikes’s daughters Mary and Agnes inherited Brighton Houses 1 and 2 respectively. The houses were interconnected and this continued following their deaths as the respective buyers of the two houses, Charles Fitzgerald of Clifton and May Fitzgerald of Sykes were first cousins. Only following the death of Charles’ daughter Elizabeth (Betty) in 2009 was the interconnection ended although a side door of Clifton is under the roof of Sykes. Sykes House was accommodation repeatedly used by the same Limerick families for many decades. On the deaths of her parents, their daughter, Irene, continued the tradition of running it as a boarding house and subsequently a bed and breakfast into the early 1980s. Irene lived in the house until her death in her 91st year in 2011.

May Doherty had a brother Denis (1887-1950) and a sister Anne (aka Ciss)(1885-1969). Denis married Jane Bonfil from Kilbaha. They owned The Old Barrel pub in Kilkee. Anne Fitzgerald married Michael Irwin (1892-1973). Michael was a bank official born in Co. Limerick. Anne was a nurse and worked for a time in India.

John Thomas married Emily O’Callaghan (1877-1961) in 1899.  He took over the running of the West End stores from his father. They had four children, Violet (1902-1971) Cyril (1904-1986), Olive (1906-1953) and Herbert (1907-1988). Emily and he are buried in Sutton.

The old West End Stores

The old West End Stores

Evelyn was unmarried and lived in No. 4 Doherty Terrace. She is buried in Kilfearagh.

William, in all, had eleven known children. Three of them died in infancy and three others also pre-deceased him. Interestingly, the names of all of William’s children who died in infancy were subsequently given to later born children.

Contact with Limerick relations.

Despite his move to Kilkee and the difficulty of travel especially until the railway came to Kilkee in 1892, it is clear that William remained in regular contact with his siblings and that they and he commuted in both directions.

One of his nieces, Eliza Walshe married Henry Sampey in Kilkee in 1882 and lived in Kilkee. Henry owned The Temperance Hotel on Grattan St.

William’s niece Susan Walshe died in Kilkee in 1877.

William’s brother in law, Christopher Corneille (1861-1938) married Hannah Elizabeth Vokes (10-12-1863- 07-11-1930) in Kilkee in 1888.

We also have correspondence between his sister in law, Mary to his wife as well as evidence of regular correspondence from his niece Emma to his wife in the years after his death.

William’s daughter, Louisa who emigrated to New Zealand most likely chose that destination as many of her Limerick first cousins had already settled there.

Community and Business Involvement

William was involved in church affairs as evidenced by his becoming a warden of the Church of Ireland almost as soon as he settled in Kilkee and also in his donating a site in 1900 to the Methodist Congregation to build their church in what was known as the Well Field.

William was a Poor Law Guardian in Kilkee in the 1860s. He was still putting himself forward for election to the position in 1879. The Guardians appointed and supervised the officials running the workhouse, the assessors responsible for deciding who would be accepted as an inmate of the institution, and the rate collectors.

Apart from his two grocery and spirit shops, William also ran a ballroom for a time in the 1860s. It was located on Francis St., now, Grattan St. The ‘Grand Ball’ sponsored by the Bachelors’ Club was held there on the night of the 21st August, 1863. Over two hundred guests attended. Supper was provided downstairs while the dancing took place upstairs.

William put his shop at 1, Market Square up for sale in January, 1870 as he wanted his principal trade to be in the West End. This also coincided with his moving to live in Doherty Terrace in April that year. The advertisement in the Clare Journal describes the Market Square premises as suitable for Grocer’s, Flour, Provision Store and as having spacious accommodation, cool water pump, bottling stores and out offices.

In July 1878, William was charged with encouraging a disgraceful nuisance at the West End. A Mr. Fitzgerald drew the attention of the police to the conduct of William Doherty as reported in the Limerick Chronicle. This was in relation to his deliberately tearing down a notice at St. Senan’s Well cautioning people from committing nuisances at the well into which the board of guardians had had a road paved and paid a man named Kelly to clean the well and watch it.  Mr. Kelly said that he saw Mr. Doherty tearing down and trampling on the notice beside his field surrounding the well. All of the Guardians concurred that he should be prosecuted apart from a Mr. Cox who said it was a serious charge and that before a summons would be issued it would be best that to have him give an explanation. The committee agreed. Unfortunately, the explanation and final outcome are unknown.

However, there was a further episode which depicts his fractious relationship with the Board of Guardians. This occurred in January 1880. During the course of the meeting, William challenged the representativeness of the committee saying that the ratepayers were not properly represented, querying as to who convened the meeting and adding that “I am as good a man as anyone here”. When asked by the Chair to sit down, he refused and stated that he would lay £20 down on the bench if he could get the meeting adjourned. Fr. Brosnan told him that if he had been here on time, he would know that the meeting was convened by a resolution of the board. When told that Mr. Sheedy appointed the committee, Mr. Doherty wanted to know why he was not appointed by him saying that he was a better man than Sheedy or any of the rest of them. At this, Mr. Studdert proposed that Doherty be added to the committee and this was seconded by Mr. O’Donnell. The chair took no more notice of the matter which led to Mr. Doherty again speaking about the committee and leading to his being told to sit down to which he re-joined that he wouldn’t and that he would talk as long as he liked. The chair told him to stop being an obstructionist and that if he came there in the interests of the poor as he had stated that he should let the business proceed.

No further account of his interaction with the Board of Guardians has come to light.

William retired from his business in June, 1898 as recorded in the Kilrush Herald of the time “Mr. William Doherty, Kilkee, one of the leading men of the Town, after fifty years of active commercial life, has just retired to a well-earned rest after a just and honourable career. Mr. Doherty by his energy and great moral worth built up the splendid business bearing his name at the West End, winning the highest esteem of the inhabitants and visitors alike. Linked up also with the interests of the town he has been foremost in every project for its welfare … and in its advancement from a mere fishing village to a foremost place among the health resorts of Ireland he can justly claim a no small measure of the credit”.

William died five years later on the 31st of October 1903. He is buried in Kilfearagh.


Chronology of furnishing Doherty Terrace houses.

William kept diaries which record many of the purchases he made throughout the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s. Appendix 1.

In 1895, he embarked on a complete refurbishment of No. 2, Doherty Terrace keeping a meticulous account of the names of the tradesmen, their fees and the days they worked as well as the cost of materials.  Appendix 2.

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