Saturday, 23 April 2016

Genealogy Saturday: Examining the possibility…

When I first began my quest to untangle the records relating to my paternal great-great-grandparents, John and Maryanne Donovan, I would happily have concluded upon finally confirming Maryanne’s maiden name was Coyle. But now that I know that, as is the want of all genealogists the world over, I need to know Maryanne’s parent’s names as well.

So, I thought I would fill you in on the candidates currently deemed best fitting the role.  They were Laurence and Bridget (Corcoran) Coyle, with a one-time address in Cole's Lane, Dublin. Cole's Lane was part of a labyrinth of little streets and laneways in the Henry Street area of the city. It ran parallel to Moore Street, between Henry Street and Parnell Street. Sadly, the whole area was levelled in the 1970s to facilitate the construction of the Ilac Shopping Centre.

Laurence and Bridget Coyle first appeared in the church records for St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in November 1823 when their son Joseph was baptised. Twins Michael and Mathew were born in Great Strand Street in that parish in 1826, followed by Mary in 1828, Anne in 1829, Catherine in 1832 and George in 1835.  The first baby Anastatia, who was born in 1837, died when she was only two years old and the Coyles used the name again when their next little girl, Anastasia Mary, was christened in 1843.

Anastatia Coyle acted as Godmother for John and Maryanne’s son Thomas Laurence, baptised in 1857. This is surely significant; first, their selection of the name Laurence for their son’s middle name and secondly their association with Anastatia, both suggest the Donovans were related to Laurence and Bridget Coyle.  You can be sure there weren’t too many girls named Anastatia Coyle running around Dublin city at that time.

But, these were not the only connections joining this Coyle family with my John and Maryanne.

Laurence Coyle worked as a wood turner, running his business from Cole's Lane. The trade and street directories list him at this address, consistently, between the years 1836 and 1863. From 1845, Robert and Denis Newport, perhaps another father and son affair, operated as a cabinet-maker right next door to Laurence Coyle. Denis Newport was a witness at John and Maryanne’s wedding in February 1851. It’s great when these little things start falling into place!

Cole’s Lane, Pettigrew & Oulton's
Dublin Street Directory, 1845

John Donovan was an upholsterer and likely worked for a cabinet maker. So, if he worked for Denis Newport and if Denis was a neighbour of our Coyle family, this may be how he came to marry Maryanne. Likely, if I have the right Coyle family, John and Maryanne knew each other already anyway as John was born in Great Strand Street, around the same time the Coyles lived there. Now, maybe that’s a lot of ‘ifs’, but I’m starting to think this is a valid connection.

In 1852, Joseph Coyle, Laurence and Bridget’s eldest son, married Elizabeth Weldon. He also worked as a wood turner and began to appear in the Dublin street directories, at Abbey Street, from 1854. Maryanne Donovan was Godmother to their son James in December 1859 and in March the following year Elizabeth Coyle was Godmother to the Donovans' daughter, Catherine. Joseph Coyle's two daughters were named Maryanne and Anastatia. There is no doubt the families were connected somehow.

The bigger question remains, though, was Maryanne the daughter of Laurence and Bridget Coyle? And if so, where exactly did she fit in?  When she died in May 1873 Maryanne was said to have been forty years of age, so born about 1832-33, making her about the right age to have been born into this family.

Was she the Mary Coyle baptised in 1828?  From the time of her marriage, I’ve only ever seen her referred to as Maryanne, or a version thereof, never as just Mary. Perhaps her baptism was not recorded. If that was the case, it is potentially also feasible Mary and Anne, the children born in 1828 and 1829, also died as infants, only for both their names to be used again when Maryanne was born.
  
Genealogy Quick Tip:
Irish naming patterns are well known and often provide clues to those attempting to identify an earlier generation. But, bear in mind, naming conventions were not always followed and if they were, parents rarely stuck to the suggested order. Taking into account the lack of variety in first names in Ireland in the past, it is often far more suggestive of a familial relationship when an unusual given name connects the generations.

Sources: Church baptism and marriage registers on IrishGenealogy.iePettigrew and Oulton's Dublin Almanac and Thom's Irish Almanac and Official Directory, accessed on Findmypast.

