Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The mysterious death of Tim Tormey

From the April 18, 1921 issue of The Daily Star...Tim Tormey was my great-grandmother's brother. I think I recall my dad saying that he was kind of named after Tim Tormey (Dad, is this right?) In 1921, my great-grandmother, Mary Tormey, was 25 and unmarried. Her father, Michael, had died in 1908 of pneumonia when she was 12; her brother, also named Michael, died four years later when Mary (also known as Marie) was 16. Three days after Michael died in 1912, Marie's mother, Ellen Prendergast Tormey, died of breast cancer. From what I can tell, from the stories and photos my dad has shared, Marie and her siblings, especially her sisters, were close - and who can blame them? They were all they had.

After Michael Jr. died, Tim was the only brother. In 1921, he was already married ... he had married Adelaide Finn in 1916. It seems he was a bit of a shady character, someone who liked to party and who may have owed some people money, who may have drank too much, who may have flirted with the wrong guy's wife...the official story, as you can see from the newspaper article, is that he fell down the stairs and fractured his skull. I may have a death certificate floating around somewhere,'ll have to ask my dad about that.

But the question remains - *how* did Tim Tormey fall down the stairs? It's not like he was old or infirm. Maybe he was drunk. Another theory is that maybe he was pushed during some kind of altercation. I'm not sure we'll ever know the real story. At least, not until I can ask Tim Tormey himself... ;)


  1. Yes, I was named after Tim Tormey. At least that's what I was always told. Family legend says that Tim was pushed down the front steps of his house. My dad and his brother, Babe used to tell me that Tim was a popular guy who always dressed well and had a nice car. His death certificate lists his occupation as 'mechanic'. Maybe we should do a search on his widow.

  2. Since you mentioned my Grandmother Mary Ellen, it's probably worth noting that she was the second Mary Ellen among the Tormey children. She had a sister, Mary Ellen 2 1/2, who died on March 1, 1896, and when Grandma was born on Nov. 28, 1896 she was given the name Mary Ellen. There was also a sister Bridget, 11 mos. old who died on Feb. 23, 1896. The rate of infant mortality back then was heartbreaking. I learned all this from the Tormey family headstone at Calvary Cemetery.