Select Lennon Miscellany



Here are some Lennon stories and accounts over the years:

Lennan to Lennon in County Louth

The Dun Laoghaire Genealogical Society Journal, the winter 1999 edition, studied the records of the townland of Dowdallshill in county Louth.  

The first source investigated was Catholic burial records between 1790 and 1802.  Here there were three Lennans and one Lannan.  Freeholders in 1822 showed six Lennans.  The Tithe Applotment records of 1833 showed four Lennons.  The Roden Estate tenant list of 1839 showed one Lennan and six Lennons, while Griffith's Valuation of 1854 showed eight Lennons and the 1901 Census again eight Lennons.

It should be noted that there were still many illiterate people in Ireland at this time who simply marked an "X" against their given name.



Lennons and Other Name Variants in the 19th Century

By the mid 19th century, the Lennon spelling had increased at the expense of Lannon and other regional variants.  One source has Lennon at 71 percent, Lennan at 16 percent, and others the remaining 13 percent.

Griffiths Valuation in 1850 had the following breakdown:

Surname
Percent
Lennon
  61
Lennan
  14
Lannan
  12
Other variants
  13

The following was the Lennon distribution by county there:

County
Percent
Armagh
  14     
Down
  12
Louth
  10
Roscommon    
   9
Dublin
   7
Longford
   6
Westmeath
   5
Elsewhere
  37

Lennans were mainly found in county Monaghan, Lannans in county Kilkenny.



The Lennon Homecoming in Drum, Roscommon

The parish of Drum, located on the outskirts of Athlone in county Roscommon, is the present day home to 36 Lennon families and the ancestral home of countess other Lennon families throughout the world. The Drum Heritage Group consequently decided to organize a Lennon Homecoming over the weekend of June 20, 2003. The program included visits to the Lennon homesteads and local historical sites, plenty of Irish entertainment, a Mass in the grounds of the Drum monastic site, all followed by a baseball game. 

The baseball game commemorated the centenary of the victory by the Lennon family team of Joliet, Illinois over the White family team of Hammond, Indiana by a score of 18 runs to one.  The Joliet Herald News proclaimed the Lennon team “the champion baseball team of brothers in the world.”  The father of the team, along with his mother and eight siblings, had left Drum for the US in the aftermath of the famine.



Lennons to Argentina

Edward Lennon had been born in Westmeath in 1819.  In 1842 at the age of 23 he departed with his family on the Countess of Durham for Buenos Aires in Argentina.  He could still recall in later life vivid details of the voyage and of old Captain Miller and his thirteen fellow passengers. 

Edward made money in the tanning and salt industry and this enabled him to become a substantial landholder in the cattle ranching area north of Buenos Aires.  His brother Patrick joined him from Ireland in 1862.  In time Edward became Eduard and his son John Don Juan as the family became more Spanish in its outlook. Eduard died on his property in 1890. 

Edward was a pioneer but not the first Lennon from Ireland in Argentina.  William Lennon had arrived in Buenos Aires in 1835 and died there twenty years later.



Lennons via America and Peru to Australia

Two Lennon families left Ireland during the famine years for America and eventually made it to Australia. Something is known about these Lennons in Ireland, more about their life in Australia, but what lies in the middle remains very much a mystery.  The families are said to have left Ireland in 1847, had trouble on the voyage, ending up on the Rimac river near Callao in Peru where (according to the family stories) there was a death in the family.  They eventually arrived in Sydney, Australia sometime around 1856. 

The line in Ireland started with Bernard and Sarah Lennon in Aughenore, county Armagh in the early 1800’s.  It was their sons Patrick and James who emigrated and James’s wife Ann who supposedly died in Peru.  Patrick and James moved to the Northern Tablelands in NSW, Australia where they raised their families.  Patrick died there in 1882 and James a year later in 1883.



Bill Lennon and the Lennon Sisters

In 1955 the Lennons were a tight-knit Catholic family living in a small two-bedroom house in Venice, California with their milkman Dad and housewife Mom.  When Larry Welk Jr. caught his classmate Dianne Lennon singing at an Elks Club party, he arranged for her and her sisters to sing for his famous father, Lawrence Welk.  Welk loved the girls and hired them for his new TV show on ABC. 

They made their debut on Welk’s Christmas Eve show at the Hollywood Palladium, singing the popular tune He about the Heavenly Father.  With their angelic faces and tight harmonies, the Lennon girls sold the lyrics.  From that moment, Dianne (aged 16), Peggy (aged 14), Kathy (aged 12) and Janet (aged 9) were TV stars.  They appeared on The Lawrence Welk Show each Saturday night for the next thirteen years.  To TV audiences, bandleader and host Lawrence Welk was the Lennons' beaming father figure.  Their real father Bill Lennon was always watching from the wings and acting as their manager. 

The Lennon sisters could not stay young and innocent forever.  By the 1960’s they started marrying and having babies.  And Peggy Lennon began to attract the unwelcome attentions of an infatuated fan, Chet Young.  On August 12, 1969, he accosted her father in the parking lot of the Venice golf course.   Witnesses saw Young pull a rifle from a sack and fire at Lennon’s back, wounding him.  Lennon crawled to a corner of the fence and slumped against a telephone pole.  Young then ran up and put the gun to Lennon’s temple and fired.  He ran across the street to another parking lot, threw the gun in the trunk, and jumped into his car and fled. 

When Bill Lennon was murdered, his wife of 30 years Isabelle still had seven children living at home under the age of 18.  Kathy Lennon told an interviewer: “We looked at Mom and she was just this rock who said ‘And we go on’.”  They did.  The Lennon Sisters proceeded with their Variety show commitment, but quit after one season.





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