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Ellen, Catherine, and Joseph Connolly

My 3rd great grandmother, Ellen Connolly, was born on 23 Dec 1845 in Clifden, County Galway. The birthdate has been determined by the 1880 U.S. Census, and her headstone. However, the 1900 U.S. census lists 1850 as the birth year and 1870 U.S. census lists 1847 as the birth year). According to the 1900 U.S. census, Ellen arrived in the U.S. from Ireland in 1865, and married Joseph Dunbar in 1867. They had 5 kids: George, Kathryn F., Elizabeth, Joseph William, and Richard (I have lots of records on the kids). I cannot locate Ellen’s immigration or marriage records in the U.S. or any records of her birth, baptism etc. in Ireland. She died 6 Nov 1905 in Monterey, California, USA. 

According to her sister Catherine Connolly's (1825-1901) obituary, siblings Ellen, Catherine, and a brother Joseph Connolly were born in Clifden. I cannot locate Ellen’s siblings’ birth, baptism, or immigration records either. Catherine Connolly died in Oakland, California, USA on 30 Aug 1901. Catherine's obituary mentions being an aunt to Ellen's children, as well as an aunt to a Bridget Lydon Connolly (born 30 Nov 1851 in County Galway). I presume that Bridget is Catherine and Ellen's brother Joseph Connolly's daughter, but I cannot verify this.  Most of the family (Catherine, Ellen’s husband, and Bridget and her husband) were in the laundry business in San Francisco and Healdsburg, California.

Thank you in advance for any help in finding records for Clifden native siblings Ellen, Catherine, and Joseph Connolly. I was not able to find any clear matches on, FindMyPast, or Ancestry, etc.


Tuesday 19th May 2020, 11:06PM

Message Board Replies

  • Stefanie:

    Welcome to Ireland Reaching Out!

    I can give you a few observations.

    Connolly (and its many variants) is extremely common in Co. Galway

    I don't think the baptismal records for Ellen, Catherine and Joseph are available. Clifden RC baptismal records are available starting in 1838  I searched the subscription site Roots Ireland and there is an Ellen Connolly in 1838 and a Catherine in 1840 both in Clifden but the parents names are completely different. No Joseph in Clifden until 1873.

    Most immigrants to a new country would say they were from the nearest "big" town rather than the small townland or village where they were born. So many people used Clifden even though they were 20 miles or more from Clifden. Unfortunately, the parish to the north of Clifden and the one to the east of Clifden have records starting much later. My guess is that your ancestors came from one of those two RC parishes (Roundstone or Ballinakill).

    Civil registration of births in Ireland started in 1864.

    Ages on census records in the 19th century rarely agree. Also, immigrants frequently adjusted their ages in the new country either younger or older to fit their situation.

    The Civil War ended in 1865 so Ellen likely married Joseph Dunbar after the Civil War.

    I assume none of the death records listed parents names?

    Let me know if you have any questions. You may want to consider adding Ellen, Catherine and Joseph to our XO Chronicles site.

    Roger McDonnell

    Wednesday 20th May 2020, 01:05AM
  • Thanks very much, Roger. That is helpful to know that they may have come from Roundstone or Ballinakill. I added Ellen to the Chronicles site, and will do the same for Catherine.  For Joseph, I will wait until I find a date of birth or death someday.  Would it be worthwhile for me to seek the services of a genealogist in West Galway, or would they be limited to the same records that appear to be missing?


    Wednesday 20th May 2020, 07:18PM
  • Stefanie:

    A genealogist local to the area may have access to some records that are not online. I live in the States so I'm not familiar with local people. You can contact the Genealogy Center for Galway West or try contacting the Clifden library branch to see if they can direct you to someone. There are also accredited genealogists on this site


    Galway Public Libraries - Clifden Library

    Main Street
    Clifden, County Galway

    00 353 95 21092;


    Genealogy Centre Contact Details
    Galway Family History Society West
    St. Joseph's Community Centre, Shantalla, Co. Galway
    Tel: +353 (0) 91 860464

    Wednesday 20th May 2020, 07:45PM
  • Many thanks, Roger.


    Thursday 21st May 2020, 01:44PM