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A beautiful linen tablecloth was given my great grandmother Sarah McKeown McMurdy by Patrick "Paddy" McKeown in the 1960s.  I believe the gift was made during a visit Sarah made with her youngest daughter, Meta.  It was passed to my mother, then to me as the oldest daughter in line.  Patrick was born on December 25, 1871 in Kilnalek, Cavan, Ireland.  Parents were Arthur McKeown and Margaret Campbell.  If anyone has a connection to the family I'm curious to see who/where that might be.  After marrying, Sarah and family emigrated to Clyde Bank, Scotland then on to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. We don't have a way of finding the source of the linen either, whether through family connected to the production of linen goods or sellers of them.  In any case I look forward to visiting the places my grandmother, Etta McMurdy Edge, remembered from her childhood.  

Ms. Gerety

Thursday 5th May 2022, 02:45PM

Message Board Replies

  • Hi,
    Was Sarah's husband David?
    Some spelling as McMurdie?
    I see the children where born in Scotland.

    The only marriage I could find for Sarah McKeown and McMurdy/ McMurdie was this.......he was from Glasgow.
    5809022.pdf (

    With you mentioning Linen..I searched and got this........
    Coleraine Linen Industry - Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837) (

    The Patrick McKeown born 25th December 1871...........parents John McKeown and Anne McMahon. Entry number 188.
    2198986.pdf (

    You may be better joining "Scotlands People"  their records are very detailed. I have used them in the Edinburgh office.


    Saturday 7th May 2022, 02:22PM
  • Margot, I am very certain David McMurdie/y was from Derry.  We know where he attended church, he published a few poems in a local anthology of verse.  He did move to Scotland for a job at the shipyards in Clyde Bank.  It's hard to get the timeline established because my mom (see below) has told me he was a rigger when he met Sarah.  Perhaps to be able to support a wife and family he found a job in the ship building yards where he was injured in an explosion, immigrated to Regina, sent for Sarah and the children then living and made a life there.  I am old enough to have met Sarah, knew my great aunt and visited frequently with my grandmother, the 

    You are correct, some of the children were born in Scotland, at least Grace, Mary and Etta.  Meta and Victor were born in Canada as I recall, but I would need to check with my mother, our genealogist, to be sure about Meta.  

    All the children grew up in Canada and all but one moved to the US upon reaching independence, I feel sure we have their births and deaths documented.  

    I'll take a look at the Coleraine Linen Industry site to see if there is any resemblance to my piece.  

    My mother is now in her mid-90s relying partly on oral tradition, but also having been researching since she retired, almost 30 years ago.  As I said I've had a hard time building a timeline because she is willing and able to send me some items, some photos, but she has not yet helped me to reconstruct much of the detail.  

    Thanks for taking a look for me,  Sheryl


    Ms. Gerety

    Sunday 8th May 2022, 07:03PM
  • Margot

    Monday 9th May 2022, 09:31AM
  • I checked for possible children to Arthur McKeown and Margaret Campbell, but found no promising matches for Patrick or any other children in Civil BMD Records/RC Baptism records/RootsIreland or a possible RC or Civil marriage for them - possibly there's been some sort of mixup with the names of Patrick's parents - maybe a different McKeown family ?

    The Patrick McKeown born 25th December 1871 with parents John McKeown shoemaker & Ann McMahon, as mentioned by Margot above, was born in the townland of Lacharry which is only about 5km (~3 miles), to the north east of the town of Kilnaleck, Co. Cavan.

    A search of Catholic baptism records shows at least two siblings to this Patrick, John McKeone baptised 26th February 1879, and Mary McKone baptised 3rd September 1876 - both the the RC parish of Crosserlough, Co. Cavan, Diocese of Kilmore.

    Shane Wilson, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Monday 9th May 2022, 10:58AM
  • ShaneW, While I’m waiting for mom to reply to your notes I’ve uploaded the file she is relying on. If it doesn’t open for you please let me know so I can attempt a different solution? My thinking is it’s no good looking in Catholic registries, alas, Reformed Presbyterian might be more like it, but I really don’t know from the info I see. Just family folklore that David McMurdie was most definitely not a Catholic. I don’t have a clue what Sarah was thinking politically. Have seen the very interesting outcome of your recent election where it looks as though Sinn Fein will form a government I am curious if any of my relatives have thoughts. Assuming I eventually find somebody.

    Ms. Gerety

    Monday 9th May 2022, 03:18PM

    Attached Files

  • A birth in 1871 should have been covered by civil records, as most births after the start of civil records in 1864 (providing they were registered by the parents), so religious denomination not important for those....

    Your file opened ok, and I see that the details for Patrick match that civil birth mentioned above - Patrick born Chistmas day 1871 near Kilnaleck village to John McKeon and Anne McMahon.  That McKeown / McMahon family seemed to be Roman Catholic, although I did not see a baptism for that Patrick, just the two other siblings I mentioned... John and Mary (same parents for these - i.e. John and Anne)

    Non-Catholic marriages were registered starting in 1845 so if his family and parents were Presbyterian or Reformed Presbyterian then their marriage should have been covered by these, they vcould also have married in a Church of Ireland church if their own was not covered for registrations - I'll double check but pretty sure there was nothing close or a marriage in available records... Most of the available Catholic records are online as are the civil BMD records, but records for other non-Catholic churches are not currently as well covered online. The other difficulty, is lack of early records, for example records for many rural Catholic parishes start on average in the 1830s, but some much later, similarly for Presbyterian records.

