Michael Callaghan (c1820 - 1883) & Helen McGinn (c1825 - 1909)

Michael Callaghan was born in Aghnamullen, Co. Monaghan, Ireland in around 1820. His parents were Patrick Callaghan, Farmer, and Rose Caswall. He married Helen (Ellen) McGinn who was also born in Aghnamullen in around 1825. Ellen's parents were Bernard McGinn, Fruit Dealer, and Mary McBride.

AGHNAMULLEN or AUGHNAMULLEN, a parish, in the barony of CREMORNE, county of MONAGHAN, and province of ULSTER, 3 miles (S. by W.) from Ballibay, on the road to Dublin; containing 18,032 inhabitants.

Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837)

BALLIBAY, a market and post-town, and a parish, partly in the barony of MONAGHAN, but chiefly in that of CREMORNE, county of MONAGHAN, and province of ULSTER, Smiles (S. by E.) from Monaghan, and 50 miles (N. W. by N.) from Dublin; containing 6685 inhabitants, of which number, 1947 are in the town.

This place, which is situated at the intersection of the roads from Castle-Blayney to Cootehill and Clones, and from Carrickmacross to Monaghan, derives its name from a pass between the lakes at the southern extremity of the town. Prior to the introduction of the linen manufacture the town was of very little importance; but since the establishment of its linen market about the middle of the last century, it has rapidly advanced, and now contains about 400 houses, many of which are respectable and comfortably built, and has become the principal mart for the inhabitants of the surrounding country.

The manufacture of linen, of a texture from nine to fourteen hundreds, is extensively carried on throughout the parish. The market is on Saturday, and is amply supplied; great quantities of butter are sold, and from October to February inclusive not less than from 8000 to 12,000 stone of flax is sold weekly: there are also extensive markets for grain on Tuesday and Friday. Fairs are held on the third Saturday in every month, and are remarkable for large sales of horses, horned cattle, and pigs. A reading society was established in 1816, and is supported by a proprietary of annual subscribers; the library contains nearly 1000 volumes. Petty sessions are held in the market-house irregularly: and here is a constabulary police station.

In the R. C. divisions this parish forms part of the union or district of Tullycorbet: the chapel is situated at Ballintra, about a mile and a half from the town; and there is a small chapel of ease in the town, connected with the clergyman's residence. There are two places of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster; one of which, in the town, is a handsome building in the later English style, and is of the second class; the other is about a mile distant, and nearly adjoining it is a place of worship for Seceders. About 150 boys and 110 girls are taught in four public schools; and there are also six hedge schools, in which are about 140 boys and 70 girls; and two Sunday schools. -A dispensary is open two days in the week for the gratuitous aid of the poor.

Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837)

On 8th March, 1850, Michael and Ellen married in Ballybay, Co. Monaghan and shortly afterwards, moved permanently to Scotland.

Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, had always been a natural destination for Irish immigrants. However the rate of influx increased considerably during and after the Irish potato famine of 1845-1850, when a potato blight swept over Ireland. During the famine, many landlords evicted tenants who could not pay their rent and many of the evicted tenants emigrated to mainland Britain to seek work and a better life. Scotland saw a seven percent increase of Irish immigrants in 1851 alone. The Irish immigrant population was concentrated in a few cities, such as Glasgow, where almost a quarter of the adult population in 1851 was Irish-born.

Michael and Ellen settled in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire, which was a burgh and parish in the north west of Lanarkshire on the River Clyde, some 2 miles south-east of Glasgow. At the time, the population of Rutherglen Parish would have been about 8,000 people and had more than doubled over the preceding 40 years. Rutherglen (popularly Ruglen) had been a place of much importance before the rise of Glasgow.

An 1850 account which describes the vision that would have faced Michael and Ellen when they first arrived from Ireland was given by Hugh MacDonald in his 'Rambles Round Glasgow' and reads:

Rutherglen consists principally of one street, which lies in a direction nearly east and west, and is about half-a-mile in length. This thoroughfare, which is broad and well paved, has a number of wynds or narrow streets branching off to the north and south. Like most old towns, it has been built without any fixed plan, and has consequently somewhat of an irregular and straggling appearance. The houses have but little pretension to architectural elegance. They are mostly plain two storeyed buildings, with a considerable sprinkling of low thatched cottages, which give it a somewhat old-fashioned and primitive aspect.

Rambles Around Glasgow. Hugh Macdonald (1850)

Sketch of 1850s Main Street at site of soon-to-be-constructed new Town HallSketch of 1850s Main Street at site of soon-to-be-constructed new Town HallSouth Lanarkshire Museums

The first time that Michael and Ellen appeared in the Scottish Records was on 3rd March, 1855 when Margaret Callaghan was born in Rutherglen at 80 Main Street. Margaret's birth record shows that she was Michael and Ellen's second child and that their first, an unnamed boy, had died. Michael's occupation was recorded as Mason's Labourer. Michael was stated to be 35 years old, born in Auchnamullen (sic), Co. Monaghan, while Helen was recorded as 30, also born in Auchnamullen.

