The Immigrant Story of Thomas & Honora Lynch

Thomas Lynch was born in 1876 in Coolmeen, County Clare, Ireland and died on June 23, 1953. His father was Denis Lynch*1 (1825-1908) and his mother was Ellen Cunningham Kelly (1839-1926). His parents lived very long lives through Ireland’s greatest tragedy of what I will refer to as The Great Hunger (also named “Irish Potato Famine”). Thomas Lynch was the seventh  child born of nine.

1) Delia

Cover with Blurb
Check out Eamon Loingsigh’s historical novel Divide the Dawn (Spring 2020) which includes his great-grandparents, Thomas & Honora.

2) Denis
3) Margaret (1860)
4) Ellen (1866-1935)
5) Mary (1867)
6) Alice (1871)
7) Thomas (1876-1953)
8) James (1878-1955)
9) Michael (1882-1971)

It is not known exactly where Thomas’ mother, Ellen Cunningham Kelly was born, though it is documented that she died in Coolmeen, County Clare, Ireland 1/30/1926. She witnessed not only Ireland’s greatest tragedy in The Great Hunger, but also the Easter Rising of 1916, the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War where finally Ireland had gained independence over the majority of its territory, save six counties in the North, Ulster. Most likely, she would have met the face of Ireland in the 20th Century, Eamon de Valera who was the political representative from East County Clare and who, after the Easter Rising (he was not executed because he was born in New York) became Taoiseach and President of the Republic of Ireland.

Census of Ireland, 1911 – (Unverified source, names and dates do not match, which is common, but could very possibly still be the true family, see footnote*2) On April 2nd, 1911, per the documentation from the Census of Ireland, 1911” the people who were living with Ellen Cunningham Kelly (does not include address, unfortunately) were the following, including herself:

1) Ellen Lynch (74) – Widow (was married 52 years), born in County Clare, Ireland, current head of household, Roman Catholic, Farmer, with nine children still alive, can read and write, speaks Irish and English.

2) Bridget Lynch (daughter, 38) – Single, Roman Catholic, can read and write, speaks Irish and English.

3) John Lynch (son, 31) -Single, Roman Catholic, Farmer’s son, can read and write, speaks Irish and English.

4) (Illegible first name) Lynch– (son, 26) Single, Roman Catholic, Farmer’s son, can read and write, speaks Irish and English.

5) Mary Louise Clancy (grandchild, 4), Roman Catholic, cannot read.

Our Thomas Lynch made it quite difficult to pinpoint exactly what year he had emigrated from Ireland to New York City. Below is a graph of each Census year of New York and the year that he wrote when he emigrated. Try not to laugh at the inconsistency:

~1900 Census – he wrote that he emigrated to New York in 1889
~1910 Census – he wrote that he emigrated to New York in 1896
~1920 Census – he wrote that he emigrated to New York in 1897
~1930 Census – he wrote that he emigrated to New York in 1894
~1940 Census – Does not ask what year he emigrated

Because of this and his very common name, I am currently unable to verify specifically when he passed through Ellis Island, if he did pass through Ellis Island. There were quite a few Thomas Lynches on ship passenger lists from 1889-1897, so at this time it cannot be confirmed unless other family members come forth with other details.

Without confirming his date of passage, we next turn to the Census of New York, 1900 for a positive confirmation of his whereabouts in New York City. According to this document, Thomas Lynch is living at 318 West Street, New York, New York apartment #105 on June 8, 1900. This address is literally on the waterfront of the West Side of Manhattan where the current West Side Highway runs, just south of Houston and just north of where the Holland Tunnel currently is.

