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Friday, May 25, 2012

A Ride on the Mahony Genealogy Rollercoaster

Genealogy research is often like a visit to an amusement park. You go to the park intending to see the clown, but get distracted by the mirrors and forget about the clown. One minute you are elated to have a hot lead, only to be in despair moments later when that lead falls apart. It's like being on a roller coaster.

Such was my research day yesterday. It was a good lesson in realizing that "things may not be what they seem" and "read the ENTIRE record." Just because somebody named so-and-so is over in the next townland it doesn't mean he's the person you are looking for.

Yesterday I unintentionally ended up revisiting some Mahony questions that have been on the back burner. First question: Were the Mahonys of Bredagh related in some way to the Mahonys in surrounding areas, such as Toughbaun and Minanes? Second question: Where was Catherine Hurley Mahony of Bredagh from? I will leave the second question for a separate posting.

Mahonys in the Drimoleague, Drinagh, Ballymoney, and Kilmacabea areas

If you have read earlier postings, you'll know from the release of the remaining Castlehaven & Myross baptism records I found more conclusive evidence indicating that Grandmom's paternal grandmother was the Mary Mahony who was the daughter of Denis Mahony and Catherine Hurley of Bredagh. Kate Hurley showed up as a baptism sponsor for Laurence (indexed as Jane), the first son of Daniel Collins and Mary Mahony.

There have been only two minor problems with that conclusion: 1) Mary Mahony's birth year, as suggested by the 1901 census and her 1901 death record, suggested 1825/6 as a birth year. The Mary from Bredagh was baptized in late 1823. It's not uncommon for people to be slightly off on their birth years, so this is not a major problem. 2) One of the Mahony baptism sponsors of the Collins children was a Daniel. There is no baptism record for a Daniel out of Bredagh in the right time period, but given that there is no marriage record for Denis Mahony = Kate Hurley, it is impossible to know what children were born before the start of available church records. Daniel could also have been a younger brother of Denis or a cousin. The name of Daniel's co-sponsor, Mary Burke, is also the name of the wife of a Daniel Mahony in Castledonovan, as per the Drimoleague & Drinagh online church records. Unless this is some amazing coincidence, Daniel M and Mary B of Castledonovan likely had a relationship to the Mahonys in Bredagh.

The known siblings of Mary of Bredagh were Patrick (1822), Norry (1826), Margaret (1831), Tim (1834), Denis (1836), and Kate (1840). In addition, there is evidence from the 1901 census that there may have been a brother named Cain.

Margaret Mahony of Bredagh married Denis Collins of Lissane. They had a son Tim, who became a baker and had a grocery with his older sister Mary in the village of Drimoleague. Mary and Tim Collins are in Drimoleague in the 1911 census.

They weren't yet situated there in 1901. I have no idea where Mary was in 1901, but where was Tim the baker? I believe I found him, listed as a boarder with a Michael Mahony, his wife Ann, and some of their children, in Toughbaun.
Was Tim Collins a second, or maybe third cousin of Michael Mahony of Toughbaun? Or just a neighbor or friend?

To dig into that, I had to look at my research from when I was originally researching Mary Mahony. One family really stood out - Tim Mahony and Ellen Crowley of Minanes, a townland adjacent to Toughbaun. Tim and Ellen married 30-Jun-1822 in Drimoleague & Drinagh parish. The known children of this Minanes couple were Denis (1823), Mary (1825), Juliann (1827), Dan (1829), Tim (1832), Ellen (1834), Cain (1837), Ann (1840), Michael (1844), and Kate (1848). Whew! Ellen Crowley must have been quite young when she married!

When I was first researching my gg-grandmother, this daughter Mary, baptized in 1825, seemed like a better fit. Could this have been my ancestral family? After some long deliberation, I concluded they weren't.

The names of the Mahony witnesses to events for the family of Daniel Collins and Mary Mahony of Cullomane East were Denis (the wedding of Daniel C = Mary M in 1845), Margaret (in 1847), Cain (in 1852), Daniel (in 1856), Catherine (in 1858), Timothy (in 1860), Margaret (in 1860), and Kate (in 1863). The Minanes family did not have a Cain or a Margaret that I could find. The Bredagh family was missing only a Daniel, which might be explained due to incomplete information on the Bredagh family. Kate from Minanes, baptized in 1848, would have been way too young to have been a Godmother in 1858. Furthermore, no Juliann or Ann or Michael shows up as a Collins event witness.

