You might think, like the writer naively assumed, that tracing records for a man with a relatively unusual name like John Foy would be simple. But the name wasn’t at all rare and, without a released Military Pension file for John, it was an interesting brain-teaser.Anyway, it turns out this Custom House man was a true-blue northside Dub, born at the turn of the last century. John’s parents were Galway folk. Speaking of uncommon names, his mam’s original surname appears in old records as Guinnessy (correct), Gainessy, Gunning and even Geraghty. It seems to have depended on how various clerks in Dublin’s registry office interpreted how a lady from the ‘Wesht’ said her surname; and how modern transcribers read their handwriting ...

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