Thomas’ sister Ellen (32 in 1900), who was ten years older than him, had married Michael Mulqueen (34, Saloon Keeper) six years earlier and by 1900, they had a three year old son, Michael J. Mulqueen and a two year old daughter, Ellen A. Mulqueen. Also living at this residence as “boarders” are William Twoomey (35, Laborer) and Thomas McCarthy (32, Laborer). Thomas Lynch states here that he was born in October of 1878 and that he is 22 years old. That he originally came over in 1889 and is a “Laborer” and can read and write in English. To further confuse his arrival date in New York City, right next to the date of 1889 that he put as arriving, he wrote that he had only lived in New York City for one year. So, this may mean that he traveled more than once from Ireland to New York.

The two Mulqueen children were born in New York, everyone else at this address was born in Ireland.

It was very common in those days for new comers to stay with family in New York City. In Thomas’ case, staying with his older sister Ellen and her husband was probably a better choice than staying on the farm in Coolmeen, County Clare. Although Ellen and Michael Mulqueen both stated they only arrived from Ireland in 1897, Mr. Mulqueen is older, more established as a saloon keeper and considered the head of the household.

Young Thomas is not married at this time. According to my father, Timothy Lynch (1948-2013), Thomas Lynch was at this time working for the city, digging for the subways as a laborer. This is certainly possible, but not yet confirmed. What may also be possible is Thomas working at Michael Mulqueen’s saloon, although he probably would have stated that on this census. What is known is that Thomas Lynch will become a bartender and a saloon keeper himself one day.

Nora Kelly – Known as Honora, she was born in 1880 in Kildysart, County Clare, Ireland. From the stories that have been told to me, she came from a large and very poor family that sent her to a girl’s boarding school, or orphanage in the capital of Clare, Ennis.

Currently, there is no information on her father and mother, though we do know she had a younger sister named Anna (probably b. 1882) that was living with her in New York. Currently, Anna is the only other “confirmed” sibling. A family member reported to me that there were other siblings, including another sister named Teresa Rose Kelly. Two other brothers were born in New York, John and Joseph Kelly.

At some point, Honora was somehow able to leave County Clare, Ireland and get on a ship bound for New York. How she did so and how she met Thomas Lynch, hopefully, can be solved in the coming months.

Update: Through a family source, I found out that Thomas & Honora met at a ball put on by the County Claremen’s Evicted Tenant’s Protective and Industrial Association, of which Thomas was the treasurer.

In the Census of New York, 1910 (done on 4/22/1910), things have changed immensely for Thomas Lynch. He now lives and is renting at 93 Barrow Street, which is directly behind 463 Hudson Street (on the corner of Hudson and Barrow), the saloon he will own one day. His occupation is now “Dealer” and is an employee of “Siq Work” or “Sig Work” maybe “Sign Work”? He is still renting, but is now head of the household and married to Nora Kelly (30), who would be known throughout the family as “Honora.”

Thomas and Honora have two children Ellen M. (2) who was born Eleanor Lynch and Thomas Jr. (6 months old). But there are many others living in this address in Greenwich Village in 1910. Here is a listing:

  1. Alice Lynch (40) who is described as Thomas‘ sister (b. 1871) and is a widow. She has five children that are still alive. She does not have employment, but does know how to read and write. This is the same Alice Lynch whose young child Mary Clancy will be living in Ireland with Alice and Thomas’s mother Ellen Cunningham Kelly in 1911, one year from now. Alice had married John Clancy sometime around 1891, though he has passed away by 1910. It seems odd that she would be named “Alice Lynch” instead of “Alice Clancy” even as her husband had died.
  2. John Clancy (10), Alice’s son named after his father, was born in New York City. According to the letter I received from Dan Lynch via the Clancy’s, this John Clancy did not have a date of birth, which we can now assume to be either 1899 or 1900. He dies by 1924 however, of unconfirmed causes. He is one of five children born to Alice and John Clancy. Others: Helen (Hogan), Dennis (b. 1901), James (b. 1903) and Mary (b. 1906 in Ireland).
  3. Anna Kelly (28, Single) – Who is described as Thomas Lynch’s “sister-in-law” which would make her Honora’s sister. Anna wrote that she arrived in New York in 1902 after being born in Ireland. She describes her occupation as “House work.”
  4. Michael Hannon – (52, widowed) A boarder who was born in Ireland. He emigrated one year previously in 1909. He is currently a “Foreman” at a stable.
  5. Orrin Herdman – (50, widowed) A boarder who was born in New York and so were both of his parents. He is widowed and is currently a Truck Driver.
  6. Frances J. Barnes – (45, married) A boarder who was has been married for 22 years (wife not at this address though). He was born in Virginia, but both of his parents were born in Ireland. Currently he is a Produce Salesman.

