Irish Records

Tithe Applotment Books Online: Location Errors

Cavan is Not Mayo

duty_callsIt’s wonderful to have online access to The Tithe Applotment Books, but there are some issues. The problems are described by Dr. Paul MacCotter, in a post that carries the rather ominous title “The Tithe Applotment Books Online: a health warning,” and are also addressed by John Grenham (“Problems with the Tithe Books”).

I have to agree with Grenham that “mistranscriptions are the price we have to pay for the convenience of researching online.” Whether it’s the Irish Tithe Applotment Books, the U.S. federal census returns, or the Ontario civil registration records, there will be transcription errors. And the National Archives does provide an online “Report errrors in transcription” function for names (for surnames and forenames, that is, not for place-names).

But the misplacing of townland entries, or, in this case, of an entire parish, strikes me as a more serious issue.

If you go to Browse the County of Cavan, you are presented with a list of Parishes in Cavan. You will not find the parish of Kilmore in this list, and that is because the townland entries for the parish of Kilmore, Co. Cavan have been mistakenly indexed as townlands for the parish of Kilmore, Co. Mayo (which county does have its own parish of Kilmore).

Here is a listing for Denis (here “Dens”) Galligan, townland of Lougharonog, parish of Kilmore, County of Mayo (which should be County of Cavan):

galligan denis tithe applotment listing

And here is the page to which the above listing links:

galligan denis tithe applotment book

So this is not good. But it’s not even as bad as it could be. In this case, we clearly see “PARISH OF KILMORE, DIOCESE OF KILMORE, AND COUNTY OF CAVAN” across the top of the two pages. But many of the books do not have that sort of heading at the top, do not have any identification of the county or the parish on the individual pages, so that, if a townland has been misplaced, the error may not be obvious to the family history researcher.

The National Archives has a notice about location errors:

Errors with regard to location of parishes in counties will also be rectified as soon as possible. Notification of these can be emailed to tab@nationalarchives.ie

So I sent them an email about the Kilmore confusion. Which is why I now feel like a geek in front of a computer who can’t go to bed because someone is wrong on the Internet. (But I do think it’s worth an email to point out such an egregious error, in the hope that someone might make the correction).

Irish Census: What Was Lost

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

Household of Dennis Galaher, 1821 Ireland Census

Household of Denis Galaher, 1821 Ireland Census

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:

galaher denis 1821 census inset

galligan griffithsmap loughaconnick

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).

galligan bridget headstone

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.

  1.  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).
  2. OS map, Cavan, Kilmore, Loughaconnick, Sheet No. 25, map reference 2; Griffith’s Valuation (www.askaboutireland.ie).

Marriage of Edmund Conroy and Margo Jemmison

book cover areyoumymotherIf, as promised in December 2014, the National Library of Ireland launches a website with digitized images of its Roman Catholic parish register microfilms, this will be a game changer for Irish genealogy and family history research.1 As John Grenham puts it:

These records are – by a long way – the single most important source of historical Irish family information, one of the greatest legacies of the Catholic Church to Ireland.

The idea that someone in Ottawa or Boston (or anywhere in the world, really) will now have free, online access to a set of records (the single most important set of records for Irish genealogy, given the loss of the 19th-century census records) that, until recently, had seemed to lie hidden inside an Irish family history mysterium … well, this is a great idea, is it not?

To be sure, there will be challenges. Many of the records are in Latin, with seemingly bizarre latinized renderings of Irish forenames (Diarmuid [anglicized as Dermot] becomes Jeremiah; Sheila becomes Cecilia; and so on). Pages torn or ripped out just at the point where you think your great-great-grandmother’s marriage record might be. Cramped, spidery writing, with ink splotches all over the page. These records will not present themselves to Irish family history researchers as something warm and friendly, easy-going and easy to use.

They will not be “user-friendly,” I suspect (they will not be indexed by name, for example).

And yet. And yet. Make no mistake: this is a game changer. For anyone who cares to slog through page after page of sometimes poorly-photographed images of sometimes indecipherable handwriting, this is it: this is the key that unlocks the door to the Irish family history mysterium.

And the records will no doubt be crowd-sourced: before too long after their release (not overnight, but sooner than you might expect), we will see local genealogy societies coming out with indexes; we will see random people on the Internet offering their own transcriptions of the records for this parish or that. (And caveat emptor, needless to say.)

Transcriptions are Good, but …

… they’re not as good as the originals.

The thing is, I just don’t entirely trust somebody else’s transcription of an original record. I want to see the original (or a photograph of the original) for myself, and make my own interpretation, and draw my own conclusions. And just as importantly, I want to view the record in context, which means I want see the surrounding records. I want access to la vraie chose, in other words.

Do I sound too demanding (I want this, and I’d also like that)? I guess online access to the digitized Drouin records (Catholic parish registers for the province of Québec and for parts of the province of Ontario) has spoiled me, has raised my expectations for online access to (photographs of) the original records. By the way, the Drouin records are available at FamilySearch, and also at Ancestry.ca.

