My 2nd great aunt, Mary Keenan was born on 23 August 1857 at Old Monkland, Lanarkshire. Her sister, Ellen was my mother’s paternal grandmother.
Mary was the first of ten children of Patrick Keenan and Agnes Haughey. The next two siblings were born in Shotts but by 1862 the family had settled in Newmains.
Mary found work as a brickfield worker, a physically demanding and low paid job. She met coal miner, Peter McGarrell and on 21 October 1879 their son, John McGarrell was born. The child was illegitimate and while Peter acknowledged paternity on the birth register the couple never married and Mary and her new baby remained at home with her parents and siblings. Without the support of a husband Mary would have had to greatly rely on her mother and sisters for support.
She did go on to find love and on 24 April 1883 she married John O’Donnell. Mary discovered that she was pregnant and now that she was a respectable married woman this must have been a cause for celebration.
Tragically complications in the pregnancy led to peuperal fever and septicaemia and on 26 November 1885 Mary died. She was 28 years old. There is no record of a birth.
Her son John returned to live with his grandparents. I do not know if he had any further contact with his father or stepfather.