Irish Records

From Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary to March Township, Carleton, Ontario

My Lahey ancestors came from Killycross Upper, Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Co. Tipperary, Ireland;1 and emigrated to March Township, Carleton Co., Ontario, Canada from the mid-1820s to the early 1830s.

And the reason why we have their townland of origin is that John Lahey, sometimes known as John Lahy the Elder, signed the McCabe List, where he gave the family’s origins as Kilnacross [Killycross], Lurrough [Lorrha], Tipperary.2

mccabe ancestry lahy john

From Ballymacegan to March: Who Else?

Who else emigrated from the townland of Ballymacegan (Lorrha, Tipperary, Ireland) to the township of March (Carleton, Ontario, Canada)? As always, the lack of Irish census records and of Irish church records (the register for the RC parish of Lorrha and Dorrha does not begin until 1829) makes it very difficult (and in many cases, unfortunately, well nigh impossible) to trace backward from Canada (or the United States, England, Australia, New Zealand, and so on), and to reconstruct early nineteenth-century Irish families. But the McCabe List, the Tithe Applotment Books, and the Canadian RC parish records (specifically, the register for Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa) suggest (and I do mean suggest: the following should not be taken as a set of well-established facts that can be confidently added to an Ancestry family tree, or anything like that) that the Laheys were not the only family to emigrate from Ballymacegan to March.

SOMERVILLE

Anthony Somerville also signed (or rather, marked with an X) the McCabe List, where he gave his townland of origin as Ballinriken, Lurrugh [Lorrha], Tipperary.3

mccabe ancestry sommervile anthony image 133

“Ballinriken” (a phonetic spelling of the place name that Anthony Somerville reported but did not himself write) might be a rendering of Ballymacegan; or it might refer to an older place name that was officially obselete by the nineteenth century, but which local people still used. For example, in the Hearth Money Rolls for the parish of Lurha [Lorrha], Tipperary (1666-7), there is a townland called Carigin which is not found in either the Tithe Applotment Books or in Griffith’s Valuation: might Anthony Somerville’s “Ballinriken” (as heard and recorded by someone else) refer to Carigin?4

In any case, the Tithe Applotment Book for Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary (1824) records the presence of an Anthony Summerill (and also a Richard Summerill). Note that in his McCabe List petition, Anthony Somerville reports that his brothers-in-law Matthew Dayly and John Daily (yes: two different spellings for what is surely the same surname) “are known to Jonathan Harding.” There is a Jonathan Harding listed in the Tithe Applotment Book for Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary (1824), as well as an Anthony Summerill:5

Anthony Somerville (of the McCabe List, but probably also of the above Tithe Applotment Book listing) married a Mary McDonnell; and the couple had two known children born in Ireland (presumably Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary), and two known children born in March township. The children’s birth dates indicate that the family emigrated to Canada in the mid- to late-1820s.

The names Daly and Sommervile turn up in the baptismal record for Margaret Jane Killeen, daughter of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn. From the parish register of Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa:6

 

Baptism of Margaret Jane Killeen (1835-1913)

Baptism of Margaret Jane Killeen, 22 October 1836

The above record reads:

October 22d 1836, baptized in Bytown Margaret Jane 13 months old, lawful child of Denis Keleine & Mary Herain Sponsors Matthew Daly & Mary Sommerville. W. Cannon, pte.

This Mary Somerville is almost certainly Mary McDonnell, wife of Anthony Somerville. Margaret Jane Killeen later served as godmother to one of the grandchildren of Anthony Somerville and Mary McDonnell: when Mary Somerville, daughter of Thomas Somerville and Elizabeth Little, was baptized on 1 October 1849, her sponsors were Patrick Burns and Margaret Jane Killeen.

And what of Margaret Jane Killeen’s godfather Matthew Daly? Is this the brother-in-law Matthew Dayly that Anthony Sommerville referenced in his McCabe list petition? Or perhaps a son or nephew of that brother-in-law?

Well, of course, Margaret Jane Killeen’s godfather might be another Matthew Daly, from another parish and county altogether. But interestingly enough, just nine days after Margaret Jane Killeen was baptized, her eldest known sibling Ellen Killeen (abt. 1818-1882) married a Matthew Daly in the presence of two Somervilles (here Summervilles):7

Marriage of Matthew Daly and Ellen Killeen, 31 October 1836

Marriage of Matthew Daly and Ellen Killeen, 31 October 1836

The above record reads:

October 31 1836, Married by me after three Publications at the Parochial Mass at Bytown, Matthew Daly of Huntly, to Ellen Keileine of March, and gave them the nuptial benediction in presence of Samuel Summerville, Mary Summerville & several others. W. Cannon.

Samuel was the eldest known son of Anthony Somerville and Mary McDonnell. The Mary Somerville listed here presumably refers to Mary McDonnell, wife of Anthony Somerville and godmother to Margaret Jane Killeen.

FAHEY

John Lahey’s sister Margaret Lahey married a John Fahey. The couple had five known children born in Ireland (presumably at or near Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary), and two known children born in Canada (March township, Carleton Co., Ontario). The name Fahy appears in the Tithe Applotment Book for Ballymacegan.