I used to complain about RootsIreland.ie (Irish Family History Foundation) because their former pay-per-view system was simply too expensive. In fact, there was a period a few years ago when I actually banned myself from visiting their site, because the temptation to spend more money on more views was too overwhelming. I mean, it was a bit ridiculous: how much money are you willing to spend in pursuit of a Patrick Ryan, a man with one of the ten most common surnames in Ireland, and with one of the most common male forenames too? Well, too much money, in my case, whenever I visited that site. And so I banned myself.

I no longer complain about RootsIreland, now that they have 1). replaced the pay-per-view system with a subscription service; and 2). added RC parish records from the Catholic Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly (and hello, Patrick Ryan: no, not those other Patrick Ryans, the Patrick Ryan that I was actually looking for). I now find RootsIreland to be an incredibly useful site.

So this isn’t a complaint, exactly. It’s just that what you get at Rootsireland are somebody else’s transcriptions, and transcriptions are not as good as the originals.

Are You my 3x-Great-Grandmother?

conroy edmond jameson marg 1may1815 mountmellick queensAs I’ve mentioned before, the family lore surrounding my 3x-great-grandparents James Moran and Margaret Jamieson strikes me as so romantic, so improbable, that I often refer to the story of their elopement to Canada as “the Ballad of James and Margaret.”

And it’s a great story: a young lady of quality (of “the Quality,” as they called it at the time) falls in love with the coachman, a handsome young rogue of a fellow, who is working for her family. And because her family would never agree to the match, the two young star-crossed lovers determine to elope to Upper Canada.

Well, of course I am sceptical. As I have also already mentioned before, if you grew up as the descendant of Irish emigrants, you will no doubt have grown up hearing all sorts of nonsense about how we were once the Kings and Queens of Ireland. And then you look into the records, and discover that we were once the agrarian underclass of County Tipperary!

But for all my scepticism, I have never been inclined to dismiss outright the oral family history claim that, before she married James Moran, the young Margaret Jamieson had married a man by the name of Conroy, in the Queen’s County (Co. Laois).

Which is why the record above (a transcription of an actual record) is of interest to me. The county fits; the date fits; and the names (more or less) also fit (“Margo”? I’d like to know how many “Margos” were running about Queen’s County ca. 1815: I suspect not too many, though there must have been a lot of “Margarets”).

Is this Margo Jemisson my Margaret Jamieson? Well, she might be, but then again, she might not be, I just don’t know. The only way to possibly crack this nut is to dig deep into the parish registers, and to view all relevant surrounding records in context.

Which is why I am so looking forward to the NLI’s release of the digitized images of its Roman Catholic parish registers. I want the key that unlocks the door to the Irish family history mysterium.

  1.  And I shouldn’t say if, I should say when (the NLI’s Parish Registers Digitisation Project is currently scheduled to launch “by summer 2015″): it’s just that this project is so monumentally awesome that I still can’t quite believe they will pull it off.

From Ireland to New Jersey (and Back Again): Free Talk

I doubt I have many (if any?) readers in New Jersey. The majority of the readers of this weblog appear to be located in (in this order): Canada; United States (but more Michigan and Minnesota than New Jersey, I’m pretty sure); United Kingdom; and Ireland.

But if you’re in northeast New Jersey on 15 March, and you want to hear a free presentation on Irish genealogical research, I’ll be at the Israel Crane House and Historic YWCA in Montclair, NJ, giving a talk entitled “From Ireland to New Jersey, and Back Again: Tracing Your Irish Roots.”

NLI Parish Registers Digitisation Project

This is huge. This is absolutely fantastic. This has the potential to transform (and by “transform,” I mean radically improve) Irish family history research.

Press release from the National Library of Ireland:

We are delighted to announce that we will make the NLI’s entire collection of Catholic parish register microfilms available online – for free – by summer 2015…

…Commenting today, Colette O’Flaherty, Head of Special Collections at the NLI, said: “This is the most ambitious digitisation project in the history of the NLI, and our most significant ever genealogy project. We believe it will be of huge assistance to those who wish to research their family history. At this stage, we have converted the microfilm reels on which the registers are recorded into approximately 390,000 digital images. We will be making all these images available, for free, on a dedicated website, which will be launched in summer 2015.

More on this in a later post.

GRO Indexes now temporarily unavailable

A few weeks ago, I posted a link to the GRO Indexes at IrishGenealogy.ie. And a week or two after that post, the indexes became “temporarily unavailable.” There is no indication, yet, of when they will be back online.

Update:

And it looks like “temporarily” is going to mean “for a very long time.” Apparently the website had to be taken down because it included information not only on dead people, but also on living individuals. See Claire Santry’s Privacy concerns close civil registration indexes site” and Chris Paton’s “RIP: GRO Ireland’s credibility (2014-2014)”.

 

The Ballad of James and Margaret

The family lore surrounding my 3x-great-grandparents James Moran and Margaret Jamieson is so romantic (and I have to say, so seemingly improbable) that I sometimes refer to the story of their elopement to Canada as “The Ballad of James and Margaret.”