Some time ago, when I first investigated the Toughbaun family in the 1901 census, I obtained the birth record of son Stephen. Stephen was registered 1-Sep-1878, in Toughbaun, father Michael Mahony, a shoemaker. The mother was listed as Mary Sullivan. The mother in the census is named Ann. So there are conflicts here.

The Michael from Minanes would certainly have been a suitable age to marry Ann Sullivan from Leap on 24-Feb-1870 and settle in Toughbaun, right next door to Minanes. But everything falls apart from there.

The Kilmacabea R.C. parish marriage records for the time period lists the names of the fathers of the bride and groom. Michael's father was listed as Michael, not Tim. Oops!

The Drimoleague & Drinagh baptism records show the following children for this Toughbaun couple: Hanora (1871), Michael John (1872), James (1874), Dan (1876), and Maryanne (1880). That the oldest boy was named Michael John convinces me the Kilmacabea register did not have an error. The ONLY Mahony wedding witness was John.

Practically none of the Minanes names show as Toughbaun event witnesses - no Tim, no Denis, no Ann, no Juliann, etc. The only Mahony names as baptism sponsors in Toughbaun are John and Ellen.

So the Michael married to Ann Sullivan and in the census in Toughbaun doesn't appear to be the Michael from next-door Minanes. That theory looks dead.

Who then, was this Michael, son of a Michael? Another review of the church records for the area was necessary, and there was a chance I would never find him, if he was born before the availability of area records. Drimoleague & Drinagh R.C. Parish records contain a BIG GAP in missing marriages, roughly 1864-1876, so to fully travel this avenue of research I will have to exhaustively search the civil registration index. I will leave that task on the back burner.

Here's a possibility for Michael Junior. A record for Mick Mahony, baptized in Drimoleague & Drinagh R.C. Parish, 29-Mar-1835, was transcribed as father White Mahony, mother Dunn, and sponsor Kate Donovan. I looked at the image, and I believe it reads: Mick, illegitimate of Mick Mahony Dunmanway and Kate Donovan. The record is too blackened to get any further information out of it, so I don't know where the mother lived.

Here's another one. Baptized Sep-1844, Castlehaven & Myross R.C. Parish. Mother is Ellen Donovan. No residence given. Further search on that couple did not lead to anything enlightening.

Here's another possibility for Michael Junior. Baptized 24-Oct-1846, Kilmacabea R.C. Parish. Mother listed as Elle Donovan. The residence is blackened out, but looks like it could start with a T. I searched for more children for this couple. A son John, baptized 14-Mar-1840, shows the residence of Tralong, which is in the civil parish of Ross. This is not outside the realm of possibility, and there is a sibling John, which is a nice plus.

Here's a final possibility. Baptized 8-Sep-1838. Mother yet another Nell Donovan. The residence is listed as Carranashingane. Searching for more children of this couple, there is a Denis, baptized 6-Feb-1845, residence is listed as Killaveennogue. A daughter, Margaret, baptized 12-Feb-1836, is listed with a residence that looks like "Tuligdarmuid." I think that last place could be Toughmacdermody. These three locations are adjacent to each other and they all lie just a few miles north of Toughbaun. I am guessing that this Michael Senior was a laborer, who moved his family around a bit.

Neither Griffith's Valuation nor the Tithe Applotment for Drinagh have so far shed any light on the origins of this Michael Mahony Senior. In addition, I would like to have seen a son John in this family to feel more like this is Toughbaun Michael's family.

Have I extracted all the clues I could get from the marriage record of Michael Mahony and Ann Sullivan? No! The record lists the groom's residence as Drinagh. It also lists the residence of the groom's father. It is rather unreadable, looking like Kilculua or Kilculan. That does not look familiar. But wait, there's more! The Kilmacabea R.C. Parish record also lists the residence of the witness John Mahony, as Kilcaskan. The only Kilcaskan around is in Ballymoney civil parish, in Dunmanway. There are a few intriguing place names around there, like Kilvinane, and Kilvurra. The Ballymoney Tithe Applotment lists a Michael Mahony in Currabeg, which lies maybe a mile southeast of Kilcaskan and is near Kilvinane and Kilvurra. Now I am wondering if perhaps the illegitimate Michael, son of Kate Donovan, has come into play.

One obvious line of research is to look at the civil registration birth records for some of the other children, to confirm the mother was Ann Sullivan. Other interesting facts that have sprung up - present at the birth of Stephen Mahony was a Mary Donovan of Curraghalicky, another place in the same neighborhood. And Michael of Toughbaun is listed as a grocer in Francis Guy's directory of 1914. Perhaps at one time Tim the baker was an apprentice shopkeeper?

For now, I will leave this research as it is, and revisit it later.