Our Joyces

Joyce Family Tree


John Joyce IRE

Edward Joyce USA

Ellen Joyce USA

Margaret Joyce AUS

Briget Joyce AUS

John A. Joyce Family History Document

                                    J O Y C E

                    FAMILY HISTORY

Researched and compiled by John A. Joyce, with the assistance of Catherine R. Joyce over a period up to l996.


In our own part of the clan there is an old tradition that the Joyces came from the West of Ireland before setting in South County Carlow. This tradition relates that two "giants", brothers, came from the west and that one of them settled in the Ballymurphy area. The two brothers were very big men, hence "giants". This tradition was passed on to me by my father and my uncle Pat. It was accepted by both of them as being authentic in origin. (Carrie O'Brien, nee Joyce of Ballyogan, told me of a similar Joyce tradition in her family although no relationship is known to have existed between our two families).

Fr. Boylan P.P. of Borris on the occasion of my mother's "office" mass would not accept from me the usual stipend for priests attending, saying that the Joyces were great benefactors of Ballymurphy Church and that the name was one of the oldest in the Borris parish registers. The West Windows of that Church where donated by his sisters and brothers in memory of Nicholas Joyce (71), who died at Johannesburg, South Africa and is buried at Brixton Catholic Cemetery there. Nicholas had joined the police force in South Africa and had retired early, taking up a position in the security department of a gold mine. He subsequently invested and prospered in the gold mining industry, leaving the then very considerable sum of C. 50,000 to his sisters and brothers on his death in 1941.

The Joyce headstones in Ballymurphy churchyard are certainly among the oldest there. My first cousin, the late John Joyce (98) of Lower Rathgeran told me that the oldest of them were "field stones", that is, suitable, uncut stones taken from the fields and used to mark the burial places. It would thus appear that the Joyces were in the Ballymurphy area for some considerable time before John Joyce (1) was born in 1749.


It is probable that the first and second Joyce generations recorded here would have been bi-lingual, using Irish as their day-to-day language until English - the language of the money economy - gradually took over. Yet, up to my father's time, some Irish words and phrases were in common use and his speech was laced with a number of these.

John (1) (1749/1837) who was my great, great grandfather, is the earliest Joyce ancestor whom I can identify. He married Bridget Fenlon(1A) (1758/1845) and lived at Kilmison in the house now, in 1996, owned by the Kelly family - descendants on the female line and relatives of ours.

My Uncle Pat (69) told me that his great-grandmother's name was Bridget Fenlon (1A), but did not give me any other information about her. John and Bridget would appear to have had five sons and five daughters, among them my great grandfather. He was christened Pat but was called John (9), (coincidentally, as in my own case, I was christened Arthur but called John).

There were and are a number of Joyce families in Ballymurphy area and in Borris parish generally. (See note *[1]* hereunder). Some of these, notably the Ballymurphy Village Joyces, were looked upon as "friends", the then colloquial term for distant relatives. It is probable that these "friends" were descended from John (1), his brothers, or perhaps from an earlier generation of their family.

John and Mary

My great-grandfather John (9) married Mary Redmond (9A). She came from "comfortable" farming stock, being a daughter of Nicholas Redmond (R1) of Rathduff, Rathnure, Co. Wexford. My father told me that Nicholas Redmond was related to John Redmond M.P. who was leader of the Irish Party in the British House of Commons in the early part of this century. Before her marriage Mary used to ride to hounds which, when she came to Kilmison , was considered rather a feather in her cap - and a sign of some consequence. It should also be noted, however, that as she was "only" a farmers daughter - and not one of the ascendancy, she had to ride towards the rear of the hunt lest, presumably, she disturb her "betters". (See note *[2]*)

John and Mary lived at Kilmison. They had seven sons and one daughter. Whenever I asked my father about the Joyce family he would recite the names: "James, Ned, John, Tom, Nick, Pat and Piery. Piery died young". (See note *[3]*).

My father told me of how, about the time of the great famine of 1847, the third of these sons John (33), my grandfather (a younger son) went to the Kavanagh family at Borris House and obtained a lease of the house and lands at Lower Rathgeran. He became a tenant farmer there and he lived there until his death following a fall from a rick of corn in 1902.

The family who had previously lived in the house had, shortly before that, "turned the key in the lock" and emigrated to USA (See note *[4]*) . Lower Rathgeran at that time was owned by Robert Tighe J.P. of Michelstown, Co. Westmeath to whom lands in County Carlow had come down through several generations. So it would seem that the Kavanaghs of Borris House were acting as his local agents. John (33) married, on 28th February 1865, Mary Knoll (33A) of Knockroe. Although Rahanna Church is situated within a mile or two of Knockroe, the marriage ceremony seems to have taken place at the bride's home, as Knockroe is the location given for the wedding in the Borris Parish Register. (See note *[5]*).

John and Mary had a family of eight, four boys and four girls as follows:

Mary, born 22nd April 1866.

Catherine, born 17th January 18-- D.Y.

John, born 29th March 1869.

Anne, born 29th March 1869.

Patrick, born 22nd May 1873.

Margaret, born 17th July 1877.

Thomas, born 30th March 1879.

Nicholas, born 27th November 1881.

The third of the above sons, Thomas, was my father. He married Mary Jane Doyle of Graiguenamanagh on 5th April 1910 at the Pro-Cathedral, Dublin.

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