My key to Ireland

Kiernan Family 1982

The Kiernan Family 1982 (I’m the baby in the front row.)

For this months edition if the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture the theme is “My Key to Ireland.”

This is the topic that applies to me: If you have always known the place or places where your family hailed from, tell us about them. What draws you there and what else have you learned throughout your search for family history?

John Kiernan abt 1933

John Kiernan (my Dad) abt 1933.

My Father was born and raised in Ireland and didn’t come to America until after I was born. Because of this I have always known where my family is from. My Grandma was able to give my Father information on her Grandparents and my Grandpa’s Grandparents.  When I began researching, I had names, dates and places for 4 generations. It wasn’t complete and I couldn’t be sure that it was accurate because they were verbal records. But it was a great place to start because in Irish Family History, you are extemely lucky (or your ancestors were extremely wealthy) if you can get as far back as the 1700’s.  And as it turns out, I have been extremely lucky.

Co. Leitrim

Map from Irish Times.
Co. Leitrim. Parishes highlighted: Aughavas & Cloone-Clonmaicne.

My Grandfather, Francis Kiernan’s family is from R. C. Parishes of Aughavas and Cloone in Co. Leitrim. Most of the research I have done there has been confirming names and dates. All the information I had on direct ancestors was accurate but by searching through Roman Catholic Parish Records, I have been able to find siblings and a few of their spouses. The Parish records in Aughavas go back to the 1840’s and the Parish Records in Cloone go back to the 1820’s. I have been able to search through them at the LDS Family History Library here in Anchorage. I was able to confirm all the information the my Dad had given me. I also found information on the Leitrim-Roscommon website. The 1901 Census for Co. Leitrim is completly indexed and online at their site. I’ve found several family memebers with this search.

Co. Laois

Map from Irish Times.
Co Laois.  Parishes highlighted: Abbeyleix, Aghaboe, Durrow, & Mountmellick.

My Grandmother, Maria Nolan’s family is from Co. Laois. Her 4 Grandparents are each from different Parishes. They are Abbyleix, Aghaboe, Durrow, and Mountmellick. Of those, I only have access to the Parish records of Aghaboe and Mountmellick.  The other two, Abbyleix and Durrow, were not filmed by the LDS Church but the records are available at the National Library of Ireland. The only problem with that is that I live 4,266 miles from Dublin (as the crow flies.) From the two parishes that I have access too, I have found a good deal of information. I found my Great Great Grandfather, Micheal Nolan’s, Christening records in 1829 in Aghaboe. That gave me the names of his parents. Then I was able to find several of his siblings. I also found out that the name I had for his wife, my Great Great Grandmother, was wrong. Her real name is Ann Muldowney and the names I had were Ann Dunphy or Delahanty.  In Mountmellick. I was able to find the names of my 3rd Great Grand parents, William Horan and Anne Connor. I found their Marriage records in 1816. This is the oldest record I have found so far and I am super excited to have it. I think it’s safe to say that William was born in the late 1700’s.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to go back much farther than that.

There are some other great resources that I have found. The Origins Network has indexed the complete Griffiths Valuation. You can view the original records and their corresponding maps. There is a small fee to view the records. It’s costs about $8 for 72  hours access to the site. Another great site is the Irish Family History Foundation. They have computerized the Parish records for more than half of the Counties in Ireland. It is free to search the records but it costs  €5.00 to view each record. It is well worth the money if you know that the record is relevant.

Another great source is local books and histories. In The Parish of Aughavas Co. Leitrim by Micael Whelan, I found out that the Black and Tans attempted to burn down my Grandpa’s house in 1921. He and his brother Big Pat were also pictured in a group of IRA prisoners in the Curragh in 1921. I did not know anything about his imprisonment prior to reading the book.  I knew that he had recieved the Irish War of Independence Medal and that he served in the IRA from 1916-1922 before joining the Garda in 1922.

I think finding new information about my family is one of the best and most exciting feelings in the world. Unfortunately, I think I have searched most of the information that I have access to at this current time. I can’t wait till more information becomes available online or until I am able to back to Ireland and do some of the research myself.

This post is listed at:

Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture

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