BRIDGET AGNES (TRAYNOR) MORAN

y Grandmother Bridget Agnes Traynor was born on September 5, 1885 in Knockfree townland in the Cloghans postal district in County Mayo, Ireland. She lived on a farm with a thatched-roofed, three room house. She was the fifth of thirteen children. Her parents were Martin Traynor and Mary Ellen (GALLAGHER) Traynor.

The three rooms consisted of a large kitchen area in the center of the house and a bedroom on either end. Her parents had one of these. They had a double bed, a dresser and a large table. The table was so the bedroom could serve as a dining room when they had guests. The other bedroom had two double beds and a double couch. In the large kitchen were located two of what were called settle beds for small children. There was no bathroom. All the bathing was done using water in the kitchen that came from a well. The land on the farm was about 20 acres, divided into two parts. One around the house and the other about a half hour's walk away.

Bridget's five brothers and father worked the farm. They grew potatoes, cabbage, turnips, onions, wheat and flax. They raised cows, pigs, and chickens. The Traynors also had a mare which produced several foals and they had a donkey. From the cows they got their milk and butter. The chickens provided meat and eggs. Pigs were slaughtered twice a year. The excess food produced on the farm was sold at market. The Traynors had plenty of food but not much money. The Traynors had to pay a tax to the English landlord, Lord Aran. This put a strain on the family. Bridget remembered Lord Aran as a kindly man who put on two parties a year. One for the farmers and their workers and one for their children. Bridget remembered playing on the farm with her brothers and sisters and going Sundays to fish for salmon, trout, pike and perch.Their father, Martin Traynor, had three boats which he would rent out to English gentlemen who would go fishing in the good weather.He would row one of the boats.The lake they lived very close to was Lough Conn.It was very large, three miles wide and nine miles in length.Their property was very near the junction of the River Deel which runs right by their property and Lough Conn.

School was a mile away and had two rooms. The one upstairs was where the schoolmaster taught the boys while a woman teacher taught the girls downstairs.

School was through the sixth grade and all grades were taught in the rooms.Bridget Agnes was known as "Bea" to her family and "Ma" by her children and by me, her oldest grandchild. She was also called Ma Moran by her children's friends and later by the community at large. Her other grandchildren and their children called her "Nana." Though she was called by many names she was known, and she was loved by all knew her.

Below is an excerpt from a taped interview with Bridget Agnes (TRAYNOR) Moran by Nancy Moran.

When I completed the sixth year of school,I stayed on as a teacher's helper for about five years. At age seventeen, I received a position as a mother's helper for the landlord's steward. I only had that position for a month because the room Iwas living in was over the kitchen. About twelve o'clock every night, I'd hear noiseslike someone was going from the stove to the pantry, rattling pots and pans. At first,I hought it was the family, but on questioning my employer, Mrs. Davis about it, she said - "Don't let those noises bother you, we hear them all the time and they never alarm us. "That's when I quit!"

............................................................................................................Bridget Agnes Traynor at Eighteen

I helped around the house with cooking, the children and worked on the farm feeding the cattle and the chickens. We had to carry our water one half mile every day until we got a slide hooked on to the donkey to carry it. It wasn't an easy life, to get our drinking water was a quarter mile and two of us would have to carry two pails each.

Church was two miles distant and, of course, we walked.Once a week there would be dances in the different homes, but I didn't get to many because my parents were strict. Consequently I looked forward to coming to America with my oldest brother when I was twenty. My older sister was already in New York, so she met us at the boat in 1906.

We came steerage and it was a good trip. We were used to the water and did not get sick although a lot of people did. There was no disease aboard. It was a very good time, good food, lots of fun on deck and not too crowded. There were just two people to a room and the trip was only eight days.

I stayed with a friend of my sister for two days in New Jersey, then started work as an upstairs maid for a wealthy family near where my sister worked. It was a very nice job with good employers and I stayed until I came to Boston as the bride of Patrick. I had met him in Ireland two years before I came to America. He was visiting in New Jersey when we renewed our acquaintance. He made just one more trip to New Jersey to see me and three months later we were married in St. Bridget's Church in Jersey City. The reception was held in my employer's home.

In Boston, the newlyweds set up in Patrick's apartment in Melrose. After a year and probably because they were expecting a family, they moved to 491 East Third Street in South Boston where their first child Francis Patrick was born. Not long after that they moved into a home at 28 Boston Street where my father, John J. Moran, was born. There next move was to a three decker they bought on 66 Gates Street in in South Boston. They now had four children and were expecting again which made it necessary to find a larger house.They bought another home at 35 Harborview Street in Dorchester and lived there long enough for one child, Rita to be born before they moved into the three decker at 58 Harbor View Street in Dorchester. Bridget Agnes Moran was pregnant sixteen times, she had eleven children. Several of the other pregnancies were carried full term. I remember asking her if she had any feeling for those babies, she told me she thought of every one of them just as she did her other children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ma and Pa Moran with their last two children Bernie on the left and Tommy.

