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.

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.