Biographies of Our Forefathers
The Tinneny Family History Site


Biographies of Our Forefathers

Philip Tinneny H47

Philip Tinneny was the First child of Robert Tinneny and his wife Elizabeth Murphy.  He was born at Killahurk, Carrigallen, County Leitrem on April 5,1908.  He was baptized in Saint Mary’s Catholic Church at Carrigallen. 

Philip attended the Bredagh School in Carrigallen. Mr. Packie Maguire told the following story to Mr. Aidan Harte for inclusion in the publication, A Hundred Years of Carrigallen School, which was done as a commemorative history celebrating a hundred years of Bredagh School, Carrigallen.  Also mentioned in the publication were Philip Tinneny’s sister Alice and his brother Robert.  The account was as follows: 

“I remember an incident in 1914 when Master Murphy was ill and was substituted by Master Comey.  Phil Tinneny of Killahurk was in infants class and somebody wrote “S--- Miss O’Reilly”, who was one of the lady teachers.  Master Comely came into the class and saw what was written on the desk and proceeded to give poor Phil, the mother and father of a walloping.  Even we knew that Phil, who was a slow learner, could not have written that, but he suffered non-the less.  Phil sloped off home and his father appeared post haste in a rage.  I can still see Jack Tinneny chasing Comey around the school grounds.  He (Phil’s father) took the entire family from the school and sent them to the Protestant equivalent.”  (Note: In fact Phil’s father’s name was Robert not Jack. RJT)

On August 24, 1927 Philip was granted an Immigration Visa to travel to the United States.  The visa, #12835, was issued at the American Embassy or Consulate in Dublin. 

 Photo: Passports of Philip and his wife Mary.  Courtesy Elizabeth Tinneny O’Shea.

Philip’s  Aunt Maryann Tinneny, who was living in Philadelphia at the time, sent him the money for passage to Philadelphia.  Philip left the farm at Killahurk for the last time and on September 1927 he sailed from the port of Queenstown aboard the SS Thuringia for America.  He was listed on the ship's manifest as Philip Tineny, age 19, single, occupation farm laboror.  The record further showed he was born at Killahurk, County Leitrem, Ireland.  It listed his next of kin as his father Robert Tinneny.  Philip was described as being in good health with fair complexion, brown hair and blue eyes.  He had 8 pounds of currency with him according to the manifest. 

The Thuringia arrived at the port of New York on September 26, 1927.  After he processed through the port he traveled the 90 or so miles from New York to Philadelphia, probably by train, to join his Aunt Mary Ann Tinneny Reilly who lived at either 252 or 232 North Robinson Street in West Philadelphia.  Note:  Philip and his Aunt Mary Ann were no more than 20 minutes driving time from the descendents of Yankee Pat including my father and grandfather who lived in the northwest section of Philadelphia at the time. 

Neither knew the other Tinnenys were in the same city.  The ship list where the information about Philip's passage was found, was located at the Mormon Library in Utah.  The record was found on film 1755875, Volume 9246, page 50, line 28. 

For a time after his arrival in America Philip lived with his Aunt Mary Ann in Philadelphia.  He eventually settled in New York State.  He met and married Mary O'Sullivan.  Mary was born September 20, 1911 and she was from county Cork in the west of Ireland.  The couple had eight children Robert, Catherine, Philip, Elizabeth, Daniel, Mary, Thomas, and Alice.  

When they were first married, Philip and Mary lived in Manhattan where, in addition to Philip’s job in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, they worked as building superintendents of residential buildings in Manhattan. This entailed such tasks as shoveling coal into the large furnaces. Sometimes Mary had to do this as Philip was working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Their daughter Liz remember her mother telling the children how she felt sorry for some of the homeless who would go into the basements of these buildings to get out of the cold. Liz asked her if she was afraid of them and her mother would only smile and say, “The poor devils had no place to go. They won’t hurt anyone.” 

In Manhattan they were members of Saint Mary’s parish and while they lived there their children Robert, Catherine, Philip, Mary and Elizabeth were born.  However, for the most part Philip raised his family in East Brooklyn, New York.  He and Mary had bought a 2 family house at 1082 Stanley Avenue in East Brooklyn for $3,500.  They and their children Robert, Catherine, Philip and Liz moved there.  When they bought it the house was set up for four families but Philip divided it in half and the Tinnenys lived in one side and the Scuderi family lived in the other side. 

Their son Daniel remembered that they were one of only a couple of Irish families in the neighborhood.  The rest of the neighborhood was mostly Italian.  Their daughter Liz remembered when they lived there, there were still dirt streets in the area and even a cow barn, which she and her siblings use to go to and peek through the side of the barn at the cows inside. 

Dan recalled that although they were technically members of Saint Fortunata's Catholic parish that on Sundays his mother would take him to church with her on the bus to Saint Rita's Catholic Church in the Ridgewood section of New York for Mass.  His mother said that she had trouble understanding the priest at her home parish, which was predominantly Italian.  Saint Rita's Parish had a large number of Irish parishioners and probably Irish priests as well.

