Friday, June 28, 2019

Discrepancies In The Records/ A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Civil Registration Office

I've been looking over the documents I've collected for my family, and doing more research after my trip to Ireland. I had not searched for my family in the online Civil Registration birth records until now. I had some birth information already. My great-grandmother's baptism is recorded in local church records for Milltown, Addergoole Parish, County Galway, Ireland. Since my great-grandmother didn't register the births of her children in the United States I didn't think her parents would have bothered either. I was wrong. I finally got around to looking at the Civil Registration records for births, and all but one child's birth was registered. The problem now is sorting out the discrepancies in the documents.

Ellen/ Helen Mullen's birth certificate does correct the baptismal certificate, which named her mother as Mary Ruane. Her aunt's name was Mary Ruane or Ruvane, but her mother's name was Mary Huane or Huvane. The similar names caused confusion, I'm sure. These records do agree, however, on her date of birth 28 December 1880. However, this doesn't agree with the date of birth on her death certificate which was recorded as 26 December 1880. Helen's son, Edwin Mason, provided the information on her death certificate. I wonder if he gave the wrong date of birth, or someone hand wrote the information and 28 looked like 26? I would like to find a document where Helen provided her birth date.

I'm not finding her in the Social Security death index, and have no other documents with her birth date. I will change her date of birth in my records to the 28th. The records created closest to her birth are likely the most accurate. The baptismal record was created in 1880; although these entries may have been copied from the original book sent to Dublin and destroyed in the fire during the Civil War? The Civil Registration record wasn't created until April of 1881, four months after her birth. Apparently her family waited a long time to register her birth. Since both of these records agree I think that likely confirms her date of birth was the 28th.

Ellen's sister Bridget's birth information is far more puzzling. Bridget came to America a number of years after her sister, around 1907. She was still living with her parents in Ireland when the 1901 Census for Ireland was taken. Soon after her arrival in America, joining her sister in Chicago, she became a Catholic Nun, changing her name to Sister Mary Kathleen Mullen. Sister Mary Kathleen lived to be 103 years old dying in 1991. The information contained in her eulogy stated that her parents were Patrick Mullen and Mary Huvane, and she was born 1 February 1888. I believed that the Nun who gave her eulogy must have had the correct information? I found Bridget's birth record in the Civil Registration records, and the date isn't just a few days off. The Civil Registration record states she was born 6 April 1888, not 1 February 1888.

Why such a big discrepancy? I decided to try to find another document with her date of birth. A Social Security record I found matches Sister Mary Kathleen very well. The date of birth is 2 February instead of the first. The date of death is the same, and I believe she may have spent some time in Iowa which is where the Social Security card was applied for according the site?

Unfortunately the baptismal book for the Parish of Addergoole, which would contain her baptismal record, is missing many pages. The year 1888 is missing so I can't use that record to verify her birth month.

The Catholic Nun, Sister Mary Naomi BVM, sent a copy of Sister Mary Kathleen's wake service and funeral mass to my grandmother, her niece. I'm not sure if Sister Mary Naomi, or someone else, put together the family history presented during the mass? Whoever collected the information did a good job because it is generally correct, as verified by marriage, birth, and census records in Ireland. The names of the children were given in birth order, which is very impressive so long after their births in 1991. Someone in my family added the name Patrick to the list which seems to be incorrect? According to Census records Mary Huvane Mullen gave birth to 5 children, and 5 were living in 1911.  The Irish Census is notoriously off when it comes to the ages of adults, but most of the other information is generally correct. The accuracy of the information provided during the church services leads me to lean towards February as her birth month. Her employer, the church, would have her birth date plus the Pope sent her birthday greetings on her 100th birthday.

So why are the dates of birth so far off? My guess is the family gave a fictitious date of birth because they worried about being fined for registering the February birth in late April. I'm seeing various requirements for reporting a birth before a fine kicks in. Some say parents had to report a birth within 6 weeks, and others say 3 months. It's possible the time period varied before a fine was charged. The Mullens reported their daughter Ellen's birth 4 months late. They may have been fined and decided to change Bridget's birth date.