The sixth child, Rita, was born with Cerebral Palsy and was not expected to live into her early teens. Ma took great care of Rita to insure the life she did have was as enjoyable as possible. Rita lived to be almost 75, I am convinced because of the care and love given to her by her mother.

Ma Moran was a busy mother, helping her husband with the rental properties and, of course, with the raising, sewing, cooking and all for their 11 children. In August, 1940, the month my father, John Joseph Moran, the second oldest son was to get married, Pa Moran suddenly died of a heart attack.He was 64 years old.Bridget Agnes never remarried.She had many friends and they supported her as did her Church.

< Ma and me in the backyard on Harbor View Street in 1945

Eileen on the left with Bernie in front and Kae on the right with Tommy in front >

Very active well into her eighties, Bridget Agnes Moran always enjoyed people and a good party.One of my favorite stories to tell about her was when I was first married (1964) and brought my Texas bride [Nancy (Christian) Moran] to Boston to meet my grandmother whom she had heard much about.Ma was 79 then and I did not have time to call before we came.I was stationed at Fort Devens at Ayer in western Massachusetts and got an unexpected weekend off shortly after we had arrived there.We got into Boston about 11 PM, my wife kept telling me we couldn't go to my grandmother's house because it was too late to call at anyone's house let alone a grandmother's!I assured her my grandmother would be up and that it would be all right.When we got to the house the lights were all off and it looked like I was wrong. Just as I was getting back into the car for an "I told you so", a taxi pulls up with a bunch of loud, obviously happy people getting out.It was Ma; her neighbor and longtime friend, Coleman Lee; her sister-in-law, Annie Donegan; her brother Patrick Traynor and Rita.They were getting ready to play poker.We joined in and played until 4 AM.I lost $25.00 to my 79 year old grandmother!

Another time in 1977, I was playing poker with Ma and others at her kitchen table, Sister Joseph Bernadette was visiting.Sister went to bed at a decent hour.I don't remember who else was playing but I am sure Rita was there and a number of people rotated in and out of the game that went on to 5 AM.Sister JB got out of bed and called me over to tell me I should be ashamed of myself for keeping a 92 year-old woman up all night.Ma heard some of this and came and over and told Mary (Sister JB) to go back to bed, she was having more fun than she had had in a while.

Ma was the matriarch of the family and a very pious woman, who at ninety two would get me down on my knees to say the rosary for her since she couldn't get back up.The Infant of Prague statue was always dressed in very fine clothes sewn by Ma and Rita and church was very much a part of their lives.In 1980, Saint Margaret's Church in Dorchester honored her as one of their oldest parishioners.

Though religious, Ma wasn't stuffy.She grew up on a farm, one of ten children in a three room house and had 11 children of her own.Yet, I was always somehow taken aback when she revealed her humor.When you were young and walked by her you did not know if you would get a gentle caress on the head or a playful swat on the rear.She would play jokes on you.Her laughter was genuine.She loved to talk.Especially, when she got on the phone to old chums.She would laugh and tell jokes and stories. In the early days of my life when I was visiting her at 58 Harbor View Street, the first floor was rented out and she and the last of the kids at home lived on the second and third floors.Still at home were Rita, Eileen, Kae, Tommy and Bernie.The kids rooms were all upstairs on the third floor.The phone was on a stand with a chair beside it on the landing on the stairs leading to the third floor.Ma would get on that phone and her voice would be amplified in the stairwell so that if you were upstairs you could hear her carry on. If you happened to walk by her while she was on the phone and you had not attended to a chore you were supposed to have done, she would swat you without missing a beat in the story she was telling and send you back upstairs.

Ma's 83rd Birthday Party surrounded by family

Starting with the bottom group sitting on the floor from the viewer's left: Jim Sullivan, Catherine's husband; Moya Moran; Bernie Moran; Peggy (Carr) Moran, Tommy's wife. Behind Bernie is his wife, the former Mary Dunn and on her left(viewer's right) is Claire (Moran) Peterson and then Tommy Moran.

Seated in the chairs from the viewer's left is Frank's wife, Nora (Gormley) Moran; Sister Patrice (Traynor); Rita Moran; Ma (Bridget Agnes Moran); Sister Joseph Bernadette (Mary Moran) and Catherine (Moran) Sullivan.

