The extensive research and rewarding nuggets of history we discovered in the hunt to find our ancestral home in Ireland.
We have had the fantastic experience of visiting the home townlands of many of our Irish American immigrants. We have “chased” Kate’s ancestors back to Enniskerry in County Wicklow, Ballydurn Townland in CountyWaterford, and Templemore in County Tipperary.
As for Mike, we have “chased” his ancestors back to Ballyheigue in County Kerry, Litter More Townland in County Wexford, and Dunganstown in County Wexford.
Finding where our ancestors lived in Ireland was the endpoint, following extensive research.
As it turns out, the Regans were indeed from County Waterford, but not so for the Fitzpatricks. As you search for your Irish ancestors, make sure you soak in all of the Irish history along the way!
As we share photos of our visits to these townlands, we will place the spotlight on several types of Irish records that can help you locate where your ancestors lived on the Emerald Isle.
Finding the home townlands of your ancestors is like solving a puzzle that will involve fitting together numerous pieces of information. We will highlight the Tithe Applotment Books, Griffith’s Valuation, church records, civil registration records, and local resources in Ireland.
You must first determine as much as you possibly can about your immigrant Irish ancestors before you begin to “chase” their roots in Ireland. What were their names, approximate years of birth and emigration, their parents’ names, did other relatives emigrate with them, etc.? Such information is absolutely critical if you are going to be successful in pinpointing where your Irish ancestors lived.
Patrick Byrne and Mary McGuirk, Kate’s 3rd great-grandparents, were married in Roman Catholic (RC) Parish Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow in 1825. The address given for Mary was Tonegara. Four male McGuirks lived in Tonegara Townland when the Tithe Applotment Books were recorded in 1825. One of them was undoubtedly Mary McGuirk’s father. Tithe Applotment Books were recorded between 1823 and 1838 as a survey of land to determine the payment of tithes as a religious tax.
Mary Whelan, Mike’s 2nd great-grandmother, arrived in New York City in 1856 with her children Mary, Matthew, and Brid. They made their way to Antwerp, NY where Matthew ended up serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. Matthew’s pension records state that he was from Litter More Townland, Co. Wexford. The village of Kilmuckridge includes Litter More and Litter Beg Townlands.
As a widow, Mary Whelan appeared in Griffith’s Valuation in 1853 in Litter Beg Townland prior to emigrating with her children. Griffith’s Valuation recorded all heads of households between 1848 and 1864 to determine liability to pay for the support of the poor and destitute. The Tithe Applotment Books and Griffith’s Valuation can be found by conducting a Google search.
James Regan and Catherine “Kate” Walsh, Kate’s 2nd great grandparents, as well as Kate’s Harney ancestors, lived in Ballydurn Townland, County Waterford before emigrating to Albany, NY in the 1860s. James Regan appeared as a farmer in the 1852 Griffith’s Valuation records. Kate’s great grandfather Edmund Regan was baptized on 7 Jan 1841 in RC Parish Kill. RC baptism and marriage records have been transcribed by the websites Roots Ireland and Find My Past.
William Kennedy, Mike’s 2nd great-grandfather, was born in Dunganstown Townland, County Wexford in 1826. William immigrated to Boston in 1847 and made his way to Cape Vincent, NY by 1850. He was a blacksmith and a miner before turning to farming.
William’s brother Patrick Kennedy was the great-grandfather of U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. William and Patrick’s brother James Kennedy did not immigrate to the States and died in Dunganstown, Co. Wexford in 1881. James’ death record was found on the Irish Genealogy website which houses Civil Registration Records for births and deaths beginning in 1864.
Mary Waters, Kate’s great-grandmother, was baptized in RC Parish Templemore in County Tipperary in 1831. As if to beckon Kate to find her nearly 200 years later, Mary’s baptism record stated that she lived on Pig Foot Lane.
Thanks to the personal assistance of the fantastic staff in Templemore City Hall, we were able to walk down Pig Foot Lane where the ruins of several one-room stone row houses from the early 1800s still line the now abandoned lane.
Richard Laide and Johanna Sullivan, Mike’s 3rd great-grandparents, lived in Dromatoor Townland near the village of Ballyheigue on the Atlantic Ocean in Co. Kerry. Even though Richard, Johanna and several of their children immigrated to Franklin Co., NY prior to 1850, the 1901 Ireland Census shows a John Laide and family living in Dromatoor. Google "Ireland 1901/1911 Censuses" to explore these extremely valuable records.
If you have ancestors who emigrated from Ireland to the U.S. or elsewhere, then we have hopefully provided you with several record sources you can tap into in an effort to pinpoint where they lived before emigrating. Being able to visit the home townlands of your Irish ancestors is a journey back in time that will leave you overcome with emotions and filled with admiration for your forefathers and foremothers.
If you “hit a brick wall” in your search, then Old Friends Genealogy specializes in “chasing” Irish American ancestors back in time. We work closely with our clients by exchanging information, asking questions, and confirming records found in an effort to identify where each client’s immigrant Irish ancestors lived on the most beautiful Emerald Isle.
*Kate and Mike Lancor live in Moultonborough, NH, U.S. and have traveled to Ireland numerous times. They can be reached on their website Old Friends Genealogy or contact them via email at email@example.com. You can also visit their Old Friends Genealogy Facebook page.
*Originally published in October 2019, updated in May 2023.
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