KENNEDY

John Lahey’s brother William Lahey married an Ann Kennedy. The couple had two known children born in Ireland (presumably at or near Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary). William Lahey died in March township in 1827, shortly after arriving in Canada. His widow Ann Kennedy then married the above-named John Fahey, widower of the above-named Margaret Lahey. John Fahey and Ann Kennedy had a son Michael Fahey, whose Fahey-Lahey half-siblings were first cousins to his Lahey-Kennedy half-siblings. And Bob’s yer uncle. The name Kennedy appears in the Tithe Applotment Book for Ballymacegan.

LOUGHNANE

Much more speculatively (as in, if the above is conjectural, the following is downright speculation), there is a Jas. [James] Loughnane listed in the Tithe Applotment Book for Ballymacegan; and a Loughnane/Lochnan did emigrate from Ireland (probably Co. Tipperary, possibly Ballymacegan?) to March Township. Simon Loughnane/Lochnan (abt. 1811-1903) was in March township by 1834, when he married Margaret Hickey (on 23 November 1834). On 28 September 1852, Mary Lochnan, daughter of Simon Lochnan and Margaret Hickey, married James Fahey, son of John Fahey and Margaret Lahey (and half-brother of the above-named Michael Fahey, son of John Fahey and Ann Kennedy).

  1. Killycross Upper and Killycross Lower were sub-townland denominations within the townland of Ballymacegan.
  2. Emigration, Original Correspondence, 1817–1857 and 1872–1896, CO 384, War and Colonial Department and Colonial Office: Emigration Original Correspondence, The National Archives of the United Kingdom, Kew, Surrey, England; database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 16 April 2015), Canada, Immigration and Settlement Correspondence and Lists, 1817-1896, 1817-1851, Volume 22: North American Emigration Societies; Individuals, 1829, John Lahy, Ireland, Fulnaerass (Kilnacross), Sipperary (Tipperary), image 90 of 135.
  3.  Emigration, Original Correspondence, 1817–1857 and 1872–1896, CO 384, War and Colonial Department and Colonial Office: Emigration Original Correspondence, The National Archives of the United Kingdom, Kew, Surrey, England; database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 16 April 2015), Canada, Immigration and Settlement Correspondence and Lists, 1817-1896, 1817-1851, Volume 22: North American Emigration Societies; Individuals, 1829, Anthony Somnserirlle (Sommerville), Ireland, Ballinriken, Sipperary (Tipperary), image 133 of 135.
  4.  Thomas Laffan, Tipperary’s Families: Being the Hearth Money Records for 1665-6-7 (Dublin: James Duffy & Co., 1911), p. 189.
  5. Tithe Applotment Book for Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary, The Tithe Applotment Books, 1823-1837, database, National Library of Ireland (http://titheapplotmentbooks.nationalarchives.ie/search/tab/home.jsp/: accessed 16 April 2015).
  6. Notre Dame d’Ottawa (Ottawa, Carleton), Baptisms, marriages, burials 1836-1840, p. 15, B. Margaret Jane Keleine (Killeen), database: FamilySearch.org (http://www.familysearch.org/: accessed 13 April 2015), Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923.

  7.  Notre Dame d’Ottawa (Ottawa, Carleton), Baptisms, marriages, burials 1836-1840, p. 16, M. Matthew Daly-Ellen Kelleine (Killeen) marriage, database: FamilySearch.org (http://www.familysearch.org/: accessed 13 April 2015), Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923.

“Some of the lands being misnamed, others not named”

Irish Townland Confusion: 1664

One of the challenges of Irish genealogy is that of identifying and locating townlands, the names and spellings of which can vary across time, and, even within the same time period, from one source to another. For a discussion of some of the difficulties, see Dr. Jane Lyons, The Townland: How to Use In Genealogy.

In the seventeenth century, English government officials also had difficulty with Irish townland names, as the following item makes clear.

This is a summary abstract, dated 6 September 1664, from the Calendar of the State Papers, Relating to Ireland Preserved in the Public Record Office, 1660-[1670]: 1663-1665 (1907), and it concerns a petition by Robert Maxwell, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Kilmore who acquired extensive landholdings in the barony of Upper Loughtee, Co. Cavan. Maxwell apparently successfully petitioned the Crown to “better secure his title and estate;” and the granting of new patents to lands he had already purchased in Dromhill and Dromellan was meant to correct some “defects in the [original] grant, some of the lands being misnamed, others not named, and others named for less than they are worth and others for more, whilst some of the lands are pretended to be concealed.” Note the attempt here (click on the image to see a larger version) to clarify the names of various townlands by indicating the various aliases  by which those townland might also be known (but also note that the material in brackets [ ] was inserted by the modern [1907] indexer):

calendar state papers 1664 cavan placenames

Of particular interest to me here is the townland of origin of my Galligan ancestors: “Loghohennocke alias Loghoconnoge alias  Aghnyglogh alias  Agnagloype [Loughaconnick].” That’s a lot of aliases  from the seventeenth century; and in the nineteenth-century records, I’ve come across a number of other variant spellings too. In the 1821 census of Kilmore, Co. Cavan, this townland is listed with four different spellling variations: Loughahonogne, Loughahonogue, Loughahunge, and Loughahunoge. In The Tithe Applotment Books, this townland appears as Lougharonog. And in Griffith’s Valuation, this townland is called Loughaconnick, which is the modern, standardized spelling — it is this spelling which has been inserted in brackets by the 1907 indexer.

Irish townland confusion: not just a problem for 21st-century family history researchers, but also a problem for 17th-century post-Cromwellian colonial overlords!

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 star-crossed young 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).