I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ellen Looney Downey: Irish Frankist Matriarch

 The Grave of Ellen Ahearn (nee Looney) 1833-1919 in Victoria, Australia.

In the 1760's a number of Frankist families moved from Poland and Germany to Ireland. Some of these families moved to the areas of the counties of Waterford and Cork in southern Ireland where there had been a crypto-Jewish community since the 16th century. These families took Irish surnames and outwardly observed the customs of the other Irish Catholics but in the home and in their own Frankist meeting they observed their own Jewish Frankist customs. They intermarried mainly with only those of other Frankist or Crypto-Jewish families. These families maintain their Jewish identity in secret for a few generations before being totally assimilated into the surrounding culture.

One of the descendants of these families was Ellen Looney who was born in 1833 in County Waterford in Ireland. Her father John Looney on his paternal line came from one of the older Sefardi crypto-Jewish families that had been in Ireland since the 16th century. The Looney family were descended from Juan da Luna of Spain and Portugal. John Looney had been born in Waterford in 1798 where his parents Gerard Looney and Catherine Murray had moved from Youghal in Cork. The Murray family were also known as the Murzynski family before they arrived in Ireland in the 1760's with the other Frankist families.

Youghal was a centre of crypto-Jewish activity and in the 16th century two of the Mayors of Youghal had been openly Jewish from the Annyas (Ennis/ Anes) family that were Sefardi Jews from Portugal. The da Luna or Looney family intermarried with the Annyas or Ennis family. A small Jewish community of Marranos Jews was established in Cork City before 1690 and that these were members of the Commissariat of the Duke of Marlborough's army recruited by Isaac Pereyra, Commissary General of the Army in Ireland.

Ellen Looney's mother was known as Hanora or Hannah O'Connor and her Jewish name was Chana Kinnor. Chana's parents were Frankists who settled near Cork and Hanora was born in Cobh near Cork around 1811. She later lived in Fermoy with her family. Her father David Kinnor (O'Connor) had been born in the Rhineland in Germany. Kinnor means Harp in Hebrew and the Kinnor family claimed to be descended from King David. David's grandfather David Menke Kinnor was born in Poland in 1730 and moved to Germany where he was also known as David Harf. The Jewish Kinnor family may have arrived in Poland in the 17th century from Scotland. 

The Kinnear or Kinnor family in Scotland were crypto-Jews (and part of a crypto-Jewish network of families) who reverted to open Judaism in Poland. In the 12th century the Kinnor family settled in Fife at the Priory of St Andrew and Kinneir in Fife was taken from their surname. Le Kinnor in Normandy in France had been their home before coming to Scotland in the reign of King David I of Scots. Michael le Kinnor (de Kyner) was the founder of the family in Scotland and the Kinnear family were descended from his son Simon de Kyner. At this time a number of crypto-Jewish and Jewish families moved to Scotland due to trading possibilities and messianic excitement among some Jews of a new Davidic King in the north.

Hanora O'Connor's mother Mary Maher (Miriam Mayer) was born in Ireland in 1787 of a Frankist family descended from Jacob Frank the Rebbe or Tzaddik of the Frankists. Two of Hanora's brothers Michael and James became Catholic Bishops in America. 

When Ellen Looney's parents moved to England to escape the Potato Famine, Ellen decided to stay behind in Cappoquin, Waterford. However within a short time she had lost her employment and was forced to enter the workhouse in Dungarvan in Waterford County. At this time most of the farmers had to dismiss their servants due to their increasing poverty. She in 1849 as part of a group of workhouse orphan girls went to Australia and worked initially for a family in Geelong in Victoria. In 1850 at Port Fairy in Victoria she married Robert Downey who was a former convict who also came from one of the Waterford crypto-Jewish Frankist families. His father was Denis Downey (aka Dionzy Dawosky). Robert had been sent to Australia in 1837 and received his ticket of leave in 1846. He had been convicted on 16 July 1836 at Waterford.

Ellen and Robert Downey had a large family and left alot of descendants in Australia. The eldest two caused the family great heart-ache as Daniel Downey was imprisoned for being an arsonist and their daughter Susan was in and out of asylums. Robert in 1870 was tragically killed when he fell off his dray and was run over by his own cart. Ellen would remarry to another one of the crypto-Jews descended from the Ahearn family of Youghal. She had a daughter Kitty (Catherine) from this second marriage. Ellen would live until 1919 until she was about 86. On her tombstone it says she was 90, but death ages on tombstones are often incorrect.

Ellen's daughter Ellen Downey from her first marriage seems to have married another Australian-born Irishman of crypto-Jewish ancestry John Cavanagh. The surname Cavanagh coming from the Hebrew word Kevanah (meaning devotion or intensity in prayer). However by this time the Jewish customs of the family would probably have been minimal and they were totally assimilated into Irish Catholicism of their neighbours by the 20th century. The Potato famine's beginning in 1845 in Ireland no doubt played a large role in the disruption of the networks of crypto-Jewish and Frankist families.

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