Monday, July 31, 2023

Following the Pattern


Extracting an ancestor's name from the gaps in Irish records may depend on how closely held traditional Irish naming patterns were during that time period. My question right now is whether the ancestor of several DNA matches was indeed a missing son who belonged in the family of my father-in-law's great-grandfather Denis Tully.

If Irish naming patterns held true—and they weren't always followed precisely—they could be a key to determining who Denis Tully's parents might have been. In addition, since I've been able to glean the names of four of his brothers when they were recorded as godparents for Denis' children at their baptism, naming patterns might help me place the known Tully brothers in birth order. Furthermore, if I could then find records for any of those brothers' own families, I could spot-check the adherence to the naming tradition to further confirm I had correctly hypothesized their parents' names.

It all comes down to "if."

Just for reference, let's review what that naming tradition was, during the years in which Denis Tully lived at the northern border of County Tipperary in the hills to the east of the village of Ballina, prior to his family's emigration to "Canada West"—present-day Ontario—about 1849. According to one source, Irish parents named their first son after the child's paternal grandfather. A second son would become the namesake of his maternal grandfather. It was not until the third son that we would see parents naming the child after his own father.

If this is the pattern Denis Tully adhered to, there are a few other conclusions we can draw from this list, particularly since I am grappling with the assertion of some DNA matches and others researching the line that their ancestor, also named Dennis Tully, was son of my father-in-law's great-grandfather Denis Tully. If the younger Dennis were indeed eldest son of our Denis, the naming pattern would imply that father Denis himself were son of a man named Dennis. Else, the only reason he would name a son by his own name—if the pattern held true—would have been if the child were his third son. Following that same logic, father Denis himself would have been the third son of the grandfather Dennis, unless the grandfather's own father were also named Dennis.

The problem is that there is simply no way to find documentation for that time period in that location—at least now, with the resources currently at hand. And yet, several DNA matches and others researching the family history of this other Dennis have entered our family's Denis as his father.

None of those other researchers have produced documentation to demonstrate that connection, though they include that detail on their public trees online. Indeed, if that Dennis Tully were born in 1830 as his Find a Grave memorial in Ontario states, we would be hard pressed to locate a baptismal confirmation of that fact, since currently-existing records from the parish at Ballina are spotty before 1832.

Because I've already gleaned the names of the Tully godparents for each of our Denis Tully's children, we now can say that Denis was brother to four other Tully men: Luke, Thomas, John, and Mick (likely Michael). While the process may be tedious, I can revisit that collection of baptismal records online to find the entries for each child of each of these four Tully brothers. Then, I could line those grandchildren up in date order to see whether the naming tradition would tell us anything further about who the brothers' parents might have been.

In the process, of course, I would hopefully run across some sign of which Tully brother this younger Dennis might have called "Dad." In fact, I've already run across one possibility. We'll take a closer look at that discovery tomorrow. 

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