Background Information

Anne Joyce [my great-grandfather, Coleman Joyce’s sister] was born 1 August of 1891 in Lettermore, Oughterard, Galway, Ireland. She left Ireland and arrived in Boston, MA in 1911 aboard the Ivernia to see her sister Mary (Joyce) Keady.

Annie Joyce married Coleman Kelly on 25 January 1914 in Boston. On Coleman Kelly’s WWI Draft Registration Card it said he was married with two children. I was able to track Coleman Kelly via city directories through 1918, but then he fell off the grid. My theory was that Coleman Kelly died prior to the 1920 United States Federal Census and Annie either re-married or left Boston. About three months later I found a death record for Coleman Kelly who died 22 September 1918 of Spanish Influenza which confirmed my theory – but what happened to Annie and the two children?

A Surprise Cousin
A while back I met a new cousin named Sheri who turned out to be Annie (Joyce) Kelly’s great-granddaughter. She was able to fill in some gaps in Annie’s story, but it left us with more questions. Annie Joyce and Coleman Kelly actually had three children: Mary Margaret b. 1914, Catherine Anna b. 1916, and Rita V b. 1918. After Coleman Kelly died of the Spanish Influenza, Annie (Joyce) Kelly returned to her birthplace (Lettermore, Oughterard, Galway, Ireland) with her sister-in-law and three children. That was when the trail went cold again.

Summary of a Murder Mystery
I was contacted a while ago by an Irish researcher[1] who is writing an academic book on decision-making in Ireland in death penalty cases and I was not prepared for the story he told me. Annie (Joyce) Kelly did go back to Ireland with her three children where she met and married a Daniel “Sunny Dan” Walsh in the summer of 1919 after only a short period of time after she met him.

She would have three more children with “Sunny Dan”: Donal b. 1922, Thomas b. 1924, and Annie b. 1926. According to the Irish researcher Annie “formed a relationship” with her second cousin Martin Joyce and on 30 May 1928 “Sunny Dan” Walsh was found dead in a shallow stream some distance from the Walsh Cottage.

Initially it was ruled an accident however, rumors started flying and with pressure from Dan Walsh’s relatives the case was re-opened and led to different results then the initial investigation.

Martin Joyce, Annie’s second cousin was charged with murder and Annie (Joyce) Kelly Walsh was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. The two of them were convicted in June 1928 after a trial in which her three children by Coleman Kelly were the primary witnesses.

The two of them were sentenced to death but on appeal the sentence was changed to prison time. They were both released on different dates in 1936 and returned to Ros Muc [where Thomas Joyce, Annie’s father was born]. It is unknown who Martin Joyce’s parents are. Annie served 6 years and 7 months and Martin served 7 years and 5 months for the murder. The trial was covered by the Irish Times Newspaper and an Irish Researcher was kind enough to send me the twelve articles covering the trial through the change in sentence.

One Last Mystery

The Irish Researcher, Sheri, and I are left with one more question. What happened to the children that Annie had with “Sunny Dan” Walsh? They seemed to have disappeared after Annie was arrested.

I have contacted some Irishmen that live in Ros Muc, but no one will talk about the scandal. I have found through my research that the Irish do not like to talk about bad things that happened in the past. Hopefully someday we will find the answer we are looking for. Until then this is where the story ends.

[1] At this time the Irish researcher requested to be anonymous until he is finished with his book

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