Parsons in County Mayo, Ireland
Period 1750 - 1900
Reports to Neil M. Franklin on Search for
his Grandmother, Mary Ann Parsons. 1997
Neil M. Franklin (for e-mail) made requests to both South Mayo Family Research
Centre (SMFRC)(Feb 26, 1997) and North Mayo Family Research
Centre (NMFRC)(May 30, 1997) in search of information on his
grandmother, Mary Ann Parsons (Carney). Unfortunately,
nothing conclusive was found to establish positive proof of her
ties to County Mayo. However, certain evidence has been
to suggest that she may have belonged to one of the Parsons
families who lived in the Ballyhaunis and Claremorris areas of
County Mayo (South). Because other Parsons names were uncovered
reports, especially of the South (SMFRC), the reports are printed
here to help others find Parsons relatives in County Mayo,
South Mayo Family Research Center (SMFRC)
19-May-1997 by Paul Waldron
Your ancestor Mary Ann Parsons was born sometime between
and 1837, according to you own information. The civil
registration of births commenced for the entire country on 1st
January 1864. Before this date, the only available records of
birth are in parish registers of baptisms. The commencement
dates of these parish registers vary form parish to parish, e.g.
the earliest Roman Catholic register of baptism in South Mayo is
that for the parish of Crossboyne and Tagheen, which commences in
1825; at the other extreme is the parish of Cong, Cross and The
Neale where the baptismal register commences only in 1870. ln
some parishes the registers of marriages and of baptisms commence
in the same year, in others they have different starting dates.
Since Mary Ann Parsons may have been born slightly
later than the band of years given by the enquirer, I have taken
her year of birth to have been somewhere between 1828 and 1840.
Only twelve out of twenty-five Roman Catholic parishes
baptismal registers which date back to 1840, before which year
your ancestor was most probably born;
...Aglish, Ballyhean, Breaghwy (Castlebar).1838.........1824
...Balla, Drum, Manulla (Balla & Belcarra).1837.........1837
...Crossboyne & Tagheen.........................1825.........1794
I have searched our entire data-base, which includes
nineteenth century baptismal register in South Mayo, which
includes records of the above parishes, for records of the
--> Birth/baptism or Mary Ann Parsons (with or without middle
name, and bearing in mind all possible variation of Mary
including Maria, Marie, Maise, Maney, Molly, etc.) any time
--> Marriage record of William Parsons and Winfred Costello.
--> Birth/baptism of any children of William Parsons and
Unfortunately, nothing was found to answer any of the
It seems most probable, therefore, that if you ancestors lived in
South Mayo, they must have lived in a parish for which early
church registers don't exist.
Mr. Holcomb, the Genealogist whose report you enclosed
you application, discovered that William Parsons (whom he takes
to have been Mary Anne Parsons Carney's father) was resident in
the house of John Comer at the time of the 1860 census.(The
surnames Comer, Kerrigan and Corrigan are all one and the same.
There was a tendency among some Kerrigan families to mistakenly
anglicize or modify their surname to "Comber" or "Comer". The
form "Comer" increases steadily the further one travels eastward
in County Mayo, and in the East Mayo parishes of Annagh and Bekan
it was the only form used.)
The address given on John Comer's headstone is
and, as you will see below, possibly very significant.
"Dremderry" is almost certainly the townland of Drumaderry, to
give it its official Ordnance Survey spelling. It is in the
civil parish of Annagh, and is located about three miles south-
west of Ballyhaunis town in eastern County Mayo. In everyday use,
the placename is often spelled Drimaderry and is pronounced
something like "Drimmaderra". The original Irish form of the
placename is Droin a' doire, which means the ridge-backed hill of
the oak tree or oak wood. I have searched the Tithe Applotment
Book (1830), the General Valuation of Rateable Property in
Ireland (1856) and neither of them contain any listing of a Comer
family in Drumaderry. Since the Tithe Applotment Book contains
the names of only a few landholders in every townland, the non-
mention of a Comer in Drumaderry does not necessarily mean there
was not a family of that name living there at the time. The
General Valuation was compiled as the country was recovering
after the ravages of the Great Famine, so the population of
Drumaderry, as with the rest of the country, would have been
extremely depleted in the previous ten years, so there is no
evidence to confirm whether or not there was a Comer family in
the townland of Drumaderry in the first half of the nineteenth
Now, to get straight to the point: the townland of
is beside the townland of Cloontumper, which was one of the very
few palaces in South Mayo where there were Parsons families in
the nineteenth century! (Cloontrumper is a large townland in the
civil parish of Annagh. However, it adjoins the civil parish of
Bekan, and, the houses at the western end of the townland are
quite near Bekan parish church; for this reason, some of the
families who lived at the western end of Cloontumper townland
used the address "Bekan" and considered themselves part of the
parish of Bekan. In reality, they belonged to the parish of
Annagh, although, it is apparent that many families in this part
of Cloontumper went to Bekan parish church. In 1893 when the
boundaries of the parishes of Annagh and Bekan were redrawn to
reflect more realistically the geographical layout of the
countryside, the townland of Cloontumper became part of Bekan
To return briefly to the 1860 census listing in
(SC, USA): William Parsons, age 50, Mary Ann, age 25, and
Winifred, age 43, widow were lodging with one John Comer. Mr.
