The Brick Wall is something all genealogists come up against, whether amateur or professional. When we meet it, we are flummoxed; disbelief that we can’t seem to get past it and stubbornness to keep trying is the usual reaction.
Last Summer I had one of these experiences. I received an enquiry from Noni in Australia enquiring about finding a Margaret Cooper in Kerry:
‘I know from several documents that my gg grandmother’s maiden name was Margaret Cooper and she came from County Kerry.
I think she emigrated to Australia in the late 1840s to early 1850s. There are several certificates that state she came from County Kerry. She had a child in Ipswich in the mid 1850s and was presumably married to the child’s father, Edward Sullivan, also Irish.’
Noni, went on to say that she had been unable at that time to find a certificate of her marriage to Edward Sullivan or of her first two children Edward and Ellen, but details on their death certificates would place the first child as born in Ipswich c. 1854.
‘Apparently Margaret took up with James Cosgrove Snr a few years after my great grandmother was born and had quite a few more children. there is no documentation of her entering Australia, so I don’t think she was a convict. Because her eldest child was born in Ipswich, Queensland, I think it likely she went to Moreton Bay and they didn’t always record the arrivals of assisted passages there.
I do think she was probably poor and uneducated as her children were illiterate. She was definitely Roman Catholic ….It is always stated that her mother’s name was ‘unknown’. Her death certificate suggests she was born around 1823′.
By Summer of 2012, Noni was up against her brick wall. She had researched extensively in Australian records and had exhausted ‘several databases of baptisms in County Kerry’. 2013 being the Year of the Gathering, she had also been in contact with Ireland Reaching Out and all searches were proving negative.
When I got Noni’s request, having also checked all current databases for Margaret Cooper, I went back to her in a kind of schoolmarmy way – explaining very patiently to her that going on her current research, there were only three ways that an illiterate female from a poor Kerry family could have afforded to travel to Australia in the 1847-1850 period and none of them would have applied in her case:
- Margaret was a convict – this had been discounted already by Noni
- Emigrated by a Landlord – there were no cases of Landlord assisted emigration to Australia from Kerry in this period.
- Workhouse Scheme – there was the Earl Grey Scheme in 1849/150 and 117 Kerry girls went to Australia on this. I was at that point in the middle of writing a book (to be published now in April) called The Kerry Girls – Between the Famine & The Crown, and I had the full list of girls who travelled from Dingle, Kenmare, Killarney & Listowel on this scheme, BUT the name Margaret Cooper was not on the list.
We kept up our correspondence digging, and digging for any clues. Margaret’s life had not been easy by all accounts and it appeared that she had not got a divorce from Edward Sullivan before taking up with James Cosgrove and bearing his children. Because of this, or so we thought at the time, there seemed to be deliberate false trails in the births/deaths certifications for her children and herself.
Working together, Noni and I sifted out the facts from the ‘maybe’s’. It seemed like the Earl Grey Scheme was the most likely option . While there was no trace of a Margaret Cooper, on any Kerry list, there was a Margaret Sullivan of Kilgarvan, from Kenmare Workhouse, who travelled on the John Knox arriving in Sydney in April 1850. Her arrival papers stated that her parents were ‘ Connor & Mary, both dead’. Most of the girls on that ship had then been sent to Moreton Bay (now Brisbane) which would tie in with Margaret’s later marriage to Edward Sullivan. Then her marriage certificate was found and while both she and her husband were illiterate and signed with an X, it stated that her maiden name was ‘Sullivan’.
Bingo! While this looked like ‘our’ Margaret Sullivan, it was not definitive, why was she calling herself Margaret Cooper? Trying all kinds of histories/journals and the good old Google, for O’Sullivans who might have been coopers in a district, up popped a death notice from the Irish Times of 2012 for Con O’Sullivan Cooper of Kilgarvan. Genealogists will understand how this excited me, I went to the telephone directory and found Joan, who happened to be the widow of Con. She was marvellous and explained that her branch were the Cooper Sullivans to differentiate them from the many more Sullivans in the Kilgarvan area. In Griffith’s Valuation of 1852, there were 87 families of Sullivan or O’Sullivan in Kilgarvan parish. Many of these Sullivans are descendants of O’Sullivan Beare Clan.