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© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Origin of our surnames

The documented ancestral trail in Ireland often goes cold around the end of the eighteenth century, but, on many of my lines, I don’t even get back that far. Surely, I could squeeze out another generation, or two, if I knew where to look. The trick is finding out where to look.

So, for starters, I thought I’d check out what the Irish surname expert, Edward MacLysaght, had to say about the surnames of my eight great-grandparents. Maybe, his insights can provide a few pointers on where to pick up my lost lineages.
Byrne, Mahon, O’Neill, Donovan, Wynne, Carroll, Byrne (again) and Devine
(O) BYRNE, Ó Broin in Irish, from bran, meaning raven. This was a leading sept in east Leinster. It is now one of the most common names in Ireland, especially in Co. Wicklow.

Recent successes traced Dad’s line back to my third great-grandfather, Andrew Byrne, who married Anne Clinch in Suncroft, Co. Kildare, in November 1833, and far more speculatively to Andrew’s baptism, as the son of Edward and Elenor Byrne, in that parish, in 1805. I’ve more work to do on this line, though I doubt it will lead all the way back to Co. Wicklow and the Kings of Leinster.

My mother’s documented Byrne lineage has been traced only as far as Francis Byrne, who married Jane Daly, in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, in October 1846. Francis worked as a stoker, probably in the engine rooms of a steam-ship. Was he born in Co. Wicklow?

(Mac) MAHON, Mac Mathghamhna in Irish, from mathghamhan, meaning bear. This surname cropped up in numerous places in Ireland at various times. One sept, related to the Irish king Brian Ború, originated in Co. Clare and another in what is now Co. Monaghan. The name remains common in these counties. Two other unrelated septs of the name Mohan, or Ó Mócháin in Irish, also adopted Mahon as their surname, and are common in Galway and Sligo. 

The earliest record of my Mahon family was found in Swords, Co. Dublin, in September 1819, with the marriage of my third great-grandparents, Patt Mahon and Jane Cavanagh. They lived nearby at Yellow Walls, Malahide in Co. Dublin, but left no clue as to where they originated.

My family tree on Ancestry

O’NEILL, Ó Néill in Irish. This is another surname with more than one origin. The prominent sept descended from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages, originating in Co. Tyrone. The surname is now common all over Ireland, especially in counties Tyrone, Antrim, Down, Carlow and Waterford. 

My great-grandfather, Charles O’Neill, remains my most persistent genealogy brick wall. The earliest record found was his marriage to Mary Agnes Donovan in April 1874. Here, his parents were named as John and Margaret O’Neil, with an address in Lower Dominick Street, in Dublin city.

I don’t think the surname origins will help with this one.

(O) DONOVAN, Ó Donnabháin in Irish. Originating in Co. Limerick, the sept became prominent in south-west Cork. A branch also settled in Co. Kilkenny, but today remains most common in Cork.

Our Donovan family has been traced back to the marriage of Thomas Donovan and Catherine Flood, in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral, in November 1821. This couple also sponsored the baptism of Joanna Flood in that parish in 1816 and Elizabeth Donovan in 1817. Ok, so we now know where they originated, but I wonder how many generations lived in Dublin city. 

WYNNE, as a Gaelic surname, is a synonym of numerous names containing the sound ‘gee’, from gaoithe, meaning of wind.

First found living in Dublin city in 1848, John Wynne said he was born in the city about 1820. I investigated the origins of the name previously, here, and concluded, although it might have originated anywhere in Ireland, DNA clues suggest east-Leinster.

(O) CARROLL, Ó Ceirbhaill in Irish. Again, this was the name of several Irish septs originating throughout Ireland. The most prominent were of Ely O’Carroll in Munster (Offaly and Tipperary) and the O'Carrolls of Oriel (Dundalk), as well as two lessor septs in Kerry and Leitrim. 

I’ve recently traced my Carroll family roots as far as Coolmoyne, near Fethard, in Co. Tipperary, in the 1840s, suggesting we descend from the Kings of Munster or, more likely, their servants. 

