Share This:

My great grandfather, James Cummings was born in Clare around 1874, to a Peter Cummings and Ellen Lynch.  I got this information from Marriage and Death Certificates in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.  That is the only information that I have and I have searched all areas that Ireland Reaching Out staff have suggested.  The only place that may be a link is the 1901 Griffith's Valuation, which has an Ellen Cummins, age 68, living in DED Killofin Townland Ballina.  If anyone has information on the Cummings family and would like to share it I would be grateful.



Kim W.

Kim W

Thursday 10th January 2013, 09:45PM

Message Board Replies

  • Hi Kim,


    Thank you for your message.


    I hope that someone recognises the family and makes a connection with you.


    Perhaps you could also try contacting Clare Heritage Centre for assiastance. However a fee may apply for their services. Here are their contact details:


    Clare Heritage Centre,


    Co. Clare.

    Phone: +353 (0) 65 6837955    Email:


    Kind regards,


    Genealogy Support

    Emma Carty

    Friday 8th March 2013, 01:14PM
  • Kim:

    My gr. grandfather, Mathias Breen and his sister Margaret emigrated in 1851 from Lakyle, Kilofin, Clare.  In 1853 a person named John "Cunninn" of Braggville, MA ran an ad in the Boston Pilot ("Missing Friends" on the Boston College website) looking for information about Mathias & Margaret.  

    I have thoroughly tracked Mathias & Margaret before and after emigration, but I have never found any information about WHO "John Cunninn" was.

    You can look up the ad in the B.U. website:

    But please be aware of a couple of points.  I have personally corresponded with Ruth-Ann Harris, the original author of the first bound volumes of these ads about this and verified what I am saying here.  I have also verified this by finding the ad in the original printed volume.  If this person, John Cunnin, interests you, I would try to find the actual print volume somewhere (many established genealogy libraries have them).

    The Boston Pilot ads were first published in hard bound volumes and, at least with regard to this particular ad for the Breens, contained nothing but the original text of the ad.  When Boston University took on the project of putting the database online, some additional editing was done to clarify some of the information, in particular the locations.

    In this case, the original ad said they had "left their home in Laghile, Co. Clare...".  It turns out that their are at least 5 townlands or locales named "Laghile, Lackyle, Lakyle, etc." in Co. Clare.  They are all variations of an attempt to phonetically spell a Gaelic word in English and, as such, can be considered the same.  In the case of the Cunninn ad for the Breens, the editors ADDED the "clarification" that Laghile was a townland in Kilfintinan, Lower Bunratty. Or, in other words, in EAST Clare.  A reasonable choice, but in this case it was WRONG!

    This location proved to be a "dead end" for me as I could find NO Breens in the Tithe Records, Griffith's, etc. in that townland.  A lot of searching in various records and databases eventually led me to the correct Breens in Lakyle, Kilofin.  I have now established pretty good evidence that other members of my two emigrant's families stayed on the land in the area and are present in the 1901 and 1911 census records.  I have also discovered a possible branch of the family in Kilmihil parish with at least one living member today.  

    In researching the "Missing Friends" ads, one thing that I learned is that typographical errors in the original ads are probably common.  Ads were likely submitted by postal mail, handwritten, and a typo like getting "Cunninn" for "Cummin(gs)" would seem like a very great possibility.  So I would presume that it's pretty likely that PERHAPS "John Cunninn" was a family friend of the Breens in Clare and was in touch by post.  They perhaps requested that he look into the whereabouts of Mathias and Margaret, who had last reported in from Maryland (per the ad).  So the location of "Braggville, MA"  should be taken as a POSSIBLE clue to the location of a Cummins from Clare in the US in 1853.  

    I would also consider every conceivable variation on the spelling of Cummins.  A quick search of one database of all Ireland in 1826 (the "Arms Registry") that helped me with the Breens showed 2 "Cummin" hits (not in Clare), no hits for "Cummins" or "Cummings",  and none for "Cunninn" but lots of "Cunninghams."  One thing that might help with spelling variations is to consult some of the databases of Irish names that give their derivations.  Sometimes the alternates will surprise you.  One of my ancestors ("Howard"), I was surprised to find, is often an anglicization of the Gaelic word for blacksmith, and one of the common anglicizations is to just change the name to "Smith"!!

