“They Hailed From Donegal” – A Follow Up
In an earlier post entitled “They Hailed from Donegal” I wrote about my Sweeney family of Co. Donegal. Shortly afterwards I posted an enquiry on West Ulster Genealogy Face Book page hoping to find someone else who is researching this particular “crooked branch” of my family tree. Within less than twenty four hours Boyd Gray, owner of the page and the West Ulster Genealogy website; had shared my blog post and better yet responded to my query.
James Baxter Sweeney and Fanny Robinson are my second great grandparents who lived in Garryharry, Co. Donegal. They married at the very famous Ramelton Presbyterian Church on 10 May 1859. The Church website states: “There has been a Presbyterian witness in Ramelton since the 17th century. Indeed in 1681, Francis Makemie left his home here to train for the ministry in Scotland before moving to the USA where he became known as the Father of American Presbyterianism.”
Their marriage record shows that James was from Garryharry and Fanny was from Ballyar. Ballyarr is in the Parish of Tullyfern; two miles west of Ramelton and eight miles north of Letterkenny.
As always, with records in Ireland prior to 1901; it’s incredibly difficult to find older generations! However, Griffiths Valuation records identified the exact spot where Fanny Robinson lived; and probably the house where she spent her last night before marrying James. That discovery, along with a map of the property; proved that a photo I have in my possession is of the remains of my Robinson family home!
Further Griffith Valuation records showed that my 3rd great grandfather James “McSwyne”, father of James Baxter; held Plot 22 of 26 acres in Garrowcarry. The property is situated in the Parish of Kilmacrenan; approximately six miles west of Letterkenny. With the help of an Ordnance Survey and an ariel view of the property today; a discovery was made! What looks like the original family homestead is still standing! Who is living in the ancestral home today; is it living family? Yet another “twisted limb” to follow!
James Baxter Sweeney died in his late sixties on 16 Mar 1901; shortly before the Census was taken. His Probate Record states: “Probate of the Will of James Baxter Sweeney late of Garryharry, Co. Donegal, Farmer who died 16 Mar 1901 granted at Londonderry to William J. Wilson and Samuel Russell Farmers. Effects £77. “Who are William J. Wilson and Samuel Russell? As always more digging is required. James’ burial record remains elusive as does Fanny’s death record.
In receiving all of this new information, and validating other information I had gleaned over the last several years; I thought “Christmas had come early”! It would seem that the “season” wasn’t over just yet!
As Sweeney tends to be a predominately Roman Catholic surname and my Sweeney’s were Presbyterian, I was hoping they might be a little easier to find. Their children were also baptized in the Letterkenny Presbyterian Church. As James died in Garryharry, Louise Hamilton, owner of the East Donegal Local & Family History Face Book page; suggested that they might be buried in the Gortlee Cemetery which is a Presbyterian Cemetery in Letterkenny. She also offered to go on a little excursion and check out the cemetery. Although James and Fanny’s burial ground is unknown; some of my Sweeney’s are interred in the Gortlee Cemetery.
Buried in Gortlee Cemetery, Letterkenny are my great grand uncle John Sweeney, his wife Matilda Graham and three of their children. In 1911, at the time the census was taken; the family was living in 16 Garrowcarry, Ednacarnan. As Louise indicated, “It looks like the headstone has been recently erected and the names all added at the onetime”.
So, the search continues for my living Sweeney family in Garryharry!
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It’s amazing what the internet can do, isn’t it!
Absolutely, it would seem I’m going to have a VERY busy 3 weeks in Ireland this summer! 😀
How many cameras are you taking?
One with lots of “storage”; several USBs… just in case; I think I would throw up if I lost them after getting home! Then I borrow one from my cousin as well when I’m there; I’ll need several volunteers too! 😀 Last visit was for two weeks, I brought back over 3000 images; headstones, old family photos and documents dating back to the late 1700s. That was two years ago and I haven’t yet entered them all in my tree! I NEED to retire to do this full time!
I know what you mean, I did retire before I started – but that was because I was basically computer illiterate. 😆
Just saw you comment after writing my comments gpcox….so agree, it is amazing what we can now search and find…esp when we live 1.000s km away on the other side of the world…..
Wow, what a great story, fantastic when you break down some of those walls. I too have been finding some extra info, and even though I know the net isn’t the be all and end all, having done so much research many years ago at the archives etc., I am finding researching my English ancestors so much easier. Yesterday I somehow managed to come across a reference to Booth’s poverty map and the fact he interviewed my gg grandfather in East End London, and even was given a business card, as he was a furniture maker..!!!! so exciting, not sure how to get the information about the interview yet, and then found 2 burial records from Deceased Online, and for about $20 Au dollars I got the transcripts as well as the addresses of where both husband and wife lived at the time of their deaths. They were also gg grandparents…..so much more information is suddenly being uploaded and the finds are coming thick and fast. I transcribe for ancestry.com when I can find the time, as it gives us all more chance to maybe find something about our own kin. Once again, so pleased you got to find that information, and gorgeous pics once again…
I sent you an email with a link as well….cheers for now. Vicki in South Australia
It is great Vicki; I’m trying to get up the nerve (usually not a problem for me! :D) to call a number I have found (on the internet of course) for a Sweeney still living in Garryharry. I want to see if I can figure out where she fits first; whether she is an unmarried Sweeney or the wife of a Sweeney. I figure, she’ll either want to talk to me OR NOT! 😉
It sounds like you are making great progress too! It’s so hard to stay indoors when our winter is FINALLY over and we are having some beautiful weather! BTW, I did get your email and did respond. Thanks so much! Bye for now!
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