Genealogical and Historical Research Service in County Louth, Ireland - Joe Biden ancestors


Dividing Line

Joe  Biden  (former USA  Vice  President)
and  his  Irish Finnegan  Ancestors

On 20 January 2009 a new President and Vice President were inaugurated in the United States of America. In the case of Vice President Joe Biden two counties in Ireland have been pinpointed as the home county of the Finnegan Family - one of his ancestral lines.
Ms Megan Smolenyak, a USA based genealogist, believed County Louth was the county of origin. However in an online article, dated 28 August 2008,
Niall O’Dowd of the Irish Voice stated that the then Senator Biden “gave his most extensive review of his roots and his Irish heritage to Irish America magazine, our sister publication, in 1985”. In an extract from that interview he stated.  “Biden hails from a Famine era family, the Finnegans, who fled Co. Mayo to avoid the Great Hunger. His great grandmother Finnegan was the only one who could read Gaelic, and she used to read letters in Gaelic for those who could not read the letters from home and she’s write back in Gaelic for them.”

So how does the County Louth connection arise?

          From the following military and US census records Vice President Biden’s ancestry back to a James Finnegan born in Ireland about 1840 is fairly certain. Actual proof would require obtaining church or vital records.

          Vice President Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the son of Joseph Robinette Biden  and Catherine Eugenia "Jean" Finnegan. As his mother was born about 1917 she appears both in the 1920 and 1930 US censuses. Her father was Ambrose J. Finnegan.

          According to a World War II record, dated 27 April 1942, Ambrose Joseph Finnegan was born on  11 July 1884 in Olyphant, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, USA.  At that time he listed his employer as a Mr. M. L. Goodman of the Scrantonian-Tribune. He was 5ft 11½ins in height, weighed 170 lbs, with blue eyes, blonde hair and a ruddy complexion.

          On 4 April 1930 he was living in Scranton, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, with his wife Geraldine Blewitt, his children Gerald J., Blewitt E., Ambrose J., Catherine E. (i.e. mother of Vice President Biden), John A. and his sister-in-law Gertrude M. Blewitt. He was an advertising manager in a newspaper office. He stated he was born in Pennsylvania and his parents in New York. In the same building, but enumerated as a separate family, was a William O’Boyle born about 1901 in Pennsylvania but with parents born in the Irish Free State. William worked as a butcher in a meat market. Who this William was may be of significance as his parents, if from Ireland as stated, are lively to have emigrated long after the Famine years.

          On 2 January 1920 Ambrose was residing in Scranton with his wife Geraldine, his children Gerald, Edward, Ambrose J. and Eugenia, his father-in-law Edward Blewitt who was born about 1859 in Louisianna but of Irish parents, and his sister-in-law Gertrude Blewitt. This Edward Blewitt was a civil and mining engineer for a coal mining business while Ambrose was working for a newspaper business. The latter stated that he was born in Pennsylvania, his father in Ireland and his mother in New York. It is well known that in these later censuses that inaccurate places of birth of parents were given to the enumerator but in this district the enumerator is an ‘Ambrose J. Finnegan’!.

          By his World War I registration record Ambrose Joseph Finnegan, born on 11 July 1884, lived in Scranton and was employed as an advertising solicitor with the Scrantonian Publishing Co..

          In the previous census, taken 19 April 1910, Ambrose was residing in the house of his father-in-law, Edward Blewitt, a civil engineer, in Scranton and was married to Geraldine with only one child Gerald. Also in the house were Gertrude, Patrick and Arthur the children of Edward Blewitt.

          Ten years earlier, on 8 June 1900, Ambrose was working as an errand boy, was single and residing still in Scranton City, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, but with his uncle Peter Roche, a switchman. Peter was born about October 1855 in New York of Irish parents. He is married to Bridget and has children: Thomas, Mary, Annie, Peter J., Nellie and Margaret, all born in Pennsylvania.

          Unfortunately the 1890 Federal census is not available but it can be concluded from above that Ambrose Finnegan was born in Olyphant, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania on 11 July 1884 and his mother’s maiden name was ‘Roche’.

