Research In Ireland - Help from
Betty Jane and Robert Smith


This information was in a e-mail of January 29, 2001 from Betty Smith.

Dear Ray,

Thank you for keeping we Bagnalls up to date on the latest inquiries from fellow kin. It is great to have a place to deposit our information and questions.

I replied to "Butch" and I'll give the site I sent him to you too. I have found it to be most helpful for work in Ireland. Francis Dowling was the genealogist that worked for me in 1993. He no longer does private work but perhaps by following his suggestions the group can forge ahead on their own. I believe it has everything!!

I have some pictures of the Bagnall home where John and Ronan live with their family. If you would be interested we could send them on to you.

I am sending you the article we wrote for our local society on our trip to Ireland. Perhaps it would be helpful to others searching in Ireland. From experience one can really flounder about when you don't do your homework before you go.

Researching In Ireland
By Betty-Jane and Robert Smith



This past summer we spent a week in Ireland searching for the roots of Betty-Jane's Bagnall family which she has been studying for a number of years.

Our general plan was to go first to Dublin and meet with a genealogist recommended by Mr. Francis Dowling. He is in charge of the Genealogical Section of the wonderful Local Ireland web site. We had met him on a previous trip to Dublin in October of 1993. He had done some good work for us, and therefore we had faith in his recommendation. It turned out that Mrs. Helen Kelly was available on the first day of our three- day stay in Dublin and so we met and gave her all the background that we could. This had been reproduced from our files for that purpose. Later after we returned home we gave her a report of what we had found and wrote to her to give specific objectives to work on.

Work prior to the trip had given us information on the Bagnalls in my direct lineage going back to about 1700. We knew that the more recent generations lived in Dublin in the vicinity of Grafton and Suffolk Streets. This knowledge enabled us to reproduce for our trip the 1876 Ordinance Survey map showing that area so that we might look to see where their houses and workshops were. Later during the trip we picked up a clearer map in a series called "Old Ordinance Survey Maps- The Godfrey Edition" which had a central city map "Dublin: The Castle Sheet 1843". This was in the period of residence of the Bagnall family in that area. It enabled us to walk around and see the present-day buildings and to look in the alleys behind them for remnants of the old shops and homes that were there in the 19th century.

To get more information about the residences of the Dublin Bagnalls, we went to the Valuation Office, Irish Life Center, Abbey Street Lower, across the river. We had prepared for this by getting street addresses from the city directories of Dublin during the 19th century which were found in the National Library. So we were able to zero in on the locations and the records establishing land ownership and deed transfers. One aspect of this geographical work was the apparent correlation with the advent of the street railway system. The Bagnalls were bootmakers who had originally lived at their shops but the streetcar enabled some to live at Bray which is outside of Dublin to the south along the sea coast.

The other searching in Dublin done at the National Library was of certain indexed sources including an extraordinary compendium of references called "The History of Irish Civilization". This contains clippings and references to articles published about numerous subjects down thru the years. There was also an indexed publication called "The Irish Genealogist" with many scholarly articles. Whenever we found something of interest in one of these, we were able to enter an order with the librarian for photocopies. The system is somewhat cumbersome but the one document we found which was about 30 pages long was mailed to us in a week or two and so the system works.

After three days we took the train to Mullingar a city about 50 miles west of Dublin that is in the center of the area where my Bagnalls had lived in the 18th century. There we stayed at a wonderful bed and breakfast called The Crookedwood House which has a five star restaurant attached. The restaurant was recently written up in Bon Appetit. It was truly a gracious experience.

Because of some misunderstanding about the competence of an Octogenarian to capably drive an automobile, we had to engage wonderful Danny McEntee to drive us about to all the residence areas, libraries and family history centers that we were interested in. But, having a local person to find people and places was the best thing that could have happened to us.

It happened that our prior research had developed a number of correspondents who were interested in the Bagnalls and over the years we had exchanged information and found a web site. On it we found the records of a graveyard in a town called Rahugh where Bagnalls had been buried before 1700. These records were obtained by a local Bagnall family, still living in Rahugh, and with Danny's help we called on them. The picture is of their farmhouse, parts of which must be almost 300 years old. Their reception was most hospitable and they shared their other data on the family origins.

Their information gave us most significant clues as to the origins of the Bagnalls. It has turned out that the earliest Bagnall in the area apparently arrived as one of the settlers in an Anabaptist or Puritan group.This particular group of settlers was documented in The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland in an article published in 1896 which listed their names. They arrived in Rahugh in about 1652 and were part of the resettlement of Ireland by the Cromwellian soldiers and officers.

Also they referred us to a book that we were able to purchase locally called "A Place Named Rahugh" by Vincent Abbott a local historian. It recounts the story of the settlers and their history up to the present time. We have spoken to him by telephone and are in correspondence.

We visited the County library in Mullingar where the Archivist, Tony, was most helpful. In studying the various books we found from their footnotes and bibliographies that at the National Library in Dublin we should be able to find "Subsidy Rolls and Hearth-Money Rolls for 1664" and also a 1733 report prepared by a Bishop Ellis titled " Account of the Diocese of Meath". Further a professor at Trinity College, Jeremiah Sheehan, wrote a book in 1978 titled "Southwest Meath- Farm and Folk" which not only provides information about how the settlers fared in the ensuing 100 years but also has an extensive bibliography. Looking these items up has been requested of Mrs. Kelly.

So all of this indicates some of the ways in which one might succeed in searching family history in Ireland. Contrary to popular belief not every record has been the victim of willful destruction in military skirmishes down thru the years. The state of their civilization is such that much has been written about their history and if you're lucky you will be able to find references that relate, and avoid the necessity of spending hours searching out dusty land and church records.

It was a wonderful trip for which we still relish the memory.

Best wishes to you and Mary.

Betty Smith


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