What is happening in the photo?
Alice’s father Willy McDermott, left, with his cousin John Quinn, with their confirmation badges, Upper West Side, New York City, c 1916.
McDermott and Eames families – contributed by Alice McDermott, Washington DC.
With a strange kind of symmetry, both sides of Alice McDermott’s family feature aunts who become mothers to their sisters’ children.
Alice’s grandfather, Thomas McDermott was born in Cashel, Co. Mayo in 1878. He came to NYC in1902 and became a US citizen in 1904. He met Elizabeth O’Toole who had also recently arrived from Ireland – from Mallow, Co. Cork, and they got married in NYC. They had five children, including Alice’s father William McDermott. But, in 1912, when William was just three years old, Elizabeth died. Her sister, Margaret O’Toole McDermott stepped up. She adopted the four surviving children, and became their father, Thomas’, second wife. Tragedy was to strike again, when only two years after Elizabeth’s death, Thomas himself passed away in 1914, leaving Margaret O’Toole McDermott a young widow. She raised her sister’s four children on her own in Brooklyn and on the Upper West side of Manhattan.
On Alice’s mother’s side, her grandmother Katie Eames was born in Gortemone, Dromahair, Co. Leitrim in 1883, raised in Bundoran and emigrated to NY around 1905. She married Patrick Lynch of Kenmare, Co. Kerry. They had three daughters. Alice’s mother, Mildred, was their youngest – born in 1918. Her mother died when Mildred was only 3 months old. Mildred was raised by her aunt, Mary Jane (Eames) Timoney, alongside Mary Jane’s own three daughters and her son – making a family of five growing up in Brooklyn. Patrick remarried and died in 1934.
Mildred and William, Alice’s parents, married in Brooklyn in 1948 and had three children: William, Kevin and Alice.