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Dunleavy's of Ballina

I've been trying to learn more information about my paternal grandmother's family in Ballina, County Mayo.  My Nana lived with us for many years but I was a lot younger then I am now and stupidly didn't ask for more then basic information.  That I've been able to confirm, it's the life of her parents and some of her siblings that I can't find information on.

My paternal grandmother was Mary Catherine Dunleavy  Reilly born on 4 April 1880 to Christopher Dunleavy and Catherine Flynn.  She was the youngest of the 10 children I can verify her parents had.

For the time that she lived in Ballina the family resided in various houses along Lower Piper Hill Street just across the River Moy from St. Murdedach's Cathedral, where I have been able to secure baptismal records for her and her siblings.

The family, consisting of her parents, her next two older brothers, Christopher, Jr. and Patrick "Leo" Dunleavy, and Nana, left Ireland in August 1888 aboard the City of Richmond - departing from Cobh.  They landed in Castle Gardens, NYC in early September 1888 traveling directly to Jermyn, Lackawanna County, PA.  

Her eldest sister, Agnes, left Ireland a few years before and resided in the same area of PA as well as two of Christopher Dunleavy's brothers, Patrick and Francis.  At some point her father bought a home, on Lackawanna Ave., in the Mayfield borough of Lackawanna County, because upon his death, January 10 1910 he gave the home to both Nana and her sister, Agnes.  (Christopher, Jr. died in 1905 - coal mine accident? and Catherine Flynn died in 1896.  All three are buried in St.Thomas Aquinas cemetery in Archbold, PA.)

I have an estimated date of her father's birth - February 1835 but nothing to support that.  Additionally I have no idea where he was born, some family lore says that while he was born in County Mayo, in the 1850's he rented property from Lord Palmerston in County Sligo but was eventually kicked off the land.

His death certificate states that his mother's maiden name was Gouldin but no additional information was supplied.  

In 1884 Christopher Dunleavy registered/reported the death of his grandmother, Bridget Dunleavy who I believe reported her to be a farmer's wife.  No information was given about the exact date of death or where she was buried.

I have NO information about the marriage of Christopher Dunleavy and Catherine Flynn!  Some researchers of the family insist that the couple was married in 1878 but by 1878 I can confirm that my g-grandparents had 5 or 6 children and I find it staggering to think that an Irish Catholic, living in Ireland, would not be married.  I have found one marriage certificate, dated June (?) 1854 naming the same couple but the marriage license is devoid of any information about the couple.  Just the attendants names.  

I have absolutely no information on Catherine Flynn: not her date of birth, her parents names, where she was born, nothing! Just the death in America.

My Nana had said that her father was a "cab driver" which I take to mean a carriage driver to someone.  Living in Ballina I can't narrow who that might be but she also said that he'd been a farmer and maybe that's where he drove a carriage.  Once they arrived in America he was a coal miner.  He applied for naturalization papers, in 1889, as did his two sons, but I have never secured the finalized documents.  I do not believe that he could read or write:  on his will his signature is an "X."  The few obituaries I've seen say that he was 81 when he died, that he was a coal miner and an affable gentleman. 

I have found some information about the siblings that immigrated to America, including an elder brother Charles, but for some reason no one has any information on the family.  The little that I have is considered a gold mine!   I've even tried to research Christopher's brothers, Patrick and Francis (Frank.)  Patrick was the executor of Christopher's estate but Patrick died in 1910 and the one family member I located said that no one much knew about that side of the family.

I've traveled to Ballina, visited the Cathedral and even inquired through a family research center about the family but mostly I'm parroted back the information I provided to try and aid the search.  I cannot believe that a family lived on one street for at least 30 years and there's no trace of them! Makes me so sad to think that.  I walked the street they lived on, it's been renamed, and tried to visualize my Nana and her family.  I just want to validate the hardships they each endured to come to America and make a new life under terrible conditions.  

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Kathleen Reilly Acker


Tuesday 3rd December 2019, 02:59AM

Message Board Replies

  • Kathleen:

    Welcome to Ireland Reaching Out!

