Friday, November 19, 2010

Mahonys in Skibbereen

I have started snooping around in Bohernabredagh (often just abbreviated Bredagh) because there is a chance my great-great-grandmother Mary Mahony was the daughter of a Denis Mahony of this townland.

Mary Mahony married Daniel Collins 4-Feb-1845 in the old Drinagh chapel in the Roman Catholic parish of Drimoleague & Drinagh.  Witnesses included Denis Mahony, possibly her father.

Daniel Collins shows up in Cullomane East in Griffiths Valuation and the first child I know about, Mary, was baptized 1-Feb-1852. Mahony baptismal sponsors for the Collins children were Kean (Cain), Daniel, Catherine (Kate), and Timothy.

In the 1901 census Mary Mahony Collins was in Cullomane age 75.  The census says she is married but in fact her husband Daniel Collins had died in 1894.  She died in August that census year, estimated age 75, making her birth year possibly 1826, maybe a little before.

There is a Denis Mahony in the Dromdaleague tithe applotment in Bredagh, possibly her father.  A Denis Mahony is in Bredagh in Griffiths Valuation.  It could be the same Denis as in the TA, or possibly a descendant.

I have tallied the following names from the Abbeystrowry, Caheragh, Drinagh, and Dromdaleague Tithe Applotments, keeping in mind that the 1845 marriage took place in Drimoleague & Drinagh RC parish:

Cain Mahon(e)y
Clover Hill (Abbeystrowry)
Inchingerig (Caheragh)

Daniel Mahon(e)y
Kilnaclasha (Abbeystrowry)
Lissalohorig (Abbeystrowry)
Minanes (Drinagh)

Denis Mahon(e)y
Baurnagowlane (Dromdaleague)
Bredagh (Dromdaleague)
Clashduff (Dromdaleague)
Ceancullig (Dromdaleague)
Kealanine (Caheragh)
Minanes (Drinagh)
Seehanes (Dromdaleague)

Timothy Mahon(e)y
Cooranuller (Caheragh)
Derreenavarihy (Caheragh)
Minanes (Drinagh)

I know the tithe applotments could be too early for brothers of Mary Mahony named Cain, Daniel, or Timothy to be showing up, but, as is so often the case, closely related families often carry the same names.  When Skibbereen Heritage researched Mary Mahony for me, they came up with two potential Denis Mahonys as fathers:
12-Sep-1823 (Bredagh)
22-Aug-1819 (Lettergorman)

The best concentration of "matching" names is in and surrounding Bredagh.  And although there are no Mahonys in Lettergorman in the TA, Minanes is not far away, where there is another good concentration of matching names.

There are also Cains, Denises, Daniels, and Timothys in various parts of Skibbereen in Griffiths Valuation.  A Denis Mahony is in Lettergorman.

One Timothy Mahony, age 31, died 14-Apr-1864, in Driminidy; brother Cain Mahony of Clashduff was the informant.  Driminidy and Clushduff are within shouting distance of Bredagh.  Cain Mahony, age 92, died 2-Feb-1904, in Clashduff. He was in the 1901 census in Tonafora.  Again, this is within shouting distance of Bredagh.  Within Bredagh, the 1901 census shows Denis Mahony, age 53, HoH, with possibly batchelor brother Cain, age 60.  Cain died 4-May-1910, reported age 82, throwing the question of his age up in the air.  Were I to look for him among baptismals, I would probably start by what the death record estimates.

There is no assurance, of course, that Denis Mahony is the father of my Mary Mahony, but that is all I have to go on at the moment.  It is probably worth noting that the second known son of Mary Mahony and Daniel Collins was named Denis, who happened to be my great-grandfather.

