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I am seeking the burial place of James Gilmore, 1818-1880. The records for Burials in the United Parishes of Aghalee, Aghagallon and Magharamask state James was buried 25 Nov 1880 in Aghagallon.

Any direction that can provided is appreciated.

I spent a week at PRONI last June with a genealogy tour and had a lot of luck finding information about my Gilmore family. But of course, we always want to know more.

Thank you.

Alison Haskins

James Gilmore, the son of John Gilmore and Ann Hudson, bapt. 14 Feb 1818 in Parish of Aghagallon, Co Antrim, Ireland; d. 23 Nov 1880  in Belfast, Ireland and buried 25 Nov 1880 Parrish of Aghagallon. He resided in Portmore, Ballinderry, Antrim, Barony of Massereene Upper and grew flax which he wove into linen. He was married 3 Oct 1848 in Lurgan to

Mary Mercer, b. Feb 1822 in County Antrim, Ireland; d. 17 June 17 1900 in Belfast, Maine. Daughter of James MERCER. She emigrated from Belfast, Ireland with her son James and daughter Harriet in 1885 on "SCANDINAVIAN" to Quebec.

James and Mary were both residents of Tiscallen, Parish of Aghagallon, when they were married 3 Oct 1848 in Lurgan. They are on the 1851 Census in Portmore, Ballinderry, Upper Massereene, Co. Antrim with their first child. They have four children who are listed in the 1840-1850 Baptisms, Ballinderry Parish, Connor Diocese, County Antrim and 1859-1863 Baptisms, Ballinderry Parish, Connor Diocese, County Antrim.

James Gilmore is included in Griffith’s Valuation – 1862, in Portmore, Parish of Ballinderry.  In the Revisions 1869 - 1879 for Griffith’s General Valuation of Ireland for Portmore, Ballinderry, he is struck off in 1878, when the property of the Marquis of Hertford, where James had been a tenant, was transferred to Sir Richard Wallace.  This appears to be when the family removed to Belfast.

His son James attended school from 1874-1876 according to the Register of Lower Ballinderry School. After James, the father, died in 1880, his son-in-law Henry Higginson emigrated to Canada. James’ daughter Catherine followed her husband to Canada with their four children all under 10 years old. Finally, James’ widow Mary emigrated in 1885.



Friday 29th January 2016, 09:45PM

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  • You say that James was a weaver. The average weaver wouldn’t have been able to afford a gravestone, so chances are he’s buried in an unmarked grave, presumably in Aghagallon COI graveyard since that’s what the records indicate.

    I very much doubt there will be any graveyard plans covering that period, showing where each person is buried. Usually the grave diggers were illiterate so written records weren’t much use.  Most families knew where their family plots were and could point them out to the gravedigger, but obviously if they moved away that knowledge was lost.

    Have you contacted the parish to see if any graveyard lair records exist for that period? I’d be very surprised if there were, but I could be wrong.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 29th January 2016, 10:33PM
  • How do I contact the parish? I agree weavers wouldn't usually be able to afford a grave stone. 

    Once the son James Gilmore reached Canada, he relocated to New Jersey and became a textile importer. He traveled to Great Britain and Europe on business and  became fairly prosperous. I have a small hope he might have had the resources to place a stone for his father later on. 

    I don't expect to ever know where the family had their small tenant farm. That's nearly impossible to discover.  But to know the correct churchyard would be satisfactory. 




    Friday 29th January 2016, 10:57PM
  • Try this link for churchyard contact details:

    As far as I can see there are several graveyards in the area: Ballinderry, Templecormac, Ballinderry Middle & Portmore. You probably want Ballinderry Old graveyard which is Aghagallon. See:

    You said that you don’t expect to know where the family had their small tenant farm. I may be able to help you there. I can see from Griffiths where they were living in 1862. It wasn't a tenanted farm though. Like most other weavers, it was just a cottage on someone else’s farm.

    Looking at Griffiths Valuation for 1862, I can see James Gilmore listed on plot 18d in Portmore which was a weaver/ag labs cottage plus 1 rood and 25 perches of land. (40 perches in a rood, and 4 roods in an acre).  The cottage was on James Knox’s farm. Griffiths has a map which shows you exactly where that farm was located.

    Today the former Knox farm is down the Portmore Rd from Ballinderry Village towards Portmore Lough, at the edge of the lough, near Sallow Island. There were 3 weavers cottages on the farm in the 1850s but judging by the view on Google earth they are long gone. However the farm is still there and easily accessible should you ever wish to do so.

