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Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Roots of Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa

Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa (Diarmuid Ó Donnabhain Rosa 1831-1915), was a well known nationalist and Fenian leader.  In my opinion, he was an Irish genealogist's dream.  In his published recollections he not only devoted chapters to his birth and early upbringing, but there is even a chapter labeled "Genealogy." Okay, I am ignoring the part where he claimed he traced the family back to Biblical times.  He's got enough interesting material to make it worth digging into the recent past.

He mentions so many people and places in his recollections, and not just his family, I thought it would be fun to track some of these people and places down.  (Keep in mind that there are Donovans doing lots of genealogy research who have probably filled in many of my blanks! I'm just doing this to see what records prove useful.)

Here goes.

...On the tombstone it is recorded that Father Power died on the 10th of August, 1831.  I was at his funeral; I heard my mother say she was 'carrying' me that day.  It is recorded in the parish registry that I was baptized on the 10th of September, 1831; that my godfather was Jerrie Shanahan, and my godmother Margaret O'Donovan.  When I grew up to boyhood I knew her as Aunty Peg.  She was the wife of Patrick O'Donovan Rua, and was the sister of my mother's father, Cornelius O'Driscoll.  Jerrie Shanahan's mother was Julia O'Donovan Rossa - my father's uncle's daughter...Jerrie Shanahan is my second cousin, and my godfather.
A look at the church records of ROSSALETTIRI & KILKERAUNMOR (ROSCARBERY & LISSEVARD) shows two babies named Jeremiah Donovan born in 1831 (abbreviated Jerh).  One Jerh Donovan was born in Ross, baptized September 4, father Denis Donovan, mother Ellen Driscol, sponsors Jer Shanahan and Margt Driscol
I am more than three years older than my brother Conn...
Searching the church records for children of Ellen Driscoll and Denis Donovan turns up the following siblings:

John 18 Apr 1828
Cornelius (Cors) 19 Jun 1834

Mary 7 Dec 1837

Well, not quite three years older but close!
The household of Renascreena consisted of my grandfather Cornelius O'Driscoll, my grandmother Anna ni Laoghaire [note: O'Leary], my aunts, Nance, Johanna, Bridget, Anna; my uncles Denis, Conn, and Michael.  Michael was the youngest in the family. He keeps the old homestead now (1896).
It doesn't get much better than that!

Notice that his grandfather was called Cornelius and there was also an uncle Conn. One of these men likely shows up in Griffith's Valuation in the civil parish of Ross in Reanascreena North.  There are other Cornelius Driscolls in the same parish in the townlands of Derryduff, Downeen, and Maulyregan.  Further research would be needed to distinguish them.

The Tithe Applotment for Ross was taken in 1834.  The FHL film number for the civil parish of Ross is 256681.  To pursue this further, I'd have to rent that film at the local family history library and look at Ross in detail.  However, a kind soul out there has provided an online transcription of the Rosscarbery area

I am not entirely certain how to interpret the transcription.  But it looks as if a Cornelius Driscoll was in Downeen and there was one in Rainascreeny (Reenascreena) North.  There is a Denis Driscoll in Downeen (Jeremiah had an uncle Denis Driscoll).  It would certainly be worth looking at the the Ross TA film.

Notice also a Jerry Shanihan in Downeen in the TA, and also in Curriheen [Curraheen]. 

A map is an essential tool for looking at such data. Perusing such a map, it's easy to see that Reenascreena and Carrigagrenane are neighboring townlands.  They lie north of Rosscarbery.  Downeen and Curraheen are also close together, though they are on the other side of Rosscarbery.  In any case, they are all local to each other, which matters.

Here is Jeremiah's uncle Michael Driscoll in the 1901 census.

Continuing with his narrative:

...In the family, had been four more daughters. Mary, married to John O'Brien; Margaret, married Jer Sheehan, of Shanava [note: his baptismal sponsors]; Kate, married to Martin O'Donovan Ciuin, of Sawroo; whose son is Martin O'Donovan of San Francisco; and Nellie, the oldest of the children, married, at the age of fifteen, to Denis O'Donovan Rossa, of Carrig-a-grianaan [note: Carrigagrenane], whose son I am.

Yes, married at the age of fifteen, my mother was, and born thirteen years after she was married, was I.
His mother Nellie (Ellen) Driscoll would have been about age 28 in 1831, so her birth year was about 1803, and the year of the Nellie Driscoll-Denis Donovan marriage was around 1818.  Unfortunately the Rosscarbery church records don't go earlier than 1821, so it doesn't look like church records will help us.  Maybe as more church records come online, we can find information about his parents' siblings.

By the way, the family nickname Rossa comes from Rossmore, not Ross or Rosscarbery.   If I post a followup, I will elaborate on that - and Donovans - in more detail.  In the meantime, here is a Rootsweb thread created by descendants of the Donovans.

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