Evidence for Our McCanns Originating From Mullaghbawn, Forkhill Parish, Armagh

Jan 2013



            The purpose of this document is to show current evidence for the location of Catherine Creegan nee McCann’s home in Ireland.


            John Creegan and Catherine McCann arrived in Baltimore from Ireland aboard the Ship Annapolis in 1854. They went to Alexandria, Virginia where at least 2 of Catherine’s brothers (John and Bernard McCann) were already living. The story as passed down tells of John using the ‘ticket’ intended for Catherine’s brother Hugh. John and Catherine were married in 1856.

            One key element in this search is to determine the given names of Catherine, John and Bernard’s parents. Using traditional Irish naming patterns it is fairly certain that their father was Hugh McCann. While it is not quite as clear, there is a strong case that their mother’s name could be Catherine (another possibility is Mary). For this line of research only, Hugh and Catherine McCann will be assumed to be Catherine’s parents in Ireland.

            A second key element is finding the general location in Ireland. It is certain that Catherine lived in County Armagh. Armagh is a predominately Catholic county in Northern Ireland. Each county in Ireland is divided into civil parishes and each civil parish is divided into many small townlands. Below I provide evidence that Catherine is from Forkhill Parish and possibly Mullaghbawn (or Mullaghbane) Townland. Mullaghbawn seems to be a more recent spelling. The townland name is from Irish: an Mullach Bán, meaning “the white hilltop”.  In a flight of fancy, I have even identified a farm where they could have lived.

Some fairly detailed evidence is provided below to support the premise that our McCanns are from Mullaghbawn, but let me be clear that this is not conclusive evidence. Further research is needed and several possible new sources of data are listed. In support of this evidence, another McCann researcher contacted me and agrees with the Forkhill possibility.

Take a look at the County Armagh civil parishes.

Take a look at the Forkhill Parish townlands.

Some of the evidence comes from the 1821 Ireland census for Forkhill parish. It is a near miracle that this fragment of the census exists since almost all census data prior to 1901 was lost – this small piece was discovered a few years back in Forkhill.

Some of the evidence comes from Griffith’s Valuation which provides detailed information on property location, leasing and value. All of Ireland was surveyed between 1848 -1864. The data gathered was cross referenced to ordinance survey maps to show the location of each parcel. County Armagh data was published in 1864, however, it is not clear to me when, during that period, the data was actually collected. Griffith’s Valuation is a well-known Irish census replacement tool.

Valuation Update Books became available on-line in early 2013 from PRONI (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in Belfast). Every year any changes in each property were updated making it possible to gather additional valuable information.

The 1901 and 1911 census for all of Ireland is also on-line. The census data supports and extends what we know McCann family in Mullaghbane.




1.    Evidence that Catherine is from County Armagh. The death certificate for Mary Ellen (Rose) Shlesinger (Bernard McCann’s daughter) indicates Bernard and his wife Ellen were both from Armagh. My assumption is that the reference is to County Armagh, not the town. I have confirmation of an Armagh origin from Bill Shlesinger, Mary’s grandson.


2.    Evidence that Bernard McCann and his wife Ellen are likely from the same location in Ireland. Bernard McCann emigrated from Ireland on the Ship Europe along with Michael, Ann, Ellen and young Michael McSherry in 1849. Bernard married Ellen in 1851.


3.    Evidence that the McCanns are from Forkhill Parish. There are ~40 McCann families in the 1821 Forkhill parish census including Hugh and Catherine McCann in Mullaghbawn townland. Take a look at the census; there may be quite a few relatives in there. I know, there is another Hugh and Catherine McCann in Aughadanove but, for now I’m following the Mullaghbawn connection.


4.    Evidence that the McSherrys are also from Forkhill Parish. Michael McSherry (Ellen McCann’s father) and his sister Mary are also in the 1821 Forkhill Parish census  in Shanroe townland which is adjacent to Mullaghbawn townland (NOTE: McSherrys are at the bottom of the list). Michael is also in the1860 US census in Alexandria, VA with the appropriate age as is his sister Mary.