    The normal arrangement for weavers was that they rented a cottage on a piece of farmland and paid their rent to their landlord (ie the farmer) by an agreed number of days work a year on the farm. Sometimes they paid cash, or part cash, but often it was just work. When not required on the farm they were free to undertake any other work that was available. That might be things like road building or other public works, or work on another farm, but in winter when there wasn’t much doing on the farms, they’d weave. Weaving was also a cash based activity, and so earned some real money in an economy that was otherwise largely based on barter. Whilst you could barter for many essentials such as tea and sugar, you needed cash for some things, eg a ticket to America. Home weaving stared to become uneconomic when the big water powered and steam linen mills started up in places like Belfast and Lisburn. Like so many other industries, mechanisation simply eclipsed the home worker.

    Linen weaving history:


    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Saturday 30th January 2016, 12:05AM
  • Thank you for the explanation of weaver/farmer/landowner dynamics. I did not understand how a family could make a living on such a small plot of land. It makes more sense that they worked for someone else. If I make another trip to Ireland, I will want to visit Ballinderry and Portmore to see where my greatgrandmother grew up. From what I'm learning about Irish history, I understand why so many sought new opportunities overseas. 

    When I was in Belfast, I walked around the neighborhood where James and his family lived in the 1870-80's near Shankill Road. The streets are still there but the buildings are all post-WWII. One week was not nearly enough time to do research in the archives, see the sights, and discover all the connections of people to the land. 

    Thank you for your guidance and insights and immediate responses to my questions. I will contact the parish and see what information they may have about James. 







    Tuesday 2nd February 2016, 04:32PM



    You mention that you are interested in the economic reasons for leaving Ireland. This is a summary I compiled for someone else, but it would relate to your family too:

    Start: You ask why your ancestors might have left Ireland. I am sure they left for the same reasons that 2 million others did. To find work. Ireland has very few natural resources (no oil, coal, iron ore etc) and so did not benefit from the industrial revolution in the 1800s, the way Scotland, England, the US, Canada & Australia did, which created hundreds of thousands of comparatively well-paid new jobs in new industries (coal mining, steel making, railways, ship building etc). So that was a big pull factor. There had also been a huge population explosion in Ireland going up from about 3 million people in 1750 to 8 million in 1830. There simply weren’t jobs for all those people. In much of Ireland the only employment was subsistence farming topped up in Ulster and one or two other areas with a bit of linen weaving. And then the straw that broke the camel’s back, along came the famine, numerous times throughout the 1800s. The worst period was when the potato crop failed almost completely 3 years in a row in the late 1840s, and then partially several more years after that.

    Perhaps rather rashly, many labourers and small farmers were very much one crop dependant, because you could grow more potatoes to the acre than any other crop, and they needed the minimum of maintenance, but as a consequence they had nothing else to fall back on when the blight attacked them, and because it was largely a barter economy they mostly had no spare cash to buy food. When the crop failed 3 years in a row, people ended up eating their seed potatoes, leaving them nothing to plant the next spring. It is estimated that during the years 1845 to 1850, around 800,000 people died of starvation or of a famine-related disease such as typhus, dysentery, scurvy or pellagra. A further two million people emigrated. Unlike earlier famines, in which the population recovers quickly from the catastrophe and continues to grow, the after- effects of the Great Irish Famine were such that the population of Ireland, standing at 8.2 million people in 1841, declined to 6.6 million in 1851. Fifty years later, Ireland's population was still showing a decline (down to 4.5 million), even though every other European country was showing a population increase. Ireland’s population did not return to its pre-famine heights until 1964. Approximately 8 million people left Ireland between 1801 and 1900 - the equivalent of the entire pre-Famine population. The population today is only around 6 million.

    Other factors led to the continued emigration too, eg early mechanisation on farms. With new machines to turn the soil and plant seed, farmers no longer needed an army of agricultural labourers to help on the farm. So those jobs were rapidly disappearing. Likewise mechanisation had led to linen factories being set up in places like Belfast. These made home weaving uneconomic and so also upset the labourer’s family economy. Agriculture was the biggest single employer in Ireland, but it was mostly a barter economy. Few people had any ready cash save what they could make from weaving or any government sponsored work such as building new roads. So when the opportunity arose to get jobs with a regular wage packet, as opposed to a few pence from your father each week, the decision to migrate wasn’t really all that hard to make. So it was as much about economic betterment as anything. The famine wreaked havoc in most of Ireland but in Co Antrim, a comparatively wealthy county, it wasn’t too severe (and most bigger farmers had not been one crop dependant) so I would say it was less of a reason for your particular ancestors leaving than it was for others elsewhere in Ireland.