Margaret’ Sullivan’s Baptismal Certificate of 15 July 1829 gives her home address as Keelbunau (sic), Kilgarvan and her parent are named as Cornelius Sullivan and Mary Sullivan
This is the story of just one brick wall surmounted – next week we will continue with Margaret’s story in Australia. Margaret married one Irish convicts, and lived with another, who was transported (but not guilty of ) for ‘wilful murder’ at age 14.
Do you know any documentation on the various Sullivan Clans in Kilgarvan? My 4th great-grandmother was Honora Cooper Sullivan (lived in Derriancullig, Kilgarvan in 1818 ) and married Thomas Doyle. Her daughter Julia Doyle married Timothy Healy, who was the g-grandfather of Jackie Healy-Rae. My tree is public in ancestry at josephehealy if you want to check it out, or I can send you what I have if you want a peak.
Wondering where Margaret Cooper Sullivan connected to my “Cooper Sullivan”….
Great blog articles. I’m subscribing.
Joe, it sounds like you are definitely ‘connected’ to Margaret Sullivan Cooper. I will email you separately with her information, which is to appear in my forthcoming book The Kerry Girls with an update by her Great Great Granddaughter.
Wow, my name is Michael Doyle and I live in Canada. my father, Patrick Doyle, was born at Derriancullig in 1899. My first cousins still live there. I have been digging back but have been having trouble figuring out the Cooper Sullivan issue and this explains it clearly.
It appears there were two Thomas Doyles and a Jeremiah Doyle at Derriancullig in the 1820’s. Thomas the first was married to Honora Sullivan and had a daughter Julia in 1818, Patrick in 1825, Jeremiah in 1830 and Denis in 1833. Thomas the second was married to Honora Cooper. They had Honora in 1821 and Bridget in 1823. Given that Thomas the first did not have any kids between 1818 and 1825 and that Thomas the second had his only two kids in 1821 and 1823, I was wondering if the records were wrong.
By the way, my great grandfatherJohn (son of Jeremiah I think) married Johanna Healy. they lived at Derriancullig where they raised ten kids including my grandfather Thomas.
Any information or connections would be very apprciated.
Michael, thank you for your comments. I would be quite certain that the births you mention (Hanora 1821) and Bridget (1823) are the same family as Thomas Doyle/Hanora Sullivan. You see there were so many Sullivans they had to have a ‘branch’ name to differntiate them and then they started to become known as the branch name e.g. ‘Cooper’. To complicate matters, all original entries are in Latin, the people themselves spoke in Irish (what you call ‘Gaelic’) and that then was transcribed back in the 1990s to English so you are bound to have some confusion. You say your great grandfather John is the ‘son of Jeremiah’ you think. If you want me to check that out let me have some more info. Also I would recommend my book Finding Your Ancestors in Kerry for more context on both the county and family genealogy.
Kay, that puts two of your books on my list and without a doubt I will be getting to them. If I want hard copies, what is the best way to get them in Canada?
In the 1826 Griffiths list it shows three people at Derrincullig John Doyle (who I am quite sure is my great-great-great-Grandfather), Thomas Doyle (who I thought was my great-great-Grandfather) and Darley Doyle who does not seem to reappear again in the records. I thought maybe he was John’s brother and died shortly after 1822. Another document I found was Griffith Valuation of Ireland for Kilgarvan. In about 1852 the list shows John and Thomas Doyle are the only two people at Derrincullig.
The only birth record I can find in the 1825-35 frame for a John Doyle (my great-grandfather) at Derriancullig is the son of Jeremiah Doyle and Mary Lyne (the first of what looks like 5 children). On their marriage certificate in 1826, her name is spelled Mary Leyne. Anyway, Thomas and Honora Sullivan had a son Jeremiah baptized in late March of 1830 and John Doyle was baptized in May. The documents shows that Thomas Doyle and Honora Sullivan were the sponsors at John Doyle’s baptism and that Jeremiah Doyle was the sponsor of young Jeremiah. Do you think they just might have the records wrong?
