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~~Dillon, Harkin, Fox - Origins in County Clare, Ireland
 We have not been successful to date at locating the exact location or townland of origin of our Dillon ancestor John Dillon( c1812), son of Roger and Lenore (nee Doherty) nor have we been able to trace other direct Dillon or Doherty family in Ireland.
 Research to date indicates that John most likely lived in the Lidoonvarna area of County Clare covering the old parishes of Killilagh, Kilmoon and Killeaney (now Lidoonvarna Parish) and the neighbouring parishes of Kilshanny and Kilfenora.
 Further research may lead us more closely to John Dillon's place of origin is the two likely cousins that also came out to Victoria
Catherine nee Dillon Fitzpatrick (1815-1896)
There is also a likely first cousin to John Dillon (1812) – Catherine Dillon born c1815 Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, Ireland, daughter of Phillip Dillon and Ann nee Camel.  Thus, Catherine's father Philip could be a brother of John Dillon's father - Roger Dillon (c1780). Philip was one of John and Bridget Dillon's son's name and is more likely to be a Dillon name rather than a Fox name as she already had two sons Michael and Patrick Harkin. There was a Philip Dillon occupying land in Ballygastell in 1831 (see below).  Catherine married Jeremiah “Darby” Fitzpatrick in Lisdoonvarna c 1840 and had their first three children Bridget, Austin and Mary before sailing to Portland, Victoria in 1851. They settled in Ballarat where they had a further six children of which only two survived. They later moved to Swanwater and were neighbours to Roger Dillon and Austin Harkin and are buried at St Arnaud.
Mary nee Dillon O’Donohue (1840-1908)
 A likely Dillon cousin - Mary (nee Dillon, daughter of Patrick Dillon and Mary Edwards) and her husband Patrick O'Donohoe from Kilfenora emigrated to Victoria in 1866 and also settled in Hardies Hill. Evidence as to the closeness of the relationship with the Dillons is that upon the death of the O'Donohoe twins in 1875, they were buried in the same grave at  Buninyong as Roger Dillon's child Margaret who died  aged 18 months in 1873.
 If Mary was a first cousin of the three Dillon boys- Roger, Austin and Philip, that would make her father - Patrick a brother of John Dillon (1812).

Ballygastell Townland, Killeaney Parish, County Clare - Dillon, Fox, Doherty
1831 Tithe Valuation -
 The 1831 Tithe Valuation lists William (son of Thomas), Michael and Philip Dillon as neighbours living in Ballygastell Townland, Killeaney Parish and were probably all related. There was also a William Doherty listed in the same townland, possibly related to John Dillon's mother Lenore Doherty. However, of great interest is the listing of Edmund Fox occupying 43 acres in Ballygastell, most probably Bridget nee Fox Dillon's father.

It is most likely that John and Bridget were married at the Toomaghera Church which was situated at Biddy Quinn's Cross and was the original church that served the old Kileany and Kilmoon Parishes. This was replaced by the current Tooverahera Church and was named Our Lady of Lourdes. Although it has an ancient cross on the wall, it was not consecrated until 1878, taking about twenty years to complete the construction. This was after the departure of our Dillon ancestors to Australia in the 1850s.
Edmund Fox of Ballygastell
 We have been apparently successful and confident in tracing Bridget (nee Fox) Dillon's family to her father  Edmund Fox, farmer in Ballygastell Townland, Killeaney Parish. Although we do not have primary evidence of this, we are relying on very extensive research by local resident Thomas Hogan  of Lahinch in 1995. Thomas is related to Con Hogan who married Bidellia Dillon in Wooroonook in 1886, grand-daughter of John (1815) and daughter of Roger Dillon and Margaret nee Flannigan.
Michael Harkin of Ballyteige
 We know from Victorian BDMs that Bridget first married Michael Harkin (about 1830) and that they lived on Michael's 20 acre farm in Ballyteige Townland is well established, this farm is almost next door to Edmund Fox's farm. It was here that they had six Harkin children (Michael, Mary, Bridget, Nancy, Margaret and Patrick Harkin) until the apparently early death of Michael Harkin about 1840 (possibly about the same year as the birth of the youngest son Patrick Harkin).
John Dillon and the Widow Bridget Harkin 
 We can firstly trace the whereabouts of John Dillon about 1840 when he married Bridget (nee Fox), widow of Michael Harkin. After the death of her husband Michael Harkin, Bridget was faced with the huge task of raising a young family of five alone (all under the age of ten years) and continuing working the 20 acre Harkin farm.
 The year of John and Bridget Dillon's marriage (c1844) was  also near the beginning of the Irish Potato Famine and it was during those terrible years of the Famine that their three sons were born - Roger (c1845), Philip (c1847) and Austin (c1849), they also had two daughters - Ellen and Catherine who died young presumably before the family left Ireland for Victoria (1853). The Dillon family lived on the Harkin farm in Ballyteige Townland. Des Dineen was able to visit the ruin remains of the old Harkin cottage during his first visit in 1988 and it was situated on banks of the Ballyteige River.
 It would have been a terrible struggle during those famine years to survive with a young family of eight children, fortunately Bridget was a local in Lisdoonvarna Parish and would most likely have received support from her family living nearby.
 It would have been the famine and the drastic circumstances that existed that resulted in Bridget's two eldest Harkin children - Michael (c1834) and Mary (c1836) to seek a better life abroad and leave Ireland and sail to Victoria on the "John Knox" in 1851. Michael was 16 years old and Mary was 14 when they left Ireland.
  John, Bridget and their family of six children (Bridget, Nancy and Margaret Harkin, Roger, Philip and Austin Dillon) followed two years later when they sailed to Victoria on the "Boomerang" in November, 1853.