The Tinneny Children Courtesy of Elizabeth Tinneny O’Shea

Top Row: Philip, Elizabeth, Robert, Catherine.  Bottom Row: Daniel, Mary, Thomas and Alice 

Philip worked as a maintenance man at the New York Police Department's 75th Precinct for many years and retired from that position.  He also worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, probably in the 40s and 50s according to his daughter Liz.  Liz also said that for a time her parents were the superintendents of a building, which was what so many Irish did to get started in the New York.  One of his sons remembered when he was a child living in the family home in Brooklyn, he was "snooping" around in the basement and found some old photographs of his father as a young man dressed like a barman standing behind a bar.  Philip was probably working at the bar at the time.  In addition to his job with the police department Philip always had a couple of additional part time jobs according to his son. 

Photo: Philip in what appears to be a uniform of some sort. He is not known to have served in the military service, however, it could be a uniform of the State or National Guard or some sort of Police Reserve uniform.  

Each Saint Patrick’s Day, Philip would take his children out of school and take them to the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan.  He reminded the children that if they got separated in the crowds of hundreds of thousands they should seek out a policeman for help. 

Philip was an usher at Saint Fortunata’s Catholic Church.  He would normally go to the early Mass with about 3 of the children then Mary would go to a later Mass with the remaining 5 children. 

Eventually, with growing concerns about their East Brooklyn neighborhood and the building of housing projects in the area, Philip and Mary decided to move their family out of the city and bought a house on a mountain-top in Worcester, New York. At the time the couples children, Alice, Thomas and Mary were still living at home and moved with them up state.   

Another reason for the move may have been Mary’s health.  It seemed that she had developed some sort of seizures.  Her daughter Liz remembered when the condition was first noticed.  Liz and her sister Catherine were talking in the kitchen of the family home in Brooklyn one afternoon and they heard their mother in the next room making noises.  They thought she was mimicking them and passed off the noises.  The room Mary was in was darkened as evening had fallen.  When Liz and Catherine went into the room to talk with their mother they found her in the midst of a seizure.  They had no telephone in the house so they went to neighbors and called for medical assistance. Mary was eventually put on a medication called dilanton, which helped with the condition.  The family noted that when they were on summer vacations in up state New York the condition seemed to be improved.  Thus, Mary’s condition was thought to be another reason for the move up state. 

Liz said that she remembered her mother talking about having taken a fall and receiving a bad bump on the head.  There was some thought that the head injury might have been the cause of the Mary’s seizures.  In addition to the seizures Mary had been plagued with a bad back.  According to her daughter Liz, Mary “suffered terrible back aches in her later years, probably because of the work she did while helping with the building superintendent tasks years earlier and having eleven children (she lost 3 in early pregnancies.)”

The house they moved into in Worcester and the whole environment there was a far cry from what they left in Brooklyn.  The house had no lights or indoor toilet facilities and was located 5 or 6 miles from the highway.  At night they found their way up the hill to the house by listening to the sounds of the creek which ran parallel to their path.  

For the first several years that they lived in Worcester, Philip commuted to work in New York City.  During the week, he would stay in the city with his daughters Cathy and Liz and Liz’s friend Joan who had an apartment there.  Then on Friday, he would take a bus for the 4-hour ride up state to join the family for the weekend. 

Talking about this country house many years later, their daughter Mary recalled that she was always concerned about her father making the journey from the highway after having a couple of drinks and winding up in the creek.  Although that didn't happen, she recalled one time when her brother Dan was carrying groceries up the hill and indeed did fall into the creek - groceries and all.

After living in the rustic house on the hilltop, Philip and Mary bought a big 16-room house in nearby East Worcester.  The house was fully furnished with antiques and according to their daughter Mary, her parents paid $3500 for the place. 

Philip's grandson Philip Tinneny of Rosedale, Queens, New York, remembered visiting his grandparents place up state when he was a small child.  He remembered that during these visits his grandfather helped him make things out of wood in his shop.   

After moving to Worcester, Philip continued to be very active in church activities including service as an usher for Sunday Masses. 

It was while Philip was commuting back and forth from New York City to Worcester that he began having discomfort in his stomach.  He eventually had a work physical including x-rays and the problem was diagnosed as a stomach virus.  The pain increased and eventually he was examined at a local hospital in Worcester.  A surgeon operated on him and found that he had advanced cancer of the stomach, which had spread to other organs.  There was nothing the surgeon could do but sew him back up.  He had a very painful time and his daughter Liz said that near the end his stomach was very large and distended with the cancer.  He died in Worcester, New York in July 1964. He was buried in St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, 183-185 Main Street, hamlet of Worcester Town of Worcester, Otsego County, New York. His wife Mary died in November, 1983.

Note: Philip's descendants includes all Tinnenys from Staten Island, NY and their Botte, Volkert, Aquila, Ciccarelli and O' Shea descendants.

Update January 17, 2021
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