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Tierney/O'Neill families in Kilskeery, 1840's-1860's


I’m from the USA and I’m hoping someone can help me uncover information on my great-grandparents or recommend next steps to take.

First, a general question since I’ve haven’t had the pleasure yet of visiting your area.  According to the Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI they got married in the RC Parish of Kilskeery on September 21, 1847.  Where is that church located?  I looked in the RootsIreland table of Catholic parishes but Kilskeery is not listed.  If I wanted to contact that parish directly, where would it be?  Was it the same in 1847?

My GGrandparent names were James Tierney and Ann O’Neill (the online marriage transcription lists James’ name incorrectly but it’s him.)  I have not found any other record related to the Tierneys in Kilskeery but the O’Neills are another story.  I believe Ann’s brother was Terence O’Neill, a farmer listed in “Griffith’s Valuation”.  In her marriage record he was also one of the witnesses, and later he married Anna Sharry on September 15, 1850 also in Kilskeery parish (according to NLI and also in FindMyPast).  That's all I have on either family.  I've never found Ann's or Terence's baptismal records so I can't verify their relationship.

By the way, my grandfather was Terence Tierney who immigrated to the US in 1869; I’ve never seen ANY reference to him in the usual online sites.  I know it was a very difficult time and maybe his records were lost.

Is there anyone in the area I could contact to learn more?  Your advice is greatly appreciated..

Thanks, Kevin


Saturday 15th December 2018, 11:18PM

Message Board Replies

  • Kevin:

    Welcome to Ireland Reaching Out!

    There is an alternate name for Kilskeery parish-- Trillick and Trillick records are included in the Roots Ireland data base. Here is a link to the parish register for 1840-1880.

    This link takes you to the particulars for the current parish of Trillick which is in the Diocese of Clogher  Hit the Parish Team link to see more particulars on the parish priest and other info.

    We have a Northern Ireland expert so I will let him assist you with your Tierneys and O'Neills.

    Roger McDonnell

    Castlemore Roscommon

    Sunday 16th December 2018, 01:10AM
  • Kevin,

    Tradition was to marry in the bride’s church, after which she’d attend her husbands (assuming they didn’t already attend the same church).  So you can probably assume that Trillick was Ann O’Neill’s church but not necessarily her husband’s.

    Trillick (Kilskeery) RC parish registers only start in 1840. Ann and Terence were evidently born years before that, and so there probably isn’t any record of their baptisms to find. That’s quite a common problem in Irish research. Outside the big cities like Dublin and Cork many parishes didn’t keep any records till the 1820s or later. In this case it was evidently 1840 before they started. (Contacting the parish office is unlikely to provide any additional baptism data, as all the conventional sources say there are no records prior to 1840). This looks to be the address of Trillick parish church, built in 1821:

    St McCartan, Kilskeery Road, Trillick, Tyrone, BT78 3RD

    I searched on-line RC parish records and found a baptism for Brigid Tierney on 17.2.1859 in the nearby parish of Donaghcavey to parents James Tierney & Ann O’Neill.  So that looks to be where the Tierney family may have lived. The family townland was given as Corriglass (more commonly called Carryglass).  I note that Donaghcavey’s parish records only start in 1857 so this probably explains why you have not found Terence’s baptism. It was before records began, and in a different parish.

    Griffiths lists James and Patrick Tierney in Carryglass. They jointly farmed plot 22, a 44 acre farm. I’d expect them to be related. Brothers perhaps. You can follow the changes of tenant through on the Revaluation records. 1 Tierney family there in the 1901 census:

    Thomas Tierney married Ellen McCarney on 3.5.1894. The civil marriage cert names his father as James Tierney.

    James Tierney died at Carryglass on 26.12.1894 aged 72. He was a widower.

    Ann died same place 29.5.1891 aged 60.


    Monday 17th December 2018, 07:15PM
  • Hi Elwyn:

    This is incredible!!  I've reached out to a number of sites and companies and no one has ever provided me with this information.  I guess I needed to find the right expert.  Thank you very much. 

