December 10, 2013

A History Of One Irish Family In Noe Valley

We've received some great photos and stories in response to the announcement of Horner's Corner Bar, and have put people in touch with Ivor Bradley so he can share their history. We had asked him how he plans to balance the current tech culture with the heritage of "old Noe" being a haven for working class Irish and German families. It's a tricky proposition, and judging by the comments not everyone will be happy.

But hope also springs eternal. Longtime resident Jim Lynch sent a history of his family in San Francisco reminding us that Noe Valley isn't all Google Buses, double-wide strollers and Whole Foods parking lot drama.

Here's Jim's story, posted with his permission: 
Like Mr Bradley, I had 2 grand uncles (Michael & John Lynch) who came to Noe Valley from Gort, County Galway in 1907. Michael Lynch started a general contracting business (M.J. Lynch Construction) and his first jobs were concrete sidewalks. As was the custom, he would place his stamp in his work. Though they are getting scarcer due to ADA curb ramps and re-construction, they can still be found in the Noe Valley, and throughout the city. This is the oldest that I have found (in the Bernal at Aztec & Coso) but I have pictures of newer, more professional ones from the 1930's. Uncles Mike and John lived at 26th & Guerrero for decades. My grand uncles were bachelors well into their sixties. However, MJ married at age 67 to his girlfriend of 17 years, the daughter of a former member of the S.F. Board of Supervisors (1919 - 1930) - Charlie Powers, also a contractor, who lived at 26th and Church. Mike & Dorothy re-located to 20th & Noe.

My father and uncle came to SF in 1949 and also lived at 26th & Guerrero. Like many other Irish immigrants they went to work for M.J. Lynch. My uncle Paul owned an Irish bar (The Skyscraper) at 24th & Mission in the early 1960s. My dad met my mom (from County Leitrim) in S.F. They married in 1955 and raised their family in the Noe Valley until they died. My family currently lives on Duncan Street. So the Lynch family has been in Noe Valley since 1907.

We lived at Vicksburg & Elizabeth in the early 1960's and my Dad and other locals would meet at Noe's, but then it was called Doyle's (named after the owner at the time). My family knew the Forde's well, and like them, my sister (1), and brothers (3) grew up in the Noe, attended St. Paul's or St. Philip's. We worked in the Noe at Mitchell's Ice Cream, the original 24th Street Bell Market, and delivered the local newspapers. I retired from SFPD after 31 years in 2010, and 2 of my brothers are currently officers in the department.

I know a picture of concrete is unusual, but as they say every picture tells a story. This one is about Irish immigration to the Noe Valley in the last century, and a family fond of a great neighborhood. Many Irish Fled to the Sunset in the 50s and 60s, but some like the Fordes and the Lynches, knew a good thing, and stayed!

I wish Mr. Bradley and Dave (who always stops to treat my wheaten terrier - Mulligan) all the best on their new venture.


Jim Lynch


Anonymous said...

Fascinating history. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Jim, it is the Noe Valley not the Noe. 26th and Guerrero is the Mission.( St. James Parish) I think you have a sister a R.N. and a brother who is in the construction industry like his father and great uncle.

Anonymous said...

^^ Rude.

Unknown said...

The Corry family from St.Philip St.Pauls also had Great uncles that came and lived on Castro and Army in the early teen years. Mike,Ned and Simon Corry were there nephews and Kate Murphy Corry.

lodgeroad said...

Great history, Jim. I must get in touch with you as we played many a day in the streets at Vicksburg and Elizabeth, and then some at your family place on Diamond, then on Jersey. Your mom, dad, sister and brothers were all special to me. I just stumbled across your blog/history today in serendipity. Oh, and yeah, you got me into 20 years of Irish dance with you and Marie quitting after only 6 months!-your red headed neighbor

Unknown said...

I the granddaughter of Mike Corry. What a neat article, thanks