Research In Ireland - Help from
Betty Jane and Robert Smith
This information was in a e-mail of January 29, 2001 from Betty Smith.
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
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
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
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.
To Go Back to Bagnall Home Page.click here.
Send mail to Betty Smith by click here.
Send mail to Ray Parsons by clicking here.