My favorite source for church records of my Kerry ancestors is Irish Genealogy.ie and it's absolutely free. A few days ago I began putting together a narrative for my Gunn relatives from Ballygologue in Listowel Parish. The earliest ancestors I have found in this line are my 3rd great-grandparents John Gunn and Margaret Browne, both born around 1820. In researching family members who had immigrated, I found in the 1910 US census of Manchester, NY, Mary Gunn Power, my 2nd great-grandmother and the daughter of John and Margaret. Included in her household was a William O'Connor. I remembered seeing those names together in the online church records of Listowel, so I did another check. In 1878 Mary Gunn was godmother to William Connor.
The mother of the infant was Johanna Gunn. Her address? Ballygologue! Johanna had to be a relative of Mary's, either a sister or at least a cousin.
Not finding her in any US records, I tended to believe Johanna had remained in Kerry; and if she did, a record of her death could conceivably be found in the Civil Registration Index. I came up with five possibilities, assuming she was still in Listowel Parish. All but one of the five, whose death occurred in 1888, were individuals who should be enumerated in the 1901 Irish census. Turning to the National Archives site, I found ten or twelve Johanna Connors of the right age in 1901 Kerry, but only one lived in Listowel. I pulled up the transcription and was excited to find some similar names, until I noticed they were grandchildren of Johanna, not her children. Also in the household was a Margaret Green. I continued searching, looking next at the 1911 census where I found no likely hits. Returning to the 1901 entry that had seemed so promising I now noticed that Margaret Green was the head of this household and the mother of Johanna. That seemed to rule out this Johanna as a sister of my Mary Gunn/Power.
Then I got up for coffee and wandered upstairs to find my reading glasses. I have my prescription lenses and dollar store cheapies lying all over the house to avoid having to search, but as usual they were all upstairs. After donning them and sitting back down, I discovered the transcribed name wasn't Margaret Green at all, it was Margaret "Geen". Geen isn't a surname I've ever heard, but it is awfully close to Gun. I clicked on the Household Return to view the original document, and there they were!
The grandchildren were Margaret's, not Johanna's as in my visually impaired state I had initially thought. And as you can see above, Margaret's name was indeed Gun not Geen. William Connor was there too, living with his mother and grandmother before sailing off to his Aunt Mary in America. Finding this census record confirmed that Johanna was a sister of Mary and uncovered another child of Johanna's -- Mary, whom I was previously unaware of. What I didn't find was also useful; not finding them in the 1911 census tended to confirm that the Margaret Gun I found in the Civil Registration death index from1904 was in fact my 3rd great-grandmother, narrowed the death date for Margaret's husband John since she was widowed in 1901, and also indicated that the Johanna O'Connor who died in Listowel in the spring of 1906 was most likely the right one since the others I located were still alive when the 1911 census was taken. It also confirms that with the exception of Grandma Mary and her brothers George and Francis, the Gunn family stayed in Ireland.
I think I'll pick up some more cheap readers next time I'm out...