It was cold and rainy this morning, so I took a cab to PRONI. I had a meeting set up with Jennifer Irwin and Joan Phillipson of Historical Research Associates to discuss an extension of the 2014 Research Trip to include Belfast. I enjoyed meeting with them and it was a productive meeting. If you are interested in researching in October of 2014 in Belfast at PRONI, the General Register Office of Northern Ireland or the Linen Hall Library let me know and I will send you information when the program is finalized.
I always complain about the fact the I don't get to do my own research very frequently, so I spent the rest of the day at PRONI researching church records from Leitrim (my Mackey/Mackay and Johnston families) and a bit from Drumgooland in County Down for my husband's King and O'Laughlin families.
The Leitrim research for me is definitely a brick wall. I'm starting to think that Mathew Mackey was dropped into Leitrim by aliens. My family was Church of Ireland and the records from the parish of Rossinver were destroyed in the fire at Four Courts. The oldest surviving records for baptisms and funerals are from 1876, although marriages go back to 1845. My strategy today was to go through all of the marriage records (which are recorded in the same format as the civil records) looking for any other Mackeys. James, the son of Mathew married Rachel Johnston in 1866. The only other Mackey marriage was an Eliza, whose father was James. In Griffith's there are three Mackeys in the parish, Mathew, James and John. Mathew is in the townland of Laghta and James and John are in Moneen. Were these three brothers? I would have thought that they would have children marrying in the same timeframe, but no such luck. No Mackeys (or any other variant spellings) appear in the Tithe. I also went through all of the funerals in the parish (from 1876) and the only two Mackeys were my great grandparents. Grrrrr!
My research on the Johnstons provided the opposite problem. There are a large number of Johnstons including the landlord in the area (not my relative). I've got lots of James Johnstons identified as well as other familiar given names passed down in the family and my next task is to try and separate them by townland to see if I can identify family groups. I've identified one sister of my Rachel, Margaret who married John Curry and a likely half sister, Matilda who married Edward Beattie. A descendant of Matilda contacted me and identified a picture in my great grandmother's scrapbook as John Willis Beattie, her great uncle, who died at age 25 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. A number of the Mackeys, Currys also settled in Bridgeport where they owned a bar, aptly named Curry and MacKay.
If you have Mackey or Johnston relatives from the northern Leitrim area, take a look at the Photos section. All of these pictures came from Rachel Mackey Sprague's scrapbook and none were identified! Do you recognize any of them?
Tomorrow morning I have an appointment at the General Register Office of Northern Ireland.
If you missed the earlier blogs: