Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Owen Brannigan - The Family History Of Annitsford's Most Famous Son

Owen Brannigan was born on 10 March 1908 at Annitsford, Northumberland, to Owen and Sarah Catherine Brannigan (née Connelly).

Owen Brannigan grew up to be a world renowned opera singer. Like I did with Emmeline Shum-Storey, I decided to delve into the more recent family history of Owen Brannigan, a little-known celebrity. I was hindered slightly as all his lines go back to Ireland. If I discover anything more on any of Owen's ancestors, I shall update this post, or perhaps write a new one entirely. 
The Brannigans

Owen's father was born on 22 March 1876 at Seghill, Northumberland. His parents were named Arthur and Alice Brannigan, both natives of Co. Monaghan, Ireland. The Brannigans had only moved to Seghill some few years prior to Owen Brannigan, Snr's birth. Owen Brannigan, Snr was baptised at the little school chapel at Annitsford, the nearest Roman Catholic church. 

Arthur Brannigan had married Alice McNally on 14 March 1867 at Clontibret, Monaghan, Ireland, where they had a number of children before they left for England. Like most Irish migrants who came to this area of Northumberland, Arthur Brannigan got a job as a labourer in a nearby colliery. Arthur was fined 5s and costs for drunkenness at Seghill in spring 1890. He died the following year, and his funeral service was held at the little school chapel in Annitsford.

Alice McNally Brannigan raised her children to adulthood, and later moved in with her daughter Annie Corcoran. Alice died in 1913.

Owen Brannigan, Snr's gravestone at Annitsford.

Owen Brannigan, Snr was later an organist at St John the Baptist Roman Catholic church, Annitsford. His son obviously followed in his musical footsteps. Owen Brannigan, Snr died in 1955. 

St John the Baptist R. C Church, Annitsford.

The Connellys

Sarah Catherine Connelly was born in 1881 in Seghill, to James and Catherine Connelly (née McNamara). Sarah was only around four-years-old when her mother passed away. Sarah's elder cousin, Elizabeth Markey, moved in with the family, presumably to help take care of the children. 

James Connelly married Catherine McNamara in 1874. Catherine was born in Newcastle to Bridget and Patrick McNamara, a common labourer. James was born in Ireland.

Sarah Catherine Brannigan (née Connelly) died in 1921, when her son Owen was still a young boy. 


Owen Brannigan OBE himself was buried at Annitsford, in the grounds of the church where he once sang as a boy. He is remembered fondly by the community as Annitsford's most famous son. 

Owen Brannigan's grave.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I stumbled across your blog while doing a random search for Owen Brannigan. My great-grandfathers name was Owen Brannigan and he was also from County Monaghan in Ireland but thats where our similarities end.

    I dont have any documents on Owen himself, but he is mentioned in his son John Brannigans marriage certificate. "My" Brannigans settled around Manchester but I was aware of another branch towards Northumberland.

    No idea if or where our families are related but I thought I'd say hello and congratulate you on the good work on your blog!

    Kind regards,