Saturday, October 17, 2009

McCarthys McCarthys everywhere!

I have a few notes about McCarthy relatives from cousin Michael and Uncle Denis, plus what cousin Jeanne passed on from Aunt Eileen. So I thought it was about time to start tracking down McCarthys in Granddad's family.

Cousin Michael said that Granddad's mom Margaret "had many sisters" and one "was called Ellen." So that was a start. I had Margaret McCarthy Collins' death record and had an approximate year of birth. In addition, the marriage record of Margaret McCarthy and Humphrey Collins says that her father's name was Cornelius. And I knew from the 1901 and 1911 census records that her mother's name was Mary. So that should be plenty to go on, right?

I started searching the Internet, and lo and behold, there is a lady named Leila descended from a McCarthy family in Lissane, like mine. Father's name was Cornelius. The mother's name was Mary Collins. A daughter Margaret was born 1862, which would have been close to the time Granddad's mom was born. She had a sister Ellen, born 1854. Okay, this sounded extremely promising!

I emailed Margaret at Skibbereen Heritage Centre and asked her to search the baptismals for McCarthys from Lissane. I emailed her information about the family tree I found on the Internet, and concluded with a smiley face and a "This should be easy!"

Famous last words. This all happened before I talked to Aunt Peg.

Aunt Peg said that sister Ellen was Ellen McCarthy Maher. And that her daughter Mary Maher used to babysit my mom when she was an infant. Hmmm.

I searched the 1911 census for Mahers. Sure enough, there is Ellen Maher in Maulbrack, with her husband Patrick and daughter Mary. But something was not quite right. This Ellen was only about 40 in 1911.

She and Patrick got married in 1903. And it looks like she died in 1931.

I panicked when I realized I might have sent Skibbereen Heritage Centre on a wild goose chase. I emailed Margaret as fast as I could - "WAIT! That's not the right Ellen McCarthy!"

I corresponded with Leila, and we swapped information. After looking at her family tree, I concluded that we must somehow be related, but we are somehow off by a generation. The names are so similar and the hometown is the same! But I need an Ellen McCarthy some 15-20 years younger than her Ellen McCarthy to fit my family profile. Our family trees must be tangled up together somehow!

On a good note, Margaret at Skibbereen Heritage Centre found the baptismal records of Humphrey Collins and at least some of his siblings, and also the marriage date of the parents. His father was Michael Collins and his mother was Ellen Driscoll.

Well now, on my USB drive I have a 1901 census record of an elderly Michael and Ellen Collins, with her niece staying with them. The niece is a Driscoll. They live very close by Humphrey and Margaret.

It's amazing, when you get one little piece of information, how so much can fall into place so quickly.

And thank God I have ancestors named Humphrey Collins. It's a rare name in Ireland, but not in my family. Thank you, ancestors, for naming at least a few of your children with rare names so I could track them down on the computer! :) I am drowning in Marys, Margarets, Ellens, Denises, and Daniels. It would be so nice to see an occasional Bridget. Or a Nora. A Sheila. A Bernadette. A Sean. How about some more Patricks? Anything!

In the meantime, I've done some initial lookups on the birth records of all the Ellen McCarthys born in Skibbereen and Dunmanway districts between 1865 and 1875. I've sent a list of 17 references from 1870 to 1874 off to the GRO, with instructions to look them up and send me only those matches with father = Cornelius and mother = Mary. (Sigh.)