(O) DEVINE, Ó Daimhin in Irish, from damh meaning stag. The Devines were a branch of the MacGuires, who rose to power in Co. Fermanagh in the fifteenth century. The name is now found mainly in Co. Tyrone. 

My great-great-grandfather John Devine married Maryanne Keogh, on 18 September 1859, in St Laurence O’Toole’s parish in Dublin city. His parents are fully named in the copy marriage register. Sadly, it’s illegible. L L Their address reads Longford, I think. 

Excerpt from St Laurence O’Toole’s parish register

If anyone wishes to see if they can make out their names (I’d be so happy), the record is on the NLI website, second marriage down, on page 8 (link to register). Christian names are given in Latin. Maryanne’s parents, known from other sources, are Darby Keogh and Joanna Crosby.

Sources: Edward MacLysaght, The Surnames of Ireland, 6th ed. (Dublin, 2012); ‘Catholic Parish Registers’, St Laurence O'Toole's, Dublin city, microfilm 06611/03, p. 8, l. 67, National Library Ireland.

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© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Buried at sea

Women that lived prior to the twentieth century are far more difficult to trace than their husbands. Often, we hear genealogists refer to them as the invisible ancestors. Or, at least, that’s the common complaint. But, the opposite is true in the case of my third great-grandparents, Francis Byrne and his wife Jane Daly, who married in Dublin, in October 1846.[1]

From the time Jane immigrated to New York in September 1887, till her burial there in 1901, she has featured in the available sources. Francis, on the other-hand, left precious little trace behind. Fourteen years after his marriage, when his daughter Catharine was christened, his name made a second appearance in the church registers.
[2] At least, this ‘proves’ he was alive and well in the spring of 1860. 

Then - nothing - all subsequent reports find him dead.

His daughter Hannah married John Comiskey on 5 December 1869. At the time, her parent’s address was given as Kingstown (now called Dun Laoghaire), in County Dublin.
[3] Yet, when the marriage was registered with the authorities, Francis was reported 'dead'.[4] Presumably, it was Jane who lived in Kingstown. Throughout the 1870s, when his other children - Francis, Charles and Jane - each married, they all confirmed their father was deceased. 

But, we do not know exactly when he died. Nor do we know when or where he was buried. Perhaps it was before 1864, when such events began to be registered in Ireland. Or, perhaps he died somewhere other than Dublin city or Kingstown, where I’ve concentrated the search. Perhaps he died at sea and his death was not registered.

You see, Francis worked as a ‘fireman’ or a ‘stoker’ when he was alive, i.e. someone who tended the fire of a steam engine - for example, on a steamship.  I had hoped this clue might be enough to help distinguish him from all the other men sharing his name and living around Dublin, to see if something could be found of his life (or death).

And, the English census of April 1861 includes a man matching all the meagre details known and suspected about ‘our Francis’, except his surname was said to have been ‘Byrns.’ He was married, born about 1828, from Dublin city, and worked as a fireman on a steamship, so I’d be happy to overlook a small spelling irregularity.
[5] Chances are our Francis was illiterate anyway.

On the night in question, Francis Byrns was aboard the screw steamer, Torch, moored for repairs at Trafalgar Dock, Liverpool. There is little certainty we have the right man, but it could easily have been my third great-grandfather.

When I tried to trace what happened to Francis Byrns, I came across the tragic story of the Torch’s demise.
[6] On 1 March 1873, albeit a few years after our forefather’s first reported death, the screw steamer was in a disastrous collision with a large sailing ship called Chacabuco.

The tragedy occurred at Great Ormes Head, off Wales. Both vessels were lost and twenty-five men drowned.

Chacabuco, with her crew of twenty-six hands, plus the captain, was returning from San Francisco, laden with wheat. The vessel Torch operated as a passenger and cargo ship between Dublin and Liverpool. She was on her usual return trip back to Dublin, with a crew of sixteen men under the command of Robert Cullen, when the terrible collision occurred. It was pitch dark, at two o’clock in the morning, in the middle of a snowstorm, with raging winds. 

A tug boat, out in the storm hoping to pick up a job, rescued all the passengers and the crew of Torch, except for one man, reportedly, a bullock-driver named James Loran. Poor Loran became jammed in the wreckage on deck and could not be cut free. Tragically, just before the steamer went down, he was heard to cry out ‘Goodbye, God bless you all!’ 

