Of cats and Callaghans at Courtown

Cottages Courtown Harbour edited

The mudmap sketch from the 1847 Quarto books, renumbered over time.

Well it has taken me an age to revisit my research discoveries from Ireland in September last year. One of my first research stops in Dublin was a flying visit to the Valuation Office to look at one of my favourite record sets – the Cancellation or Revision books from Griffith’s Valuation. I’d visited before on different trips but this time my focus was on unravelling those Callaghans from Courtown. As I didn’t have long, I focused (haha) on photographing all the relevant pages from the Courtown Harbour Revision lists.

I’ve mentioned previously that the first Griffith’s Valuation in 1853 showed an Anne Callaghan (at house #17)  and a John Callaghan (at house # 6) both living in Courtown Harbour in the new housing constructed for the town’s fishermen by John Oughton. I knew from earlier research approximately where this part of the village was located, so when we arrived on the ground in Courtown, we set forth on an exploration of the area.

Courtown 20160910_145629

Spoiler alert – the cat made me do it – outside either house #17 (Anne Callaghan) or #16 (David Callaghan)

Unfortunately I didn’t know, at the time, how those numbers translated on the ground so I satisfied myself with taking photographs. As we walked down one side of the cottages I spotted a black and white cat which needed a short pat (I’m sure other pet owners do this sort of thing too). Being in a small place this inevitably attracted some interest and the owner came out to say g’day and generally suss out what we were doing. I explained I was trying to find anything about the Callaghan families who’d lived there in the 19th and early 20th centuries, not long ago at all <smile>.

20160910_152921 Patrick Callaghan

The photo of Pat Callaghan and Kate nee Dunbar, generously shared with me.

It was my lucky day as apparently this had come up not long before in relation to some property arrangement. We were taken off to meet an older gentleman who would know all about it. We found him in the nearby park. A short discussion ensued and we both recognised the story of Pat Callaghan who’d drowned near Dublin. We were invited to his place for a cup of tea and biccies so we could see a photo that he held of Pat and his wife, Kate Callaghan. We had a lovely chat about a variety of topics, but it still wasn’t clear what the connection might be to the Callaghans, if any. When visiting Ireland it always seems imperative to ensure people don’t think you’re after the land, farm or house, so I tend to be over-polite.

On our way back to the car we went via the original lady’s house and thanked her for her assistance and were invited to come back again. Of course, travel being what it is, we had commitments elsewhere and didn’t make it back.

So what of all this sideways chatting and its relevance to my research?

Original mudmap Pauleen

My own mudmap of the village, based on the original house book numbers,  1846.

Well my sleuthing through the valuations books has left me with a clear idea of where John Callaghan and widow Ann Callaghan lived, as well as my ancestor David Callaghan. I retain the conviction/assumption that Ann may be my David’s mother, and that David and John may well be brothers if not cousins.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Quarto books included a mudmap of the village, much-amended over time. Combining this with my own examination of the valuation books I’ve made a couple of maps to show the houses and their occupants. (click to enlarge)

Anne Callaghan resided in house #17, which changed its number along the way from the number on the original mudmap #14 and the house book number of 20 then 19. She didn’t play musical houses – it was just the way they re-coded the sequencing. So where was house 17? Actually, it was either the house with the cat we cuddled, or the very one next door. Now why didn’t the cat tell me that outright?!

Courtown mudmap Pauleen GV

The mudmap based on occupants at the time of the published Griffith Valuation in 1853. John later moved to house 35 while David moved to house 34.

John Callaghan initially lived at house #15, two doors from Ann, but prior to the revision of the 1846 house list, he is shown on the other side of the quadrangle at #6. When John relocated, David Callaghan moved into John’s old house #15. Interestingly this occurred at the time of the 1865 revisions, so about the time he likely married. We had been standing just metres from where my ancestors lived!

In about 1868, John moved to a larger house in the same area, #35 where the family remained for many years. After John’s death in 1911, the tenancy is transferred first to his widow Catherine (1912 revision), then to son Pat (1926), after which it passed to Mary Redmond.

David makes a similar move to house #34 in 1901, and again the family remains there for many years passing to his daughter-in-law Kate Callaghan (1916) then his grandson David (1936), and later to a Mrs Sarah Mitchell (is she a relation or just the new tenant?). Once again, house #34 is either the house we visited or adjacent to it. While the original property tenancies were house only, by the time of the 1914-1935 revision lists, there are small land parcels being leased. Unfortunately the amendments and annotations on these proved a challenge too far for me, and not one worth pursuing.