    That Sinn Fein election result was in Northern Ireland we have our own parliament here in Dublin. Because of the complex setup in Northern Ireland there are two joint first ministers, Sinn Fein were in the Government at the Assembly before and held the Deputy first minister post and now they will swap as they are the larger party.. providing the parties eventually agree to form an assembly..

    I'll have a further look at your file and see if it's possible to get any further back with John & Anne..

    Shane Wilson, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Monday 9th May 2022, 07:35PM
  • for reference - three Catholic baptisms to parents John McKeon and Anne McMahon of Crosserlough parish ..which includes Kilnaleck.

    James baptised 18th May 1874, residence Lecharry (same as Patrick)
    Mary baptised 3rd September 1876, 'Lehary'
    John baptised 26 February 1879, 'Latnadrona'

    Latnadronagh is another townland in Crosserlough parish, it's close to Lecharry

    I located a civil birth for John, parents match, John McKeown & Anne McMahon registered as 5th March, so probably a 'fudged date' to avoid a fine.. as it's after the baptism.. father is again a Shoemaker  - see entry 342 in the register image

    Shane Wilson, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Monday 9th May 2022, 08:00PM

    Thank you so much for all the research you have done for us.  I am passing it along to my mother today.  

    I think she will find the details very welcome.  I've since been able to track down through Margot's certificate of marriage find and with a civil record of baptism that Sarah McKeown was both baptized and married at Holy Trinity in Portrush.  That's an Anglican church so suggests there was indeed a move on the McKeowns' part from Roman Catholicism at some point before her birth.  

    David McMurdy attended an Anglican church in Londonderry and was perhaps baptized there.  (So many details I need to ask mom?). That seems significant to me because until rather recently in the US marriage between even Protestant churches was frowned on.  David and Sarah were a match in that respect.  

    I have written Holy Trinity to ask for permission to attend a service there in her memory.  There is a very much older version outside town that looks like an interesting visit given the age and the status as an important historical/archaeological site.  


    Ms. Gerety

    Tuesday 10th May 2022, 02:52PM
  • Dear Ms Gerety,  

    I don't know how you would identify where linen was made or by whom, no doubt there are experts in this field.  However, there is a museum in Lisburn (  That may be able to help you.   You could also contact the museum in Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan to see if they have any information on linen making in Co. Cavan.   From my limited reading much of the linen made in Co. Cavan was coarse and used to make garments for people in the workhouses though no doubt there were exceptions. Tablecloth's were often given as wedding presents so perhaps his got it on marriage or his parents did, these linens were often kept for very special occassions. He would have been in his 90's when this table cloth was gifted and no doubt it was a family heirloom.   I tried to track Paddy McKeown in the 1901 & 1911 census without success and he should be there if born in 1871 and still there in the 1960's, but indeed he may have like many others left for other towns or countries and returned.    I was unable to find his death in the civil registrations ( - free to search) as deaths are covered until 1971, unless he lived beyond that into a very old age. so I searched the local newspaper 'The Anglo Celt' as deaths of very old people would get local mentions, but he did no turn up there.  The only one I could find was John McKeon in Mullacastle, Kilnaleck in 1911 Census, strangely it does not record if he was married or not but he has a sister's daughter with him named Bridget Conaty, would your family have any mention of her?   Is it possible that Patrick McKeown came to Kilnaleck to meet Sarah there?  Has your family any letters/memorial cards/photos that would give a better indication of a place that they lived in?  Kilnaleck is a small town and when there you can visit the cemeteries there ( ) tells you more about the cemeteries as there is none attached to Kilnaleck church.  You could write to the Crosserlough parish and advise them of you pending visit and ask them to publish it in their newsletter, it may produce some results.  Cavan Old Photos is a Facebook page with about 20,000 followers, they would gladly publish your query, but do give them some photos.  I hope you find your place and better still some relatives.  

    Best wishes Carmel O'Callaghan



    Bailieborough Cavan

    Friday 17th June 2022, 06:35PM

    Thank you fro the heart for all the research you did.  I, like you, find linen a remarkably blank source for information on the people who gave and received such gifts.  The story I think is that my great grandmother returned with her youngest daughter Meta McMurdie (she never married), to visit relatives, receiving the table cloth as perhaps a late wedding present?  My great grandparents were famous for not talking about their lives growing up -- that's a common thread among the Irish immigrants who made new lives for themselves elsewhere.  The stories I thought I knew have changed over time or else I have a very bad memory for the few things I heard as a child.  We will be attending service at Trinity Anglican in Portrush July 3 where she was baptized and married.  The pastor will show us the original records of those rites, so that feels like a solid connection to her life story.  

    Matilda Grace McKeown is one more relative we've been told is in Antrim but I've had no luck tracking her down either.  

    Nevertheless my mother has well documented information on the family that she garnered through posting letters, purchasing vital statistics documents and otherwise by snail mail accumulating the facts we have.  Now she is in the middle of a move to assisted living, and as she is well into her 97th year has some difficulties finding the answers to the questions you and others on the IrelandXO blog have posed.  

    Our trip starts a week from today with a symposium in Dublin then our rail trip up the coast to Bushmills/Ballylough.  As we are doing all by rail or bus we will soak in what we can of that part of the County.  I do think you are right that people moved away and returned, that's true in my father's family in County Longford.  All of the British Empire was on the move it seems in the late 19th and early 20th Century.  

    We will do our best with the help we've been given and I'll have cross references from all the conversations.  

    Again, thanks to all who contributed.  We are very much looking forward to seeing this beautiful part of the world.   

    Ms. Gerety

    Saturday 18th June 2022, 01:12PM