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Tue Feb 26, 2013, 12:39 PM

Found a bombshell about my Irish heritage.

I always knew that I was part Irish. No doubt about it, not to mention the fact that my name is 100 percent Irish!

Family history had it that my family came from Mayo, though very little was known beyond that. Many years ago on a trip to Ireland, I visited Mayo but could learn nothing about my family. No clue about exactly where they were from, not to mention which parish.

On Saturday, I decided to Google my great-grandfather's name and where he lived here. I hit pay dirt in the form of a genealogy site for a branch of the family, specifically a long-dead greataunt's descendants. Because I couldn't see everything, I applied for membership and was accepted today.

So, the bombshell: My family did not come from Mayo, but from Wexford! I now know the village and the parish. As a 17-year-old, my great-grandfather sailed around the horn and prospected for gold (this was about 1855) in California. Later, he traveled overland to the Midwestern town where my father grew up and where a good share of the family already lived. It's a fascinating read.

I realize that this post may be more appropriate to the genealogy group, but I wanted to share it with the Irish members. Of course, now I want to visit Wexford, but ill health and finances prevent that.

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Reply Found a bombshell about my Irish heritage. (Original post)
greatauntoftriplets Feb 2013 OP
CBHagman Feb 2013 #1
greatauntoftriplets Feb 2013 #2
CountAllVotes Apr 2013 #3
greatauntoftriplets Apr 2013 #4
CountAllVotes Apr 2013 #5
greatauntoftriplets Apr 2013 #6
mopinko Jun 2013 #7
greatauntoftriplets Jul 2013 #8

Response to greatauntoftriplets (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:34 PM

1. Congratulations!

People can spend a lifetime trying to uncover the story of their ancestors, and sometimes family lore is the clue and sometimes it's a red herring.

I'd be curious to know how you confirmed the connection. Were there just a lot of details that lined up? The right set of names in the right branch?

Again, congratulations. That's quite a find.

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Response to CBHagman (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 08:15 AM

2. Thanks for asking, CB. A woman who apparently is a distant cousin did all the research...

One of my grandfather's sisters is her great-grandmother. She had done extensive research on both sides of her family and had included significant (and previously unknown to me) details on my great-grandparents.

In this case, family lore was a red herring. My father wasn't yet born when his grandfather died and only about seven when his grandmother died. I have no idea how Mayo came into the picture now.

The information on my family only goes back to my great-great-grandparents on that side. Still, it's more than I knew a week ago.

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Response to greatauntoftriplets (Original post)

Mon Apr 8, 2013, 01:33 PM

3. Congratulations!!

Last edited Mon Apr 8, 2013, 02:10 PM - Edit history (1)

I've been searching my roots for years. Dad had said the family was from Cork and that turned out to be incorrect. However, I found out that another part of his family that they married into, the Sullivans, were from Cork. I believe that is where this belief came from.

I finally figured it out and they were from Tipperary after locating the obit. of my grgrgrandfather who died in San Francisco at the age of 82 years. He had hidden out more or less being he remarried rather quickly after his wife died of TB in 1885. Seems he had a number of things going on in his life that he didn't want anyone to know about is what I've discovered (i.e. like having two sons by different wives with the same name ...).

I've been to Ireland a few times and traveled throughout the country in various ways. I did my best traveling when I went in 1983 and was in my late 20s when I was still young and quite able. I saw a lot via a bus/rail pass.

I too recently hit the "jackpot" so to speak.

I received an email from a person bearing the name of an old cousin of mine that happened to have been a very well known Monsignor in California that founded many churches during the Gold Rush days in California.

I wrote him back (he knew nothing about the fact that his name is the same as that of the old Monsignor) and he told me that there was another cousin that had been trying to find me, a cousin whose grandfather had been searching for years for his long lost family that left Kilkenny during the Great Famine. This cousin still lives at the same place/house in Kilkenny and the person that contacted me is an elderly woman living near Boston. She sent me pictures of the house and the people living there now, my cousins! WOW!

I was so surprised and shocked I cannot tell you! Seems this part of my father's family had been searching since post-famine days wondering if the family members that left were even alive. Well, we are alive alright! I sent her a few pictures of my father, my uncle, and my grandfather and great grandparents, one being the woman that left Killkenny in about 1860 or so and ended up in New York where she met my grgrgrandfather from Co. Louth (I think ...). She died in San Francisco in 1925 at the age of 85 years. She had born about 10 children at least, one of them being my great grandmother who lived/died in San Francisco.

You mention your relatives were in Calif. too. You could very well be related to me as the population of San Francisco was 70,000 person in 1870 and 80% of the residents were Irish immigrants.

So, yes, I know how ecstatic you feel about his. It is indeed pay dirt so to speak. Today I hear from these cousins of mine frequently (they send me cards and the like at Xmas, etc.) and my god, it is great really as I have very few living relatives left.


The reason there are no records of the famine is because they were all destroyed or purposefully not recorded at all. The belief in part is that the famine was so horrible that no one cared to remember it nor speak of it and then again the other side of the coin is that they didn't want any records that were particularly accurate on purpose.

You are fortunate to know the parish your family came from. You could likely go to Wexford and there may be records of them around, you never know!

