Saturday 30 June 2018

More Clynch... and a tiny breakthrough

Do you remember Martin, Edward and Mary Clinch, who emigrated to Aurora, Illinois, in 1854? I wrote about them previously here, and mentioned Edward's tragic death in a train accident, here. They were all more than likely the children of Patrick Clynch, from Athgarvan, Co. Kildare, and I suspect my third great-grandmother, Anne (Clynch) Byrne, may have been their sister too. Well, there's more to their story. 

It seems, shortly after Edward Clinch obtained U.S. citizenship in 1860, he returned to Ireland, with his sister, Mary.[1] Imagine making that trip across the Atlantic twice! Perhaps they were homesick, or maybe Edward just wanted to avoid the American Civil War breaking out in 1861. If he did return to Ireland, it would explain why the U.S. census enumerators missed him, in 1870. 

Their brother Martin Clinch and his growing family remained in Aurora, where Martin worked for the railway. In 1870, he was found in Aurora, living with his wife Cath and six of their seven known children.[2] 

Clinch household, 1870 Census, Aurora

Back home in Athgarvan, Anne (Clynch) Byrne's son, John Byrne (my direct-line ancestor) and his first wife, Mary Markey, were raising their family. In 1862, Mary Clinch was Godmother for their son Andrew, while in 1863, Edward Clinch was Godfather for their son John.[3] Athgarvan was a small village. There were only 455 people living in the combined townland of Blackrath and Athgarvan in 1861, and Clinch/Clynch was not a common surname.[4] I'm thinking two of the emigrants returned.

Plus, there is a record of Edward Clinch, an American citizen, aged 44 years, arriving back in the U.S. on 16 October 1871. Mary Murray, the suspected married name of Mary Clinch, also an American, was listed on the ship's passenger list, two lines below Edward.[5] 

Plus, plus, Martin Clinch, aged only about 55 years, died in Aurora, one month prior, on 16 September 1871.[6] Did Edward and Mary receive an urgent message to return to the U.S., to help care for Martin's soon-to-be destitute family? It looks like it. They were together in the 'Murry' household in 1880, living with three 'adopted' children, who were easily recognisable as the children of Martin Clinch.[7] 

Murry household, 1880 Census, Aurora

Plus, plus, plus - Now, with the help of a previously mentioned descendant of Martin Clinch, I've discovered an actual DNA connection between our two families. She matches a great-granddaughter of Anne (Burns) Rogers, the youngest daughter of Anne (Clynch) Byrne. It's a small match - only one segment measuring ten centimorgans - but it's a start.

[1] Edward Clinch, 1860, 'Illinois, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1998', FamilySearch.
[2] Martin Clinch household, Aurora, Kane, Illinois, in the U.S. Census, 1870, FamilySearch.
[3] Catholic Parish Registers, Baptism register for Newbridge Parish, Co. Kildare, MF 04209/06, NLI.
[4] Census, 1861, Ireland, Area, population and number of houses, Ireland, Vol I and II, Co. Kildare (pages 49-80), Barony of Connell, p. 55, histpop.
[5] Edward Clinch, 1871, 'New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891', FamilySearch
[6] Burial of Martin Clinch, 1871, excerpt from Calvary Cemetery, Aurora, Illinois: Tombstones & Obituaries (2006, Fox Valley Genealogical Society, Napperville, Illinois), pp 35, 141.
[7] John Murry household, Aurora, Kane, Illinois, in the U.S. Census, 1880, FamilySearch.

Friday 8 June 2018

Further reflections: Andrew Byrne and Anne Clynch

On further reflection, I'm no longer certain I correctly identified my third great-grandfather in Griffith's Valuation. Andrew Byrne did live in Athgarvan when the survey was conducted, but perhaps not at cottage 2e, as indicated below by Griffith. Possibly, there was some confusion over two distinct Athgarvan families both sharing similar sounding surnames, with members of the extended Berns family being recorded under the name Byrne. 

Excerpt Griffith’s Valuation, Athgarvan, Co. Kildare, 1853

Some time ago, using records held at the Valuation Office in Dublin, I traced the subsequent occupiers of the properties designated 2a to 2h, above. Within a year or two of 1853, Thomas Berns had replaced Elizabeth Byrne at 2b, John Berns had replaced John Byrne at 2c, and Andrew Berns had replaced Andrew Byrne at 2e. Coincidence? It now seems more likely to me that the Berns lived in these houses all along, and Andrew Berns, not Andrew Byrne, lived at 2e in 1853.

But, there was no other Andrew Byrne listed in Athgarvan per Griffith's Valuation, and we know from church records he lived in the village. This means my third great-grandparents must have shared their home with someone else, and that person was the leaseholder. The records show Andrew Byrne soon replaced Patrick Clynch as the leaseholder of 2a, so my Byrne family may have lived with Patrick Clynch all along, too. 

Andrew Byrne's wife was born Anne Clynch. She was probably related to Patrick Clynch, and may even have been his daughter. Well, that's my working hypothesis anyway. Why else would the Byrnes have inherited Patrick's house and garden? I discussed our 'Clynch Connection' previously, and mentioned 'a fly in the ointment' about my theory.

