in Family history

New Distractions – the Irish Catholic Parish Records

Sheep paddock at Sally's Gap in Wicklow, Ireland. Photograph with permission by Laura Jane.

Sheep paddock at Sally’s Gap in Wicklow, Ireland. Photograph with permission by Laura Jane.

This is a very quick post, just to explain that I am deep in the newly released Catholic parish record images via the National Library of Ireland website which went live yesterday/today (depending on where you live in the world).

I love viewing original records in a continuous format like this.  One learns so much more about a community!  The ebb and flow of life is easier to see.  Did they have a steady flow of marriages and baptisms, or were there only one or two per month?  What was the priest like?  Was he meticulous, was he busy, was he careless?

So far I have only looked at the parish of Athea in the late 1820s and beginning of the 1830’s.  I soon found surnames I recognised.

What I think I can see is a few family groups.  In one cluster we have eg Sullivan/Ryan/Houlihan/Culhane, all witnessing each others’ marriages and acting sponsor for each other’s babies.  In another we have Dillane/Woulfe/White/Ahern doing the same. There are three or four discrete groups, I’ll have to look at applotment records to see if they are geographic divisions or social ones.  Or simply family based!

With the Dillane bunch are a smattering of Sheehan, Murphy and McCarthy.  This is very interesting since those ancestor names pop up often in the DNA matches with common ancestors in the Athea region, although they never have Dillane in their tree.  The connection is here somewhere.

For my friends who are doing the same as me just now, don’t forget to check neighbouring parishes too.

Another Irish building from public-domain-image dot com.

Another Irish building from public-domain-image dot com.

A quick note as to the language:

Yes, it’s all in Latin.  The priest in Athea had very little notion of conjugation and that might be common elsewhere, but the base word is the same.  Our guy in Athea phrased a marriage in this way:


die 6 Novembris matrimonis juncti sunt Thomas Kelleher et Anna Ahern, habita super bannis dispensationis testis Thomas Ahern Maria Ryan cum alia

die 8 Novembris – Day 8 November

matrimonis juncti – (con)juncti   – joined in matrimony – Our priest has abbreviated this in an uncommon way

Thomas Kelleher et Anna Ahern – Thomas Relliher and Anna Ahern.  For this entry the names are in their original form but this is not always the case.

habita super – living here – I presume this means ‘of this parish’ as shows in English registers

bannis dispensationis by the publishing of banns

testis – witnessed by

Thomas Ahern Maria Ryan – The names of the witnesses

cum alia – apparently means ‘with the other’. It’s written at the end of all Athea marriage registrations.

clipart from Clipart Panda

clipart from Clipart Panda


26 Gulielmus filius legitimus Gulielmus Ahern et Brigida Hays patroni exant David Ahern et Margarita Ahern

26 date.  This register has the month at the top and all entries just with their date shown.

Gulielmus – William written in Latin

filius – son of.  A daughter is ‘filia’

legitimus – legitimate, meaning the parents are married. A boy born to an unmarried mother is ‘illegitimus’  Note the suffix matches that of the previous word.  A daughter would be ‘filia legitima’ or ‘filia illegitima’.

Gulielmus Ahern et Brigida Hays – William Ahern and Bridget Hays.  Names of the parents.

patroni exant – sponsors/godparents in multitude – as in more than one.

David Ahern et Margarita Ahern – David Ahern and Margaret Ahern.  The sponsor’s names.

It has been years since I looked at any Latin.  I’d forgotten how much fun that language is. I might be busy for a few days now, finding Dillane records in Athea and running the names against my DNA match’s family trees.

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