Summary of Dillon, Harkin and Fox Irish Origins
 We have traced John and Bridget's Harkin and Dillon children's place of birth to Ballyteige Townland on the Harkin 20 acre farm. Bridget nee Fox had firstly married her next-door neighbour Michael Harkin who farmed the Harkin farm at Ballyteige Townland on the other side of the Ballyteige River, the river dividing the two townlands and their farms.
 Bridget Fox's place of birth was almost certainly Ballygastell Townland, where her father Edmund ('Ned"?) Fox was a relatively prominent landholder occupying 74 acres.
 The origin/townland of John Dillon has not been found to date. It is interesting to note that there were several Dillons and also a Doherty (John's mother's name) living in Ballygastell, We have not proven the relationship of John Dillon to the Dillons of Ballygastell, however he could quite possibly have  been a cousin. As mentioned earlier, it is most likely that John was raised in the Lidoonvarna area of County Clare covering the old parishes of Killilagh, Kilmoon and Killeaney (now Lidoonvarna Parish) and the neighbouring parishes of Kilshanny and Kilfenora.

Dillon, Fox and Harkin Families after John and Bridget Dillon's Departure (1853)
  By 1855, the  Griffith Valuation listed only a John and Bryan Dillon living in Ballygastell,. From Tommy Hogan's research, Bryan was probably William's son as he carried on William's land and also the Harkin farm in Ballyteige after John and Bridget's departure in 1853. The John Dillon occupying a house only in Ballygastell in 1855 was possibly Bryan's brother. The  Griffith Valuation in 1855 listed Edmund Fox with an increased holding of 74 acres and this was most likely Bridget's father or perhaps her brother. This increase was due to him apparently taking over Philip Dillon's 15 acres and Michael Dillon's 16 acres due to their departure from Ballygastell (either by death before or after the Famine, emigration or relocation elsewhere). It is very likely that this transfer of Dillon land to Edmund Fox was aided by the union of Bridget and John Dillon in 1845.
 The departure of the two eldest Harkin children followed by John and Bridget Dillon and  the remainder of Harkin and Dillon children probably meant that Bryan Dillon would possibly have been the closest relative until Patrick Harkin was able to take over.  In the 1860s, the Harkin farm (20 acres) was claimed back by Patrick Harkin (probably Michael's nephew) when he came of age and the Harkin family continued to farm and reside there for another 100 years.
The "Ballygastell Dillons"and their departure to Ballynahuane Townland, Killilagh Parish 
 According to Tommy Hogan's research, Bryan Dillon's sister married a Considine who was a farmer in Liscannor Parish. Bryan Dillon married and had a family, some of whom emigrated to the USA, his son John Dillon stayed in Ireland to succeed his father on the farm marrying a girl whose maiden name was Killoury/Killoughery from Moymore in the north-east of Kilshanny Parish.
 By the 1870's (approx.), the Dillon family had moved from Ballygastell north-west a few miles to Ballynahuane ("Village of the river") in the north-west of Killilagh Parish overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and very near the 12th Century castle of Ballynalacken.
  John Dillon had two sons Bryan an Tom Dillon who remained home, whilst the rest of the family emigrated to the USA and the family kept in touch over the years with the two sons who remained at home. Tom and Bryan remained bachelors and lived together on the small farm.  Bryan died in the 1950s.
 Tom had been involved in the Irish Volunteer Movement (1920-21) and liked his nick-name "Danger Dillon", although he was described as a quiet, unassuming man, smallish in stature. In 1961, Hurricane Debby" struck and when Tom opened the front door to go outside to do some securing, the wind blew the hot coals  from his fireplace around the house causing it to burn down, fortunately Tom was left safe in the outhouse. After the fire, Tom went to live with his Father's cousin, a Considine girl who had married a Marrinan who had a bar/grocery business in Ennistymon and stayed with them until he got ill and died in Ennistymon Hospital in his late 70s about 1970.
