A Kiwi in search of her ancestral tribes

O baptism record, where art thou? ~ Bartholomew O’Rourke

I’ve been trying to find a birth or baptism record for Bartholomew O’Rourke. There’s lots of pointers to what year I should be looking at. From his obituary, marriage certificate, death certificate and his daughter Margaret’s birth certificate, I get a birth year range from 1842 to 1844. The most compelling piece of evidence, though, is his gravestone. According to the inscription1, he was 79 years and 10 months (that’s being fairly precise!) when he died on 13 November 1923, which makes a likely birth date of around February 1844.

It wasn’t until I got hold of his death certificate that I finally verified his parents’ names.  I’d been told their names via a family member, but I needed to see proof. Bartholomew’s parents were Michael O’Rourke, farmer,  and Catherine O’Rourke, formerly O’Callaghan.2

According to Bartholomew’s obituary, he was from Currens, Co Kerry, and I found a Currans in Kerry on Google Maps.

View Rourke family, Co Kerry in a larger map
Luckily, parish records for Co Kerry are available online, or at least, a transcription of them. Irishgenealogy.ie‘s database includes not only the records from Kerry, but also Dublin City, Carlow and Cork.3

Currens is in the parish of Killeentierna, where I found records that mentioned several Michael Rourkes, including one with a spouse named Catherine Callaghan/Callihan/O’Callaghan.

Searching the baptism records from 14 Mar 1827 through till 05 Sep 1879, I found the following children of Michael and Catherine, and the townland where they were living:

Mary – 10 Oct 1837, Ballymacdonnell
Ellen – 24 Nov 1843, Ballymacdonnell
Johanna – 29 Mar 1846, Ballymacdonnell
Margaret – 1 Oct 1848, Ballymacdonnell
John – 15 Mar 1850, Kilfylm
Catherine – 18 Jun 1852, Ballymacdonnell
Bridget – 21 Jul 1854, Ballymacdonnell
Honora – 22 Oct 1856, Ballymacdonnell
Ellen – 24 Dec 1859, Kilfelim

Now, that looks like a mighty big gap between Mary and Ellen. It doesn’t quite fit in with the 1844 birthdate for Bartholomew, and certainly, if the children were baptised within a month or two of birth, there is no way Bartholomew could have been born that close to Ellen. Still, maybe Ellen was baptised late, and he was born after her. Or Bartholomew had lied about his age, or wasn’t even sure himself. I would definitely have expected at least one more child between the two older girls, so maybe that’s where he fits in?

Of course, this is assuming that I have the right family, but it seems likely to me, given the right area, and the right parents’ names. I’m interested to know how complete the records actually are, and if there is a particular reason my Bartholomew’s record appears missing.

There are several Bartholomew Rourkes baptised in the parish, but with different parents. My current theory is that Michael Rourke’s father was Bartholomew, and he (along with several of his brothers) named their first sons, Bartholomew. It will require a lot of work going through the parish records to even begin to prove this hypothesis. Something to add to my To Do list!

  1. Old Napier Cemetery (Napier Hill, Napier, New Zealand), Bartholomew O’Rourke gravestone, Section T Headstone Ref 1207; photograph supplied by [NAME FOR PRIVATE USE], January 2011.
  2. New Zealand, death certificate for Bartholomew O’Rourke; 13 Nov 1923, Napier; citing 1923/4896, Birth, Deaths & Marriages, New Zealand.
  3. Dept of Tourism, Culture & Sport. “Search Church Records”. Database of transcriptions, church records for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kerry. Irish Genealogy. http://www.irishgenealogy.ie/ : accessed 13 Nov 2010.


Bartholomew O’Rourke ~ Wordless Wednesday


NZ Research plan


  1. Tom Hickey

    Baptism dates are the most reliable source of information. I have a Joan O’Rourke, who fits in very well with your Johanna. At the time, the Callaghan’s were the landlord’s agents in the area. Johanna was a niece of the agent. She got a farm in Kilfelim when one of the tenants was evicted. Bryan Hickey, from Curranes Castleisland married in there (ie Byran married Johanna). See 1901 census online. They had 6 children (1 boy & 5 girls), two of whom emigrated to New Zealand/Australia.

    Now, the following information I have not verified. The 2 girls names were Maggie and Kitty. Both went together to either New Zealand or Australia. Both married and one family moved from one country to the other, but I don’t know which way. One of the girls married a Culloty man, had young children when her husband was killed (probably an accident when laying explosives). The other sister married a McCluskey (?). They had no children, but adopted on of the Culloty children.

    • Maggie

      Hi Tom – I definitely think we have the same Joan/Johanna O’Rourke in our trees. I had a look at some New Zealand records and found a marriage between Catherine Mary Hickey and Michael Culloty in 1909, which seems to fit in. Due to the 100-year rule, I could only find one child from the marriage, born in 1910. Also found a reference to the explosion that killed Michael in 1929. Will contact you with all the details!

  2. Lynda Scott nee Rourke

    Hi there… I am in Bendigo Victoria Australia. I have several generations of Michael John Rourke’s… (No O’ ) But this one born 29 Sep 1833 in Kilkenny Ire. I cannot find him. I am wondering if You may have come across him in the Parish of St Mary’s the diary says. We have tried. He went on to England and joined the 87 Reg Irish Fusileers and ended up in Cape Town Sth Africa where more Michael Rourkes and siblings were born then shifting onto Australia real late 1800… hence “us”. I would love to find his parents and any siblings. I have his life story but not his birth place or parents and sibs.
    Any ideas would be much appreciated. Lynda Scott nee ROURKE Bendigo Australia

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