Chapter Five: The Clonursin Leonards

The Clonursin Leonards – New York and Australia


(The children of Philip and Jane)

They were, in order of birth: Catherine, Terence, Patrick, Philip (our grandfather), Anne, John and Hugh.

Catherine, Terence, Patrick and John went to America, Philip and Hugh to Australia. Anne seems to have died in infancy. Terence and Philip returned to Ireland. Terence had no children. Patrick and John had a tragic history in America and left no descendants. Catherine (Coleman) was survived by at least one son, but what became of him is unknown. Hugh left a family in Australia whose descendants were unknown until discovered by a lucky chance in December 2005 (see new chapter “The Australian Connection” below). Of today’s descendants of the Clonursin Leonards, the majority are descended from grandfather Philip in Ireland.


Catherine seems to have been the eldest child of Philip and Jane. Hers is the only one of the family names not on the Killesher RC baptism register which began in 1855, indicating she was born before that date. According to the NY 1900 census she was called Kate and was living at 2355 8th Avenue with her husband John Coleman of Irish descent, age then 45, and a son James, age 19.

Her own age is given as 40, obviously incorrect. At her death, 2 years later, it is given as 48 on the death certificate, consistent with her birth before in 1854 before baptism records were kept in Killesher. Her name turned up in the register of burials for the Leonard grave in Calvary Cemetery, Woodside, Queens County, New York. (Section 18, Range 13, Plot A, Graves 13/16) She was buried there on July 29 1902, the fourth burial in that grave. The second, on February 17 1926, was Edward McManus, possibly a cousin. (Neither of their names appears on the tombstone) A remarkable thing is that these two and the last burial, John Leonard 18 December 1933, were the only ones interred directly after their death. The other six Leonards were transferred from other graves to this magnificent plot with its elaborate tombstone. Catherine’s death certificate shows that she died Catherine Coleman, ‘married’, which means her husband, John, was still alive, and occupation ‘housewife.’ She died at 10.50am on 27 July 1902 from pneumonia. Her age is given as 48: Time in America 30 years: Birthplace, Ireland: Father, Philip Leonard and mother, Jane Leonard: Place of residence in New York, 2355 8th Ave., a Tenement (defined as ‘a place of residence of more that two families living in separate apartments’) That is almost everything we know of Catherine. She left Ireland at 18 and apparently maintained contact with her brothers in New York. It is a sad fact that of the four Clonursin Leonards who went to America, Catherine was the only one to leave a surviving child. Terence had no children, Patrick’s wife and child predeceased him and John also buried his wife and two sons before he died. It is possible that there are descendants of Catherine’s son James (or other Coleman children unknown to us) still around.

The Cl7

Home of Catherine (Leonard) Coleman in New York

2355 8th Avenue, Manhattan

This photograph was taken by Moira Halliday in July 1999 when the building was listed for demolition. Here Catherine or Kate (Leonard) Coleman was living with her husband John and son James, aged then 19, at the 1900 NY Census. Catherine’s brother Terence was living with them as a ‘boarder’, a bachelor aged then 42. Here too her policeman brother Patrick died from diabetes in 1899 as did his baby son Philip 10 years earlier on 17 March 1889.  The baby’s mother Bridget (Reilly) died post-childbirth on 5 March 1889 at a different address. It would appear that Catherine nursed the baby and Patrick in their final days.

These tenement buildings are of a type vividly described by Bill Bryson in his book “Notes from a Big Country” in passages on the living conditions of immigrants in New York, especially the Irish and Italians in the late 1800s. People lived up to ten in a room, and death from suffocation was so common the the government ordered ventilation shafts to be installed in each tenement. Unfortunately these were often used as rubbish tips, rat-infested and stinking. The photo shows the wooden fire-escapes zig-zagging on the frontage. Conditions were so bad that many of the Italians returned home, but it would appear the majority of the Irish had no such option. The indications are that the Leonard immigrants endured poor living conditions which probably contributed to their early deaths.


Terence was born in Clonursin, Co Fermanagh in the parish of Killesher, where he was baptised on 30 November 1856. His father is recorded as Philip ‘Lynnard’, sponsors Andrew Lynnard and Sarah Flanagan. Terence went to America, where by the time of  the 1900 census he and his brother Patrick had both become policemen.  At the 1910 NY census Terence is listed as a ‘boarder’ with his sister Catherine (Coleman) in 2355 8th Avenue, ‘Born 1858’ (should be 1856) ‘age next birthday 42’ (Should be 44).  On returning  from America Terence married Catherine McConville from Annaghmore in Co Armagh (the wedding may have taken place in America). They settled on a small farm in Cloncarrish, near Annaghmore. Terence  became a Justice of the Peace In Armagh,  probably on account of his New York police experience.

