Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Ways of tracing your ancestors in Ireland" by Ronan Killeen

For any family historian it's good to know who your great grandparent was, the townland or parish they were from the best place to start is the 1911 census and you now can view the 1901 census at;

After you have done that you should be able to trace into the 19th century of Griffith's valuation which was a land valuation surveyed by Richard Griffith between 1840's- 1860's Ireland.  Athenry was mainly surveyed in th 1850's as you well find out on the web it ranges around the mid 1850's.
   Griffith's valuation contains the townland of occupant, the immediate lessor (landlord) and how much they were paying for their land in rent.

Go to this link
When you find what you are looking for click on map to see where your ancestors land was.
To read more about Griffith's Valuation Click on this link

An ancestor of mine was in the Irish Volunteer's were do I go?
Well what I know is that if you have proof of address 1901/1911 census
You can send you inquiry to

Veteran's Allowance Section,

Department of Defence,
Renmore ,
Co.Galway .

If you were a member of the Old Irish Republican Army, after 1934 you could apply for a military pension. Click here for more details -
For those of you that are looking for ancestors in the West Galway region try this link

and for the east Galway;

The records that were held in the Public Records Office were shelled during the Irish Civil War 1922 and this is why 1901 and 1911 are available despite the rule is no less than one hundred years.
There is another interesting way to find what was written by your ancestor.

In 1935 the Irish Folklore Commission was set up. They went around to all the schools in Ireland to collect the tales their parents, grandparents or relatives told them and wrote them down on paper.
These are now held on mircofilm in the Galway County Library on Nun's Island Galway City.
You will have to book the microfilm and ask for the Irish Folklore School's Manuscript for Athenry.

What's on them?
1.The name of the tale or local history they have written about

It is possible that it's not your ancestors handwritting but they did write down the tales first and some of it local history.

2. Just remember some are in old Irish script (a national school teacher maybe useful for this)

3. Your ancestor's address and who they recieved the tale or local history from.

Happy Tracing!


Monday, August 9, 2010

"The Lopdells of Athenry" by Ronan Killeen

Graveyard of the Lopdell family near the entrance to Athenry Heritage Centre

One of the many landlord classes in the parish of Athenry was the Lopdells. With the help of Griffith's Valuation, I have traced back to John Lopdell that was paying £2 & 5shillings for Office and Land, 10 more shillings for Land and another 10 shillings for two cottier houses & gardens in the year 1856.

   In 1901 John Robert Lopdell lived with his family in Farnablake,West who lived with his wife Lavinia Susan, his children Magurite and Dorothy.
   The people that worked for John Robert were Annie Peters-a nurse, Honor Kelly-the cook, Julia Kavanagh-the maid and John Sutheland-the coach driver.
   In the 1911 Census a woman named Catherine Katie Lopdell lived in Raheen, Athenry and was head of the household. It is possible she lived in what is known as Raheen House which is behind Raheen Woods Hotel.

   Catherine Katie family with her daughter Louie Bradshaw - the rest possibly visited or lodged with her grandchildren Aileen Hall and Ruby Bradshaw, Mary Costelloe, Killala Burditt - a governess (though not all of these may have been leaving with her just visiting), Margaret Murphy, Mary Kay, Beassie Kearnes and Margaret Keaney were Domestic servants to Catherine Katie.
Thomas Higgins was Catherine Katies coach driver. Today there are Lopdells buried in St.Mary's Graveyard or what locals of Athenry now know as the Athenry Heritage Centre.There is also a Major Lopdell buried among the family in the Athenry Heritage Centre along with the rest of the Lopdell family.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Athenry Railway Station 1851 -1860 by Ronan Killeen (Revised 2014)

The Athenry railway station has been an important junction of  19th and 20th century history linking between Sligo and Limerick. It was also an important part for industry as the sugar beet factories had required one million sacks for pulp and another million for sugar. The government could induce the sugar companies to give orders for the sacks to the Athenry Western Sack & Bag factory. It was apart of the Claremorris to Limerick line which closed on the 8 April 1976.

