I’ve been delving back into my Kerry roots recently, on the hunt for my Callaghans who were leasing land in several townlands during the 19th century, most notably in Kilfelim and Ballymacdonnell in the parish of Killeentierna.  They are intertwined with other families of the same name, so I wanted to work through the parish registers to see if I could work whose parents were whose.

Interestingly, on Findmypast the index for the baptism registers for Killeentierna (Roman Catholic) parish showed many children baptised with different surnames to that of their parents.1  Perhaps the register had been filled or copied out in a hurry, and the priest had transposed the parents’ names to different lines in the register?

Checking the original register entries doesn’t provide an immediate answer.  However, looking closely at each entry, the sponsors’ names are given in full for both parties, ie. first name and surname for Denis Sullivan and Cath[erine] Sullivan.

Baptism entry for Jeremiah Callaghan, 24 June 1824, Kileentierna parish, Co Kerry

Baptism entry for Jeremiah Callaghan, 24 June 1824, Kileentierna parish, Co Kerry

For the parents’ names, two first names are given, and one surname, Jer[emia]h and Johanna Walsh.  However, that surname belongs to the mother!  In the register, it appears the father’s surname has been taken for granted as the same as the child’s, so is not explicitly stated.

Unfortunately, whoever transcribed the entries has assumed the mother’s surname applies to the father as well.  In Findmypast’s index, Jer[emia]h’s parents are listed as Jerh Walsh and Johanna Walsh. Findmypast also leaves out the place of residence, which can be useful as a filter when dealing with common names. The source details note: “Transcript Copyright Ancestry.com LLC”. So does this mean Ancestry’s index entry will be the same?

Jeremiah’s 24 June 1824 baptism appears in two different record sets on Ancestry:

  1. Ireland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1620-1911, based on FamilySearch’s index. Jeremiah’s parents are listed as Jerh. Callaghan and Hannah Walsh, and baptism place of Currow, Co Kerry. There is no corresponding digital image to view.2
  2. Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1655-1915, based on digital images from The National Library of Ireland.  Here Jeremiah’s parents are listed as Jerh Callaghan and Johanna Walsh, and the baptism place Killeentierna.3

Parish registers from the diocese of Kerry were transcribed and indexed some time ago on irishgenealogy.ie.  There Jeremiah’s parents are given as Jeremiah Callaghan and Johanna Walsh, baptism place is Killeentierna, and their residence in Kilfilem is given also.4

This was a fairly simple mistranscription to sort out, but the moral of the story?  Don’t rely on one index.  And where you can, check the original.

  1. Findmypast. Ireland Roman Catholic Parish Baptisms, online database, and digital images from National Library of Ireland.
  2. Original data: Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620–1911. Index. Salt Lake City, Utah: Family Search. FHL film number: 823803
  3. Original data: Catholic Parish Registers, National Library of Ireland; Dublin, Ireland; Microfilm Number: Microfilm 04272 / 02.
  4. Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. “Church records”, IrishGenealogy.ie, (www.irishgenealogy.ie); from original registers of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kerry.