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Loose Ends

     On this page, I will post various pieces of information, legends, and plain old rumors that we have come across in our research.  Most of these have yet to be substantiated, and cannot yet be fit into any particular line at this time.  If you have any loose ends  you'd care to add to the page, just drop me and E-mail.

There is an undersea feature known as a"McGrail Bank" (Fathom Bank).  A  bank is an elevation, typically located on a shelf, over which the depth of water is relatively shallow but sufficient for safe surface navigation.

- In the 1920's/1930's, there was a welter-weight prize fighter in NYC by the name of "Johhny McGrail".  His mother was adamently opposed to his choice of profession, and he made her a promise that he would only fight until he won the Championship title Belt, and then retire from the sport.  This he did, to the great disappointment of his fans.  A movie was later made based upon his story, which starred James Cagney in the title role.   Years ago, in midtown Manhattan, I met an old time boxing fan who had actually seen Johhny fight, and had followed his career.  (If anyone has any info on Johhny, or has access to old boxing records, please let me know.)

- Abraham Lincoln's White House cook was Mary McGrail.  (more info needed)

-In the 1880's/ 90's in the Old West , one or more of the McGrail boys seem to have fallen afoul of the local sheriff in a big misunderstanding regarding unauthorized, gun-point, cash withdrawals from various banks and stagecoaches.  It also seems that at least one brother was feted to lodging  and accomodations for a number of years; courtesy of the State Penitentiary System.  (If anyone has any knowledge of circumstances or individuals involved, please write me.)

-There was supposedly a "McGrail Ranch" in Southern Montana, which operated under that name at least  until the 1930's/ 40's.  A woman I met in the early 1960's, when I was a kid in Denver, told me that she had been born on the ranch, and still remembered the owners; two elderly sisters and their brother.  She said that she believed that the brother's name was "Stephen", and that none of the three had married.  If this is accurate, then these McGrail's might be the children of my grand uncle Stephen McGrail, who, with my grandfather, had been cowboys in the 1880's.  Stephen remained in Montana and became a rancher, while my grandfather moved on to Chicago in the 1890's, and later to NYC. (any help on this one will get you top honors in the "McGrail Researcher's Hall of Fame"!)

-In the 1798 Uprising in Ireland, a McGrail was killed fighting with the French against the English invaders. (more info needed)

-In the 1600's , the influential MacNeill (Mag Reill) family of Armargh was threatened with imprisonment, death by immolation, and the confiscation of their lands by the English invaders, if they did not renounce their Catholicism and convert to Henry's religion.  They refused, and fought off the English until they were eventually outnumbered by enemy re-inforcements.  Seven of the MacNeill brothers gathered their families, and, with prices on their heads, fled to various parts of Ireland.
     As they relocated, they changed their names in an attempt to eluded the pursuing English.  Some escaped  to Co. Monaghan where they changed the name to "MCGRAIN", and others went to Galway and Mayo, where the name became "MCGREAL".  Two of the brothers settled in the remote mountains of Leitrim, where they took the name "MCGRAIL".
     It should be noted that all the above names-MacNeill, McGrail, McGreal, McGrain- are Anglocized linguistic varients of our original Gaelic name, "Mag Reill".  Thus, in a very clever manner, our anscestors confounded and escaped their English persecutors with their own language, while keeping their own clan identities!

-Many Thanks to Ronnie Leger ( for submitting this exciting piece of our history!

     (If anyone has access to the "McNeill Family Chronicle and Notes (1400-1900)" that are in the Records Office in Belfast, or knows of a repository in the US that might contain them, please let me know.)

-If anyone has information concerning clan members who lived through, or may have perished in the "Great Hunger" (1847-1851), please let me know.  I'm planning an addition to the "Famine Immigrants" page, and I'm interested in any stories or ancedotes about our Clan during those horrific times.

-The Richard J. McGrail Substation (Wakefield, Massachusetts)
     The Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department (WMGLD) commissioners dedicated the "Richard J. McGrail Substation", in memory of  the Chief Substation Operator and Assistant Manager, who retired in 1986.  He had been associated with WMGLD for more than 45 years, and began his career as a member of the street crew and meter reader.
     A permanent stone commemorating the event is placed at the substation, as is a picture and plaque inside the station.

-There is a  McGrail Avenue, in Niagara Falls, Canada. (who was the McGrail who was honored by the nameing of this avenue?)

-There is a McGrail St. in Las Vegas NV. off E. Owens Ave. (thanks to Mae Lynn Zimmer for this info)   Does anyone know who the McGrail was that this street was named for?
I am a civil engineer, so was my late brother Dan. Dan lived with me for
about a year in Las Vegas in 1978. He worked for a local civil engineering
firm and designed the subdivision mentioned in the question. As designer he
chose the street names, McGrail street was not really named after him
personally, he told me that it was named to honor all McGrails.
-John McGrail, Las Vagas

-There is a memorial to Robert "Whitey" McGrail  ("The South Boston Town Greeter") in Carson Beach, in South Boston.

-There is a McGrail Opera Company in Pittsburgh, Pa.

- J. McGrail  laid a gold claim in Hunker Creek, Alaska during the Great Gold Rush of 1896. (ref:

-Dr. Matthew McGrail of Altoona, Pa.,and a life-long railroad enthusiast, was one of a select group of people invited to ride the last steam powered train on the Eire Rail Road (October 5, 1950) Dr. McGrail, an Altoona native and the son of a railroader, had earned his way through medical school by firing locomotives on the Pennsylvania and
around the Altoona's famous Horseshoe Curve.
     The scene is repeated nearly five years later on May 3, 1955 when the last B & 0 Railroad steam locomotive passed into history. Dr. McGrail was also on board for that
last run as well.  (

-The NYC obituary of Irish Nationalist leader James McGrale, from "The Irish American" newspaper, dated March 3, 1888.

(many thanks to John Blest, editor of "Drumkeeranfolk"e-group and newsletter for contributing this article)

The following is a very sanitized description of the gangs of english storm troopers who rampaged and terrorized their way through Ireland during a two year period in the early 1920's.  The atrocities they commited upon our families rank among the most dispicable acts in history.
     As a child, my father told me how this pack of degenerate butchers merrily sang "Marching to Pretoria" as they proceed from village to village; torturing, murdering, and destroying the property and lives of  the innocents.  The murderous pigs of the "Black and Tan Regiment" were, in fact, recruited from england's  prisions and slums .  It's little wonder that so many of our immigrant anscestors were reluctant to speak of their former lives in Ireland.  My own grandfather would only tell his children that "times were very bad over there...."
     If Hell has a national anthem, it's sure to be "Marching to Pretoria".

BLACK AND TANS- members of an auxiliary force of constabulary serving in Ireland during the disturbances of 1920-21, so called from the colors of their uniform. They were recruited in England from unemployed veterans of World War I to carry on a ruthless campaign of counter-terrorism against Irish revolutionaries. Inadvertently, however, the Black and Tans actually aided the cause of Irish independence by uniting the general population of southern Ireland against British rule. Their tactics also aroused public opinion throughout England, thus influencing the British government to grant dominion status to the Irish Free State in 1921.


Seven years before the last day, the sea shall submerge Eirin  in
one inundation.

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