Have you ever worked with a set of documents for so long and so hard that eventually, they seem to spontaneously sprout lines of connection? In the case of the Flannery families in the County Tipperary Catholic parish of Ballina, staring at the baptismal records is causing me to see things. Names seem to become vaguely familiar, as if I've seen them before—and I have! In a place far, far away from Ireland, I've spotted such names in some tiny villages in what was, in the mid-1800s, called Canada West.
Is it possible to connect the dots between the Flannery families in Ballina and those in Canada?
We've already followed the tracks of Denis Tully and his wife, Margaret Flannery, from Ballina to the village of Paris in Brant County, Ontario, through the 1851 census. It was in that same census that we also noticed, on the same page of that enumeration, the entry for the family of John Tully and his wife, Kitty Flannery (alias "Mrs."). Who else from that Ballina parish might have followed them down that same immigration path?
Also in that same census, we've noticed the addition of one other familiar surname: Flannery. That household included the line entry inconveniently sporting an ink blot which made determining the husband's first name difficult. Add to that the enumerator's irritating habit of noting all wives only as "Mrs."
What if that "Ed---" Flannery was a brother to our Margaret Flannery or to Kitty Flannery, wife of John Tully? I've puzzled over that possibility in the past. But now, I have further resources to aid in that speculation: the addition, a few years ago, of the Irish Catholic baptismal records on several websites—from the National Library of Ireland to Ancestry.com. I am wondering whether we can juxtapose some of these record details for comparisons.
Now that I've aggregated all the baptismal records for the Flannery family in Ballina, what should I notice but an entry for an Edmund Flannery, born in April of 1845, with parents named Edmund Flannery and Mary K[eough]. Could the elder Edmund be the same as the Ed Flannery of the ink-blotted name in Paris, Brant County, Ontario?
The possibility that I could link some of these Tipperary families from the Catholic baptismal records in the parish of Ballina with same-named family groupings living near our Tully families in Canada is quite real. Though many of those families suffered much loss during the famine years—including death of some of their children—their family constellations may have held up enough to enable us to clearly identify them on both sides of the Atlantic.
Such a project would allow me to trace these Tully and Flannery relations further in time, hopefully to locate those subsequent telling death records in Canada with parents' names or other confirmations of their past. The downside to such a project is that I have yet to determine exactly how these other families relate to my father-in-law's direct line. Still, a hunch—especially one involving a clear F.A.N. Club connection—is worth the investigation.
To keep track of all these findings, the best way is to utilize what is called a floating tree. We'll examine how we can begin this process and delve into the possibilities, beginning next week.