Have I answered my relationship questions about the Callaghans? Well, no, not really. I still think David and John must be close kin and that Ann is likely the mother of one. She is almost certainly the widow who died in 1870. The transfers of tenancy confirm the linkages within each family as shown the 1901 and 1911 census data.

Are the valuation books a “silver bullet” for your research? Only to a point, though they can be invaluable. Unfortunately, there’s still nothing to say whether or how the various Callaghans are related….except maybe a DNA trail or local oral history which I’m exploring. Pending another feline encounter on another trip, perhaps.

And a final piece of amusement: we had just flown the long haul from Brisbane-Dubai-Dublin so were a tad weary on arrival at the Valuation Office. It was something of a shock to be told they were closing in 10 minutes. Now I knew my brain was befuddled but didn’t think it was quite that bad, or that I had my watch set incorrectly. Turns out the person at the desk was also confused – she was an hour ahead of herself. A heart-starter and then a bit of a chuckle.

 

Of rabbit holes and Irish valuation books

Courtown harbour marked

Courtown Harbour with the Oughton cottages marked. Google Earth view.

My week started with the attempt to unravel my Callaghan ancestors from the Griffith Valuation and revision books. It turned into something of a marathon as I got lost down the rabbit hole of tracking the change in occupants of the small quadrangle of buildings constructed by John Oughton in the early 1840s.

What sources was I using?

20160910_144814These small cottages were valued at £1/-/- (or about $2), however they rented for £4 a year (not a bad profit!). The valuer annotates the house books: “houses from No 7 to No 34 inclusive are held from Mr Oughton. The tenants pay £4 yearly which is an extravagant rent but as they generally live by fishing, and the situation is convenient, the houses are seldom unoccupied”. Indeed, this quadrangle of buildings is a stone’s throw from the harbour and it would have been very easy to step outside and assess the weather and the state of the Irish Sea.

Logically speaking one might expect that the names of the occupants would trace from the 1846 house books, to the 1847 quarto books to the 1853 published GV and then to the revision books. It took some messing with spreadsheets to determine this was not the case. In fact, the most reliable correlation was between the names on the revised list of occupants from the 1846 house books, the mudmap drawing in the 1847 Quarto books, and the published Griffith Valuations. The original and revised names in the 1847 Quarto books actually (mostly) matched the original names in the 1846 house books.

Cottages Courtown Harbour edited

The annotated mudmap of the Oughton cottages -complete with revised numbers.

So what else did I learn from this marathon of rabbit-hole-ing?

  • Wise Irish genealogists will hope for extant house books or quarto books for their ancestor’s townland (sadly not always the case)
  • These earlier books may provide the names of previous generations of ancestors and when a male ancestor may have died, as his widow’s name then appears
  • The Quarto books for this area include mudmap drawings of the villages eg Courtown Harbour and River Chapel (Yay!!)
  • The number of the houses is annotated but because it’s overwritten by changes over time is very confusing without the spreadsheet analysis
  • The spelling of names is definitely variable – both surnames and first names eg the tenancy for Carty is variably Mogue or Morgan but on the annotated mudmap, it shows MaryAnn. Then there’s Darby/Dermott, Neale/Neil or Kavanagh/Cavanagh
  • Some names are just plain difficult to decipher especially when over-written
  • As already known, the changes in the Revision books can highlight an approximate year for an ancestor’s death
  • They can also confirm the line of descent eg Kate Callaghan, the widow of David Callaghan’s son Patrick, takes over David’s property. It is this that leads me to believe Patrick may have been the eldest son.
  • The numbering of the houses changes somewhat over time – a spreadsheet makes it easier to track this. After all, while people did move from one house to the other, it wasn’t a routine case of musical houses.
  • Many of the houses were held “at will” meaning their tenancy might be precarious
  • In some cases, the tenant may be referred to as “Widow Callaghan” but a later entry may reveal their first name eg Widow Callaghan in 1846 is shown as Anne Callaghan in 1847.
  • Annotations will reveal where a property is in ruins – doesn’t say much for the conditions under which the previous tenant may have had to live.
  • Using different search parameters for place can make a difference to results: try Barony, townland or just county.

Although inordinately time-consuming, this has been a worthwhile exercise and one that I’d recommend to others who are lucky enough to have a range of early valuation books available for their townland.

In terms of the revision lists, these can be viewed at a Family History Centre near you, but it comes with a warning – on the originals, the revisions are (generally) different colours. On the microfilm it’s possible, but much harder work and more ambiguous, to follow the changes. I haven’t used the online version at the Family History Centres so not sure whether they are in colour or not.

