If you’re lucky enough to find a family in the Irish census fragments, you will no doubt feel enormously grateful that that particular census return was preserved. And you will no doubt also realize the enormity of the loss of the nineteenth-century census returns.
What was lost?
Millions of records, covering the period from 1821 to 1891, which looked something like this:1
The name listed here is Galaher, with Dennis, age 40; his wife Ann, age 36; and their sons Patt, age 14; Mich, age 12; Dennis, age 8; and Danl, age 2:
The townland is given as Loughahunogue, in the parish of Kilmore, Co. Cavan. This is presumably the townland of Loughaconnick — a townland which contains a lake, Lough Aconnick, and which, according to the Ordnance Survey map of 1857, also contained a good deal of land that was “Liable to Floods.”2
I suspect the above census record is a listing for Denis Galligan and his wife Ann Kelly, who emigrated to Canada from the parish of Kilmore, Co. Cavan in the late 1830s to early 1840s. In addition to the four children listed above (Patrick, Michael, Denis, and Daniel), they also had Thomas (born about 1824), John (born about 1826), and Anne (born about 1827, and the only known daughter for this couple).
And here is the source which first gave me the parish of Kilmore, Co. Cavan for this family (and yes, that is snow in the background! I took this photograph about six years ago, on a cold, wintry day in January, when my father and I went to St. Michael’s to look for headstones). This is the headstone for Bridget Galligan, daughter of Patrick Galligan and Mary Cullen and granddaughter of Denis Galligan and Ann Kelly. She apparently died of complications from childbirth, two days after giving birth to my great-grandmother Bridget Loretto Killeen.
There are several Galligan/Gallaghan headstones at St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Cemetery (Corkery, Huntley, Carleton Co.), but there are also a number of Galligans who are buried there without headstones. As I’ve mentioned before, the headstones in a cemetery do not give you anything like a complete picture of who is buried there. You can fill in some of the blanks by consulting the parish registers — but for the Ottawa Valley area, many Catholic registers do not have comprehensive burial records until at least the latter half of the nineteenth century.
- 1821 Census of Ireland, County Cavan, Kilmore, Loughahunoge, house 14, Dennis Galaher household, digital image, National Archives of Ireland (http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie; accessed 28 March 2015). ↵
- OS map, Cavan, Kilmore, Loughaconnick, Sheet No. 25, map reference 2; Griffith’s Valuation (www.askaboutireland.ie). ↵