Here in 1910, we have an extended family all living together. Thomas Lynch has already established himself as Head of the household and is married, having children, taking in boarders and working every day as a “dealer” of some sort in the neighborhoods just off the water. Coincidentally, 1910 is the year that New York became the largest port in the world, surpassing London. The docks off Greenwich Village and north in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen are incredibly busy with freight ships and barges and the waterfront neighborhoods are packed with small businesses that benefit from the incredible amount of goods coming in from around the world. There is also quite a bit being manufactured in these neighborhoods as well, such as the soap factory on Washington Street right around the corner.

Thomas is also taking in his widowed sister, her son, and his wife’s sister to help with the young children (and is most certainly pregnant at this time too). Mr. Hannon, straight off the boat, could very possibly be a friend of the Lynch’s or Kelly’s back in Clare and two other boarders are staying as well, probably paying the majority of the rent.

One can only imagine what exactly a “dealer” is. It could quite possibly be a dealer in alcohol, or even a bartender. Living directly behind the saloon that Thomas will one day own, it’s hard to imagine him not working there in 1910.

According to family stories, Lynches Tavern at 463 Hudson Street had opened in 1906. This does not seem to be the case, as of yet. It may possible be, however, that it is owned by Thomas Lynch, but is not stating so on this 1910 census.

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 11.28.04 AM
On the right side of this google maps photo is 93 Barrow Street, where the Lynches lived in 1910. On the left is the side of Lynches Tavern (now called Barrow’s Pub) that is facing Hudson Street.

By any measure, ten people living in a two-story walk up is somewhat extreme. Though it seems, by looking at a picture on google maps, that it also has a basement. I’m not sure how many rooms there are here, but I would guess three, maybe four at the most. Next door is the Donahue family with the Slattery’s and others living at 95 Barrow Street. In two adjacent, very small buildings behind a saloon, there are 26 people living. Imagine this all over Manhattan.

Lynches Tavern – (Looking for input on this here, please help Lynch family!) From what I have been told, Lynches Tavern at 463 Hudson Street was opened in 1906, although that is currently in question. It was one of many saloons on Hudson Street during the era. Longshoremen who worked on the docks frequented it in the nineteen-teens. Thomas Lynch was very active in the Irish community through this saloon. My father Timothy Lynch (1948-2013) told me that he was sure there was money funneled to the Irish Republican Brotherhood and other Fenian movements that supported Irish freedom. Ireland was still under the thumb of Britain at this time and the secret revolutionary societies, rebirth of the Gaelic language and Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), labor

This is outside Lynches Saloon's windows looking across the street on the corner of Hudson & Barrow, 1905.
This is the outside Lynches Saloon’s windows looking across the street on the corner of Hudson & Barrow, 1905.

organizations, militant organizations like the Volunteers and other cultural, literary and revolutionary movements were gaining popularity in Ireland.

In New York, people like John Devoy and O’Donovan Rossa were constantly organizing ways to raise money to be sent back to Ireland to strike at the Brits since well before the turn of the century. Saloons of the era like Thomas Lynch’s in Greenwich Village were notorious for.

It would be one thing to simply assume Thomas Lynch would have been a part of organizing in New York for Irish freedom, it is another thing when you consider the organizations he was proudly involved with such as the Owen Roe O’Neill Club, for which he was treasurer. Or the John Mitchel Club. Both of these were known for organizing dances or athletic meets to raise funds to be sent back to Ireland. An uncle told me once that “Oh sure, there was always a hat that would be sent around for donations.”

