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I am trying to find information relating to my great grandfather John Donnelly (c. 1844 - 1909) who was originally from Cullyhanna, Co. Armagh.

John married in Belfast in to Emma Smith in 1870.  Emma died in 1873 and John married my great grandmother Sarah McConnell in Belfast in 1875.  

I believe that John's parents were Patrick Donnelly and Mary O'Toole from Cullyhanna/Tullynavall, Co. Armagh and that he had siblings as follows:

Bridget married to John Louth,

Peter married to Margaret Jane O'Hanlon and

Mary married to Peter Caraher.

There was also an Arthur Donnelly married to Ann Blacker who was related to John and I think was a brother though I have no confirmation of this.

I have a lot of information about John and his siblings and their families however I know very little about their parents (Patrick & Mary).  Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you.



Thursday 7th March 2019, 10:39AM

Message Board Replies

  • Niamh,

    The 1870 marriage certificate states that John’s father was Patrick D, farmer. Your information is that he came from Cullyhanna.

    Looking Griffiths Valuation for 1864 there is a Patrick Donnolly farming in Cullyhanna Big.  He had plot 8, a 6 acre farm. The Valuation Revision records on the PRONI site show him remaining there till 1898 when he was replaced by Beth Quinn.

    Cullyhanna Big is in the RC parish of Creggan Lower. Their baptism & marriage records start in 1845. Have you checked them for John’s baptism (which might just scrape in), to perhaps confirm his parents names from that? You might also find any siblings born after 1845. But getting back much further than that will prove tricky due to the absence of church records.

    The tithe applotment records for 1828 do list a Michael Donnelly farming in Cullyhanna then, so that’s a hint that it could be Patrick’s father. But there’s no certainty to that.

    There was a Mary Donnelly in Griffiths in a labourers cottage in Cullyhanna Little in 1864. Could that be a relation?

    Have you searched for gravestones in the local churchyards?

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 8th March 2019, 12:55AM
  • Thank you for that Elwyn,

    I have found a death and burial record for a Patrick Donnelly who I think might be my great great grandfather.  He died in Cullyhanna in August 1870 aged 71 (born c. 1799) and is buried in Newtownhamilton.  The death was registered by Bridget Louth (presumably Patrick's daughter who was married to John Louth).

    I have also found what I think is the death registration of Mary Donnelly (great great grandmother).  She died in Tullynavall in April 1891 aged 85 (born c. 1805).  The death was registered by her son Peter which matches my information.

    I have found baptism records for 3 of Patrick & Mary's children (Bridget, Peter & Mary).  John and Arthur were probably born before 1845 so don't show in the church records.

    I am not familiar with the area but from what I have seen, Cullyhanna village lies on the border of the townlands of Cullyhanna Big and Tullynavall.  The Patrick in Cullyhanna Big in the Griffith Valuations with a holding in Cullyhanna Big may be a different person to the one who died in 1870 as thie property did not change hands until 1898.

    However there is a Patrick Donnelly with holdings in Tullynavall (plot 21 A, B, C) right next to Cullyhanna village and this may be him.  This seems more likely looking at the valuation revisions which show these holdings transferring to Peter Donnelly, Arthur Donnelly and also John Louth (presumably the John Louth married to Bridget Donnelly).  I am not too sure how to interpret the revision books but all this seems to have happend shortly before and after Patrick's death in 1870.

    I don't think I have proved anything but I believe that there is a fair amount of evidence that suggests that the Patrick who died in 1870 and Mary in 1891 are my great great grandparents and that Arthur (who I know from family records is "related") is a son of theirs.

    The Tithe Applotments show a Patrick Donnelly in Tullynavall in 1827. This may be the same person or perhaps a previous generation, we may never know!

    The Mary Donnelly you mentioned may also be related but I have not been able to find anything that links her.  Ther are a number of other Donnellys in the area including a Perer, Terence and Felix who are all close to Patrick in age but again I have not found any direct connections.

    Thanks again,




    Sunday 10th March 2019, 02:32PM
  • Niamh,

    I think your assumption that the lady who died in Tullynavall in 1891 is probably right.

    I looked at the Valuation revision records for that property. Patrick is shown as the tenant until 1867. At that time it was 3 separate plots totaling around 26 acres. (It reduced in size) I assume you read the note that said: “When valued this was a shop, post office etc. It is now only a farm house and not worth more than £6.” May 1867.

    Patrick was replaced by Peter in 1867. In 1907 Peter bought the freehold under the new Land Act (ie with a government mortgage). It remains in Peter’s name until at least 1923 when that series of records stops. (Arthur had a separate property).  The book for the period 1901-1912 are a bit odd in that there are 2 separate properties numbered 21. The first is a 29 acre farm held by John Louth, the second on the next page is a 23 acre farm held by Peter. I can’t explain what was going on there. But obviously there were 2 separate farms there:

    A few probate abstracts for you from the PRONI wills site:

    Donnelly John of Tullynavall county Armagh farmer died 24 July 1931 at 62 Crumlin Road Belfast Administration Belfast 10 November to Margaret Donnelly spinster. Effects £283 10s.

    Donnelly Terence of Tullynavall county Armagh farmer died 5 April 1948 at Crossmaglen Administration Belfast 11 March to Christina Donnelly the widow. Effects £1009 15s.

    Donnelly Patrick of Tullynavall county Armagh farmer died 8 January 1955 Administration W/A Belfast 23 March to Maggie Anne Donnelly spinster. Effects £452 15s.

    All the above died intestate so there won’t be wills, but the probate files should be in PRONI.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Sunday 10th March 2019, 06:57PM