Canadian Roots

JOHN O'GRADY was born about 1757 in Nenagh, Ireland Cty..Tipperary, and died April 05, 1824 in Ireland. He married HANORA MEARA in Ireland.

Most of the Carp Valley lands in Western Carleton had been taken up during the free grant period, largely by Irish Protestants; and so, few of the Tipperary Catholics who began arriving around 1825 settled in eastern Huntley, March, and Goulbourn. Because the arrival of the earliest among them more or less coincided with the abolition of free grants in 1826, they had to purchase lands, a prospect for which they seem to have been ill prepared. They squatted on unoccupied lots in Nepean and worked to raise money, assisted by the demand for labour on the canal works beginning in 1827. Some of the earliest to come, such as the Tierneys and O'Gradys, bought land along Richmond Road in the Fallowfield, area, but those who came later settled to the east along the forced road that from 1833 ran down to Orland Chapman's mills near the mouth of the Jock.

In common with many who left Ireland in the years before the Famine of the late 1840s, these emigrants were not destitute but rather came to escape diminishing circumstances and lack of economic opportunity in a country with little industry and a burgeoning rural population. Nonetheless, obtaining title to their Canadian lands was a slow and painful process for most of them. Some managed to purchase Loyalist claims, but others made down payments on clergy reserves or Canada Company lands and stretched their payments over many years. Many obtained their deeds only in the 1850s, and a number who were unable to secure adequate land took their families to Iowa in that decade.

Another early arrival was Thomas Mara or O'Meara (c. 1797-1871), a son of Thomas Meara and Mary Grady of Bellevue in the parish of Kilbarron. Thomas's marriage at Perth on October 23, 1825 provides the earliest reference to any of these families in Canada. His bride was Ellen Tierney, daughter of another Tippereary man, Denis Tierney. (96) Mara Bought land from the Canada Company in 1829. Another Thomas Mara, around the same age, was the first of the Tipperary Catholic community to buy land privately, in 1828. His wife's name was Elizabeth Tierney. (97) The kinship ties linking the early families, even prior to emigration, were dense and multi-faceted. Matthew Costello, who was present at the 1825 wedding, was husband to an Anne Meara. Her relationship to the Thomases is not known. The Costellos had come from Peterfield in Cloughprior with a family of five children and lived in Goulbourn for about a year before moving to Nepean by the time of the Mara-Tierney wedding. They did not buy land immediately, and may have lived from the start on the 50 acres of the Thomas and Ellen Mara's Canada Company lot that Matt purchased from them in 1852. (98)

Probable relatives of the first Thomas Mara through both paternal & maternal lines were the O'Grady brothers who arrived with their widowed mother in 1826. They left a tangible memorial of their Irish past behind them in a overgrown churchyard in the parrish of Killbarron, Ireland overlooking Lough Derg, a picturesque widening of the Shannon River. There stands a lichen-covered gravestone which reads. "Erected by Daniel Grady in memory of his father, John Grady, who departed this life April 5th 1824 aged 67 years." John Grady was a small farmer who rented 5 3/4 acres in Bellevue townland from gentleman Thomas Sadleir and supplemented his income by working as a landlord's agent. In later years his son James used to boast of his ancestry: "His father "wore top-boots and leather breeches and rode about to fairs doing business for a Jintleman.' " Grady's death left his widow Hanora Meara with [eight] sons, of whom Daniel and two others were of age, and the eldest, Michael, already married. [A ninth son, Patrick, born about 1811, died in a drowning before the rest of the family sailed to Montreal. He is buried in Nenagh, Ireland, County Tipperary.] Subdividing the smallholding offered no prospect of prosperity for such a large family and so, in the spring of 1826, the Gradys emigrated to Montreal. They proceeded up the Ottawa and arrived in Nepean. In February 1828 Michael, who by now had five children, petitioned for a tract of land for himself and his six brothers, enough though the granting of free lands had been abolished in the year they reached the colony. In March Daniel purchased 200 acres from a non-resident Loyalist and in the next few years the remaining brothers managed to save enough to buy land as well, Michael and Henry buying 200 acres between them in 1830, and James purchasing in 1831. Thomas bought 80 acres from Dan the following year, and Rody, the youngest bought a farm from Dan in 1841 that had previously been occupied by his brother William, who died in that year. (99)

[Several more waves of emigration scattered the Tipperary Irish who settled first in Nepean-Fallowfield:

From 1850 to 1860, many left Nepean to settle in Clinton County, Iowa, especially in the southern parts of Waterford and Bloomfield Townships, along Deep Creek, concentrated around Petersfield.

In the 1870s, affordable land in Eastern Ontario was taken up and a depression pushed many to bankruptcy. Several families sold their land and emigrated to Forest River Township in Walsh County, North Dakota.

At the same time and into the 1880s Irish emigrants from Nepean and Pakenham areas settled northeast of Carberry in the Brandon region of Manitoba.

In the late 1850s and into the 1860s several families left Nepean and Fallowfield to follow the lure of the square timber economy in the Upper Ottawa Valley. The Thomas OGrady Margaret Spaine family began to acquire title to lots in what is now Hagarty Township, Renfrew County. The logging operations bought up beef, pork, hay and grain from local farms and were a source of employment as well. There was also a good export market for potash. (M.P.OG.)]

Source: The City Beyond A History of Nepean, Birthplace of Canada's Capital 1792-1990
by: Bruce E. Elliott [corrections by MPOG]