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Thomas Lally and Mary E. Hannaher Life in Ireland

Hello all!
I am currently helping my Father in Law research his Irish lineage. He has a Family Bible that has a few generations in it. We have hit a major roadblock, but I admit we are amateurs at best. We have been able to research his family as far as where they settled, but can not find any good sources for their lives before the US. The farthest back we go is a Thomas Lally (b. ~1822) married to Mary E. Hannaher (approx. spelling; b. ~1827). A biography states they were both born in Belfast, County Mayo. As far as we can tell Belfast is not in County Mayo. We wondered if maybe it meant Belsfarsad? We have no record of when or where they were married. This is where the Family Bible picks up. Their first son, Francis Michael Lally, is born in Westpark? Westport?, Ireland in 1848. (First birth listed in the Bible). The bible goes on list Frank’s descendants. I’ve attached a gallery of the bible below if anyone would like to see if they can make out the writing.

We found three US censuses, 1860, ‘70, and ‘80, Thomas Lally’s Last Will & Testament, and a biography on Thomas Lally that sources the following information.
Thomas and Mary E. have their second son Thomas (going to denote him from now on as Tom2) in Illinois, US in approx 1852. It would seem that some time between the births of Francis and Tom2 the family settled in Illinois, US. They go on to have 4 more children all in Illinois. Edward W., Mary Ann, John W., and Katie E.

A few trees on line up our Thomas Lally with theirs, but also not listing any parents. They do all list the same siblings. I can’t not find sources citing them as siblings. It’s hard to verify siblings without knowing the parents. So take these with a grain of salt as they may not be related at all: Peter Lally (b. ~1809 maybe Westport, IE. d. ~1983 in Illinois, US), Catherine Lally (b. ~1817 Newport, IE. d. ~1904 Illinois, US), Ann Lally (b. ~1818 IE. d. ~1884 Illinois, US), Owen Lally (b. ~1819 IE. d. ~1884 Illinois, US), and lastly a Bridget Lally with no known birth year, but listed as born in Westport, IE. Died in 1886 Illinois, US.

Anyways, I am looking for any information on Thomas Lally, and Mary E. Hannaher’s families and lives before they came to America. Thanks for your time!

Kara Mundy

Wednesday 11th September 2019, 06:15AM

Message Board Replies

  • HI Kara,

    The placename for the birth of Francis Lally is definitely Westport.

    I checked the original parish registers for a record of his baptism on or around Aug. 15 1848 but I did not find it. However the page does state that the baptisms are not in order so the record may be in there somewhere.

    This is the link to the original registers for Aughaval/Westport. You should probably go through it yourself and see if you can spot the record. Do bear in mind that, at the time, it would have been pretty unusual for somebody to know their exact date of birth so the date noted in the bible could be out by weeks, months or even years.

    You could also search for a marriage record for Thomas and Mary. Traditionally, a couple would marry in the bride's parish so if Mary was not from Westport parish you may not find a record.

    The only real source of records for most people for that time period is the parish registers so if there is anything to find, you will find it in there.

    Belfast is most definitely not in Co. Mayo. I'm not sure where you mean when you ask about Belsfarsad. 


    Wednesday 11th September 2019, 08:10AM
  • Thank you, Miriam! Forgive me and my ignorance, but how did you find out that Francis Lally is definitely from Westport? And what is a placename? I know this is probably basic knowledge. I am sorry. I have started to comb through the microfilms! This is a very tediuous task. Thank you for the link! 

    We only considered Belfarsad because when we searched for Belfast, County Mayo this excerpt from Wikipedia popped up "The name Belfast is derived from the Irish Béal Feirsde, which was later spelt Béal Feirste...The Irish name Béal Feirste is shared by a townland in County Mayo, whose name has been anglicised as Belfarsad." Which can be found here. We wondered if maybe that is what the biographer meant when they wrote Belfast, County Mayo. It seems pretty close to Westport. 


    Thanks again!

    Kara Mundy

    Wednesday 11th September 2019, 09:26PM
  • Kara, the place of birth written in the bible looks like Westport to me as well.  The last letter is identical to "t" in "August" which was written below. The letter "o" resembles an "a".

    Belfarsad is a townland in Achill civil parish. There were very few landholders there at the time of Griffiths' Valuation, compiled a few years after your ancestors emigrated.  If Thomas and Mary were from Belfarsad, it's possible that they went to Westport during the Great Famine. On the other hand, they may have moved there for work. 

    There is also a townland called Beltra in Islandeady civil parish which is a few miles east of Westport. (There are 2 other townlands in Mayo called Beltra.) 

    A townland is the smallest division of land in Ireland. They vary in size. Each civil parish is made up of several, perhaps many, townlands. 

    Maggie May

    Wednesday 11th September 2019, 11:35PM
  • Hi Kara,

    Reading the entry in the bible it's pretty plain to me that Westport is the placename. (A placename is exactly as it sounds, the name of a place) 

    As Maggie May said there is a townland called Belfarsad near Achill, I thought I had checked the townlands of Mayo but obviously my eyes or my brain deceived me. 

    The parish records for Achill which would include the townland of Belfarsad, are very scant and don't include any of the years that would be relevant to your search. So if Thomas and Mary married there you will not find a record either.

    Searches for 'Lally' in Achill parish on Find My Past and Ancesry, do not give any results whatsoever so this could be a red herring.

    Yes, it is most tedious searching the parish registers, they are supposed to be transcribed on Find My Past but I have come across many instances where records are missing from the FMP database so I always check the original records, it's the only way to be sure nothing has been missed. Just so you know, I did check FMP for a record of Francis' baptism but did not find one. 

    Best of luck with your search.


    Thursday 12th September 2019, 08:48AM
  • Thank you Maggie and Miriam! I greatly appreciate y’alls time and response. I’ve been looking at microfilm for what seems like an eternity. No luck yet! I’ll post back here if I find anything.

    Kara Mundy

    Thursday 12th September 2019, 04:32PM