The name Cain O'Mahony stands out, and it may be extremely old (many many centuries).  I have read literature that derives Cain from Enniskean, a place name.  The same name belonged to a man whose family had a store on Townsend Street in Skibbereen, at least from the mid-1800's. He was mentioned in Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa's book.  There is a picture of that gentleman here.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Humphrey Collins of Lissane

The Humphreys of Lissane (pdf file here) have put me in an agonizing state of "not knowing" equally as intense as that of the Larrys over in Adrigole - my Grandmom's paternal Collins line. The Humphreys are the paternal Collins line of my Grandfather.

Granddad John Humphrey Collins (b. 1895) was the son of Margaret McCarthy of Tooreen (b. 1860) and Humphrey Michael Collins (b. 1858) of Lower Lissane (m. 1890). Humphrey Michael is nicknamed "Humphrey Mickey", and his father, Michael Collins, is nicknamed Mickey. Mickey Collins married Ellen Driscoll 1854. Mickey and Ellen are in the 1901 census together in Lissane. How lucky for me, as he died a few weeks after. The census gave an age estimate, leading me to believe Mickey was born about 1822.

After the first known daughter Johanna (b. 1856), Humphrey Mickey was the first boy. Another mysterious Humphrey Collins was a baptismal sponsor. An elderly Humphrey Collins died in 1873, with his age estimated as 88, so he would have been born about 1785. The death record shows the mark of a Humphrey Collins, present at death, which got me thinking. Was the old man an informant of his own death?!? Was the informant a teenage Humphrey Mickey? Or was there there another Humphrey Collins about?

Obviously I am joking in the first case. I don't think think Humphrey Mickey was the informant, as he was literate and he could have signed his own name on the death record.  So I am inclined to think option #3.

A Humphrey Collins and Michael Collins were together in the 1827 Caheragh Tithe Applotment. From these facts I have developed the hypothesis that Humphrey Mickey's father Michael's father was probably 1785 Humphrey.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are lots of Collinses in Lissane and the families there have historically been tangled up with each other. Humphrey is the "breadcrumb" trail I have been following, since it is so easy to spot. I have identified a number of Collins families in Lissane in the latter part of the 19th century.

Michael Collins &  Ellen Driscoll (m. 1854)
I'll start with my own direct line, Mickey Collins and Ellen Driscoll. Marriage (28-Feb-1854, Caheragh) witnesses included Humphrey Collins. Children were Johanna (1856, bap sponsor Johanna Collins), Humphrey Mickey (1858, bap sponsor Humphrey Collins), Catherine (1860, bap sponsor John Collins), John (1862), Honora (1865, bap sponsor Mary Brien), Michael (1867), Margaret (1870), and Ellen (1875, bap sponsor John Collins).

I have a theory that 1865 Honora, or Nora, might have been the wife of Michael Lynch of Coolnaclehy (m. 1903), as according to my Aunt Peg, Granddad had Lynch cousins in Coolnaclehy (John and Hannah) who were first cousins. I think these cousins are in the 1911 census. But unfortunately I cannot find the marriage record in the online indexes to confirm Nora's origin.

Son Michael is with Mickey and Ellen in the 1901 census along with sister Honora "Noria" and cousin Noria Driscoll. And I think that is Michael in the 1911 census along with wife Nora, and children Michael, Humphrey, Hannah, and Jamsey, as well as his elderly mother Ellen Driscoll Collins. Michael's son Humphrey is registered 3-May-1903, and his mother was a Hannah Collins. So Michael was widowed with Nora being his second wife.

Humphrey Michael Collins &  Margaret McCarthy (m. 1890)
Humphrey Mickey, the son of Mickey, married Margaret McCarthy of Tooreen (b. 1860).  Humphrey Mickey went to go farm the Tooreen farm, as Margaret's parents Mary and Cornelius McCarthy had no son.  Their children were Michael (bap Oct-1891); Patrick (bap Mar-1893); Cornelius (bap May-1894); John (my Granddad, Jul-1895); Mary Kate (1897); Humphrey (21-May-1898, from civil reg); James (Nov-1899); Ellen (1901); Denis (Oct-1902); and Margaret (6-Mar-1906). Margaret McCarthy died three days after giving birth to baby Margaret, and the baby died that August. My aunt tells me that Humphrey Mickey never got over this, and likely lived in a state of despair until he died shortly after (in 1910).

