Courtown Callaghans revisited

Courtown harbour 20160910_145048I suppose it’s not surprising that Murphy and his law have a particular fondness for researchers of Irish genealogy. While it’s far more accessible than was the case for many years, thanks to all those recently digitised records, stumbling blocks still abound to challenge our research confidence.

Such is the case with my Callaghans (aka Callahan/Calligan etc) from Courtown near Gorey in Co Wexford. Each step forward seems to come with a shaky step to the side…or backwards.

In my earlier post, I discussed my aspirations for research discoveries in Ireland last year. Sad to report, much of those questions remain unanswered or have generated more questions. Despite my best endeavours I’m still unable to find the following for my ancestor, David Callaghan and his wife, Anne nee Callaghan.

I cannot find:

  • Baptisms for either Anne or David
  • Names of parents for both
  • Place and date of marriage
  • Baptism of children before 1868, though other clues have provided me with three children’s names: my ancestor Mary, born ~1860 who married Peter Sherry in 1881 and was of “full age”; Patrick drowned 1893 aged 33; and Bridget (unmarried).

Ballygarrett parish yearsIt does not help that the Callaghans were fishermen and/or sailors so could have married and had children far from Courtown. Nor does it help that they were typically illiterate and may not have completed the necessary documents, or been blasé about meeting imposed reporting deadlines. I find it highly unlikely that they did not baptise their children however, so why are missing from those? The notation on the church registers that “no baptisms were recorded in 1863-65” may be part of the problem.

Although the parish registers for Ballygarrett cover a wide range of years, the presence of Callaghan names appears to be haphazard. You might expect that it would be perfectly possible to do family reconstructions quite easily but sadly, no. While I’ve indexed any I found, it still leaves me with lots of questions and ambiguities.

Given these limitations, this is my current reconstruction of my ancestral family:

David Callaghan #1 (b? date/place?)  married (date/place?) Anne Callaghan (same maiden name confirmed) (b date/place?)

Their known descendant lines are:

Mary Callaghan b ~ 1860 married Peter Sherry (later McSherry) 1881 in Gorey Wexford. This family emigrated to Queensland in 1884. They have many descendants.

Courtown 20160910_133624

May they rest in safe anchorage. Photo Courtown Harbour, P Cass 2016.

Patrick Callaghan b ~1860 married Catherine (Kate) Dunbar in Dublin South in 1886. They had one son, David Callaghan #3, in 1893, only five months before Patrick was accidentally drowned.  Both Patrick and later young David were sailors. I can find no record of David (b 1893) marrying so perhaps he had no children.

Bridget Callaghan b~ 1867/68 unmarried, died 1937.

Ellen Callaghan born March 1870 at Courtown died 1870.

David Callaghan #2 born April 1873 at Courtown, died 1950. He too became a fisherman and sailor. David married Mary Kinsella, also from Courtown, in 1908. Mary died in 1956 and the witness was a nephew. It seems this couple had no children.

20160910_152921 Patrick Callaghan

Patrick and Catherine (Kate) Callaghan.

Even though I can find no record of the marriage of David and Anne Callaghan, or births/baptism for their earlier children, I suspect that son Patrick may have been the eldest son. I base this theory on the fact that it was Patrick’s widow, Kate, who became head of the household by the time of the 1911 census and “inherited” the house. When I visited Courtown, in September last year, I was very fortunate to be introduced to an older gentleman who kindly gave me a photograph of Kate and Patrick. I think I tend to be too polite when visiting with random acquaintances as I don’t want to convey the impression that I’m “fortune hunting” or interested in getting the land, rather than the family ancestry. I’m also reluctant to strain their hospitality.

CALLAGHAN David grave 20160911_114024

Photo P Cass, Sept 2016

David Callaghan #2 (d 1950), his wife Mary and nephew David Callaghan #3 are all buried in Ardamine Cemetery near River Chapel, south of Courtown Harbour. David #3 (d 1971) is buried with Thomas Turner and Mary nee Dunbar. I cannot determine what his connection to them might be, although David’s mother was a Dunbar but not from this area.

