Doran and Hermon Families of Belfast, Ireland

The Hermon brothers during World War One, with their sister, Sarah Hermon Doran. Photgraph curtesy of Phil Doig. Copyright 2016
The Hermon brothers during World War One, with their sister, Sarah Hermon Doran. wearing her late husband’s uniform –  Arthur Patrick Doran. Photograph cutesy of Phil Doig. Copyright 2016.

Today I’m honoring the Hermon and Doran families of Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. For over a year my sister, Veronica, and I have been researching this family. We were first contacted by James Doran, of the Province of Ontario, Canada, about his grandfather, Arthur Patrick Doran, who had been born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 24 February 1884. He knew that his grandfather had died during World War One in France, on the 27th of August 1914. He remembered his beloved granny Sarah Hermon Doran Gates very well. She had died in Toronto, Canada in 1970. As we researched together, we found that his grandfather had married Sarah Hermon on the 12th of September 1909 at St. Michael’s Church of Ireland, in Belfast. After Sarah’s husband, Arthur, died during WWI, she later married Charles Henry Gates on 7 October 1919 at York, Ontario, Canada.  With more research it seems that if our two Doran families are related, it is back a few generations in Ireland. Arthur Patrick Doran does have a marked resemblance to our father, and our Doran family.

Arthur Patrick Doran Family, taken in Belfast, Ireland, circa 1911. Photograph courtesy of James Doran.
Arthur Patrick Doran Family, Belfast, Ireland, circa 1911. Photograph courtesy of James Doran.

This January we were contacted again by a member of this family, Phil Doig of the Province of Ontario. He shared memories, and amazing photographs of the family, including the one of Sarah and her brothers. He said he loved a good family mystery, and hoped to find out more about his family tree and ancestors. When I asked if he would like for me to share his email with James Doran, he quickly agreed. It turned out they lived very close to each other, and they had also met over 55 years ago at their granny’s house! They quickly arranged a get-together.  Here at Genealogy Sisters we love to see ancestry success stories.

Thought to be Arthur and Sarah Doran. Photograph from Phil Doig.
Thought to be Arthur and Sarah Doran in Belfast, Ireland. Photograph from Phil Doig.

When doing family research, there is an approach called FAN, for friends, associates, and neighbors for searching records.  This is a type of cluster genealogy. Looking at Arthur Patrick Doran’s birth/baptism record at Roots Ireland his parents, Patrick and Mary Ohagan Doran, lived at 38 Servia Street in Belfast in 1884.  When  my great-uncle, Joseph Doran, was born in 1895, our Doran family was living at 36 Servia Street. This, and the fact that the two families share names like Joseph, John, and James Doran, help us to keep researching the Patrick Doran family.  If we are not kinfolk, by now we really feel like kindred souls! Hopefully we will come across new records about our family by doing this cluster researching.

Sarah Hermon was born March 1890 in Lisburn, County Antrim. Her siblings were: Lucinda, William, James, Robert, Charles, and Leonard. Her parents, Robert Hermon and Mary McCreedy, had married on 13 Joly 1885, at the Lisburn Cathedral, Church of Ireland, County Antrim.  Robert Hermon was 27, and his occupation was listed as Dryer. His father was Robert Hermon, and his occupation was Fireman.  Mary McCreedy was listed as Full Age (Over 21), and her father was Joseph McCreedy. His occupation was Bleacher. They both lived on Low Road in Lisburn [Source: Ulster Historical Foundation].

Mary McCreedy Hermon - "Gramma Hermon" photo from Phil Doig.
Mary McCreedy Hermon (1866-1953) – “Gramma Hermon”. Photo from Phil Doig.