The orphaned children are in the 1911 census, with their widowed grandmother Mary McCarthy taking care of them (she was there helping out in 1901 too.) The farm went to the oldest son, Michael Humphrey Collins, who married Ann (Nan) Morris, and had several children, among them a Patrick Joseph Collins, (b. Jun-1925, possibly d. Aug-2000 in England), and Michael (d. Oct-2009, Tooreen).

Denis Collins &  Margaret Mahony (m. before 1864)
One Denis Collins married one Margaret Mahony, unknown when or where. Children include, but are not necessarily limited to (from civil registration records): Denis 8-Jan-1866, probably died as infant; James 10-Dec-1866; Margaret 4-Dec-1868; Helena 20-Sep-1870 (may have had a twin Johanna or Honora); Patrick (17-Mar-1872); Timothy (1-Jul-1873 - not confirmed from civil reg yet); and Denis (1876 - not confirmed from civil reg yet). Denis is HoH, age 70 in the 1901 census, Bredagh DED, with wife Margaret, sons Patrick and Denis. In 1911, Denis HoH is age 80, with wife Margaret, sons Denis and Patrick, plus granddaughter Margaret McCarthy.

I think the censuses could have underestimated the age of Denis, as a death record in 1919 shows a Denis Collins of Lissane age 96. Or, the death record might be wrong.

There is more to this story. One Humphrey Collins, born about 1864, emigrated around 1889 and shows up in the 1900 US Census in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. The oldest son in his family is named Dennis. Looking further, the date of Humphrey's immigration can be traced to 7-May, 1890, on the ship Samaria, port of Boston. Looking further still, in the Rhode Island marriage records, the spouse of this Humphrey Collins was a Delia Lydon, they married in 1893, and his parents are listed as Dennis Collins and Margaret Mahoney! According to the Rhode Island death records, Humphrey died 14-Apr-1916.

I've looked, but have been unable to find this Humphrey Collins in the Ireland civil registration in 1864, at least in Skibbereen. Knowing the minefields that spring up in Irish genealogy, I am painfully aware there could be another couple named Denis Collins and Margaret Mahony to confuse the issue, but as the name Humphrey Collins from Ireland is such an uncommon name, for now I am hanging on to the theory that Humphrey Collins of Newport, R.I. was from Lissane.

John Collins &  Ellen McCarthy (m. before 1863)
Children in this family include Denis (est 1863); Johanna (9-Jun-1865); Honora (5-Aug- 1867); Catherine (3-Jun-1869); and John (26-Feb-1872). The last known child is super important; on his birth record it says "Humphrey Collins, present at birth."

John, the father, died young, age 55 years, in 1882. That would place his birth year around 1827.

I believe the son Denis is in the 1901 census, with wife Nora. Children listed are Mary E (Ellen?), and Hannah. His elderly mother Ellen is with them.

Hardly a day goes by when I don't scour the Southern Star news archives, and I think this Denis is the "Denis J. Collins" I've seen in news articles.

Who was the Humphrey who was present at the birth of this John Collins?

James Collins &  Honora Collins (m. before 1864)
Known children include Catherine (9-Dec-1864); Honora (15-Nov-1866); Michael (20-Oct-1868); Johanna (10-Dec-1870); Helena (3-Apr-1873); Julia (25-Aug-1874); and James (20-Oct-1876). There is no obvious connection to the Humphreys, except perhaps via the oldest son Michael's name. I'll get to that. James and Nora are in both the 1901 and the 1911 census. In the 1911 census they are in their son Michael's household.


Those are the main family lines out of Lissane that I know about.  Finally, I found a death record for an elderly Michael Collins, d. 1870, age 80, so he was born about 1790. Mary Collins was present at death.