I only hope my third-great-grandfather met with a more peaceful end.

Harrington Fitzgerald, The Wreck, 1901, 
Smithsonian American Art Museum, accessed DPLA


[1] Marriage register, St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Dublin, October 1846, p. 288, accessed National Library
[2] Baptism register, St Laurence O'Toole, Seville Place, January 1861, p. 71, same.
[3] Marriage register, St Laurence O'Toole, Seville Place, December 1869, p. 40, same. 
[4] Copy marriage register, General Register Office.
[5] Census Returns of England and Wales, 1861, Ancestry.co.uk.
[6] The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 May 1873, p. 5; The Argus, 27 May 1873, p.6, accessed Trove


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© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Roots in Tipperary

In a recent post, I mentioned the potential discovery of my Carroll family in county Tipperary, the same county Maurice Carroll claimed as his birthplace. The actual record of my great-great-grandfather’s baptism is still ‘missing’, but it seems his younger sister Mary was christened in the parish of Fethard, in South Tipperary, in November 1841. Her parents were David Carroll and Catherine Cummins, the same names Maurice gave for his parents.[1] 

Coolmoyne, Co. Tipperary on Google Maps

When Mary was baptised, the family lived in Coolmoyne, a rural townland situated between the towns of Cashel and Fethard. The family was still there in August 1850, when, according to a mid-nineteenth-century taxation survey, David Carroll leased a small house and a tiny garden. For tax purposes, the rateable valuation of the property amounted to only eleven shillings a year, a sure sign the family was poor.[2]

Although there were Carroll households in Fethard town in 1850, David’s was the only one in Coolmoyne or its adjoining townlands. Apart from an unknown Ellen Carroll acting as Mary’s Godmother, there is no indication they had Carroll relatives in the area.

David Carroll’s holding was supposedly situated at plot ‘5b’ on the below map of Coolmoyne, but '5b' is not apparent. Probably, the map was re-drawn after the tax survey was published and after David Carroll had left the area. Perhaps properties were renumbered and plot ‘4b’ marks the spot where the family once lived. A future visit the Valuation Office in Dublin may clarify this. I do know David Carroll moved to Limerick before February 1859, by which time Maurice Carroll was in Dublin city, marrying Mary Anne Frazer. 

Coolmoyne, Co. Tipperary, 1850 (Griffith’s Valuation Map) [2]

Identifying a couple named David Carroll and Catherine Cummins living in the right place at the right time, is surely a step in the right direction. Yet, the possibility of it all being a big coincidence also crossed my mind. I wanted to find something directly linking my great-great-grandfather, the man living in Dublin, back to Fethard. 

Then, I discovered the baptism of his first wife, Mary Anne Frazer - she was born in Fethard too. It’s unlikely this was another chance occurrence. I'd found a link.

Robert Fraser and Mary Mara christened their daughter Mary in Fethard parish, in March 1829.[3] When she married Maurice Carroll, she went by the name Mary Anne and her parents were named as Robert Frazer and Mary Meagher (pronounced Mar), of Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.[4] The surname Frazer was not at all common in Tipperary. Plus, Mary Anne was said to have been forty years old when she died in March 1868, a variance of only one year.[5] So, chances are good these were Maurice’s in-laws.  

Robert Frazer had a small taxable holding in Fethard in 1828 and a trade directory shows he operated as a boot and shoe maker in Main Street in the town, in 1846.[6] However, no further mention of my David Carroll was found anywhere, apart from the baptism record of his son David, in 1847.[7] No one with the Carroll surname held taxable property in Fethard in 1828. Perhaps our Carroll family was poor enough to fall outside the tax net, or maybe they were living elsewhere.



