Ireland

 

 

Presenting Our Family in Ireland:

 

Michael Creegan (abt. 1794) and Elizabeth Creegan nee Maguire (1794).

          Richard (1820)

          Michael (1823)

          John (1830)

         

 

In October 2006, we (William Creegan and Carolyn Creegan Crosen) went to Ireland on a mission – to confirm that Michael and Elizabeth Creegan existed and that they are the parents of John Creegan of Alexandria. We chose The National Library of Ireland (NLI) in Dublin to carry out our mission. The NLI houses microfilmed copies of most (if at all) of the existing Roman Catholic parish records for the entire country including Northern Ireland. Depending on the parish, these records can start as early as the 1700’s and can contain baptismal, marriage and death records to one extent or another, with the baptismal records being most prevalent.

 

The very first thing we did was to visit the Genealogist at the Library – this service is provided to help people get started on their research and the lady, who talked to use for only 10 minutes, explained the complicated organizational units of the country (provinces, counties, baronies, civil parishes, catholic parishes, poor law unions, townlands, and towns), gave us the church parishes we needed around Drogheda including the film numbers and sent us on our way – no frills just facts. Before we were out the door she was already in the middle of explaining it again to the next people in line. 

 

We had information with us (from Peter Murphy) that Michael and Elizabeth Creegan had sons Richard and Michael baptized in Drogheda but we didn’t know if we would be able tie them to our family. Drogheda is a town about 30 miles north of Dublin and, according family lore, John Creegan was from there. St. Peter’s of Drogheda Parish, St Mary’s Parish, Termonfeckin Parish (east of Drogheda), and Monasterboice Parish (north of Drogheda) cover Drogheda Town and Drumshallon Townland just north of Drogheda – we started with these.

 

Catholic Parishes Near Drogheda in County Louth

 

The Reading Room of the Library is equipped with about 50 microfilm readers and, while we never had to wait, there were always a lot of other folks in there, most with red eyes. We filled out our request slips and turned them in and within a few minutes a polite Irish person brought us our films and helped get set up. And so, we began to go through the hundreds of pages of records. Of course, the records were written by hand and the quality of writing and condition of the ink varied greatly, some so poor to the extent that the records were unreadable, in very important time periods for us. But we forged on, our eyes gradually turning equally red as the other dedicated researchers.

 

St. Peter’s Parish was the first to reward us. We confirmed the Baptism of Richard Creegan being in 1820 – his parents were Michael Creegan and Elizabeth Maguire. Then Michael in 1823. And then … nothing. Was that it? There were no Creegans in the St. Mary’s Parish. Nor in the Termonfeckin Parish. Were our hopes dashed?

 

Looking back in St. Peter’s Parish Carolyn found Elizabeth Maguire’s baptism in 1794 – her parents were Thomas Maguire and Magaret Read. But no Baptism for Michael. There were no marriage records for them and no death records either - its possible these were in the unreadable areas.

 

I forget which parish I was scanning at the time, but I heard a little gasp from Carolyn who was using the machine next to me. I think she was way too calm when she pointed at the screen where John Creegan’s baptismal record was clear and readable and his parents were… Michael and Elizabeth Creegan… date 7 May 1830 – the exact year we predicted he was born from US census records.. It was in the Monasterboice Parish records.

 

And so …

 

Everyone, this is the real thing. Because of this information and the scarcity of other Creegan's in that area we are confident in claiming Michael, Elizabeth, Richard, Michael and John -- as -- our -- own. Home at last!

 

Notes:

 

We returned to visit the genealogist after finding John and because there was so little information on Michael (no siblings or baptism, etc.) she said she thought they had moved around – such as farm laborers (of course we could embellish this part to be gypsies or horse thieves).

 

We also checked Mellifont Parish (west of Drogheda) and some but not all of Collon Parish (West of Monasterboice Parish). We simply ran out of time.

 

We had expected to find Michael and Elizabeth’s son William (1828) but we didn’t. However, the information we have leads us to believe he does exist and was born in 1828. The most likely Catholic Parish would be Monasterboice which encompasses most of Drumshallon, but he was not in the Baptismal register in 1828 or surrounding years.

 

The name spellings varied somewhat, which is not unusual, and it did not lead us to think they were different people.

 

County Meath has also been mentioned in the family as a place where some of the family may be from - another place to look. We found some Creegan's there in the 1824 Tithe Applotment Books for a civil parishes right next to County Louth (Slane and Gernonstown).

