The forgotten village of Grahamston

I often find it interesting to research the locations of where ancestors lived – sometimes with a bit of luck some of the original buildings from those times may have survived and one can see them in Google street view! It often pays off to research their neighbours too, especially if they stayed at the same address for a long time.

Two of my children’s ancestors – Thomas and Catherine (Sweeney) Cooper were listed at living at 42 Alston street in Glasgow in 1871 census, their daughter Mary was also born at that address. When I went trying to find where Alston street was though, it turned out it wasn’t so easy. Alston street does not exist any more!

Where Alston street once was, now is the Glasgow Central Station, right on top of what used to be Grahamston village. Alston street used to run the lenght of the village and was the home of the first permanent theather in Glasgow – the Alston Street Playhouse built in 1764. There doesn’t seem to be any survivng photographs of Alston street, however there are some of the near-by streets.

Some claim that the whole village of Grahamston is still there, under the Central station, and that there may be a treasure buried there too!

Demolishing Grahamston to make way for Central Station, around 1876. Image linked from:

Read more about the history of Grahamston:


Catherine SWEENY and Thomas COOPER

SWEENY-COOPER chart – Click on the image for a larger size

Catherine Sweeny and Thomas Cooper are my children’s 3 times great-grandparents. They were married on 12th January 1865 in West Derby, Liverpool in St Patrick’s chapel, Toxteth park.

St. Patrick’s Chapel, image source: Wikipedia –,_Liverpool

I’m not sure when and why Thomas and Catherine had moved to Liverpool as both of were born in Derry. According to their marriage certificate Thomas was a 26 year old tinsmith, son of Thomas Cooper, blacksmith. Catherine was a 26 year old widow (Catherine had married Hugh Monaghan in 1860 in Derry) and a daughter of Miles Sweeney, who was an engineer and already diseased. Thomas was a Presbyterian, but they were married in a Catholic church and later on their children were also brought up Catholic.

1865 Marriage certificate for Catherine (Monaghan) Sweeney and Thomas Cooper

Their first daughter, Elizabeth, was born couple of months later in Liverpool, but by the summer of 1867 the family had moved to Glasgow where their other six children were born – Annie (1867), Catherine (1869), Mary (1871), Thomas Scott (1872), Rebecca (1875) and William Miles (1878).

The father Thomas worked as a tinsmith and the family lived on 42 Alston St in Glasgow. In 1871, according to the census Catherine’s sister Agnes Sweeney was also living with the family and was emplyed as “machine girl”.

The family moved back to Derry sometime between 1878 and 1882 – their youngest son William Miles was born in Glasgow in 1878 and died in Derry in 1882. (They most likely have moved back prior to 1881 as I haven’t been able to find them in the 1881 Scottish census.)


The family lived on 28 Bridge street for at least a while  (as many other family members!)  – that is the address listed at the death certificate of their son William Miles in 1882, and at the marriage of their daugher Catherine in 1889 to William McCafferty.

In 1901 Thomas and Catherine were living on Harvey Street. Their daughter Catherine and son-in-law William McCafferty were living at the same address, together with two other families.

1901 census Harvey Street, Derry

Catherine (Sweeny) Cooper died on 21 Feb 1904 at 24 Bridge Street, Derry from pneumonia, age 65.

In 1911 her husband Thomas was living with his daughter Rebecca and his son Thomas and Thomas’ wife Deboragh and their children.

1911 census, Bridge Street, Derry

Thomas Cooper (Jr) and Deborah Josephine Donaghey had married in 1906 in Derry and had thee children by the time of the census – Thomas (b. 1907), Mary Ann (b. 1908) and John (b.1910), and few more later on – Catherine (b. 1912), James (b.1913) and Henry (b. 1916)

Thomas Cooper (Sr) died in 1914 from cancer – he was 72 years old.

1914 death Thomas Cooper, 72 years

I’ll write a separate post on the parents and siblings of Thomas Cooper (Sr) and Catherine Sweeny as this one is getting too long.

