I learned a little tip on family history research, back when I took the Southern Research course at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. The challenge in southern research has to do with the many ways family lines seem to intertwine over the generations. Those in the South have a term for it, apparently. They will often say someone is "kin" when they don't know how to explain the exact relationship. In some families, relationships crisscrossed repeatedly through the generations, blending lines in more ways than the one we'd otherwise assume. Sometimes, a pedigree chart is not capable of fully outlining all the connections. That's why some researchers, such as Anne Gillespie Mitchell, advocate for a process she calls cluster genealogy.
Not that I suspect the Irish were quite the same way, but in looking over the possible connections between my husband's various Kelly and Falvey lines, it appears we may need to consider the same clustering approach. Since I otherwise have not been able to fully determine the connections, this clustering tactic may yield us an answer where we haven't been able to find one before.
This means, of course, amassing a huge pile of surnames we've already stumbled upon to determine what the connections might be. Some of this may seem easy—for instance, the clue that Irish baptismal sponsors should always (supposedly) be the sibling or in-law of one of the baby's parents. Some clues may seem less worthy, though, such as the fact that one witness to Johanna Falvey's marriage to John Kelly—a man by the name of John Fleming—happened to also serve as witness for the next two March 1859 weddings in the church's register, as well. Congregational leader? Community elder? Or true relative? It's hard to say.
If you thought researching Margaret Kelly's Sullivan nieces was drawing us far from our original research goal, amassing this cluster of connected family back in their homeland in County Kerry, Ireland, will seem like one gigantic research mess. And yet, up to this point, I have not had any breakthroughs to help untangle this Kelly and Falvey connection.
May as well hold my breath and jump in. It's overwhelming when stuff gets over our heads, but we won't always stay submerged under that swirling mass of names. At some point, we will hopefully emerge with some answers.
Ready for a recap? Here we go...