Finding Your Ancestors in Kerry

Finding Your Ancestors in Kerry is a comprehensive guide to tracing your ancestors in County Kerry. It describes all the various sources of information online and offline which are available for doing research, where each of these can be accessed and how to best use them in your search for your ancestors. Order here. TKA Finding Your Ancestors in Kerry Cover


  1. Andrew Kelliher Andrew Kelliher
    May 12, 2016    

    As discussed.

    • Kay Caball Kay Caball
      May 13, 2016    

      Nancy thank you for your enquiry. I have done a quick search on both Tralee Church records and Civil records for Ellen Sullivan with parents John Sullivan and Johanna Connor and both come up negative. Would you let me know where you got this information so that I can make a judgement on it as to its accuracy. There is something incorrect in the information – either the location of Tralee or the names of the parents I would think. Kay

      • Nancy McNaughton Nancy McNaughton
        November 27, 2016    

        This information came from my grandparents marriage Certificate. I have found an Ellen Sullivan travelling from Albany W.A. Out 1894, and this may be her., as on her death certificate it says she was a resident in W.A. For 10 yrs, before coming to Victoria, and the time adds up

  2. Nancy MxNaughton Nancy MxNaughton
    May 13, 2016    

    I am trying to trace my Grandmothers family. She was born @Tralee 1867/8. She was Ellen Sullivan, parents were John Sullivan & Johanna née O’Connor. John was a Blacksmith. Ellen came to Australia approx. 1895 (via New Zealand?) I do not know anything else of her life in Ireland. Did her family leave Ireland too? She married at Geraldton Western Australia 20/8/1900 to Richard Bibby, died Melbourne July 1943. My father was an only child, also named Richard

    • Kay Caball Kay Caball
      May 16, 2016    

      Nancy, I thought I had replied to this earlier, if I didn’t – my apologies. I cannot find an Ellen Sullivan with parents John Sullivan and Johanna Connor in Tralee or for that matter in any of the Kerry baptisms. If you would like to email me separately, I might be able to get some further information from you that would help in identification process. My email address is on home page of the website.

  3. Asereht H Griffin {theresa} Asereht H Griffin {theresa}
    June 4, 2016    

    My Grandfather was John Joseph Griffin , named after John O Connell ( who was a Lawyer in New York and Baltimore Maryland , my Grandmother Helen Heineke of germany, had three sons {my father is John Joseph Griffin II , George Griffin and Robert Thomas Griffin His great aunt was Ellen Bridget OConnell”Griffin” who came from Kerry Ireland , she died on Feb 16 1930 in New York ,All i know is that we are related to Daniel OConnell , and that i have pictures of the Family in Kerry , as well as Dublin , I know that Maurice was on the expedition to the Antarctic , and that Ellen Bridget came over on the ship to New York ,(i have pictures } can you tell me WHERE the Griffin line crosses into the OConnell , because the Heritage sites make my head spin , lol, could you please shed some light on this ?

  4. Asereht H Griffin Asereht H Griffin
    June 4, 2016    

    My Grandfather was John Joseph Griffin , named after John O Connell (My Grandfather was a Lawyer in New York and Baltimore Maryland , my Grandmother Helen Heineke of germany, had three sons {my father is John Joseph Griffin II (who married Helen M Maki. my mother ) , George Griffin and Robert Thomas Griffin their aunt was Ellen Bridget OConnell “Griffin” who came from Kerry Ireland , she died on Feb 16 1930 in New York ,All i know is that we are related to Daniel OConnell , and that Bridget is the key ,and that i have pictures of the Family in Kerry , as well as Dublin , I know that My great Uncle Maurice was on the expedition to the Antarctic , and that Ellen Bridget came over on the ship to New York ,(i have pictures } can you tell me WHERE the Griffin line crosses into the OConnell , because the Heritage sites make my head spin , lol, could you please shed some light on this ?

  5. Dave Dave
    July 12, 2016    

    I have a book by Michael H. O’Connor, titled ‘Tracing your Kerry Ancestors’ which this looks very similar to this one (from checking it out on Amazon). Are they entirely different books, different editions of the same book, or what? I’m keen to know how different it is so I can decide whether I should buy ‘Finding your ancestors…’, you’ll probably appreciate I don’t want to duplicate.

    • Kay Caball Kay Caball
      July 14, 2016    

      Dave, my book is Finding Your Ancestors in Kerry published by Flyleaf Press in Austust 2015. Michael O’Connor wrote and Flyleaf published his edition sometime around 1999/2001 and is out of print now. As you will appreciate, a lot of new research has become available in the intervening years, quite a bit is online so available worldwide. The present book is 148 pages as compared to 89 (I think) in the older one.

      • Dave Dave
        July 15, 2016    

        Hi Kay, thanks very much for that clarification, sounds like your book is worth getting. My copy of O’Connor’s book is from 1994 and you’re certainly correct that there’s been a lot of changes since then! I gather from what you say that your book is a revised, extended version of the O’Connor book so I guess there’s some parts that are the same. Seems odd that his name isn’t on ‘Finding…’ though, it would make it clearer that this is am improved version rather than being a different (competing) publication that perhaps adds nothing new.