Another connection I’m curious about is Mary Callaghan, daughter of a David Callaghan, born about 1838, and hence an age peer of my David Callaghan #1 (brother, cousin, no relation?). Mary married Luke Doyle in Courtown in 1868. Mary Doyle is witness to many of the various Callaghan births and some deaths. It may be that she was simply the local midwife or “nurse”, but she could also be a relation.

I am still mystified how the various Callaghan families from Courtown connect, or even if they do. I suspect that the claim made in Ace of Spies, that David #1, John and Edward were siblings, is incorrect. Certainly, the children’s naming patterns don’t suggest that. They don’t seem to follow the predicted pattern of father’s father, mother’s father, father and mother’s mother, father’s mother, mother…or is it just that I’m missing children.

I’ll leave this mystery here for now and live in hope that I may get a random “hit” one day, that explains not only these ancestral links but also a couple of strong DNA matches I have from the general area. I’m also going back to one of my earlier posts to add in new info rather than recreate the wheel.

Resources used:

General Register Office, Dublin, Ireland an in-person search netted me a reasonable number of certificates only to find Murphy’s Law struck again with the free release of many digitised images (see link below), the very next day. Luckily some of those I obtained are yet to appear online. And while the walk there gave me some sight-seeing and exercise, it would have been good to catch the bus 50 metres from the hotel and arrive outside the door of the GRO! Ah well, next time.

Irishgenealogy.ie  – Civil Records (FREE)

Catholic Church registers at National Library of Ireland – FREE – Ballygarrett Parish

Ancestry.com  and Findmypast.comabove Catholic Church records indexed and searchable

1901 and 1911 census – FREE online at National Archives of Ireland

Billion Graves – Ardamine Cemetery

North Wexford Historical Society

The kindness of strangers, and a cat, in Courtown.

Riverchapel Ardamine cemetery

Ardamine cemetery and St John’s Episcopal church. Photo P Cass, Sept 2016.

 

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 & Elizabeth (Betty) 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.

Oh to be in Courtown, Ireland

This is a story of a success, a surprise discovery and the hazards of not paying enough attention or making assumptions. Oh to be in Ireland where it’s possible to check the primary records!

Photo by Ingo Mehling, 2010. from Wikimedia Commons.

Photo by Ingo Mehling, 2010. from Wikimedia Commons.

THE SUCCESS

I’m a great fan of ensuring I have family certificates and I used birthdays etc to gain a good repertoire of my key family certificates. Somehow I’d missed getting Mary Callaghan McSherry’s…who knows why. Thanks to the new Queensland online BDM search and online ordering I was able to rectify that yesterday for a mere $20. In a matter of a minute there it was to review. Bingo!! There was the proof I needed: her father was indeed David Callaghan, a fisherman, as I knew from her marriage in Gorey, but it also states that she was born in Courtown Harbour. This confirms that the David Callaghan I’d hypothesised as her father is the correct one, though I still want/need to see the baptism registers.

THE SURPRISE

I alluded to this in my earlier post. I’d done a google search using the words: Callaghan fisherman Courtown Wexford. To my surprise up popped a book extract which was something of an eye-popper. Margaret Callaghan, daughter of Edward Callaghan (who in turn is said to be the brother of John and David fishermen in Courtown), turned out to be the wife of Ace of Spies, the true story of Sidney Reilly. The book by Andrew Cook is available as an e-book so of course I couldn’t resist buying it to see more detail. My good fortune is that it also includes detailed footnotes on the Callaghan family, some of which I’ve been able to cross-check using Family Search and FindMyPast (world) (FMP). Other aspects I’ve been unable to verify eg Margaret has eluded me in the 1891 English census.

Critically the book’s footnotes identify Edward Callaghan’s place of birth in the parish of Ballygarrett, in which Courtown is situated. Why is this important? Because at least one of my DNA matches has traced his family to the same parish, but our match is too strong for this to be “identical by state.” The book also identifies Edward’s parents as John and Elisa Callaghan[i] so tentatively they would also be the parents of our David.

