CHRISTOPHER JOHN “MARTIN” “NEIGHBOUR” CLOHESSY (1880-1944), “A LARGE AND FORMIDABLE IRISH SLUGGER, QUITE CAPABLE OF ENDING A MATCH WITH A FEW HITS”

THIS FINE-LOOKING FELLOW IS CHRISTOPHER JOHN “MARTIN” “NEIGHBOUR” CLOHESSY. HE WAS MY LATE GRANDMOTHER, MARY SERMON NÉE CLOHESSY’S FATHER. HE IS A NOTABLE POINT OF INTEREST IN MY FAMILY TREE BECAUSE HE HAS SO MUCH GOING ON.

HE WAS BORN IN LIMERICK, IRELAND, IN 1880, ON “THE WRONG SIDE OF THE SHEETS” TO MARTIN CLOHESSY (1824-1909) AND MARY CONNELL (1865-?). HIS FATHER WAS A NOTABLE LIMERICK BUSINESSMAN WHO OWNED SEVERAL BARS AND SHOPS. HE APPARENTLY HAD A LARGE NOTABLE FUNERAL IN 1909. HE HAD 3 LEGITIMATE SONS: DENIS, CHRISTOPHER, AND MARTIN.

HIS MOTHER WENT ON TO MARRY PATRICK ROCHE (1866-?) AND HAD 8 CHILDREN.
“MARTIN” JOINED THE ARMY, IN PARTICULAR THE ROYAL MUNSTER FUSILIERS. HERE HE HAD A VERY SUCCESSFUL HEAVYWEIGHT BOXING CAREER. HE WAS THE HEAVYWEIGHT BOXING CHAMPION OF ALL-INDIA IN 1908 AND 1910. IN 1909 HE WAS RUNNER-UP TO BOMBARDIER BILLY WELLS, WHO IN TURN BECAME WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION (YOU MAY RECALL BILLY WELLS BASHING THE GONG AT THE BEGINNING OF RANK FILMS).

BY ALL OLD NEWSPAPER AND MEDIA ACCOUNTS, HE SOUNDS LIKE HE WAS A LARGE AND FORMIDABLE SLUGGER, QUITE CAPABLE OF ENDING A MATCH WITH A FEW HITS, AND TAKING ANY PUNISHMENT THROWN HIS WAY. UNFORTUNATELY, THIS MADE HIM A LITTLE SLOW, WHICH MEANT MORE SPRITELY OPPONENTS GAVE HIM THE RUNAROUND.

INEVITABLY MARTIN WENT TO WAR IN 1914 AND WAS INJURED EARLY ON IN YPRES WITH A GUNSHOT WOUND TO HIS CALF. ANCESTRY HAS QUITE A HEFTY WAR RECORD FILE. YOU CAN EVEN SEE HIS DAILY PULSE RECORD WHILE HE WAS IN THE HOSPITAL, ALONG WITH SOME OF HIS DRUNKEN MISDEMEANORS…

AROUND 1917 THERE IS A MINI-CHAPTER OF TRAGEDY. HE MARRIED A WAR WIDOW CALLED CATHERINE SWIFT NÉE LEWIS, WHO ALREADY HAD TWO CHILDREN. TOGETHER THEY HAD A DAUGHTER CALLED MARY TERESA, BUT A YEAR LATER, CATHERINE PASSED AWAY, AND A YEAR AFTER THAT, SO DID MARY TERESA. I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO TRACE WHAT HAPPENED TO CATHERINE’S CHILDREN BARTHOLOMEW AND ROBERT. I ONLY GLEANED THIS STORY FROM HIS WAR RECORDS. I’VE HEARD NO MENTION OF IT OTHERWISE.

IN 1923, HE MARRIED HONORA BARRETT (1903-1998). TOGETHER THEY HAD MANY CHILDREN.
SEAMUS, PHILOMENA, MARTIN, JAMES, CHRISTOPHER “CHRISTIE” (1926-2008), PATRICK “PADDY” (1928-2008), MARY JESSICA (MY GRANDMOTHER 1929-2018), ANGELA (1931), MICHAEL (1932), JOHANNA “NANCY” (1935), GERALD “GERRY ” (1936), AND MARIE THERESA “TRESS” (1942)
HE PASSED AWAY ON 30TH NOVEMBER 1944 AT THE AGE OF 64.

CREDIT: PAUL SERMON (2020)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top