Saturday, March 3, 2012

Surname Saturday: Sheehan

Surname Saturday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers to focus on a particular name, its origin, its geographic location, and how it fits into one’s research.

My dad loved his grandmother, Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh. The few details he’d throw out every now and then painted a picture of a quintessential Irish Catholic matriarch. She was twice widowed at a rather young age. Daddy’s mother was from the second marriage.

Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh
1869 - 1939

Mary Theresa Sheehan was born in 1869 in County Cork, Ireland, daughter of Daniel and Nora Sheehan. According to the 1900 Census for Bronx, New York, she arrived in the United States in 1886. So did her husband John Joseph Killeen. It is unclear whether they had traveled together. They both claimed to have been residents for 14 years, but they had been married only 7. I do not see a Daniel Sheehan in the census, so I do not know whether the whole family came over together or not. Daddy always said that Mary Theresa traveled with some cousins, the Glynns and Querys. However, I have not confirmed any specific relatives with those names on the Sheehan side, only on the Killeen side.

Mary Theresa married John Joseph Killeen about 1893. They had the following children:
  • Elizabeth Agnes “Lillie” Killeen (Feb 16, 1894 New York, NY – Jul 17, 1982 Portsmouth, VA)
  • Matthew George “Mac” Killeen (May 8, 1895 New York, NY – Mar 7, 1969 Portsmouth, VA)
  • Mary Agnes “Mae” Killeen (Sep 5, 1898 New York, NY – Dec 8, 1980 Portsmouth, VA)
  • Margaret Mary Killeen (Apr 21, 1901 New York, NY – May 31, 1978 Norfolk, VA)
  • Helen Martha Killeen (Jun 7 1903 New York, NY – Oct 11, 1980 Portsmouth, VA)

John Killeen died Apr 8, 1905. His Glynn cousins introduced Mary Theresa to John Fleming Walsh. They married and had the following children:
  • Julia Mary Walsh (Sep 6, 1907 Portsmouth, VA – Apr 17, 1982 Portsmouth, VA)
  • Catherine Walsh (Oct 12, 1909 Portsmouth, VA – Oct 2, 1969 Portsmouth, VA)
  • Theresa M. “Tate” Walsh (Mar 10, 1913 Portsmouth, VA – Mar 18, 1987 Lowell, MA)

John Walsh died in 1918.


The surname “Sheehan” is an Anglicized version of the Old Gaelic “O Siodhachain” which means peaceful, gentle, courteous. Appropriately, the Sheehan Coat of Arms is a blue shield with a silver dove holding an olive branch in its beak. The oldest O Siodhachains were a clan from County Clare, but they moved south to Cork, Kerry, and Limerick. My Sheehan family comes from County Cork. The name is 75th in the list of Ireland’s most widespread name.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. She had quite a beautiful name too! This is a wonderful post, and something fun/interesting to follow along with each week!

  2. I see Desi and Nell in this picture.

  3. Mary Theresa had to be a strong woman to survive two husbands and raise all those children.

  4. Hello - Over from A Family Tapestry.- I was curious as to this woman and wanted to see more -

    There are Philadelphia Passenger records available on line - (for instance - which may or may not be your person) - I looked to see if there were any Querys or Glynns - and see a McQuery ... that traveled on the same American Lines - on a ship called "British Princess". I hope you find a trace of your ancestors roots!! Note these ships went from Cork (Cobh) to Liverpool and then to Philadelphia. To get to New York "back in the day" there were dozens of daily trains from Philadelphia to NYC (as there are today).

    1. Hi there Iggy, thanks for this link. Since that post, I have decided my dad was mistaken about traveling with the Querys and Glynns. Those families didn't even enter our family picture until AFTER Mary Theresa married her first husband. I'm off to check the Philadelphia records now. Thanks again!