          On the 1880 census for Olyphant, Lackawanna County, was a James Finnigan, a musician, blind, born about 1842 in Ireland, with his wife Catherine, born about 1847 in Ireland, and children Eugene, Jennie, Stephen, John and Louis. The first three children were born in New York and the rest in Pennsylvania. James could not read or write but Catherine could.

          However since the oldest children of James were born in New York it was likely his marriage to Catherine took place there also. Ms Megan Smolenyak located a marriage of 1866 of a James Finnegan and a Catherine Roche, at the Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Ovid, Seneca County, New York. The marriage entry gave the names of the parents of James as Owen Finnegan and Jane Boyle.
          Seneca County was situated south of Lake Ontario, one of the Great Lakes, and between two smaller lakes called Seneca and Cayuga.

Ovid, Seneca County, New York, 1841

Source: History of Seneca Co., New York, With iIlustrations, descriptive of its  scenery, Palatial Residences, Public Buldings, Fine Blocks and Important Manufactories, Philadelphia,  Everts, Ensign & Everts, 1876, republished by W.E. Morrison & Co., Ovid, New York, following p.100, Allen County Library Genealogy Center.


          In the 1870 census, in the village of Ovid, was an Owen Finnegan, born about 1819 in Ireland, with his wife Jane, born about 1824 in Ireland, and children: Maggie age 18 years, Thomas age 11 years and Michie age 4 years, all born in New York. He was a shoemaker and had property (real estate) valued at $1500 (Click HERE to see part image of census). James was not listed with this household as he was married in 1866 and living elsewhere. So far only one possible entry for James and his wife Catherine has been found in the 1870 census – a hotel keeper in Rochester which is still doubtful as James was supposedly ‘blind’. But locating births of his children will verify where he resided at that time.
          However, ten years earlier, on 1 August 1860 in the Village of Ovid, County of Seneca, New York, was above Owen, a shoemaker, his wife Jane and sons James age 19 years and so born about 1841 (stated ‘blind’) and Patrick age 12 all born in Ireland, and daughter Margaret age 8 years and sons John and Thomas born in Seneca County, New York. Also in the house was a domestic servant named Bridget McGregan age 16 years and born in Ireland. By 1860 Owen already owned property (real estate) valued at $1000 so he was not poor (Click HERE to see part image of census).


Seneca Lake, Seneca County, New York

    Source: History of Seneca Co., ibid, after page 164.

          Since Owen’s son Patrick was stated to be born in Ireland, about 1848, and daughter Margaret was born in New York, about 1852, one can concluded that the parents had possibly emigrated between 1848 and 1852.

          This date of emigration can be shortened further. In the 1850 census, taken for Covert, Seneca County, New York, on 20 August 1850, was an Owen born about 1820, his wife Jane born about 1822, and sons James age 10 years, Stephen age 7 years and Michael age 5 years all born in Ireland (Click HERE to see part image of census). Since none of the family were listed as born in New York it would appear that this family arrived within the previous few years. Owen gave his occupation as ‘labourer’ and he did not own any property. However his neighbours were nearly all native New Yorkers with real estate valued from $1000 to $12000.
         Covert was south of Ovid and situated near Lake Cayuga.

Cayuga Bridge, Seneca County, New Yor

            Source: History of Seneca Co., ibid, after page 164.

           Between above censuses of 1850 to 1870 it is noted that some of the children had left home. In 1860 Stephen possibly worked as a farm labourer in Romulus County nearby. On 12 April 1861 the Civil War had broken out and continued until 1865. It appears that by 1863 three Finnegan boys, stated to be born in Ireland on the 1850 census, are mentioned on Civil War Records for the Union Army.

- In the History of Seneca County, page 103, a Michael Finnegan from Ovid is stated to have enlisted on 24 August 1862, in Company I, New York 164th Infantry Regiment, and killed the same day at the battle of Cold Harbour. However there seems to be some mix up on the military records (i.e. Military Muster Rolls and Record of Soldiers and officers) between this Michael and another Michael Finnigan of same age from Lockport (Click to see Record of Soldiers and officers).
          It is possible that, by the outbreak of the Civil War, Michael from Ovid had moved to Lockport where other Finnigan families lived. But there still is a Michael Finnegan in the 1880 US census residing in Lockport. On the Military Muster Rolls this maybe the Michael who enlisted 23 August 1862 at Newfane, mustered 19 November 1862, into Company B, 164 Infantry and reported missing in action at Cold Harbor. On the Roll it stated he was from Ireland, age 18 years, a labourer, black eyes, black hair, and 5ft 5inches tall (Click to see part of his Military Muster Roll Abstract).
       It is noted above, in the 1870 Census for Ovid, that another child was born to Owen and Jane, about 1866, and named Michael shortened to 'Michie'. This renaming of children after a child that had died was not unusual in Irish families.