Terence was the actual owner of his father Philip’s farm in Clonursin, then occupied by our Granny Leonard, widow of grandfather Philip, and her children. How Terence became the owner is a mystery. Two possibilities are (1) that his father Philip (the thumb) got into financial difficulties and was bailed out by Terence in America, who obtained the farm’s title deeds as security or (2) the farm was ‘bought out’ from the (Church of Ireland) landlord under one of the old Acts, where a down payment was required. Terence may have made this payment and thus have obtained the title deeds. Terence, in his will, shocked the family by ordering the farm to go to public auction and the proceeds, after payment of legacies of forty pounds each to his brothers John in America and Hugh in Australia, to go to his nephew Patrick Leonard, father’s younger brother, then aged 11. In the event the family bought the farm at the auction (there were no other bidders!) and Patrick eventually became the owner. The episode raises questions about Terence’s relationship with his brother Philip’s widow Margaret, who was effectively ‘owner in occupation’ of Clonursin since Philip’’s premature death from pneumonia.

Terence Leonard’’s grave, Eglish RC church, Parish of Loughgall

Annaghmore, Co Armagh.

 The Cl2The Cl3

The Cl4

Terence and Catherine had no children and are buried in the RC graveyard at Eglish RC church, Annaghmore (locally called Tartaraghan and not to be confused with Eglish, County Tyrone). The grave is on the western margin of the churchyard and is marked by a “Leonard” tombstone erected by Catherine to the memory of Terence. He died on 29 December 1913 aged 57 (which agrees with his baptism record of his birth in Clonursin in 1856) The tombstone is also dedicated to the memory of Catherine’’s father Daniel and mother Sarah, who presumably are also buried there. Catherine’s own name follows, recording her death on 3 March 1928 aged 55. Then follows her sister, Sarah Harvey, died 20 February 1948, aged 68 and her brother-in-law Henry Duffy died 22 February 1950 aged 84. The last to be buried there was Catherine’s second sister Mary Ann Duffy, who died 24 June 1964 aged 90. Catherine’s sisters had lived in the area and, like herself, were childless.


Patrick was baptised 16 March 1858, son of Philip Lynnard of Clonursin, sponsors James Lynnard and Mary A McManus. According to his death certificate he went to America when he was 22. He was a policeman and died from diabetes on 15 February 1899 aged, according to the death certificate, 39 (according to the baptism records, 41). The certificate states that he was a widower, born in Ireland of parents Philip Leonard and Jane Leonard. and that his residence was an ‘apartment’ at 2355 8th Avenue. (Note this is the same as Catherine who died there three and a half years later.) Notice of Patrick’s death, and of a high requiem Mass in his memory at St Joseph’s Church Columbus Ave, appeared in the New York Herald of 17 February 1899. His age was given as 38, and he is described as a  native of Co Fermanagh, parish of ‘Calasher’ (Killesher) Ireland . His Internment was to be at Calvary, and among those invited were the ‘Knights of Columbanus, Brendan Council , No 306’. Patrick had been ill for two years. He had resided with his wife 10 years earlier, at 303 W 127th St., Ward 12 on floor 3 in an apartment block of 6 families ‘living separately’. It looks as if he moved into 2355 with Catherine who nursed him through his last illness, which also explains why Catherine is buried with him in the Leonard grave.

Patrick married Bridget Reilly (blotted on death cert.) from Ireland, daughter of Terence (death certificate again blotted – looks like ‘Derrins’- some clerk’s phonetic spelling of Terence’?) and Ann Reilly. Bridget died on 5 March 1889 after the birth of her child, Philip on 28 February 1889, She was aged 27, a housewife and had been in New York for 11 years. Baby Philip died twelve days after his mother’s death on St Patrick’s Day 1889. Bridget died at 303 W 127th St. but the baby died at 2377 8th Ave. apparently the same block where Catherine lived (at 2355). Probably Catherine took care of the baby until it died. Patrick, his wife and baby were buried in Calvary graveyard but were all three re-interred in the new grave on 3 May 1899, three months after Patrick’s death. They were the first people to be buried in the new grave. It was Patrick who, sometime after 1890, erected the tombstone on the Leonard grave in Kinawley old graveyard to the memory of his mother Jane, the only name over this Leonard grave until recently when the names of the other Leonards buried there were added. It was Terence who in 1899 provided the new grave in Calvary and its magnificent tombstone and presumably arranged the transfer and re-interment of Patrick, Bridget and Philip

The Leonard Grave in Calvary, New York


The grave (with the white stone at foot) is the centre of three similar headstones. From left (of picture) the names are Mullan, Leonard and Cosgrave The proximity of the graves and the similarity of the headstones suggest a family relationship but there is no evidence of such except that our father, James, once mentioned a connection with a Cosgrave family in the Lisnaskea area.