[1] Mary Carroll, Baptisms (1 Mar 1835 to 30 Jan 1847), Parish of Fethard, p. 73, Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI
[2] David Carroll, Tullamain, Tipperary South, Griffith’s Valuation, Ask About Ireland
[3] Mary Fraser, Baptisms (1 Jun 1828 to 27 Feb 1835), Parish of Fethard, p. 16, Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI
[4] Marriage register, Parish of St Nicholas, 1859, IrishGenealogy.ie
[5] Copy death register, Balrothery, 1868, General Register Office.
[6] Robert Frazier, Tipperary, Tithe Applotment Books 1823-37, National Archives of Ireland; Robert Frazer, Munster, Fethard, Slater's Commercial Directory of Ireland, 1846, FailteRomhat
[7] David Carroll, Baptisms (1 Mar 1835 to 30 Jan 1847), Parish of Fethard, p. 129, Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI

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© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Best day for a wedding

“Monday for health,
Tuesday for wealth,
Wednesday the best day of all,
Thursday for losses,
Friday for crosses,
And Saturday, no day at all”

Did you ever wonder what day of the week your ancestors chose as their wedding day? A young pupil from Coolmoyne, Co. Tipperary, my newly discovered ancestral home, recited this old rhyme, as part of her contribution to the ‘Schools’ Collection’ of Irish Folklore.[1] So, I thought I’d see if it held true in practice. I hoped not as I got married on a Friday – not a very good omen, seemingly.


The Happy Couple
Wedding Day
Thomas Ratty and Mary Cullen
Tuesday, 29 June 1790       
Patt Mahon and Jane Cavanagh
Sunday, 12 September 1819
Thomas Donovan and Catherine Flood
Tuesday, 20 November 1821
Peter Radcliffe and Anne Sarsfield 
Sunday, 3 July 1825
Paul Doyle and Catherine O’Hara
Saturday, 23 August 1828
Andrew Byrne and Anne Clinch
Monday, 11 November 1833
Jeremiah Keogh and Jane Crosbie  
Friday, 26 April 1833
Francis Byrne and Jane Daly
Sunday, 11 October 1846
John Wynne and Bridget Hynes
Sunday, 16 September 1849
Myles McGrane and Margaret Doyle
Sunday, 26 January 1851
John Donovan and Maryanne Coyle
Sunday, 9 February 1851
John Devine and Maryanne Keogh  
Sunday, 18 September 1859
James Mahon and Margaret McDonnell
Sunday, 27 May 1866
John Byrne and Alicia Leahy
Sunday, 27 January 1867
Maurice Carroll and Anne Radcliffe
Sunday, 22 August 1869
Francis Byrne and Margaret McGrane
Sunday, 17 September 1871

Of the records available to me, three-quarters of my great-great-grandparents or their forefathers married on a Sunday. So, it's easy to conclude, in times past, in Ireland, Sunday was the wedding day most favoured by the betrothed. Yet, it is not even mentioned in the old rhyme.


Tying the knot – a pagan Irish wedding tradition

Sunday’s popularity as a wedding day is not surprising - it was probably the only day of the week the couple and their guests had free from work and could enjoy the celebrations.

What day of the week did your ancestors decide to tie the knot? 


[1] Kathleen Mackay, ‘Marriage Customs’, Coolmoyne, Co. Tipperary, p. 61, Schools’ Collection, Dúchas.ie.  


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© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Genealogy brickwall busting with Catholic parish registers

Last July, the National Library published copy images of Catholic parish registers from all across Ireland. More recently, commercial genealogy companies built an index to these registers, thus allowing the whole country, or at least all the parishes in the collection, to be searched at once.  So, if you know your ancestors’ names, even if you don’t know where exactly they came from, you might still be able to find them.

That was my plan this week anyway.

I already ‘knew’ quite a bit about Maurice Carroll, my great-great-grandfather. I traced his life in Dublin from 1857, when his first son was baptised, until 1906 when he died. He said he was born in Co. Tipperary about 1838, though I've never been able to 'prove' this.[1] 

I did know the family’s association with Tipperary was strong. Maurice’s son Robert, born to his first wife Mary Anne Frazer, also claimed Tipperary as his birthplace.[2] Yet, he was baptised in Donabate, Co. Dublin and likely born nearby at Balheary, where Maurice worked as a coachman.[3]  Mary Anne’s parents lived in Clonmel, the largest town in Tipperary, so it’s feasible Maurice originated somewhere near there.
  