I have gathered much more data on Humphreys in the townlands surrounding Lissane. But for my initial phase of research, I limited my data to these families. (I will post on these other Humphreys another time.) After spending close to a year gathering all this data, I went to Skibbereen Heritage Centre, proposed that 1785 Humphrey and 1790 Michael were brothers or cousins, that Humphrey was the father of 1822 Mickey, and then asked for research on the two lines. Margaret (God bless her) did so quite diligently and spent some time doing it. She checked and rechecked whatever she had available. Her research was a great lesson to me, showing that errors in genealogy records start right on the baptismal and marriage records.

Anyway, this is what Skibbereen Heritage found:

Humphrey Collins &  Johanna Barnane (m. 1820)
One Humphrey Collins married a Mary Bernard at the Old Chapel in Drinagh, 15-Feb-1820.   Bernard can be a form of Barnane, so there isn't any confusion about the surname at this point.  However, further evidence indicates that the bride's Christian name was not Mary but rather Johanna.

One Catherine Collins was born 2-Dec-1820 in Caheragh R.C. parish to John Collins and Johanna Barnane. Humphrey Collins and Catherine Hurley were witnesses.   Spotting another potential error, Margaret was convinced that the father's name John and the sponsor's name Humphrey were transposed, so that Humphrey Collins and Johanna Barnane were the parents. Additional children were discovered with parents Humphrey and Johanna, plus, Margaret was unable to find any baptismals of children to a Humphrey Collins and Mary Bernard.

Other children of Humphrey and Johanna were:   John (1824, Mary Donovan among sponsors); Honora "Norry" (1829); James (1833, sponsor Mary Barnane); and Jeremiah (1835).

One child was discovered with the mother's name Jane Barrett: Patrick (14-Mar-1839). Ordinarily, I might have thought the priest didn't get Johanna Barnane quite right. Barrett and Bernard can sound similar.  Jane is often cited as an interchangeable form of Johanna. But in this case I think there is a possibility Johanna Barnane and Jane Barrett were two different women. Baptismal sponsors were James Barrett and Ellen Barrett, and there was a James Barrett right there in the Caheragh tithe applotment. Unfortunately, I may not be able to resolve this question.

There are more children found, outside of Caheragh, in the R.C. parish of Skibbereen & Rath, born to Humphrey Collins and Mary Brien or Mary Collins. I don't know if 1785 Humphrey had multiple wives, or if there was yet another Humphrey running about. It's kind of late for somebody born 1785 to be having kids in the 1840's, you think?!?   Even Patrick (1839) sounds a bit late for old man Humphrey.  The other children of Humphrey are: Mary (19-Jan-1841); Johanna (2-Apr-1843); and Jerry (23-Oct-1845).

The BIG problem with these records is that Skibbereen Heritage was unable to find a baptismal record for Mickey. So his connection to this family is still not conclusively proven.  There is a convenient slot for him though, between Catherine in 1820 and John in 1824.

Michael Collins & Mary Donovan (m. before 1823)
Margaret was unable to find a marriage record for Michael Collins and Mary Donovan, but she did manage to find several children.  Margaret (27-Nov-1823); James (1-Feb-1829, sponsor Johanna Barnane?); Humphrey (1-Aug-1831, sponsor Catherine Collins); Catherine (15-May-1833); Michael (2-Jul-1837); and Jane (4-Aug-1840, sponsor Jerry Collins).

This son Michael cannot be the Mickey who married Ellen Driscoll, as he would have been alarmingly young (17?!?).  It doesn't fit.

I think this same son Michael is the "Michael W. Collins" I see in the Southern Star archives.


I have a few death records for elderly men named James Collins but neither are in Lissane. It is unclear which family - the Humphrey line or the Michael line - that James in the census came from, but I am inclined to think the Michael line, as the first (known) son of James and Nora Collins is named Michael.