Andrew Byrne married Anne Clynch in Suncroft Parish. And, couples typically got married in the parish where the bride was residing. If Anne was Patrick's daughter, or even his sister, and she lived with him in Athgarvan, they would normally have married in Newbridge Parish. Suncroft was over fives miles from Athgarvan. Newbridge was half the distance.

Granda’s proposed path to Patrick Clynch

Still, Suncroft was well within commuting distance, and now I've found proof Anne Clynch had ties to Athgarvan, prior to her marriage. On 10 June 1830, more than three years before she married Andrew, Anne sponsored the baptism of Judy Bernes. Judy's parents were Michael Bernes and Betty Gannon from Athgarvan - her mother may even have been the same Elizabeth Byrne, perhaps Berns, found living at 2b, on Griffith's map.

Baptism Register for Judy Bernes, 10 June 1830, Newbridge parish

This all goes in favour of Anne and Patrick being related. But, I'm still waiting for that first DNA match between a known Byrne descendant and a known descendant of Patrick Clynch, to help make my case. 

Sources: Blackrath and Athgarvan, Co. Kildare, Griffith's Valuation, 1853, Ask about Ireland; Cancelled Books for Athgarvan, Co. Kildare, Valuation Office, Dublin; Baptism Register (1820-1832), Newbridge, Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, p. 118, NLI.

Saturday 2 June 2018

Grave matters – Athgarvan Burial Ground

A recent visit to Ireland by a new-found cousin from the U.S. prompted the search for our mutual third great-grandfather's grave. Here's what we already knew about Andrew Byrne: Andrew married Anne Clinch/Clynch in Suncroft parish, Co. Kildare, in 1833. They then made their home in Athgarvan, five miles away, on the other side of the Curragh. Andrew remained in Athgarvan until his death on 25 October 1872, leaving Anne behind to mourn his passing.

Historically, burial registers were rarely maintained for Catholic graveyards in Ireland, and until the twentieth century, generally only well-off families could afford to place a permanent marker on their loved-one’s grave. So, it’s not as if I expected to ever find actual proof of Andrew’s burial. But, it would be nice to know his probable burial place.

Graveyard at Athgarvan, c.1837-42

Ordinance survey maps show there was a small graveyard in Athgarvan about 1840.[1] And, when Griffith's Valuation for the area was published in 1852, it confirmed the graveyard measured one rood (an old measure equal to a quarter of an acre). It was situated on land occupied by Joseph R. Reeves, who had by then built a large farmhouse between the Grave Yard and the Flour Mill. Andrew Byrne lived in one of the cottages shown on the left edge of the above map, so if this graveyard was still in use in 1872, it seems likely he was buried there.[2]

This was an ancient burial ground. A church stood on the site in 1640, when it was included in a list of parochial churches drawn up by the then Bishop of Kildare, Dr Roche MacGeoghegan.[3] It also appeared on a map of the county created in 1752, though it is unclear how well it was surviving the (anti-Catholic) Penal Laws.[4] There was certainly no trace of the church in 1840 (map above), when only the graveyard remained. It’s possible, numerous, as yet unknown, generations of my Kildare family were buried there.

Church at Athgarvan, 1752

In August 1888, the Local Government Board held an Inquiry to consider a petition by T.B. Reeves’ to close the Athgarvan graveyard. Sixty people claiming burial rights objected.[5] This all sounds very familiar. The same thing happened in Malahide, Co. Dublin, and, in that case, Peter Radcliffe, my fourth great-grandfather, was also forced to defend his burial rights through the courts. 

At the Inquiry, T.B. Reeves claimed the graveyard was full. This must have annoyed the locals. Several witnesses alleged the Reeves family had already appropriated a portion of the cemetery for their vegetable garden.[6] And, given the cemetery then measured only twenty-seven perches, when there were forty perches in a rood, this may have been true.

T.B. Reeves cited bad smells coming from the graveyard, with bones and skulls frequently being thrown up. Nothing like a bit of scaremongering to progress the cause!  But, medical doctors, the area sanitary officer, and even the court-appointed 'expert' disagreed with him. They concluded further burials would cause no 'threat to public health', nor 'insult to public decency', and the Inquiry adjourned to allow the people register their burial claims.[7]

It seems, there is every chance Andrew Byrne, his wife Anne, and as many of their children that so desired, were buried in this graveyard.

River Liffey, from Athgarvan Bridge, April 2018

In the above photograph, the cemetery is situated among the copse of trees, just behind the weir, on the right-hand banks of the River Liffey. Unfortunately, it remains on private property, with no access to the public. This may be as close as we’ll ever get to paying our last respects to Andrew and Anne Byrne. Still, as final resting places go, if they truly were buried here, theirs really is quite spectacular!

[1] Ordnance Survey Ireland, Historic map 6-inch Colour, c.1837-42 (GeoHive).
[2] Griffith’s Valuation, 1853, Blackrath and Athgarvan, Greatconnell, Co. Kildare (Ask about Ireland).
[3] Michael Comerford, Collections relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin, vol. ii (Dublin, 1886). p. 296 (Ask about Ireland)
[4] J. Noble & J. Keenan, Map of county Kildare (Daniel Pomarede, Dublin, 1752) (
[5] Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser, 28 July 1888, p. 5.
[6] Same, 4 August 1888, p. 5.
[7] Same.