Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Keys to Ireland

I am participating in the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. The focus of this edition is "My key to Ireland." It is dedicated to the stories of genealogists tracing their Irish family trees.

My ancestors came from several different counties in Ireland: Kilkenny, Longford, Meath, Tyrone and possibly Mayo. I learned of these places of origin from a variety of sources. And I am still gathering evidence on some of them.

I found the birthplaces of my 2nd great grandparents, Timothy Bestick and Ellen McSorley in their 1833 church marriage record from Newark, New Jersey. I've written about that discovery here. I have found additional records of Timothy and his parents in Longford church records. I haven't been as successful with Ellen. McSorley is a common name in Tyrone, and it will take more digging in U.S. records of Ellen and her siblings in order to find their place of origin in County Tyrone.

I was told by my aunt, Rita Brady, that her grandfather Timothy Whelan was from Kilkenny. Since then I have found some evidence supporting that. The Whelan surname and the surname of Timothy Whelan's first wife, Mary Sinnott, are both common in Kilkenny. I am still gathering information about other Whelans from Kilkenny who settled in Chicago, to see if any of them are related to Timothy.

Aunt Rita also told me that Timothy Whelan's second wife, Catherine Markey, was from County Meath. According to Rita, Catherine and her mother came to the U.S. from "County Meath near the River Boyne, 5 miles from the sea." This exact wording was also used by a distant cousin who was descended from Catherine's aunt Bridget Ratty Crawley. The wording was so specific that it sounded like a quote from a travel brochure. I later found that wording in a gazeteer of Ireland.

My Aunt Rita told me that her grandfather, Garret Brady, was from County Mayo. I haven't found any supporting evidence of this in obituaries or other sources. And Brady is not a common name in County Mayo. But Aunt Rita's information has been pretty reliable about our other ancestors, so for now I am taking her word for it and hoping to find records of Garret that will lead me to his place of origin in Ireland.

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