The 1857 Property Valuation Records show Michael Callaghan residing at 80 Main Street and employed as a Collier.

Patrick Callaghan, named after his paternal grandfather, was born on 31st January, 1857 also in Rutherglen. Next, Helen (Ellen) Callaghan, named after her mother, was born at 80 Main Street in Rutherglen on 4th April, 1859.

Map of Rutherglen c1860Map of Rutherglen c1860National Library of Scotland

At the 1861 Census (8th April) the Callaghans were still residing at 80 Main Street. Michael, again a Mason's Labourer, was aged 40 and Ellen's age was given as 33. Margaret is 6, Patrick was 4 and young Ellen was 2 years old.

On 25th June, 1861, Rosann Callaghan was born at 80 Main Street, Rutherglen, most probably named after Michael's mother. Tragically, just over a year later on 22nd November, 1862, Rosann died from Measles at 38 Main Street. Michael reported his daughter's death to the Registrar.

A major construction project would have been underway a stone's throw from the Callaghan residence on Main Street. A new Town Hall had been constructed and opened in 1862. As a Mason's Labourer, it is possible Michael Callaghan could have worked on the project.

In 1885, the building was described in the following terms:-

The modern town-hall, erected in 1861-62 at a cost of £7000, is a very handsome building which would do honour to many a much larger town. Late Baronial in style, it has a street frontage of 120 feet, and near the centre a square tower with turrets, with ogee roofs, rising to a height of 110 feet. The portion to the W, which was the first erected, contains a burgh court-room, a council chamber, various retiring rooms, and a public hall, measuring 75 by 40 feet, and with accommodation for about 800 persons. The eastern addition contains the various burgh offices.

Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Edited by Francis H. Groome

Rutherglen Town Hall on Main Street c.1862

The photo shows the first phase of the construction of the Town Hall before the eastern extension described above was added.

James Callaghan was born at 62 Main Street on 23rd September, 1863. At this time, Michael's occupation was stated to be Agricultural Labourer. Francis Callaghan was born on 20th April, 1866, at 58 Mill Street, Rutherglen. Michael was still employed as an Agricultural Labourer.

Mary Callaghan was born on 27th March, 1869, also at 58 Mill Street in Rutherglen. Michael's occupation had reverted back to Mason's Labourer.

At the 1871 Census (2nd April), the Callaghan family was residing at 58 Mill Street and included Michael, now 45, and employed as Stone Mason's Labourer, and Helen, aged 37. Clearly, keeping an accurate track of age was not a priority for the Callaghans. Margaret, now 16, was a Paper Mill Worker, while the 14-year-old Patrick was a Printfield Worker. Helen (12), James (7), Francis (5) and Mary (2) completed the family.

On 22nd November, 1876, Margaret Callaghan, then aged 20 and employed as a Pottery Worker, married 26-year-old Colliery Redsman, Arthur Girvan, in the Catholic Chapel in Rutherglen. Margaret gave her usual residence as 131 Main Street, Rutherglen. Margaret's younger sister, Helen, was a witness.

The Original St. Columbkille's Catholic Chapel in Main Street in RutherglenThe Original St. Columbkille's Catholic Chapel in Main Street in Rutherglen

The 1860 map of Rutherglen (above) shows both Main Street and Mill Street. At the left of the map is Rutherglen Pottery which is quite possibly where Margaret (and later Mary) would have worked when she was 20.

On 13th November, 1880, Helen Callaghan, then aged 21 and employed in a Paper Mill, married 24 year old, Irish-born Coalminer, John McGlade, at the Catholic Chapel in Rutherglen. Helen gave her usual residence as 6 King Street Lane, Rutherglen.

At the 1881 Census (3rd April), the family had moved to 82 Main Street in Rutherglen. This address was adjacent to where some of the Callaghan children had been born some 25 years or so earlier. However, it is likely that the original dwelling place had been demolished and replaced by a new tenement building (see later).

Strangely, the 50-year-old Ellen was stated to be a widow, although we know that Michael did not die until later. This might be explained by a census enumerator later being confused by his or her notes, and incorrectly assuming that Michael, absent on census night, had died. Also present were Patrick, a Coalminer, aged 23 and unmarried; James, aged 17 and unmarried, a Labourer in a Boat Yard;and Francis, aged 14 and unmarried, an unemployed Coalminer. Finally, there was Mary, an 11 year old Scholar.

On 3rd May, 1883, Michael Callaghan died of Bronchopneumonia at 82 Main Street, Rutherglen. Michael's age was given as 50, although we know this to be inaccurate. He would have been closer to 63. His widow, Ellen, registered the death.

1883 Death Record of Michael Callaghan1883 Death Record of Michael CallaghanScotland's People

Despite the dramatic grandeur of the recently built and extended Town Hall, many of Rutherglen's dwelling houses were extremely modest and belonged to an earlier era.

