Even writing the above headline, brings on angst. If there is one question that I am asked, more than any other, it is ‘How can I find my Kerry ancestor’s birth or marriage records ?’
That is a million dollar question with almost as many answers. All (including Kerry) births, marriages and deaths were registered by the civil authorities in Ireland from 1864 (Catholics) and non-Roman Catholic from 1845. The General Register Office (Oifig An Ard-Chláraitheora) maintains a family research facility at Werburgh Street, Dublin 2. At this office members of the public, for a prescribed fee, may search the indexes to the registers and purchase photocopies of records identified from the indexes.
We are back then to pre 1864 and that is where the fun starts. If you could call it ‘fun’. The obvious place to go, initially at any rate, is to the Government website www.IrishGenealogy.ie which lists the baptisms/christenings (not births) for both Catholic and non-Catholic children in Kerry. Except of course, it doesn’t list all, but you are not told that. This website listing were transcribed from the original records kept in each parish. Most records were started and kept from the period 1800-1840, the earliest being Tralee which starts in 1772. So back then to the
original records. Many of these are incomplete, some are illegible for particular dates, some are torn, some have suffered the results of dampness, fire and some pages have just disappeared. The main problem then is that having searched Irish Genealogy and not found your particular record or an explanation as why it may not be there, you find it hard to believe that your ancestor’s Irish baptismal record does not seem to exist.
But we have some way to go before we give up. The original records are still kept at the parish churches and microfilm copies are available at the National Library of Ireland. These microfilms are currently being digitised and we are promised that they will be available online by Summer 2015.
Don’t for a minute think this will be some marvellous revelation. Only last week I searched through the microfilms in the NLI for an Ardfert baptism and I will show you here a copy from a page. As you will see the original records are all in Latin, you can pick up the odd name from the better ones but very little from the poor copies. This is what will be available online so prepare yourself for more frustration. John Grenham in his blog yesterday says ‘In other words, the main talent
required is the ability not to run screaming from the microfilm room’.
The biggest mystery to me is how we can have transcriptions from the 1950’s of original records that now do not seem to exist. For instance Albert Casey in his seminal work O’Kief, Coshe Mang, manages to include 3,000,000 (yes million) names from Cork and Kerry parishes. The Kerry parishes records listed in these fifteen volumes include Aghadoe, Aglish, Ardfert, Brosna, Kilcummin, Killarney, Killeentierna, Nohavalday, These records cover
various years for both baptisms and marriages and in some cases, are not available in their home parishes. These are what I call ‘the disappeared’. If any reader would like the dates available for these parishes, please contact me. The O’Kief Coshe Mang books themselves are available in the National Library of Ireland, Co. Kerry Library Archives in Tralee and in a number of U.S. University libraries.
Later on this year, in the 4th edition of Tracing Your Kerry Ancestors, which I am currently completing, there will be twelve pages of Census Substitutes, Shipping Registers, many Estate Tenant Rent Books, Petitions etc., that should yield a number of the ‘missing’ ancestors.
Next Week I will give details of all non-Catholic records for Kerry.
Kay thanks so much for sharing all the info you gather, very helpful as always…. keep up the good work
Kay, thanks for all that information. I hadn’t realised that the GRO had moved from the Irish Life Centre. Do you know if the Coshe Mang records the Castlemaine/Kiltallagh church records?
No Maurice, Castlemaine or Kiltallagh are not included. My understanding is that the Casey Family were from Knocknagree/Kiskeam and all the research went into the North West Corkarea and over to Tralee. I don’t know how or why Ardfert were included. There is a link to the Index for Kerry material on http://www.corkpastandpresent.ie/genealogy/indextookiefcoshemang-kerrymaterial.
Maurice- did you ever find out about Kiltallagh records. I’m trying to find records for my grans family (Daly)
Thank you Kay, I live in the US and trying to find Kerry family was hard and I am still searching.
I have tried Irish Genealogy, but didn’t have much luck, my Mothers family were all from Kerry.
Betty, can I be of any help? If you would like to email me with an outline of where you are stuck, I might have some insight. Kay
Hello Kay…Great site. My 7th great grandfather was Richard Twiss of Castleisland. Land agent for the Herberts estates in Kerry. Richard’s daughter MARY or MARIE,(17th cent. spelling,) was married to George Radley esq of Knockraur ,Cork. circa 1670.(my 6th great gps) . A direct descendent of Robert Twiss/ Alice Speake (circa 1580s) and myself have researched Richard Twiss. through English Parish registers, Wills of Robert.Twiss and Alice Twiss, and HERBERT CORRESPONDENCE. It differs markedly from the versions given out by various sources, but we consider it to be factual, and cite our sources and dates where possible. If you would be interested in this I can forward our version. 17th century Irish research is very difficult and often unclear as relatives who passed on information sometimes embellished their history, or had faulty memories.
Lorraine, I would be very interested in reading your history of the Richard Twiss and his association with the Herberts. Please send it to me by email -email@example.com.
If Lorraine sent you the history of the Twiss family I would be very interested in seeing it, my great grandmother was a Twiss from Abbeydorney and her father was a Richard Twiss married to Ann Parker. I am stuck there.. so if there is a link and this helps it would be brilliant
Love this site. My family is from Kenmare and I cannot for the life of me locate where my grandparents are buried. I have there death certificates. Denis Shea died 18 Feb 1906 and Ellen Shea died 3 July 1927. Their son Patrick Shea name is on both cert. as present. Would love to be able to locate him as well.
Lisa, thank you for the kind comments. Its kind of my personal take on what comes up day by day and what information I think that readers online would like to know. If you could give me some details of your grandparents – what was Ellen’s surname before she married Denis. Have you found them in the 1901 and/or 1911 Census? Both these details would give us a clue where to look further. Kay
My grandmother’s surname was Sullivan and she was born about 1852 in County Cork. Her parents were Florence and Margaret Sullivan. Denis Shea was born about 1853, County Kerry . His parents names were Cornelius and Julia Shea. I have the 1901 and 1911 census. Each year they lived in Kenmare, County . Kerry. Shea children who stayed in Ireland, Cornelius Shea born 1880, Margaret Shea born 1884, Patrick Shea born 1887, Mary Theresa Shea born 1891. Patrick is listed on his mother Ellen’s death cert. in 1927 stating he lives in Davitts Place, Kenmare.
Hi Kay, I have looked for Killorglin RC baptism and marriage records for the 1850s on Irish genealogy.ie, only to find that they are largely missing. Also, if your ancestors were born or married in the parish in the 1870s, there seem to be exactly 3 (three) baptisms recorded. Do you know if the Coshe Mang records cover Killorglin? Thanks, Mike
Mike, I share your frustration! I am going to have a rant on my blog this week again about Parish records. Between missing, torn, burnt or just no explanation at all for gaps, it is very annoying and must be absolutely stressful for Irish descendants who are overseas, to try and find some records. No, there are no Killorglin baptisms on O’Kief Coshe Mange – there are some headstone details from Killorglin in Vol. 8 and Vol. 11.
I am one of the Genealogy Advisory Service at the National Library and I will be there this week so I should have up to date comprehensive information on what is available and what is coming down the line in the next few months.
Hi Kay, Having spent a lot of time on the usual genealogy sites (helping a friend of mine trace her Scully ancestors in Kerry) I’ve suddenly discovered you !….. & your very knowledgeable and personal insights into that county. A great site.
We are searching for 2 generations of Scullys in Kenmare in the 1820’s & 1840’s but as the Catholic Church in Kenmare was consecrated in 1864, what did it replace & would baptismal records exist for those decades?
Any ideas? – ‘cos no one seems to either know or want to tell us.
Mick, the earliest records in Kenmare start in 1819 and are mostly intact. So even though the present Catholic Church was not consecrated until 1864, the previous records have survived. There are no Scully names registered until the 1860s. I wonder if you are in the correct parish? My sister in law is a Scully from Dingle – there are very few Scullys anywhere in Kerry. There are 17 Scully names in Griffith’s valuation for Kerry (1850-1853) mostly in the Killarney area (not Killarney Catholic Parish).
Hi Kay, my friend Mick wrote to you regarding the Scully’s from Kenmare/Cork borders, my mother Kate Scully was born 1924 Tralee and lived in Huggards Lane, Bullymullen, (Huggards Lane is no more!), the family can be seen in the 1901/1911 census, as you say, there are not too many Scully’s in Kerry, I don’t suppose you would know if the Scully’s in your family (from Dingle, is ‘Fungi’ the dolphin still going strong!?) are related to those from Tralee. (Jeremiah 1850 married a Susan Marron. Jeremiah had a brother Patrick born 1847 and a sister Ellen 1844, who married a John Gallagher and lived in Rock Street, Tralee, they had about 12 children, and I’m sure their eldest Mary Gallagher worked in Dingle as a Domestic.
Sorry Jean, I haven’t any info on Mary Gallagher or the Scullys from Tralee. My sister in law is a Dingle native but her branc all came from co. Cork near Clonakilty I think. Kay
Do you have any information about the Gallaghers in Tralee? I’m searching for Patrick H (bc 1821), Edward (bc 1828), Ellen (bc 1831) and Michael (bc 1839). They moved from Tralee to the US (Ohio) with mom Margaret sometime before 1853. I descend from Patrick and his wife Ellen Dillon.
Hi Kay, Thank you for your reply. I may have got the exact location wrong. Ellen (Scully) b 1844 & Patrick b 1847 are the brother and sister we are looking for. There is a third sibling, Jeremiah, documented as being baptised 1850 in Dereenagarig. (is this in the parish of Kilcaskin in Cork?) Unfortunately we haven’t found records for the other two. (nor, indeed for their father Jeremiah presumably born not too far away around 1820)
Both brothers have listed their place of birth as Kenmare in Army records, which would explain any possible confusion. Do you think we should be looking nearer to Dereenagarig &, if so, where?
Castletownbere would be the natural hinterland but Kenmare would be the major town. However I don’t see Wllen or Patrick Scully there. What are the names of Jeremiah’s parents from the record that you have.?
Hi Kay, the baptismal records ( on Irish Genealogy) give his parents as Jeremiah Scully & Mary Harrington. The sponsors were Denis Scully & Mary Scully. July 1850 Derreenagarig, Glengariff. We don’t actually know whether Ellen & Patrick had the same mother as their younger sibling.
Hello Kay, i am trying for the past 12 years to trace my family who lived in Killarney , their name is a very common one, Coffey, i understand they lived at 4 St Mary’s Terrace, Killarney, in the 1950,s, i also understand the house is no longer there, all efforts by me to trace my family have been in vain, i have tried using different paid sites, and nothing, i know they were from there, but just seems to be no records, i know it is somewhat recent, and maybe thats why the information in not available, the names i have are Eileen DOB 1940 – 1948 Richard, John, Kathleen, Bridget. if you can help, i would be greatfull.
Martin, you hit the nail on the head. It is just too recent for any kind of indepth research. While we can go back to the 1800s it is almost impossible to get information on living or recently living people. This is to do with data protection. It is possible to get get dates of birth online to 1915, marriages to 1941 and deaths to 1966. If one can visit the General Register Office in Dublin in person, you can get the same information up to 1965 (births), 1990 (marriages0, and 1995 (deaths). Your best bet is to visit Killarney in person and you are bound to find older people who will remember the Coffeys who lived at St Mary’s Terrace. That is the only way that I can think of. Kay
Thanks Kay, visiting the GRO was my next move, and I may visit Killarney and see what I can find.
Hi Kay, I think I might be at the end of the line but I am wondering if you have any advice as to how I can trace my Kerry ancestors beyond what I have. The narrative below is where I am.
Denis (Deonysii) Devine is the earliest identifiable ancestor of our Devine family. The first known record of Denis was a Castlemaine Parish, County Kerry marriage record indicating that Denis married Ellen Shea on February 25, 1805. This record indicates that Ellen (Helen, Ellena) Shea resided in Boolteens but it did not indicate a townland of residence for Denis (shown as Denis Duane). The witnesses were identified as John Corcoran and James Shea. Castlemaine Parish records also indicate that Denis and Ellen had four children baptized. They were Michael, baptized on November 4, 1805, Margaret, baptized on May 4, 1807, Mary, baptized on November 12, 1808 and another Mary, baptized on August 16, 1811. Family tree information of DNA matches and subsequent Castlemaine Parish records indicate that the “Mary” baptized in 1811 was known as Bridget. The sponsors for Michael’s baptism were John Shea and Julia Shea, for Margaret it was William Shea and Catherine Foloue (Fouloue and variants are anglicized to Foley), for Mary it was John Corcoran and Honora Cahalane and for Bridget it was Michael Brien and Margaret Folue. The family name in these church records was Duane, a variant of Devine. All baptism records showed Boolteens as the place of residence. Since Castlemaine Parish records are apparently not available for before 1804, no birth records are available for Denis Devine or Ellen Shea, nor is information available on their parents. However, we can discern from 1842 Canadian census data that Denis was born in or before 1782. Castlemaine Parish records for the period 1804 to 1820 contain details of a number of baptisms in which a Devine (or variant) participated. They included Patrick Downs (married to Margaret McCarthy, son Callahan), Joanna Duane (married to James Ash, sons Martin and James), Bridget Duane (spouse Michael Foloue, daughters Mary and Julia), Ellen Dwayne(married to Daniel Quirk, daughter Bridget), Denis Divane (married to Ann Flynn, son John), Catherine Duane (married to John Lyne, daughters Margaret and Ellen) and Julia Duane, who sponsored the baptism of a John Ash, son of Francis Ash and Ellen Cahallan. Nothing in the records confirms or specifies a relationship between Denis and these other Devines but a family relationship is quite possible. No DNA matches track directly to these Devines, although several matches have Foley, Ash, Lyne (Lyon/Lyons) and Quirk (Kirk). Likewise, it is quite possible that James, John, Julia and William Shea, mentioned as witnesses to Denis and Ellen’s marriage or sponsors of their children’s baptisms, were siblings or cousins to Ellen. There were moderate to good DNA matches between four different descendants of Michael Devine and a descendant of what appears to be the same James Shea, making it highly likely James was a brother to Ellen. Mary (born 1808) married Michael Prendergast in Castlemaine Parish on January 24, 1830 (witnesses were Denis Dwane and James Shea). At the time, Mary was living in Gortaneaden. Bridget (Mary born 1811) also lived in Gortanaeden and remained unmarried until 1842, when she married Martin Sullivan. Denis, Michael and Margaret emigrated to Canada (believed after Mary’s wedding in 1830) and likely did here (no death particulars available). There is no identifiable record of Ellen Shea after Bridget’s baptism record in 1811, whether in Ireland or Canada. The first reliable indication Ellen had died was the 1842 Canadian census where Denis was shown as a widower.
Any idea how I can find out when Ellen died and where she was interred if it happened in Kerry? Any idea how to get further details on Denis and Ellen’s births and their respective families / ancestors?
David you have gone back as far as is possible on Church records. No deaths or burials were recorded in those times – not until after 1654 when civil registration of births, marriages and deaths became obligatory. Land records which are Census subtitutes might tell you more.
Hello, My great-grandfather left Castleisland circa 1862. He may have been an illegitimate son of Maurice S (`The Baron`) Reidy who held a lot of land and property in the Castleisland area. My great-grandfather was also Maurice Reidy and he became a well known racing trainer in the Currach. The story goes that `The Baron` had an affair with a girl in Castleisland and a son was born. The `Baron`s` family did not approve and the son was reared by the girl`s family, although financially helped by the young `Baron’. Then, the `Baron` married Ann Attridge and had 3 daughters one, Nora, married JK O’Connor, a merchant in Castleisland. The son left Castleisland and, if the tale is true, went to Kildare.
The ‘Baron’ is called Maurice Spring Reidy on his headstone. 1901 census has him living in Crag house aged 85. He died in 1905.