Showing posts with label Ireland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ireland. Show all posts

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Fairy Forts and Leprechauns- The Cookes of Clooningan

Former home of Michael Cooke and family, Clooningan, Sligo, Ireland
     No, I haven't lost my mind. I have scored yet another find in my family history. You are looking at the house in which my grandmother, Catherine Marie Cooke was born in March 1878. It would have had different windows and a thatch roof, but this is the family home. How did I find this? Well, I joined a website called Ireland Reaching Out. I can highly recommend this site as I've had hits for both the Fitzgerald and Cooke sides of the family. The one that yielded this photo was from Ciaran, who, it turns out, is a rather close cousin still living in the area. More on all that later. He sent me a whole series of photos of the Cooke property including this one. This property was sold out of the family, but some of the surrounding land is still occupied and farmed by family.
     The photos that intrigued me were labeled as a "high circle" or "fairy fort" which still exists on the property. What is a fairy fort? Well, I had to find out. A ráth or fairy fort is the remains of a stone age or early Christian period ring fort which was built as a defensive enclosure.  A high clay bank was built up in a large ring, surrounded by a ditch and topped with a wooden stockade enclosing wood-framed dwellings. In western Ireland, where stone was more plentiful, the surround would be of stone as you see here.
Ringfort in Donegal
The ringfort on the Cooke property was most likely of the wooden variety. You often see pictures of the surviving trees or large hedges that surrounded them. Here's the view up the hill on the Cooke property where you can see the ring of trees.

And here's the view at the fairy fort itself.
You can see that a line of trees has been deliberately planted, but it's hard to tell much. I went to Google Earth to get a better look.

You can see the fairy fort at the tip of the red arrow and the Michael Cooke home just below it along the road to the right.
     The next part is where a strong dose of Irish imagination figures in. The Irish folklore holds that fairy forts were imbued with Druid magic and with the Tuatha Dé Danann and were entry points into the fairy world. (The Tuatha Dé Danann were the ancient pre-Celtic inhabitants of Ireland) Altering a ringfort in any way would bring terrible fortune on that person. (Even cutting the whitethorn brush around them) There are also numerous tales of supernatural experiences happening at these ringforts. Another story associated with a ringfort is that this is the place where a leprechaun hides his gold. Clearly my relatives never benefited from the help of a leprechaun!
     I'm not a big fan of the American celebration of St. Patrick's Day, but this tidbit seemed too good to pass up. Many American-born Irish know so little about true Irish culture or language or folklore.  I also realized just this morning that today would be my grandmother's birthday. She was born on March 4, 1878. So Happy Birthday Katie. I'm thinking of you.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Catharine Fitzgerald...A Small Postscript

So I heard back from Frank Thompson and he wanted to clarify a few points from the previous post. First, the Ballinoe I found was one of several in County Cork. The actual scene of my family drama was closer to the previous locations. If you look at the map in the previous post and find the Cork airport, this is the area just south and west.
You can see Ballinhassig in the far lower left, Ballygarvan in the center and Monees, which Frank tells me is more commonly called Moneygurney. So they stayed in the same general area) He tells me that the locals would most likely have gone to the chapel in Ballygarvan. He enclosed a picture:
This is also where many of Frank's relatives attended. But Frank cautioned against the idea that baptisms and big weddings were going on in these places. This was an point in history where the religion of Ireland was the Church of Ireland. Here is Frank's explanation:
"However, neither weddings nor baptisms were normally held in the ‘chapel’ (as all Catholic churches were called, no matter how big).  For somewhat complicated reasons, they were normally held on ‘private’ premises, that is, in people’s houses, meeting halls, barns, or even pubs.  This was because, officially, weddings and baptisms were supposed to be held only in Church of Ireland (Protestant) churches, the only Church recognized by the state until 1869.  Of course, this was a joke, because no one really questioned the validity of a Catholic marriage, and it would not have been practical to force parents to have their children baptized in the ‘parish church’ (Protestant).  To avoid conflict with the letter of the Protestant law, therefore, the Catholic ‘chapel’ was used only for mass, not for any event that might have official or legal significance.  The parish priest constantly rode about his parish on horseback, marrying and baptizing along the way.  For each service, he collected a fixed fee.  And, just as important, he expected to get his ‘dinner’ at the houses of at least the better-off recipients of his services. "
I went back and reexamined the marriage record for Robert and Ellen and found this for the 7th April 1825.
Frank agrees that the Mary he found seems most likely to be Mary Catherine. He commented that the name Robert wasn't terribly common among Cork Catholics and of course I always figure the odds of finding exactly Robert Fitzgerald combined with Ellen Desmond within the span of years I give.
   Frank's suggestion is to next go after the valuation books at the National Archives of Ireland. Oh boy, more jurisdictions to navigate! As someone pointed out to me, it's like one of those giant jigsaws puzzled with pieces you almost have to pull from the ether. I enjoy the challenge.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Catharine Fitzgerald