At some stage, presumably after Maurice Carroll’s formative years, his parents moved to Co. Limerick. They lived there in 1859 when Maurice married Maryanne Frazer. At the time of his marriage, Maurice named his parents as David Carroll and Catherine Cummins, but they have remained elusive. Limerick was a big place.[4]

Excerpt, Marriage of Maurice Carroll & Mary Anne Frazer, 1859, St Nicholas

Sadly, there is still no sign of Maurice's baptism in the newly indexed Catholic parish registers, so I had to keep digging.

Mary Anne died young and Maurice married my great-great-grandmother, Anne Radcliffe, on 22 August 1869. This marriage helpfully narrowed down his parent’s address to Castleconnell, Co. Limerick.[5]

Excerpt, Marriage of Maurice Carroll & Anne Radclife, 1869, Swords Parish

In February 1852, a taxation survey found five men named David Carroll in Co. Limerick. Two of these were in Castleconnell. What are the chances? One leased a fairly sizable ‘house, office and garden’ on Castle Street and sublet four adjacent properties to tenants. Another, or perhaps the same man, leased over seven acres of land nearby. Our David Carroll was a carpenter and probably not quite so ‘well-to-do.’ Plus, a carpenter would hardly have needed so much land. Still, they were worthy of further investigation.[6]

Castleconnell Castle, Co. Limerick, 1833.

Tithe (taxation) records dating to the 1820s and 1830s show David Carroll had property in Castleconnell village, as well as in the wider townland, as far back as then. So, the man, or men, I’ve found in Castleconnell probably lived there before Maurice Carroll was even born and likely earlier than our family arrived in the area.[7]

Yet another doubt crept in when an 1846 trade directory, covering the town of Castleconnell, revealed the David Carroll in Castle Street was a baker. The daily car to Limerick picked up passengers outside his shop each morning at nine, and returned there each evening at six. My third great-grandfather was not a baker. He worked as a carpenter, supposedly.[8]

And, I ruled out the second candidate too. According to the town's Protestant church registers, a lady named Mary Carroll married Stephen Hall, in 1852. Her father was David Carroll of Castleconnell. Theirs was presumably a mixed marriage as they baptised their first son in the Roman Catholic faith. However, her father turned out to have been a farmer, and maybe the man leasing the seven acres.[9]

So, it seems our David Carroll arrived in Castleconnell after 1852 and did not appear in the Limerick taxation survey.

I'm not finished yet though. Thanks to the newly released index of Catholic parish records, I may have just found our man, and in Co. Tipperary too. Seeking all Carroll baptisms, with Catherine Cummins as the named mother, two entries caught my attention. On 21 November 1841, Mary Carroll from the townland of Coolmoyne was christened in Fethard parish, in South Tipperary. Mary’s parents, David Carroll and Cath Cummins, shared the same names as my third great-grandparents. Mary had a little brother named David, baptised in Fethard, five years later. 

Chances are this was my family. Maurice is still AWOL, but I’m off to see what else I can find out.[10]

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[1] Census of Ireland, 1901, Maurice Carroll, Mountjoy, Dublin, National Archives.
[2] Census of Ireland, 1901, Robert Carroll, Royal Exchange, Dublin, same.
[3] Robert Carroll, baptism, 1860, Swords parish register, National Library.
[4] Carroll-Frazer marriage, 1859, St Nicholas parish register, IrishGenealogy.ie.
[5] Carroll-Radcliffe marriage, 1869, Swords parish register, National Library.
[6] David Carroll, Limerick, Griffith's Valuation, Ask about Ireland.
[7] David Carroll, Limerick, Tithe Applotment Books, National Archives.
[8] David Carroll, Munster, Slater's Commercial Directory of Ireland, 1846, Failte Romhat.
[9] Hall-Carroll marriage, 1852, Stradbally parish register, RootsIreland.ie (subscription site); Copy marriage register, General Register Office.
[10] Ireland Roman Catholic Parish Baptisms, Fethard parish, FindMyPast, courtesy of the National Library. 

Image credits: Except from marriage registers courtesy of the National Library of Ireland; Castleconnell Castle, The Irish Penny Magazine, no. 24, v. 1, 15 June 1833, p. 1, JSTOR.

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© Black Raven Genealogy