    I'm going to take some time to review it and may have follow-up questions.  One comes to mind now.  My grandfather (Terence Tierney) never listed the county, parish, or townland he came from in any US census records.  He told my father he had gotten into trouble with the British authorities and had to leave Ireland quickly.  He hid on a ship and arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, in September of 1869.  At that point he would have been between 18 and 21.  I have no idea if he actually participated in something or was simply “guilty by association”.  He never discussed his past.  Given all that do you think there might be civil records of some sort that mention him?

    Thanks again,



    Monday 17th December 2018, 08:42PM
  • Kevin,

    I searched the on-line Irishnewspapers (on Ancestry) for the years 1865 – 1871 but did not find any mention of Terence Tierney in any capacity. So if he was up to mischief it doesn’t appear to have made it into the newspapers.  I searched the PRONI e-catalogue but did not see him mentioned there either.

    I notice that there were still Tierneys farming in Carryglass in 1948. Perhaps they are still there now? The Tierney farm today would be on a lane off the Glengeen Rd, between Fintona and Tempo. It’s a few miles east of Trillick. Next parish obviously but not too far away from Trillick.

    Probate abstract from the PRONI wills site:

    Tierney Thomas of Carryglass Trillick county Tyrone farmer died 13 August 1930 Probate Londonderry 21 December to Arthur Tierney farmer. Effects £65.

    The will itself is not on-line but should be in PRONI in paper format. Your ancestor probably attended Corryglass National School. I looked to see if the attendance records have survived but unfortunately they have not.


    Monday 17th December 2018, 10:35PM
  • Thanks again Elwyn.  This is wonderful! 

    I'd be interested in hearing your opinion about a record I found in the "1841/1851 Census Abstracts (Northern Ireland)" for an O'Neill family in Kilskeery-Goland which I've attached.  It mentions a Terence and Ann.  I dismissed the record because I can't prove it's relationship to my family but you may have more insight.  By the way, was Goland anywhere near “Golan Glebe”?



    Tuesday 18th December 2018, 02:55PM

    Attached Files

  • Elwyn:


    I should have mentioned that Golan Glebe is the location of Terence O'Neill's farm according to “Griffith’s Valuation”.  I didn't know if Goland was nearby or whether the references were entirely different.





    Tuesday 18th December 2018, 05:17PM
  • Kevin,

    Yes, That looks as though it might be your family. I noted from your earlier information that the O’Neill family were living in Golan Glebe, according to Griffiths. Goland and Golan Glebe will be the same place. Golan Glebe is the name appearing in most of the reference sources but locals evidently just called it Golan or Goland. Spelling of peoples  and place names has always been very flexible in Ireland. Expect them to vary. Glebe means it was church land at one time.

    What the census extract tells you is that Catherine O’Neill had married a Mr Doorish. She was the pension applicant (at an unrecorded date 1909 onwards). She had no baptism certificate or other acceptable proof of age (she had to be 70 or over to qualify). So she had been asked where she was living in 1851 so that her claimed age at time of pension application could be compared with that in the census.  Since she was 16 in 1851, she’d have been 70 in 1905. So she presumably qualified. The clerks in Dublin looked up the census and transcribed the information given by the O'Neill family. The information Catherine gave about her parents names and her address (Goland in Kilskeery parish) tallied except that she gave her father’s name as Cornelius whereas it was Connor in the census. The 1851 census asked about people who normally lived in the household but who were absent on census night. 3 of the applicants siblings were absent. There was also a servant and a visitor in the household on census night.

    Catherine O’Neill married John Doorish on 11th May 1871 at Magheralough chapel. Her father was Cornelius and she lived in Goland. So this looks to be your family.

    Here’s Catherine in 1901:

    Don’t worry too much about the ages in the census. They were often out by 10 years or more. People in Ireland in the 1800s didn’t celebrate birthdays and often had little idea of their age. And when officialdom asked for one they often just guessed. Which is why proof was required for the pension. Otherwise everyone would just have said they were 70 or older.

