Noel McCann was a very dear friend of mine. Unfortunately we lost Noel to cancer in September 2014.
Prior to his death Noel wanted to trace his long lost Aunt Angela who disappeared from the family home in Fermanagh in the 1940s. He suspected that Angela may have become pregnant and left Fermanagh to have the baby. His theory was correct. Angela gave birth in Dublin and eventually gave her son, Patrick, up for adoption in Belfast. It is believed she embarked on a journey to New York to find Patrick’s father. Patrick later became an orphan and was sent to Australia as part of a child migrant scheme.
With my advice and the help of DNA testing through The Child Migrants Trust, Noel was able to trace and be united with Patrick, his 70 year old long lost cousin. Patrick still lives in Australia. Meeting Patrick was a very emotional and fulfilling experience for both of them. Noel died just six weeks later.
Noel and Patrick 2014
The hunt for what became of Angela has been taken up by Noel’s daughter, Zoe McCaw (nee McCann). The mother in law of Patrick’s daughter, Sharon Regan, has also been very active in the search for Angela since the outset. It was Sharon who originally made contact with Noel. Zoe recounts progress on the search much more succinctly and eloquently than I could. She has undertaken some excellent research. I believe on balance her conclusions are highly probable.
Mary Angela Dolan was born on 5 June 1918 just outside the town of Belleek, County Fermanagh. Her parents’ were William James Dolan and Bridget Magowan. On 16 March 1945, Angela gave birth to a son called Patrick Magowan in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin. At this stage Angela was using her mother’s maiden name, Magowan. From there she travelled to Belfast, where she had Patrick fostered before placing him in an orphanage in 1948. Patrick was later sent to Perth in Australia by the orphanage
The name Mary A. Dolan appears on the passenger list of a ship (the Britannic) sailing from Liverpool to New York in May 1949. I assume this is Angela because she is the right age (30) and gives a Belfast address – 5 Scotland Street – as her place of residence. Furthermore, the rumour in Belleek is that she went to stay with her aunt and uncle, Susan and Hugh O’Dare, who owned a restaurant in Yonkers. During the course of my enquiries a cousin of Angela on her mother’s side told me she heard that Angela had stormed out of the O’Dare household after Susan asked her to wash the dishes.
A World Apart
Whatever happened, there appears to be no further record of Angela beyond her arrival in the US. The Child Migrants Trust has not found a marriage or death certificate for her in the US or in the UK or Ireland. In response to an advert I placed in the Irish Echo in March 2016 appealing for information about Angela, a genealogist in New York volunteered to help me with the search. She searched the Social Security Death Indexes in the States for any females with the first names Mary or Angela who were born on 5 June 1918. By cross-checking the records, I have managed to rule out her discoveries.
This aspect of the post has been withheld pending the consent of Patrick’s father’s family
Sharon, has also been very active in the search for Angela. Recently she discovered the following article in the Jasper Dubois County Daily Herald dated Thursday 2 June 1960:
The chapel of the Convent of the Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand was the scene of an 8:30 o’clock Pontifical High Mass last Tuesday when nineteen postulants were received into the Order of St. Benedict and clothed with the religious name and habit. Most Rev. Henry J. Grinimelsman. Bishop of Evansville, who celebrated the Mass, officiated in the reception. One of the Postulants (Sister Mary Susan); Angela Dolan.
The search continues. If you believe you can help, please contact me through this website or Zoe’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/findangeladolan/