Friday, January 1, 2016

Urban Or Rural? In Which I Learn Not To Jump To Conclusions

Ballygologue as it looks today

      This morning I sent off my first order for pictures I want to put in the photo album I wrote about a few days ago.  I ordered only four prints, just to be sure I like how they turn out before I purchase the whole lot.  In keeping with my other resolution, yesterday I wrote a bio for David Crotty of Waterford, brother of my third great-grandmother Honora Crotty Power.  Now, I'm beginning one for Johanna Gunn, sister of my third great-grandmother Mary Gunn and it would appear those Gunn women liked to walk a little on the wild side; of course they were from Kerry.   I'm starting the biographies with ancestors I know remained in Ireland in the hopes that I, or a descendant of mine (for whom the bios are really written) may someday find living relatives there.

     I've blogged earlier about how Grandma Mary Gunn/Power managed to obtain a large farm in America at no cost to herself, and about how I first learned of her sister Aunt Johanna.  I've since found that Johanna had a child out of wedlock in late1867, four years before she married Thomas Connor.  The child was named Edward Gunn, and unlike many baptismal records I've seen that were marked illegitimate, no father's name was recorded in this case.  I've not been able to learn what became of Edward, he isn't with his mother in 1901, nor is he found anywhere else in that census.  There are only five Edward Gunn's enumerated in the country, all in Fermanagh, and none remotely close to the right age.  Perhaps Edward emigrated to England or the USA.

     I've also tried and failed to locate him in the Civil Registrations of deaths, although his birth was recorded in 1868.  At the time Edward was born it was up to the local registrar to discover and record births and deaths, parents were not required to inform him.   Johanna was likely embarrassed and in no great hurry to announce her single motherhood to the world, so some time passed before Edward was properly recorded.

     The Gunn family lived in the townland of Ballygologue near Listowel, variously spelled Ballygowloge in online Parliamentary Papers, or if you're looking at the Tithe Applotment books, Ballygalouge.  (So really, what is with this refusal to spell a townland's name the same way twice?)  I've seen the old tithe map of Ballygologue and it was a smallish place, eighteen people are listed there in the tithe books, none of whom are my Gunns.  I know they lived there from church records that gave their address but they don't appear in Griffiths Valuation either.  At any rate, Ballygologue was definitely a small, rural townland.  So when I found the survivors of this family in the 1901 census, I was surprised to learn they were living in Urban Listowel.   My first thought was the widow Margaret Gunn and her daughter Johanna Connor, also a widow, had moved to the city, perhaps for employment opportunities.  Indeed, the two older boys in the family, Johanna's son William Connor and her nephew John Gunn were shoemakers.
     It turns out I was half right.  The family  did move, since some persons in this census still had Ballygowloge as their address, but even if they hadn't they would still be part of the "Listowel Urban District".  The clip at left, from the Parliamentary Papers, shows Bally-G included in the district.  I try to keep in mind when researching in Irish records, that there are sometimes subtle differences in meanings and ways of recording events and locations than those used in America.  District Electoral Divisions or DED's for instance, which is what Listowel Urban District is.  These are small groups of townlands which may or may not be named for one of the townlands included.  Even in today's parlance, here in America Bally-G would never be referred to as urban though it might be called a suburb--looking at the aerial map at the top of this page reveals what appears to be a housing development.  Row after row of houses, Grandma Mary would never recognize the place...


  1. Hi Ellie, the place was called 'Baile Gabhlóige' in Irish. [I'm not sure what it means - óige is youth, gabh is a word for field, I think] All the spelling variants you are finding are the attempts by the various English speaking authorities to translate the name into English. The natives probably did not speak much English then, so the constant spelling, in English, did not come until later.

  2. Hi Dara, Thank you, that makes sense. Now if only the search engines would be a little less picky...

  3. It is so interesting to see how places change over the course of time. I just love it when I can find an old map of the area and see what it use to look like. It sure makes it nice when you can research in an area long enough to become acquainted with the variation of spellings etc.

  4. It is interesting, but I still wish I could go there and see it the way my ancestors did. That's progress I guess.