    Here she is in 1911. Her age has gone up a bit since 1901, but I think we know why:

    O’Neill households in Golan Glebe in 1901:

    The next one looks to be your Terence’s siblings:

    Tradition being to marry in the bride’s church, it’s likely that Magheralough chapel was the O’Neill family church. Gravestones might be in the graveyards associated with that chapel. The parish office may be able to advise. (RC parishes rarely keep burial records but they may be able to advise on where to search for gravestones).


    Tuesday 18th December 2018, 11:42PM
  • Hi Elwyn:

    Your comment that “People in Ireland in the 1800s didn’t celebrate birthdays and often had little idea of their age” explains the variability in birthdates I’ve seen in American records especially for my grandfather, Terrence Tierney.  He arrived in September of 1869 and married in February of 1870.  The 1870 US census – the first in which he appears – lists his age as “21” making his birth year 1849.  In subsequent US records the birth year ranges from 1852 to 1856.  The latter is ridiculous since it would have meant he emigrated and married when 14.  I’ve always attributed the lack of consistency to careless census takers but perhaps Terrence never really knew or cared.

    One more general question (I’m not asking you to research the second Kilskeery Catherine).  I’ve noticed a difference concerning “1841/1851 Census” information between what I see on Ancestry and what I see in the National Archives.  I’ve attached a document that contains two Catherine O’Neill’s.  Page one is my ancestor and we’ve spoken about her.  I couldn’t find her record (or any of the other 4 Ancestry Catherine’s) in the Archives.  Instead there were two others (Page 2) not in Ancestry.  Obviously, the two sites contain different information.  What’s the difference?

    You’ve given me an amazing amount of great information and I’m very thankful.  I don’t know much about “Ireland Reaching Out” but if there’s a place to register my approval I’ll be happy give a “thumbs up”.  At least now, if my wife and I ever get over there, we'll know where to visit.

    Hope you have a wonderful holiday season!



    Wednesday 19th December 2018, 04:59PM

    Attached Files

  • Kevin,

    Re ages, Alexander Irvine was born in 1863 in Antrim town and became a Minister living in the US. This extract from his book “The Chimney Corner revisited” perhaps explains why people often had to guess their ages:

    “My mother kept a mental record of the twelve births. None of us ever knew, or cared to know, when we were born. When I heard of anybody in the more fortunate class celebrating a birthday I considered it a foolish imitation of the Queen’s birthday, which rankled in our little minds with 25th December or 12th July. In manhood there were times when I had to prove I was born somewhere, somewhen, and then it was that I discovered that I also had a birthday. The clerk of the parish informed me.”

    As a second example, I have attached a letter I found in church records. It is from someone in Pettigoe, Co. Donegal in 1908 writing to his Minister, asking for proof of age (ie a baptismal certificate). All he knew was that he was between “70 and 78 years of age.” He clearly had only the vaguest idea of his age and couldn’t narrow it down to within 9 years. (The date suggests he was intending to apply for a pension. Thus, probably for the first time in his life, establishing his age accurately became relevant to him).

    Obviously information about childrens ages is more likely to be fairly accurate. A 6 year old is probably going to be within a year or so of that age. But when you get to your thirties and beyond, the ages start to drift, and by your seventies it’s just a wild guess. Here’s a man in the 1901 Irish census who said he was 122. You would wonder about the accuracy of that, wouldn’t you? His wife was 32 years younger than him. Just a mere stripling of 90. Mind you Galway’s a fine healthy place to live. Who knows? Might be accurate.

    Re the 2 Catherine O’Neills in the census extracts, the short answer is they are different people with different parents. Given that they lived near each other in the same townland they are probably  related. Cousins perhaps. The second one had Patrick & Susan as parents. Yours had Connor & Ellen.