  6. Pam Marquardt Pam Marquardt
    July 13, 2016    

    Kay I am trying to find the burial place of my great great grandparents :
    Cornelius Dore/Dower and Johanna (nee Stack) from Ballybunion or Ballyduff
    Maurice Joy Sr and Catherine/Kate Carroll from Carraweesha (?) Urlee

    How can I find out where they are all buried and also the names of THEIR parents ?
    Their children Cornelius Dower & Norah Joy came to Australia in the early 1880s.and married here in 1885.

    • Kay Caball Kay Caball
      July 14, 2016    

      Pam I will email you directly in reply. Kay

  7. Margaret Baldock Margaret Baldock
    July 21, 2016    

    My grandparents apparently were from Kenmare, County Kerry, Ireland. They were Jeremiah Gallivan b. 1812-1814 and Catherine O’Sullivan b. abt 1832 (poss. father Jim O’Sullivan). They both immigrated to America where they were married in 1854. They ended up in Missouri.

    I have been looking for a long time and wondered if you could help me?

    • Kay Caball Kay Caball
      July 22, 2016    

      Margaret I am sending you by email an image from the original baptismal register in Kenmare of the baptism of Catherine Sullivan 10 February 1827. I would need more information on Jeremiah.

  8. sue lannen sue lannen
    August 8, 2016    

    Hi, I just sent you an e mail but no details. My GGGradfather was James Carter Lannen d Sept 1901 Kerry Reg. of death Cahirsiveen. His wife was Maria D Lynch both were in the 1901 census at Portmagee.
    James was a “sub Postmaster”
    I am coming to Irelnd next year and would love to visit their grave. Regards Sue Lannen

    • Kay Caball Kay Caball
      August 8, 2016    

      Sue, unfortunately I have no idea where he exactly he is buried. More than likely it is in Portmagee cemetery (or extension). While the Kerry County Council have a website listing graves – Portmagee doesn’t start until 1949. My advice is to go there and give yourself time – a few days – to talk to older people, to the Parish Clerk and get advice from them. It is the only way to do this as we (Irish) are not very good at grave marking or grave recording. Kerry people are very friendly and really want to help you so will be prepared to to all kinds of lengths to get your grave identified. Just don’t go there in July or August when it is high Summer. You will love Portmagee.

  9. Mary Moroney Mary Moroney
    September 21, 2016    

    I am trying to find my great grandmother’s parents names. Her name is Anne Murphy and I have her born in Scartaglen in 1862. She immigrated to America in 1881 and married my great grandfather Patrick Liddane (Ladden) who had immigrated to US from Kilcummin with another brother. Anne and Patrick were well known for helping other Irish immigrants find lodging and work. They would feed the newly immigrating Irish. My great grandmother Anne tirelessly cared for any one who came to their door seeking help. She passed away of a massive stroke while feeding a family at her home in 1917, Hoosick Falls NY. I am also wondering if both Patrick and Anne may have entered through Canada and what records are there to trace this supposition?

  10. Lora Laffan Lora Laffan
    October 21, 2016    

    Happy to find this site. Have been searching for church records based on info we (family, cousins, aunt, etc who have been researching) thought pretty sure of. And not finding, looking for other suggestions. In Ireland this week and was truly hoping to more definitively go to Killarney, Kerry, and see church, even cemetery if possible.
    Great grandfather was John Joseph Laffan, have turned up birth dates of March 24, 1874, baptism 1874 but not showing up in church record online, mostly but some records also say about 1877. Parents James Laffan and Mary Shorten (or Shortall)
    Also Great great Grandfather (great grandmothers side) Martin Pursey or Purcell, about 1825, married to Bridget.
    Any assistance or suggestions greatly appreciated!

    • Kay Caball Kay Caball
      October 21, 2016    

      Lora, on a very quick search I can find baptisms of James 24.6.1878,Mary 25.3.1873, James 1.11.1885,Mary Elizabeth 11.1.1888 all children of James Laffan &Mary Shortall. I did not find John Joseph but I had very little time so could not do an exhaustive search. As there are 2 children called James this could be (a) the first one died & the next son was given the same which was quite normal or (2) the transcription from the original register is incorrect ( which could be normal also!). I would advise getting my book (Easons Killarney or Killarney Library) ‘Finding Your Ancestors in Kerry’ to help you further.Also if you would like to read my last blog on the advantages of getting your research done at homr well in advance of a visit -for next time. Kay

      • Lora Laffan Lora Laffan
        October 22, 2016    

        Thank you Kay! That confirms what I have seen also, and you are of course correct, much more research can be done from home, simply ran out of time. I just look at it as ‘more for next trip’! I first researched years ago but resources are much easier in some ways now so will look into getting your book and learning more. I did go visit St Mary’s Cathedral and let my cousins know I believe this to be Cathedral in correct sources at least. Brought tears to my eyes being there, will keep looking! Thank you much