By 1885, the town of Rutherglen was being decribed thus:

The modern town is somewhat mean in appearance, and consists of a very wide and spacious Main Street - extending along the road from Glasgow to Hamilton - with narrow lanes and streets branching off from it, the chief being Farm Loan Road (N) and Hamilton Road (S), both at the E end ; Castle Street (N), near the centre ; and Mill Street on the opposite side farther S. At the W end the principal street divides into two narrow branches, of which that to the N retains at first the name of Main Street, and then becomes Chapel Street, while the branch to the S is Cathcart Road. Parallel to Main Street on the N is the long narrow King Street. There are several other straggling streets, and on the low rich flat to the N and NW, beyond the railway, are the principal manufactories. The buildings, even in the Main Street, are very poor and irregular, many of them being very old houses, with low walls and thatched roofs. The old town-hall is a poor structure, projecting into Main Street on the N side.

Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882 - 1885) - Francis Groome

Old Town Hall and Jail, Rutherglen Main StreetOld Town Hall and Jail, Rutherglen Main StreetPinterest

On completion of the new Town Hall, it is likely that the original building was put to alternative use.

The inhabitants of the town Rutherglen and district are employed in the coal pits, quarries, and brick-works in the neighbourhood, or in the industrial works connected with the burgh, these latter being factories, chemical works, dye works, a paper mill, a pottery, tube works, a small boat building yard, rope and twine works, and spindle works.

Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882 - 1885) - Francis Groome

Certainly, members of the Callaghan family were employed in a number of these industries.

On 13th April, 1885, Margaret Girvan née Callaghan, Michael and Ellen's eldest daughter, died aged 29, of Phthisis (Tuberculosis) at 79 Castle Street, Hamilton, Lanarkshire. She had only just given birth to a son Arthur. Just a few weeks later, on 7th May, 1885, little Arthur Girvan died at 82 Main Street, Rutherglen.

James Callaghan met Margaret McConnell née McGlade, the sister of John who had married James's sister Helen. Margaret's husband Peter McConnell had travelled to the USA in around 1883 and had not returned, effectively deserting her. James and Margaret started co-habiting and raised their own family. Their first child John Souter Callaghan was born on 5th May, 1888 in Camlachie. No marriage record has been located for James and Margaret and it is likely that they never married as divorce from Peter McConnell was probably not an option for Margaret.

On 18th February, 1889, Mary Callaghan, now 19 and a Pottery Worker, married Thomas Kelly, a Coalminer, aged 22, in the Catholic Chapel in Rutherglen. Mary gave her usual address as 82 Main Street, Rutherglen. John McGlade was a witness to the marriage.

At the time of the 1891 Census (5th April), Helen Callaghan was residing at 82 Main Street as a 70-year-old widow, living with her son, Patrick, now 33 and still working as a Coal Miner, and who is recorded as being married. No wife is evident. Both are recorded under the name 'Kelachan', another error, possibly to be laid at the door of the census enumerator. Also resident are Helen's grandchildren by her late daughter Margaret, Sarah Girvan, aged 15, and Patrick Girvan, aged 12. On the same census record, shown residing in the same tenement building, although in different apartments, are two of Helen's married daughters and their families. Ellen and John McGlade now have 5 daughters, and Mary and Thomas Kelly, have a daughter and a baby son. A close-knit family indeed.

On 3rd June, 1892, Francis Callaghan, now 24 and working as a Colliery Redsman, married 23 year old Power Loom Weaver, Catherine McLuskey, who had been born in Old Cumnock in Ayrshire. The marriage took place in the Catholic Chapel in Rutherglen. Both gave their usual address as 82 Main Street, Rutherglen.

Rutherglen Main Street with St Collumkille's Chapel and School c.1895Rutherglen Main Street with St Collumkille's Chapel and School c.1895South Lanarkshire Museums

In 1894, 16-year-old Patrick Girvan, grandson of Ellen Callaghan and by this time a Pottery Worker, died, aged 16, of Pneumonia at 82 Main Street. As both of his parents were deceased, Ellen registered his death.

At the 1901 Census (31st March), Helen Callaghan was recorded as aged 60 and residing at 52 Main Street, Rutherglen. Her surname was incorrectly recorded as 'Kellachen.' Living with her at the time was her granddaughter, 18-year-old Margaret Girvan, employed as a Brick Lifter.

In 1902, Ruglonians were treated to the sight of the first electric tram to serve their town. The trams enjoyed a 60-year run and were taken out of service in the 1960s.

Crowds welcoming the first electric tram in Rutherglen, 1902Crowds welcoming the first electric tram in Rutherglen, 1902South Lanarkshire Museums

The records show that on 24th April, 1909, Ellen Callaghan née McGinn, aged 64 (undoubtedly inaccurate - she would have been over 70), died at 13 Regent Street, Rutherglen, of General Debility and Bronchopneumonia. Her daughter, Mary Kelly, registered the death.

1909 Death Record of Ellen Callaghan née McGinn.1909 Death Record of Ellen Callaghan née McGinn.Scotland's People

Rutherglen Main Street c.1904Rutherglen Main Street c.1904South Lanarkshire Museums