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I believe Martin Lavin was a son of John Lavin and Bridget Gill, who are my gr-gr-grandparents.  John and Bridget's daughter, Catherine, immigrated to America and married John McGauley (today it's McCauley), a Civil War veteran, and weaver by trade.  Catherine was a tough woman, and she had to be, as John walked out on her and left her to raise 5 children in a foreclosed-on (and that was John's fault) row house in Philadelphia,  But because of her friends (who hired a good lawyer) and family, she and the children were allowed to remain in the house.

Her American story is laid out in John's Civil War pension record, which measures about an inch thick or more on legal sized paper.  Half of that record describes Catherine's fight to get her share of the $12 monthly pension.  In the record, it paints a bleak picture of Catherine's family life in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  I had always wondered why my grandfather was the way he was, and the pension record detailed his early life which explained it all (not to mention being a Coal Passer in the US Navy).

Catherine was born sometime in the 1850s and died in 1910.  Women such as her are usually invisible in the records...and I am happy to know what I know of her life in America, but all I know about her Irish life is from her death certificate, which only has the names of her parents.  My AncestryDNA pnpointed East Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon as an ancestral area.  Another family tree led me to Cordarragh.  Any help would be greatly appreciated. 


Sunday 15th March 2020, 02:14PM

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  • Welcome to Ireland Reaching Out!

    Marriage records for the RC parish of Killedan (Kiltimagh) start in 1834 but unfortunately, baptismal records start in 1861. I searched on the subscription site Roots Ireland and found an 1845 marriage record for John Lavin and Bridget Gill. See transcription below. I searched for records for children of John and Bridget and located three. Likely Catherine was one of the older children and baptized pre-1861 so records are not available. Michael Lavin was baptized in April 1863 See below. Civil registration started in 1864 and I located the civil birth records for the two youngest children.Bryan in 1862 and Owen in 1872.

    I located the November 22 1884 marriage record for Martin Lavin and Margaret Carroll. The names of their father were shown: John Lavin (alive) and Martin Carroll (alive). There were at keast 12 children. Martin died September 11, 1906 at age 52

    Here is the 1911 census for Margaret and family

    I found an 87 year old Margaret Lavin who died in Cordarragh in 1954 possibly this is the widow of Martin.

    Roger McDonnell


    Date of Marriage:24-Mar-1845
    Parish / District:Killedan RC parish
    County:Co. Mayo
    Husband JohnLavan
    Wife BridgetGill

    Witness 1
    Witness 2Name:MichaelGill

    Name:Michael LavinDate of Birth:
    Date of Baptism:25-Apr-1863Address:GurtgarriffParish/District:Killedan RC parishGender:MaleCountyCo. MayoDenomination:Roman Catholic
    Father:John LavinMother:Bridget GillOccupation:
    Sponsor 1 /
    Informant 1:Pat LavinSponsor 2 /
    Informant 2:M. Amie Lavin

    Civil record for Bryan eighth record on page

    Civil record for Owen last record on page

    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Sunday 15th March 2020, 04:41PM
  • The anglicized townland name Gurtgarriff (in Irish, An Gort Garbh) is now written as Gortgarve, and you can see more info about it at this link (it lies very close to Kiltimagh, just a bit to the southwest of the town):

    Cordarragh (in Irish, Corr Dharach) is not far away, just to the south of the town, and you can see more info about it at this link

    Both townlands are visible on Google Earth (using Gortgarve when searching for that townland).

    There is a good chance that the Michael Gill listed as a witness in the Lavan/Gill marriage record which Roger found was an uncle of my grandfather, James Peter Gallagher.  His aunt, Mary Gallagher, married a Michael Gill in Kiltimagh around that time.  They raised their family in Kiltimagh town, and there were a number of Lavin/Lavan's and Gill's who acted as sponsors for baptisms in my Gallagher line.  One of my closest DNA matches thus far is a Gill who is descended from Michael and Mary, and I also have some Lavin DNA matches, though I don't know their connection to me.

    In Griffiths Valuation (to which there is a link at the site which I mentioned above), there are several John Lavan's listed in Cordarragh, and a number of other Lavan's.  Since there is a listing for each tenancy, though, that might be the same John Lavan in each case.  I saw only two Gill's listed, a Thomas Gill and a Martin Gill.  They were probably brothers, or a father and adult son.  If my Michael Gill and your Bridget Gill were siblings, then Thomas or Martin may be their father (or one may be their brother).  In Gortgarve (to which there is a link at the other site which I mentioned above) , there are a number of Lavan's listed (including a John, again), but no Gill's.



    Sunday 15th March 2020, 10:40PM
  • Wow...thank you Roger and Kevin.  I had performed a search on the but figured that the names Bryan and Owen didn't fit in my family's naming convention (all the RC saints).  Plus the search results page had the Mother's info as N/R.  I thought that meant Not Recorded.  My BIG mistake!  That's what I get for thinking!

    And I was going to reply asking for help for "translating" the places of birth/dwelling place...when I reread the replies to my post and there was Kevin...translating the script for me.  Thank you.

    I never thought that I would ever find the ancestral home of my gr-grandmother, Catherine Lavin.  I only wish this had been passed down the generations....but it will be now.

    And your DNA test through Ancestry?  One day I will allow my results to be public but not just yet.

    Thanks again.


    Sunday 15th March 2020, 11:33PM
  • I did my DNA testing through FTDNA, but have also uploaded my results at MyHeritage and at GEDMATCH (which is a free site).  If you upload yours at GEDMATCH, you can compare them to my kit number, which is T780556.  I have several second and third cousins on the Gallagher side here in the US and in Ireland who have also been tested, and their results are also at GEDMATCH, in case yours and mine don't show much of a match (we're very likely to show at least some match - the families in the area intermarried quite a lot).

    In case you're interested, An Gort Garbh probably means "the rough field", and Corr Dharach probably refers to a local hill or promontory with an oak tree or an oak grove on it (corr can have several meanings, but they're all hill-related).

    The surname Gill may come from the Irish surname Mac an Ghaill ("son of the foreigner"), which is an Ulster name originally, but many people from Ulster settled in Mayo in the 1600's, after the Plantation of Ulster (and some before then as well).  The reference to a foreigner is often a reference to a gallowglass (gallóglach in Irish), a foreign mercenary (often from Scotland or elsewhere in Ireland) brought to an area to fight for the local lord.  Many people in Ireland have gallowglass ancestors.  However, Gill can also be a shortened form of many other Irish names.  Many Irish surnames take the form Mac Giolla _____, which means "devotee/servant of ____", as in the name Mac Giolla Bhrighde ("son of the devotee of Brigid"), which was usually anglicized as (Mac) Kilbride.  That's why so many Irish names start with Gil- or Kil- in their anglicized forms.  Sometimes, however, the anglicized form was shortened to just Gill.  It would be hard to know the exact origin of the Gill surname around Kiltimagh, but it may be possible to find out from estate records (the landlord's tenancy records), if they go back far enough.  I haven't been able to locate any of those for the area thus far, because they are spread out in many places.

    The history of the Lavan/Lavin name is clearer.  There are two forms in modern Irish, Ó Laimhín and Ó Lamháin, which are both believed to have been originally Ó Flaithimhín, based on the Irish word flaitheamh, and meaning "descendant of the ruler".  That was the name of a sept (or tribe) living off to the east, in what is now County Roscommon (the counties were a fairly late creation).  The name was also sometimes mistranslated as "Hand", through a false etymology which assumed that it was derived from the word lámh, meaning "hand" (that sometimes happened when names were anglicized, and a government official didn't realy understand Irish, or the family had forgotten the origin of their surname.



    Monday 16th March 2020, 06:20PM
  • Hi, I have just started researching my ancestors and am interested in your post.   My father was Michael Gill, (born 1936) son of Michael Gill (born 1911) from Kiltimagh.  I do not have too much more info to share at this stage but I was windering if I am somehow related 

    Sue Gill

    Sunday 9th May 2021, 08:09AM
  • We're probably related at least distantly, Sue (and also to fyrgrrl).  My grandfather, who grew up just outside Kiltimagh, had 7 male Gill cousins (and 5 female ones) who were more or less all of an age to have been the father of your grandfather in 1911 (I'm guessing that I'm a generation older than you).  Your grandfather isn't listed in the family records which I have for those Gill's, but the records I have aren't complete.  I have information about the spouses and children of some of those cousins, but not all of them.

    If you've done DNA testing and have results posted at GEDMatch, FTDNA, or MyHeritage, then we could compare results. I have a number of second to fourth cousins who've also been tested, so we could compare with their results as well.  If your great-grandfather was a first cousin of my grandfather, then we would be third cousins, once removed, so there should be a decent amount of DNA match.


    Monday 10th May 2021, 08:54PM