The boatmen Dowleys get their name from the fact that so many of the male members of the family were involved in the river trade in Carrick-on-Suir over the years. They also seem to be the largest Dowley family in the area after the Ballyknock and Tinvane Dowleys. According to the census of 1901 and 1911 their main places of residence were Mill Street and Clareen St., both of which were relatively close to the river.
The relationship between these initial boatmen Dowleys is tentative, but the fact that the two male lines had a son Lawrence would suggest a relationship.
Thomas Dowley (1845-1906): Thomas was born in 1845 and spent his life as a boatman on the river Suir. When he was 21 years old he married Ellen Shanahan and they had eight children, two boys, Matthew and Michael, as well as six daughters. They lived in Clareen St. and Thomas died in 1906 at the age of 61.
Margaret Dowley (1848-1921): Margaret is included in the Boatman Dowley family only because her dates suggests that she was a sister of Thomas despite the fact that she lived on the Coolnamuck Road. It is also assumed that Margaret was single.
???? Dowley (????-????): According to the 1901 census returns this unknown Dowley was married to a Bridget who was born in 1839. They had two children, Lawrence and Margaret. As Lawrence was a boatman and the name appears again in Michael’s family it is assumed that they are the Boatmen Dowleys even though they lived on the Coolnamuck Road.
A John Casey was living in this house in 1911 and 1901. He was a nephew of Lawrence above and was also a boatman.
Matthew Dowley (1872-1951): Matthew was born in 1872 as the eldest male child of Thomas Dowley and Ellen Shanahan. He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a boatman on the river Suir. He married Bridget Power in 1899 and they initially lived in Cross or Ballally Lane where their first child Ellen (Eileen) was born. Sometime after 1901 they moved to the New Lane and they had two further children, Patrick and William. This family seemed to be more academically inclined and none of Matthew’s sons became boatmen. Bridget died in 1950 and Matthew died in Dublin in 1951. Both are buried in the New Friary Cemetery in Carrick-Beg.
Michael Dowley (1876-1957): Michael was born in 1876 and at an early stage started work as a boatman on the river Suir. He married Bridget Sullivan in 1895 when he was only 19 years old. They went on to have nine children, Ellie, Nora, Michael, Kate, Thomas, Denis, Lawrence, Agnes and Matthew. By 1911 the two eldest children were already working at the ages of 16 and 14 respectively. Ellie was a domestic servant while Nora was a creamery worker. This would suggest that due to the very large family, Michael may have had more financial pressures than his brother Matthew. Michael died in 1957 at the age of 81 but his final resting place is unknown to me at present.
Daughters of Thomas Dowley: I have very little information on Thomas’s six daughters other than there was a Nano, a Mrs. Dunne, a Mrs. Downey and a Mrs. Shanahan. The remaining 2 still remain nameless. The main reason for this is the birth registration records seem to rarely give the names of either parent. Baptismal records were more informative but are not universally available.
Ellen (Eileen) Dowley (1900-1935): Ellen or Eileen was born in 1900 as the eldest child of Matthew Dowley and Bridget Power. Eileen married Dr. P. A. Dunleavy and they had two children, John F. and Matthew. Where and when they were married and where the children were born is unknown as no records exist in Ireland or the United Kingdom. However, one year after the birth of Matthew, Eileen died at the early age of 35 and her husband died two years later at the age of 45. It is possible they contracted some incurable disease while abroad. This meant that the two children were orphaned when the eldest was only 5 years old. Eileen and her husband are both buried in the New Friary cemetery in Carrick-Beg.
Patrick Dowley (1903-????): Patrick pursued an academic career and became a schoolteacher in Dublin. He married Aileen McHale in Waterford in 1932. They lived in Dalkey, Co. Dublin but also had a summer house in Dunmore East, Co. Waterford. The summer house was called Darigle and was located on the Circular Road. As a coincidence, my wife’s sister, Aileen Coad and her husband Ken purchased this house in the 1980’s where they lived for some years before they separated. Patrick and Aileen had four children, Pat, Aodh, Brid and Nessa. When Patrick died is unknown to me at present. His wife Aileen died in 2002 at the age of 98 and is buried in Shanganagh cemetery Dublin, beside Patrick..
William Dowley (1908-????): William also pursued an academic career and qualified as an engineer. He married Pauline Hayes in 1937 and they had five children, Maureen P., Nuala F., Brian S, Orla M. and Paul V. When he died and where he was buried is unknown to me at present.
Ellen (Ellie) Dowley (1895-????): Ellen was the eldest of this large family and according to the 1911 census was a domestic servant at the age of 16. This would not have been uncommon at this time as most children would not have entered secondary education. Nora married a James Flynn in 1917 and they went on to have 6 children, Robert, Andrew, Agnes, Francis, Nora and James.
Nora Dowley (1897-????): Nora was Matthew’s second child and at the age of 14 was working in the local creamery. I have no further information on Nora at present.
Michael Dowley (1898-????): Apart from the date of birth I have no further inform on this member of Michael’s family.
Kate Dowley (1900-????): Apart from the date of birth I have no further inform on this member of Michael’s family.
Thomas Dowley (1903-1919): Apart from the date of birth I have no further inform on this member of Michael’s family.
Denis Dowley (1905-????): Apart from the date of birth I have no further inform on this member of Michael’s family. It is possible that he was married and had a son called Denis.
Lawrence Dowley (1906-????): Apart from the date of birth I have no further inform on this member of Michael’s family.
Agnes Dowley (1908-????): Apart from the date of birth I have no further inform on this member of Michael’s family.
Matthew Dowley (1910-????): Apart from the date of birth I have no further inform on this member of Michael’s family.
Pat Dowley (????-1998): I understand that Patrick’s eldest son, Pat, was also a school teacher and never married. He lived in Dalkey. While he was a regular visitor to Dunmore East, I never had the privilege of meeting him. Pat died on December 23rd, 1998 and is buried in Shanganagh cemetery.
Aodh Dowley(1933-????): Aodh was born in 1933 and later married Maureen Bourke. They had one daughter, Eibhlin. He studied engineering at Imperial College, London and later in his career became Professor of Engineering at University College Dublin. Sometime in the early 2000’s while visiting Dr. Shane Ward in the Engineering Department in Earlsford Terrace, I noticed Aodh at work in his office and intended to call and meet with him before going back to Carlow. Unfortunately, when I returned, he had left the office and I never got the opportunity to meet him again.
As a coincidence, Maureen’s brother John was a little ahead of me in Castleknock while his son John was a year ahead of my twin sons Robert and Douglas.
Brid Dowley (1937-????): With the exception of her marriage to Fergal McCabe, I have no further information on Brid.
Nessa Dowley (????-????): With the exception of her marriage to Mr. Esdale, I have no further information on Nessa.
I would hope that some of the descendants of the boatman Dowleys can supply me with further information and photographs of this family at firstname.lastname@example.org.