FALSE ASSUMPTIONS (make an ass out of me)

The report on the drowing of Patrick Callaghan of Courtown. Might this have been Kate's husband? Freeman's Journal 26 February 1894.

The report on the drowing of Patrick Callaghan of Courtown. Might this have been Kate’s husband? Freeman’s Journal 26 February 1894. According to the Irish Deaths Index he was 33 years old, est YOB 1861.

Error 1: I had stupidly blipped over the marital status of David Callaghan’s family in the Household Returns for the 1901 census. Kate Callaghan was not David junior’s wife, she was a widow and he was unmarried. As yet we don’t know which of David Callaghan senior’s sons she had married. I have now edited my previous post to correct this.

Error 2 was assuming that the Anne Callaghan on the Griffith Valuations may have been David and John’s mother whereas in fact it may be that John Callaghan, also living in the Oughton houses may be the correct ancestor.

An assumption, in my head at least, was that Anne Callaghan who was admitted to Wexford Gaol for stealing a chemise may have been the same one as on the Griffith Valuations. This may be the case, but she may also be the wife of David Callaghan as we can see from the birth entries identified below. She was 45 in 1877, suggesting an estimated year of birth of 1832. She could be a sister of David Callaghan (est YOB 1834) or his wife, or an unknown relation or even sister-in-law but not his mother because of her age.

Where to from here and what can be done from Australia?

Action: Order in the microfilms of the Ardamine, Wexford valuation lists so I can trace the change of ownership of the two houses held by John Callaghan and Anne Callaghan in 1853. This might clarify the lines of descent, and correlate deaths with the transfer of occupation.

Meanwhile let’s put together the BDM details that can be uncovered from Family Search, FindMyPast (world) and the National Archives of Ireland’s 1901 census.

From the census: 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, aged 33 and her son David #3, aged 7.

Courtown Harbour at 11am on 3 December 1989. Photograph by P Cass.

Courtown Harbour at 11am on 3 December 1989. Photograph by P Cass.

I’ve come up with the following which remain conjecture until seeing the full detail on either baptism/birth/marriage/death registers.

One thing that is explained by the Callaghan inheritance is why I’ve always loved fishing ports, especially ones with small boats, fishing creels and ropes. What is ironic is that no bells rang for me when I visited Courtown Harbour (why?) on 3 December 1989 with my mother and youngest daughter.

THE FAMILY OF DAVID CALLAGHAN

David Callaghan b abt 1834 possibly died 1913, aged 78 July-Sept 1913. (Still alive at 1911 census). From the Irish birth registrations, David senior’s wife’s name is Anne but no maiden name is stated.

Children identified to date:

Mary Callaghan (McSherry) b 1861/1862

Bridget Callaghan b abt 1868 died/reg April-June 1937, aged 67 (est YOB 1870) (FMP)

Ellen Callaghan b 8 March 1870 (Irish Birth Regn)[ii]

David Callaghan #2 b 1874 born 21 April 1873 (Irish Birth Regn)[iii] and still unmarried in 1901 but in Oct-Dec 1908 he marries Mary Kinsella (vol 2, p727) and in 1911 is living at Riverchapel with his mother-in-law. Per the census enumeration, the couple have been married three years and have no children.David is now a sailor, not a fisherman.

Action: follow up his merchant navy/navy records and the marriage record. It may be David Callaghan junior who dies in 1950 aged 71 (FMP), despite the variation in his YOB.

Action: To follow up the marriage and baptisms when (??) in Ireland (the parish registers are not on Roots Ireland).

Merchant Seamen's records BT113 from Findmypast ticket 246,956

Merchant Seamen’s records 1845-1854,  BT113 from Findmypast ticket 246,956. Indexed on Family Search and FMP as Chard Callaghan.

One possibility is that David Callaghan senior first went to sea with the merchant navy in 1840. Certainly there is a David Callaghan, aged 18, ticketed in 1846. He was an apprentice, from Courtown and had gone to sea as a boy. He is described as 4ft 10ins, brown hair, grey eyes, fresh complexion and no marks. What stands out for me here is the lad’s height as his daughter was quite tall but perhaps he hadn’t grown fully, or it is the wrong person, or a cousin….or….The anomaly is the variation in his year of birth.

