Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wordless Wednesday/Andrew Ryan

Andrew Ryan, progenitor of this clan was my 3rd great uncle, from County Tipperary.  His photo was taken prior to his death in 1888.  The group photo is a Ryan reunion circa 1920, I think there is a striking resemblance to Andrew, especially the men in the back row.  Just three more words—note the noses.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Grandpa's House in Ballyraggan

X marks Grandpa's house on this OSI map

     OMG!  I am sitting here looking at the roof of my 3rd great grandfather Daniel McGarr’s house in Ballyraggan Kildare, or the house that now stands there.  It could be his; there are still old thatch roofed cottages in Ireland.  I am so blown away; I want to tell you how I did this.  Awhile ago I found Daniel in Griffith’s Valuation at and then using his lot number, which was 7,  located him on the maps at that site.  Next I printed the map out and highlighted his farm and just for fun filled in the names of his close neighbors again using the lot numbers in the valuation.

Valuation Map
     Today I went to one of my favorite sites, OSI, the Ordnance Survey site  Once there I clicked on the big green banner labeled, “Explore Maps Using our Free Viewer”.  They would like it if you bought the map, but they’ll let you look at it even if you don’t.  On the page that appears after clicking the banner, in the first black box in the right sidebar, you can enter an address if you know it or you can just go to the red zoom button and locate the townland yourself which I sometimes find easier.  To move around on the map you must click the pan button.  Switching back and forth between pan and size buttons takes a little getting used to, I often find myself trying to pan and instead enlarging because I forgot to change to pan mode, you will too.
     Once you’ve located your townland, and this is the best part, you can look to the second black box in the sidebar and view the townland on the old historic 6 inch to the mile map, then with a click of your mouse; you can switch to a modern satellite map to view the area today.  I did that and there it was--Daniel’s house in the exact same spot as shown on the Griffith’s map. If you look closely you can see the same corner of land jutting out at the spot where the house stands on both maps.  The boundaries in Ballyraggan had hardly changed since the 19th century.  There is also a street map option to help you locate the property should you ever have the opportunity to visit Ireland.  I can’t wait; do you suppose they’ll invite me in to tea?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Using the Irish Family History Foundation Site

     This is the site that enabled me to remove the footing that sent my McGarr, “brick wall” tumbling, (like that metaphor?)

     The first page is where you log in or register, which is free.  You can then perform a search for baptisms, marriages and a limited number of deaths.  There is also Griffiths Valuation, though given a choice I would use the following site for Griffiths--

     The Foundation's site allows a search of a specific county, or you can opt for an all Ireland search. To search all Ireland simply fill in a name.  The results, sorted by event will appear below the search box.   By clicking on one of the “view” tabs an advanced search box will open allowing you to narrow the search.  To perform a specific county search, instead of filling in a name, go to the sidebar which contains a link to the genealogy centers available.  Before you fill in the search box that appears after you choose a center, click on the view button next to the event you’re searching for and the advanced search box will open up.  You can then enter more specific terms such as parent’s names or a parish if you know them.  Both options allow you to limit the years searched.
     The rules have changed since I first started using the site, it now costs 1 credit to see the hits your search produces, but you are given 10 free page views when you register and more every time you purchase a record.  The search results page will give you only a first and last name as spelled in the record and the year and county of the event, it will not give you a parish, so if you already know those details, don’t bother using your free credits to view it.  You will have to view it however if you wish to purchase the actual register transcription which will give a year, parish, parents and sponsors or witnesses and will cost you 25 credits, or 5 Euros.
     You can, through a process of elimination, find the year at no charge.  It’s also possible to find the parish by a trial and error search of each parish in the county, though that option requires a first name so you must either know the name or get some possibilities by viewing the results page.  It doesn’t take long to search the various parishes, especially if you know whether the family was Catholic or Church of Ireland which are clearly labeled, (I hate when sites don’t tell you which denomination you’re looking at).

    If for example you are searching for all the children of one couple, you would fill in the parent’s names and only the last name for the child. Looking at the search results page will then give you the first names of children with those parents.  Now you have first names you can begin searching by parish which may help you decide if this is indeed your family.  That 5 Euros a crack can add up, you don't want to purchase the wrong family records!  

      If you know the child’s name but not the parents or only one parent, I’ve found you can often guess the names of parents in the baptismal records without going to the expense of buying the record.  After all, the given names in use at the time were quite few; most of my male ancestors were James, John, Edward, Michael, Patrick or Daniel, the females all seem to be Mary, Anne, Ellen or Catherine.  Unfortunately this won’t get you the maiden name of the mother, or the names of sponsors which can be handy to have.  I wound up buying all the McGarr records I could find because I was desperate after  years of being unable to find even a mention of them.  

     While searching, remember, not all early marriage records gave the parent’s names, or sometimes only the father’s, so if you include parents names the search engine goes out looking for them and comes up empty even though the record is there.  Try searching with and without them.  Ditto baptisms, sometimes only the father was named.

    Another tip, the site is very picky about spelling.  For instance, in one search when I typed Honora for a first name I got zero hits, but typing Honor produced the one I needed, same with Anne and Ann, and Mary and Maria.  Spelling was not as precise back then either, surnames got spelled in myriad ways, and the search engine will catch some variations but not all, so try different spellings for first and last names.

    To sum it up use some caution, don’t whip out that credit card too soon.  Use the free searches and play with it ‘til you get the feel of how it works.  Happy Hunting.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

You Can't Choose Your Relatives

     I conduct genealogical research using material from the Yale University library, I really do.   Just saying that makes me feel positively scholarly!  Not finding the book in question locally, my youngest, who is enrolled at RIT in Rochester, borrowed it from Yale through the RIT library for me.  “The O’Dwyers of Kilnamanagh” was written by Sir Michael O’Dwyer, and is a fascinating read.  Actually I found the “Sir” business a little off-putting.  How does a Roman Catholic from Tipperary become a Sir?  And why would he want to?
     I enjoyed reading the book which seems very well researched, and recommend it to anyone with O’Dwyer ancestry, but still, that “Sir” nagged at me.   So I decided to read up on Sir Michael.  His obituary describes him as “an Irishman to his backbone”; of course that assessment came from an English acquaintance.  The more I read, the less eager I was to claim him as a family member.  I already had doubts after reading in the aforementioned book that he thought Ireland was really better off under British rule.  Turns out, before Sir Michael wrote the book he was the appointed Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab; that troubled British outpost in India.  The 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre occurred during his tenure and unbelievably, he described that shooting of unarmed civilian protestors, as “a correct action”.  Shortly after that he was relieved of his post.  Real retribution came about twenty years later when in 1940 he was assassinated in London by Udhan Singh, an Indian national in retaliation for the massacre.
     Just three years previous to the atrocity in India, educated Irishmen, not so different from O’Dwyer, had taken over Dublin’s GPO and declared Ireland’s independence from the very empire Sir Michael served; and for their trouble they had been executed by that empire.  How to account for the disparity?  And for the fact that even some Dubliners in 1916 disavowed the men in the GPO who struck for Ireland’s freedom?  Did they too believe they were better off under foreign rule, or had they just given up and accepted the status quo?  I think the latter is probably the case, the result of centuries of subjugation.
     If I truly were a scholar, I might be better able to understand the differences in perception.  But for now, I see little to connect Sir Michael to my O’Dwyers who were dispossessed peasants from a small upland community in South Tipperary.  I’m sure we descend from different branches.