Ravings From The Bog

Murder, Genealogy and The Irish Civil War

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to know more about my family history. My surname is fairly unique – anyone living in the UK and Ireland with the name Parte or Part is related in some way to my family. We’ve no solid idea where it came from originally, and I’d really like to take one of those DNA diagnostic tests that can tell roughly where your ancestors originated. Must look that up!

One of the things I have found out in my quest so far, is that my great grandfather on my father’s side, Charles Part, was murdered on May 1 1922. He had retired from the British Army after his service in the Boer War and in a reserve battalion based in Cork and Dublin during World War I, and was working, aged 55, as a postman in Keady, Co. Armagh. On the day of his death, my grandfather, also called Charlie and aged 16, was helping him deliver mail in the townland of Derrynuse. They separated temporarily and were ambushed simultaneously by members of a local republican group. Charles Senior, was killed at the scene and his son was shot in the head and arm, and left for dead. He recuperated in hospital for a year and when released, his widowed mother, Rose, moved Charlie and his brothers, Ernie and Eddie to Belfast. We believe it was at this stage that they added an “e” to the end of Part – reason unknown.

As far as I can surmise, Charles Part was targeted because of his Unionist views, his service in the British Army, his Presbyterian religion, or the fact that as a postman, he was a government employee, who until comparatively recently had the Crown as part of their cap badges, or perhaps all four.

He was not alone. Thousands died on both sides of the political and religious divides in a vicious guerrilla war. However, it was a surreal experience reading about a murdered relative for the first time when I got a copy of the Belfast Newsletter that described the incident. I was also able to obtain Charles’ death certificate was really brought it home for me.

The ultimate irony is that only a few years later, his son Charlie would marry a Catholic girl from Ardee, Co. Louth, and in the 1950s be living in Andersonstown, West Belfast. Our family since then, across several different branches, has included a prison officer, a policeman, a hunger striker and various other combatants on both sides, in the more recent 1969-1994 “Troubles” with a few close shaves at times.

I can vividly remember visiting my grandparents’ house around 1972 and seeing Rose, who was at least 92 at that stage, wrapped in a black shawl with her long grey hair, sitting in front of the fire for warmth. I had no idea at the time, aged 10, of what she had experienced – a missed opportunity to glean some historical gems. Lesson learnt! I have grilled my mother for any details she can provide about her family and have made connections in England, where her father came from. My Genes Reunited family tree now has over 400 names and goes back as far as 1757.


2 Comments so far
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That was my first project of the summer. I traced my great great grandfather back to rhe birth of a son in 1838. I can’t find anything about his wife, but he was a captain of a steamship………..

Comment by teachthemasses

I think we may be related.. I believe Charles Part was my great great grandfather.

Comment by Chloe

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