- James Finnigan of Ovid, the musician, age 21 years, appeared on the Civil War Draft Registration records, 1863-1865, on 1 July 1863 (Click to see part of Draft Registration Record).

- Stephen enlisted, in Company I, New York 164th Infantry Regiment, in Ovid on 26 December 1863, was promoted to Sergeant and mustered out on 15 July 1865 at Washington, DC. It was stated, in 1863, that he was born in Ireland, age 20 years, occupation a 'shoemaker', blue eyes, brown hair and 5ft 6 inches tall (Click to see part of Military Muster Roll Abstract).

          To summarize, from the main US records available, the persons stated to be born in Ireland are:- Owen Finnegan about 1820, his wife Jane about 1822, children James about 1840, Stephen about 1842, Michael about 1845 and Patrick about 1848. The year of emigration was possibly between 1848 and 20 August 1850 presuming that the family residing in Covert, Seneca County, in 1850 was the same family who settled in nearby Ovid Village by 1860.

          In the case of County Mayo there were Finnegans in Pennsylvania, where Vice President Biden’s ancestors later settled, who came from that county. However on searching the index to available Roman Catholic Registers for the county there is no family of an Owen Finnegan and Jane Boyle. But only about quarter of the nineteenth century parish registers for County Mayo date pre 1840. In addition the surname ‘Finnegan’ has various spellings and ‘Boyle’ can also be ‘O’Boyle’. So such a search is inconclusive.

          On checking passenger lists the most likely entry so far located is for a Jane born about 1823 emigrating on the Marchioness of Bute, from Newry, and arriving in New York on 15 May 1850. With her were children James age 7, Stephen age 5, and Patrick an infant. On the transcribed index to the passenger lists, available online, the child Patrick was stated to be 'born at sea'. But as it is always advisable to look at the original records the correct detail should be that Patrick was 'an infant' (Click HERE to see difference). If this is the correct Jane then Owen emigrated in late 1848 to early 1850 to prepare the way for his family. The child Michael possibly emigrated with him or with a close neighbour or relative. This would not be unusual as there existed at the time a fear that a whole family could be lost by the outbreak of fever on board ship or of it sinking. The fact that Jane and her family emigrated from Newry would suggest she came from that region.

          In the case of the Roman Catholic Registers for County Louth there was the marriage of an Owen Finegan and Jane Boyle in Cooley Parish on 8 December 1839. (the witnesses were Michael Woods and James Donnelly) and in neighbouring Lordship Parish the baptism entries of James in 1840, Michael in 1845 and a Patrick in 1848 to the family. So far the baptism of Stephen has not been located.
           Unfortunately no exact address was given for the family on the parish registers but it would appear that they may have come from the part of north County Louth bounded by the sea and a line from Bellurgan to Carlingford.

          To go back to the Biden family folklore that Vice President Joe Biden’s great grandmother knew Gaelic. This great grandmother was the Catherine Roche who married, in New York, the James Finnegan stated to be born in Ireland about 1840. While emigrants from County Louth for the period are not known as being Gaelic speakers it is quite likely the child James and his parents Owen and Jane had some knowledge of the language as, up until more recent times, there was an Irish speaking community further north around the Omeath area. It is also likely that a priest in Cooley parish had some interest in the language as the parish register of the time period, while written in English, used the old Gaelic form of lettering.

          So the evidence, so far uncovered, is quite strong that the Finnegans were from north County Louth. But there is one noticeable similarity between the inhabitants of Ovid, where Owen Finnegan settled, and this part of the Cooley peninsula and that is in the surnames. Besides a number of Finnegan families in Ovid, by 1860, were residents, stated to be born in Ireland, with surnames White, Quinn, Hanlon, Morgan, Toner, Donnelly, McBride, Rooney, Woods, Rogan and by 1870 Census also Feehan, along with other more common surnames like Murphy, Carroll, Reilly, Malone, and Clarke etc.. So it may not be just one family that settled in that part of New York but many from north County Louth.

