The Tinneny Family History Site

Biographies of Our Forefathers


Photo Francis Tinneny courtesy of his neice Elizabeth “Betty” Tinneny of Roslea, County Fermanagh, Ireland.

Francis Tinneny was the second child of Thomas Tinneny and Bridget Gilmartin.  According to his birth certificate Francis was born October 21, 1886, while the family lived at Barrack Hill in Belturbet, County Cavan, Ireland.  The birth was registered November 1, 1886.  According to his neice, Mary Tinneny O’Kane, when he was a boy he almost drowned in the River Erne in Belturbet.  

The 1911 Census of Ireland showed Frank age 24 living with his parents and siblings in Belturbet as being able to read and to write and his occupation being a carpenter.

Extract from the 1911 Census of Ireland Form A.

Frank married Catherine “Kate” Reilly who lived on a farm in Cloncose, Belturbet.  Kate was the daughter of James Reilly and his wife Margaret McMahon of the townland of Cloncose.  Kate's birth certificate shows that she was born at Cloncose on January 14, 1891 and that Mary Connolly certified by making a mark with an X that she was present at the birth.  Kate's birth was registered January 16,1891. 

Following their marriage in Belturbet, Kate and Frank sailed from Queenstown aboard the RMS Majestic on September 5, 1912.

HMS Majestic.

The ship's manifest was difficult to read but their date of arrival in New York appeared to be September 13 although it could have been the 15th or 18th.  Frank was passenger #23 and was listed as being 24 years old, a carpenter, married, from Belturbet and as being able to read and to write.  His physical description showed that he was 5ft 6inches tall with a fair complexion, fair hair and brown eyes.  The couples final destination was listed as 48 King Street, Flushing, New York the home of his sister in law Frank's wife's sister Margaret Reiley.  Kate was listed on the manifest as Catherine Tinneny age 21, from Belturbet, next of kin was shown as her mother Margaret Reilly in Belturbet.  She had listed her destination as visiting her sister Margaret at the King Street address.  On the manifest Kate was described as having a dark complexion, dark hair and blue eyes.  It was indicated that Frank and Kate each had the equivalent of $50.00 dollars in their possession during the passage.  On the ship's manifest both Frank and Catherine's last names were clearly spelled Tinneny not Tierney as was later the case.

Frank's father Tommy Tinneny is said to have helped, to some degree, to care for Kate's mother who remained on the farm when her daughter and new son in law went to America. 

According to Frank's niece, Mary Tinneny O’Kane, at some point after arriving in the United States, Frank and his family's name changed.  The actual reason for the name change is unknown. As late as 1942, when he completed the Draft registration form for World War II, Frank stated and signed his name Tinnany. Yet his sons entered the service in WW II as Tierneys.  

In the 1990s cousins in several branches of Frank's family in Ireland said independently that Frank and Kate had initially gone to live in Detroit, Michigan and that Frank worked as a carpenter in the Ford Motor Works.  However, Frank's son Robert told me in 1996 that he checked with his surviving sisters and that they believed the information about Detroit was inaccurate.  Robert also said that they never heard of his father being a carpenter [The ship's manifest shows his trade as that of carpenter, information which was provided by Frank himself. The 1911 Census of Ireland also listed his occupation as carpenter.]  The surviving children all believed that their parents arrived in New York and never lived anywhere else in America.  According to Frank's niece Mary Tinneny O'Kane, Frank and Kate's first child died at or prior to birth.  Frank and Kate had eight other children.  They were Margaret, Elizabeth, Thomas and Francis who were twins, Robert, Mary, William and Annie. 

As was the case with all males in the United States Frank was required to register for the Draft (Military Service) for World War I which he did December 12th 1918. On that form he stated and wrote his name as Tinnany. Some of his siblings spelled it with an A and others with an E but they were all Tinnenys.

Frank’s WW I Draft Registration document.

Front of Frank’s WWII Registration document. 

And as he did for World War I, Frank registered for the draft in World War II, this time he and his wife were living at 535 West 160Street in New York City and again he signed his surname Tinnany.

Reverse of Franks WWII Registration Card.

Although Frank was never called to serve in either war, three of his sons Francis, Robert and Thomas served in the United States Army in World War II.  Thomas was in the Army Air Corps and Francis and Thomas were infantrymen and Francis was wounded in North Africa and received a the Purple Heart Medal.     

FrancisTierney Robert Tierney. Thomas Tierney

By the 1940s the family had moved to the Bronx section of New York City.  Through the 1950s, Frank's niece Mary Tinneny O’Kane and other members of the family in Ireland and England corresponded with Frank's family in New York.  Gordon Pepper, the grandson of Frank's sister Annie Tinneny provided the following post World War II address, which he got from an old address book of his Uncle Francis Davis.  The address showed that Frank and his wife lived at 1494 University Avenue, Bronx New York.  The family in Ireland lost touch with Frank's family in the 1950s. 

Photo: Catherine and Francis Tinneny courtesy of Eileen Tierney Stolte, which she posted on Facebook Saint Patrick’s day 2021 with the following comment:

“My Grandma and Grandpa, Catherine Reilly and Frank Tinneny, Irish immigrants from Belturbet, County Cavan Ireland. Traveled over the Atlantic in 1912 through Ellis Island and settled in the Bronx.  Raised 8 children. Passed their Catholic faith and their strong work ethic down to us all. Happy St. Patrick's Day Tierney Family!”


By 1996 I had given up on locating the descendants of Frank and Kate.  After about five years of trying it appeared that they would be forever lost among the many Tierneys in New York and throughout America.  However, in the summer of 1996 I was able to locate the widow of Frank's son Francis who was living in New Hampshire. 

This subsequently opened the doors for me to contact and obtain information about Frank and his descendents and confirmation that the family’s name had been Tinneny. She confirmed that Frank and Kate settled in New York City where they raised their family at various locations.

In 1996, Frank’s son Robert told me that when he read a draft of the information I’d gathered about his father he recalled a boyhood memory. When his grandfather died in 1938 Mick Casey, the husband of Frank’s sister Margaret in Belturbet, had written to America to notify Frank of his father's death.   

Robert said that as a boy he remembered one day about 1938 that he saw his father in the parlor of their home in New York City sitting alone and crying and that he thought he remembered his mother telling him that his father had learned that his father had died.  That must have been the day that Frank received the letter from Mick Casey.

Frank and Kate's youngest child Anne cared for her parents in their later years.  Frank died in New York, March 16, 1967, and Kate died April 13, 1969.

Frank's descendants include Tierney, Maloney, Sansobrino, Norton, Masterson, Stolte.

Note: In 2020 Ancestry DNA tests results confirmed that Frank (Tinneny) Tierney’s descendants were DNA matches with Rich Tinneny thus eliminating any question about their Tinneny ancestry.


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Updated January 7, 2024
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