On our recent trip to Salt Lake City, I obtained images of Registry of Deeds memorial #371769, as it mentions a Denis Collins, a farmer in Lissane. It turned out he was only serving as a witness to an agreement between a landlord and a tenant. Still, the date of the agreement (1803) compels these questions. Who were the Collinses of Lissane? Were they related to each other?  Where did they come from?

Margaret was unable to link elderly Denis Collins to 1785 Humphrey and 1790 Michael, but she did notice a Denis Collins over in Tonafora, in the backyard of Lissane. I have filed that piece of information in the back of my brain, knowing there could be a connection to the aforementioned Denis in the Registry of Deeds.

I am hoping that a few of these unanswered questions will be resolved when more church records come online. The most pressing question, of course, is WHY are we unable to find a baptismal record for Michael Collins 1822.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Adrigole brick wall, part 2

Since my last post about the brick wall in Adrigole, much more information has emerged, though not what I need to conclusively prove who my gg-grandfather's family was. 

Skibbereen Heritage did indeed successfully find a marriage between Daniel Collins and Mary Mahony.  After all our unsuccessful searches through the baptismals, poor Margaret at Skibb Heritage was probably starting to think I was deluded about "Danny Larr" my gg-grandfather, but she did find a marriage between a Daniel Collins and a Mary Mahony that took place 4-Feb-1845 at St. Finbarr's in Drimoleague R.C. Parish.  The Daniel Collins recorded came out of Castlehaven parish.  One of the witnesses was a John Collins - which doesn't necessarily prove that this is the same John I currently believe was Danny Larr's brother thought to have been born in Adrigole in 1818 - but at least it is not, say, Timothy Collins, a name I have never seen in my family.

Danny Larr and Mary Mahony somehow ended up in Cullomane East.  I have yet to discover how or why. 

Skibb Heritage found eight children born and baptized in Caheragh R.C. Parish.  I believe the baptismal found for a James Collins (Dec-1866) is an error, somehow confused with a James Collins born to a Denis Collins and a Margaret Mahony in Lissane.  Coincidentally, James could be a distant relative, but on Granddad's side, not Grandmom's side, which is the Adrigole Collinses.  Aunt Peg has never heard of a James among Danny Larr's children.  Civil registration is very clear about who the parents were and the location.  So we are leaving James off the Cullomane branch of Adrigole Collinses.

The oldest Cullomane child was Mary, who also went by Maria.  She was born in 1852.  She married Cornelius Collins in Knockgorm and among the children were daughters Nora McCarthy and Kate Ann Fitzgerald.  Nora married Michael McCarthy of Derryduff, Drimoleague in 1909.  Nora raised Grandmom after Ellen Hurley died.  I am not yet sure when Kate Ann married her husband Dick (Richard).  What I've seen in the civil registration indexes conflicts with what I have seen in the news archives.  I was told that Kate Ann and Dick had a pub up in Clonakilty - the Brewer's Arms, or something like that.  I was also told that among Mary's children was a son Cornelius.  Cornelius may have ended up in Liverpool.  Aunt Peg vaguely remembers a visitor from Liverpool showing up at the family doorstep - Auntie can't remember if they were still living in Bauravilla or Bunalun, but she does remember they could "barely understand a word" said.

The second Cullomane child was named Diana, born 1854.  Since Diana (or Dinah) Collins is a practically non-existent name coming out of Ireland and one of my "breadcrumb" names, I have tried to trace her.  A Diana Collins from Ireland, age 20, arrived on the ship Manhattan in New York in September of 1893.  After that her trail goes cold.

I don't know anything about the third Cullomane child, Jeremiah, born 1856, other than that he may have gone by William.  A William Collins was a witness to the marriage of Denis Collins and Ellen Hurley in 1904.

Margaret, the fourth Cullomane child, was born 1858.  I may have a clue about what happened to her, and will get back to her momentarily.

The fifth Cullomane child, born 1860, is my great-grandfather, Denis, or Denny Dan Larr, who died in late 1930.