Standing behind them starting from the viewer's left is Bill Moran's wife, Peggy (Menadue) Moran; behind her is John Moran, beside Peggy is Eileen (Moran) Souza; Inge (Runte) Moran, behind her husband, Joe Moran and then next to Inge is Billy English and his wife Shiela (Moran) English, behind Shiela is her father, Frank Moran and to his right is Bill Peterson, Claire's husband and then the last one on the right rear is Jack Souza, Eileen's husband.

When she was 88 years-old she had a pacer put in her chest.It was an unusual age for the operation, the odds were against her surviving the operation.Because of her stamina the doctors risked it.She made Massachusetts if not New England history when she wore it out and again when they had to go back in to replace it years later.

The doctors did not believe she would survive the required surgery.They asked Kae and Sister Joseph Bernadette to sign a permission slip for the operation to relieve them of any responsibility.While they were standing there in the Emergency Room of the hospital debating the pros and cons and had pretty well decided it was not in Ma's best effort to put her through the operation, Ma asked the doctor for the papers and signed them.She survived the operation. Four and a half years later, Sister Joseph Bernadette and Kae were in a hospital room visiting with their mother.It was at the time when a lot of restoration work was being done at the Ellis Island immigration areas.They were going to be made into a museum about the immigrant experience.They asked their mother what it was like to be cleared through Ellis Island?Her answer shocked them because it was a fact they had never heard before.When Bridget Agnes Moran arrived in New York, she was so excited to see her sisters on the dock waiting for her, she just walked down to where they were and walked off with them.

Not long after that visit the family lost their matriarch, Bridget Agnes (Traynor) Moran died at the age of 96 in March of 1982. What follows are the sermon at Bridget Agnes Moran's Funeral Mass given by Father Ronald Coyne, and a Tribute poem by her Granddaughter, Rosemary Souza.

Father Ronald Coyne’s Sermon:

It’s really amazing that human tears can be a sign of great joy and at the same time can reflect deep sadness.The tears that have been shed these past few days, this morning and in the future reflect both these feelings.Bridget Moran, a queen, a matriarch, a lassie, a saint, a mother, a neighbor, a friend, a Christian – those are some of the hats that she wore, those are some of the titles that we have bestowed on this great Irish woman who at home in Ireland was called Brid.

Bridget was a woman who lived through years of great change in society and her faith and yet never became discouraged or negative in her attitude toward either.On the contrary, she was the happiest of women who was in love with the world and her church.

There was nothing and there was no one who that could dampen her spirits because her faith was in God alone.
He was the center of her life and every event that took place was put in that perspective.

I don’t believe there are any parents who think or dream of outliving their children, nor did Bridget.That has got to be one of the most tragic experiences of life and I really don’t believe that anyone can understand the ache and suffering that is involved in losing your own children with the exception of others who experienced the same heartache.Bridget buried four of her own children – how she was able to endure that pain or recover from the sorrow is no mystery to anyone who knew her.She talked to God about it.She asked him to help her bear those tragedies and not be overwhelmed by them.Once again, her strength was in her God.

60 Harbor View Street could almost be declared an historical site.For years the Morans have not only brought life to that house but to that street.Not only to the street but also to this community.How many times during her many years did she make the walk from home to St. Margaret’s Church?Not just to worship there, or to raise her children there, but to work there.Bridget was a member of the Sodality and other guild before there ever was one.She along with other fine ladies of this parish made this Church what it is today.They cleaned and scrubbed and decorated for one reason.It was the house of God.

It was only right that when Bridget was unable to come to this Church which she loved somuch that the priests and sisters of the parish would bring the Church to 60 Harbor View Street.I, among others, had the privilege of bringing her communion.We celebrated Mass in her home and in her back yard and when I say celebrate, I mean enjoy ourselves.The anniversary Masses for deceased family members were in the house and the birthday Masses were in the yard.I loved to visit her because as soon as you walked in she’d her two arms outstretched for the hug and then hands would grab your face for the kiss.All this with a big smile on her face.

These last few months as she was bedridden and in great physical pain, which by the way, you’d never know from her, she would finger those rosary beads continually.You could see her lips moving as she prayed silently.And even last week as I brought her communion, she seemed to have lapsed into a deep sleep but once I said “It’s Fr. Coyne Bridget”, as weak and fragile as she was, the first thing she did was make the sign of the cross, a faithful and faith-filled woman.

Because of what I have said, many would say we are here to mourn her death, but if we are honest, that’s not our purpose at all.We are here not to mourn her death, but to celebrate her life.We love her and miss her and for many years her memory will bring tears to our eyes.That’s fine, that’s human and that’s necessary.But who can deny that there is there is another feeling present in the Church today that overshadows the sadness?It’s a felling of joy, of relief from pain, it’s a belief that a promise has been fulfilled.It is knowing that Bridget is now with her God.It’s believing that she can be our strength in a new way.It’s all of those things and more.

