Researching Parish Registers… again.

March 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

I recently made a trip to the Saint Louis County Library, home of the local Family History Library, to take another look at the Roman Catholic Church registers from the parish of Rosenallis. I had two goals in mind, the first being to locate James Conroy SR’s birth record, and the second, to try to locate any of the Harney, Byrne, or other Conroys who had lived in Newton, Massachusetts, who had roots in Queens County. In regards to James I am pleased to report that I was successful in quickly locating his baptism record which confirms that his father’s name was John, and not Hugh (see Finding Hugh), and he was born in Capard itself.

James Conroy, Baptized 6 Aug 1848, second entry. Sponsored by Thomas Walsh & Biddy Molloy. Capard, Queens County.

In another parish register, this time Mountrath, Co. Queens, I was able to find James’ marriage record to Kate/Catherine Heffernan. Kate was from Redcastle, a town nearby, and a Joseph Flanagan and Eliza Heffernan (Redcastle) were the witnesses. The date was 17 May 1871. It would seem that James, who was born in Capard, travelled to Mountrath for his wedding, which very likely was arranged, although I’m not sure.


Marriage entry for James Conroy of Capard and Catherine Heffernan of Redcastle, Mountrath. 17 May 1871, bottom of image. In Latin!

I happened to stumble upon the baptismal record for James and Kate’s first child, John, born 20 Oct 1872. His birthplace was a little hard to see, although it clearly started with “Derry”. I checked it against a list of all the Conroy children sent to me by John Conroy of Worcester (great-grandson of James), and it would seem that he was born in a place called Derrycon, located a little northwest of Mountrath in what looks like a very rural area on the foothills of the Slieve Bloom mountains, near where the Mountrath river comes down from the heights above. I know very little of James and Kate’s life at the time, but perhaps they were slowly moving back to Capard when John was born. They may have started farming in the area of Mountrath, and then moved on for whatever reason. Perhaps my friend (and second cousin once removed) Michael Flanagan in Dublin will weigh in on this one!

John, the first born son. Baptized 20 Oct 1872, bottom of image. Note 'Derry...' at end of entry where image is unclear.

As mentioned above, I was also looking for other Conroys, Harneys, and Byrnes, in an attempt to nail down a relationship. I know for a fact that the Conroys of Coen were in some way related to the Byrnes, because Eliza Byrne, wife of Martin Harney, is most likely Ellen Conroy’s cousin, based on information found in an immigration record. Eliza’s husband, Martin Harney, had a brother named Thomas Harney, whose son, Thomas Martin Harney, married Ellen Conroy. Are you still with me?! Anyway, I also know that the Harneys were from the townland of Skerry, located adjacent to Capard, home of the Conroys. In Griffith’s Valuation there is a Peter Byrne listed, sharing land with a Thomas Harney, who is most likely Thomas and Martin’s father. Could Peter be related to Eliza? I’m willing to think so.

The townland Skerry did appear in the Rosenallis collection, but no Harneys or Byrnes to be found. However, the entire Catholic Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin is split between the parishes of Rosenallis and Mountmellick, so perhaps the Byrnes and Harneys will appear in the Mountmellick registers instead.

The parish registers for Rosenallis.


Finding Hugh

January 13, 2011 § 5 Comments

It is a goal within my research to attempt to identify as closely as possible the place of origin of the two families from which I directly descend, in this case the Conroy and Dunn families. I am compelled to find as many details as I can, and simply knowing the county or townland is not satisfying enough to me. I guess that’s the perfectionist in me coming through. For now, I have been principally focusing on the Conroy family, and I believe I am getting close to knowing exactly where they came from, right down to the actual farmland they lived on.

I have commented before (see post) on the interesting experience of learning more and more about an ancestor’s place of origin, as I go from more broad and general details to more exact and specific ones. This has been the case with the Conroys. At the beginning of my research I knew they came from area of Mountmellick in County Laois but over the past few months I have narrowed that down considerably.

In the 1901 census return for Ireland the Conroy family is listed as living in the Cones townland. James Conroy, my great-great grandfather, is the head of house, and at least a few of his daughters, including Sarah my great grandmother, are also present. James is about fifty four which puts his date of birth at about 1847, right during the height of the Famine.