After Denis came Johanna, born early 1863.  She shows up living with Denny Dan Larr and his first wife in the 1901 census, after that nobody knows where she vanished to.

The youngest Cullomane child was Daniel, born 1865.  We know quite a bit about Daniel now, who went on to join the Royal Irish Constabulary.  I have been in touch with one of his grandchildren.

There are two odd facts emerging from this group of children.  One is the gap between the marriage (1845) and the first child Mary (1852).  The famine undoubtedly played a role here, and may have had to do with the family ending up in Cullomane East.  There may have been other children born elsewhere, leading to the second odd fact that there is no obvious child named Lawrence in this branch of Larrs, even though this branch produced Lawrences (including some in generations that I don't publicly publish).  I am hoping that the church records that come online at the end of the year will shed some light on these puzzles.

There are odd Lawrences and Dianas popping up elsewhere whom I cannot place into the family tree.  There was a Lawrence Collins in the Kilmcabea tithe applotment, I believe out of Coornishal.  News stories mention Collins cousins out of Coornishal. 

A Lawrence Collins married a Mary Hayes in 1866, and their marriage record says they were each living in Ballyriree.  His age is given as 24.  I think they went on to live in Ballyvoureen in the Rosscarbery area - they show up in censuses.  I don't know how they fit or whether they fit into the Adrigole puzzle.

Another interesting family producing a Lawrence Collins came out of Licknavar and may have lived in Gortshanecrone, south of Skibbereen town.  I don't know how they fit in.  In the 1911 census this family so closely resembled Grandmom's family that for a while I was confused thinking it was her family.
The Licknavar/Gortshanecrone family is a different family from the family of James and Catherine Collins in Knockaphreanane, whom I do know about and who are related, though I am unaware of any sons named Lawrence.  In part 1 I confused this family with the Knockaphreanane family.

Diana Collins of Adrigole, whose father was named Lawrence, married Timothy Sullivan of Clooncugger in 1868.  A Jeremiah Collins was a witness.  This Dinah Sullivan died in 1892, age 54, placing her birth around 1838 if that is accurate.  Daughter Bridget was present at death.  There was a Jeremiah Collins baptized in 1846 to a Lawrence Collins and Catherine Neil.  It is not conclusive that Dinah Collins Sullivan was his sister.  There is no baptismal record linking Diana to Catherine Neil.  The relatively late birth dates of Dinah and Jeremiah suggest to me that there was a Lawrence who was a son of Larr (and a brother of Danny Larr).  Otherwise I would have to consider the possibility that Larr was churning out children at least between 1814 and 1846 - over a 32 year range - not likely.

Yet more news archive stories turned up Donovans in Ardagh, Rosscarbery, who were cousins of Adrigole Collinses.  Further research in the online church records turned up parents Johanna Collins and John Donovan, married probably before 1856.  Among their children was a Dinah Donovan.  For the time being I have placed Johanna Collins as a daughter of Larr (therefore a sister of Danny Larr), though I have no conclusive proof of that.

Following more breadcrumb Dianas, I obtained the birth record of a Diana Collins born in 1893 to a Margaret Collins and a John Collins.  This was in Cullomane, right in our backyard!  I am waiting for the marriage record of a John Collins and a Margaret Collins in Bantry to see if this Margaret was the fourth Cullomane child of Danny Larr.  If this is the correct marriage record for John Collins and Margaret Collins in Cullomane, and it confirms that Margaret's father was Danny Larr, this could be important.  Margaret's daughter Dinah is probably the Dinah associated with Roggie and Pitchie whom Aunt Peg remembers when she was just seven years old, and she visited Cullomane East when Denny Dan Larr was ill.

In the census, there is also a son Denis in 1901 who apparently morphed to "Bob" in 1911.  Grandmom's brother Denis was also nicknamed Bob, which may be further evidence that these Cullomane families were related.

The Larrys chart is here, and the pdf is here.