Tag Archives: Bishop Ireland

Remembering Julia

Julia Duggan Regan passed away 35 years ago today, February 22nd.

Julia was born on the Duggan family farm in Tara Township on July 15, 1885. She was baptized on August 2nd at St. Malachy Catholic Church in Clontarf, with James Kenna and Margaret Duggan as sponsors.  Julia was the youngest child of William and Julia (Creedan) Duggan. The Duggans were among the pioneer Irish settlers of Tara Township who traveled west from Concord, New Hampshire in response to Bishop John Ireland’s Catholic colonization efforts.

Over the past eight years, I have had the pleasure to get to know two of Julia’s sons, Donald and Gerald Regan. Donald and Gerald have shared many stories of growing up in Clontarf. Individually, their memories are sharp, but when you get them together, the brothers play off of one another’s recollections, with amazing results. Without Donald and Gerald I never would have gotten to know my great-grandmother (and their aunt) Annie Hill Regan (click here to read what I learned about Annie.)

From what I have heard about Julia, she was practical, hardworking, and devoted to her children. For all intents and purposes, Julia raised her seven children on her own, and it was an ongoing struggle to provide for the family. But with determination and resourcefulness, Julia did just that…and more. Julia wanted the best for her children, and did what was necessary to provide them with every opportunity. Her children were educated, served in the military, became teachers, and a mayor. Gerald got his start in a railroad career in part on account of his beautiful penmanship – that surely is a sign of a good mother!

Julia was always trying to improve her home, make it more efficient and more comfortable. Apparently, Julia could not bear to see a good outbuilding go to waste and sent Donald and Gerald out to rescue countless unused structures from family and neighbors in the area. Julia had vision – her brother’s old chicken coop would make a perfect garage and that shed from her parent’s place in Tara would be the ideal addition to the hay barn. Like the good sons they were, Donald and Gerald carried out her plans, moving the buildings and setting them up for their new purpose at Julia’s.

Julia Duggan Regan

And to top it off, Julia made delicious doughnuts. I would say she was quite a woman!

Her grandson John Conroy of Hancock has shared a number of historical items with my mom and me over the years. Julia’s older sister Catherine had put together a fantastic postcard collection and a photo album. Most of the people in the album are unknown to me, but there are some great photographs I assume are of Catherine’s sisters and friends. Like this one…

Duggan Family Album, courtesy of John Conroy

The woman on the right resembles Nell Regan (Julia’s future sister-in-law) and the other two could be Margaret and Catherine Duggan. The only photo with anything written on the back is of my great-grandmother’s brother. It says, “To Kate”.

Tim Foley, courtesy of John Conroy

But of all the photographs in this collection, my favorite is a little snapshot that was tucked at the back of the album.

Donald and his sister Kathryn, courtesy of John Conroy

Take a minute today to remember Julia, and if you live in the Clontarf area, you might just run into someone who could tell you a thing or two about the woman who made Clontarf her home for over seventy years.


Filed under In Loving Memory

A Visit From Bishop Ireland

On October 27, 1880, Bishop John Ireland paid a visit to Clontarf to officiate over the first Confirmation class of St. Malachy’s.

Settlers had begun coming to the area in earnest only a year or two prior to Confirmation day, but already there were forty-two young people ready to be confirmed.  It is likely everyone in the Clontarf area was excited for this visit from Bishop Ireland, and I bet they had a full house for the service.

There were twenty-one girls and twenty-one boys.  I wonder how that worked out?  Do you think Father Oster told William Bedard to bring along his little brother Albert so they would have equal numbers of boys and girls?  I picture them processing into St. Malachy’s in boy-girl pairs.

Most of the family names that appear on the list are of the French and Irish settlers in Clontarf and Tara townships.  A few of the young people came from surrounding areas that did not yet have a Catholic church.  For instance, there is James and Mary Boisvin. 

I recalled reading the story of a French-Canadian family who, shortly after settling in Marysland Township (south of Clontarf and Tara), changed their name to reflect the English translation of their French name.  The translation was DrinkwineBoisvin would translate to Drinkwine – the family from Marysland.  Maybe the family had not yet changed the name, or Father Oster wrote the correct name since he was French.

From the families that we have already mentioned here, Jane Kenna and Mary Ann Purcell were confirmed on October 27, 1880.  Also confirmed th day were William Shinnick, Matthew Ledwidge, Zelina and Albert Coti, and Theresa Fisher (among others).

Care to guess the most common confirmation name chosen by the young ladies of St. Malachy’s?  Add a comment with your answer.

I am starting a new contest (and this time I will actually declare a winner and send that winner a very special Clontarf prize!)  For the remainder of the month of July, for every comment you make on the blog you will be entered in a drawing for a Clontarf Prairie Pub t-shirt.  It does have to be an actual comment, but it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate…simply I grew up in Clontarf! or I like this post! or Where’s Clontarf?  will be enough to get your name in the drawing.  I will announce the winner by August 2nd.

Build your entries, leave a comment! Just click the Leave a Comment link at the bottom right of each post.

By the way, if you are curious as to whether or not an ancestor of yours was confirmed on October 27, 1880, just ask me and I will be happy to check!


Filed under Early Settlers, French, Irish

What’s in a name?

Clontarf was named after a town in Ireland, near the capital of Dublin.  You can read about the history of Clontarf, Ireland here.

It is interesting that Clontarf was chosen for the town’s name.  Before the town was platted, it was called Randall.  When Bishop Ireland, acting as land agent for the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (James J. Hill), decided to establish a Catholic Colony on the land, he must have chosen the name in light of who settled.  Many of the earliest settlers to answer Bishop Ireland’s call were Irish Catholics from the East Coast of the United States.

I wonder if there are any other towns in the US named Clontarf?  Do any Clontarf natives have any stories or memories of the name Clontarf?  In the bigger scheme of Minnesota towns, it might seem unusual, but among the surrounding townships (Tara, Dublin, Kildare) it makes sense.


Filed under Early Settlers