I really don’t believe I can pay tribute to this woman without paying tribute to her family, her children.The love, concern, compassion, patience, sensitivity and gentleness they offered constantly to their mother has been an inspiration.Around the clock nursing care, taking shifts, keeping each other informed, praying for miracles, making sure their mother was able to be cared for at home as long as it was humanely possible.If she had to be hospitalized, then only the scenes changed.Finally she died peacefully at the Sister’s home in Wellesley.

I want her children to know today that their mother never had to question whether she was loved, whether in good health or during her sickness, she was surrounded, and in the good sense of the word suffocated by it.

Of course, Rita Moran had a special relationship with Bridget.Rita was not only a daughter, but a sister and friend.Time people spend together tends to cement their relationship.Because of that it is going to be very difficult for Rita.But let me remind you Rita, that you have been raised to believe in the God who was your mother’s strength in all her troubled times and don’t for one moment think He won’t be yours.He watched you care for and love your mother and He knows how you feel.If you get tired, don’t be afraid to change places.Let Him carry you.And let your brothers and sisters share with you their feelings as well as you share with them your own- you need each other.

I’d also liked to say a few words to Bridget’s 42 grandchildren and 24 great grand children.Many of the elderly people of our parish worry about young people like yourselves, not because they are nosy, but because they love you.They worry about your faith, your relationship to the Church and your way of life.I’ve told Bridget and many others who ask that if the young people today have the faith and devotion later in their lives that the elderly today have, that there is no need to worry.When you are young you naturally have questions with the Church, with authority and with God.That’s understandable.But if you have been taught basic Christian values and come from good example at home, then eventually that faith that was planted and nurtured for years will grow and blossom.

Never forget your Grandmother and Great Grandmother.She never forgot you.The presence of sickness, disease, evil and tragedy in our world is a mystery.We naturally seek to solve that mystery and so we ask why?Why is there so much disease?Why did Bridget suffer for so long before she died?Why would such a great family have to endure the pain of watching their loved one die so slowly?Why do any tragedies occur?

These questions cannot be answered by me because I don’t know.I do know that God loved Bridget and was as heartbroken as we are that she had to bear any pain.And now he has relieved her of that pain.He promised Bridget at her baptism that one day He would share with her a new life – now 96 years later, He has kept that promise.

The Easter candle that burns before Bridget’s body is a reminder to us that Jesus did not live and die but rose from the dead.It was the rising that made Him God’s son.Bridget Moran now shares in that resurrection.She now lives in the presence of God.And as St.Paul told us in our second reading, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the human heart what God has in store for those who love Him!

Bridget you may have been 96 years old, but to us you still died too young.

Fr. Ronald Coyne

March 18, 1982

A Tribute

As a young girl just learning to walk

There were many a home where I was taught.

Friends and relatives are all alike

But one was there all my life.

She’s as strong as a lion yet her roar was a purr.

As a guest in her home you were to call her “MA”.

When eating at her table its like open bar.

“Eat More” are her words as she brings Irish Bread,

When going to Nana’s everyone is sufficiently fed.

Hugs and kisses as you enter her door

And as you leave there are many more.

Thanksgiving is the day that our home is blessed

For our table we have the very best.

Near the end of the day and we’re all laughing hard

You know what’s pulled out, the good old cards.

Cribbage is her game, 45’s and hearts are next

When the last hand is dealt, she’s always the best.

A large family you say, a mother of eleven.

Her hardships were many for four are in heaven.

But the strength in her has surpassed many,

It seems as if troubles, she didn’t have any.

As her time passed, her tribe grew

Grandchildren are diverse for there’s forty-two.

She’s loved, respected and wealthy in friends,

Her love is so infinite for it never ends.

But now we all realize life must go on

Even though our Grandmother is gone.

We wish her well and say goodbye

But as we’re all lined up we can’t help but cry.

She’s one of a kind and no one can take her place

For in her hand of life she drew her last ace.

Mary, Rita, Joe, Kay, Eileen, Tom and Bernie are all that are left,

For as their mother, there could be no greater theft.

Her grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends

All wish that her time would never end.

But if you sit back and collect all the facts

In our minds, thoughts and hearts she’s packed.

She lives in our homes, faces and hearts

For the beginning of the Moran’s she’s the start.

But time has come to say farewell,

Though we will all miss her well.

Our love for her is very deep,

But from our hearts it shall never seep.

We feel the pain and our loss is great

But from now on she’ll watch our fate.

Good-bye to Bea with her charming manner

We’ll love you and miss you our everlasting NANA.

Rosemary Souza

March 18, 1982

Return to Table of Contents

The Maternal Side: The Traynors, Gallaghers, Flynns and Cosgroves

Next section - The children, and their children and grandchildren, of Patrick John and Bridget Agnes (Traynor) Moran