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We are trying to find Irish records of our 2nd great-grandmother, Catherine Gallagher, and her sister, Mary Gallagher- as well as Irish records of Mary Gallagher's husband John H McManigal. We have a lot of records from the United States, but no records from Ireland.  We have searched everything we can think of for 20+ years including on and FamilySearch.  Here is what we know:

Catherine Gallagher was born about 1849 in Ireland. She was married in 1868 in Williamsport, Lycoming, Pennsylvania, United States to Michael Kane (1847-1918). 

Mary Gallagher was born on August 15th in about 1836 (or Aug 1842, depending on the census record used) in Ireland. She immigrated to the United States in 1848 and was married to John H McManigal in Philadelphia on 22 June 1858 in a catholic church in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Witnesses at the wedding were James Sweeney and Rose McFadden- we have been unable to find any other records of James Sweeney and Rose McFadden and do not know if they were related or not.

John H McManigal (probably spelled McMonigle in Ireland) was born in Ireland in May of 1832 and immigrated to New York, USA in 1848. (possibly on May 16, 1848 on the ship Titcomb by himself at age 17- port of departure Londonderry).  John H McManigal's mother's name is Ellen and is living with him in the 1870 census in Williamsport, Lycoming, Pennsylvania, US. She was born in Ireland in approximately 1790.  

Family stories say that the McMonigle's came from Glenvar, Donegal, Ireland. They named a building in America "Glenvar" and later a street "Glenvar", so it seems likely that part is accurate. 

Family stories also say they were from Kilmacrenan- it seems in Donegal there is a parish and perhaps also a townland named Kilmacrenan?  Is Glenvar in the parish of Kilmacrenan (or was it in the early /mid 1800's?). 

Family stories also say they are from Letterkenny which we see is a townland near Kilmacrenan- maybe in that parish?  We wonder if perhaps the Gallaghers were from Letterkenny and the McManigals were from Glenvar?  

We have no records showing any of the three of them were from Donegal, but the Glenvar name is a pretty good indication.  we also have no evidence that the Gallagher's were from Donegal or that Mary Gallagher knew John H McMonigle in Ireland (they were in America 10 years before they married), but the only family stories seem to indicate there were from Letterkenny and or Kilmacrenan- both in Donegal. 

There is approximately a 13 year gap between the sisters which seems unusual but we have not been able to find any other sibling after a very thorough search of all the available records for the U.S.  Maybe only the 2 immigrated? 

Thank you for your assistance. 

Dave Kane and Cathy (Kane) Wallace


Cathy Wallace

Saturday 31st August 2019, 01:22AM

Message Board Replies

  • David and Cathy:

    Welcome to Ireland Reaching Out!

    All of the surnames you mention are common in Co. Donegal.

    Finding RC records prior to 1850 is very difficult in Co. Donegal. Only a few parishes have records pre-1850. Kilmacrenan RC records start in 1862 and Letterkenny records start in 1853. Civil registration did not begin until 1864. This explains why you have been unsuccessful in the last twenty years trying to find records for your ancestors.

    There is no official townland called Glenvar in Donegal so possibily it was a local placename. There are two townlands called Glencar Irish and Glencar Scotch near Letterkenny in the civil parish of Conwal.

    To recap, Kilmacrenan is a small village in Donegal within the fairly large civil parish of Kilmacrenan and there is also an RC parish of Kilmacrenan. This parish is just north of the civil parish of Conwal with the very large town of Letterkenny and the townlands I mentioned (Glencar Irish and Glencar Scotch) are within this civl parish. The RC parish is Letterkenny.

    Let me know what questions you have.

    Roger McDonnell

    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Saturday 31st August 2019, 02:04PM

    Thank you for your reply Roger. 

    We found some research done by an ancestor and have a little more information.  Apparently Glenvar is the name of a valley in northern donegal  in it are townlands including Carrowreagh where my McMonigles were said to come from and Bunnaton/Bunnington/Bunnintin where my Gallagher’s are said to have come from.  

    Our ancestor learned some of this from a man named Joseph Doherty who was born and raised in Glenvar and his grandmother apparently knew my Gallagher and McMonigle ancestors.            We are still trying to make sense of all this and welcome any help.



    Dave K

    Sunday 1st September 2019, 06:22AM
  • Dave.

    Glenvar is a small area, north of the town of Kerrykeel on the the Fanad Penninsula in North Donegal.  It is in the CIVIL Parish of Clondavaddog, Barony of Kilmacrennan which possibly explains the Kilmacrennan connection.   It is in the RC Parish of Rathmullan. You can look up St. Marys Church, Glenvar.  I have no idea if the Parochial House in Glenvar is still occupied but it probably is as there is a phone number still listed.for it.  If so, they my be able to assist you there.  


    Sunday 1st September 2019, 12:04PM
  • Thank you Tony!

    Dave K

    Sunday 1st September 2019, 02:25PM