Saturday 27 January 2018

Homing in on Patrick Mahon's family

Before Christmas, I was working on Dad’s Mahon ancestors, trying to learn more about my GGG-grandfather, Patrick Mahon, from north Co. Dublin. I had found several of his contemporaries, with the same surname, in the church registers of Swords parish, where Patrick worshipped, and wondered if any of them were his siblings. 

John, Henry, William, Mary, and Thomas Mahon, all baptised their children in Swords parish, during the early decades of the nineteenth century. Thomas married there in 1821, two years after Patrick, and seemingly shared a particularly close relationship with my ancestor. They both associated with a James Mahon too, though James had no children mentioned in the baptism register. The others were likely a bit older, but not too old to have been of the same generation.

The next step was to check if any of them had links to Yellow Walls, a small townland of about 400 acres, in Malahide, where Patrick lived. If they were his near-neighbours, there is a strong chance they were also closely related.

The records best suited to this task are the manuscript notebooks of the Valuation Office. The Tenure Books contain a list of every holding in the region, specifying the occupier’s name and the annual rent paid, while the House Books contain a further description of each home and its rateable valuation. Both books are available for the Swords / Malahide area.

The books are searchable by barony, a now obsolete form of administrative area in Ireland. Malahide was in the barony of Coolock and Swords in the barony of Nethercross. So, both these baronies were examined. The records date to between about 1845 and 1847, some years after the noted church events, and when many of the targeted individuals might have already met their maker.

Still, it was significant that, apart from one Christopher Mahon in the neighbouring parish of Donabate, all the Mahons in the area lived in the townland of Yellow Walls. It’s therefore nearly a given they were all from the same extended family – my family. Plus, the names of all the men, now linked to Yellow Walls, also correspond with those previously found in the church records. Therefore, the families detailed in the church registers were probably also mine.

The tenure books showed a William Mahon sharing lot 41, while a James Mahon shared lot 42. James Mahon also occupied lot 111, my GGG-grandfather Patrick Mahon was at lot 112 and the Reps of John Mahon at lot 113. Presumably, John had recently died, and his family remained on the property.

The house books again confirm two men called James Mahon lived in Yellow Walls, both in good-quality thatched houses. One of them also leased land in the adjacent townland of Drinan, a.k.a. Drynam. They include my GGG-grandfather’s house in Yellow Walls, described further here, and mention that Thomas Mahon leased land in the townland. They make no reference to John, or William, who may also have recently died.

It is immediately obvious that James was an important name in this extended family. The church records also show that both Patrick and Thomas named their eldest son James, as did William Mahon and Mary (Mahon) Cave. John Mahon also had a son named James.

And, it was customary for the eldest son in Irish families to be named after his paternal grandfather, though the tradition was not always precisely followed. 

So, while I may never be able to prove it, I half suspect the Yellow Walls Mahons all shared the same father  James Mahon – who was perhaps my GGGG-grandfather.

© Black Raven Genealogy

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