THE FAMILY OF JOHN CALLAGHAN

The other Courtown resident in the 1901 census is John Callaghan, 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, 9 months.

John Callaghan died 1911 (pre census) aged 71, so estimated YOB is 1840 which fits with the census. Hypothesis: he is David Callaghan senior’s younger brother and perhaps also brother to Edward (per Cook’s book)

John’s wife is Catherine Callaghan nee Cullen 60, est YOB 1841. She is still alive in 1911 but she may be the one who dies in 1936, aged 86.

Patrick Callaghan 32 (est YOB 1869) born 20 February 1869 (Familysearch, Irish Births)

James Callaghan 23 (est YOB 1878) born 7 May 1878 at Seamount (Familysearch, Irish Births)

Elizabeth Callaghan 34 (est YOB 1867) born 22 February 1867 (Familysearch, Irish Births)

married James Redmond July-Sept 1899 (Vol 2 page 755 per FMP)

THE FAMILY OF EDWARD CALLAGHAN

Edward Callaghan married Anne Naughter 1870 (Irish Marriages 1845-1958, FMP, Vol 2, p898)

Their (identified) family:

Elizabeth Callaghan 5 January 1871 (Edward Callaghan and Anne Naughter)

James Callaghan 24 February 1872 (Edward Callaghan & Anne Naughter)

Margaret Callaghan was born in the southern Irish fishing village of Courtown Harbour County Wexford on 1 January 1874 (v2 p873 FMP)[iv]. It is this Margaret who is the wife first of the Rev Hugh Thomas and subsequently of Sigmund Rosenblum aka Sidney Reilly.

One thing that bemuses me about Margaret Thomas nee Callaghan is that Cook says that in the late 1890s she’d have been taken as an educated, cultured Englishwoman of the Victorian upper classes[v]Frankly it bemuses me how a young woman, said to have left home at age 14, would have been able to make the transition from a somewhat knockabout life in Courtown Harbour, to that of an educated and cultured woman, let alone lose her Irish accent and replace it with an upper class English accent.

Although Margaret’s father Edward is said to be still alive in 1898 I can find no obvious trace of him in the 1901 or 1911 census records for Ireland.

CONCLUSION

Courtown Church of Ireland, 3 December 1989.

Courtown Church of Ireland, 3 December 1989. All the Callaghans were Roman Catholic. The chapel at which they worshiped no longer exists.

I now have confidence that Mary Callaghan was born in Courtown Harbour and that her father was David Callaghan, a fisherman. It appears from the births of later siblings that her mother’s name was Anne. I have a hypothesis that the family of John Callaghan, living in the Oughton houses in Courtown Harbour is related, possibly her uncle, aunt and cousins.

If the relevant facts in the Ace of Spies book are correct, and it does seem very thorough, further searching should find David, John and Edward in the Ballygarrett parish registers at the National Library of Ireland. Similarly the wife of the rather infamous and inventive Sidney Reilly would be my Mary Callaghan’s cousin.

With luck, Ballygarrett research might reveal the links to other families whose DNA overlaps mine.

Please read this story in conjunction with my earlier post, A Conjecture of Callaghans from Courtown.

FUTURE FOLLOW-UP

Keep an eye out for Find My Past’s release of further Wexford Petty Session records.

Search for Ardamine cemetery records, which are supposed to be coming online through the Wexford County Archives.

Action as listed above.

——————-

[i] Ace of Spies, The True Story of Sidney Reilly. Cook, A.  The History Press, Stroud Gloucestershire, 2004. footnote 75 chapter 2.

[ii] GS Film number: 101206 (Family Search)

[iii] GS Film number:  255877 (Family Search)

[iv] FamilySearch born 1 January 1874 to Edward Callaghan and Anne Nochter (sic).

[v] Cook, op cit, location 614 of the ebook.

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