446-480 Hudson St 1910
This is across the street and south a half block from Lynches Tavern circa 1910. The addresses are 446-480 Hudson Street. Remember how important horses still were in New York City at the time, evidenced by the harness company here.

Thomas Lynch was not only concerned about Irish freedom, he was also concerned about the Irish immigrants to New York.  Years ago, I found a picture at my grandparents’ home (James D. and Gene Lynch) that showed Thomas Lynch standing among five or six other men with a placard that read “County Claremen’s Evicted Tenants Protective and Industrial Association” on it. After doing some research, I found that organization had a long history in New York in helping desperate Irish immigrants (not just from Clare) in finding passage to New York, an apartment after they arrived and work in the various industries in the city.

Let’s talk more about Lynches Tavern as we go through the decades.

In the Census of New York, 1920 (done on 1/5/1920) We find the Lynch family has moved next door to 463 Hudson Street, just above the saloon that is now called Lynches Tavern. Thomas Lynch (44) now describes his occupation as “Proprietor, Saloon.” This

Thomas Lynch sitting down, Honora behind him with the whole family. This photo was taken right around the 1920 Census of New York.

was very typical of an Irish saloon keeper in New York City at the time, as he is living above the bar.

His family has grown too. He and Honora now have six children, a servant and five boarders/lodgers. Living with Thomas and Honora now are the following:

1. Ellen N. Lynch (11 daughter)
2. Thomas J. Lynch (9, son)
3. Daniel A. Lynch (7, son)
4. Mary L. (6, daughter)
5. James D. (4, son)
6. Anna M. (1, daughter)
7. Delian Crawford (20, single, servant, female), born in Ireland
8. Harry J. Groh (51, single boarder) Engineer, Iron Foundry, born in New York, both parents from Germany
9. Michael Lynch (55, widowed lodger) Laborer on the Docks, born in Ireland. Thomas has a younger brother named Michael, but this Michael Lynch is older. So this may be a cousin from Ireland
10. William J. Conlen (45, widower lodger) Truck Driver, born in New York
11. Frederick Thiel (43, married lodger) Laborer, Confectionary, born in Pennsylvania
12. James Govern (70, widower lodger) laborer on the docks, born in Ireland
13. Thomas Roache (55, single lodger) Laborer on the docks, born in Ireland

A family source reported to me that Lynches Tavern had the honored distinction of never having closed during Prohibition (1920-1933). Apparently there was no secret that it served alcohol there, but what John Smart explained (Mr. Smart Anna Margaret Lynch, the youngest Lynch daughter) is that the local police were paid to look the other way. A wonderful story he mentioned was how one day Thomas was summoned outside by a patrolman from another district. Within moments, that patrolman was knocked out and lying on the cement on Barrow Street. Thomas had punched him in the face after the patrolman demanded he be paid for keeping the saloon open (during Prohibition) even though he was out of his jurisdiction.

In the Census of New York, 1930 (done on 4/14/1930) we find the Lynch family has moved to 796 East 19th Street in Brooklyn, which is considered Prospect Park South off Ocean Avenue, a few blocks West of Flatbush Avenue. Thomas Lynch, Head of the household, now describes his work as “Owner, Restaurant.” From all accounts, he is taking the trolleys every morning through Prospect Park north toward the bridges. From there, he has probably been changing trains at the Sands Street Station, which is just north of Downtown Brooklyn, Cadmen Plaza. From there, he is most likely taking the trains across either the Brooklyn Bridge to Park Row, or across the Manhattan Bridge to get to Manhattan. Then, he is taking more the Elevated tracks, such as the Sixth Avenue El, all the way across Manhattan to the West Side, where his saloon is located where he used to live at 463 Hudson Street in Greenwich Village. After work, he takes the same trip, but in reverse.

