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One Week and Counting

Rachel Mackey

Rachel Mackey

   A week from today I'll be on my way to Ireland.   I have a flight from Tampa to New York, connecting with Aer Lingus to Dublin.  I frequently mention the fact that I don't do a lot of research on my own family.  What I have was done mostly in the 1990s, but this on this trip I hope to finish my client work and actually get some time for myself.  It's time to practice what I preach.

   When dealing with brick walls (or research you haven't seen for a while <g>) always begin by reading over everything in your files.  Frequently something will jump out at you that you didn't see before.  I've been focusing on the Mackey family.  Much of the information I had about the family came from an uncle, who I assume had gotten it from my grandmother.  Now if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll remember that my grandmother was not a very reliable source.

   My great grandmother Rachel Mackey was one of eleven children of James and Rachel Johnston Mackey.  The photos are from her scrapbook and I'm sure they include pictures of her sibling…of course none were identified.  Records appear with the name spelled both as Mackey and Mackay and I'm also going to check some McKees.  Remember, spelling doesn't count!  I had a list of the eleven children and have managed to verify the birth information of all of the children.  At least five of the children, including my great grandmother emigrated to the U.S. and I have limited information on those who remained in Ireland.   Using the Civil Registration Index at, I've been able to identify a number of records that I plan to obtain.  Some, however, occurred in Northern Ireland after 1922 so are not indexed.  

   According to James Mackey's marriage record, his father's name was Matthew.  That's where my focus will be.  Matthew appears in Griffith's Valuation (1855-1857) in Laghta in Rossinver parish, Leitrim.  There are two other Mackeys in the parish, John and James, both in Moneen.  No Mackeys (or variations) appear in Rossinver parish in the Tithe Applotment (1828-1833).   Matthew died in 1870 at the age of 87 (birth abt 1783).  I should also mention that the Church of Ireland parish records for Rossinver were destroyed in the fire in 1922 and the surviving records don't start until 1876.

   I don't have much to go on here.  I created a report from my database including all of my notes and as I re-read the information, I made a list of questions and possible sources for answers.  I highly recommend writing as a research strategy; not only as you prepare for a research trip, but to write up your results as you go along.  If you wait until you get home, I can guarantee you'll regret it since you be too late to change the direction of your research based on what you found.  This is the time you should use the Internet to find local resources such as churches, libraries or local specialists.  In most cases you will find an email address so you can write to them and let them know you're coming.  

   In re-reading the files I noticed that Matthew was listed as "married" on his death certificate.  The only likely candidate for his wife was an Isabella who died in 1879.  One of the issues with Irish death certificates is the lack of information.  Isabella was 77 years old and a James Mackey was present at her death.  It also lists her marital status as "married" and if she was Matthew's wife, this should have said "widowed." The fact is, I can find no other Mackey in the area of an age to be her husband.  James Mackey (the son of Matthew) also named his oldest daughter Isabella.  Right now, the only child of Matthew I have found is James.  I am also scouring all of the marriage records to see if there is another Mackey with a father listed as Matthew.  James was married twice, in 1863 and 1866.  Because the family was protestant, marriage records go back to 1845 so I should be able to find siblings if they exist.  In the 1901 census, James states that he was born in Leitrim (about 1827), so if they were not in Rossinver, where were they?

   So here are the questions.

1.  Is Isabella Matthew’s wife?  Look for cemetery or church records to confirm.  (Isabella died after the start of the records for Rossinver parish).  I emailed the diocese and received a message back from the church secretary who will meet me to view the records.  I'll also check the cemetery for gravestones.

2.  Who were the other children of Matthew?  It seems odd that there would be only one child.   Check marriage records of other Mackey’s in Leitrim to see if any list a father of Matthew. A search of the IFHF database for Mackey marriages with father Matthew only turns up the two marriages of James.

3.  Who were the parents/siblings of Matthew and where did he come from since no Mackeys appear in the Tithe in Rossinver?  Griffith’s shows a John Mackey and a James Mackey living in Moneen and a William Mackey living in Carricknabrack in the parish of Kiltoghert in [southern] Leitrim.  There was also a George in the parish of Drumhome in southern Donegal (as well as many other Mackeys in southern Donegal.  There were also Mackeys in Fermanagh, where son James 1st wife Margaret Beatty was from.  "Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland" at the National Library covering South Ulster including Leitrim.  Also check estate records for William Johnston estate including rental books which are at the Leitrim County Library.

   As with any research, I need to be flexible.  I have a list of about 80 possible resources, including a number of journal articles so perhaps something will pop up to take me in a new direction.

   I will be blogging each day I'm in Ireland and I hope some of my strategies will work for you as you prepare for your summer or fall research trip.  By the way, there's still time to register for the October Dublin Research trip.  

© Donna M. Moughty 2007- 2018