This is Calvary Cemetery, Borough of Queens, New York (Section 18, Range 13, Plot A, Graves 13/16). The grave and headstone were provided by Terence Leonard, grandfather’s oldest brother, who emigrated to New York and later returned to Ireland, died aged 56 and is buried in Eglish RC graveyard, Annaghmore, Co Armagh. Interred here (age at death in brackets) are his brother, Patrick (41), Patrick’s wife Bridget (Reilly) (27) and baby son  Philip (17 days) , his brother John (60) and John’s wife Susan (Hayes) (60) and their two sons, Terence(31)  and James (28) who died before their parents. Also buried here are Terence’s sister Catherine (Coleman) (48), eldest of the family and apparently ‘mother’ to all of them in New York and an Edward McManus (67), bachelor, possibly a relative. (Terence’s mother was Jane McManus). Of these, John, (the last to die in 1933), Catherine and Edward McManus were buried directly from death. All the others were re-interred from other graves in the same cemetery. There are no Leonard survivors of the three brothers, Terence, Patrick and John who emigrated to America. Catherine had a husband, John Coleman, and a son, James living with her in apartment 2355, 8th Avenue  NY at the 1900 census, but nothing more is known of them.



These names are in chronological order of death. Also buried here but not included on the headstone are Catherine (Leonard) Coleman died 29 July 1902 and Edward McManus died 17 February 1926.


Our grandfather (subject of the next chapter) was baptised on 4 September 1859, father ‘Philip Lynnard’, sponsors, ‘John McManus and Catherine ‘do’ (McManus?). Philip married Margaret Breen of Corrameen, Kinawley on 18 February, 1887. According to my father’s birth certificate Philip was then 27 and Margaret 24 (though according to their marriage certificate they were both the same age, 26, in 1887) They went to Australia where their first baby Jane (Janie) was born in Melbourne in 1888. Then there was Hugh who was dead when my father, James’ was born, also in Melbourne, in 1891. They returned to Ireland to Clonursin where Maggie Anne was born in 1894 but lived only one month, and John, born in 1897, died in 1901 aged 4. The last of the family, uncle Patrick, was born in Clonursin in 1902. Philip died (from pneumonia, we were told) in Enniskillen Infirmary on 17 August 1909. Margaret died in Clonursin 29 October 1932.


Baptised in February 1861, father ‘Philip Lynnard’, sponsors ‘Phil McIloon and (illegible, could be Mary) McManus’. Nothing more is known of Anne but, significantly, the same sponsors stood for the next child, John. When a child died it was sometimes the custom for its parents to invite the sponsors to act for the next-born.


Baptised ‘John Leonard’ 30 October 1863, parents ‘Phil and Janie McManus of Clonursin’, sponsors ‘Phil McIloon and Mary McManus’. John went to America. According to the New York 1900 census John’’s date of birth is given as May 1861 (?), year of immigration 1884 (when he was actually 21) The census gives his occupation as ‘longshoreman.’ He married Susan Hayes who, according to the census was born in Ireland in April 1868, daughter of John Hayes and Mary Sheehan. Year of immigration is listed as 1883. Her death certificate and her tombstone, however, make her date of birth 1865. The census records five children born of whom only two  survived, James born in May 1887 and Terence, born in April 1891. James died of ‘endocarditis’ on 8 July 1915 age 28 (Incidentally on James’ death certificate his mother’’s maiden name is given as ‘Susan Carroll’). Terence died, according to the tombstone, on 14 November 1924 aged 31. (According to the census it should be 33.) We have no death certificate but my friend Tom McCarthy who did all the research on the American Leonards says that he discovered that Terence, a van driver, dropped dead in a store when making deliveries. Susan’’s death certificate states that she died of ‘chronic nephrites’, with ‘arterio sclerosis’ as a contributory cause, on 2 November 1925 ‘aged 60’, just one year after her son Terence. John died, according to the tombstone, on 14 December 1933 aged 68. (Note John’s three different years of birth: According to the 1900 census, 1861, to the baptism record, 1863 and to the tombstone, 1865. Of these the baptism is the one most likely to be correct.) John’’s burial on 18 December 1933 was the last burial in the Leonard grave in Calvary and his death the last of the four Clonursin Leonards who went to America.


