The Irish in America

Family Focus: Sullivan

The Gathering spotlight is on the Sullivan-O’Leary Family originally from Baurgorm, West Cork, Ireland.

Baurgorm farmhouse build by Denis Sullivan in 1861, photo taken in 1997.

Baurgorm farmhouse built by Denis Sullivan in 1861, photo taken in 1997.

On this page you will find links to information on the history of the Sullivan-O’Leary family and their gathering this summer, as well as some special stories shared with us by descendants Donal Collins and his mother, Dympna.

  • For a brief introduction to the Sullivan Gathering, click here.
  • The Sullivan Gathering will be held June 15, 2013 at the Westlodge Hotel in Bantry, West Cork…to see the official Gathering Listing click here.
  • Click here to read about the Sullivan-O’Leary Gathering in the February issue of Irish Lives Remembered Genealogy Magazine (page 24).

Katie Sullivan Spillane

Katie Sullivan Spillane

In the 1890s five Sullivan siblings – Patrick, Denis, Timothy, Helena, and Katie – left Baurgorm in West Cork and sailed for America. They settled in Manchester, New Hampshire, joining a grand-uncle named Florence O’Leary. Florence had emigrated to Manchester some years before.

Of the five siblings, four would stay in the United States, but one would return to West Cork. Read Katie’s story, as told by her grandniece, Dympna Collins, here.

Dympna wrote a great account of the journey of Katie’s cast iron bed – click here. Dympna inherited the Anchor Bar in Cobh from Katie and her husband Peter Spillane, and has operated it since 1953.

Peter and Katie (Sullivan) Spillane

Peter and Katie Sullivan Spillane

The strong connections Dympna and Donal feel today to their past and to their family scattered throughout the world can be traced to Katie. Because she returned to Ireland, leaving her only sister  and her younger brothers in America, Katie personally knew both sides of the emigrant experience. She never forgot her siblings and their families far away in the USA.

Although Dympna did not forget either, it is easy to lose touch with overseas relations. An interesting turn of events brought Dympna and Donal back in touch with a cousin from the O’Leary side of the family, Frank McGillan. Read the story here.

Dympna Collins and Frank McGillan, 1991

Dympna Collins and Frank McGillan, 1991

Now, what about that ruined farmhouse pictured above? Donal embarked on a renovation project in 1997. The finished product was revealed in 2000. Read the details of the process in the February issue of Irish Lives Remembered (page 24) – click here.

Baurgorm Farmhouse: After

Baurgorm Farmhouse: After

Links to Dympna’s stories:


Please contact me for more information on the Sullivan-O’Leary family. Do you think you are one of them?



8 thoughts on “Family Focus: Sullivan

  1. It is possible that I am related to these Sullivan’s! My 3x great grandpa Hugh Sullivan was born in Cork County Ireland, he married Catherine(not sure what her maiden name was, she was born in 1818 in Kerry) immigrated from possibly Kilgarvan, Mayo Ireland to Houghton Michigan around 1870 and then to Cuba township, Becker County, Minnesota or Dale, Minnesota in 1880, being the first Irish family to move into the Dale, MN town! My grandpa Sullivan who grew up and helped farm the land in Dale is still alive and is 88 years old and he would be interested to know more about family connections!

    • Hi Jules!
      Thanks for exploring the blog. When I helped with the Sullivan family research years ago, I recall that many of the family first settled in Manchester, New Hampshire when they first came from Ireland. Did any of your Sullivans stop in New Hampshire or another place before going to Michigan? I will respond to your email shortly! Thanks again and have a great weekend!
      – Aine

  2. I would like to find the family records of Catherine Theresa O’Leary
    she married John Henry Murphy who was mayor of Yazoo City, MS at the time of his death June 13, 1897

  3. Richard, Thank you so much for the comment and information about the O’Leary website. I will certainly check it out and hopefully will someday find some of my family connections. My appreciation to you! — Mary Jo O’Leary Levesque

  4. My name is Mary Josephine O’Leary Levesque. I am the daughter of John Francis O’Leary (now deceased) who was from Manchester New Hampshire in the United States. I am an only child. My father, John Francis O’Leary had a sister, Mary Frances O’Leary who died of an appendicitis attack when she was a child of maybe ten or twelve. My father then became the only O’Leary child. He attended St. Anselm’s College in New Hampshire, and when WWII broke out with Pearl Harbor, he joined the U.S. Army. He was stationed in Mississippi during the war, met my mother in Mississippi, married and remained in Mississippi for the rest of his life working as a teacher and principal with the Jackson, Mississippi public school system. He passed away at age 51 when I was in college.

    My paternal grandfather (reported to be a twin), Thomas Francis O’Leary was also from Manchester, NH and married Josephine Veronica McCarthy. Both of my grandparents had parents and possibly other relatives that (I am told) came from County Cork. Some or all of them came to America some years near the turn of the century (I believe….)

    I only met my grandfather Tommy O’Leary once when I was nine years old. He passed away in Manchester, NH in the summer of 1967 and is buried at St. Joseph Catholic cemetary with my grandmother who passed away near the end of WWII.

    Since I am the last living O’Leary from my particular strand of the family, I have been searching online to see if I can locate any other O’Learys who came from Manchester, NH. I am particularly interested to know if my grandfather’s twin brother (sorry I do not have a name) also lived in Manchester. Because my own father had a somewhat distant relationship with his father, the O’Leary side of my heritage is areal mystery to me. I would like to find out a bit more and try to at least share some tiny bits of information or photos with any other relatives. Your site is the first time I have ever found the name Florence O’Leary in any of my searches. I would bet the world that I am somehow related to his family tree. Wow!

    • How exciting, Mary Jo! I will be in touch soon to compare notes 🙂

      • Hi, Mary Jo. Sorry I can’t help with your Dad’s history. But, how about some of your own? If you attended St. Mary’s school in Jackson, MS, and if your mom taught at Clinton High, then you and I were elementary school friends. I’d love to reconnect.

    • You may like to checkout to find out more about the O’Learys of Uibh Laoire (Irish for O’Leary Home). Uibh Laoire is an area of West Cork, near Macroom

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