A Kiwi in search of her ancestral tribes

Revisiting the Brosnahans (plus two year blogiversary!) ~ Thankful Thursday

This entry is part 14 of 18 in the series The Brosnahans of Temuka

Early last year I began a series of posts on the Brosnahan family. Well, “one” of the Brosnahan families, as there were a few that settled in South Canterbury, New Zealand, around the same time. My great great grandmother, Margaret Brosnahan, emigrated to New Zealand with her older brother John in 1862, travelling aboard the Echunga. Their parents and siblings joined them a couple of years later.

Margaret’s grandson, my grandfather Dom Gaffaney, went to boarding school with his “cousin” James Brosnahan, who became a Marist priest and married my grandfather and his bride, Agnes Burke. What I wanted to find out, and the reason I started looking into the Brosnahans in more depth, was how Father Jim was related to the family – what level of “cousinage” (and if that’s not a proper term, it should be) was he to my grandfather?

James Brosnahan of Morvern and (Michael) Dominic Gaffaney of Waimate - St Bede's College Athletic Sports 1928, Christchurch, NZ

James Brosnahan of Morvern and (Michael) Dominic Gaffaney of Waimate – St Bede’s College Athletic Sports 1928, Christchurch, NZ

So, I began tracing all of my great great grandmother’s siblings, mainly focussing on her only brother John, and you can follow my series of posts from the beginning.

I didn’t do too bad a job I thought, had identified 10 out of 12 of John’s alleged children and their children. But, no Father Jim that I could see.

Several months later I was contacted by the wife of one of John Brosnahan’s descendents – she had some answers! (Don’t you love those kinds of emails?) Another of John’s descendents had compiled a family history in 2001, and my contact very kindly scanned and emailed it to me.

John Brosnahan

Caption in family album: John Brosnahan, brother of Mrs Margaret Gaffaney, Belper Farm, Temuka

I’m sure there are at least two readers who have been on the edge of their seats waiting since last February to find out about those missing two Brosnahan children. (Maybe?)  Here they all are:

  • Patrick
  • Ann
  • James
  • Margaret
  • Matthew
  • Ellen
  • Thomas William
  • Michael
  • Bridget
  • Mary
  • Catherine
  • John Joseph

So the two that I missed were James and Michael, and their children.

But there was no Father Jim.

A couple of months ago I purchased a second-hand copy of Seán Brosnahan’s book The Kerrytown Brosnahans, about his family who emigrated from Co. Kerry, Ireland to an area in South Canterbury that became known as Kerrytown, not far from my Brosnahans in Temuka.  I’d been waiting to get my hands on a copy for ages, ever since I’d heard about it. And it didn’t disappoint – Seán not only writes about his own Brosnahan family, but also the “other” Brosn(ah)ans, like mine. He couldn’t find a definite link between these different families, but doesn’t discount that they may be related further back, and they certainly intermarried once they were in New Zealand.

And there was Father Jim.

Sean’s great great grandfather Hugh with his brother Timothy, were the patriarchs of the Kerrytown Brosnahans.

  • Hugh Brosnahan and Deborah Butler
    • daughter Mary married Dennis Hoare
      • son Patrick Dennis Hoare, married Mary Brosnahan, my John Brosnahan’s daughter
      • daughter Margaret married James “Wigg” Brosnahan (from yet another Brosnahan family!)
        • son James became a Marist priest

John Brosnahan is my grandfather’s great uncle. So, how are my grandfather and Father Jim related? First correct answer wins a chocolate fish! (I may be some time working the answer out myself.)

On my two year blogiversary, I am thankful for Father Jim, cousins with answers, cousins with questions, awesome family historians who publish their research, and everyone who’s been reading and commenting on this blog.

Brosnahan, Seán G. The Kerrytown Brosnahans, R.J. & H.P. Brosnahan (Timaru: 1992).
Brosnahan, Tim. “Brosnahan Family History”, 2001; digital images scanned from original by [NAME & ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], 2012.

Thankful Thursday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Series Navigation<< Will of James Brosnan, 1890 ~ Amanuensis MondayBrosna, Co Kerry, Ireland ~ Wordless Wednesday >>


My Genealogy Year 2012 : Accentuate the Positive!


Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham, England ~ Wordless Wednesday


  1. Padraig Brosnan

    Very interested in the family history of the Brosnan’s. I can go back Five Generations of my side of the Brosnans they all lived around the town of Killarney Co. Kerry. but can not find out about Grand Uncles or Great Grand Uncles weather they went abroad or died in the area i am not sure.Their Name vary from Brosnihan, Brosnahan and Brosnan any imfo Pease contact above e-mail. The Combination of marriages through the Years by the generation is as follows.
    Padraig Brosnan: Married Margaret Crowley
    Father: John Gerard Brosnan – Mother: Maura Lucey
    Grand Father: Daniel Brosnan Grand Mother: Margaret “Madge” O’Sulivan
    Great Grand Father: James Brosnihan Great Grand Mother: Julia O’Connor
    Great Great Grand Father: Gerard Brosnahan Great Great Grand Mother: Hannah Falvey
    Great Great Great Grand Father:Denis Brosnihan Great Great Grand Mother: ??????

    • Maggie

      Thanks for you comment, Padraig, and the list of your family names! I am hoping to do more research on the Brosnahans in Ireland, and it would be great if we can confirm a connection between us.

  2. Colleen Chand

    I am the grand daughter of the late Barry and Mary brosnahan of kerrytown
    If you care to share your into,please contact me on the above

    • Maggie

      Thanks for your comment, Colleen! Am happy to share the information I have – will be in touch via email.

  3. Paul Brosnahan

    Michael Brosnahan the 5th son of John (Peg Leg) Brosnahan is my grandfather. If you wish to know more about our side of the family let me know. I can be contacted on the above email address.

  4. Maureen

    to my understand of Brosnahan family there is another line called James who married Annie Collins
    Their children to my understand is John married Hannah O’Driscoll in 1865, Margaret married Michael Gaffaney in 1863, Mary marry Michael Barrett in 1866, Catherine married Francis Gaffaney 1874, Ellen and Annie.

    Again to my understand that father Jim would be cousin one removed to Dom Gaffaney as there he would come John and Hannah line. so there grandparent would be brother and sister.

    My interest in this is Mary that married Michael Barrett who both died in 1879,.

    • Mike Neale

      Hi Maureen – or anyone else
      My great great grandfather was Michael Gaffaney who married Margaret Brosnan (Brosnahan) – her parents were James and Annie Brosnan – Just wondering if you had any idea what year James and Annie (and likely Margaret) came to New Zealand ? and / or the ship they were on ?

      • Maggie

        Hi Mike
        Margaret Brosnahan travelled to New Zealand in 1862 aboard the Echunga, along with her brother John. Their parents James and Annie are likely to be the Brosnan family and four children (Catherine, Mary, Annie, Ellen) arriving on the Rachel in 1865. Nice to meet you, cousin! 🙂
        – Maggie

  5. Julie Gane

    Hi My connection to the Brosnahan family is through my Grandmother on my dads side of the family.She was Margaret Elizabeth Brosnahan whose dad was John and mum Hannah O’Driscoll.Margaret married Frank Louis Adams.Because she married a non catholic she was basically disinherited.I would love to reconnect to this side of the family and love to read the book about the Brosnahan in Kerrytown. Kind Regards Julie Gane 021374433

    • Maggie

      Many thanks for your comment, Julie! Isn’t it sad how different branches of a family become estranged? You’re in luck with regards to the Kerrytown Brosnahans book as the author Seán has made it available online on his website The Brosnan. Will be great to keep in touch 🙂

  6. Gerard Brosnahan

    Believe my ancestors were from near Kennard but through migration an emigration ended up in London and limerick.we’re of church of Ireland which aid explain difference between Brown an and brosnahan.not a very common name as brosnahan but growing.there are a few of us in the USA also

  7. Francesca Thomas

    I was wondering if your grandfather Dom Gaffaney had any relatives named Jerome Gaffney from Temuka or Timaru. I have an old family friend whose name is Michael Gaffney – he now lives and works in Dunedin. His fathers name was Jerome Michael David Gaffney, who used to be called Jerry. He was from either Temuka or Timaru but went to Otago Boys HS in Dunedin. I think his wife’s name was Patricia or Trisha – but I am not positive about that. Jerry and Trisha had 5 children during the 1960s and 1970s – one son (michael the oldest who now lives in Dunedin) and 5 daughters – Jan, Nadine, Kim, Tania and Alana – not in age order except I know that Jan is the oldest daughter and I think Nadine is the youngest. Jan was living in Wellington for many years and just recently moved to Indonesia to start a new Montessori school. Do any of these names ring a bell? These girls were all born as Gaffneys. Thank you.

    • Maggie

      Hi Francesca, to my knowledge the Gaffaneys and the Gaffneys around that area weren’t directly connected, though it would be very interesting to test this theory using DNA analysis! I haven’t heard of a Jerome relative, unfortunately. Thanks for commenting 🙂

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