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Rock-a-billy songstress Imelda May is held firmly in the hearts of her old neighbours in the Liberties in inner city Dublin. Fiercely proud of her Dublin roots, they all may be surprised to learn that her family is from all four corners of Ireland. Imelda’s parents are first and second generation Dubliners. Her father’s family came from Longford and Sussex, while on her mother’s side Imelda can claim connections to Offaly, Wicklow and Cork.

Delving further into her paternal line, we discover Imelda’s father Anthony Clabby was born in, Dublin, on November 18th 1932. As we see from Findmypast’s Irish births 1864-1958, his birth was not registered until January 1933. This is to be expected with a baby born late in the year. Keep this in mind when searching for your own ancestors, the civil registration index is based on when the event was recorded, not when it took place.

His parents are listed on his birth certificate as Laurence Clabby and Catherine Hurrell, Imelda’s paternal grandparents. Laurence Clabby lists his occupation as Postman, Catherine has no occupation. The pair married in 1931 in Dublin.

The Clabbys

The Clabbys hail from Longford and can be found there, with ease, back to the early 1800s. In the 1901 census you’ll find Laurence’s father Thomas Clabby (c.1867) married to Ellen (née Kelly). Thomas describes himself as a Labourer in the 1911 census and has four children. Ten years before Ellen and Thomas are found in the 1901 census, newly married, with no children. Their ages between the two census records differ by more than the expected 10 years. In 1901 Thomas reports an age of 33, he is 44 in 1911. Ellen reports an age of 32 in 1901, and is also 44 in 1911! This is minor compared to some age differences that can be found between the two censuses and is a minor irritation when trying to track down birth records.

Going back another generation, Thomas’s father, Imelda’s Great Great Grandfather James, can also be found in the 1901 census. He describes himself as a 61 year old Plate Layer. A plate-layer was employed by the railway to check the rail-lines for damage and to do general maintenance. Records indicate that his father, Imelda’s Great, Great, Great Grandfather, was named Laurence, reflecting Imelda’s Grandfather’s name three generations later. Unfortunately there is no indication of his occupation in the records.

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