Made in Clontarf (or Tara, to be precise)

My grandma Agnes (bottom) and her sister Margaret - 1919

This photograph was taken on a farm in Benson shortly after the Thomas McMahon family had moved from Clontarf. My grandma Agnes is about six-years-old and is pictured with her older sister Margaret. The only snapshots taken of my grandma as a child are from this one day. I suspect a visitor to the farm had a camera!

Today is my grandma’s birthday. Agnes McMahon (no middle name, much to her disgust) was born in Tara Township on January 12, 1913, the sixth child of Mary Foley (Minnie from the last post) and Thomas McMahon. Minnie milked the cows in the morning, came back inside and had my grandma. Although she was only six when the McMahons left Clontarf for Benson, and twelve when the family left Swift County for good and moved to Minneapolis, my grandma’s fond memories of life on the farm stayed with her until she died.


Agnes McMahon and John Regan - 1941 - my grandparents


Without my grandma’s stories of her family, the farm, and Clontarf, I doubt I would have become so interested in the history of this little town on the prairie. (I must confess, growing up I pictured Clontarf just like Walnut Grove from Little House on the Prairie.) Nearly every story my grandma told me has “checked out”. It has been fascinating to see her tales come to life in property deeds, sacrament registers, and general store records.

Grandma was misguided on one point, which was her insistence that her Grandpa Bushey – pioneer Tara settler Francis McMahon – was a drummer boy in the Civil War. In fact, he was an enlisted man. I can’t really fault her for this because Grandpa Bushey died when my grandma was only five-years-old and he was a tiny little man with a twinkle in his eye, I am sure she could not imagine him as a soldier.

My grandma enjoyed nothing better than a good puzzle (unless it was a competitive game of cards) and she would be interested in all the little “mysteries” my mom and I have solved in the last eight years of Clontarf research. She was the all-around best person I have ever known, and in my opinion, the best Grandma ever.

And it all started in Tara…

Grandpa Bushey's Tara homestead in 2007


The folks at Archival Solutions, LLP have transcribed a couple of items of my grandma’s that I would like to share with you…stay tuned…




Filed under Birthday

2 responses to “Made in Clontarf (or Tara, to be precise)

  1. Pingback: It might not look like much… | History of Clontarf, Minnesota

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