Sunday, September 30, 2012


"...Each age is a dream that is dying or one that is coming to birth..." Arthur O'Shaughnessy

           My husband's side is almost 100 percent Irish. His little mother passed away at the grand age of almost 94 and thought genealogy was a bit silly. However, she did like the fact that she could be a member of the DAR for all practical purposes.

         I decided to conquer the impossible in the known dearth of access to the church records of Ireland. Doing my own Grandmother's Kerry folks took almost centuries - or felt like centuries - and still hitting fort walls in my O'Mahonys and Jones. So I was pleasantly surprised when church records showed up for Sligo at FamilySearch and Ancestry website. Unfortunately, they are only indexes but confirmation will be solid when I can order the microfilms to connect the families.

        The Cleveland, Ohio family of Downs was found in a courthouse search of US records in the Cleveland courthouse before I investigated the church records online. They hailed from Ballinfada. I was lucky she had (at least) three sisters that immigrated to Cleveland. The records had their parents' full names and full townland names on their death records.

        Then I came upon the passenger record for " Ma Butler " who was the Grandmother that immigrated to Cleveland. She is even traveling with the cousin named Riley who lived with the family in Cleveland so that cinched it. For Irish genealogy , I feel very lucky indeed .

Some things I learned about Mary Jane Down's Sligo : (Sligeach in Gaelic) sligeach means "full of shells".
  • According to the Census returns, a staggering 75,660 emigrated from Sligo in the half-century from 1851-1901.
  • Her village named Ballinafad in Irish: Béal an Átha Fada, means "Mouth of the long ford"
  • Aghanagh is the Downs' actual town land situated in the civil parish of Tirerrill
  • Family Search wiki has a great page about working genealogy in tiny, tough Sligo
  • And lastly, that William Butler Yeats wrote ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ there in 1888.
Image below of Mary Jane Downs immigration to Ohio , August 25 1862 on the Ship Cultwater . 3rd line down from the top .
 NewYorkPassengerLists1862 August 25 Cultwater of New York MJ Downs
Source: NY Passenger's List  at Family Search

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