Thursday, October 8, 2020

Connecting the Trans-Atlantic Dots


What are the chances that the information we discovered in Massachusetts on brothers Timothy and Patrick Cullinane can lead us back to the land of their birth in Ireland? After all, other than a few document discrepancies, we have the names of their likely parents: Daniel Cullinane and Deborah—or Abbie—Falvey. And we've already seen from Patrick's ample paper trail around Boston that he claimed to have been born in County Kerry. That seems like a sufficient supply of facts to help us connect the trans-Atlantic dots. Right?

Of course, you already can sense that, by my asking such a question, the answer will be, ironically, more likely a "no" than a "yes." You know me well, by now.

As it turns out, we will be more successful with the trail back home when we follow the scant listings we can find on the short-lived Timothy than those for the amply-documented marble worker, Patrick. From Timothy Cullinane's 1893 death record, we can calculate that his birth occurred, back in Ireland, around 1861—possibly in August of that year. That, approximately, is what was indicated on his marriage record to Margaret McCarthy in January of 1883.

Though it was not quite the same year—nor even the right month—we can find a baptismal record back in County Kerry for a "Timotheum," legitimate son of Danielis Cullinane and Debora Falvey of Clashnagarrane, dated October 7, 1858.


Though we can tell nothing from the listing of the sole baptismal sponsor—apparently Daniel's sister, Mary Cullinane—we can find several other listings for these same parents in the Catholic parish of Kilcummin. An earlier baptism on August 10, 1856, for a daughter named Mary lists the same parents, although with a different townland residence: Knockauncore. Bonus discovery: the girl's sponsor was named Johanna Falvey. If that sponsor, who was Mary's mother's sister, is one and the same as our Johanna Falvey, we have made a valuable discovery, indeed.

There were, of course, other children. Some had baptismal records which included the mother's name as Debora. Others—like that of James in 1860 or Hanora "Callinan" in 1866—had an entirely different given name for that Falvey mother: Gubbenilas or Gubboneta. Fortunately, we've already located a reasonable explanation for the discrepancy: Gobnait (or its many variants) was an Irish given name, not readily translated into the required Latin of Catholic records, and thus sometimes substituted with a more "appropriate" choice by church leaders, such as Debora.

But what of the two different townlands listed? Could it be possible that there was a Daniel Cullinane living in Knockauncore, and a different Daniel in Clashnagarrane? Possibly, except that we can find one of the baptismal records in each townland including the same wife's name: Mary's record showing Debora Falvey in Knockauncore, and Timothy's own in Clashnagarrane.

That said, we are still missing one key element: any baptismal document for Patrick Cullinane, the Boston area marble worker whose descendant became the DNA match to our Johanna Falvey's second great-grandson, my husband. Based on dates, we might be able to assume that Patrick's birth record was inadvertently listed as James, as the year matches in both cases. Or we can just assume that, seeing American records matching the parents' names for both immigrant Cullinanes, Patrick's record simply got lost in the scramble to preserve aging records.

Of course, I'm not comfortable relying only on that last assumption, and certainly will be searching further. In the meantime, there is another avenue open to us. While seeing Timothy's untimely death, not long after his marriage in the Boston area, we need to realize that there were nearly ten years between his marriage and his passing. What if there were other descendants? And Patrick, his brother: what other descendants did he have? Let's take some time to explore whether there are others out there who either can collaborate with us about the connection between Patrick's and Timothy's line, or who might even be willing to take a DNA test. Perhaps some have done so, already.

Image above: the baptismal record for Timothy Cullinane, from the Irish Catholic Parish Records collection for the parish of Kilcummin in County Kerry; image via

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