     You may remember that finding this application for a marriage license was a major breakthrough for me. It has led me to Andrew's roots in Macroom, Cork, Ireland. I didn't have as much instant success with Catharine, however. I was pretty sure she was also from Cork. I also had a sneaking suspicion that Andrew and Catharine were cousins of some sort. There are a LOT of Desmonds on the parish registers for Macroom and some other Fitzgeralds. A straight up search, however, for Robert Fitzgerald and Ellen Desmond didn't give me much to work with. This is where the Ancestry message boards come in. I posted a brief message with the tiny bit I knew.  Very soon, I got back a query from Frank Thompson. Why was my information so sparse?  Where are my dates? Well, other than the American dates and this license, I have almost nothing on Catharine Fitzgerald.

     Bless his heart,  Frank went to work. Frank prefers to use the Irish Genealogy site to Ancestry or some of the other sites. We went back and forth for a few emails because Catharine didn't show up, although Robert and Ellen did. Frank, being much more organized than I am, came up with a very involved spreadsheet. Here is the portion showing Robert and Ellen and their children:

     The first entry would be their marriage, followed by the birth of five children: Julia, Ellen, Mary, John and Margaret. The number 12 indicates the Douglas-Killingly-Ballygarven parish registers. These can also be found at the Irish National Library site. You can see on the right the various places the family lived.

     Catharine always claimed a birthdate of 1832, but as we know, if she was illiterate she may not have known her birth date. Frank sent me an interesting quote that addresses this directly:
This quote comes from Alexander Irvine, from his book The Chimney Corner Revisted.
"My mother kept a mental record of the twelve births. None of us ever knew, or cared to know, when we were born. When I heard of anybody in the more fortunate class celebrating a birthday I considered it a foolish imitation of the Queen’s birthday, which rankled in our little minds with 25th December or 12th July. In manhood there were times when I had to prove I was born somewhere, somewhen, and then it was that I discovered that I also had a birthday. The clerk of the parish informed me"
     I wonder if Mary, born in July 1831 wasn't actually Mary Catharine. Parish registers didn't include middle names, but I know my Cook relatives all had middle names. So Mary Catharine seems completely possible. Also, I suspect that Catharine's first job in America was as a house servant. One too many Irish Marys in the house would give you an instant renaming.
     I did ask Frank about the gap between Mary and the later two children. He gave me a couple of ideas that might explain it. First, either Robert may have actually been Protestant or a former Protestant. Sometimes those families christened some of the family in one faith and some in another. (and sadly many of the Protestant records were the ones that burned) Barring that, there could have been a separation: dad went to where there was work and sent money home. Or there could have been numerous miscarriages, illness and other issues. I may never know if this is actually MY Catharine, but it seems likely. I did do a broader search of Ireland using Robert and Ellen. Cork is the only place they turned up together...at least from what's available online.
     Frank did a very detailed analysis of the "sponsor" names and found numerous connections between the Bennetts, the Buttimores and the Fitzgeralds and Desmonds. Almost certainly these are relatives. He said those names show up on the Macroom parish registers as well. So there's a future project.
Finally, St. Finbar's South in Cork seems to have been the last church. It the place of registry for of one of the christenings. So I took a look and found this:
     I like this very rustic stone church. Seems right to go with what I know about the the family. With some help from a new online friend, I've possibly unlocked a little more of the mystery of my Irish family.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Fitzgeralds

     You may remember in a previous post about my great-grandfather Andrew Fitzgerald, I puzzled over this chart. I made this to puzzle out why the ages seemed so diverse and inconsistent. My cousin Jon pointed out, and rightly so, that Andrew may not have been literate and may well not have know his age. The real outlier was the immigration passenger list. I decided that if I threw THAT out, I might make some real progress. So I have added a column on the right based on some new information I just found. (I still think he was deliberately shaving his age in some cases) And remembering that birthdays were NOT a big to-do over a hundred years ago, I think I may have been able to add some family in Ireland to the tree.
    I was looking at the marriage application document from the last post.
The names of HIS parents and hers are real leads in the Irish records. I looked at the Charlestown marriage record and the same two names appear again: Andrew Fitzgerald and Margaret Callahan. So based on that I was off and running. Ancestry posted a link to some updated records they just added from the Irish National Library. This is baptims and marriages in Roman Catholic parishes. And plugging in the three names..........
Here it is in Latin at the very bottom of the page "Andreas Fitzgerald filius Andrea et Margarit
Callahan sp. Eugenia McCarthy et Margrite  ?." (not sure of that last name) So could this be true? 1820?
     I decided to go to the records and start combing. How common was the name in Cork? How common would a combination of both names be? I went page by page and found siblings. And every time the parent names were consistent. And 1820 would not be so very far off from 1814. Before long I had a tree that looked like this:

      What I see in the records seems to fit what I know. I can't be absolutely certain, but I think this is it!  Where I had a spindly little chopped off tree, I now have some ancestors.
        I was curious about the locale. The front of the register said Diocese of Cloyne, parish of Macroom. There again, I ran into all the Irish geopolitical divisions. So I went directly to the Library of Ireland page and there was a handy dandy map next to the image from the records I had been using.
      I checked out the information on the parish and it turns out that the church name also matches the name I found in the front of the birth register: St. Colman's. Macroom, according to Wikipedia, is a market town fourteen miles west of Cork. It was a bustling town until the great potato famine when, according to this source, it was "decimated by death and emigration". Now by the time Andrew decided to emigrate in 1850, the famine was past, but perhaps he saw no future for himself in this place. Or perhaps he was still young enough to dream of adventure.  I still wonder if Catharine, his wife,  was some cousin, however distant. She emigrated at about the same time. I think I'll have to give the passenger lists another close look. Those birth records were full of Fitzgeralds. Only one other Andrew. Too far off in date to be mine and different parent names. But I also saw some Desmonds. And that was Catharine's mother's name.   The next task was to go into my favorite Google street view and see what this place looks like. This is the site of the various baptisms: St. Colman's Roman Catholic church. It has quite an extensive bit of land. Perhaps a school or convent as well as the church.          

     And, of course, I had to get a good look at the town. I plunked the little man in Streetview in various spots. It seems to be a quiet little Irish town. 
Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, I've made some real progress on the Fitzgerald side of my tree!
Hope you have the luck of the Irish in your search for ancestors.

Friday, July 31, 2015

A New Resource for Irish Genealogy

Church of the Immaculate Conception, Curry village, Sligo, Ireland
This picture of a church sets the scene for a fabulous new resource I found this month. Lisa Louise Cooke, of Genealogy Gems, published a Facebook link to new records that went online at the
Irish National Library. You can get to them here.

I was very lucky. I knew enough information to make a smart guess at exactly where to look and within half an hour I had baptismal records for three people in my dad's family: his mother Catherine Marie Cooke, his aunt Mary Ann Cooke (called Mamie by the family) and his uncle John J Cooke (called Jack). My very fanciful (she once announced that we were really Italian and related to the Gherhardinis.  Eeek!) Cousin Katherine had recalled that Jack said the family was from "Curry village". I popped "Curry" into the parish terms and there were the records. I was lucky.

The geopolitical divisions of Ireland are a bit hard to get used to. For example, technically this family lived in the following: Province of Connaught, County Sligo, Barrony of Leyny, Civil Parish: Achonry, Poor Law Union of Tobercurry, Townland of Cloonigan. Where's Curry in all this mess? Well that's the Roman Catholic parish as well as a totally separate townland. There were also Church of Ireland parishes. What a mess!

The dates in the records are all over the place. The "official records" say, for example, that Mary Ann
Cooke was born on the 17 December 1874. Here is her baptism record:

Cloonigan is waaaaay out in the country. Even today on Google street view you get a few houses, a narrow two-lane road and lots of brushy open land. So I'm guessing she was born closer to the 12th and they didn't make the official record until closer to the 17th. The interesting thing in all these records are the "patrons" or  godparents. I don't know yet who these people are, but it is something more to go on. In this case we have Mary Ann Cooke and Michael Feehely. One person from dad's family and one from mom's I'm guessing.

Next we have John J Cooke born 19 April 1876.

Again this is almost a month earlier. His godparents are John Cooke and Mary Cooke. I know that Michael's father was named John, but the Griffith's Valuation shows a John and a John Jr., so maybe this is Michael's brother.

And lastly we have my grandmother, Catherine Marie Cooke, born 4 March 1878.

This time the baptism is a little bit later. The godparents in this case are James Cooke and Ann Feehily. Again I'm thinking uncles, aunts or cousins. Cloonigan was so tiny it didn't even have a town center, so the nearest church would probably have been the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Curry. My best guess is that my photo is the scene of the baptisms.

