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Beatles Irish Heritage

Paul McCartney

ames Paul McCartney was born at 107 Rice Lane, Walton Park, on the 18th June 1942, the son of James McCartney of 10 Sunbury Road, Liverpool, who was then working as a centre-lathe turner in an aircraft factory. Paul’s mother was Mary Patricia, born 29th September 1909, the daughter of Owen Mohin, a coal merchant, of 2 Third Avenue, Fazakerley.

Her parents were married at St. Charles Roman Catholic Church, Toxteth Park, on the 24th April 1905 when both were twenty-six years old. Her father, Owen Mohin (son of a farmer also called Owen), had been living at 9 McIntyre Street, Glasgow, at the time of his marriage. His bride was Mary Theresa, daughter of John Danher, an ironmonger and chandler of 98 Aigburth Road. She was born on the 1st April 1877 at 13 Minto Street, Toxteth Park, when her father was working as a gas fitter; her mother was Jane Baines.

When Paul’s parents married at St. Swithin’s Roman Catholic chapel at Gillmoss in West Derby on the 15th April 1941, his father James was a cotton salesman living at 11 Scargreen Avenue, Fazakerley. His mother was living at 58 Fieldton Road, West Derby. Paul’s father was born at 8 Fishguard Street, Everton, on the 7th July 1902, the son of a tobacco cutter, Joseph McCartney. His parents married at the parish church of Christ Church, Kensington, Liverpool, on the 17th May 1896 when Joseph was a twenty-nine-year-old tobacconist of 52 Wightman Street, and his bride Florence Clegg was living at 31 Wendell Street.

Florence was born on the 2nd June 1874 at 131 Breck Road, Everton, the daughter of Paul Clegg, a fishmonger, and his wife Jane. Paul and Jane were married on the 9th July 1863 at Liverpool Register Office. Paul, the son of a coroner, Robert Clegg (then already dead), was aged forty-six and a widower; his wife was aged twenty-six, the daughter of a farmer named Thomas Clague. They lived at 33 Slater Street, Liverpool.

Joseph McCartney was born 23rd November 1866 at 2 Court Great Homer Street, Everton, to a plumber and painter journeyman named James McCartney who was in turn the son of an upholsterer also called James. Joseph’s mother was Elizabeth daughter of George Williams, a boilermaker. James and Elizabeth were both under age when they married at Liverpool parish church on the 1st November 1864 and went to live in Scotland Road.

Unlike John Lennon, Paul McCartney claims Irish heritage on both sides of his family. Some sources claim that Paul's paternal grandfather, James McCartney II, a journeyman plumber and carpenter, was actually born in Ireland; others posit that it was actually Paul's great-grandfather, James McCartney, who was the first of the family to leave Ireland. Both of these men were Roman Catholics, but Paul's father, Jim McCartney, was raised in the Church of England and grew up without having any specific knowledge of his Irish background other than knowing that the McCartney’s were Irish in origin.

Although his father had some Irish roots, it was Paul's mother, the former Mary Patricia Mohin, who instilled a sense of pride in Paul about his Irish heritage. Mary Patricia's father, Owen Mohin, was born in 1880 in Tullynamalrow, County Monaghan; originally born Mohan, their village had so many Mohan’s that as a schoolboy his teacher decided to list the Mohan’s on one side of the classroom by their real name, and those on the other side by 'Mohin' in order to differentiate between the numerous Mohan clan which populated his schoolhouse.

Owen decided to keep the incorrect spelling of his surname for some reason, and used it for the rest of his life. Owen emigrated to Glasgow, where he worked as a coal merchant and married a Glaswegian of Irish descent named Mary Theresa Danher, or Danaher as some sources list. The couple moved to Liverpool, where Paul's mother, Mary Patricia, was born in 1909.

When Mary Patricia was 11 years old, Mary Theresa unfortunately died during childbirth, along with her infant daughter. Within two years, her father met and married his second wife, Rose, on a trip home to Monaghan.

No matter how hard she tried, Mary Patricia did not get along with her new Irish mother, and went to live with her aunts in Liverpool while she completed her education as a nurse. Years later, as is well known, she met her future husband, James McCartney, during a Nazi air raid on Liverpool, and the two were married on April 15, 1941 at St. Swithens Roman Catholic Chapel in Gill Moss, Liverpool.

A year and a half later, their son James Paul was born and two years later, their second son, Peter Michael, was born. During their adolescent years, Mary Patricia, who was a devout Catholic, raised her two sons to be aware of their Irish background.

When Paul was 15, his mother came home one afternoon after being diagnosed with the late stages of breast cancer; McCartney fans know the famous story that after informing her family, Mrs. McCartney went into her bedroom, took out a crucifix and a picture of her first cousin who was an Irish missionary priest in Africa, and began to pray. A few short weeks later, she died. Paul's father bought him a guitar to help him ease the sorrow right after the loss of his mother, thus embarking the 15 year old Liverpudlian on his passion for music.

Here are some interesting names. Danher and Mohin are forms of purely Irish surnames.

McCartney, on the other hand, has been known in Ireland only for a few centuries. A sept of the Scottish clan Mackintosh settled in UIster in the early 1600’s. They became the principal family in Belfast, supported King William and were landowners and sheriffs in Antrim and Armagh.

As Irish Protestants (and as Catholic converts) they were as likely to end up at the wrong end of the social scale as any other Irishman during the famine period and this probably led James McCartney, the Ulster-Scot, to turn to England in search of his fortune. His great-great-grandson has last found it.

Clegg and Clague, perhaps surprisingly are two different names in origin. Clague is a Manx name, also found in Ireland, and means a descendant of a leech (or physician). Clegg is a local Lancashire name from the Old Norse word for a haystack.


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