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Searching for information on ancestor from Keady


I am from the US and will be traveling to Ireland in August.  I have an ancestor who I believe was born in Keady, but haven’t been able to find further information. Her name is Matilda Hanna born around 1858.  

I’m looking for someone who would be able to meet me and try to collect information about her while I am there.  Thank you for any help.


Dorcas Cunningham


Saturday 15th June 2019, 09:39PM

Message Board Replies

  • Dorcas,

    I wouldn’t be able to meet you in August as I live too far away. However I can offer a little information about your search.

    Statutory birth registration didn’t start in Ireland till 1864 so you won't find a birth certificate for Matilda. You might find her baptism but to do that we’d need to know her exact denomination. Do you know what that was? Looking at the 1901 census of Co. Armagh there were 174 people names Hanna.  The majority were Church of Ireland or Presbyterian but there were also some Reformed Presbyterians, some Non Subscribing Presbyterians and some RC.

    I noted 1 Matilda Hanna born c 1862 in Armagh City in the 1901 census. She was Presbyterian:

    Looking at the PRONI catalogue of church records for the Keady area, the Church of Ireland in Keady has records from 1780, the Church of Ireland at Armaghbreague lost it’s early records in the 1922 fire in Dublin and has nothing before 1877; The Methodist has baptisms from 1815 (kept now at Armagh Methodist church, as the Keady Meeting House has closed); 1st Keady Presbyterian has records from 1838; 2nd Keady Presbyterian from 1855; Armaghbreague Presbyterian has baptisms from 1908  (earlier records seem to be missing); Tassagh Presbyterian has records from 1843 & Derrynoose RC has records from 1835.

    The RC records are on-line on the nli site and the Methodist records are with the Methodist church in Armagh which means a visit there to look them up. The rest of the surviving records have been copied and are held in PRONI (the public record office) in Belfast where they can be viewed free.

    If possible you should try and get your Matilda’s parents names from marriage or death certificates to ensure you locate the right family. You will see that there was what I assume was another Matilda of about the same age living in 1901, so you need to be sure of identifying the right family.

    I searched the rootsireland site for Matilda born in Armagh c1858 but did not find one. However many of the church records are not on-line and so that doesn’t mean anything. PRONI is the place that holds most of the records you need to search. They are not on-line and a personal visit is required to view them.

    If your Matilda did come from Keady it shouldn’t take more than an hour or so to check the records in PRONI. However if she came from somewhere else in Armagh then it’s a bit of a needle in a haystack.


    Sunday 16th June 2019, 02:55AM
  • Elwyn,

    Thank you so much for this information. I’ve searched ancestry and family search and come up with nothing for her myself, but had also seen that some records were lost in Dublin and that birth registration started in 1864. I am hoping to get a death certificate when I go to my state library and hopefully that will shed more light. Her marriage record is more of an entry in a log than a physical marriage certificate and her parents names were not listed, just birthplace. I estimated she was born in 1858 due to her age at time of marriage.

    It looks like I may have to set aside some time in Belfast to go to PRONI.

    Again, thank you so much for the help!



    Sunday 16th June 2019, 02:59PM
  • Dear Dorcas:

    Please keep us updated on this thread with your trip as if  possible, we will try to assist further as Elwyn has already done.

    You can also contact me directly at:  jhalloranryan@irelandxo,com if you would like to share further information outside the message board.

    Kind regards,


    Jane Halloran Ryan

    Monday 17th June 2019, 08:46AM