I have the birth date 28 March 1882 for Michael Mullen. The Civil Registration record states he was born 28 May. I thought that maybe I just misread May as March, and that was my mistake. I got out the baptismal record you see below and it states he was born 28 Mar 1882, and was baptized 2 April 1882. If he was baptized on the 2nd of April he could not have been born May 28th. Again the records don't match. Again I believe the family was worried about a fine, and changed the date of birth. I believe that the birth date on the baptismal record is most likely correct and will keep that date as his birth date. After his marriage to Ellen Charles in October 1917 I lose travel of Michael. I will keep researching to find out if he left Ireland?

Thomas Mullen's birthday was 15 June 1884 according to the Civil Registration record for him. Since I have no other record of his birth because the year 1884 is missing in the Baptismal Book I can't verify this is correct. He is said to have been born the same month as his birth was registered, which is suspicious because we know his parents generally weren't that timely in registering births. I will record that date with a question mark?

Then we have Winifred Mullen (my grandmother's name was Dorothy Winifred, namesake of her Aunt) who I can't find any records for other than the 1901 and 1911 Census when she was living with her parents. I can't find any registration of her birth, or marriage record, or death record? I wonder what happened to her?

Why the tardy registrations? Maybe they were headed the the Civil Registration Office within the required time but met a friend and decided to go to the pub in Tuam or go shopping? Or more likely distance and weather played a role. I believe they would have had to travel 10 miles to Tuam to register the birth. They seemed to wait until late spring, and in one case summer, when the weather would be better to register the births.

Somehow they never managed to get to the Civil Registration office on time leaving me with some inaccurate dates of birth and record discrepancies I need to work out.

The ultimate takeaway is if you have an exact birth date for an ancestor and you are looking for them in Civil Registration records you may find them using that date, but if you don't find them keep looking because a fabricated date of birth may have been used to avoid a fine. The fabricated date could be a different month or even a different year than you have for that ancestor.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A Visit to My Great-Grandmother's Birthplace in Ireland

My Great-Grandmother Helen Mullen-Mason was born in the townland of Pollaturick in Co. Galway, Ireland. I just returned from my first visit to that area in May of this year. This is my summary of my visit.

I began my first official visit to Ireland, other than the airport a couple years ago, in Dublin where I spent 3 days exploring in and around Dublin on my own. With limited time I thought I might not make it to Kilmainham Gaol. I'm glad I was able to fit it in because it's an important place to learn about Irish history. The story of the Plunketts is memorialized in a song called "Grace". When I heard the song sung at Murray's bar in Dublin I understood what it meant because of my visit to the gaol.

I took a day trip to Cashel to where I toured the ruins and the town.

On day 4 in Dublin I joined a bus tour. I joined the "Treasures of Ireland" tour with Trafalgar. Our tour ate at Nancy's Hands, an historic pub in Dublin, on the first day of our tour. The next day we left Dublin for a tour of Glendalough. We wondered if it might be closed because there was supposed to be a security sweep for a visit of the Prince of Wales the next day? Lucky it wasn't. Glendalough was one of my favorites sites in Ireland. The tour group that visited the next day got to meet Prince Charles on his tour of the site.

From Glendalough we went to Waterford, and then to our hotel in Cork. During our stay in Cork we visited the town of  Cobh, the port where my great-grandmother would have boarded her ship bound for America when she was 18 years old. A tour guide walked us around the beautiful town explaining its maritime history.

The next stop on our tour was Killarney where we stayed in one of my favorite hotels the Killarney Avenue Hotel. Loved the atmosphere at this hotel, plus they have a great nightly show featuring Irish dancing and singing. My room had a great view too. Also an awesome park and garden were right across the street. 

Killarney was a base from which we explored the beautiful National Park and Blarney Castle. We took horse cart rides through part of the Killarney National Park where we took in the beautiful views and spotted many deer.

We also spent a few hours at Blarney Castle. I didn't kiss the Blarney Stone. Instead of kissing the stone I spent a few hours walking around the beautiful gardens admiring the gorgeous Rhododendron that were in bloom. I wish there were benches to sit and admire the gardens, there are no benches.

The next morning we walked around Killarney National Park and up to Torc Waterfall which was very beautiful.

The gardens in Killarney National Park contain Monterey Cypress trees which have actually thrived in the Irish climate. They seem to do better in Ireland than California.