                        Dividing line on MC Research website

             On hearing that US Vice President Joe Biden may pay a visit to the Cooley area later this month (June 2016) I looked again at the research last updated in 2012. Local rumour seems to suggest that, according to United States of America [USA] sources, the relevant Finnegan Family came from the Templetown area of the Cooley Peninsula.
           But first I will look briefly at some main USA sources that maybe of help in locating emigrants from both that north-east area and elsewhere in County Louth.



 Holy Cross Cemetery, Ovid, Seneca County, New York State.

It is in this cemetery that Owen Finnegan and Jane Boyle, who emigrated from County Louth with their older children in the mid nineteenth century, were buried. But from a brief perusal of some photographs of some of the headstones available online at it can be seen that other emigrants, not only from the Cooley area, but also from elsewhere in County Louth, settled in the Ovid area of Seneca County. It also appears that even into the twentieth century emigration to this area continued. But for the purposes of this brief research I will only deal with a few of the emigrants.

Owen Finnegan's Family.
The inscriptions on the headstone(s), available online, read:-

JUNE 15, 1875.
56 YRS. 10MO.
DEC. 23, 1874.
AGED 54 YRS 7 DS.'


JUNE 3, 1864
18 YRS,. 3 MO. 3 DS.
MARCH 14, 1884.
36 YRS. 13 DS.'

Kuryla Family
Mary Anne White wife of Frank G Kuryla died 6 June 1956 in Ovid, Seneca County and was buried in Ovid Cemetery.
            Mary Anne was listed on the Massachusetts, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1963, on She was 25 years old and departed from Liverpool on the ship Celtic with her brother Patrick age 17 years. They arrived in Boston 2 September 1923. Their father was Patrick White of Rathcor, Carlingford, and they were emigrating to their cousin Thos McCarriagher in Ovid, New York.
           There is a baptism in Cooley Parish of a Mary Anne White on 17 October 1898 the daughter of Patrick White and Annie McCarraher. While no specific address is given on the baptism register from the 1901 and 1911 census (available at the family was living in Rathcor Townland. In 1911 Mary Anne was the eldest of seven children:- Francis; Ellen; James; Patrick Joseph (who emigrated to Ovid with her); Thomas and Teresa Josephine. The head of house was a cousin Mary Malone, single, and age 81 years so would be born about 1840 when Owen and Jane Finnegan were still living in this general area.

           Rathcor Townland is also along Dundalk Bay and a short distance to the west of Templetown Townland. It contains about 654 statute acres. The Malone families of the area seemed to have lived, in the mid nineteenth century, around the village of Rathcor Upper.

  Missing Friends advertisements

These advertisements can make interesting reading.

One notice published 18 September 1875 is:-

(Source: Boston Pilot newspaper and available online on etc.).

From the parish register for Cooley there was a baptism of a Sarah Carroll baptised 31 July 1839 of Castlecarragh Townland, the daughter of Patt Carroll and Catharine White.
          Part of the village of Riverstown is in Castlecarragh Townland. The latter townland adjoins to the west Rathcor Townland. It contains nearly 367 statute acres.

  Censuses of Population

It has already been stated that a number of surnames found in Seneca County, New York, in the various mid-nineteenth century censuses also appear in the north-east area of County Louth. Following are some Finnegan families living in Ovid, Senaca County, in the 1860 US census:-


Owen & Jane Finnegan (already given above).

The Village of Ovid

1860 census

Richard and Mary Finnagan

The town of Ovid.

1860 census

Both Richard and Mary were stated to be from Ireland and the children born in Seneca County, New York.

Joseph (aka George?) and Rosa Finnagan

The village of Ovid.

1860 census

          In the 1850 US census, taken 18 October 1850, in Town of Seneca Falls, County of Seneca, State of New York, was a George Finnegan, age 25 years, a shoemaker, born in Ireland, with his wife Rose, age 23 years and also born in Ireland and daughter Mary, age 3 years, born in New York.
          From a Stauff Finnegan Family Tree on it is stated above Joseph, was this George Finnegan and came from Templetown, County Louth. He was born about 1820 but the names of the parents are not listed on the Family Tree. His wife was stated to be Rose Murphy.
          An image of the Headstone given lists 'George Finnegan died Mar. 13, 1894 aged 74 years'.

