Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ballyraggan comes to America!

     Now that the information is flowing in on the McGarr family, I've been doing some in depth research on the "fans", friends, associates and neighbors.  My great great grandmother Maria McGarr (of Ballyraggan, Kildare) married James O'Hora (of Ricketstown, Carlow) in Auburn, Cayuga County, New York in1852.  Afterwards they lived on the farm where he was a laborer, in Aurelius, Cayuga, New York.  Around 1861 they leased a farm of their own in Owasco, New York.  Not much of a move, still in Cayuga county and the places were only a few miles apart, but a huge move upwards, James was working for himself for the first time!
     As I studied the Owasco, New York State Census of 1865 I saw some familiar names near James and Maria.  For instance there was Michael Coleman with his family which included an elderly gentleman named Michael McGarr. Next to him in the census was the Daniel McGarr family on a sizable farm.  Coincidentally, Maria McGarr was the daughter of a Daniel McGarr, but it wasn't this Daniel.  This Daniel McGarr in Owasco married Anastasia Lyons in Castledermot, very near Ballyraggan, and their first child was born in James' townland, Ricketstown, right next to Ballyraggan. I am content to call Owasco Daniel a probable cousin of Maria's father since they were roughly the same age.  Heaven knows how the Irish loved their naming pattern, and it's quite possible the two Daniels have a grandfather or uncle Daniel in common.
    Having found Maria's father Daniel in Griffith's Valuation of Ballyraggan 1851, (misspelled McGare), I also found Michael Coleman living there.  Also in the townland were the Tallon family, a daughter of which just happened to be a witness at James and Maria's wedding.  Other names like Lawlor and Kinsella also show up in marriage and baptismal records in Auburn.
     Looking at the family right next to James and Maria I found Thomas and Mary Shea.  That name also rang a bell.  Looking through my records I found Thomas was the godfather of one of James and Maria's sons. What was the connection, why was he chosen?  After re-reading the Auburn parish records I discovered the answer... the marriage of Thomas Shea and Mary O'Hora!
     Mary O'Hora Shea was the daughter of James' older brother John who was the first of the O'Horas to emigrate.  He came to America along with his wife Catherine McGarr, a sister of Maria, and their infant daughter Mary.
     It was all beginning to come together.  These were not random neighbors at all, they were relatives and close neighbors from Ireland.  And these families had known each other for decades, the same names show up in the Tithe Applotments from 1826 Ballyraggan.  They were also a perfect illustration of two prevalent Irish migration patterns, the so-called chain migration where one family member left home  and established a new life abroad then helped the others emigrate; and group migration where different families from a given area settled together in a new land.  I've read it a hundred times, and now can attest to the value of the advice, check out the neighbors.