Just as with her siblings John and Ellen, there is mystery regarding Mary's fate. But at least a little more is known of her life.

She married Richard Nicholl in November 1880 in Bornacoola church. Richard was the son of another Richard, and at the time of his marriage lived in Clooncarne. Other than that nothing has been discovered of his origins.

Mary and Richard had six children. Of these, Mary the eldest was born in 1881 but died in 1883. The rest, Ellen (born 1883), Bridget (born 1885), James (born 1888), Rose (born 1890), and Patrick (born March 1894) all later emigrated.

The family lived in Clooneagh and the location of their house can be reasonably accurately determined  - see Figure 1: Clooneagh and the Nicholl house.


A map of Clooneagh, showing holdings

The Map is generated from the 1912 OS Map, Sheet No. XX. Superimposed on it are the outlines of the Plots named on Griffith Valuation of 1857. 

On the map are shown 5 buildings; these can be described in as follows:




McHugh's Shop/later Reid's


Billy Shanley




Joe Reynolds


Clooneagh School

Each Griffith plot is shown outlined by Red and numbered in Red. Number 14 is the Reynold's farm, from which came Eliza Reynolds who married Edward Doyle. The boundary between Clooneagh and Clooncarne is shown marked in Blue.

The Key Plot to note here is Plot 5, which, as can be seen, crosses the road just after Shanley's, and contains McHugh's shop. According to the Valuation Office records, on this plot Richard Nicholl held a house from 1892 to 1902. As Richard died in 1899, this must have either been idle or just not registered as changed for a few years.

This house was numbered 5b. As can be seen on the map, only 1 house shows on Plot 5, and that is where the shop later came to be. So where was 5b? I can only assume it was a fairly basic building, and that it was demolised, or just collapsed, sometime after Richard's death. As it was a basic house, rateable value of just 5 Shillings, this is not unlikely. The exact history of the houses in this plot is:

1881: no Nicholls;

1889: 5a - James Nicholl; 5b - Michael Nicholl

1892: 5b - Richard Nicholl

1902: 5b - John Carroll

1913: 5a - Vacant .

Both 5a and 5b were leased from Thomas Shanley. There is no record of 5b after 1902.

It has to be admitted that the relationships, if any, of James Nicholl and Michael Nicholl to Richard are not known.

In any case, Richard Nicholl died in June 1899, at a stated age of 60. His marital status was given as 'Married', implying that his wife Mary Doyle was still alive.

But when the 1901 Census is searched for her, no trace can be found. If she died between June 1899 and the Census (March 1901) then her death does not appear to have been registered. And the same can be said to apply if she died between the birth of her youngest child, Patrick, in March 1894 and the death of her husband in 1899.

Sadly, though, it does seem as if she must have died sometime between March 1894 and March 1901 because the census of 1901 shows her family dispersed, and none of them living with her. Mary's eldest surviving child Ellen was living in the household of Michael Reynolds of Tooman, as a servant. Bridget, the next child, was living as a servant in the household of Edward Geelan, Master of Mohill Workhouse, in his home in Hill Street, Mohill. The eldest boy, James, was living as a servant in the household of Winifred Geelan, mother of Edward Geelan (and of Francis Geelan who was arrested along with John Doyle in 1877) in Clooneagh. And the two youngest children, Rose and Patrick, could be found as inmated of the Workhouse in Mohill.

All of this strongly suggests that Mary must have been died sometime after the birth of Patrick in 1894 but before the census was taken, and that for whatever reason her death was not registered.

It is also worth mentioning here the Geelan connection. Winifred Geelan was originally Winifred Doyle. Her brother Edward was a schoolteacher who ended his teaching days in Clooneagh school. She married John Geelan and settled in Clooneagh, where she had 6 children, including as already said Edward, later Master of the Mohill Workhouse and later again Clerk of Mohill Union, and Francis. When the teacher Edward Doyle died in 1877, he was buried in Cloonmorris Cemetery and here his nephew Edward Geelan had a headstone memorial of him erected. Later, according to Doyle family tradition, Edward's brother Francis gave this burial plot to the Doyles of Clooncarne "because of the namesake." Whether he gave the plot or it was purchased is worth speculation, but also worth wondering is whether it was simply because of the namesake.

Why did Edward Geelan take one of the Nicholl children as a servant in his own home, and have another put into the home of his mother Winifred? It has to be admitted that the Geelan house in Clooneagh was very close to that of the Nicholls', and so perhaps just simple humanity was involved. But it must also be possible that Edward Geelan knew of some connection between the teacher Edward Doyle and the Clooncarne Doyles.

Edward the teacher was said to be 45 when he died in 1877 but this cannot be taken as reliable. His sister Winifred Geelan, née Doyle, appears to have been born around 1821, and it's very possible Edward was closer to her in age than indicated. Certainly, I found a record of an Edward Doyle acting as bestman at a Geelan wedding from 1832, and if he is the same man, then his birth was long before 1832, the year his stated age at death would indicate.

Unfortunately, no details of Edward's brth or origins have been found, but it is worth noting that, if he is the man at the Geelan wedding in 1834, he would be close in age to Nicholas Doyle. And without evidence either way, the possibility must exist that the two were brothers.

This would certainly account for Edward Geelan's interest in the Nicholl children - Mary Nicholl, née Doyle, their mother would have been his first cousin. And it would also account for the later donation of the Cloonmorris burial plot to the Clooncarne Doyles.

Again it is important to emphasise that this is pure speculation and it seems unlikely that proof of any sort will ever be found.