After our morning walk in the beautiful warm sunshine we headed to the Ring of Kerry where the weather was much cooler and overcast. I loved the drive around the Ring the scenic views of the rocky land with rock walls, and the stone cottages with sheep grazing are exactly the views I envisioned and even better.

Isolated homes and cottages stretching to the sea create bucolic views. Wild Rhododendron grows all around this area. The purple flowers are pretty but are considered a weed, and efforts are being made to eradicate it.  

That evening our tour group enjoyed some great food and entertainment at a cottage at Muckross Farm. It was a nice cozy venue for good conversation and entertainment without the noise of a pub. 

After two nights in Killarney we moved on to Limerick our base for the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs are spectacular and a must see in Ireland. 

After our adventure at the Cliffs we spent the evening at a castle enjoying some entertainment with dinner.

The next day I waved goodbye to the tour I spent 6 days with as the bus left to take some of our group back to Dublin for their flight home. I headed to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park which I found to be outstanding. If you're interested in the history of Ireland, and what life was like for ancestors living there, this is a must see. When I first entered the park I thought it was just a few houses and the castle, which if that were all was pretty impressive. Instead of just a few reconstructed cottages and Bunratty Castle it extended even further beyond what I originally saw with reconstructed mills, a church, farm buildings, a large house, a school, and small town. All trades are represented in the reconstructed cottages and other buildings.

In the evening after my tour of Bunratty Castle and Folk Park I headed 72 miles north to Tuam in Co. Galway. It was a Friday evening and traffic on the main street in Tuam was crazy. I didn't think they would have traffic jams there but there are only a few roads that everyone uses.

After dumping off my bags at the Corralea Hotel I was able to do some site seeing around Tuam. The Corralea Court has undergone some renovations since the Google Street view. I didn't recognize it when I got there. The interior seems to be newly renovated too.

It took me about 15 minutes to cover most of the town. A local election was taking place with an Irish ballot measure on divorce. It's likely the election added to the traffic jam. I ran across many people still campaigning for their candidate, and waiting for the polls to close. Interesting to see how campaigns are conducted in rural Ireland.

I was able to look inside the Cathedral of the Assumption, but the older church St. Mary's (now church of Ireland) was locked. Disappointing that Temple Jarlath's ruins were locked and gated off.

For the next 3 days I divided my time between exploring Tuam, Milltown, and Pollaturick.

Day 2 I ventured out of Tuam to Milltown and Pollaturick, the area where my ancestors lived, and my great-grandmother was born, about 9 miles from Tuam.

I had mapped out exactly where the Mullen house and property were located using Griffith's Valuation maps. Before heading over to the house I wanted to talk to some of the neighbors to confirm I had identified the correct property. The first person I spoke with said he lived in Pollaturick for 30 years, a long time but not long enough to know the early history of the area. He described the land I pointed to as Walsh land, which threw me off. I then spotted another neighbor pulling into their driveway and asked what he knew about the property. He also talked about the Walsh family, but did know that Mullens also lived on the property. He remembered a Michael Mullen associated with the property. Michael was the brother of my ancestor Patrick. Michael died in 1939, while my ancestor Patrick died in 1930. The brothers had split this property after their father died. A daughter of Michael took the property over after he died. It seems all of the other members of the Mullen family migrated elsewhere, or had died. An owner of the property is currently in a nursing home in Clare.

I believe the larger house on the family property in Pollaturick was likely built by the father of Patrick and Michael Mullen. Patrick Mullen Sr. is listed as living on lot 1 in Griffith's Valuation so we know he lived in Pollaturick from at least the 1850's. The neighbor I spoke with said one of the ruined buildings on the property likely dated back at least 200 years. A map produced between 1837 and 1840 does show a house in that area facing the same direction.

The helpful neighbor gave me a ride down to the house and opened the gate so I could get a better view of the out building. This neighbor knew Mullen family members had settled in Chicago and a relative had become a Nun. I assumed he was referring to Sister Mary Kathleen?

Visiting the Bunratty Castle and Folk Park helped me understand the layout of the Mullen house. I wondered how a family of  possibly 7 members could live in a two room house. Lofts were a way to extend the amount of space without adding a full second floor. Below you can see a window high on a side wall. This window likely provided light for a loft room.