Holcomb deduces, quite correctly, based on the evidence he
describes in his report, that this John Comer is probably the man
commemorated on the gravestone which describes his birthplace as
"Dremderry". It is quite probable that John Comer and William
Parsons, if they ended up living in the same house in America,
would have known each other in Ireland. If this is the case then,
William Parsons was quite possibly from the general Drumaderry
area. The fact that there is record of at least one Parsons
family in the townland of Cloontumper, adjoining Drumaderry, and
in a number of other townlands within three or four miles of the
later, suggest that this indeed may be the area where your
Parsons ancestors lived. Below I deal with the Parsons families
known to have lived in the Ballyhaunis and Claremorris areas
through the nineteenth century:
There are no Parsons listed in the General Valuation of
Property in Ireland (1856) in the townlands of Cloontumper or
Drumaderry. However, it is apparent from the Bekan parish
register that there was at least one Parsons family living in
Cloontumper through the nineteenth century. One Thomas Parsons
is listed as a tithe-payer in the Tithe Applotment Book for the
parish of Bekan (1833) in a place called "Keelogues." This latter
placename is long since obsolete and its location is not known
with certainty: it is most probable, however, that it encompassed
part of the townland of Cloontumper near the townland of Bekan.
No further record can be found of this Thomas Parsons.
James Parsons is the earliest traceable member of the
family of Cloontumper; he would have been born c. 1836, according
to the age given in his 1901 census return, and therefore could
be son of Thomas Parsons listed as a tithe-payer above. James
married Mary Connelly; no trace of this marriage has been found.
They lived in the townland of Cloontumper, but the addresses of
the adjoining townlands of Woodpark and Holywell occur in some
records relating to their family, since they lived near the
boundary with those townlands. James and Mary had issue of whom
five sons and one daughter are known - John 1859, Patrick 1862,
James 1863 (died 1877), Thomas 1867 (born in the Workhouse,
Claremorris), Mary 1870 and Matthew 1874. In the 1901 census
James and Mary, aged 65 and 70 years respectively, were still
living in Cloontumper; all their children had moved away by that
I have enquired with on Mrs. Finn of Drumaderry and
that a little house in Cloontumper, near the boundary with the
townland of Holywell upper was occupied by a Parsons family into
the early years of the present century: most probably the family
A couple bearing the names Michael Parsons and Bridget
had issue one son and four daughter baptized in Bekan parish:
1837, Honor 1840, Edward 1842, Winifred 1844 and Catherine 1846.
No address is given on any of these baptismal record, and no
marriage record for Michael and Bridget has been found. However,
judging by the names of the baptismal sponsors, it seems likely
that this family lived in or near the townland of Carrowmore
Like Cloontumper, there is no record of any Parsons
holders int he General Valuation (1856) in Carrow West, however,
the available records indicate that there were two households of
Parsons living here through the 1870's; headed by Edward and
By 1901, there was just one Parsons family in
comprising Honoria Parsons, a widow, her son John and daughter
Catherine. Honoria's husband, Edward Parsons, who was a tailor,
died in 1877 aged 40 years. As he was a tailor, he probably held
no land, and this would account for him not having been listed as
a landholder in the General Valuation. This source shows that
there were six "cottages" in Carrowmore West, whose occupants are
not named. Another son of Edward and Honoria, also named Edward,
was a servant/workman for the Dillon family in Feamore at the
time of the 1901 census.
There is evidence to suggest thatMichael Parsons was
of the parish of Kilcolman, and that he moved into Bekan parish;
it is possible he "married into" Bekan parish. Two individuals
named James Mooney and Winifred Parsons occur as baptismal
sponsors for children of Michael Parsons and Bridget Healy. A
record has been found of the marriage of James Mooney and
Winifred Parsons on 14th Feb. 1846, in Claremorris parish; the
witnesses were William Parsons and Michael Parsons. It seems
probable that William, Michael and Winifred were siblings. Given
that Winifred's marriage took place in Claremorris, this was
probably her home parish, since marriages in nineteenth century
Ireland invariably took place in the bride's home parish.
Therefore (if we assume that Michael was her brother) the home
parish of Michael Parsons who married Bridget Healy was probably
Kilcolman. No records were found of any children being born to
James Mooney and Winifred Parsons; this suggests that they either
emigrated, died young, or lived in a parish which has not early
baptismal records. If the latter is the case, then it is
possible they lived in the parish of Kilvine where the name
Mooney was found, though in small numbers. If the assumption
that Michael, who may have been the progenitor of the Carrowmore
West Parsons was a native of Kilcolman is correct, it is possible
he came either from the town of Claremorris, or the townland of
Meelickmore, since there were Parsons families in both
localities. The occurrence of the name William in several of
these families lends weight to the possibility (see below
regarding Parsons in the civil parish of Kilcolman.
