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My great-grandfather Thomas Frain was a Roman Catholic born in the townland of Doon, Kilfree on Dec. 25, 1848 to Thomas Frain Sr.; mother's and siblings' names unknown.  I'm quite certain this information is correct, as Thomas Frain cites Doon, Kilfree, Sligo as his birthplace in the England census of 1911, and cites "Doon Rock" as his birthplace on a ship's manifest of Nov. 1913, when he emigratd to Pennsylvania with two of his children.  Further, the name of his father, Thomas Frain Sr., appears on his 1880 marriage certifiate, issued by St. Edward's RC Church in Runcorn, Cheshire, England, as well as on his 1933 death certificate, issued in Crabtree, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.  

Curiously, Doon does not appear in this site's list of townlands in Kilfree, though it figures in Griffith's Valuation and still exists; in fact, there's a Doon East and a Doon West, although both have only a handful of inhabitants today.  Also, there are two Frain households in Doon at the time of the 1901 and 1911 censuses of Ireland.

My great-grandfather was living in Runcorn, Cheshire, England by 1880 when he married Margaaret Duffy, whose parents were from Mayo, quite possibly Ballaghadereen.  Ballaghadereen is very near Doon and was located in Mayo until 1898 when the Mayo/Roscommon boundary was changed.  I suspect the Frains and Duffys may have known each other in Ireland before the Duffys emigrated to Runcorn c. 1859; Margaret Duffy was born in Runcorn in late 1860, whereas her two older brothers, b. 1856 and 1858, were born in Mayo.  

I'm wondering if anyone can find parish records for Thomas Frain or his father, and can identify any siblings, spouses, grandparents, or other relatives.  I find no clear evidence of siblings in the censuses of England, though there is at one point a John Frayne in the city of Runcorn (as opposed to the Registration District of Runcorn), apparently born in the period 1846-1850.  I'd also like to know whether the people of Doon would likely have attended mass at the chapel in Carrowntemple, and whether that chapel existed or had a priest in the mid- to late 19th c.  Is it possible that inhabitants of that part of South Sligo would have had their children baptised at the parish church in Ballaghadereen, since it was closer to Doon than any other parish church, as far as I can see?

I'd be very grateful for any information or guidance members might offer.  Many thanks.

Winifred (Winnie) Woodhull


Sunday 21st February 2016, 08:27PM

Message Board Replies

  • Winifred:

    Welcome to ireland Reaching Out!

    Baptismal records for the RC church of Kilfree/Killaraght do not start until 1873. Marriage records start in 1848. Here is the link to the parish register   This would be the current day parish of Gurteen. I don't know if you have Google Maps but I can see Doon just to the east of Carrowntemple not far from where the three counties ( Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon) meet. It is also not far from the Mayo village of Cloontia. My great-great grandparents came from the Cloontia area and they worshiped at St. James Carracastle (at least that is where the records were kept) until they were reassigned around 1880 to the Cathedral in Ballaghaderreen.

    As you know there are many Duffys and Frains in the general Ballaghaderreen area out to the parish of Kilmovee in Mayo. My great-grandmother was Mary Duffy (1858-1939) who wa sborn in Magheraboy, Kilmovee and married a farmer named Bernard Roddy who lived a mile outside of Ballaghaderreen.

    Have you considered autosomal DNA testing to see who you match and possibly you match someone who has more info on your families.

    Let me know if you have questions.

    Roger McDonnell


    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Sunday 21st February 2016, 09:41PM
  • Thanks very much for your prompt and thoughtful reply, Roger.  I have done the  mitachondrial DNA testing, which traces only mother-daughter ties in the maternal line, but haven't really gotten very far as a result; many, many extremely distant cousins have been identified, but only those who are ancestors of people who have paid for the same testing service I used!

    I wonder if you could put me in touch with a local socal historian or professional genealogist who would know about the relationships of landless laborers to churches in the period 1800-1850?  Many laborers seem to have moved around quite a lot in the area around Ballaghadereen in addition to migrating seasonally to Enlgand and Scotland to perform agricultural or even industrial labor.  Also, considering the difficulties posed by distances (for people who walked everywhere they went) and inclement weather, coupled by the frequent and widespread lack of priests to say mass and perform baptisms and marriages, I wonder if people didn't simply go the church that was nearest to their current residence to marry and have their children baptised. Ballaghadereen, which was a parish chuch in a market town, would have presumably been a place where a priest almost always would have been available.  I expect the same may have been true of the church in Gurteen.


    Finally, I know that in the early 19th c. in the small industrial town of Runcorn, England, there were (municipal?) cemetery records in addition to parish registers of baptisms, marriages, and deaths.  I wonder if there was any equivalent in Ballagh or Gurteen at the time?


    Winnie Woodhull


    Monday 22nd February 2016, 11:23PM
  • Winnie:

    I took the mitachrondrial test and it was not helpful. The autosomal test is the best for tracking down distant cousins.

