Thursday, August 3, 2023

When There are no Other Possibilities


We've been on the search for baptismal or marriage records for the possible brothers of Denis Tully, my father-in-law's great-grandfather in Ireland. We've been looking for these in hopes that finding these brothers would then lead to signs of the start of their own families, as well—and, in particular, signs of another Tully descendant who also was baptised with the given name Dennis. Yesterday, we reviewed one likely brother of Denis Tully, by the name of Thomas. Yet, although naming their son Dennis, this child of Thomas and his wife Margaret Wilkison was born four years later than we had expected. So, we moved on to examine the baptismal records for sons of two other likely Tully brothers: Luke and Mick.

Spoiler: there are no currently available baptismal records in the vicinity of Ballina in County Tipperary for children of either Luke Tully or Mick Tully. Now what? What do you do when there are no other possibilities to explore for your research question?

Other than just pout about this research misfortune, there are a few approaches that could be taken. For one, I've been relying on baptismal and marriage records, but I could consider looking at other types of records, if for nothing else than to confirm the existence of people with such names during that same time period and locale. I can check the Griffith's Valuation for signs of more than one Dennis—the name which got the whole search started—as well as the names of the four Tully men who stood in as godparents for our Denis Tully's children. Keeping in mind the "F.A.N. Club" concept, I can try to determine whether any of the other Tully family members made the same trip to "Canada West" along with our Denis and his immediate family during those horrible famine years. Or, remembering that it is Ireland's records that we are talking about, I could wait and revisit this research question in another year, giving everyone time to (hopefully) digitize and upload more records.

Besides that, there are other options. I can go back to the original dilemma itself—that of the several DNA matches whose ancestral Dennis Tully is not the Denis Tully I expected—and review their trees, step by step. Perhaps I can find an additional record for that family which hadn't been considered yet, and which might shed some light on this puzzle. Or I can switch tracks and explore the identity of our Denis Tully's wife—what if she wasn't Margaret Flannery, but a different Margaret? Can I build out a presumed tree for her parents based on the names of the siblings listed as godparents for this Margaret's children?

Even though it might seem that there were no other research possibilities within the listing of baptismal records in County Tipperary itself, we can see that we still have other research options available to us. They may not seem as straightforward an approach as directly consulting baptismal records, but finding several other indicators of the family constellation may help us piece together a proof argument in the absence of that one document we were hoping to find.

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