    There was a massive tide of migration all through that century, including long before the famine. Years after the worst of the famine it’s impact was still being felt across Ireland, and there were still plenty of much better job opportunities in Australia and the USA. (After Scotland and England, the USA was the most popular destination for emigrants with about 40 to 50% choosing it. Only about 5% of Irish emigrants chose Australia and New Zealand, possibly due to the costs and length of the voyage).

    So to summarise, people had been pouring out of Ireland long before the worst of the famine. All the famine did was speed the tide up. END

    You mention that you couldn't see any pre WW2 streets in Belfast. There are some around eg in the Tennant St area but quite  a lot of streets were heavily damaged by German bombing in WW2. The Troubles in the 1970s and 1980s also led to a lot of damage so there has been quite a big re-building programme. But you can find older houses if you look for them. Howver if you really want to get a feel for what they were like, go to the FOLK PARK museum at Cultra (just outside Belfast on the road to Bangor). They have reconstructed whole streets of typical houses from the turn of the 19th century. You can go in them and there are guides there to tell you about them. Link:

    Note: The Museum has a picture library too so they may have old photos of the streets where your ancetsors lived.



    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Tuesday 2nd February 2016, 08:05PM
  • That's a great capsule history lesson. I knew the economics of small farm plots struggled against industrialization. I understood one effect of the famines was the big land owners weren't getting the rent they needed to sustain their investments - so many people gone. When the land owners went through bankruptcy, a lot of the remaining cottagers left the land too.  

    I did see a lot of nice historic parts of Belfast around City Hall and the Ulster Historical Foundation. I enjoyed an afternoon at the Titanic Museum too, learning about shipbuilding, linen making, and other Belfast industries. But Crosby St and Riga Street (where my family lived) must have suffered in the Blitz. 

    Your suggestions of places to see and visit keeps getting longer. My next trip will need to be a month to do it all!



    Tuesday 2nd February 2016, 11:12PM
  • In my experience in Co Antrim, when the bigger landlords went bankrupt, their tenants were not immediately affected. They were sitting tenants and were simply taken on by the new owners (who needed them anyway as a source of income).  But people were moving off the land at that time (and into the cities or migrating) and so some of the farms expanded to take up vacated land. In general, the big landowners didn’t want the land themselves. They weren’t going to do anything with it. They wanted to sublet to someone else who would farm it. (The tenants weren’t all cleared off the land to be replaced by sheep which is sometimes suggested, and which did happen in parts of Scotland).

    You can see examples of local bankrupt landlords in the Encumbered Estates papers in PRONI, typically from the 1850s.  The sale papers list all the immediate tenants by name, townland and type of lease (eg 3 lives lease, 25 year lease, “at will” etc.). Taking Earl Mountcashel as an example, he had lands around Ballymena. In general, the same tenants are there before and after he was forced to sell.  The Encumbered Estates records were compiled in the 1850s and Griffiths in around 1863. You mostly see the same tenants in both sources.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Wednesday 3rd February 2016, 06:36PM
  • My wife is Kathleen D. Gilmore is descended from Joseph Edward  Gilmore (b. 06 Dec 1876 Ballinderry) son of Joseph Gilmore (06 July 1846 Lower Ballinderry) son of William M'Mechan Gilmore (b. 1814 Belfast) son of Joseph Gillmore (b 1770 Killead). We're visiting Belfast in June 2018 and wondered if any other descendants still live in Belfast/Ballinderry area.  


    Thursday 1st March 2018, 06:23PM

    Hey Alison! I know this is close to 5 years from you posted this. James Gilmore from ballinderry is my  3 x great grandfather. I have info on where he was buried thanks to my grandmother. If you happen to read this, I can send you some info over. There's a lot of free records on run by the Irish give it holds birth, deaths and marriage records up until 1921. 






    Sunday 14th February 2021, 07:47PM
  • Hello, Victoria

    Thank you for your reply! James Gilmore is my 2x great-grandfather.  I have been off pursuing other branches of the family and had set this inquiry aside.  I would love to see any information you can share. 




    Monday 15th February 2021, 03:07AM