Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mapping Out a
Hundred Fifty Five Year Old Meeting

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.

Whichever result turns out to be the more likely scenario, I’m still keen on a visit to Lisheenacannina. If nothing else, it’s just fun to say it.  

 Above: Painting of a Ringed Plover by Irish artist and naturalist, Mary Battersby; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. Isn't it fun to come upon a melodious word to break the mood of frustration in research? It gives you something to look forward to -- a little surprise or reward for plugging along. Some amusement when the rest of our work isn't so amusing.

    1. Well, that work may not be amusing, Wendy, but it certainly is compelling. Some even call it addicting! And I can see what they mean.

      I can't wait to hear how the Irish pronounce that townland name, Lisheenacannina. It sounds worthy of someone writing a song about it! So poetic. But I've been told that the Irish pronounce some of the town names differently than someone like me--living in California with an ear tuned to a multitude of people speaking the Spanish language. Just take the name Ballina, for instance. How do the Irish pronounce that? Apparently, not like my friends south of the border would...

  2. Jacqi, in figuring out locations in Ireland remember to find out the townland, the parish, the county, etc. Then locate it on a map. It is confusing at first but you will soon be an expert.

    1. We have been fortunate that family kept so many records that have helped in this hunt. For those where I had the documents, all that is in order. For the others? Well, maybe I'll find some hints, maybe I won't. But there is plenty to keep us busy these three weeks, even if there is no townlands clue for those elusive Kelly's!

      Colleen, did I see your name mentioned in a file in one of the Tipperary groups on Facebook? They have been very helpful.

  3. Kilcummin is about 4 miles NE of Killarney. Knockancore is 2 miles from Kilcummin.

    Killeentierna is about 8 miles north of Kilcummin. The Barnfield in question is near Currow - and a mile or so from Killeentierna.

    Lisheenacannina is near Ballyhar - which is about 5 miles north-northwest of Killarney. I think all these towns are really quite close together and within an easy walk from one to the other.

    Don't forget too, the railroad(s) started popping up back then - The Killarney Railroad station opened on 15 July 1853. The line ran to Farranfore (which is very near Kilcummin and surroundings).

    1. Good point about the railroads, Iggy. With distances as close as those you've mentioned, either way, the connections are do-able.

  4. Lisheenacannina. that is a real name of a town you should visit! I knew Iggy would figure it out how close together those towns were:)

    1. I just love that name! I'm not sure how the Irish pronounce it, but it sounds poetic to me.


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