    Just some thoughts to possbily help with your search.  I don't know if there being a "John Cummins" from Kilofin in W. Clare in Braggville, MA in 1853 makes any possible connection to your person of interest or not.  Good Luck with your searching.

    Bill Prendergast

    Portland, OR, USA


    Friday 17th May 2013, 04:22PM
  • Dear Bill,


    Thanks for the wealth of information you provided. It does take a bit of detective work to discover our ancestors from Ireland.


     Right now I can confidently say my great grandfather, James Cummings, was from Clare and his father's name was Peter Cummings and mother's name was Ellen Lynch, because of information he provided on his wedding license.  I found a marriage date for Peter Commons and Ellen Lynch of Tulla, Tulla, Clare for 18 Feb 1865 on family search.  It fits the time frame as James was born around 1875.  I will research John Cunninn and if he turns out to be a Cummings, or some variation of the name I will tuck it away in my files as a possible relative.  


    My family settled in Wilmington, Delaware and there are other Cummings families there as well that came from Galway.  I have been in contact with them, but so far we cannot connect the two families.  


    Thanks again and good luck with your family search as well.


    Kim Weisenberger

    Huntsville, Alabama

    Kim W

    Saturday 18th May 2013, 05:37PM
  • Sounds like you've got them in Tulla!  Finding your ancestor in a church record in Clare is about as good as it gets.

    I don't know about Tulla, but Kilmurray/Clonderlaw (the R.C. parish for Kilofin) has VERY spotty records before 1850 and essentially NOTHING before 1840, which is where I'm searchng for evidence of my who emigrated in 1851.  Even the records much later (this based on what I got from a helper there "on the ground".....haven't been there yet, but going in Sept.) in that parish seem spotty in that some things I think SHOULD be there are not.  But of course maybe that just means it didn't happen like I think it did!!

    Anyway, good job finding that marriage record.  I would think the names are plenty close enough if the dates fit.  Have you found them (or at least the male) in any civil records?  He might have been a bit young to be named as a tenancy holder in the 1855 Griffith's Valuation (for which a lot of the work was done up to 5-6 years earlier I am told).  So I'd look for a father in the Griffith's.  In Ireland, at the  Government Valuation Office, I am told, they have MANY more records, updating the circa 1855 snapshot of the Griffith's Valuation at irregular intervals until into the 20th Century.  

    Perhaps you already know it and use it, but the Clare Library ( has wonderful and very accessible versions of all the major references like the Tithe Records and the Griffith's.  No need to look anyplace else if you're looking in Clare.


    Saturday 18th May 2013, 06:29PM
  • Kim:  after I sent that last, a memory popped up in my head!  I recalled seeing a website just recently focused on Immigrants to Wilmington, DE.  Perhaps you've already familiar with it, but if not, perhaps it might be some help. Apparently a lot of Irish immigrants to Wilmington from Galway, Mayo & Donegal, because it has a Griffith's search engine that just covers those 3 Counties.  I've got other lines in Donegal, which is how I stumbled on the website in the first place.  Just fyi, if you haven't seen it:



    Saturday 18th May 2013, 06:50PM
  • Bill,


    Thanks for telling me about the Clare Library and Irish Immigrants of Wilmington, DE websites.  I have been on both and have found some useful information on the one.  The Clare Library site is wonderful, but I haven't been able to find anything about my family yet.  I discovered a blog dedicated to researching Irish ancestry that you may find helpful 

    I hope you have a lovely trip to Ireland and get to discover more about your ancestors in September.  I am hoping to go next summer.  My mother in law is from Cork, which is where my paternal great grandmother is from as well.  But I  would prefer to go to Clare and it would make the visit more meaningful if I could find more information on the Cummings family.


    Take care,



    Kim W

    Tuesday 21st May 2013, 02:50AM