Tracking Parochial Families in County Galway: Local History Using Parish Registers & Gravestone Inscriptions

The following announcement was written by the The Church of Ireland Press Office:

Local and family historians with an interest in County Galway will benefit from transcription and indexing work of surviving registers for the parishes of Killinane and Kilconickny, near Loughrea, together with other detailed information of local interest, released online in June’s Archive of the Month. The work has been compiled by local historian Gerry Kearney, who has recently self-published The Church of Ireland Unions of Killinane and Kilconickny, Loughrea, County Galway – A History (2015). Colourfully illustrated with images, the presentation demonstrates what can be gleaned from combining the written evidence in registers and other parish record sources with local history fieldwork.

While researching the history of his wife’s ancestors – the Taylors of Athenry, Ardrahan and Kilchreest – he transcribed all the surviving records of both parishes, now located alongside many other collections, in the RCB Library, Dublin, where they have been held in safe custody since 2007. Biographical notes of the families of these small communities were compiled from the transcribed church records, gravestone inscriptions from Killinane and Bookeen graveyards, and other related research material.

Killinane, sometimes recorded as Killinan, was a vicarage in the Diocese of Kilmacduagh. By order of the Privy Council dated 11th March 1726, Killinane was consolidated with the vicarages of Isertkelly, Kilchreest, Kilogollin (Killogilleen), Killora and Kilthomas to form what became known as the Killinane union. The Irish form of the name is Cill Fhionáin, meaning St Finan’s church, and surviving records of the clergy of the parishes of Killinane union date from c.1402. The church and graveyard of Killinane are situated south-west of Kilchreest, on the road from Loughrea to Gort, in the townland of Castleboy, between the former big houses of the Persse families of Roxborough and Castleboy. Construction of the church was completed in c.1809 but the surviving gravestones indicate burials in the graveyard from at least 1786, suggesting an older building.

Unfortunately the early registers for the parish of Killinane were in the Public Records Office of Ireland in 1922, and were destroyed during the Civil War. Registers lost included baptisms 1823-1881, marriages 1823-1844, and burials 1829-1881. Subsequent registers comprising baptisms 1882-1928, marriages 1845-1915 and burials 1883-1929, together with related parish records including the vestry minutes, are now kept safe in the RCB Library, and it is these sources up to 1900 that are covered in the online transcripts.

Gravestones at Killinane graveyard have helped to supplement the surviving burial records, and fill in gaps in the early burial evidence, and a consolidated index of family names from burials and gravestones will benefit genealogical research for others. In addition to the local landowning Persse family, other families such as the Cannons, Dillons, Glosters and Taylors who made up the rich tapestry of the 18th Century local community have been recovered. Since 2007 a local ecumenical group of volunteers from the Kilchreest and Castledaly Heritage Group has been caring for the burial ground, and it continues to carry out annual maintenance work.

Kilconickny union was formed in 1735. The Irish form of the name is Cill C’nuicne, or Conicne’s church, and surviving records of the clergy of the parishes of Kilconickny union date from c.1398. The total population of the union in 1834 was 8,806, of whom only 130 (1.5%) were Church of Ireland. According to Nicholas Carlisle’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1810) there was no church or glebe house in Kilconickny, but there was a glebe of five acres in the parish of Lickerrig and a glebe of two and a half acres in the parish of Kilconiran. Carlisle commented that ‘in the absence of a church, Divine Service was performed in Mr Daly’s House at Dunsandel’, and that a church was to be built ‘as soon as Mr Daly and other Gentlemen are willing to contribute and have agreed upon the most convenient site’. With the assistance of a grant of £600 from the Board of First Fruits, a church was completed in 1815 at Bookeen, in the parish of Lickerrig – today a short distance south of exit 16 on the M6 Dublin to Galway motorway. With a declining population, Bookeen was forced to close in 1933. However, in 2006 it was acquired by private owners who set about a sympathetic renovation of the building and the grounds, managing to salvage many of the original features in replicating the original design. Today, it is a beautiful private residence known as Bookeen Hall and images are included with the permission of the owners in the online presentation.

The only surviving church record for Kilconickny is a single marriage register covering the period 1845-1907. This volume is safely lodged in the RCB Library. Like Killinane, Kilconickny was united with Loughrea in 1945, and all are now part of the Aughrim union in the Diocese of Clonfert.

Dr Susan Hood, Assistant Librarian at the RCB Library, comments: “We commend the work of Gerry Kearney who has faithfully reproduced the contents of surviving parish registers for Killinane and Kilconickny, and for his willingness to contribute to ongoing efforts to index and make available parish registers for research.”

Gerry Kearney says: “It was a privilege and pleasure working with the team at the RCB Library and giving these unique records prominence.”

To view the register transcripts and indexes see:

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