The Moran Clan Reunites in Brooklyn

The Moran reunion in Brooklyn

By Marian Betancourt, ContributorDecember / January 2010

They came from as far as Luxembourg and as near as a few blocks for a reunion and bus tour of the Brooklyn neighborhoods where their ancestors had lived, beginning with 107 Pioneer Street (now Warren Street) in Red Hook where Michael Moran (1834-1906) lived when he founded Moran Towing in New York harbor more than 150 years ago. Everyone received a lapel sticker with the family crest, three golden stars under the word Moran, and a printout of more than a dozen homes of Morans past provided by Diana Moran Charbier, a great-granddaughter of Michael. Her husband William served as tour guide.

Several of the 17 Morans present this fine September day were descended from Michael’s third son, Eugene (1873-1961), a maritime oracle who became known as The Dean of the Harbor during his long career running the company and apparently New York City as well. (He prevented Robert Moses from putting a bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn rather than the tunnel we now have.)

Some cousins have kept in touch over the years, but a few were meeting for the first time. Edmund “Ned” Moran, a grandson of Eugene’s brother Thomas, said of his Luxembourg cousin W. Dirk Warren, “I never saw him before today.” Ned, by the way, is the only Moran who still works for Moran Towing, which was sold out of the family in the 1990s.

The lone tug man, Captain John Cray, sporting a handlebar mustache, flew down from Portland, Maine for the day. Cray’s grandmother was Eugene’s sister Agnes Moran (1874-1939). Cray began working for Moran’s East Coast operations and later left to become a pilot on his own and a consultant on tug or piloting operations. Ned told the others how Cray helped settle the tug strikes of the 1980s. “If he had not done that the company would have been very different in the last 40 years.” Another grandson of Agnes, Mike Bellford from Long Island, was also present.

Eugene Dwyer from Virginia handed out a printed Moran genealogy, while his brother Tom from Connecticut offered a map of south Brooklyn with Moran homes noted. Their sister Doris, a Daughter of Charity, has lived in Texas for 38 years. When the Dwyers’ father Thomas married Eugenia Moran in 1930, it connected two Irish families that had been in the maritime trade since the days of the Erie Canal.

Peter Moran, another grandson of Eugene, moved to Maine after a career in finance and service on the board of Moran Towing before it was sold. His siblings, Mike and Marie, were also on hand with their MBMs (Morans by Marriage).

There was much reminiscing on the bus tour. Tom pointed out the house on Third Street where he was born, while his brother Gene got up to photograph each house. Passing Methodist Hospital, Nick Moran, a great-grandson of Eugene’s brother Thomas, said his son, now 8 and a sixth-generation Moran, was born there. Ned, of the third generation, said he was born there, too, but many years earlier.

Passing the entrance to 47 Plaza Street near Prospect Park, Dirk recalled his boyhood visits with his grandfather Eugene. As sponsor of the day’s event, Dirk was nattily dressed in a gray suit with a blue and pink brocade vest and striped tie, perhaps a sartorial inheritance from his grandfather, who was described as “The Elegant Tugman” by a New Yorker magazine writer. Dirk served in Europe during World War II and fell in love with Elz, which is why he lives in Luxembourg. Now he is Luxembourg’s consul to the principality of Lichtenstein. Elz and their daughter Beryl joined him for the reunion.

The mystery of where in Ireland Michael Moran came from is still unsolved. His children understood him to say Killara, but there is no such place. Assuming his brogue was to blame, they investigated Killare in Westmeath, but no stone masons came from there and Michael’s father was a stone mason. Several of the Morans have been to Ireland and believe their ancestor came from somewhere in Westmeath. Perhaps one day there will be a reunion over there.

Most of the Morans had left Brooklyn behind by 1945, but composer and guitarist Nick Moran moved into the Prospect Park area by chance. He did not realize until Diana contacted him about the reunion how many of his ancestors had lived in the neighborhood. The bus dropped the Morans at the 1888 landmark Montauk Club in Park Slope, where all posed for a group photograph before sitting down to lunch.They also peered at a large 1939 framed photo in the club of the duck pins bowling club reunion with Eugene and his brothers’ front and center.

“Seventy years ago,” someone pointed out, “earlier Morans were upstairs having Bloody Marys.”

11 Responses to “The Moran Clan Reunites in Brooklyn”

  1. FERGAL KEANE says:

    Perhaps it’s killala in Co.Mayo in Ireland.

  2. charline lindberg says:

    I am trying to trace my ancestry and my great grandmother was Mary Moran from Red Hook. All I know is that is had a brother Thomas and had relatives in the glass blowing trade. She was married 3 times with Kearns as second husband and John Waite as third. Do you know if we are related>

  3. Dorothy Mac Gabhann says:

    Was there any man by name of Smith from Valentia Island, Kerry Ireland related to to the Moran’s?

  4. Diane Adams Ferguson says:

    Would love to get in touch with Gene Moran, a student at LaSalle Military Academy, Long Island in the 1950s to reminisce about Old Chatham.

  5. Cathy Reydel says:

    Did Peter Moran marry a women named Butler ?
    My Morher in Law was Patricia Moran and Peter was her Dad. Not many of the family are left but I heard they were part of the Moran Dregging in Jamaica Bay ?
    Is there any information on this. ?
    Cathy Butler Reydel.

  6. Maureen Moore says:

    Is there a Mary Jane Moran in your family tree.she was married to Charles McCaslin. They lived in Brooklyn But were possibly from Ireland. Possibly some stone masons. In the family background.
    Thank you for any info, this is a family mystery. Maureen

    • Cathy Reydel says:

      Hey Maureen,
      How’s things ?
      Funny you wrote about the Moran’s of Brooklyn.
      My husbands family is Moran and Butler. Hope we are not related. Hehe. They had a link to the Moran Tugs and dreading at one time. Story had it that Great Grandma dredged upstate and the collapse a bridge. There went their piece of the pie. Could be family folk lore, Irish white lies.
      Good seeing your name.
      Hugs Cathy.

  7. kevin mallon says:

    I worked with a Tim Moran for the tug boat family in the late 1970’s in forex i would only like to say hi

  8. Ellen Mifflin Flaharty says:

    Would love to hear from Ted Moran who was student of mine at Darien High School in the early 1960s. Remember The Matchmaker?
    Mif Flaharty

    • Ned Moran says:

      I’m just reading this now.
      I’m your student and you were the director. I remember you well as Miss Mifflin. Nice to hear from you. Hope your safe and well.

  9. B. J. Heim says:

    My ancestor Owen Moran and Peter Reilly first settled in
    Brooklyn beginning in the 1840s. Some of the clans
    went to Haverstraw and “hit the bricks”, literally killed
    in a fall as he labored in the clay brick industry.
    “Fats” Reilly was my uncle in the late 1900s.

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