The story goes something like this:

Margaret Jamieson came from a family of quality, and was the daughter of a doctor, and the granddaughter of a landed gentleman, even; whereas James Moran, of much humbler origin, worked for her family as a coachman. Margaret suffered a tragic loss at an early age with the untimely death of her first husband, a Mr. Conroy. The young widow and her family’s coachman then fell in love; and, her family being opposed to the match, James and Margaret eloped to Canada.

Doesn’t the above story make my 3x-great-grandfather sound like “The Gypsy Rover”? (He whistled and he sang til the green woods rang/And he won the heart of a lady…). Except that James Moran didn’t end up as “lord of these lands all over.” Instead, he ended up as a yeoman of Huntley Township, Carleton County, with 200 acres of land to divide between his two surviving sons Thomas and Alexander Michael.1 Not exactly “lordly,” but not bad for an Irish Catholic emigrant who was likely the landless son of a landless tenant farmer back in Ireland.

But back in Ireland where?

  1. Another son, James, born about 1824 in Huntley township, died in 1851. There is a notation of his death in the 1851 census, with the cause of death listed as “collara” (cholera).

Thomas Benton and Catherine Dwyer, Cappawhite, Tipperary

One of my brick wall ancestors is my great-great-grandfather Thomas Benton, who was born in Ireland about 1830, emigrated to Canada in the 1850s, and died at Arnrprior (Renfrew County, Ontario) in 1890.

He married Hanora (“Annie”) Ryan about 1856, but I’ve yet to find a marriage record for this couple, and I don’t know whether they were married in Ireland or in Canada. Thomas Benton and Hanora Ryan had nine known children, apparently all born in Canada, with eight surviving to adulthood. I have baptismal records for seven of these nine children, but not for the two eldest, Catherine Benton (born about 1857) and Thomas Benton Jr (born about 1859). The first real proof of Thomas and Annie [Ryan] Benton’s presence in Canada is the baptismal record for their third child, Bridget Benton (born in February 1861; baptized 1 March 1861). The family can be found in the 1861 Census of Canada (Pakenham, Lanark Co., Ontario), where the birthplace for Thomas Benton and his wife Anne is given as Ireland, and the birthplace for their children Catherine and Thomas given as Upper Canada.

Thomas Benton died 7 March 1890, of head injuries sustained in a horrible accident at a lumber mill. While I have his church burial record (St. John Chrysostom, Arnprior), I have not found an Ontario civil death registration. An obituary in the Arnprior Chronicle does not name his parents. So: with no marriage record, and with no mention of his parents in either his RC burial record or his obituary, the trail goes cold.

But there’s a family in Cappawhite, Tipperary that interests me (especially as Thomas Benton married a Ryan whose family came from Tipperary):

A Thomas Benton married a Catherine (“Kitty”) Dwyer in Cappawhite, Tipperary on 11 March 1809. The couple had at least five known children, all born Cappawhite, Tipperary:

  1. Hanora Benton, baptized 19 December 1818
  2. Kitty Benton, baptized 15 October 1821
  3. Winny [Winnifred] Benton, baptized 8 February 1824
  4. Thomas Benton, baptized 8 June 1826 (could this be my 2x-great-grandfather?)
  5. William Benton, baptized 9 May 1832

So I’m looking for information on the descendants of Thomas Benton and Catherine (“Kitty”) Dwyer, of Cappawhite, Tipperary. Any information would be much appreciated.

UPDATE (10 March 2015):

Yes, this Thomas Benton, son of Thomas Benton and Catherine Dwyer, was my 2x-great-grandfather. More details here.

John Lynch and Unity Fox, Strabane, Co. Tyrone

A reader is looking for information about her great-grandparents John Lynch (born about 1856, Co. Tyrone) and Unity Fox (born about 1856, Co. Tyrone). The couple were married on 22 May 1878 at a Roman Catholic chapel (possibly Cloughcor Chapel?), parish of Leckpatrick, Strabane, Co. Tyrone, Ireland, with Daniel Murphy and Mary J. Murphy serving as witnesses. Their marriage record lists their residence as Woodend, parish of Leckpatrick, Strabane, Co. Tyrone.

John Lynch married Unity Fox as a widower; the name of his first wife is not known.

John Lynch and Unity Fox had at least one son, John Lynch (Junior), born 17 October 1879, Strabane, Tyrone, Ireland, who married Mary Catherine Boyle in 1909. John Lynch (Junior) and Mary Catherine Boyle emigrated to Canada in 1913, with their four young daughters Winnifred, Catherine Jane, Helen, and Elizabeth Lynch. The family settled at Cornwall, Stormont Co., Ontario, where they had two more children, sons Jack and James Lynch.

The reader is trying to find out the names of her great-great-grandparents (i.e., the parents of John Lynch [Senior], who was born about 1856, and of Unity Fox, who was also born about 1856).

Any information would be greatly appreciated.