Saturday, August 23, 2014

Just One More Look

I couldn’t help myself. Now that I understood what, exactly, the townlands were in Ireland, I wanted to go back and see if I could find anything further on our Kelly family from County Kerry. (Say that fast, three times!)

Yes, I know: a woman’s genealogical research work is never done. I’m going to have to draw the line somewhere, and get packed and ready to go on that trip to Ireland. But I couldn’t help myself. After all, it’s not like I travel to Ireland every year. Unless a particular offspring (who will remain unnamed) chooses to return to Ireland for graduate work, I will likely never be back. If I’m to see the lands these Irish ancestors once walked, I'd better know where I’m going, soon.

Armed with my newfound understanding of the various historic geo-political subdivisions of the Irish countryside, I thought I’d give that Kelly family just one more chance. I had remembered seeing something on about a “Molahiffe” in County Kerry. What would that be? Townland?

I had to go back and look it up. Of course, I’m not entirely sure this would be related to the family of our John Kelly—really, how many John Kellys are out there? We are talking slim chance. But I knew I had found some birth records for children of a John Kelly and Johanna Falvey in County Kerry. Those entries—unfortunately, showing in a mere index, not the original documentation—mentioned this place called Molahiffe.

First, I went back and retrieved the entries on FamilySearch. They both named a daughter, Mary, but one was for 1864 and the other for 1867. As our Kelly family did have a daughter named Mary, likely born in 1867, plus a gap in the family’s birth sequence from the 1862 arrival of older daughter Catherine until that point in 1867, it is possible that the earlier Mary might have been a child who died in infancy.

Each of those FamilySearch records mentioned the birthplace as Molahiffe in County Kerry. I headed for Google to see what I could find about Molahiffe.

According to the “Irish Ancestors” section of The Irish Times, apparently the designation Molahiffe is for a civil parish. Scrolling down on the page there, you can see a map showing the relative location of this parish to all others in County Kerry, as well as lists of townlands and even the most common surnames in Molahiffe in 1852 (hint: neither Kelly nor Falvey are among them).

It turns out Molahiffe has quite a history. The Gaelic Lordship of Molahiffe was created in the fourteenth century. It even comes with a castle. (Yes, our official tour guide is taking note.)

Heading back to old faithful Griffith’s Valuation to see if I could confirm the presence of a John Kelly in Molahiffe, we get a win there, too. Of course, the chances of finding so common a name as that is not surprising, and I keep telling myself there is a strong possibility this is just a coincidentally-named stranger. I resolve to take this question to the Molahiffe forum at Ireland Reaching Out to see if, once again, someone there can guide me in any way of confirming any names of others in that family. Or church records for marriages or baptisms. Or, well, something.

Despite my doubts, I think the parish Molahiffe—and Lisheenacannina, the townland fingered in the Griffith’s Valuation for the John Kelly residence—will still find a place in our itinerary for our trip in October. Family roots present or not, it does, after all, include a castle.

Above: Map of the fourteenth century location of the Gaelic-Irish Lordship of Molahiffe in current-day County Kerry, Ireland; created by Brendan Oisin and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license; courtesy Wikipedia.

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