Baptised 16 January 1866, ‘Hugh Leonard’, parents ‘Phil and Janie McManus of Clonursin’ sponsors, ‘Bernard McManus and Anne McIloon’ Hugh went to Australia. He married Bridget Durnan of Crummer, Derrylester near Killesher RC Church. We know of two sons, Hugh and John. (Since this chapter was originally written Hugh’s branch of the family has happily made contact. See “The Australian Connection”, below.) 

His son Hugh was Parish Priest of Jugiong, Gundagai in Australia. He visited his Leonard relations in Ireland when he retired in the late 1960s. He returned to Jugiong and died there on 20th June 1979, and is buried in Gundagai. In St Patrick’s RC Church, Gundagai, there is a memorial window to his parents Hugh and Bridget Leonard.

John died leaving  a wife, Annie, who at Father Hugh’s death was living at 32 Robinson Street, Punchbowl, Sydney, New South Wales. John and Annie had two sons: Hugh, deceased at Father Hugh’s death, but whose wife Myrtle at that time was living at 5 Munroe Avenue, Cheltenham, Victoria; and Patrick of Colac, Victoria, who in 1980, had a ‘Motel Safari’ in Caloundra in Queensland.

These descendants of Hugh of Clonursin were beneficiaries of Fr Hugh and much of this information came on 25 March 1987 from the executor of Fr Hugh’s estate, Fr William J Graham PP, our Lady of Fatima Parish, North Goulburn, address then: The Presbytery, 101 Lagoon St., Goulburn, N.S.W. Fr Graham was from Wilkinstown, Navan. and was to visit his home in summer of 1987. I invited him to make contact but he did not do so, and I have not heard from him since. I also wrote, in 1987, to Myrtle Leonard in Victoria and to John’s widow in Sydney and though I provided a return address if not delivered, neither letter was returned and neither produced a response. When in Queensland in 1993 I rang every Leonard in Caloundra, about ten of them, but could not trace any Patrick Leonard of Irish descent.

Mary Anne Duffy

While I was working for the Department of Agriculture in Armagh in the late 1950s I met  Mrs Duffy, sister of Catherine, the wife of Terence Leonard. I found her  through a chance conversation with a farm labourer called Freeburn who once worked for the Leonards in Cloncarrish. He recalled my grandfather and family, including my father as a small boy, stopping with the Terence Leonards for a short time when they returned from Australia. Though then in her late 80’s, Mrs Duffy stood tall and quite handsome, and immediately recognised me as a Leonard when I called unannounced at her door. She had a number of things left to her by her sister Catherine, including paintings of the Leonard brothers in America in massive frames. There was also the photo of their grave in New York. After her death, I made a few half-hearted attempts to obtain the paintings, but to my regret now, let it drop. Recently I managed to recover two of them in a sorry condition, minus their frames They have been re-framed and are now hanging in Jack’’s house in London. Unfortunately we have no way of knowing which  of the Leonards they depict. The photograph of the grave I have recovered thanks to my American friend, Tom McCarthy.

When I met Mrs Duffy she and Sam Harvey were the only survivors of the original six, three McConville sisters and their husbands. I visited Sam in a nursing home in Warrenpoint shortly before he died. Mrs Duffy died on 24th June 1964 in Tamnaharry Convent near Newry. I helped carry her coffin to the grave where all six now rest together, possibly also with Catherine’s parents and including my granduncle Terence who was born in Fermanagh over a hundred years before.

Mrs Duffy managed her small farm with the assistance of a relative called Michael D McConville of Cloncore in the same parish. In the 50s Michael D confided in me that Mrs Duffy had promised to leave the farm to him in her will. In the event he died before her, and in her will Mrs Duffy  left the farm to the Loughgall parish with only £100 to the McConville family. In 2000 I found her grave weedy and neglected, and that her name had not been added on the tombstone. The family of Michael D McConville, still bitter at the disappointment and the involvement of the priests at the time, understandably would have nothing to do with it. I raised the matter with the Parish Priest, Father McArdle, and later with Archbishop Brady, giving each a copy of Mrs Duffy’’s will. The Archbishop simply passed the matter to Fr McArdle, who said he could  find no record of her legacy in the parish records and who was clearly unwilling to do anything about the matter or even to have the grave maintained. Finally in 2001, on account of the family name on the stone, I arranged to have the grave tidied up, the tombstone script renewed and Mrs Duffy’s name added.