        • Kay Caball Kay Caball
          October 25, 2016    

          Lora, yes read and read everything you can on the territory and history of the area and you will find that you will get much, much more from your visit next time. Also keep an eye on my blogs – I hope to give helpful hints on locating sources and ‘how to’ on a fairly regular basis in these. Kay

  11. Linda Eagleton Linda Eagleton
    March 12, 2017    

    Hello Kay, I have been researching my family history for some years and have got as far back as I can go looking into my maternal grandmother’s parentage in Kerry. The family name is Tuohey, which I know can be spelled a great number of ways. I am certain that they came from Kerry – my mum remembers her aunts talking about it often. I can find evidence – census records and birth certificates, of the family appearing in Holborn, London somewhere between 1865 and 1869 and here I can get no further. Are you able to help me and can you give me an idea of how long it will take as we are planning a trip to Ireland in the summer?

    • Kay Caball Kay Caball
      March 13, 2017    

      Linda, thank you for your enquiry. You haven’t given me any details of name, possible location etc., so if you could email me (} any information you have I can have a quick look for you. After that I can give more comprehensive advice – whether you would be able to conduct the research yourself with perhaps the aid of my book Finding Your Ancestors in Kerry or if it is more complicated and you need to commission research. Looking forward to hearing from you. Kay

  12. Mary Dooley Mary Dooley
    March 24, 2017    

    Hello! I’m stuck….My frustration, I think, stems in part from the old Irish tradition of naming children after grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, and so on: My head spins, when I see what seem like families with all the same names, only in different orders! (I exaggerate just a tiny bit.) Truly, though, every woman was Johanna, and those who weren’t, were Bridget, lol! The site is great, and I can find my grandmother’s (Helen [Ellen] Coffey, b. 1877) and her parents’ (James Coffey, Elizabeth Lynch) records, based on the fact that they were in Coomavohir and Dooira. I think it’s correct that James’ parents were Jeremiah (Dermot) Coffey and Johanna Shea, and Elizabeth’s were Patrick Lynch and Julia Kelly. Going back that far probably ought to be good enough, but the thing is, I’ve used DNA matches to piece together Coffey families in U.S. , and I’m curious to explain how the relationships work. The puzzle taunts me! My grandmother was orphaned, as her mother died shortly after arrival in U.S. (I’m guessing in quarantine, but haven’t found any records of her death). From church (Dromod parish) records, and what I believe is correct ship manifest (May 3, 1880), it appears that she had a younger sister. I’d never heard of her having a younger sister, so I would guess that the sister also died in quarantine. I also haven’t found a record of James Coffey’s death, although some second-hand information from a cousin was that he supposedly made it to Illinois (their destination, where they had relatives), although died not long afterward. Are there records other than the church records that would be helpful? The civil records are so general, they don’t seem helpful at all.

    • Kay Caball Kay Caball
      March 27, 2017    

      Mary, yes I can sympathise with your frustration. I think the biggest problem is that spelling was not standardised. Have you read my book Finding Your Ancestors in Kerry? It should give you an overview of what you can find and hopefully also, make you aware of what you just cannot find. I think that is one of the problems with It never tells you that pages were missing, misprints in transcription etc etc. For instance ‘Coomavoher’ (correct spelling) in the Civil Parish of Dromod, in the Barony of Iveragh would enable you to look at land records, which we always advert to when we are stuck on records. The Tithe Applotments and Griffiths Valuation are invaluable for identifying families. I have no idea where ‘Doira’ might be. It may be ‘Doory’ in the Civil Parish of Dromod also.

    • Patrick Nowlan Patrick Nowlan
      April 4, 2017    

      My ancestors are Coffeys and Nowlans.Would you have any records on a Patrick Joseph Nowlan? Born 1828 Approx.He came to Canada in the 1840s or 1850s.I have found quite a bit of his Canadian history on the pada website.However I am stumped on his Irish background. He was from A town called Killarney. Thanks for your site!

      • Kay Caball Kay Caball
        April 4, 2017    

        Patrick on a quick check there is no record of a Patrick Nowlan’s (Nolan) baptism in Killarney in the early 1800s. As you have a lot of information of his life in Canada, that is really where you need to start.
        To explain records in Kerry in the 19th century – nobody had two ‘christian’ or first names. They only took on the second name when they emigrated and found that it was the ‘done thing’. Irish people in the 19th Century and before, were not very cognisant of their correct birth dates. So all indications (from Census, Naturalisation, Death Certificates) are only approximate. Compulsory civil registration of births, marriages & deaths began in 1864, prior to this, we are relying on baptismal records, if available.

        There is also the problem that as a result of the general religious restrictions and the Penal Laws from the late 16th century to the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, it was difficult and dangerous for priests to keep and/or maintain records. As a result only a small number of parish registers survive of baptisms and marriages before 1820. The urban parishes of Tralee, Killarney and Listowel have the earlier records – some from 1792 and others not available until after 1870.
        My advice would be to check the Canadaian records and if you wold like to let me have details of Patrick’s wife and children – the traditional naming practice might through some clues our way.
        There is a family with parents Patrick Nolan and Mary Egan in Killarney in 1844 but no child called Patrick.

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