          This Family Tree also has Owen Finnegan as a brother of George. It includes a copy of a notice in the local Ovid newspaper, dated 11 May 1863, stating that George Finnegan 'dissolved his partnership with Owen" and was moving to other premises with his Boot and Shoe Making Business. Another notice dated 1 April 1868 had a sale notice for his house in Ovid Village.
          A further public notice dated 17 June 1874 by Owen Finnegan stated that, due to ill health, he was closing his business (Boots and Shoes) and putting his stock up for auction. As can be seen above on Owen's headstone his wife Jane died in December 1874 and he died about six months later.

The children of George & Rose Murphy. as given on Family Tree, were:-
1846 Mary Ellen
1850 Rose Ann
1853 Peter
1855 Catherine
1858 Richard B
1860 George
1863 Jane
All the children were stated to be born in USA.

           Templetown is in Cooley Roman Catholic parish and situated along a narrow road off the R175 (Dundalk to Greenore) that leads south-east in the direction of Cooley Point along Dundalk Bay.
           Templetown Townland contains about 437 statute acres.

Mary Finnagan born about 1832.

The Village of Ovid

1860 census

Mary Finnagan was stated to be born in Ireland.

Family of a Hugh Finnegan

Town of Waterloo, Seneca County.

1860 census

Patrick, his wife Ann and father Hugh were stated to be born in Ireland and the children in New York. By the 1870 US census this Patrick, a farmer, and Ann and his family (but not Hugh) appear to be residing in the town of Ovid.
          See later under Parish Registers. Could this be Hugh Finnegan (who was married to Ann Murphy) and son Patrick who lived in Templetown?. Further research would be required to verify this.

1850 US census.

As a matter of interest, in the 1850 US census, in the town of Ovid there seems to be a Thomas Finegan, born Ireland, and age 27 years who worked as a 'Lawyer'. Could this Thomas be the son of Simon and Mary Mills?. Again further research would be needed to verify this.

1850 census
       (Sources of US Censuses: but also available on other online databases)



Owen Finegan's Family

Owen Finnegan and Jane Boyle were married in Cooley Roman Catholic Parish, County Louth. on 8 December 1839. Following is a copy of the marriage entry now available online on the National Library of Ireland website. Previous to this service permission was required of the local parish to upload a copy or part of a page.

Owen Finegan and Jane Boyle marriage

Normally the marriage took place in the bride's parish. The parish registers of Cooley Parish commenced in 1811 and baptism entries included the local, usually townland, address. So if Owen had remained, after marriage, in this parish his address would be given.

          The baptism entries found of the children of Owen Finnegan and Jane Boyle, born in Ireland, were on the registers of Lordship Parish. It adjoins to the west Cooley Parish.
          The registers of the former parish only commenced in 183
3 and no specific addresses were given on it. So it is difficult to determine, from Irish parish registers, if Owen was also born in Lordship Parish.

          The names of Owen Finnegan and Jane Boyle's children, including born in USA, so far known would appear to be:-

Baptism date                      Forename                     Sponsors
18 December 1840             James                 
(Math Finegan & Cath Ruddy)

James Finegan's baptisn

(about 1843),                    Stephen (baptism entry not located)
5 September 1845             Michl [Michael]    
  (John Connor & Mary Boyle)

Michael Finnigan's baptism

5 March 1848                    Patt [Patrick]           (Michl Boyle & Margt Finigan)

Patrick Finigan's baptism

1852?                               Margaret (born USA)
1852?                               Thomas? (born USA)

Thomas Finnegan's death
(Source: Ovid Bee dated 15 Aug 1855,

1855?                               John (born USA)
1859?                               Thomas (born USA)
1866?                               Michael (born USA)

         From above, it would appear, by repeating again forenames 'Thomas' and 'Michael' that those names were important to the family. There was also a trend, among Irish Roman Catholic families although not always followed, of naming the first son and daughter after the paternal grandparents, the second son and daughter after the maternal grandparents and the next boy and girl would be named after the father and mother. A slight variation on it would be to name the second son after the father with the next children after the maternal grandparents etc..

