Tracing My Irish Ancestors from Tipperary.

Did you ever have a mystery in your Irish family tree? Spot a family in Ireland that just might be yours but you cannot be sure? Today, we're going to feature a letter from one of our Green Room members who has such a mystery - see if you have a similar situation yourself.

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Tracing My Irish Ancestors from Tipperary.

Many of our readers are surprised (and disappointed) when they make the leap back to the Irish records – but then come across more than one family in an area of Ireland that might be their ancestral family. How do you choose between them? Have you had a similar experience?

I received the following from Betsy Michalik – and have answered each section of her letter in a conversational format:

Betsy: My name is Betsy Michalik and I have lived in Knoxville,TN for the past 40 years. I am originally from Manchester, CT and many of my ancestors ended up in Hartford CT, which is a 15 minute drive away from Manchester.

Mike: Nice to meet you Betsy!

Betsy: Since April of this year, I have been obsessed with my ancestry research. Two things precipitated this…one was my mom at 89 years old took a trip to Ireland with some other of my family members. At the same time, our children had gotten my husband and I a DNA test and I discovered that I am 59% Irish – so Ireland is where I wanted to begin my research. I view my research and assembling my family tree as a gift to my children, grandchildren.

Mike: Well, it sounds like you are well and truly “off to the races” on your Irish family history search!

Betsy: I have quite a bit of information about the Loughnane branch of the family. However, I may have mixed two different families, I just can’t say for sure. The particular couple I’d like to know more firmly about are Denis Loughnane (1819-1897) and Catherine Donohue (1829/31 to 1901). I have some newspaper clippings confirming their deaths with different grown children present at death. I have some official records (pictures of registries etc.) that confirm that Denis died of neck cancer with his son Patrick present at death, and Johanna Loughnane (Cleary), Patrick’s wife was present at the death of Catherine.

The Most Numerous Names of Tipperary – Click to Enlarge

Mike: My own maternal grandmother was a Loughnane from east Galway, probably the same line as your own. You can see the locations of separate Loughnane families in Ireland by clicking here.

Betsy: I have many of the children’s birth registry records. I have a wonderful, long article of their son Rev. James Loughnane who lived in Newmarket-on-Fergus and was the priest of the Catholic Church there (not exactly sure which). I have a letter, actually several, from Rev.James Loughnane (1850-1897) to my great grandfather John Loughnane (1848-1892) who came to the states and ended up in Hartford CT. 

Mike: Good for you Betsy. I did have a look at records online and noticed your John (or maybe not!) as being baptised in 1850 – so we need to compare dates further. How nice to have that article on your James – here is the link to the parish of Newmarket-on-Fergus showing the three churches in the parish.

The Piece I Cannot Figure Out!

Betsy: There are a couple of breakdowns for me in the Loughnane branch. One is I cannot find anything on birth of Denis and Catherine’s son John, my great grandfather. I thought he was their oldest child but recently a girl, Catherine, turned up. Then the next breakdown is that several children…Catherine, John, James, Margaret, and I think Patrick are all born 1844 to early 1850s – though I don’t have clear dates for all.

Then there seems to be a second batch, if you will, also born to Denis and Catherine in later 1860s and early 1870s. I’ve gone over and over, wondering is this two different families? Is this a daughter or cousin who married another Denis? Is this a case of many babies dying in between?

Cahir Castle, County Tipperary

Mike: Now, this is a problem that many of us face. I did have a look through the records and noticed that the first “batch” of this couple were baptised when the family lived in Toomevara town – whereas the second “batch” were baptised when the family lived in Reiskmore/Falleen townland in the nearby countryside.

A couple of points:

  1. You are right to be cautious in wondering if there are one or two couples in the area with the same surnames. You ALWAYS need to assume they are different until proven otherwise.
  2. Church records for the RC Parish of Toomevara start in 1830 and had a gap between 1856 and 1861. This may cause some problems when looking for baptisms for possible children during this time.
  3. You did not say how you know your Loughnanes came from this specific area. Did they talk about Reiskmore/Toomevara in the USA? Do you have US records that give specific locations in Ireland as well as sibling names? We can explore this further in the Green Room when you are ready.

However, I did notice that the second “batch” of Loughnanes appeared to be living in Reiskmore/Falleen in 1850 (see Griffiths Valuation here) while at the same time the youngest of the Loughnane children from the first “batch” were being baptised in the town of Toomevara. I did also find a valuation office mention of a James Loughnane in the late 1840s in Falleen. It is possible that James died and Denis arrived from the town of Toomevara to take over the land. Another lead that needs to be explored!
Betsy: Most of the second Loughnane family “batch” lived out in Rieskmore, Toomevera and Nenagh – all in County Tipperary. Many of the baby birth/christening documents were Rieskmore, Toomevera. That is also where Denis and Catherine died. Catherine was taken to Ballinree Catholic Church for the funeral service. 

Mike: I can see this family in the 1901 census here. I also note that Catherine Donohue Loughnane is still alive at this time. 

By the way, “Toomevara” is one of those Irish placenames named for a family – in this case the original Irish translates as “Tumulus of the O’Mearas”.

Before we leave Reiskmore – I have something to share. If this turns out to be your family, then you have some very musical relatives. Here you have Mairead Loughnane Doherty and Kathleen Loughnane – both modern-day musicians from Reiskmore and maybe your cousins!

The Loughnanes were Farmers in Tipperary.

Betsy: As far as I know, Denis was a farmer. His son Patrick was a farmer. John may have worked in a book store or book binding store as a clerk when he was in CT, my mom thought. James, of course, was a very beloved priest. Beyond that I’m not sure, but would love to know any extra information you could add!  Even if you could trace Denis parents and or Catherine’s parents that would be wonderful!

Mike: Well, we can see that Patrick was a farmer in the 1901 census. Before we give you more “colour from the time”, I think it is essential to figure out whether the entire “batch” of Loughnanes in the area are yours – or if they are two different families. I cannot answer for sure until you share how you know your Loughnanes link back to Toomevara and the documentation you have to prove that is the case. 

So, if we know that the Reiskmore Loughnanes are definitely yours, we use that time and detail in the 1901 census as a starting point and start working backwards on birth, marriage, death and land records. Sponsor details in baptism/marriage records can be very useful in building a web of possible neighbours and relatives of the Loughnanes in the area. I look forward to exploring this further in The Green Room.

Betsy: Thank you for now.

Mike: You are very welcome!

That’s it for this week. As always, do feel free to leave a comment below if you would like share a story or the Irish surnames in your family.

Slán for now,
Mike and Carina.

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