The Tinneny Family History Site



Mary Bridget "Milly" Tinneny – R.I.P.

September 15, 1922 – January 4, 2006

Mary Bridget Tinneny was the first child of James Tinneny and Margaret Kenna.  She was born at home in the town of Clones in County Monaghan, Ireland on September 15, 1922.  While growing up Mary and the rest of the family moved around a good deal since her father worked for the railroad.  As a young girl she remembers that she stayed for a time at the home of her grandparents Tommy Tinneny and Bridget Gilmartin Tinneny on Holborn Hill in Belturbet.  It was after her father was reassigned from Clones to Enniskillen in 1928 that  Mary's mother and the children returned to Belturbet while the family waited for a house to become available in Enniskillen.  During this time her mother lived with and cared for her father, Mary's grandfather Kenna, and at night Mary slept around the corner in the home of her grandfather Tommy Tinneny. 

During this time when she lived in Belturbet Mary had several strong memories.  One of these was of waking up one night and seeing Jack Mee's pub burning.  She remembered standing in front of her grandfather Tommy's house in the middle of the night watching the great fire with many other people.  She was very afraid and began to cry when of the Larkin girls (a cousin), picked Mary up and took her to her house where she felt safe.  The pub burned to the ground and was later replaced by Kennedy's Garage.

Mary also remembered her grandfather Tommy taking her for walks in the town.  The pair was always accompanied by her grandfather's dog which was a tan and white mongrel.  Sometime Mary would go down to the banks of the River Erne where it runs through the town and play.  This was off limits to her and to the other young children because of the dangers presented by the swiftly flowing river.  When she strayed to the river, her grandfather Tommy frequently caught her.  The signal that she had been caught was the sound of her grandfather's dog barking as it came around the corner followed by Tommy.  Mary began her education (infants school) at the Convent School in Belturbet. 

By Easter of 1928 Mary joined her parents in Enniskillen.  Her mother had gone ahead and set up their new house during which time Mary remained with her grandparents Tommy and Bridget in Belturbet.  She attended primary school at the convent school managed by the Sisters of Mercy in Enniskillen.  Growing up she recalled that her mother wouldn't let her participate in Irish dancing.  When the family left Enniskillen in 1931, and moved to Strabane, she attended the convent school there until she was about 15 years old at which time she left school.   

When she was 17 years old Mary got a job as a bookkeeper in a grocery shop in Strabane.  She worked there for about three and one half years.  She and several of the girls that she worked with frequently talked about going to England to live and work.  The other girls went and found work for a firm in Redditch, Worchestershire, England.  When Mary was 21 she went to England but found that there was no job for her where her friends worked in Redditch.   

Mary found employment at a place called Terry's, which made lamps and springs for the military.  She first worked on production in the factory then moved  on to the staff as the store's clerk in the wage office.  She lived in England from 1943 until 1949.  She remembered watching the bombing of Birmingham by the Germans during the War.  Mary returned to Strabane and rested for about six months.  She was contacted by the manager of Terry's to see if she would return to England and work for them again.  She declined.   

Mary got a job working in a shirt factory in Derry.  The factory made shirts for the well known Mark's and Spencer line and for a California company.  Mary met her future husband Patrick O'Kane at an office birthday party for one of the girls that also worked at the factory.  Mary recalled the party was on August 11th, which is highly celebrated by the Orangemen (Protestant unionists) in Northern Ireland with the “closing of the gates”.  During this annual event, the Orangemen locked themselves inside the gates of the old walled City of Derry. 

Mary's father in law, Roger O’Kane, was the factory manager and he had designed a shirt called the reversible, which had two sets of buttonholes and was able to be worn reversible.  The British Army, Navy and Air Force wore the reversible shirt that he designed.  

Mary was just over 30 years old when she married Patrick at Saint Mary's Catholic Church in Malmount on September 24, 1952.  Mary and Patrick set up house in an apartment on Marlborough Street in Derry.  Mary recalls that Patrick was a good singer and had been formally trained as a first tenor in his younger years. 

In 1957 they moved to a nice 2-bed room house in the Creggan Estate.  Their next home was in Malin Gardens.  Mary and Patrick had six children Margaret "Majella", Patrick, Mary "Mora", Roger, Anne "Betty", Thomas "Brian".  The children were raised in Derry and Limavady, Northern Ireland. 

Mary remembered the Orangemen celebrating on August 11th by walking along the top of the walls around Bogside, a Catholic compound in Derry, and throwing pennies into the compound at the Catholics.  She said in return the Catholics took the pennies and bought bap, which is a type of bread roll, and threw them at the Orangemen up on the wall. 

In 1962 Pat left the shirt factory, where he had worked from the time he was 16 years old, and worked for a series of companies including Wolf Paints out of Derry, the British Oxygen Company and finally for the German firm Heogst.  He worked in construction and in setting up the various factory machines. 

On June 7, 1970 Mary, Patrick and their children moved from Malin Gardens to Limavady.  While their girls were growing up their father put his tailoring skills to work by cutting out the materiel for the girls clothing while Mary sewed the material into blouses, skirts dresses and coats. 

In 1986 Patrick had been operated on for a bowel problem.  Although Mary and the family did not know it, the surgeon had removed a cancerous growth.  In the spring of 1989 the cancer was back in full force and Patrick entered the hospital for what was to be a nine-week stay.  He died of cancer at 5 p.m. on April 29, 1989.  He is buried in Saint Mary's Cemetery in Limavady.  Mary continued to live in the family home until the end of 1992, at which time she moved to 41 Greystone Road, Limavady.   

Mary was the first Tinneny in Ireland with whom I made contact.  In 1991, after many years of searching, I learned that there were Tinnenys in Ireland through Douglas Holt, a local British businessman in Columbia, South Carolina.  I had casually