The Midland Great Western Railway 
The Midland Great Western Railway Act of 1845 authorised the company to raise £1 million to build a line from Dublin to Mullingar and Longford. In a moment of inspiration, the company bought the Royal Canal and built its railway alongside it.[1]
The Midland Great Western Railway got parliament approval to extend its tracks from Mullingar to Galway to Athlone, and by August 1850 over a thousand men were at work on the line to Athlone.[2]
In 1849 the Midland Great Western Railway, argued that the railway construction could be used to help relieve the distress of the Great Famine, obtained a government loan of half a million pounds to assist in the building of the Galway line. The company appointed William Dargan as the contractor for the whole route from Mullingar to Galway, and in September 1850 the company reported 9000 men were engaged on the works.[3]
The line was completed when the great bridge over the Shannon at Athlone was finished in July 1851, and trains began running between Dublin and Galway in August 1851, five months ahed of schedule.[4]

William Dargan
William Dargan, who was born in Carlow town on the 28 February 1799, is an important key player when it comes to the Irish railways. He was a great engineer in the 19th century of railway, canal and harbour construction, as well as many other philanthropic projects throughout Ireland. Even when he was alive he had a statue of himself unveiled by the Lord Lieutenant (A British monarch’s official representative)  in 1864 in honour of his work. Dargan was a modest man who even turned down the opportunity of Queen Victoria to make him a baronet but he politely declined the honour.[5]
Dargan began his work in April 1833 when his men began ‘To cut down the cliffs at salthill’. As was his practise, he made haste to get work going at a number of places along the line, but not without initial difficulties with landowners and labourers.[6]
Dargan was also a generous man towards his workers according to Brian Mac Aonghusa’s article on him: ‘Thanks to Dargan’s determination to continue to finance the building of the railways throughout the Famine period and its aftermath, many an Irish family survived to bless the great William Dargan fondly known in the west of Ireland as An Fear Traenach [The Train Man?]. It is recorded that when recruiting workers for his schemes in those terrible years, Dargan would pay those selected a full week’s wages in advance and tell them he did not except  any work until they had got some nourishment and their strength back.[7]
In 1866 Dargan fell of a horse and was severely injured which soon deteriorated his health. On the 7 February 1867 the great engineer of the 19th century died. His funeral took place at 9 a.m. on Monday 11th 1867. There was a cortege of 700 railwaymen.[8]

Athenry Railway Station
On the 1 August 1851 the Athenry railway station opened under the MGWR.[9] According to Griffith’s Valuation (a 19th century land valuation) the station master was Michael Tierney who was tenant to his landlord Timothy Kinneen.[10]
A new company, the Athenry and Ennis Junction railway [A & EJR], was incorporated to continue the route north to make a junction at Athenry with the MGWR Galway to Dublin line. Incorporated in 1860, it did not open its thirty-six-mile long line until 1869, once again with the help from the Public Works Loan Commissioners. The A & EJR was also worked by the Waterford and Limerick line into which it was eventually absorbed.[11]
A line had been opened to Tuam by the Athenry and Tuam railway in 1860. This was worked initially by the MGWR but later by the Waterford Limerick line, which used it as a springboard for further expansion to the North.[12]

[1] Tom Ferris, Gleam of the Lines: An Illustrated History of Irish Railways, (Gill & McMillian, 2011) P42
[1]Ibid P43
[1] Ibid p66-67
[1] Ibid P67
[1] Ibid
[1] Ibid
[1] James Scannell, The Funeral of William Dargan, Vol.46, No.1., Spring 1993
[1] Griffith’s Valuation p5
[1] Tom Ferris  p73

[1] Ibid p73

List of Publicans and Hotel Owners/Managers 1856-1936 by Ronan Killeen (Merry Christmas!)

1846 [1] Margaret Barrett, (Hotel and Posting House); Matthias Cannon; John Dunleavy; John Holleran; John Whelan. 1856 [...