My reason for concern is that Jeremiah is not listed in 1852 as being at Derriancullig and the farm was handed down to my line of the family. A second reason is that Jeremiah and Mary’s youngest daughter Julia was born in Crossmount not Derriancullig.
Another quick question on the Healy side. Could Rusheens (where my grandfather was born in 1873) and Gerteens (where I think his father Daniel was born in about 1840) be the same place?
Thanks. Let me know if you want to take this to email or Skype.
Thanks to my first cousin once removed that I met through this posting I got a picture of Jeremiah Doyle’s tombstone in the old Kilgarvan graveyard. Through the information provided there I was able to determine that John Doyle not Jeremiah is my great great grandfather.
Jeremiah died in 1884 at the age of 90. The tombstone was erected by his son Thomas, but the database of parish records does not show that he had a son Thomas.
I had downloaded the handwritten list of the baptisms performed from February to May of 1830 at the parish church in Kilgarvan a while before I got the picture of the headstone. The database showed that Thomas had a son Jeremiah who was baptized March 21 and Jeremiah had a son named John baptized on May 22. Of course to make things harder to figure out, they each sponsored the others son.
After blowing up the handwritten records 15 times their original size, it was clear that Jeremiah’s son was not named John. The name was not readable, but was too long to be John. The handwritten record of Thomas’s sons baptism has the first named stroked out twice but the name Demetrious (Latin for Jeremiah) is readable. One of the names stroked out is short enough to be John. Given that the godfather was Demetrious and there were four baptisms that day, when there rarely ever more than one, I concluded early on that John, my great grandfather, is the son of Thomas Doyle and Hanora Sullivan Cooper.
The final proof came in my hunt for Jeremiah’s son Thomas. When I went back to the handwritten records looking for Thomas, I could then make it out. The child baptized on May 22, 1830 was Thomas Doyle, not John. Thomas later erected the tombstone in the graveyard behind that same church where his father Jeremiah, mother Mary and his brother Michael are burred.
I have tried to correct both records using the link at the site. I hope they believe me and make the changes.
Michael there are lots of transcription errors all over the Church records in http://www.IrishGenealogy.ie – sponsors & parents mixed up etc. Its always a good idea to check the transcription against the original on http://www.nli.registers.ie
There is a young man named Martin Doyle living in the old homestead in Derrinacullig ,it may be worth contacting him! His Father was named Thomas.
Bernadette, thank you. I hope that Michael Doyle picks this link up.
Sorry Bernadette, I have not checked this site for a long time. Martin is my first cousin. His father Thomas and my father Patrick Doyle were brothers. I was to Derrinacullig in 1999 with three of my brothers Oliver, Sean and Denis. Martin was not there, but his mother and another brother where. His youngest brother Mike just passed away leaving him as the only one left. He does not have any kids, so after three hundred years of Doyles on Derrinacullig I don’t know what will happen now. Martin and I just recently got connected by email
Is there any way I can help you?
I hope I can help my husband is son of jerry Doyle hopefully same person if u have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me Tara.email@example.com
I hope you don’t mind, but I’m back researching Sullivan-coopers, so I have revisited this post and wondered whether there is actually only one Thomas Doyle, but that Hanora’s name is being captured as Cooper sometimes and as Sullivan at other times – that has been my experience in my own search with my great grandfather sometimes appearing as Patrick Sullivan, sometimes appearing as Patrick Cooper, and very rarely, as Patrick Sullivan Cooper.
Mike if you are referring to the Church records, yes I would be fairly certain that a number of Sullivans have been registered as ‘Cooper’. If you have to just ‘dig’ into the online records on IrishGenealogy.ie – look for the area you are interested in, its almost always South Kerry parishes. This habit does not appear to have been taken up in regard to other Sullivan ‘branch names’ – or instance O’Sullivan Barule. However I notice 7 baptisms in Castletownbere with surnames Barrule – and they should undoubtedly be Sullivan.
I’ve actually blogged the tree with Honora Sullivan Cooper at http://weekendgenealogy.blogspot.com/2014/01/fathers-of-my-fathers.html if you want to peek. Again, great blog, very excited to find it.
I’ve been researching my family tree for some time and my Great Great Grandparents were from Upper Letter, Kenmare which borders with Kilgarvan, Parish. My gt gt grandfather was Patrick Sullivan Cooper and he was married to a Julia Sullivan. Sometimes his name is listed as Sullivan and sometimes it is listed as Cooper and very rarely it is listed as Sullivan Cooper. My Great grandfather(also) Patrick Sullivan Cooper was born around 1840.
I have found several Sullivan Cooper families in the area and will post more info, if you are interested and when I can find the time.
Good luck with your search.
Mike, you may be related to Margaret whom I wrote about in The Kerry Girls: Emigration & The Earl Grey Scheme. It is now available on The Book Depository and Amazon.co.uk. Below is an excerpt from Margaret’s story –
‘Margaret’s Baptismal Certificate of 15 July 1829 gives her home address as Keelbunau (sic), Kilgarvan and her parent are named as Cornelius Sullivan and Mary Sullivan. We have ascertained that her family were known as the Sullivan (Coopers) to differentiate the many different Sullivan families in the area. In Griffith’s Valuation 1853, Cornelius was leasing 39ares 2Roods 37Perches which from the immediate Lessor Richard H. Orpen, which was a reasonable amount of land, but of poor quality’
Its interesting. I’ve also got “SULLIVAN MCCANN”s from the same area. They’re on some records as SULLIVAN and some as MCCANN. One chain of the Healy’s I’m related to are now HEALY-RAE for the same reason.
Joe, are there Sullivan ‘McCanns’ also in the Kenmare, Kilgarvan area? I called to Jackie Healy Rae’s place yesterday as I wanted to leave him a copy of my book The Kerry Girls. He has an interest in genealogy and would be fascinated by the Margaret Sullivan Copper story. He is still in hospital but I left the book in for him anyway.
Hi Joe. I am O’Sullivan McCann. We are from Mangerton, Kilgarvan. One of our decendents married a Healy from Rae, Kilgarvan (Rae is a placename).
Barbara, are you related to the Healy-Raes? Kay
Thanks Kay. I need to get your books.
I got the link to the scanned images of Catholic parishes last week. Thank you, it was extremely helpful. The records are very hard to read, but I blew them up to 15 times there size on a 42 inch hi resolution screen. I have concluded that there was a transcription error made in the February 22 entry for a Doyle baptize in Kilgarvan. The name of the child is strocked out a couple of times and the name Demetrick or Demitrrious, but they transcribed Jeremiah. I have no idea vhy. In any even I think thst person is John Doyle. One of the stroked out names is very short. There were four baptisms on that day. Thomas Doyle is my great great grandfather, not Jeremiah-:)
Please contact me by email. There are a couple of things I would like to discuss.
Michael, just to say that the entries in the original records were in Latin and Demetrius is the latin for Jeremiah. I am sorry that I am not able to do individual replies any more – I am just ‘swamped’ by the number of queries, commissions and comments. All very welcome but I have only so much time!!
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Kay, did you get my post from two days ago?
Michael, yes I did but you had fresh questions etc and my problem is that elusive thing called ‘TIME’. I get quite a lot of emails/queries etc and between finishing off consultations & jobs , more research – yesterday for instance I met a Canadian client in Tralee. I had completed famiy research for him some months ago and he had asked me then I if we could meet up in Tralee on 20th January. We met, drove out to Ardfert where I had identified the location of the home of his great great grandmother, looked at other family sites and generally discussed life ian Kerry in the 1880s. Your present query will take time and a bit of searching but I will get around to getting back to you within the next week.
Thanks Kay. I tend too get deep enough not it for a few days then back off. I am now starting to write everything down, in part to get thing straight in my own mind but most importantly to share what I have found and how I found I wish family members and those that will follow.
With first cousins in Castleisland, Killarney and Kilgarvan I have learned a lot and visited some very interesting family spots. I am a bit fascinated by an old guy buried in Kilgarvan. His name is John Doyle. He died at the age of 88 in 1812. He must be an ansester, but records are so poor getting back past 1815.
Not rush…you know what they say about beggars-:)
Kay, have you had a chance to give some thought to if my Great Great Gandfather, John Doyle born in 1830 is the son of Thomas or Jerremiah?