    The pension records are not all held together and so they don’t all appear on the nli website, nor in Josephine Masterson’s book (which is where your family are listed). There were several ways of doing the census check. One system involved going to the local Customs Officer (no, don’t ask me why, but Customs dealt with it). So the local Customs Officer in say Omagh (for someone living in Kilskeery) would write to his opposite number in Dublin and ask for a census check. That information would then be sent back to Omagh, and passed on to the pension people, so they could decide whether the application was to be approved. So a set of records was created in Omagh (and at other Customs Offices across Ireland).  Alternatively, the applicant could write to Dublin themselves and request a census check. In that case they would get the same sort of reply (to send on to the pension office), but a different set of records was created, this time in Dublin. Known in some guides as the “Green forms” – because, amazingly, they were green. So two sets of records. The Dublin records are on the nli site. The Customs records (for the counties of what is now Northern Ireland) have ended up in PRONI in Belfast, and were Masterson’s source for her book. So one of the Catherine O’Neills (your immediate family) applied via the local Customs Office and the other (daughter of Patrick & Susan) wrote directly to Dublin herself. So their applications have ended up in two different sets of records. You are lucky because with yours the copy of the whole family in the 1851 census has been noted on the application whereas with the other family the information was sent out on a separate sheet which has not survived.

    That 1851 census information for your family can be used to try and trace marriages for Terence’s siblings. You could search for their marriages on the irishgenealogy site.




    Wednesday 19th December 2018, 07:18PM

    Attached Files

  • Elwyn:

    There's one question I should have asked about my grandfather, Terence Tierney, who US naturalization records say arrived in Boston in September of 1869.   At that time he was most likely a late teenager to 21 years of age based on the 21.9.1847 Kilskeery wedding. 

    You noted that Donaghcavey’s parish records only start in 1857 so this precludes finding his baptism, plus you didn't see any mention of him in the newspapers of that time.  Can you suggest any other way I could search for (even a mention of) him in Irish records?

    Thanks again,



    Thursday 20th December 2018, 02:24PM
  • Kevin,

    I think you might struggle to find any record of him in Ireland at all. He’d have been in the 1851 & 1861 censuses but obviously they are almost entirely lost. (I assume you have already checked the 1851 extracts. The 1861 was almost entirely destroyed. There are one or two fragments but not for Tyrone).

    He probably attended Carryglass National School but their attendance records haven’t survived.

    He didn’t marry in Ireland and he left when he was a young man who wouldn’t have had his own home in Ireland, so not in any land records. There’s not really any other records that he might appear in. None that I can think of anyway.

    Sorry about that.





    Friday 21st December 2018, 11:30AM
  • Hi Elwyn:

    That's what I expected to hear about Terrence but it was worth asking.  Thanks again for all of your help and amazing information.  It is much appreciated.

    I'll probably be back with other questions later but for now I wish you & your family all the best for Christmas.




    Sunday 23rd December 2018, 10:10PM
  • Hi Elwyn:

    Hope you & your family had a great holiday season!

    I had some follow-up questions to something you said last month: "I notice that there were still Tierneys farming in Carryglass in 1948. Perhaps they are still there now? The Tierney farm today would be on a lane off the Glengeen Rd, between Fintona and Tempo. It’s a few miles east of Trillick. Next parish obviously but not too far away from Trillick."

    Where did you get that information about the Tierney farm?  If I wanted to visit the site someday how would I find the "lane off the Glengeen Rd".  I have to say my wife & I are thinking of making a trip over to visit the places our ancesters came from.  We've never been there before.

    Is it possible to trace the Tierney family forward from the early 20th century to now?  Are those resources available online?  Most of the websites I belong to seem to look backwards and I have no idea how to find or contact current relatives (presuming they want to be found).  Any advice you might have would be appreciated!

    Thanks again, Kevin


    Saturday 12th January 2019, 07:53PM
  • Kevin,

    You ask where the 1948 date comes from. Thomas Tierney died in 1930 but there was a delay in getting probate (not uncommon) and it was 21.12.1948 before it was obtained, and granted to Arthur Tierney (who seems likely to have been his son). So that suggests Arthur was probably still farming there then. My information comes from the PRONI wills site:

    That will should be in PRONI in paper format and you might find it helpful in tracing his descendants. (If you want a copy of it, PRONI will post or e-mail that to you for a fee. If you go in person you can view it free. The important date is the date probate was granted, rather than the date of death. The files are kept in date order of the grant date, not the death date)

    This is presumably Thomas’s son Arthur in the 1911 census, aged 7:

    I had a look in the current phone book for Trillick & postcode BT78 but did not see any Tierneys listed. However so many people are not listed these days that doesn’t mean much.