Here are some examples from the Folk Park of how the lofts were laid out. It seems a detached ladder provided access to this space. The ladder could be moved to provide more space when the loft wasn't in use. When I first saw the loft rooms I was thinking how did they get up there? Until I spotted the ladder.

Here you can see the back of the Mullen house has been over taken by bushes and trees. It looks like no one has been living there for decades. There is an old bicycle and other items stored in the old house. It looks like the house may have been used as a barn before the property was abandoned?

I explored Pollaturick until the late afternoon. I made friends with the local animals and admired the amazingly beautiful blooming Hawthorn.

I think May must be one of the most beautiful months to visit Ireland. Since the sky was overcast I don't think I ever got a picture that did justice to the beauty of the blooming Hawthorns with their pink and white blossoms. These bushes were planted along fence lines.

Here are some pictures showing hawthorns clearly used on fence lines. The thorns on the tree or bush will definitely keep you on the right side of the fence.

In the afternoon I explored Milltown about 1 mile away. I loved the name of a local bar named  Mullarkey's. I took a look a the local catholic church which was very nice, and signed the guest book. The town stretches for about a long block with most of the amenities you might need other than an ATM, which I could not find. I tried to get cash back at a service station but couldn't?

The next day I headed back to the Milltown area, this time to visit a cemetery where Michael Mullen is buried, a great-great uncle of mine. The location of the cemetery is very nice with a view of a stone bridge on one side. Visiting the cemetery and reading Michael's tombstone I remembered that Michael had married a Mary Ruane, something I forgot when I was talking to the locals. My ancestor Patrick married a woman with a similar name, her name Mary Huane. The similarity of the names caused confusion in the old church records, and also confusion when I talked to neighbors in Pollaturick. They brought up the name Mary Ruane, but that wasn't my ancestor. Michael's tombstone says Mary Ruane is buried in Addergoole Cemetery. My own ancestors graves are unmarked.

The marker's placed on Michael's grave also cleared up why everyone associated the Mullen family with the Walsh family. Markers for Michael and Mary's grandsons are placed on the grave and their last name is Walsh. One grandson died in the United States. So this is where Walsh comes in. This saved me some research. Although I don't know who Bridget Mullen married? Could she have married a Walsh also? I need to find out who this great-aunt married?

After visiting the cemetery I headed back to Milltown to explore the park on the beautiful river Clare.

There are some historic artifacts scattered around the park. I was so happy to see the baptismal font from the old Milltown Chapel at the park. My great-grandmother would have been baptized with water from that font, and other ancestors.

A combination potato washer and animal trough is also on display at the park.

Of course you'll also find mill related artifacts at Milltown Park. 

I guess the ruined structure below is part of an old mill?

I admired this manor house near Milltown. Not sure of the history, but it is beautiful. 

After my morning exploration of the area I was able to make it back to Tuam in time for a church service at St. Mary's Church in Tuam. A church service is the only way to get inside. It was worth it. It's a beautiful church. I was so happy to get the opportunity to see the Hiberno-Romanesque Arch and other surviving portions of the ancient church, which dates back the the 12th Century, and the old high cross that used to stand on the main road before someone ran into it. It's possible some of my blood relatives attended church here before the Reformation? 

After church I headed to a supermarket to pick up something for a late lunch. I walked around the market and didn't see anything interesting except Irish potatoes. There is a cafeteria connected to the market housed in the old archbishop of the church of Ireland's Palace. I decided to eat there and the food was very good.

The restaurant at the Corralea Hotel is also very good.

Now that all the beer kegs were empty it was time to leave Tuam.

Before leaving Ireland I did some sightseeing around Galway City.

There are really beautiful abbey ruins in Claregalway. The ruins are from a medieval Franciscan abbey.

I went into a shopping mall in the city of Galway to escape a brief shower and was surprised to find the old city wall enclosed in this mall.

I took a bus from Galway across the country to Dublin to catch my flight to the next leg of my journey in Spain. The earlier showers had stopped and rain soaked Dublin was looking good in the sunshine as I took a last look before saying goodbye.

It was a wonderful first trip! I look forward to returning to Ireland again and exploring more of the country in the west.