    You may want to contact the library in Ballaghaderreen to see if they can help you. 

    Ballaghaderreen Branch Library Main Street, Ballaghaderreen, F45 E3C3
    Senior Library Assistant: Deirdre Creighton
    Tel. 094 9877044

    Here is a link to a cemetery site for Sligo which includes Gurteen.


    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Tuesday 23rd February 2016, 07:46PM
  • Again, thanks, Roger.



    Wednesday 24th February 2016, 04:01PM
  • Dear Winnie,

    My grandmother, Winnie Flaherty, nee Frain, lived in Doon West, and the details you descibe are correct, there is a Doon East, Doon West and Doon Rock so we may be related. Please feel free to contact me if you want any further information.

    Kind regards,



    Sunday 8th May 2016, 10:06PM
  • Dear Winnie,

    I’ve been told that my great great grandfather was John Frain of Gorteen. He may have been a brother or a cousin to your Thomas, Sr.

    If I’ve figured correctly, John’s father was Michael Frain. John had a son born about 1850 named Dominick. I don’t know anything of either of their siblings. I’m going to presume that their being irish, Catholic, and probably poor, there were other children. That may be an inaccurate presumption. Things happen.

    Dominick married Mary Roper in February 1877, at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Kilmactigue, and my grandfather, Thomas Joseph Frain, was born in November and christened in December. Two years later, almost, his brother Martin was born.  I believe he was christened at St. Attracta’s, Tourlestrane. I’ve met the Martin Frain who lives now in Ballaghadereen. Lovely man, we call each cousins, but he is not a direct descendant of my great uncle Martin. 

    My grandfather left for America about the time they changed the county lines. I’d always heard that he was born in Mayo, but Kilmactigue is in Sligo. I wonder if it used to be in Mayo. I’ve seen Mayo and Sligo on different documents, so I don’t know for sure.

    My grandfather worked for the railroad in Minnesota. He was a master carpenter, and raised my father in his trade.  He met and married a Polish orphan about 1906. They settled in Minneapolis, where they raised their boys, and moved to Corpus Christi,Texas in about 1937.

    There were several TJFs who left Ireland for America around the turn of the last century, and they mainly stayed in the eastern U.S., but one of them, a dozen years younger, ended up in St. Paul, Minnesota, less than twenty miles from my grandfather.

    I don’t keep if they ever met. I only learned of him about five years ago when I came across a pension request for his WWI service. Even if there was bad blood between the families, I think I should have heard his name.

    I hope I haven’t rambled too long and bored you. I hope you’ll reach out if I can help, and maybe share some things that may help me.

    Thanks. Have a great day today and a better day tomorrow. Stay safe, and may God bless. I wish you His peace.

    Dan Frain 



    Dan Frain

    Friday 7th December 2018, 03:36PM
  • Dear Dan,  Thanks for this very interesting history.  I'd heard of your family through Martin Frain of Ballaghaderreen, but I don't know if we're related.  Thanks to a reexamination of census data, I now believe my Frain ancestors had likely moved permanently from Doon, Kilfree, Sligo to Runcorn, Cheshire, England by 1851.  My great-grandfather Thomas Frain of Doon was apparently born in 1846, though throughout his life he claimed to be much younger than he was.  His father, also named Thomas Frain, was born in Ireland about 1811, but I don't know where.  According to the 1851 England census, Thomas Frain (Freney) senior was married to Bridget, b. Ireland 1814; their children were Michael, Ann, Thomas, Ellen, and later James.  Interestingly, by 1871 when she is widowed, Bridget Frain (Frane), was living in Runcorn with her married daughter, Bridget Roddey, b. Ireland 1841, and another relative named Bridget Frain (Frane), b. Ireland 1849.  It's a little surprising that Bridget Roddey doesn't appear in the Frain (Freney) household in 1851 when she would have been only 10 years old, but sadly, she could have been working by then.  This was true of the woman my great-grandfather married, Margaret Duffy of Runcorn, who at age 9 appears to have been living and presumably working (possibly as a child minder) in the apartment of a family other than her own, albeit one located in the same building as her family.  I think the Irish laborers were so poor in the 1850s and 60s that most children started working as soon as they could.  Roddey is a fairly common name in the region around Ballaghadereen, but it's interesting that our families seem to share the names Frain and Roddey.  Out of curiosity, how did you determine that you're not related to Martin Frain of Ballaghadereen?  I keep reading about how hard it is to find many significant matches unless all parties are tested by the same company, the largest of which, by far, is ancestryDNA (through  Martin and I both tested through Family Tree DNA and found no match.  Anyway, Dan, all the best.  Winnie Woodhull



    Friday 7th December 2018, 09:35PM
  • Hi Winnie and Dan!