No wonder none of these three relatives were really certain of their actual birthdate! At any rate, this is a wonderful new resource for those trying to unravel an Irish family.  The serendipity of having a record pop up so quickly has encouraged me a bit. Persistence really does pay off.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Revolutionary Ideas- The Story of Three Sisters

Dunn Cemetery- Bloomington Indiana
On the Indiana side of my mother's family tree, we are related to the Dunns. They settled in Rockingham County, Virginia, removed to Kentucky and my branch ended up in Indiana. There are Dunns all over Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana who descend from this line. This story goes even further back. Samuel Fowler Dunn married Eleanor Brewster, one of many children and one of  three very well-known daughters of James Brewster and Eleanor Williamson. James Brewster and Samuel's father John Dunn were lifelong friends from their childhood in Northern Ireland.

The story of their bravery during the American Revolution has been told and retold in multiple versions all over the genealogical community.  The girls were Eleanor who was 22, Jenette-14 and Agnes-13 at the start of the Revolution. The farm raised sheep and the girls carded the wool, spun it and wove it into cloth to supply the armies who camped on and near their land. They cooked and carried food to the troops. One particular story has them baking bread continually night and day in a particular bread oven brought with the family from Ireland. The oven, it is said, was never allowed to cool. It was handed down in the Dunn family to girls named Jennet or Janet.  Recognition of the bravery of the three girls has been given by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.You can read various things about the family here.

Eleanor, my ancestor, married Samuel Fowler Dunn. He moved out of Virginia and Kentucky and further north into Indiana, because it is said he objected to slavery.  Jenette married Samuel Irvin and Agnes married William Alexander. The three sisters all ended up in Indiana in the area around Bloomington.

George G Dunn deeded a portion of the family farm to be kept in perpetuity as a cemetery for the descendants of the Dunn family. The land around it was later sold to Indiana University, so the cemetery and chapel now sit on the university campus.  There is a monument to the three sisters in one corner of the cemetery.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

♣ A Little Irish Mappy Monday

Considering how little my mother actually knew about her genealogy, she could be quite a snob about her family...of course some of her attitudes came from small-town upbringing and things she heard at home as a child.  So I was gleeful to discover that there was quite a bit of Irish background in her family.
What I present here are the bare facts I've gleaned from the few online records and family histories....hopefully in the future an ambitious genealogist will find the records to back this up.
James Dunn and Martha Long married some time in the mid-1700's in County Down, Ireland. Down is in Northern Ireland right on the Irish Sea. I found this rather cool map at one of the Irish heritage sites. James and Martha had several children in Ireland, including my ancestor Samuel Fowler Dunn. At some point after his birth around 1750, they emigrated to the Colonies and lived in western Virginia. Samuel married Eleanor Brewster and moved to Mercer County, Kentucky. From there the Dunns spread out all over Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Indiana. My direct ancestor, John Dunn, was one of the first settlers in Owen County, Indiana.
Happy St. Patrick's Day, mom!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Tubbercurry or Tobercurry - the Cooke and Feely clans


Working on the Irish side of my tree was something I'd always hoped I could do while my dad was still alive. Sadly that was not to be. He wasn't able to be very helpful with information about his family-from what he said they could be close-mouthed and secretive. As a young boy in a working-class household where the adults had other worries,  I'm sure he was more interested in swimming at the Boy's Club and playing kick-the-can. I pried as much as I could get from him while he was alive and he surprised me by showing a bit of curiousity about my searches for his extended family.

 I found some American census records and a few death records. Focusing on Boston, there were a few more hints. Dad said there were some Feely cousins he remembered from his childhood. He thought the Feelys had a car dealership in Roslindale. So far, that search hasn't yielded much.  I also found a Maurice Feely living with the family on an early census. If anyone out there thinks this rings a bell, I'd love to hear from you.

Experienced genealogists tell you to "go with what you know" and re-examine every document. Now it was time to try to "jump the pond". So I went back to my grandmother's Irish birth certificate. Sure enough, right across the top was the first piece of the puzzle.

Someone, maybe my dad, had mentioned Roscommon in connection with the family. Clearly I was looking in the wrong county. So now I had county of SligoAclare district, town of Tobercurry. Exceeepppt..well look at the photo and then look at the certificate..yup..is it Tobercurry or Tubbercurry? Apparently, even the Irish don't agree as a Google search will tell you. And the Irish changed and simplified a lot of names at one point.  But I had a place to start.

Irish records are challenging. Many weren't kept, some were burned and some have been destroyed by time. The Catholic church has some parish records and in those the names are often in Latin. Yet another challenge. Luckily both Ancestry and FamilySearch had this record:



Comparing the two, you can see my great grandmother Mary Feehily (Americanized to Feely) and Michael Cooke (Cook) marrying in Tobercurry just before the birth of their oldest child. At some point soon I will go off the the local Family History Center and order this record. Hopefully, it will have a little more information to help me along the way. Further searches in the Irish records have shown me that there are and were a LOT of Cooks, Cookes, Feehilys and Feelys in and around Tobercurry. I'll need a few more clues.