My Granny – Catherine Cosgrove 1900-1975

Catherine Cosgrove was my granny Brawley.  She’s my mother’s mother and the only one of my grandparents still alive when I was born. She was born in Glasgow on 16 July 1900 to Patrick Cosgrove, a labourer, and Sarah Helferty.  Patrick was born in Ireland as was Sarah’s mother.  Catherine was Patrick and Sarah’s only child and was born 12 years after their marriage.

Patrick and Sarah married in Lochee, Angus in 1888.  Both had moved to the Lochee area for work in the jute industry.  They moved back to Newmains, Lanarkshire where Patrick’s family had settled after they left Ireland in the early 1870s.
Tragically, Patrick died in February 1901.  The cause of death was smallpox.  The 1901 census shows Sarah and baby Catherine living as boarders at 48 Grafton Street in Glasgow with a family called O’Donnell; a couple and their nine children.  Daniel and Ellen O’Donnell were her uncle and aunt, Ellen being Sarah’s older sister.  This is the same address where she was born the previous summer.

A year and a day after Patrick’s death, Sarah remarried. Catherine now had a stepfather, Edward Cooper, and three step siblings; Bridget (born 1889), David (born 1890) and Sarah born 1893). Edward and Sarah had two children together.  Arthur was born in 1902 and Mary in 1905.

The strange thing is that my mother always assumed that my granny came to Newmains because of Edward Cooper and that she had no other family there.  Patrick’s parents and siblings were there so she had grandparents and cousins. Possibly after her second marriage Sarah cut ties with the Cosgroves. A newspaper report I found suggests that the relationship between the Cosgroves and the Coopers might not have been the best. Or maybe they did see each other but my granny never thought to talk about that with her own children. Pretty much everything I know about my ancestors is through research and not family stories.

My granny attended St Brigid’s School. The building is not the same but this is the school I attended as did my mother and my son. I don’t know for sure but I imagine this photograph was taken at school.

Catherine married my grandfather, Hugh Brawley on 6 August 1920 at St Brigid’s Parish in Newmains. The photograph is not of their wedding. I believe it may be an engagement picture.

I was fortunate to be able to view the original parish record of their marriage. Again marrying in St Brigid’s Church is a connection I share with my granny.

A big thank you to The Genealogy Girl for deciphering Catherine’s occupation on the marriage register.  She was a pottery worker.  I want to find out more about what that would have involved but I’ve found this map which shows where she would have worked.


Catherine and Hugh had five children. My mother is the fourth of those children.

Hugh died suddenly in 1968 leaving Catherine on her own.  She had her four daughters in Newmains to help look after her.  I remember visiting her at her house in Muirhouse Avenue in Newmains.  One of my aunties lived right next door.

My memories of my Granny are pretty vague.  I sort of remember her house.  I remember walking to her house from school at lunch time.  I was on my own because I was in the first class and our lunch time started before the rest of the school.  Or maybe we were on half days when we first started. I remember her as being really old and to a child I suppose she was but she didn’t keep very good health.  She was injured in a train derailment years before. I didn’t know until recently that my granny never left her house for the last few years of her life.

It was wonderful to see photos of my granny as a child and young woman. I hadn’t known the pictures existed. I’m very much hoping that family who knew her better might have more photos and stories to share.

My grandmother died on 21 July 1975, a few days after her 75th birthday. She is buried in Cambusnethan Cemetery.

10 thoughts on “My Granny – Catherine Cosgrove 1900-1975

  1. I know just what you mean when you say “pretty much everything I now know about my family is from records found through research and not through family stories.” The British Newspaper Archive can be a goldmine if you’re lucky. Great story – I really enjoyed reading it.

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  2. I was engaged with your story and loved the way you showed us the life of your grandmother through your research. Small details in discovered documents help paint a picture of this strong woman- I have experienced similar revelations about my Grandmother Harriet Priscilla who I only vaguely remember as a small child of 4. She was born in December married in December and died in December – she was my December granny.

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