    The subscription site Roots Ireland has an 1854 marriage between a Christopher Dunleavy and Catherine Flynn. The RC parish was Aglish (Castlebar). I know that Mary Catherine was born in 1880 but when were the older children born and is this 1854 marriage a likely record for your ancestors?

    Roger McDonnell

    Date of Marriage:07-May-1854
    Parish / District:Aglish RC parish
    County:Co. Mayo
    Husband  ChristopherDunleavey
    Wife CatherineFlynn
    Denomination:Roman Catholic



    Castlemore Roscommon

    Wednesday 4th December 2019, 11:53PM
  • Hi Roger 

    Thank you for your prompt response.  This is the wedding information I believe may be my relatives.  When I was last in Mayo the trip from Ballina to Castlebar was nothing ; I'm trying to imagine the road conditions back then to make this plausible.

    All of the ten children I can verify were born and baptised at St. Murdedach's Cathedral.  Over a 30 year period the family lived in several homes, some nicer then others, but all in lower Piper Hill Street along the River Moy.  My reluctance to embrace this certificate is just wondering why they would travel to Castle bar when churches existed in Ballina?  Sadly my contact with the Church was minimal.  The pastor kindly took my check, said he'd apply it to the two hundred year renovation/celebration they are planning for spring 2020 but nothing of substance. 


    Saturday 7th December 2019, 04:51AM
  • Irishlassred

    Saturday 7th December 2019, 04:52AM
  • Addendum:  the information I have been able to secure shows a first living child, Joseph, in 1858, a daughter, Agnes in 1860 and approximately every other year a child was born until my Grandmothers birth in April 1880.  A long family mystery was solved during the search: my parents had a surprise delivery of twins, one boy and girl and even with my Nana was alive when my siblings were born she had no information on any twins.  Both of my mother's parents were alive and no twins in that side.  Well my search led to information showing that in 10 June 1867 twins were born to my Grandmothers parents: a boy, James and a girl, Mary Jane.  The little girl died less then a year later and perhaps no one every mentioned it to Nana.  Death was not uncommon in those days, especially infant deaths. I have no information where this infant is buried or that if my great grandfather's grandmother, Bridget Dunleavy/  I have no information what happened to Joseph or James Dunleavy as well as another daughter, Jane, vs. the early death of the infant Mary Jane.


    Saturday 7th December 2019, 05:09AM
  • Irishlassred

    Saturday 7th December 2019, 11:43PM
  • Kathleen:

    The records on Roots Ireland show different years for the birth of the children as follows: Mary Jain 1859 John 1861 Joseph 1863 Agnes 1864 James 1867 Charles 1869 Christopher 1872 Patrick 1875 Mary Catherine 1880.

    Is it possible that Catherine and maybe also Christopher were from Castlebar and they moved to Ballina in the late 1850s?


    Castlemore Roscommon

    Sunday 8th December 2019, 11:34PM
  • Hello Roger:

    You may indeed be correct.  When I first responded I didn't have all my notes at hand; the siblings you mentoned match the information I have. 

    I've never heard exactly where my great grandparents were from:  the maiden name of Christopher Dunleavy's mother was Gouldin and I've learned that Gouldin is a name that was found in Ballna.  Not much to go on, I know!  Additionally he registered the death of his grandmother, Bridget, in 1884 in Ballina; maybe she lived with them and she died in Ballina so he recorded her death there?  

    You have crystalized the brick wall I've been trying to knock down for 20+ years: it's like they lived in plain sight and no one saw them!  I'm so disappointed that the marriage certificate you mentioned has no information. I admit that I've only searched the Ballina area because that's the only solid information I had.  (My parents raced, literally, to Ireland, in 1950 before my Dad was transferred back to America- they hoped to find any paperwork that would give his mother formal identification.  Talking to people along Lower Piper Hill some older people remembered them - as newbies: the Dunleavys only lived on the street for 30 years!)

    I remain indebted to you for your kindness.  I have worked so hard to try and piece together her family, mostly to validate them.  

    Take care




    Tuesday 10th December 2019, 01:36AM