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Hi there,

My sister Mary and I are looking for descendants of the McMenamin family of Ballybofey origin. My direct ancestor, Patrick McMenamin (changed to McMenamy in America) was born in Ballybofey in 1797, and died 13 March, 1851 in Florissant, St Louis Missouri, USA. His birthplace was carved on his tombstone (erected by his younger brother Bernard). Patrick married Anna Martin (1810-1885) around 1829 in Ireland, and they had eight children that we know of while living in Ireland-- Bernard Patrick, Michael Bonaventure, Mary Frances, Peter J, Margaret Mary (my 2nd great grandmother), Frances, Matthew, and Anna. All of them immigrated with their parents to America, and we've traced their lines down.

From the probate of Patrick's younger brother Mathew (1805-1850), we discovered the names of his siblings-- at least those who were living in 1850. Mathew was a Jesuit priest, and judging from the accounts of his possessions in his probate, one of some wealth. According to the cemetery records, he died along the banks of the Missouri river twelve days after his arrival in America. He lists as his heirs three brothers (including Patrick) and three sisters.

The three sisters were Catharine, Nancy and Margaret A. Catharine was married to a John Dorin and, December of 1851 was listed as living in "Stoneduff, Donegal, Ireland." We believe Stoneduff might (?) be Tonduff. They had at least one child, Mary, born around 1830, who immigrated to St Louis and is listed as living with her uncle Bernard in the 1850 census.

Nancy married a John Martin and is listed in the probate as living in "Welchtown, Donegal, Ireland." We believe this is Walshtown, as we find a John Martin listed there in the 1830 Tithe Applotment. They had two chidren that we know of: Bernard Martin, born around 1825, who immigrated to St. Louis and is living with his uncle Bernard in 1850, and Margaret. We found a marriage record for Margaret to a Denis McMenamin (possibly a cousin?) 15 April 1856 in Walshtown, Kilteevoge, Donegal, witnessed by Peter and Carl Martin.

We've found the birth records for five children born to them: Peter (17 April 1864), Dennis (17 April 1866), Mary Anne (15 June 1868), Patrick (25 March 1871), all in Letterkenny, and Margaret (3 Oct 1874), in Roneagl [sic].

The last sister, Margaret A, married an unknown Bonner (spelled alternately Bonner and Bonar in the probate) and was widowed by December of 1851. She lived in "Goland, Donegal" at the time. We believe she was likely widowed before 1828, as we find a "Margaret Bonner" in the 1828 Donaghmore Tithe Applotment. In the Griffiths Value of 1858 she's listed as still in Donaghmore. We don't know if she had any children.

The other two brothers besides Patrick were James (1795-1862) and Bernard (1800-1868). Bernard immigrated first, before 1830, and married Mary Jane McReynolds in St Louis. He became a prominant and wealthy landowner. James married a Margaret Boyce in Ireland and they immigrated with seven of their eight children in 1848-- leaving behind one son, Peter, who was in the priesthood. He also did very well for himself. Patrick died less than two years after immigrating, and his widow Anna died in poverty in Council Bluffs, Iowa in 1885.

We believe that Patrick and James are listed in the 1833 Tithe Applotment books as owning land in both Little and Big Dooish. Patrick, listed as "Patt McMenamin," co-owned the land with a "Widow McMenamin," which we believe might have been their mother.

In addition to making connections with any descendants of these lines and learning anything possible about the next generation back, we would love to know if Patrick McMenamy's wife Anne Martin and Nancy's husband John Martin were related.

Mary and I have completed a lot of research about the descendants of James, Patrick, and Bernard here in the United States and are happy to share it upon request.


~Jessica M.


Thursday 8th June 2017, 03:44AM

Message Board Replies

  • Jessica:

    Welcome to Ireland Reaching Out!

    You and Mary have done a remarkable job researching your family considering that finding RC church records in Co. Donegal before 1850 is very difficult and for some churches it is much later. Finding earlier records prior to 1797 is not likely.

    We do not have a parish liaison in Stranorlar parish or Kilteevoge parish and finding living descendants of the McMenamins, Bonners and Martins would be very difficult.

    Have you taken an autosomal DNA test?

    You may or may not be aware that the Irish governernment has a free site with civil birth record images from 1864-1915 plus images for marriages and deaths for certain years. You may be able to find the records for any children of Denis McMenamin born after 1863.

    I have ancestors from Clonleigh and Raymunterdoney parishes in Donegal.

    Let me know what questions you have.

    Roger McDonnell


    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 8th June 2017, 05:26PM
  • I am descended on my mother's side from Daniel McManamon, who was descended from the Tir Connell (now Donegal) McMeniman/McManamons from the Finn Valley. They were dispossessed of their lands after one of the rebelions and  later they were forced to go to Doona, Mayo, by Cromwell in the "to Hell or to Connaught" phase of his dominance of Ireland, about 1650.

    I have just about given up on adding to this find an actual link between Daniel and his ancestors....but hope springs eternal!

    BTW, Daniel lived on a dirt road in Doona (near Ballycroy) and I was much surprised that Googal had already been there and provided 360-degree photographs of what I think was his house!


    Ray Harris

    Edgewater, Maryland


    Tuesday 15th August 2017, 08:07PM
  • Dear Ray, 

    The Finn Valley would certainly have been a likely place for the origin of your ancestors.  The Ulster Plantation took place about 1610 and at that time The natives were driven into the highlands and poorer areas.   Cromwell carried out his campaign of destruction about 40 years later but I do not think he came to Donegal himself.  His army did take over the Bishops Palace or Castle in Raphoe and even though the valley had been settled by Protestant and Presbyterian farmers forty years earlier it is possible that some natives were driven west at this time but with so much poor land in Donegal Mayo would appear to be a long way to send people This poses the query as to where they were based when they got driven to Mayo?

    I think your only chance of a resolution is a DNA test and then put your GED number up online and see what turns up.

    Best of luck with the search




    Wednesday 21st August 2019, 07:01PM
  • Hey Jessica
    I have some information on Margaret Bonar from Goland. I believe she was married to my great 3x grandfathers brother.
    My email is

    Kind regards

    Pat Bonar

    Saturday 9th January 2021, 01:54AM