My husband is from Ireland and his grandfather died in the 1940s at the age of 104 years and he never spoke of it to the family either. His family still lives in the same house and there are no records of them much to be found. In the great "Griffith's Valuation", the go to record for finding relatives in Ireland, they are no where to be found nor is the place that they live in to be found either. My husband believes that when the man came around to collect his tithe and record the family that he was likely paid off or better yet, driven off of their land, land which they have owned for hundreds and hundreds of years back to the time when the Normans invaded Ireland in the 1600s.

This is about all that is known by his own very large family that still lives there except for an old graveyard on their property bearing the names of the old members of their family that no one remembers, some dating as far back as the 1700s. Recently the Irish government came around to their property asking my brother-in-law about it and wanted info. from him and he had nothing to share with them. I believe he slammed the door in their faces and told them to go away and leave him and the rest of the family alone and also, do not come back. Woah!

So, God only knows how bad this was but given what I saw in 1983 (lots of empty abandoned houses with no one in sight -- remnants of the horrific past I believe), I know it was bad, very very bad and any which one of us that is alive today and Irish as I am (among other things too ... like Native American thanks to my mother's blood) is damn sight lucky to be here as the pop. of Ireland was said to be at 9 million persons when the famine hit dropping to a population of about 3 million which is where it is today. Talk about a holocaust that seems to be almost forgotten, I think we have one here!

I'm sorry to read that you aren't well enough to travel to Ireland. It is a very long trip indeed (esp. from Calif. where I live). The last time I was there it was such a nightmare with the airline B.S. that I swore I'd never get on a plane again and I likely won't as I ended up at an ER in Hungary with a condition I never knew I had that can be very serious and flying can cause it and also make it a very serious, even life-threatening medical condition so I'm afraid I'm done. Luckily I traveled a lot when I was younger and managed to see quite a bit of places having minimal funds to travel with.

I cannot remember how many times I've told people searching for their relatives this: Seek and ye shall find. So true indeed!

Anyway, I've gone on for too long already here but again, I'm glad for you.



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Response to CountAllVotes (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 8, 2013, 05:51 PM

4. That's a wonderful discovery!

How nice that your relatives in Ireland had been looking for family members all those years. You grgrgreatgrandfather sounds like quite a character. There is a woman ancestor on my mother's (non-Irish) side of the family who seems to have married and remarried awfully quickly. This was 200 or so years ago, so there is no one alive who can answer any questions.

We have no idea how Mayo got into the mix since it's pretty distant from Wexford.

The distant cousin who did all the research lives in the town where the family settled, which is only about 40 miles away from where I am. She found some great information, although there is likely lots more in Wexford -- that is, if the records still exist. I am pretty certain that we must have relatives back in Ireland, because a cousin who went with my grgreatgrandfather apparently hit it big and returned home and bought three farms.

How the rest of the family ended up in the Chicago area is still a mystery.

I hope that you make some further discoveries.

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Response to greatauntoftriplets (Reply #4)

Mon Apr 8, 2013, 07:07 PM

5. Well Mayo is in free Ireland

Distance wise it is not really that far away as Ireland is a small country. You can go all the way from Dublin to Donegal via bus in about 5 hours or so travel time.

It seems that most of my relatives were from southern Ireland but the main branch of MY family is in Donegal.

I've been there to check it out and see the historical sites that belong to my family who still live there in large numbers. They migrated south to fight the English in the Battle of Kinsale which was in ~1600. That is how they ended up in Tipperary.

Ironically, I found out that my husband's family was also present at the Battle of Kinsale. There were two brothers of his surname that fought in that battle and both of them are names in my husband's family, including himself! Now how is that for beyond bizarre?

They could have well been from Mayo and relocated to Wexford as some point. It is so difficult to know.

If you ever find any links to San Francisco, let me know as I have quite a stockpile of info. on the Irish living there from the mid-1800s to present day.

Best of luck to you too and I hope that some day you get a letter from someone that is looking for YOU. I cannot tell you how that makes one feel. Worthy at last!! YES.

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Response to CountAllVotes (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 8, 2013, 07:29 PM

6. Unfortunately, we have no evidence of Mayo...

It was just something that my father said...can't ask him now because he's been dead for 20 years. The information that I found indicated that they had been in Wexford a long time...except for one grgrgrandmother who was from Carlow, which is just next door.

I've been to Kinsale! It's a beautiful town and I had a great time there. It was the spring bank holiday weekend (same weekend as our Memorial Day) and the harbor was full of beautiful sailboats. There was one...

If I ever find SF links, I'll be certain to send them to you. I don't think that my grgrandfather spent a lot of time there before traveling overland to the Chicago area.

I'd love to get a letter from some relative in Ireland. It's not impossible. My surname is the family name, but it's not that uncommon. Likely they'd contact my cousins, and I don't know if they'd pass it along.

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Response to greatauntoftriplets (Original post)

Sat Jun 29, 2013, 01:37 PM

7. do you know anything about chicago parish records?

never could find my mom's birth certificate, but did finally find out which church she was baptized in. according to the google, they have microfiche of records back to 1920, but of course, my mother was born in 1913.
wondering if they have them at the newberry.

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Response to mopinko (Reply #7)

Mon Jul 1, 2013, 11:54 AM

8. Unfortunately, no.

My father's family was from Elgin, which is in the Diocese of Rockford. Also, I never had to check since a distant cousin did all the research -- and all in Elgin. The Newberry may well have the records you are looking for.

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