Not very far from Carrowmore is the townland of
another Parsons family lived. Patrick Parsons is listed here in
the General Valuation; as far as can be established, he married
Honoria Mulkeen in 1827. He died in 1882 aged 80 years; she died
in Claremorris workhouse in 1892 aged 81 years. They were the
parents of Luke Parsons who was born c. 1830. Luke married
Margaret Winston in 1872 and they had issue of whom one son and
four daughters are known: John 1873, Mary 1874, Bridget 1880,
Anne 1882 and Catherine 1886.
By 1901 Luke Parsons, aged 70 years, was widowed, his
Margaret having died in 1888 aged 50 years. He was living in the
townland of Derrynamuck (beside Farnaun) with his son John and
daughters Anne and Catherine.
One record indicates that a John Parson and his wife
Reilly lived in Culnacleha and had a daughter Mary in 1884. No
further record of this family was found. Culnacleha is beside
Farnaun, so John may have been a brother of Luke who remained in
the area for a short time before emigrating.
Given the relative proximity of Carrow West, Farnaun
Culnacleh, the Parsons families living there through the
nineteenth century must have been related, but to what degree
cannot be discovered for want of records. All three townlands
were int he church parish of Annagh until the reorganization of
parish boundaries in 1893, and the parish registers commenced
only in 1851 (baptisms) and 1852 (marriages). The early years of
these parish registers are quite incomplete and patchy.
The townland of Cloontumper is only about three miles
both Carrowmore West, and Farnaun, so it is likely the family in
the former townland was from the same stock as the others.
The occurrence of "Edward" as a the name of Mary Ann's
grandson is interesting. It was not a very rare Christian name
nineteenth century, though its use over a number of generations
in her family suggests it may have had a family significance. A
number of Edwards occur amongst the Parsons families in the
Ballyhaunis - Claremorris area: Edward Parsons of Carrowmore
West, a tailor and Edward, son of Michael Parsons of Bekan
parish, born 1842 (these last two probably the same individual).
"William", which, like Edward, was not amongst the
commonest of Christian names in use in nineteenth Mayo, also
occurs among the Parsons families of Carrowmore West, as well as
the Parsons families of Claremorris.
KILCOLMAN (CLAREMORRIS) PARISH
The Kilcolman parish registers commence in 1835
and 1805 (marriages); they contain numerous references to
Parsons, but the records are so inexplicit that it is impossible
to discover any verifiable connections between them.
What is known is that Michael Parsons was listed in
General Valuation (1856) is Claremorris. However, a number of
other Parsons are known to have been living in Claremorris at
this time: William Parsons of Meelickmore (born c 1790, died 1881
aged 91) and John Parsons of Claremorris town; neither are listed
in the General Valuation.
Michael Parsons of Claremorris town had a son John who
in 1851 Mary Smith Greer, a Protestant. They had issue of whom
the following are know: Michael, William, Ellen, Ellen (2). Mary
and John. Nothing more is known of this family, certainly they
were not in Claremorris at the time of the 1901 census.
John Parsons was father of James Parsons, born c.1846,
shoemaker in Claremorris town. James married in 1868 Catherine
Cunniffe and they had issue of whom the following are know: John,
Ellen, Bridget and Maria. James died in the Workhouse in 1878
aged 32, and nothing more is known of this family.
William Parsons of Meelickmore was born c. 1790 and
1881 aged 91 years. He seems to have been father of John Parsons
who married Bridget Glynn. They had issue of whom the following
are known: Michael, Martin, Michael (2). No further trace of
this family has been found, so they probably emigrated.
A number of isolated marriage records have been found
to Parsons families in the parish of Kilcolman, but their precise
addressed cannot be discovered.
North Mayo Family History Centre (NMFHC) Report
22-JUL-1997, by Fiona Lynn Forde
The report from the NMFHC was of little value. They reported that records from Crossmolina and Ballina were
checked for reference to Mary (Anne) Parsons born c. 1825-1840.
Unfortunately, no relevant details were located. These were the
only area with records before 1840.
One note on the Parsons surname in the report said,
Irish families called Parsons may be of Gaelic origin. In the
Tudor Fiants we frequently meet MacEparson, MacParson etc. In
Scotland, this name became MacPherson. The surname 'Parsons'
occurs in only five North Mayo parishes. By far, the greater
number of North Mayo Parsons were situated in Carracastle which
is on the border between counties Mayo and Roscommon."
Addendum by Ray Parsons
Apparently the Mayo Parsons are mostly Catholic, while
early Parsons, landholders from England, were Church of Ireland,
protestants. The Mayo Parsons may be of Gaelic origin as
suggested by the NMFHC researcher, but not necessarily so.
According to the Rosse papers, William Parsons of Birr, b. 1731
"added further to his estates in Tipperary and MAYO through his
marriage to Mary Clere".
To Go Back to this sub-directory's home page.click here.
Send mail to Ray Parsons by clicking here.