If you’re heading to Ireland, do put the Valuation Office on your must-visit research places. I first learned of these books from a tiny little book back in 1992, and it has been invaluable. Perhaps one day we’ll be lucky enough that the revision lists will be digitised as well. After all, Irish research is on a winning streak lately.

Come back soon for the conclusions I reached about my Callaghan clan.

A conjecture of Callaghans from Courtown

Follow the pretty pink lines for X-DNA.

Follow the pretty pink lines for X-DNA.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had my autosomal DNA tested through Family Tree DNA. It wasn’t until a 2nd cousin had hers tested and Mum also agreed to being tested too, that my results started to provide some clues to the past.

There’s still heaps to do and I’m still pretty confused, but a few of the closest links are looking like they tie back to/through my Callaghan ancestors in Wexford.

Some link to both Mum and to me, but others only to Mum. My conjecture on the latter is that either (1) the DNA jumble has given them some of the DNA segments of Mum’s that I didn’t inherit –after all Dad had to get a look-in with 50% OR (2) they are further back in the line from me so the common segments aren’t large enough.

The Callaghan line is one I’ve done virtually nothing on, for no reason that I can explain. Mary Callaghan married Peter Sherry (later McSherry) at St Michael’s church in Gorey, Wexford on 27 February 1881 and the witnesses to the wedding were John & Kate Turner. A few years later Peter and Mary would follow his parents and siblings to Australia. I must admit from time to time I’ve wondered if any of Mary’s siblings also followed them.

St Michael's Catholic Church, Gorey, Co Wexford where my Sherry family were married and baptised. © P Cass 1992.

St Michael’s Catholic Church, Gorey, Co Wexford where my Sherry family were married and baptised. © P Cass 1992.

All I know so far of Mary’s ancestry (from her marriage entry) is that her father’s name is David and he was a fisherman. I had checked with the priest at Gorey who told me that the Callaghans had not been part of their parish. My hyphothesis then was that perhaps the family came from nearby Courtown, just 4 kilometres east of Gorey and a fishing port.

Searching the National Archives of Ireland’s 1901 census shows three men named David Callaghan in Wexford, all living in Courtown Harbour. In fact the Household Returns show they are all in the same house of which the head is David Callaghan, a fisherman, 67 years old, Roman Catholic and illiterate. Living with him is his daughter Bridget, aged 33; his son, also David, aged 27 and a fisherman, David senior’s daughter-in-law Kate, a widow, aged 37 and their son David #3, aged 7. All are illiterate except Kate and the 7 year-old David. John, Patrick and James were all fishermen but they could all read and write, unlike David’s family.

The Enumerator’s Abstract reports them as living in Courtown Village, Ballaghkeen North Barony in the parish of Ardamine.

extract of the household return for the Callaghan family in the 1901 census, from the National Archives of Ireland free-access site. http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001281019/

Extract of the household return for the Callaghan family in the 1901 census, from the National Archives of Ireland free-access site. http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001281019/

It was the enumerator’s House and Building Report (page 2), that alerted me to the fact that living next door to David’s family is John Callaghan and his family. From the household return John Callaghan is 62, living with his wife Catherine aged 60, sons Patrick 32 and James 23, and daughter Elizabeth Redmond 34, her husband James 35 and her daughter Mary. It seems likely, but yet to be proven, that John and David are related in some way.

According to the House and Building report again, the houses in the Courtown Harbour village are predominantly of 2nd class standard, constructed of brick/stone with slate/tile/metal roofs, 5 or 6 rooms and 3 windows at the front. The Return of Out Houses and Farm Steadings show John Callaghan has 5 outbuildings, an unusually large number, which are reported as a dairy, piggery, fowl house, shed and store. This makes me wonder if he’s perhaps supplying the village rather than just his own family’s needs, as 4 households kept a piggery, 7 a fowl house but John was the only one with a dairy.  Next door David Callaghan had no outhouses but his family occupied six rooms while John’s had only five.

The standard of the village’s houses becomes apparent from a reference in Samuel Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland:several good slated houses and other buildings have been erected on the quay…”  There is also an interesting local history which has some invaluable clues into life in the area over the decades[i].If you’d like to see some old images of Courtown they are available on the National Library of Ireland site here.

Although the Courtown area had excellent fishing for many years, over time the industry diminished and that would certainly have affected the Callaghan men’s income generation and financial independence. By the time of the 1911 census, Kate is registered as the head of the household living her son Davi #3, with her father-in-law David, 82, and his daughter Bridget, 44. Kate is listed as a widow so David #2 has died between 1901 and 1911, perhaps at sea.  I can find no record of his death in the Irish or English indexes[ii].