    I also have Roddy connections outside of Ballaghaderreen (Knockanaconny). Winnie: I also tested on Family Tree and it appears we do not match ( I searched on Woodhull). I do have a small match with Martin Frain probably thru our Duffy line in Kilmovee parish. There is a volunteer run site called Gedmatch where you can load your Family Tree DNA data and see if you match someone who tested with another company and also loaded their data to Gedmatch. Also, My Heritage is allowing people who tested with another company to upload your data to My Heritage for free thru December 16th. Both of these steps will expand your matching pool.


    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Saturday 8th December 2018, 01:45PM
  • Hi Roger,  Thanks for another helpful reply.  Some time ago you suggested autosomal DNA testing, and I may look into it, but in the meantime I'll certainly see about uploading the Family Tree data to the other sites you mention.  I do want to ask your advice.  My last post was full of misinformation, I'm afraid.  I was going on my blurry recollection of research completed a decade ago, and relying on the census data I was able to find for free on Family Search rather than looking back at the more compete and accurate data I'd gotten through while I was still a subscriber.  In fact I've confused two different families and would like to delete  the entire entry.  I can't see how to do it, though, because the "edit" function only gives me access to my first stry, not the subsequent ones.   Can you help?  Very best,  Winnie






    Saturday 8th December 2018, 07:32PM
  • Winnie:

    Just to clarify, you want to delete your 12/7 comment that starts off "Dear Dan? If so I will see if I can delete.


    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Sunday 9th December 2018, 11:40PM
  • That's right, Roger, I'd like to delete the reply from 12/7 to Dan.  I do believe there's a possible Roddy connection in my family, by the way, through a Bridgit Frane Roddy, daughter of Bridgit Frane, who were living together in Runcorn in 1871; but given the number of Frains living in Cheshire and Lancashire in that period--to speak only of those UK counties--it's far from certain.  Regarding the Thomas Ferney/Freney/Feeney family I briefly identified as my own, living in Runcorn as of 1851, I realized my mistake after checking the household's children's histories on Family Search: turns out their name was Feeney and was consistently recorded as such throughout the children's and grandchildren's lives in the later 19th and early 20th  c, so they're no relation, at least none that I know of.

    Also, I looked back at my data on Family Tree DNA and saw that I had in fact had an autosomal test in 2013 as well as one for mitochondrial DNA.  The testing process changes fairly quickly, so if I might do another autosomal one soon and do some comparisons across various testing companies, as you suggest.  On the testing front, I received quite a lot of information from a DNA match, Paddy Waldron of Clare, who has a detailed website you might findinteresting.  He's also apparentlly got a video on youtube.  I don't feel comfortable posting his address here but I'm sure it'll come up easily on google.  I'm still not optimisitc about being able to illuminate DNA results with historical documentation (eg census and BMD data).  It's nice to know that I've apparently got ancestors in Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon, Clare, Donegal, etc, as well as England, Scotland, France (the Normans?)) Denmark (the Vikings?), and even Sweden going back at least to the 17th c., but it doesn't mean much to me if that's all I can know!  I did notice a "100% European" result on FT DNA report on the more modern ancestry, which they distinguish from "ancient" ancestry that of course ranges all over the place.  A dubious marketing ploy?

    Many thanks, Roger.



    Sunday 16th December 2018, 03:00AM


    Winnie, I’ve only just seen your comment from 12/7. It’s not yet been deleted, and I’m glad of it.

     Martin and I claim to be cousins, but we have yet to find a definite link. He says we’re a small clan and have to claim as many as we can. He and his son Kelvin took us on an afternoon drive around the area. It was Palm Sunday, 2017, and one of the best days of my life so far. I hope to find the link someday.

    I hope to be able to see Martin and Kelvin again and meet more of the family when we visit again next summer. I’m hoping to find more Frain relatives by continuing to contact descendants of other Thomas Joseph Frains I’ve found mentionsof on the interwebz. I’ve found at least a half dozen other TJFs who came over within about ten years of his emigration.

    Surely at least one of them will be related to my branch of the family. I think the fact that so many names follow the convention of naming children for saints and relatives strongly suggests that. Maybe we’ll find a link between your family and mine if we keep digging.

    I didn’t intend to hijack your post. I was hoping something I said in my comment might relate to parts of yours. I’ll keep hoping, but I’ll try to restrain myself from butting in. Hopefully, someone will provide a link that will bring us all together.

    Have a great day! 





    Dan Frain

    Monday 17th December 2018, 01:49AM
  • Winnie:

    I will see about deleting the 12/7 comment. If you do another autosomal test, I suggest you test with Ancestry DNA. You can also load your Family Tree DNA data to a volunteer site called Gedmatch  Gedmatch allows you to load your DNA data and see matches with people who test with other countries (and load their data to Gedmatch). 

    Paddy Waldron is also an Ireland Reaching Out volunteer and I'm familiar with his work with DNA.


    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Monday 17th December 2018, 05:07PM