During the 1901 Irish Census the family was living on Back Lane, in Lisburn, County Antrim, and they belonged to the Church of Ireland. During the 1911 Irish Census the family was living on Cupar Street, in the Falls Ward of Belfast, but Robert Hermon wasn’t listed.  Sarah’s mother, Mary Hermon, was listed with her children; James, Robert, Charles, Leonard, Sarah Doran, her son-in-law, Arthur Doran, and her grandson Arthur James Doran, listed as Robert James Doran. Arthur James Doran was only one day old [Source:

Sarah and Arthur Doran, taken in Blefast, Northern Ireland.  Phtof from Phil Doig.
Sarah and Arthur Doran, taken in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Photo from Phil Doig.
Written on back of photo of Sarah and ARthur Doran.
Written on back of photo of Sarah and Arthur Doran.

Arthur Patrick Doran’s parents were Patrick and Minnie Ohagen Doran. His siblings were: Margaret, Charles Gerard, Henry O’Hagen, James McCann, Joseph, Robert Emmett, and John Doran. During the 1901 Irish Census they were living at 22 Lucknaw Street (misprint for Lucknow Street), in the Falls Ward, of Belfast, in County Antrim.  They were listed without their father, Patrick Doran. They were Roman Catholics. Arthur Patrick Doran was 17 years old, and his occupation was Clerk – Drapery. By the time of his marriage to Sarah Hermon in 1909 he had become a Butcher.  At the time of his death, he was listed as Corporal Arthur Doran of B Company of the Royal Irish Rifles, leaving a wife and son, at 12 Merkland Street, in the newspaper, Belfast Evening Telegraph, September 1914 [Source:

Thought to be Arthur and Sarah Doran, in the front, and taken in Belfast. Photograph from Phil Doig.
Thought to be Arthur and Sarah Doran, in the front, and taken in Belfast. Photograph from Phil Doig.

His grandson, James Doran, shared with us an excerpt from the book, Belfast Boys: How Unionists and Nationalists Fought and Died Together in the First World War, by Richard S. Grayson, and published in 2009.  From page 25,

“Although the 2nd Inniskillings had suffered the first West Belfast fatalities, theirs had not been the first news of fatalities to reach home. The first to make the newspapers was Corporal Arthur Doran of the 2nd RIRifles, a resident of Merkland Street. Like many volunteers he was a political activist. Although a member of the Church of Ireland, his politics were nationalist and he had stood in local elections. As a trade unionist he was secretary of the Irish Operative Butchers’ and Fleshers’ Association and an active member of the Independent Labour Party. A memoriam notice placed in the Belfast Evening Telegraph by the Belfast City ILP paid tribute to ‘Comrade Corporal Arthur Doran’.

The Hermon and Doran families continued to live on Merkland Street in West Belfast after Arthur Patrick Doran’s death, until most family members emigrated to Canada or the United States. Sarah’s brother, Robert Hermon (shown in the top photograph), died in Belfast in 1924, from complications of war injuries, and was buried at the Belfast City Cemetery. In July of 1920, Arthur J. Doran, age 8, came with his grandmother, Mary Hermon, age 50, to Ontario, Canada.

Copy of ArthurDoran1920
Source: UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960,, record accessed 24 January 2016.

Here’s another beautiful photo of mother and son below.

Sarah and Arthur Doran. Photograph from Phil Doig.
Sarah and her son, Arthur Doran – 1917. Photograph from Phil Doig.

SarahArtieDoranDI really loved the back of the photo, with Sarah’s sweet note, written in 1917. Sarah’s son, Arthur James Doran, died on the 11th of December 1968 in Ontario, Canada, leaving his bereaved widow and children.  Sarah Hermon Doran Gates also had four more children from her marriage to Charles Henry Gates. Her grandchildren remember her as a kind and fun granny, and they loved to visit with her.

Sarah Hermon Doran Gates (1890-1970). Photograph from Phil Doig.
“This one is for our May.” – 1917 – Sarah Hermon Doran Gates (1890-1970). Photo from Phil Doig.

Many thanks to James and Phil for sharing photographs and family stories of their beloved grandmother, and family. My sister and I also need to thank two other researchers, Eileen and Margaret, for their help.  For more information on our Doran families please visit our webpage at Genealogy Sisters.  Good luck doing your family research!

Copyright 2016 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

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