Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Breaking down Irish brickwalls - Faherty and Nee

For years I've had two primary brickwalls in my Irish family tree.  On two separate lines, I have Great Grandmothers that I can't trace.  Female lines are always a bit difficult to chase -- especially this early in Ireland.  Naming patterns and baptismal sponsors of the children can "help", but alot is guess work and supposition.  Now, with the advent of DNA testing, additional clues are added to the mix.

My brickwall Great Grandmothers are:

Mary Nee born about 1820, married Patrick Walsh of Muckanaghkillew about 1839

Catherine/Kate Faherty born about 1835, married to Patrick Toole of Glantrasna about 1853

Oral history is very important in Connemara (County Galway, Ireland) -- as official records could be scarce due to Irish language, lack of Catholic records, etc.  For a researcher from overseas, like myself, the connection to cousins, still in Galway, is vital to sorting out our families.  Thankfully Facebook and other social media platforms have enabled many of the Irish diaspora to connect. 

From some recent hints, coupled with oral history and new DNA hints, I'm getting closer to connecting all the dots..... it's still a work in process, but I have more and more confidence that I'm closing in on my ancestors on these two lines.

Mary Nee.....from baptismal sponsors, there is a Barbara and Mary Nee (sisters/cousins of Mary?) and Rev Thomas Walsh (the parish priest of Rosmuc).  From DNA matches, it seems the Nees trace back to Rosmuc, and to the Glencoh and Knockadav area.  A local Glencoh cousin tells me that there is a Nee family in this area today, and they are near the fishery across the road from the village of Glantrasna (where I have Connolly connections).  Logically this makes sense.  There are many Nee families in Rosmuc Parish, but other local knowledge states that the Island Nee's had Denis as an ancestor, and the Mountain Nee's (mine, I assume as Knockadav is mountainous) have Dudley as an ancestor.  From the trees I've traced of DNA matches, Dudley appears in the descendants, and Denis does not.

All of this is an educated guessing game.....but about the best you can do with Irish research from this era.  These people survived the famine and emigration, the records are thin, and the Parish priests spelling is often suspect. It is like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle with lots of missing pieces.

My Faherty family is another story......for years I believed the name was Flaherty, but have recently been told by two different cousins that the name was Faherty, and that the family came from Camp Street, Oughterard.  These two clues have led me in an all new direction. I posted on the Oughterard Heritage page, and a local said there were Faherty children with Toole baptismal sponsors from Tullyvrick, Oughterard.  This was a wonderful clue that led me to look there, and bingo, I had DNA matches to this family and their descendants on Ancestry.com!!!

From baptismal sponsors for Kate Faherty and Patrick Toole's children, it would appear that Kate had sisters Mary and Bridget Faherty (as they sponsor several of the children)

There is also some oral history that we have a relation named Mixie McGawley -- and in searching the Faherty's of Tullyvrick, the only other family in this townland is McGawley, and there are lots of marriage between Faherty's and McGawley's.  So there must be something to all of this!  The other common name in this area is Molly -- and we were told years ago by a cousin that we had an ancestor named Mary Molloy.  We were chasing the wrong line at the time, and now I think that possibly Mary Molloy married John Faherty and they are my GGG Grandparents (parents of Catherine/Kate Faherty).  Not sure I'll ever prove this.....

So many puzzles to solve.....

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