I have recently been looking through Griffith’s Valuation and located the index listing for the Cones townland. For a while I have been a little confused about under what parish did Cones exactly lie, but comparing the results from the valuation and the 1911 census leaves me with no doubt that I am on the right track. Cones is clearly within the Rearymore parish of the Mountmellick Poor Law Union. Consulting Griffith’s Valuation I discovered that there is a Hugh Conroy living in the Drummond townland, as well as a Matthew Conroy. In Cones there is a James and a John Conroy. Since the Laois valuation was supposedly completed in 1854, I doubt that a five or seven year old James Conroy would be the owner or occupier of his own farm, so perhaps the James listed in Cones is an uncle or some other relation. I cannot yet prove that the Hugh Conroy in Drummond is my great-great-great grandfather, but perhaps when his son James grew older he then moved to the Cones townland where James later appears in 1901.

A while ago I was at the local Family History Library branch, looking through the registers for the Roman Catholic parishes of Rosenallis and Mountmellick. Among the records for baptisms I found what I believe to be James’ baptism. Below is the record. Unfortunately the quality is a little poor, as it is a scan of a paper print out from a microfiche reader, but I hope to replace it with a straight digital copy at some point. Under the April 1847 heading James Conroy, appearing at the end, is listed as the son of Hugh Conroy and Cath(erine) Beu, with witnesses Nat./Mat. (Nathan or Matthew?)  Conroy, and possibly another Conroy, although it is difficult to read. The place of birth is then listed, and for a long time I was not sure what it said, but after my recent discoveries I am certain that it lists Rearymore as the birthplace. Rearymore can be seen listed as the birthplace of the last individual under the March heading, and I think it is plausible to believe that they are the same.

In order to be sure about any of this I think a consultation with the current Valuation Office is likely in the future, and locating any other birth and marriage records would also help. I really hope to be able to identify exactly where the Conroys where living, and it would sure be fun to do so.

‘God Save the LDS’, or, ‘Not About LSD.’

November 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Civil registration of vital records and of events, such as births, marriages, and deaths, began nationwide in Ireland in 1864. Since then, all events have been registered through the government and are collected in one central office, the General Register Office (An tSeirbhís um Chlárú Sibhialta) in Co. Roscommon. These records are available to genealogists and family researchers, but access is only gained initially by finding the sought after records listed in indices made available to the public. Finding an ancestor or life event can be difficult if the surname is widespread or if the county in which the event took place is not known. For the most part, if there was any doubt, a researcher would have to make their best guess.

In addition to only having initial access to the indices the other challenge to researchers is that, until recently, the only way to see the indices was to go, in person, to the research room available in Dublin city. If a researcher had a good idea of when and where who they were looking for might be, then they could write to the ofice instead, but at the risk of getting the wrong indiviual or paying extra research and location fees.

Then, along came the Mormons. The Church of Latter-Day Saints has scanned and copied to microfilm a ridiculous number of records, not just state records but church records as well. Among these are the indices for vital records. A researcher can now visit their local Family Learning Center, locate the appropriate film, and view the index desired. One still has to know something of who and what they are looking for to be successful. In addition to this, the LDS have also scanned many of the actual records and documents themselves, so one can see Granpa Paddy’s birth record without making a trip or writing to Dublin. I should mention at this point that county research centres also hold many of these same records within Ireland, but the same challanges hold true, not to mention that they also seem to charge much higher fees. Searching these databases is possible through (see the video link below).

Also available to researchers are the records held by the Roman Catholic church and Church of Ireland, many of which have also been filmed by the LDS. These, too, are available to order, and in some cases can provide information for dates earlier than those events registered in the Civil Records. I found it not uncommon to have trouble finding an individual in one type of record only to find them in the other.

1874 Rosenallis RC Registers Ellen Conroy

I recently ordered a roll of film from the LDS and visited my local Family Learning Center, located at the St Louis County Library headquarters, to view it. The film contained the registers of baptisms, marriages, and deaths recorded in the civil district of Rosenallis, within which lies the village of Capard and the townland of Cones where the Conroy’s hail from. I was very excited to find the baptismal record for Ellen Conroy fairly quickly, and discovered an interesting variation in the spelling of Cones. It the document it was written as “Coen,” and I have also seen this elsewhere. On a side note this has raised some confusion regarding Ellen’s true birth year, as some documents list her at 1874 and others at 1877. It is true that this is still an acceptable variation in range, but it would be worthwhile trying to be a little more certain.

Detail 1874 Ellen Conroy Baptism - Ellen is about three-quarters of the way down under the July 19 heading.

I have since spent many hours working through the LDS databases and have many records relevant to my research. Some have had a digital image of the actual record available online, while others have simply provided the call number to be used when ordering the film. I foresee many future visits to the St Louis County Library.

PS A good introduction to understanding how to search the Latter Day Saints databases is available here. It is focused on Irish Civil Registration, but the basics of how to navigate the websites I think can apply to any type of research.

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