  Thus, Tom was the last of the Ballygastell Dillons (by name) in Ireland,although the Considine  descendants would continue the line, if not the name). Tom was buried in the Dillon family grave at Kilshanny where surprisingly many of the Ballygastell families had their graves. Unfortunately there is no headstone or marker on the Dillon grave. About 1991, Dillon relatives were in Kilshanny enquiring about the family grave and gave the impression they were going to erect a headstone on another visit. In 1995, a nephew from the USA(a son of Tom's sister, possibly a McMahon) enquired about the grave. It will be worth checking whether a Dillon headstone has been erected in Kilshanny.
The Harkin Family In Clare beyond 1853
The Harkin farm of 20 acres was later claimed back by Patrick Harkin (born circa 1840) who is thought to have been a nephew of Michael Harkin when he came of age in the 1860s and the Harkin family continued to farm on this land for a further 100 years.
Patrick married a Rynne (Ryan?) from Cloona (Clooney)Parish (now Ennistymon) and had a family of about 6 children.  Patrick died in the 1920s and Mrs Harkin died about 1940, having lived apparently to around 100 years old.  The HARKIN grave is in Kilmoon cemetery and can be readily found just inside the gate; it is a white limestone/marble headstone with the inscription
 “Erected by Pat Harkin in memory of his father and mother, also his departed  friends for him and prosperity.  May he rest in peace.”
One of Patrick’s children was Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) was single and lived in Balygastell and died about 1960. A brother John died about 15 years earlier.  A young niece of Lizzie by the name of  "Peg" Barry lived with Lizzie for some time before her death and inherited the Harkin property after Lizzie's death. She then married another Kilshanny man by the name of Vaughan, they sold the farm shortly afterwards and went to live in County Meath (near Dublin). When Des Dineen visited the Harkin farm at Ballygastell in 1988, there was only a few walls of the old cottage still standing, and according to Tommy Hogan in 1995 there was only a small heap of stones there.

Des Dineen wrote to Mr Stephen Mooney (Lisdoonvarna) who was the owner of the Harkin farm  in 1995. He said that he bought the farm from Lawrence Shaloo (Cahermore, Kilshanny) who possibly bought it from Mrs Vaughan.
Other siblings of Lizzie Harkin were Tom, who was in the drapery business in Dublin and he married and had at least two daughters (refer Gavin Harkin's visit to that address (Main Rd Rathfarnham, a suburb of Dublin) in 1988 where he met the two daughters). a sister who married a Barry from Kilshanny, another sister who married a P. (Patrick?) O'Dwyer also from Kilshanny and another sister  (maybe Catherine) who emigrated to America as a young girl.
The O'Dwyer family had at least five children, three boys who Tom Hogan knew very well, the only one still living  - John O'Dwyer was thought to be living in Australia and would be in his late 70's in 1995.
One of the daughters of Patrick Harkin (Catherine)  went to America and worked in the house staff of the Governor of New York – Mr Coolidge- and later followed him to the White house when he became President of the USA

Desmond John Dineen

Tuesday 20th May 2014, 01:42PM

Message Board Replies

  • Dear Des

    I have passed your query to a volunteer in a neighbouring parish who may be able to assist. I hope you will be hearing from her soon. 

    Best wishes

    Clare Doyle

    Genealogy Support 

    Monday 26th May 2014, 02:17PM
  • Hi Des

    Good to hear from you. It must nearly be time for another visit?

    Best wishes


    Genealogy Support

    Friday 1st May 2015, 01:46PM
  • Hi Clare, I just revisited the Ireland XO site again and realised you had very kindly assisted me last year. Of course we have also corresponded in Mike's Your Irish Heritage forum since that time. I really did put a lot of information up.

    For the Kilfenora Parish, I am interested mainly in the parish records of Mary Dillon born c1840 in Kilfenora, the daughter of Patrick Dillon and Mary Edwards. Also Mary Dillon married Patrick O'Donohoe  probably in Kilfenora prior to them emigrating to Victoria in 1866.


    Thanks again Clare and looking forward to using the new parish records in July



    Desmond John Dineen

    Saturday 2nd May 2015, 08:47AM

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