Share This:

My great-great grandfather William Dowdall resided in the Bogganstown part of Parish Culmullin, near Dunshaughlin in the early 1800s.

He was married to Ellen Murtagh. 

They had a boy James Dowdall on 9 July 1839 OR 5 July 1840, who migrated to England, where he worked in the Durham coal fields.

In the process, his surname became changed to Dowdle.

I am seeking local information on William and Ellen (Murtagh) Dowdall - if any is available?

I am planning on visiting the Dunshaughlin area during June 2022. Can anyone recommend a reasonably-priced B&B there?

I have a sister-in-law residing in Shankill; she and my late wife (Sandra Isabella Barr, 1951-2001) lived in Dun Laoghaire.


Friday 25th February 2022, 09:30AM

Message Board Replies

  • John:

    I located the marriage record on December 15 1832 in the Dunshauglin RC church. Spouse was Ellen Murtha according to the transcription.

    The entry on the parish register is very faint  (see bottom right)

    The parish register for Dunshaughlin has a gap in baptismal records from January 1843 to January 1849. Likely Dowdall children were born in this gap period.

    Roots Ireland did not have the record for James but I did find a baptismal record for a Francis Dowdall baptized January 14 1850 father William and mother Eleanor Murtagh.

    There was also a John baptized June 27 1851 mother was shown as Eleanor Murtha.

    Both records showed Culmullin as the address.

    I went back to the register and found the record for James

    Roger McDonnell

    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 25th February 2022, 06:28PM

    This reference may interest you









    Griffith's Valuation 1847-1864


    Bogganstown, Culmullin, Meath, Ireland


    Friday 25th February 2022, 11:29PM
  • Dear Roger and Eileen,

    Thank you both very much for the information you have provided.

    I will follow these leads up with great interest.

    It seems as though William Dowdall may have been a British Army serviceman around 1800 and - possibly - became a police officer afterwards.

    This I never previously knew and will follow up with considerable interest.

    Thank you - again - for your great help on this matter.

    With best wishes,

    John L. Dowdle

    Sunday 27th February 2022, 02:20AM
  • Eileen

    Sunday 27th February 2022, 10:58PM
  • I have found the following probate record for William Dowdall: "Ireland, Diocesan and Prerogative Wills & Administrations Indexes, 1595-1858," database, FamilySearch ( : 19 December 2019), William Dowdall, 1856; records extracted by FindMyPast. Images digitized by FamilySearch; citing extracted by FindMyPast. Images digitized by FamilySearch; National Archives of Ireland, Dublin.  He is - I think - shown as having died on 9 December 1856 in Culmullen, Dunshaughlin, County Meath, having had the occupation of Farmer.


    Monday 28th February 2022, 08:17PM

    Attached Files

  • Dear Roger and Eileen,

    Thank you both for the information you have provided, which has confirmed much of the information I have recently obtained after studying all of the a\valiable catholic parish records for Dunshaughlin (including Culmullin), Navan and Killeen.

    There are some gaps in the records, which is making my investigations rather harder than they ought to be.

    One rather odd fact is that James Dowdall - putative son of William Dowdall - is shown in the Dunshaughline parish records for Culmullin as having been baptised twice: once on 9 July 1839 and - again - on 5 July 1840. Both sets of entries show the same father, mother, godfather and godmother.

    I have asked the current parish priest if he is able to explain this situation and he has responded by saying he cannot. He has suggested I examine the original parish register records in the event of my visitng Dunshaughlin.

    One possible explanation which has occured to me is that I believe it is a matter of historical record that baptisms for both catholic and protestant children were recorded in catholic parish registers. Might this be the case in this situation of an apparent double baptism record?

    I have also followed up the Find My Past records and taken copies of the two William Dowdalls shown there; one having been discharged honourably from the 62nd Regiment of Foot in 1865 and the other dismissed from the Irish Police Force in 1875.  Interesting as their backgrounds are, they are unlikely to be linked to my family ancestors in Ireland.

    William Dowdall and Ellen Murtha had the following children baptised in Culmullin church in the Dunshaughlin parish:-

    Margaret (1838), James (1839+1840??), Francis (1850) and John (1851).

    I find it surprising that they appeared not to have named one of their sons William.

    Maybe they did but did so in one of the gap areas [1841 to 1849?] where the parish registers are concerned?

    Best wishes,

    John L. Dowdle FRSA

    Saturday 30th April 2022, 06:37PM
  • John:

    Is it possible that the 1839 James Dowdle died soon after birth and his mother became pregnant shortly thereafter and had the second James in July 1840?


    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Sunday 1st May 2022, 06:52PM
  • Hi Roger,

    That possibility occured to me and I did contact Father Sean Henry - current parish priest for Dunshaughlin (which also covers Culmullen) - to ask him by email if he thought that might have occured.

    He responded by saying he did not know but I was welcome to visit and view the entries in the parish register, provided I wore gloves when doing so.

    I am not really sure when I might be able to do this as I live in Watford, England.

    It might be worth examining the original parish register but I think the original entries were made in pencil.

    At some later stage, I think the entries were then inked-over.

    While inking-over has enhanced the visibility of many microfilmed copies, it may also be the case that entries have been changed by inking-over.

    I suspect this may have happened in the case of the 1840 entry and a close examination of the entry might reveal what the original entry was.

    Still, the fact that all names [child, father, mother, godfather, and godmother] in each of the 1839 and 1840 entries are exactly identical is very strange.

    I have additionally scrutinised all the death entries microfilmed from the original parish entries and not seen anything about James Dowdall there.

    Could there have been TWO James Dowdalls of different Dowdall families baptised within a year of each other?

    It is also odd that James Dowdall ended up with a change of name to Dowdle after moving to England at some stage [not sure when].

    I have seen a number of Dunshaughlin criminal petty court sessions involving his father William Dowdall.

    Maybe James no longer wanted to be associated with the Dowdall family name and changed it to Dowdle when he migrated to England?

    There are a whole lot of imponderables regarding James Dowdall, which does not make my research efforts at all easy!

    Thank you for your interest,


    Monday 2nd May 2022, 01:35PM
  • John:

    I assume you have reviewed the microfilmed copy of the Dunshaughlin register. If not below are links to the two records.


    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Tuesday 3rd May 2022, 04:39PM
  • Roger,

    I have previously studied Dunshaughlin | Microfilm 04177/01 + 02 + 03 + 04, as well as 04181/05 through /09 parish entries relating to Navan, and 04178/04 and 05 relating to Killeen parish. It was a massive undertaking which affected my eysight for days afterwards !!

    I looked again at all the entries between 9 July 1839 and 5 July 1840, and found to my total astonishment a further baptism entry for September 10, 1839.

    It is on the left hand side of Page 130 about 5 lines up from the bottom. It shows Wm. Dowdall as the father and Ellen Murtha as the mother - again.

    The names of the male and female sponsors, however, seem different and - I find - virtually unreadable.

    Perhaps you might be able to work out what their actual names are?

    I also believe that while the baptisms dated 9 July 1839 and 5 July 1840 took place in Culmullin the 10 September 1839 one was held in Dunshaughlin.

    So, this appears to show THREE baptisms in under ONE year for a James Dowdall, son of William Dowdall and Ellen Murtha.

    How can that even be possible?



    Wednesday 4th May 2022, 11:08PM
  • John:

    I could not figure out the names of the sponsors.

    I can't explain the third James Dowdall record. Probably will remain a mystery.


    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 5th May 2022, 03:58PM