Having found John and David Callaghan living in adjacent houses in 1901, I wondered if their residence in the area was long-standing so I turned to the Griffith Valuations. The Ask About Ireland site offers this wonderful resource with digital images and the original maps. Sure enough, there was an Anne Callaghan living in the village with a house and land of £1 per annum rateable value. Her landlord was John Oughton, the very person whom we know to have built the harbour-side cottages mentioned by Samuel Lewis. Also in the village was a John Callaghan with a house only, valued at £1 and also owned by John Oughton. No ages are provided by the Griffith Valuations and since Anne is the lease-holder it is most likely that she was a widow (though not necessarily).

The Griffith Valuation Map 1853 for Ardamine parish, from Ask About Ireland. http://griffiths.askaboutireland.ie/

The Griffith Valuation Map 1853 for Ardamine parish, from Ask About Ireland. http://griffiths.askaboutireland.ie/

Perhaps it’s indicative of the declining fishing industry or just the life of men who survived the harshness of the elements, but the Callaghan crew make regular appearances in the Petty Sessions records in FindMyPast. At present the Gorey, Wexford records only cover the period between 1900 and 1911. I’m betting that when there are more released the Callaghans will feature again….I’ll certainly have my fingers crossed! So far the charges relate to drunkenness, drunk and disorderly, one charge of common assault by David Callaghan on John Callaghan (not prosecuted), and several for John Callaghan regarding non-payment of harbour dues. The beauty of these latter entries is that they refer to John Callaghan owning three fishing boats, Fame, Lizzie and Gance (?).

I had also wondered if any of the Callaghans had joined the British Merchant Navy or the Royal Navy, especially during the years of World War I. I believe this entry for David Callaghan, born ~1891 is in fact the same David Callaghan living with his parents and grandfather in Courtown in 1901 and serving on HMS Tempest in 1915.

Another invaluable entry is John’s excursion in Wexford gaol for drunkenness in 1883[iii]. He is described as a fisherman of Courtown and is 40 years old, consistent with his estimated DOB from the census. He is described as 5ft 7.5inches tall, with black hair, hazel eyes and a fresh complexion. Plainly the Callaghans hadn’t got on board the Temperance pledge started by Fr Theobald Matthew in 1838, which the nuns were still pushing when I was at school. I rather wish David had had a stint in jail as then there’d be a description of him…perhaps when the remaining petty session records, if available, have been indexed.

Anne Callaghan also “got a guernsey” in the prison records [iv]. She was charged with larceny for the theft of a chemise and admitted to the Wexford Gaol on 3 August 1877. She was 5ft 2.5inches, with hazel eyes, black hair and a fresh complexion. She had no trade and it was her first time in gaol. She lived at Courtown Harbour making it pretty likely she is the same one mentioned in the valuations. (Although I sourced these through my FindMyPast world subscription, the indexes are also available on FamilySearch and the images can be seen at an LDS Family History Centre near you).

Courtown on Google Earth.

Courtown on Google Earth.

Where to from here with this research? Well this is all very circumstantial, something I would always warn against, but I’m walking on the wild side here. Ultimately I need to check the Riverchapel parish records but these are not available through Family Search on microfilm or digitised, but only through the National Library of Ireland….a “to do” addition for my next Irish holiday whenever that may be.

These are merely my hypothetical suggestions for one of my ancestral families with definite links, or rejections, to be discovered in the future. Come back later to learn more of their BDM chronology and a scandal that I discovered in Google books.

I’ll leave you with an extract from a delightful poem, The Harbour, by Irish poet Winifred Letts. I wonder if this is how our Irish forebears felt, especially my Mary Callaghan McSherry.

THE HARBOUR

I think if I lay dying in some land
Where Ireland is no more than just a name,
My soul would travel back to find that strand
From whence it came.

I’d see the harbour in the evening light,
The old men staring at some distant ship,
The fishing boats they fasten left and right
Beside the slip.

[i] The Windswept Shore, a history of the Courtown District. Kinsella, A, 1994.

[ii] Sources accessed FindMyPast.com and FreeBMD.org.uk

[iii] Irish Prison Registers: 1790 – 1924. http://search.findmypast.com.au/record?id=ire%2fprisr%2frs00018281%2f4492715%2f00743&parentid=ire%2fprisr%2frs00018281%2f4492715%2f00743%2f008

[iv] Irish Prison Registers 1790 – 1924 Prison Registers Wexford Prison General Register 1873-1878. Book 1/40/2 Item 2