Living in Brooklyn while working in Manhattan is considered a step above Working Class that the Irish seemed to have been stuck in since The Great Hunger of the 1840s and 1850s. In Thomas’ generation, owning property is very important and at this time in 1930, he wrote on the census that a large “O” to answer the question “Own or Rent.” He then wrote that it was worth a whopping “$17,500.”

Thomas is now 54 years old and Honora (still called “Nora” on the census) is 51 and they have been married for 23 years, which means they would have gotten married most likely in 1907.  Their eldest daughter Eleanor (called “Elinore” here) is 22 years old and Thomas (20), their eldest son, is a “Clerk” at a “Brokerage House.”

Daniel A. (18), Mary L. (16), James D. (14) and Anna M. (12) are all in their teens and are all still in school.

A “nephew” has moved in, James Galvin who is the same age as the Lynch’s youngest daughter, Anna at 12. After asking around, a family member explained that young Mr. Galvin “was no blood relative, just a person in need of food and lodging.”  So, it turns out that James Galvin is simply the recipient of some good old fashioned Irish hospitality (see ancient Brehon Law).

Finally, at the Lynch home in Brooklyn is a “maid” named Margaret Keane (23, single), who is not in school. Ms. Keane was born in Ireland and arrived in 1923. Her work was described as “Servant” for “Private Family.”

In the Census of New York, 1940 (done on 4/2/1940), we find the Lynch family has moved back to Manhattan and now live at West 16th Street, off 7th Avenue on the West Side. This address, going by google maps again, appears to be a high rise of about 16 floors. There apartment number where they are renting is 19, which would make one believe it is on the first floor. When asked on the census where they lived in 1935, everyone in the home said “Same Place.”

Thomas Lynch now says he is 66 years old. Staying consistent, Honora says she is 61 years old.

hudson barrow
(Photo: 1938, courtesy Where Lynches Tavern once was, a drug store moved in until the Lynch family bought back the property in 1939.

The Great Depression hit the Lynch household as hard as everyone else. Thomas now describes his work as “Bartender, Restaurant.” No longer does he say that he is “Owner” of the restaurant at 463 Hudson Street.

The Lynch family was not able to pay the mortgage on the saloon and the bank foreclosed it sometime in the 1935. Thomas was still able to bartend at the longshoreman’s dive, but he was back to paying rent on it to the bank.

However, according to an article in the New York Sun on July 3rd, 1939, John A. King of Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 3.34.31 PMthe “254 Boulevard Corporation”  bought the property back from the North River Savings Bank. John A. King just happened to be the law partner of Thomas Lynch’s son, Daniel A. And from all accounts, the bar was back in the family again.

In 1940, only Thomas’ two youngest still live with them, James D. (25) and Anna (21), both single. However, James D. is soon to marry a Mary Regina Sullivan during training in the Army in Tampa, Florida. World War II is coming soon. Mary Regina, Known would be known as Gene Lynch for many years.*3

Whew, I’m tired. I’m going to take a break. Please get in touch when you can.

thos lynch
Photo from 1959 via Ronnie Clancy Fernandez, whose father Joe Clancy worked for my grandfather James Lynch, son of Thomas Lynch. Outside of the old family saloon.



~*1 – From the letter sent to me by Dan Lynch () originally from ???? Denis Lynch’s name is said to be “Dennis Spellsey Lynch.

~*2 – If Ellen Cunningham Kelly (who is referred here as “Ellen Lynch”) was born in 1839, Ellen would have been 72 or 73 years of age in 1911, not 74. 

The names Bridget and John and their ages do not match up with any names or ages of Ellen Cunningham Kelly’s children, which means then this may be the wrong Lynch family of Clare. No address is offered on this document either. 

