A confusion of Callaghans


In the coming weeks I’ll be thinking out loud on this blog about my research plans for an upcoming trip to Ireland.  One of my key objectives is to get to understand the confusion of Callaghans from Courtown, Parish of Ballygarrett, County Wexford.

When I wrote about this family previously (here and here), the digitised Catholic Parish Registers had not been released by the National Library of Ireland, nor indexed by Ancestry and Find My Past. This advance has proven to be heaven-sent for me, while it still leaves lots of gaps in my understanding of the different branches of this family. I am fortunate, though, that the registers do cover early years and also include burials, something that can’t be taken for granted with Catholic records. So the periods available to me are: baptisms November 1828 – February 1863, marriages August 1828 – November 1865, and burials August 1830 – April 1857 and October 1865 to April 1867. This then leads directly to the civil BDM registers, but I’d still like to see more parish registers.

Specifically, I still want to find the answers to these questions:

  1. Who were the parents of David Callaghan, father of my Mary McSherry nee Callaghan?
  2. Where was he born, given his baptism is not shown in the parish registers? Perhaps his mother was from another parish and he was baptised there, but even so he is not turning up in the indexes.
  3. Who was his wife? Later civil registrations show her name as Anne Callaghan, but was this actually her maiden name or was it her married name?
  4. Where and when was my great-grandmother, Mary Callaghan (later Sherry/McSherry) born and baptised (c1860)? She also does not appear in the Ballygarrett registers.
  5. How is David Callaghan related to the other Callaghans in Courtown Harbour and nearby townlands (Edward, John, Michael)?

There are a couple of complicating factors with these families:

  1. A few marriages are not in the Ballygarrett registers implying either (i) they were possibly married in the Church of Ireland or (ii) more likely, were married in another Catholic parish.
  2. The Callaghan men were fishermen and seamen. This means they may have met their wives some distance from Courtown (affecting marriage locations) and they may have met their deaths at sea (hence no burial records).
  3. Because of this it makes it difficult to determine the naming patterns with confidence: are there children lurking in another parish?
  4. Like so many other families of the era, names are recycled with monotonous frequency making it difficult to know which is which, as well as to which branch they belong.

Search objectives

  1. Look at the Griffith’s Valuation Revision lists at the Dublin Valuation Office to see the land transfers for Callaghans in the Courtown area. (I did order in the film from Family Search but somehow it boomeranged straight back).
  2. Search for more detail on the BDMs in the civil registers.
  3. Visit Courtown to see the lay of the land, and the houses they lived in, which still appear to be standing.
  4. Visit the Ardamine cemetery and also see if there are traces of the earlier cemetery (? At Riverchapel?)
  5. Check if parish registers are available at Wexford Archives for periods beyond 1865.

The following is my summary of the Callaghans in the parish so far, based on parish registers and civil registrations (spelling variants include Callahan, Calahan):

John Callahan & Bridget Quinn married c1830s  – Courtown Harbour

Children are Edward x 2; John (1833-1845 with gaps)

Patrick Callahan & Mary Kinsella (various spellings) married 1832 – Glyn

Children: Mary, Brigid, John (1832-1846 with gaps)

Pat Callahan & Nancy Bulger married 1833 – townland?

Children: Ann & Eliza (twins?) (1833)

Patrick Callahan & Anne Ryan married 1834 – Harbour

Children: Elisabeth & Mary (1834-1839 incl gaps)

Edward Callahan & Anne Reynolds married 1838 – Riverchapel

Children: Brigid (1838)

William Byrne & Mary Callaghan married 1847 – Harbour

Children: Henry (1850)

Martin Leary & Mary Callaghan married 1843 – Glynn

Children: ?

Tentatively my next generation:

John Callaghan & Catherine Cullen marr date unk – Harbour

Children: John, Patrick, Elisabeth (married James Redmond). (1833-1845 with a big gap).

David Callaghan #1 & Anne nee Callaghan? – married date & place unk – Harbour

Children: Patrick (?), Mary (later Sherry/McSherry); Ellen; Bridget (unm); David #2 (married Kinsella). (early 1860s – 1874 with gaps)

Michael Callaghan & Catherine Sculey – married date unk – townland ?

Children: Elizabeth Susan (1866)

Edward Callaghan & Anne Naughter – married 1870

Children: James, Elizabeth (1871, 1872)

Third generation identified

Patrick Callaghan (son of David #1) & Kate Unk(possibly marriage in Dungarvan 1890/91)

Child: David #3 (1893) married Mary Kinsella 1908

Elizabeth Callaghan (dau of John gen 2) & James Redmond – married

Children: Mary, Thomas, Catherine, John, Elizabeth. (1900-1910)

Some of the gaps in these families may be due to twins or still births. My great-grandmother, Mary Callaghan McSherry, gave birth to two sets of twins.

There are also seem to be two clusters of Callaghan families – one lot in Courtown Harbour and another in the townland of Glyn.

Earlier generations:

The earliest parish register entries for burials include a handful of Callaghans who were born pre-1800. No doubt these include the parents of the 1st generation above, but who were born before the registers commenced. They include

Bridget/Brigid (1755-1835)(Glyn)

Michael (1770-1838) (Glyn)

Betty (1788-1848) (Harbour)

Anne (1795-1870)

Elizabeth (1802-1873)

Patrick (1802-1876)

John (1815-1885)

And whose son is Edward Callaghan (born circa April 1816) who joined the 81st Foot Regiment in 1840 at Gloucester? He stated his place of birth was Ardamine (civil) parish near the town of Gorey. After leaving in 1861, he intended to live in Bury, Lancashire.

Thanks for your patience in following my thinking. If anyone has ideas, or can see anomalies, I’d be pleased to hear from you.

Meanwhile here are a few tips that might be of help to someone:

Make sure you limit your search to “Ireland” before starting out. Check out the card catalogues and/or use these links to focus on the digitised versions of the parish registers.

Ireland Roman Catholic Parish Baptisms….(FindMyPast)

Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers (Ancestry)

Did you know you can search by place only so you only show the parish you’re looking at for a range of years but with no name? This will give you a list of all names indexed (however strangely) for the parish.

4 thoughts on “A confusion of Callaghans

  1. So organised, Pauline. Have a wonderful trip and hope you get answers to some of your questions. I have the same problem with the relentless naming of children with the same surname with a limited palette of first names. Makes it so hard to work out which family they belong to. Best of luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Pauleen, Do you know RootsIreland have recently released transcriptions of the baptism registers for Ballygarrett Parish, to 1899? If you’ve not already, it might be worth taking out a one-day subscription to check them out. Also, copy birth registers show the mother’s maiden name, so if you order a €4 research cert from the General Register Office for one of her children it should confirm if Anne’s name was always Callaghan. Best of luck with your search!

    Liked by 1 person

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