By Mary Margaret Burke

July 2018 marked the coming together of the Coen family of Anbally for the first time in many years, when the descendants of John Coen and Sarah Spelman gathered at Cloonacauneen Castle.

John Coen was born in Anbally in March 1838 to Edward Coen and Mary Glynn. In 1876, he married Sarah Spelman of Cahernahoon, who was born in 1850 to John Spelman and Catherine Fahy (Twomileditch). Their family were as follows.

  1. Honor (1877-1929), married Patrick Duggan in Pittsburgh in 1903. They had two daughters, Mary and Sarah.
  2. Kate (1878-1904) went to America in 1895, and died aged 26 years.
  3. Mary (1880-1914) went to America but later returned and married John Coen of Anbally. They had one son, Patrick. Mary died in childbirth in 1914.
  4. Edmund (1882-1933) married Teresa Lydon in Pittsburgh in 1912. They had four children: John, William, Mary, and Teresa.
  5. Sarah (1884-1923) married William Guering in Pittsburgh in 1918. They had two children, Joseph and Florence.
  6. John (1887-1935) married Mary A Monroe c. 1918. They had seven children: John, Dolores, James, Martin, Mary Patricia, William, and Kathleen.
  7. Timothy (1889-1969) married Catherine Keane from Cloonfad, Co. Mayo, in America. They returned to Ireland in the mid-1960s and purchased a house in Dublin, returning to the US after two years. They remained in constant touch with my dad (Patrick) and uncle Murt.
  8. Martin or Murt (1889-1971) married Mary Nolan of Kilgill. They had five children: John P., Charlie, Martin, Sarah (Burke), and Joseph (born and died in 1926).
  9. Patrick (1892-1975), my father, stayed on the farm in Anbally, but also worked for a time in the coalmines in England. He was married first to Julia Canavan in 1922. She died in 1948, and Patrick married Celia Laffey, my mother, in 1950.
  10. Margaret (1895-1969) married Robert Wenzel in 1965.
  11. Michael (born 1899) – died aged 8 years.

Margaret came to visit in 1956 and again in 1962 for 6 weeks. After returning from the 1962 trip she married Bob Wenzel. It was after her death in 1969 that we lost touch with America, as Tim and Catherine also passed away shortly after. In later years I started to research the family online and eventually found John Coen’s attestation paper in 2010. When the 1940 census became available, I discovered that he had seven children. Then, in January 2015, I discovered an online obituary for John’s daughter, Mary P. Reuss, who had died the previous June. I decided to leave a message on the obituary guest book. Months later, her son Glen McHale checked the obituary as his mother’s anniversary approached and replied by email. He explained that he had travelled to Ireland with his mother in 2002, but hadn’t found any Coen relatives. Amazingly, his brother Bill had also visited and travelled the N17 to Knock, never knowing he was so close to Charlie Coen’s home and shop in Corrandrum. In August 2017, myself, Anne-Marie Byrne (daughter of Charlie Coen), and her daughters Hannah and Jodie joined a gathering of 137 Coens in Pittsburgh. Some of these had never met before, despite living within a 10 mile radius. Many of these in turn travelled here for the Coen gathering last year.

Note: This article originally appeared in our Summer 2019 Newsletter.

The Coen Family

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