It is not specified who the mother and father of Mary Louise Clancy are, grandchild of “Ellen Lynch” but, according to a letter that was passed to me, Alice Lynch (b. 1871) married a John Clancy (b. 1861) sometime after 1891 and they had five children, one of which was “Mary (b.1906 in Ireland)” which would make perfect sense here as the child would have been four years old if her birthday was after the date of this census of April 2nd. But Alice Lynch is not living in Ireland at this time, in fact the “Census of New York, 1910” has her living with our Thomas Lynch at 93 Barrow Street, behind Lynches Tavern. 

If Ellen Cunningham Kelly and Denis Lynch were married for “52” years, as this census says, they would have been married in the year 1856, since Denis Lynch died in 1908.

~*3 – Mary R. “Gene” Lynch’s great-grandfather and great-grandmother on her mother’s side both fled The Great Hunger. James Joseph Phalen’s (From County Laois, Ireland) name shows up on a passenger list in July of 1852 from Liverpool to Albany, New York. Ellen Keenan, also from County Laois, was either already in Albany, or on the way. They married in 1854. Gene Lynch was my grandmother and the person I dedicated Light of the Diddicoy to. She passed away in 2012.

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 8.39.17 AM
A family tree, starting with me (Alex Lynch) and including all four sets of my great-grandparents with Thomas & Honora at the top. With some great-great grandparents as well. This goes back to 1740, but no need to show all of that.

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artofneed Productions is a sound studio for podcasts and audio dramas Shanachie51 Press is a publishing house for cutting edge fiction Production & Published Works Psychological thriller An Affair of Concoctions (Shanachie51 Press, 2009). Book of poetry Love and Maladies (Shanachie51 Press, 2010). Historical novel Divide the Dawn (Shanachie51 Press, 2020). Young Adult Novel Chin Music Rhubarb (Shanachie51 Press, 2021). Scifi-Horror AudioDrama Democracy Jones Podcast (artofneed Productions, 2022). Coming Soon! Fiction Podcast Chin Music Rhubarb (artofneed Productions, 2023)

10 thoughts on “The Immigrant Story of Thomas & Honora Lynch

  1. Just got your book! My Mother was Anna Margaret Lynch,the youngest child of my grandparents.
    It is so exciting to learn so much about our history. Thank you for this precious gift.
    Pat Smart Duignan

  2. Just checked the birthdates for Nanny 2/16/1879 and Grandpa 4/22/1875. My Mother wrote these down and attached it to her Birth certificate. My Mother was born 11/20/1918 at home at 63 Barrow St NY. On my Mothers Birth Certiicate Nanny’s name is listed as Norah Lynch….must have been a clerical error as my sister was named Honora after Nanny.

  3. You use the word bar tender and saloon owner but right irish word is a Publican, meaning pub owner or worker. I was born East 38th street and Flatbush ave.we moved out to Long Island. My grandfather was a Publican in Ireland but went to work for A&P warehouse, I know he drank at the Lynch Saloon on Hudson Ave .

  4. what great research you have done ! and what a beautiful family photograph of Thomas Lynch & Nora.,such a handsome group, what a greatl thing to have the auld photos, the occupation of dealer could possible mean a card game dealer? I have been researching my Irish roots from County Donegal for many years..IF only we could go back and ask more question eh ? life would be grand indeed. Two of my Maguire Irish family emigrated to New York City as domestic servants in 1853 ,recently I got the marriage record of them from the NYC Archives hoping to see the other sister listed as witness, but no joy. I have lots of info of when and after my Irish great grandparents came to Glasgow, Scotland , all their children’s lives thereafter. really enjoyed all your incredible research………………..well done !
    PS Benny Lynch was a very famous Irish boxer in Glasgow……


  6. Visited Labasheeda, Ireland and met with “Dolly” and her son. She is somehow related. She had pictures of MaryLouise Lynch (my mother-in-law) and her husband on their wedding day in NY. Dolly has since passed away but her son may still be there. All I know is the house was near a power plant. Does anyone know who this woman was and if her son is still there?

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