Friday, August 9, 2013

Is This Third Great Grandma McGarr's Record?


     I've read many histories of Ireland and of the Irish in America, and a common theme in all these tomes is the purity of Irish women.  They all agree that illegitimacy is unheard of among the Irish.  I have no doubt whatsoever they were a fine honorable set of women, but the, "unheard of", part may be a bit of a stretch.  If you look at the parish registers of Rathvilly, County Carlow, Ireland, you may be a bit surprised, I know I was.

     The year 1829, when records begin, saw eight illegitimate babies baptized, 1830 saw the same number.  I didn't go through the following years, but that doesn't seem to qualify as, "unheard of", to me;  the good folks in Rathvilly certainly heard of it.  There were also several instances of  the children of Travelers being baptized, and several notations stating the parents of the illegitimate child were married at the same time as, or a day after, the baptism.

     What has this to do with Grandmother McGarr?  There is a tiny chance she herself was illegitimate.  After ordering the microfilm of Baltinglass Parish, which is right next door to Rathvilly Parish, I found this tantalizing marriage record: In 1821 Daniel McGaa married Anne Tallon at Baltinglass.  The witnesses were written,"Paddy Tallon wife & David Doyle".  Say again?  I have never seen witnesses recorded that way.  (By the way, often the names Daniel and David look quite similar in old handwriting, this could be Daniel Doyle.) I've also never found any trace of another Daniel McGarr in Baltinglass parish; there was one in nearby Castledermott who moved to Ricketstown and then to Auburn, New York, but I've never seen another except my Daniel of Ballyraggan.  But Anne's surname was Donahoe, not Tallon although the marriage year seemed right.

Marriage record of Daniel McGarr.

     In 1805 a Bridget Donahoe married a Patrick Tallon, could this be the Paddy Tallon who witnessed the marriage?   Thoroughly confused by this I went straight to the horse's mouth so to speak, Catherine at the Wicklow Family Heritage Center.  This is her reply--

Hi Ellen,

It could mean that Paddy Tallon's wife was a witness with David Doyle, or that all three were witnesses.

It is possible the priest made an error with the bride's surname, but it would not be as common as a mistake or omission of a mother's maiden name on a baptism register (children were baptised within a day or two of birth, so often, the mother was not present if she was ill after childbirth).  Perhaps Anne was married before or after this marriage in 1821 - although I could not find evidence of this in our marriage registers. 
Another slight possibility is if there was a question about Anne's surname - say if she was born out of wedlock - e.g. mother Tallon, father Donohoe, etc......

     So there you have it, either Anne was illegit, or the priest made a mistake, I really doubt she was married before, Irish women tended to use their own surnames even after marriage.  If she wasn't born illegitimate, I think it's conceivable the priest married Daniel and Anne at home, as was common at that time, then wrote out the register days or weeks later, forgetting the names of some of those involved.  Add to that the marital relationship that existed between the Donahoe and Tallon families, and he could have just got it wrong as he did years later with Bridget McGarr's baptism where he forgot both the child and father's names.  In one of those peculiar twists of fate, Bridget herself wound up the mother of an illegitimate daughter, she and the father were married the same day the baby was baptized.

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