 

Are there any of our relatives still living there? I certainly would not rule it out but we didn’t check for them at all (no time). There are records available that could help us trace them, most notably, Tithe Applotment Books, Griffiths Valuations, 1901 Irish census and 1911 Irish census. And, of course, the good old phone book – although I would not resort to that unless I was pretty darn sure they qualified as a ‘cousin’.

 

St. Peter’s is a beautiful church and is most famous for housing the National Shrine to St. Oliver Plunkett, who was martyred at Tyburn in 1681. The shrine contains the preserved head of the saint.

Saint Peter’s Drogheda

 

Drogheda – River Boyne

 

Drogheda – “Alley”

 

Drogheda – River Boyne

 

The Family Lore

 

Map of Ireland as it was in 1848.

 

John Creegan was born in 1830 [Accurate based on age given on census]. He was perhaps from Drogheda, County Louth.

 

Catherine “Kitty” McCann was born approximately 1834 perhaps from County Armagh. Catherine had at least two brothers, John and Bernard, who also immigrated to Alexandria. She had a brother, Hugh, who remained in Ireland (see Immigration story).There may also be Brian and Bridget, related either as siblings or other relationship.

 

Drogheda and Armagh area from an 1848 map of Ireland.

 

Lynn Simpson’s notes:

1.    Creegan: at least 3 boys in the family, at least 1 other traveled to America. They were orphans, John may have had a twin.

2.    Creegan: John’s parents were Michael and Elizabeth [by convention] from Drumshallon.

3.    Creegan: There may have been a brother, William, born March 15, 1828, Michael was working as a servant at the time.

4.    Hugh must have been Kitty’s fathers name; maybe mothers name was Mary Ann [by convention].

5.    Living in Portadown.

6.    Hugh could not make the trip due to illness.

 

 

The Speculation

 

There is a naming tradition for Irish families that the Creegan’s and McCann’s adhered to… sort of. The tradition is as follows:

 

1.                First born son named after his father's father

2.                Second born son named after his mother's father

3.                Third born son named after his father

4.                Fourth born son named after his father's oldest brother

5.                Fifth born son named after his father's 2nd oldest brother or his mother's oldest brother

6.                First born daughter named after her mother's mother

7.                Second born daughter named after her father's mother

8.                Third born daughter named after her mother

9.                Fourth born daughter named after her mother's oldest sister

10.           Fifth born daughter named after her mother's 2nd oldest sister or her father's oldest   sister

 

John’s father:

 

John and Catherine named their first born son Michael and because of this we are almost certain that John’s father’s name is Michael. Since John was born around 1830 his father’s birth date can be estimated. If John is the youngest then Michael could have been born around 1810. If John is the oldest, Michael could have been born as early as 1790 or even earlier. Hey guys, it’s only a 20 year swing.

 

 

John’s mother:

 

This one is more difficult. Their second born daughter is Catherine. Ok, so his mother could be Catherine, right? But, their third born daughter is Elizabeth who should be the mother’s namesake. Continuing on that theme, their second born son is John, not the third born.  So it seems they have reversed the order for second and third born. Because of this we are choosing Elizabeth as John’s mother, keeping in mind that this is speculation.

 

Whew!

 

Catherine’s father:

 

This is even trickier. Their second son, Hugh Bernard, should be Catherine’s father’s namesake. John McCann’s first born son is probably Hugh. This jives right? Well, Bernard’s first born is Michael (Hugh  is his second born son). So much for that. Did they have a family meeting to decide who got which name? 2 to 1 wins, I’m going with Hugh, for now.

 

Catherine’s mother:

 

This is near impossible. Catherine’s first born daughter is Mary Ann. Bernard’s second born daughter is Catherine and his third born daughter is Mary. John McCann had at least 2 daughters, Sarah and Kate but there are 3 names we don’t know. This is real iffy but following the same out of order naming scheme used by John and Catherine we have 2 votes for Mary. For now I’m using Mary with Catherine a long shot.

 

 

The Fantasy

 

Even though John is supposed to be from Drogheda, what about Michael? There are Creegan’s in Drogheda but there are many more with interesting given names to be found in Connaught, especially in County Longford.

 

Connaught from an 1848 map of Ireland.

 

Did they move east to escape starvation? Were they tenants and turned out by their Landlord. The conditions after1845 were unimaginable for most Irish common folk and Connaught was hit hardest of all. The Potato Famine was bad but laws favoring Landlords aggravated the situation immeasurably such that after the Famine subsided the conditions still remained intolerable. It is entirely possible that whoever was left in the family moved from Connaught to Drogheda and from there to America. I believe we should search in both areas.