    The death records for Northern Ireland are on-line up to 1968. I searched them up to that year but saw no sign of Arthur. So assuming he was still in Northern Ireland then, he must have died after 1968. I also looked for a marriage for him up to 1943 (which is as far as the on-line marriage records go) but did not find one.

    To search for deaths and marriages after the years given, you need to go into PRONI or GRONI in Belfast as they have terminals there that allow you to search more recent events, right up to events registered yesterday. PRONI also has the wills for people who died after 1966. So you might find a will for Arthur as well as his date of death. The PRONI staff will explain how you do that.

    You ask about tracing the family forward. That can be very difficult if you have no clues as to where they were living. And many of the records you might want are closed. I looked at Thomas’s children in the 1911 census. Apart from Arthur, there was James 16, Patrick 14, Mary Ellen 13, Catherine 9, Bridget 4 & Teresa 2. I didn’t check the death records. (You could do that on the GRONI site) but I did look for marriages for them. Carryglass is in the Omagh civil registration district. So I searched all Tierney marriages from 1916 to 1943 registered in Omagh. I found James Tierney’s marriage on 19.1.1920 to Mary Campbell:

    There was also a Mary who married a Cooke on 10.1.1928.  That’s not available on the irishgenealogy site.  If you want you can look at that certificate on the GRONI site to see if it’s your family. It costs £2.50 (sterling) to view a certificate there. Otherwise I did not see any marriages for any of the other children. So chances are they scattered. They probably moved to Belfast, Dublin, Britain or further afield to find work, and then perhaps married there. Without some inside information from a will or someone alive today, it's nigh on impossible to trace them. The only exception might be the Tierney/Campbell marriage. It’s easy enough to search the birth records in PRONI to see if they had any children and from that you can track the family forward for a bit. Till they stopped having children anyway. But you have to go to PRONI or GRONI to search births within the past 100 years. They are not on-line anywhere else. And they cost £2.50 a time to view.

    I would get a copy of Thomas’s will as it may give you a snapshot of where his children were in 1930. Plus if any of the girls have married you may get their married names which is always helpful.

    I would also ask around at the farm and in the local area.  If the farm is no longer in Tierney hands, neighbours may know where some of the family are now. And the parish office may be able to tell you of any Tierneys in their congregation. I wouldn’t be apprehensive about approaching possible members of the family in the area. Most people will be very friendly. Your problem may just be that they don’t know that much about their family. Irish people aren’t always that interested in their ancestry. (We generally know where our ancestors came from and don’t have that much curiosity about them, save perhaps for the odd notorious one. “Old uncle Liam who eloped with a duchess.” We remember that sort of thing.). So what you tend to find is that most folk can go back about 3 generations, to around 1900, and after that it all gets a bit hazy. And with common names, the families all tend to get hopelessly mixed up. When you are dealing with ancestors who left in the 1860s it can be tricky identifying the right family. There’s often a bit of a knowledge gap. You may find yourself knowing more about the family than the folk here do. And there’s unlikely to be a family bible with all the generations names. I’ve never seen one. Not in Ireland anyway.

    1911 is the most recent census open to the public. The next was in 1926 but the bit for Northern Ireland has been lost. Also one in 1937 but it’s closed till 2037. There is the 1939 Register which was a summary of the population compiled at the outbreak of WW2 for conscription and ration book purposes. It isn’t on-line but can be accessed in PRONI if you make a Freedom of Information request. But it’s quite tedious system. If people are under 100 you need to show they are dead, before they’ll open the records, so all rather complicated. Especially if you don’t know if they are dead.

