Tag Archives: #Irish ancestors

Castle Keep

A keep is a tower used as a dungeon or fortress. Nenagh Castle keep is what is left of many towers that were part of the original castle built in 1216 by Baron Butler. He was given this land by the King of England, who was a Norman king. The castle was built in O’Kennedy territory, John F. Kennedy’s ancestors.

I have been doing a little research on a part of Tipperary, Ireland which was the last known residence of a cousin and the supposed birthplace of my paternal grandparents. The address for the cousin was Ballinamoe New Town Nenagh Tipperary. I couldn’t understand all the names in the address.  Turns out it breaks down to Ballinamoe as townland,  Newtown is a hamlet, part of the barony of Owney and Arra, the civil parish of Youghalarra, Nenagh is the largest town, in the county of Tipperary, in the Provence of Munster. Reading some of the history of baronies and all these other designations has been mind-boggling. Nenagh Castle is a historic site in Tipperary. I once read that my father’s surname Barry was Norman, which now makes sense if this was once Norman territory.

So enough with the history and geography for now and I only skimmed the surface. It has been disheartening to try to trace my father’s family in Ireland. There is no record online of my grandfather’s birth. There was one entry for someone with a similar name to my grandmother but no way for me to verify it was her. The dearth of information could be because some church records have not been digitalized, the Irish revolution that occurred in 1919-1921, and a fire during the Battle of Dublin resulted in archives being lost. Many records may still be in churches, and the only way to find them is to go there. The history of my father’s family in California is easier to trace although I did not find anything about his Uncle Joe and descendants.  I can research newspaper archives in Ireland, but I have to pay a subscription of 30 (pounds) a month, currently $42.45 US. I can pay someone to the do the research for me and that sounds even more expensive. The most recent Irish census information available is from 1911. In that census I did find a name of a girl who could be my cousin but how to verify it? and that person had sisters. I had a letter from my paternal aunt (now deceased) who gave me some names and birthdates. She told me my grandfather had brothers and my grandmother had 3 sisters and one brother. My grandparents emigrated to the US with their baby son in 1902. They lived through the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. My aunt corresponded with the cousin in Ballinamoe. She indicated the family in Ireland probably died out with that cousin but not sure. Two of my paternal grandmother’s sisters emigrated to Canada. Haven’t started looking for them yet.

My mother’s parents came from Canada. My maternal grandmother was born in Scotland. I found a record of my maternal grandparent’s marriage in Nova Scotia and possibly my maternal grandfather’s family of origin. My mother and her sister lost touch with these relatives. It is sad to think about all these people who have disappeared without a trace. It feels like I have lost part of my family all over again.

We should keep more than our towers.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is hosted by Linda G Hill. The “Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “picture.” Write about, or theme your post on the first picture you see when you sit down to start writing. You don’t need to describe the picture necessarily–you can even put yourself in it if you’re not already there.”

Featured image of Nenagh Castle by Regina Hill via wikimedia.org