It has frustrated me that, while doing genealogical research, I have been unable to make the leap across the pond to Ireland with any of the many family lines in my pedigree that should lead me there. I have been working the Flood, Kelly (seemingly heading to the Isle of Man), O’Connell, Cooke, and Gaynor lines trying to find that leap back to an actual location in Ireland.
My break came in January with a clue that my Aunt Maureen had in her possession. She has a certified birth registration for her maternal grandfather, Edward F. O’Connell. The record, from the General Register Office in Dublin, was dated 15 May 1940. We are assuming that the verification of the date of birth was for the purpose of registering for Social Security benefits in 1941. The most interesting thing about the record was the name on his birth registration was not Edward F. O’Connell. The name listed was Edmund Connell. I had the reason that my search could not get me across the Atlantic. There was a name change somewhere along the line.
Edmund Connell, aka Edward F. O’Connell, was born in Earlshill, in the district of Ballingarry, County of Tipperary to Edmond Connell and Mary Connell (formerly Morris) on 23 July 1874. Mr. Connell, the elder, had his profession listed as a Sawyer. The informant to the birth was Bridget Connell. I am still trying to sort out Bridget’s relationship to Edmond and Mary.
Armed with this information I was able to connect with a volunteer at Ireland Reaching Out who provided the following information:
Earlshill townland (place-name database) is in Ballingarry civil parish, and also the Catholic Parish of the same name. The townland is located about 10km (~6 miles) south-east of the town of Littleton Co. Tipperary. The baptism for Edward/Edmond took place in Ballingarry Catholic parish the same day he was born, on the 23rd July 1874 (NLI RC Register images – right hand page near the top).
A warning from the volunteer on searching for references to Ballingarry, there are several parishes named Ballingarry in other counties in Ireland. Take care, if you are doing research, that you have the correct parish. The civil registration district where the birth registry is entered is Callan, which although based in Co. Kilkenny, also covered part of Co. Tipperary.
As for Edmond and Mary, the parents of young Edmond, there is a promising possible marriage for Edmond and Mary in ‘Gurtnahoe and Glengoole’ Catholic parish (see left hand page), which is immediately north of Ballingarry. The date is 24th October 1858 – unfortunately early Catholic marriage records don’t include as many details as the equivalent civil records, so no father’s name, occupation etc. I am reasonably comfortable that this is my maternal great grandparents’ marriage documentation.
All of the children for Edmond and Mary for whom I could find civil documentation are:
Of these birth registrations, all with parents Edward/Edmond Connell and Mary Morris mention Earlshill with the exception of Anne. The place of birth on Anne’s birth looks like Ballyphilip.
On the U.S. Naturalization Record indexes filed with the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York, Edward F. O’Connell indicated that he arrived in the United States on July 12, 1880. The port of arrival is lined through. He would have arrived here eleven days before his sixth birthday. If he arrived in New York, he would have come through the immigrant inspection station Castle Garden in lower Manhattan. Castle Garden was the facility used before Ellis Island opened in 1892. I have not been able to confirm that date or locate a ship manifest that could give us a clue on when the name was changed to O’Connell through records online for Castle Garden.
Edward F. O’Connell grew up in New York. He became a naturalized citizen on 2 August 1895. He listed his occupation as “bartender”. He married Ellen Cooke and raised his family on Dean Street in what is now called the Boerum Hill Section of Brooklyn. On his draft registration card in 1918 when he was 44 years of age, he listed his occupation as “chauffeur”. Edward and Ellen had four children, Regina and Edward (twins), James, and Helen (who died at age 5 as a result of contracting polio.)
Edward F. O’Connell died in 1959 and is buried in the family plot at Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn.
I will keep researching the name change and try to determine the arrival date of the O’Connells (Connells) in the United States around 1880.
A note on Irish surnames…
Irish patronymic surnames often feature the prefix O’ . As surnames developed in Ireland, they were formed by adding the Gaelic words O, Hy or Ui denoting “descendent of” to the original bearer’s grandfather or to that of an earlier ancestor. The prefix Mc denoted “son of” to the original bearer’s father.