    To find the Tierney farm in Carryglass, you need to go to Griffiths Valuation:

    Search under Griffiths Places and enter Carryglass and Tyrone. Then click on the map view option. This will bring up a map of the area around Carryglass compiled in the 1870s. If you enlarge it you should see Carryglass easily enough. The townland boundaries are outlined in red. Each plot has a number and some suffix letters. So 22 was the Tierney farm with 22a being James Tierney’s house and 22b Patrick’s. In the top right hand side of the screen there’s a slider bar that allows you to switch to a modern map. You should see from that, that the Tierney farm is up a lane near Sean Kelly Commercials. Their address is 93 Carryglass Rd, Trillick BT78 3PU.  That’s off the Glengeen Rd. If you have a satnav it should get you there, and then you’ll need to do a bit of local navigation to complete the last bit up to the farm.

    Street names and house numbers were only introduced in this part of Ireland in the 1960s, so I don’t know what the Tierney farm’s exact address is today. In the 1860s, your townland alone was enough to identify you. So a letter would have been addressed to “Patrick Tierney, Carryglass, Trillick” and would have got there. The postman knew where everyone lived and so no further detail was required. Now we have got a bit more detailed with our addresses, otherwise we don’t get our parcels from Amazon.

    You should be able to look at the farm today on Google earth by searching under postcode BT78 3PU.


    Sunday 13th January 2019, 10:24PM
  • Hi Elwyn:

    Thanks for the terrfic response!  Exactly what I needed to know. 

    Since we last traded posts in December I have been able via DNA to identify another Tierney relative now living in Liverpool.  She is a descendant of one of Thomas Tierney's children and she confirmed - as you suspected - that much of the family did "scatter" to England and the US during the early 20th century.  However, some remained in Carryglass and this woman's mother remembers visiting the farm as a child.  Then the connection was lost.  She has no idea if any family is still in the area.  At least now I have an ally and between us we hope to fill in the blanks.

    I have online access to PRONI/GRONI and will search for the information you mentioned.  I will also write to the parish office and try Google Earth & Griffith's Vaulation as you suggested.  

    And I'm glad to hear you say that folks over there are friendly and willing to share family history (if they know it).  My wife & I may put that to the test this summer.  Between the two of us we have ancestors who came from Tyrone, Galway, Kerry, Waterford, and Louth.  That would make for an intersting trip.

    Thanks again for all your help!  This site has been a great find.





    Monday 14th January 2019, 10:17PM
  • Hi Elwyn:

    Back with a question.  At the beginning of your last post you mentioned Thomas Tierney's will and provided a link to PRONI.  I went there and saw the information you mentioned.

    You also said: "That will should be in PRONI in paper format and you might find it helpful in tracing his descendants. If you want a copy of it, PRONI will post or e-mail that to you for a fee. If you go in person you can view it free."  

    Do I have to visit in person to obtain a paper copy?  I couldn't find a screen where I could order it online from the US.  I also couldn't find a way of contacting them for help via email to ask about this.  Everything seems to indicate I'd need to physically go to an office.

    Thanks again for your help,



    Thursday 17th January 2019, 12:54AM
  • Kevin,

    Re access to the PRONI records, you don’t have to go in person.  You can e-mail them with details of what you want. They’ll then tell you if they’ll do it, and the fee.

    They are normally happy to do simple tasks like copy a will for someone whose probate file is on their website, but they won’t do lengthy pieces of research or trawling requests eg “all Tierney baptism and marriages from the start of a set of records.” Here’s PRONI’s contact details:

    Visit or write to:

    2 Titanic Boulevard

    Titanic Quarter


    BT3 9HQ

    Phone: 028 9053 4800

    Fax: 028 9025 5999


    An alternative is to pay a researcher to get the records for you. Researchers in the PRONI area:

    Regarding GRONI, just to make sure you understand, although you have on-line access to their database, you haven’t got access to births in the past 100 years, marriages within the past 75 and deaths within the past 50 years. Those are held back from the main public site for data trawling and data protection reasons. However you can access that information on 4 nominated terminals in PRONI. (Plus you can also do it in GRONI but there’s not much point going there as well as PRONI).  So if you were looking for someone who was born in the 1920s or died in the 1970s or who married in the 1950s, you need to go to PRONI. You can’t do it from any other location.




    Friday 18th January 2019, 12:18AM
  • Hi Elwyn:

    Excellent.  Just what I needed to know.

    Thanks again,



    Saturday 19th January 2019, 02:53PM