Elizabeth – the 5 times great-grandmother

I wasn’t in a mood to do any proper research tonight, so thought I’d just run a search through the records for a surname and do a browse. Many of the Derry BMD records are digitized on the Irish Genealogy website, but street addresses are not indexed, so sometimes interesting things pop up when you look at the street addresses – family members often lived together.

Well, I found way more than what I exptected – I found the name of my children’s 5 times great-grandmother – it was Elizabeth! She was married to Thomas Cooper, and had a son Thomas and a daughter Annie (their only daughter according to the newspaper announcement for Annie’s marriage); they may have had other sons too who I haven’t found yet. There is at least one other Thomas Cooper in Derry at that time who was a mechanic/engineer (and who I don’t think is related to our family)

It was the daughter Annie who provided the clue. As I was browsing through all Cooper  BMDs for 1880-1900 I came across a death for Elizabeth Cooper, 70 years old in 1891 who died from bronchitis. The informant was the son-in-law David Norrie – which was a familiar name. I had Annie Cooper married to David Norrie already in the tree!


Elizabeth must have been Thomas and Annie’s mother, born about 1821 and died on 14th Feb 1891. Unfortunately Derry Journal is not digitized for the first half of 1891, as I would have liked to see where is she buried. Elizabeth is listed as a widow of a smith, which also fits the occupation listed on his son Thomas’ marriage cert in 1865.

I haven’t been able to find the death record for Elizabeth’s husband yet.

The unusual thing about this family line is that the Coopers were Presbyterian (while all other lines so far were Catholic). Their daughter Annie married in a Presbyterian church, their son Thomas married in a Catholic church and all his children were baptised Catholic, but he still listed himself as Presbyterian on the 1901 and 1911 census.

I had suspected Thomas’ wife is probably called Elizabeth since his son’s oldest daughter was Elizabeth, but it’s nice to have a document to prove it. I can update the family tree now – will draw and upload a nicer diagram over the next few days.

Patrick Kavanagh and Annie Cooper

Patrick Kavanagh and Annie Cooper were my children’s great-great-grandparents. Mary Ann was their second-eldest daughter, she married Richard McManus in 1909 in Londonderry.

Patrick and Annie were married on 19th Feb 1887, he was 26 and she was 19 years old. Annie was born in Glasgow, but both her parents were from Derry and they came back home with the children probably sometime before 1881.

Marriage record for Patrick Kavanagh and Annie Cooper, 19th Feb 1887, Londonderry

Patrick and Annie had a large family of only daughters. According to 1911 census they had 8 children, 5 still living:

  • Catherine (1888-?)
  • Mary Ann (1890-1971)
  • Elizabeth “Lizzie” (1891-1920)
  • Agnes (1894-?)
  • Rosena (1896-?)
  • Ellen Columba (1898-1898) and
  • Sarah (1900-?bef 1901)
  • Unknown (? – ?)

There is one child which I haven’t been able to find any record of yet, he/she has to have been born and died either prior to 1901, or between 1901 and 1911 to have not been recorded in either census.

The family lived on Bridge street since they were married, however from the addresses recorded on their children’s birth certificates it can be seen they changed houses regularly. That seems to have been a very common thing those days and I’m not sure yet why – was it that only short term tennaments available, did landlords increase rents… But families would usually move either in a different house on the same street, or to a street nearby. The change houses number of times between 1888 and 1896, until they seem to have settled at 46 Bridge Street.

  • 48 Bridge Street (1888)
  • 56 Bridge Street (1890)
  • 27 Bridge Street (1891)
  • 49 Bridge Street (1894)
  • 46 Bridge Street (1896 and after)

They were living on Bridge Street when the 1901 and 1911 census were taken, and Patrick was listed as a Labourer.

1901 census, Bridge Street, Londonderry – Kavanagh family


1911 census, Bridge Street, Londonderry – Kavanagh family


And finally, one newspaper article which I have a very strong feeling is related to the family, especially since those names appear either as names of sponsors or future spouses. It will be interesting to follow up and see if there is any further information what was that disagreement on Bridge street about 😉1899_newspaper_cooper_kavanagh_faulkner_duffy_mcafferty