Sorting through Ryans in Renfrew County is an exercise in patience and perseverance. Ryan is, in Carol McCuaig’s words, “one of the most popular surnames” in the county.1
When one Ryan marries another (let’s hope reasonably distant if not completely unrelated!) Ryan, the opportunity for confusion is multiplied to the nth degree of Ryan.
For example, on 16 June 1884, Stephen Ryan married Hannah Ryan at St. James the Less, Eganville. Stephen was the son of John Ryan and Sarah Gallagher, and the widower of Ellen Behan (who had died “in childbed” a year earlier, on 14 June 1883). Hannah was the daughter of Michael Ryan and Bridget Lahey. The witnesses to the marriage of Stephen Ryan and Hannah Ryan were Jeremiah Ryan and Bridget Harrington, whose mother was a Ryan (Margaret Ryan, older sister of Hannah, and wife of Cornelius Harrington).
That’s a lot of Ryans.
1 Carol Bennett McCuaig, The Kerry Chain, the Limerick Link (Juniper Books Ltd: 2003), p. 134.