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Wondering where McSharry came from

Could anyone help me understand how theancestors of the famlies named McSharry got to Rossinver?  A distant match from a dna site asked me if the surname had come up from Rossinver because they changed the surname to Foley on emigrating.  I'd always assumed that they were around the Leitrim/Sligo area a long time.  I'd assumed before that from the North.  Thanks for any kind of insight you can give me.  Jude Curtis Levine


Tuesday 20th June 2017, 02:26AM

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  • Jude:

    Welcome to Ireland Reaching Out!

    I located two sites which provide some background on McSharry and varinat names like McSherry. The first mentions the connection to Foley.

    In the mid-19th century McSharry was primarily in Leitrim but there was also a good number in Sligo. The 1901 census had 121 McSharry households in Leitrim and 48 McSharry households in Sligo mainly where Sligo and Leitrim meet near the civil parishes of Rossinver in both counties. You can see the households at my 1901 census site

    Roger McDonnell

    Tuesday 20th June 2017, 04:52PM
  • MacLysaght's "Surnames of Ireland" explains that the Irish name MacSherry (Mac Searraigh) was sometimes anglicized as Foley in County Roscommon because of association with the word searrach, meaning "foal".

    Friday 30th June 2017, 10:24PM
  • Thank you both.  My gut instinct is still NOT Roscommon.  This is why I think they are Leitrim/Sligo down from the North.  In Ireland, our maternal Y line married a McNulty (you know, THE Ulsterman of early times) who came from a Gallagher line. I believe that both of these are originally from north east.  And in America, our first emigrant in that line and last of all our lines to come  married a settled first generation Smith who had come from Irish McGowan.  There are many such in Sligo-Leitrim near the McSharrys and Foleys, although our particular maternal line came from Cavan.  So it all speaks to me of midieval North/North east at the latest and possibly earlier.  Would love more thoughts on this.  Thanks so much.

    Saturday 1st July 2017, 06:14PM
  • Apologies.  Forgot to mention that our grandfather came over about 1885, and his older siblings had come over just years before that.  As far as family tradition goes, that was the extent of the family.  I do not agree that the two younger males born to a Mary in Mullanfad are the same direct nuclear family.  Why would they not have been mentioned by the older sister of our grandfather who traveled to Ireland in 1931 and 1935 and gave the accurate family line and origin township data to our aunt, my mother's older unmarried sister who did what family genealogy there is.  So though later censuses are good to see name distribution and proximity - thank you - I assume that none are part of our direct line, although clearly of the same orginating community.  That's why I was hoping someone alive today associated with the site might have an idea of that.  Thanks all.

    Saturday 1st July 2017, 06:18PM
  • I only butted in before, because I have a copy of MacLysaght's and thought his info about the name origin might be of interest.  Oddly, though, you've now tied into two of my family lines, McNulty and Gallagher, so here's some further info which may be of help in your genealogical search:

    It's true that the McNulty surname originated in Ulster, but my McNulty line is from Mayo, where a branch of the family took refuge in the 17th Century (at the time of the Plantation of Ulster) and became numerous in the area around Swinford.  My grandmother was born in the Parish of Killasser (Callow Lakes area, northwest of Swinford), and there are McNultys in most nearby parishes.

    As for the Gallaghers, while it's generally considered an Ulster (particularly Donegal) surname, some scholars now believe that a separate Gallagher clan originated in Galway, from where they spread into Mayo and other adjoining counties.  My Gallagher grandfather also grew up in Mayo, near Kiltimagh (Parish of Killedan), not too far from where my McNulty grandmother lived (there were also a few Gallaghers in my grandmother's parish).  Since the name Ó Gallchobhair/Ó Gallchúir means "descendant of the foreign help (i.e. gallowglasses)", it's easy to see how the name could originate in more than one place.

    I also noticed in researching another branch of my family that there are some Gallaghers and McNultys across the border from Mayo in Roscommon, who I assume are distanlty related to the ones in Mayo.

    Sunday 2nd July 2017, 07:33PM
  • Jude, your post re McSharry is over 2 years old, but I have just discovered it!! Did you ever get any further with discovering your McSharry line? You mention Cavan, my g-g grandmother was a McSharry( sometimes spelt McSherry )from Cavan.The  McSharry sept was particularly associated with Breifne ( Cavan /Leitrim) as are the Smiths/ McGowans. My direct line never left Cavan, Ireland, till my mother but many of my g-g grandmothers siblings/ cousins emigrated to the US. 




    Sunday 10th November 2019, 09:43AM