Sunday, May 6, 2018

Researching the Land of My Ancestors-County Tyrone, Ireland

I believe I have correctly traced back my paternal 3rd great grandparents Patrick Hughes and Susan McKeena Hughes to County Tyrone, Ireland in the mid-1800s.  Specifically their Roman Catholic marriage record is from Moy, Confeacle, Tyrone, Ireland (see post The Luck ‘O the Irish…Perhaps…).  I started gathering some information on Susan’s family and realized there were some terms I needed to understand first.  So I started researching about the history and land of Ireland in this time period so I can try and determine what life might have been like for my ancestors. 


New land and area terms to understand:

Province- largest land areas. There are 4 provinces in Ireland.  County Tyrone is in the Province of Ulster.
County- large areas of land divided into civil parishes and parishes are then divided into townlands.  There are 32 counties in Ireland.  26 are in the Irish Republic and 6 are in the North of Ireland and are part of the United Kingdom. Tyrone was established in 1585 and has an area of about 1200 square miles.  Tyrone is the largest county in Northern Ireland and it connects to the counties of Fermanagh, Monaghan, Armagh, Londonderry, Donegal Antrim.
Barony- area of land that contained a larger number of townlands than a parish.  Was used for collection of taxes but is a term no longer used.  (Baronies are in red on the following map)
Parish- a smaller area of land with origins in old Gaelic territorial divisions.  A Parish could refer to Catholic Church parishes, Protestant Church parishes or Civil parishes.  (Parishes are in black on the following map)

Diocese-  comprised of several parishes.  These are church administrative areas under the control of a Bishop.  Different parts of County Tyrone fall under the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Armagh, Clogher, and Derry.
Townland or Village- one of the smallest land divisions in Ireland.  They can range in size from 1-2 acres to thousands of acres but most are hundreds of acres.

The ones I am currently interested in from the marriage of Patrick and Susan are:
  • Moy (from Irish: an Maigh, meaning "the plain") is a large village and townland about 5 miles southeast of Dungannon and beside the smaller village of Charlemont.  Charlemont is on the east bank of the River Blackwater and Moy on the west; the two are joined by Charlemont Bridge. The river is also the boundary between County Tyrone and County Armagh.
  • Clonfeacle is a Civil Parish and a Town.  Clonfeacle is split across the baronies of Dungannon Lower and Dungammon Middle in County Tyrone

Some additional information:

The Great Famine or Great Hunger was a period of mass starvation, disease, and emigration in Ireland from 1845 and 1849 due to the potato blight.  In Ireland there were over a million deaths.  Population fell by 20–25% due to mortality during this time period and emigration.  There had been an Irish Famine in 1740-1 and there would be another Famine in 1879.  This is when Patrick and Susan left for America.
I also recently read the book Tipperary: A Novel by Frank Delaney.  Frank Delaney has written several great books about Ireland.  This one really gave me a feel for the political climate in Ireland in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  I always like to read non-fiction or historical fiction about an area to get a feel for what was happening at the time of the lives of my ancestors.

I still have so much to learn but this is a good start.  Donna Moughty, who I have listened to several times at conferences and have consulted with, speaks frequently on Irish research and has a blog entitled Donna’s Irish Genealogy Resources.  Donna also has a set of 3 Guides that are also very helpful and constantly at my side when I am researching my Irish Ancestors.  Donna and her information has been a great help!  It can be overwhelming researching in another country with so many new terms and resources that you are unfamiliar with.  Don’t forget to do your research on the area as you research your ancestors!

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

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