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I am the 2x great-granddaughter of Capt. Robert Curran of Portaferry (born abt. 1838 and died on 7 Jun 1890). Capt. Robert Curran was the son of Robert Curran, a Whitesmith (born about 1806 and died in approx. 1871) in Portaferry. My Curran family relatives resided at 77-78 New Row in Portaferry in the 1800's, which has since been renamed "Shore Street" and was located directly across the street from Portaferry's Gas Work's (which no longer exists but used to be next to the Saltpans). I believe that Capt. Robert Curran, who was a Fisherman/Master Mariner, had at least 3 brothers (John, Thomas and Patrick Curran), who were also all sailors/seamen. In January of 1867 at St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Chapel (Diocese of Down & Connor), Capt. Robert Curran married the daughter of a Fisherman/Master Mariner from Killough, named Capt. Richard McSherry (my 3x great-grandfather). Her name was Mary McSherry. Capt. Richard McSherry lived in/was associated with the residence at 22 Fisherman’s Row in Killough, County Down during the early to mid-1800’s before he moved his family up to Ballymacarrett and then Belfast’s Dock award in the early 1860’s.

For most of Capt. Robert Curran and Mary McSherry’s marriage they lived and raised their 7-8 children in the Old Sailortown area of Belfast, where Mary’s father Captain Richard McSherry owned a Pub & Inn on Corporation Square right across the street from the Belfast Harbour Office, which was called either "The Harbour Arms" or "The Harbour Arms Hotel" or "The Harbour Hotel" from approximately 1863 until his death in September of 1887.

However, after Capt. Robert Curran's sudden and untimely death at sea aboard his vessel “The Lorena” in June of 1890, his widow, Mary McSherry Curran, after she buried her beloved husband in Portaferry in 10 Jun 1890, moved out of Northern Ireland with their children to Liverpool, England, and she died a few years later in August of 1894 in the West Derby area of Liverpool.

Capt. Robert Curran and Mary McSherry Curran's 2nd eldest daughter is/was my great-grandmother, Jane Elizabeth Curran (married name Oxton). I am told that every summer up until she immigrated to Brooklyn, New York with her husband John F. Oxton, and their 2 sons in May of 1924, my great-grandmother, Jane Elizabeth Curran Oxton, would return to the Killough and Portaferry areas to visit her extended family, and to also ensure that her sons, Jack & Charlie Oxton (Charlie is my paternal grandfather), knew their Irish roots and Irish relatives by being able to spent time in the beautiful part of Northern Ireland where their mother and maternal grandparents grew up. 

I am trying to connect with any remaining Curran and McSherry relatives (or anyone who happened to know of my Curran or McSherry relatives) who may still remain in or around the Belfast, Portaferry and Killough areas? Both my McSherry and my Curran relatives (at least the ones I’m specifically aware of) were all Seamen/Mariners/Fisherman in County Down and Belfast throughout the 1800's.

I am also wondering if anyone has any old photographs of New Row/Shore Street in Portaferry, Corporation Square/Tomb Street in Belfast directly across from the Belfast Harbour Office, or of Fisherman’s Row in Killough that they would be willing to share with me? 

I have also been able to confirm that several of my direct McSherry Relatives, including my 3x great-grandfather Captain Richard McSherry and are least 3 of his daughters are all buried at Rossglass Catholic Graveyard.

Any tid-bit of information you are willing to share will be GREATLY appreciated!! 

PLEASE feel free to message me here or send me an e-mail directly at if you have any stories, photographs or information you can share or are willing to share. 

Thank you for your time. Please also pass this message along to anyone you know who may be interested in connecting with me or may have information that may help me in my search for relatives, stories and/or photographs of the places my great grandparents were born and raised.

J’Aimèe Oxton

Wednesday 11th Dec 2019, 02:58PM

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  • I see a marriage for a Thomas McSherry (son of Robert, Tradesman) in Portaferry RC chapel on 11.12.1871. Thomas was 31 and a mariner. He married Margaret McNally 31, also of Portaferry. I don’t see any children to that couple. They seem to have lived in or near Glasgow for a while before moving to Liverpool. He appears to have died on 21.9.1894 at sea.

    There is a tree on Ancestry (the Oxton tree) which lists 6 siblings. One is Richard who apparently married Isabella McAuley, probably before 1864. They were in Belfast when their daughter Mary Jane was born on 6.4.1866. Don’t know what happened to them after that. Richard was a labourer. There’s a death of a Richard in Belfast in 1867 aged 30. Unfortunately that certificate is not on-line free yet so you would need to pay to view it to see if it’s the same man.

    I noticed this McSherry family still in Fisherman’s Row in Killough in the 1901 census:

    and in 1911:

    The above family were James McSherry and Mary Smith/Smyth who married on 14.10.1891 at Ardglass Chapel. James’ father was John McSherry, labourer.

    I noted these 2 probate abstracts which relate to McSherry of Killough:

    Probate of the Will of Henry M'Sherry late of Killough County Down Fisherman who died 2 July 1903 granted at Belfast to James Murphy Farmer.

    The first is on-line on the PRONI wills site. Henry mentions William McSherry of Killough as being his nephew. This appears to be William in 1901:…

    Henry was 79 when he died. His wife was still alive.

    McSherry James of Killough county Down seaman died 26 February 1931 Probate Belfast 23 October to Rose Smyth married woman. Effects £179 10s.

    The above will is not on-line but should be in PRONI in paper format. You can get a copy if you go there, or you can pay them to copy it for you.

    One other McSherry family in Killough in 1901:…

    Here’s a photo of Corporation Square in 1897:

    PRONI has a lot of old photos of Belfast and all around Northern Ireland. It might be worth calling there some time to see if they have any of the areas you are interested in. They have special viewers that you can use to go through their photographic collection.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Wednesday 11th Dec 2019, 05:51PM

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