5.    Where in Mullaghbawn did Catherine live? Hugh and Catherine McCann are in Griffith’s Valuation for Mullaghbawn twice (first page, second page). The entries are indicated by blue arrows. The first page shows they leased 4 parcels (36A,B,C & D) from Henry Alexander. The second page shows they jointly leased a single large parcel (#45) with 6 other people also from Alexander. Note that the acreage for each parcel is listed. Also, Michael McSherry leases property in Glebe Townland which is adjacent to Mullaghbawn. The land parcel numbers, shown in the first column, can be cross referenced to a Griffith’s Valuation map. Mullaghbawn (outlined in blue) and Glebe (outlined in green) can be seen in this view showing their proximity. Hugh and Catherine McCann’s leased properties (blue arrows) are #36A,B,C &D as well as #45 (which is the entire Mullaghbane Mountain!). In the same map you can see that Michael McSherry’s leased property (green arrow) is #8 in Glebe. NOTE: Hugh and Catherine McCann were listed together which is not typical but very helpful. Finding links is everything.


6.    Who is Hugh? (new info 6/2013): In the Griffith’s Valuation, Hugh appears to be the son and not the husband. Catherine died on 6 May 1867 and her estate was left to Hugh M'Cann of Mullabane (Forkhill) aforesaid Farmer the Son and only next of kin of said deceased. I can imagine that perhaps the reason Hugh did not leave Ireland in 1854 was that his father died and he was the only one left who could run the farm.


7.    Which farm did Catherine live on? Hugh and Catherine’s property 36A indicates a building on the property (blue arrow). Using Google Earth and Google Street View I located the small farm and there was an old Irish home still on it - let me tell you this totally blew my mind! The roads and lay of the land are almost identical today as they were over 150 years ago.


8.    Valuation Update Books (New 6/2013). Hugh is shown to become the sole occupier of property 36A-D in 1872 which corresponds to the date when the estate was granted to Hugh. There are no other changes until 1907 when Patrick McCann replaces Hugh as occupier (Patrick is likely Hugh’s son and Hugh has died). In 1919 Patrick received assistance to purchase the properties! The valuation books on-line cover the period through 1929.


9.    1901 and 1911 Census and other records (New 6/2013). Hugh McCann married Sarah Campbell before 1862. They had at least 3 boys and 3 girls: Michael, Patrick (see above), John, Sarah, Bridget and Anne. By comparing neighbors in the census data and Griffith’s Valuation I am confident this is the family living at property 36.


10.  Additional information. Patrick and Ann McCann of Alexandria were from Forkhill according to their tombstones (Pippenger). There is a Patrick and Ann in the Forkhill census. Patrick’s is the proper age but Ann’s age somewhat low.


11.  Where to look from here? Hugh and Catherine leased their property from Henry Alexander of Forkhill Estate. There are Lease papers for Forkhill Estate that include Henry Alexander’s time frame in PRONI. These papers may have additional information including the possibility of listing the occupants of the house.


Check this for leases for our McCanns


Repository :

Public Record Office for Northern Ireland

PRONI Reference :


Level :


Access :


Title :

Bundle of Leases and Indentures relating

Dates :


Description :

Bundle of Leases and Indentures relating to land and tenements on the Forkhill Estate, between the Trustees of the Jackson's Charities and various individuals including: Thomas Henry, Reverend Richard Quinn, H. J. Alexander, Esq, Reverend John Jennings, Hogg & Mitchell, William McCartney Filgate, James Murdock, Thea Morrow and Frederick David Lambert, as well as two particulars relating to the Court of the Irish Land Commission, Land Act 1903.


Also relating to Forkhill

D294 – Chambre papers

D607 – Downshire papers (info on rebellion)

FIN/5A/134 – 1828 Tithe Composition Books for Forkhill

T529 – Forkhill Estate Papers

T1722 – Paterson Papers (info on sectarian violence/Forkhill info)