Saturday, January 2, 2016

Instant gratification!

On December 26, 2003, I sent a request to the Limerick Archives for baptismal records for the Brown family.  In just over a week I had a response and what information was contained in the response!  I felt like I had really hit the jackpot so the amount I paid for the records, which really was not very much, was worth every penny. 

2004 letter from Limerick Archives
(Click to enlarge)
The records were found in Patrickswell Roman Catholic Church.  Yes, this really is our family despite the discrepancy in the mother’s name – Hannah vs. Johanna (the church records also show Honora).  Not all of the information agreed with the information in the David Brown letter, but the differences were very few.  (See the response from the Limerick Archives at the left. 1)  The siblings are listed in the same order with two exceptions.  There is an additional child, David, between Patrick and John that had not previously been identified.  Since I have not found information on him in America with the rest of the children, it is assumed that he died sometime between his baptism in 1832 and the date the family arrived in America.  Moreover, it seems that “David” is an important name in the family since that name tends to be repeated in several generations. 

The other difference is the absence of a record on James.  The Limerick Archives letter gives a possible explanation that children who were not thriving at birth may have been baptized at home and not recorded in the church records. 

James G. Ryan in his book, Irish Church Records, gives other reasons why baptisms might not have been recorded.  First of all he states that it is not clear where baptisms actually took place before the mid 1800s.  This could have been in the home of the parents or other relative, in church, or even perhaps in the priest’s house.  He further states that many priests owned horses and visited their parishioners to “administer sacraments,” particularly in rural areas. Ostensibly, the priest would have taken notes about these sacraments but could have failed to initially record them or missed transcribing them when he returned to the church following his circuit.  It also appears that several priests, or clerks, recorded the events and one of them could have missed recording the baptism.   Ryan also states that, “There is also the possibility that the priests may have demanded a fee for the sacrament which the family could not afford.” 2

Church records can now be searched online at either or  depending on the location of the ancestors, and, since July 2015, actual copies of the records are available at  But they were not available back in 2004.  So, when I traveled to Dublin in 2012, I made a point of stopping by the National Library to obtain copies.  (Note that the records for Patrickswell are listed under “Lurriga.”) 

Patrickswell original records
(Click to enlarge)
When I found the actual records in the Patrickswell church records, there appears to be a few discrepancies in the abstracts from the Limerick Archives.  The most obvious is that the marriage of Timothy Brown and Honora Kelley took place in 1830, not 1930 as identified in the archives letter.  Another difference is that the month of David’s baptism is actually October, not January.  Also, the second sponsor at the baptism of Patrick appears to be Domina Hallinan and not Mary Moloney.  (See copies of the baptismal records at the right.3)  Note the sponsors for the marriage and baptismal records.  These become particularly important in future research.

The letter goes on to state that the names of the parents of Timothy Browne and Hannah Kelley are not known since there are no baptismal records for them but that, at least, Hannah likely came from Patrickswell since marriages usually took place in the bride’s parish. 
The other missing piece of information was the actual address of the family in Patrickswell.  Patrickswell is the name of the church parish.  In Ireland, there are church parishes and civil parishes which are not the same when looking for geographic locations.  There is also a village of Patrickswell which is located about 10 miles southwest of the city of Limerick.  We were planning a trip to Ireland in 2005 and wanted to find the homeland and needed a more precise location, specifically the townland, within the civil parish.  
A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland, a book by Brian Mitchell4, gives a cross reference of church parish to civil parish.  The maps for the area are very small and Patrickswell could be in the civil parish of Adare or the surrounding parishes.  How I determined the townland will be the subject of the next post.

1.        Limerick Archives, Limerick, Ireland, 2 Jan 2004, Letter to Mary Ann Faloon, Wilmington, OH.  Letter contains marriage information for Hannah Kelly and Timothy Brown,  and baptism information for their children, Patrick, David, John, Mary, Johanna, and Thomas,
2.        Ryan, James G., Irish Church Records, Flyleaf Press, Dublin, Ireland, 1992, pp 120-123

3.       Patrickswell Catholic Parish registers at the National Library Ireland.  Page numbers refer to the online records at

Marriage Timothy Browne & Honora Kelly, 16 Feb 1830, p. 116, microfilm 02409-05, Lurriga, Limerick

Baptism Patrick Browne, 26 Nov 1830, p. 29, microfilm 02409-05, Lurriga, Limerick

Baptism David Browne, 11 Oct 1832, p. 39, microfilm 02409-05, Lurriga, Limerick

Baptism John Browne, 1 Jan 1835, p. 52, microfilm 02409-05, Lurriga, Limerick

Baptism Mary Browne, 21 May 1834, p. 63, microfilm 02409-05, Lurriga, Limerick

Baptism Johanna Browne, 21 Sep 1841, p. 89, microfilm 02409-05, Lurriga, Limerick

Baptism Thomas Browne, 6 May 1847, p. 13, microfilm 02409-06, Lurriga, Limerick


4.       Mitchell, Brian, A New Genealogical Atlas of Ireland, 2nd Ed., Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, 2002



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