The very few details still available today—from the 1859 marriage of John Kelly and Johanna Falvey through the 1860s births of their children in County Kerry—give a mixed message as to the specific location of this family’s home. Yet, in little over a week, we will be in the vicinity of Killarney, hoping to uncover the very paths once walked by our ancestors. How to determine that location, when each document seems to report a different place?
The problem is this:
- One record gives the marriage location of John and Johanna as Kilcummin.
- That record lists John’s residence as Knockancore.
- A baptismal record for 1864 comes from a parish called Killeentierna.
- That 1864 document shows the Kelly address as Currow.
- Another baptismal record, in 1867, shows the same parish, but address in Barnfield.
- The Griffith’s Valuation shows John Kelly in civil parish Molahiffe, in the townland of Lisheenacannina.
Question: Where are all these places? More to the point, is it feasible for the same family to have been in each of these locations from the time of their courtship through the course of their early married life?
Obviously, the answer to these questions would be easily had if I could produce a map of the area including all these details—including those of any towns that might no longer be in existence.
However, that obvious solution did not occur to me. It took a tip, kindly offered by a denizen of the Facebook genealogy groups I’ve already mentioned, to knock some research sense into me. A member of the County Kerry group suggested, basically, that I take a map and check out the distances between each of the places named on these various family records.
Working on the assumption that, back in that era, a person would either travel by foot or with a horse and cart, this researcher figured a person could cover somewhere between ten to twenty miles in a day, one way, to travel to market. The possibility that said person could meet—and eventually fall in love with—a person traveling a like distance from the opposite direction means the two parties, though now in a relationship, might have originated from places which were up to forty miles apart.
Given that scenario, diagramming the possibilities on a map by encircling each town using a twenty mile radius would reveal any overlaps indicating likely pairings of origin. If the place names I’ve already encountered—Kilcummin, Knockancore, Killeentierna, Currow, Barnfield, Lisheenacannina—fall within those realms of possibility, then I likely have the same person moving from place to place.
Or, I might just be dealing with two different John Kelly families, both having a wife’s maiden name as Falvey.