         As already stated, on earlier research, the family had left the Cooley area before May 1850 (approx.). As a matter of interest it is quite possible Jane and the children had seen the Marchioness of Bute ship, in February 1850, before they sailed. The local newspaper of the time
, dated 23 February 1850, had the following report:-

ship named Marchioness of Bute

and an advertisement on same date:-

ship named Marchioness of Bute
(Source: The Dundalk Democrat and Peoples Journal dated the
23 February 1850,

For the journey taken by Jane and her children it stated:-

ship named Marchioness of Bute
(Source: Dundalk Democrat dated 8 June 1850,

          The boundary of the parish of Cooley with that of Lordship would appear to be around Castlecarragh Townland. But baptism entries of children with address of Castlecarragh
were found on the Cooley Parish Registers. However Roman Catholic Parish boundaries followed natural features and means of travel such as roads etc..
          From the main land record of the mid nineteenth century known as Richard Griffith's General Valuation of Rateable Property in Ireland, surveyed in County Louth around 1852, it would appear the combination of names found on the baptism entries of the children of Owen and Jane etc.
were in Castlecarragh Townland.
          Travelling east to Carlingford the plots 1 and 2 would be along and to the south of road R173 (the Dundalk to Carlingford Road), after crossing Riverstown bridge and on entering Castlecarragh townland. So it could be that Owen and Jane, before emigrating, lived near the Riverstown area.
          This is a copy of the published survey for Castlecarragh Townland:-

County Louth, Civil Parish of Carlingford, page 185.
Castlecarragh Townland
(source: but is widely available)

       A previous land record to above was the Tithe Applotment Books. Tithes were assessed on land holders to determine the amount of tithes payable to the Established Church. This survey for Castlecarra [Castlecarragh] Townland was taken in 1833 and in it a George Finegan was listed with a James and Michael Finegan for 12 acres of land. This assessment was based on Irish acres while Griffith's Valuation used statute acres.    Below is a copy of this survey for part of Castlecarra.

County Louth, Civil Parish of Carlingford, page 25.
TAB - Castlecarragh Townland

TAB - Castlecarragh Townland

          Owen Finnegan, since the baptism entries of his children were found in Lordship Parish, would likely have lived in that parish in the 1840 to 1848 period. At that time families sometimes moved around a rural district depending on work etc.. He may, if working as a shoemaker or learning the trade, have lived along or near a main road route such as near Riverstown Bridge.
          The family possibly intended staying in Ireland since they remained here during the worst of the Great Famine years. It is quite possible for his family there was both the 'pull' and 'push' influence. That is news arrived from former neighbours, who had already emigrated, of the opportunities in the USA and also by remaining at home the uncertainty for the future resulting from the effects of the Famine years. Another push
, for persons looking for business from local road travellers to the ports, may have been the proposal to extend the railway line from Dundalk to Carlingford via Greenore.
          While the railway line was not opened until the early 1870s the proposal possibly to obtain the land for the route, south of the now R173 road, would have been known. In Rockmarshal Townland the line crossed the now R173 and passed just north of Riverstown bridge towards the junction of the R173 with the now R175. A station was built at Bush and the line went on to Greenore. So the locally used lanes and passes, found in rural areas, to the southern part of the peninsula would be closed off.
          Many years ago research on another family, from the Bellurgan area which was to the west of Riverstown, revealed that they emigrated to New York, in 1848, on the Sea Bird from Galway. They were among other emigrants on what were termed an assisted emigration scheme from that county. Their small plot in Bellurgan was later severed by the railway line. Their ages were about the same as Owen and Jane Finnegan and they could have been known to the latter while living in this area.  So there maybe some connection with the west of Ireland and families from the Cooley peninsula. Research of railway archives may reveal further information.
          As stated, in genealogy, there is always some grain of truth in family lore.

          When in Lordship Parish, Owen, Jane, and the young James would likely have known a place, along Dundalk Bay, called 'White House Point' near Giles (aka Gyles) Quay.

White House Point
(Source: Ordnance Survey map, County Louth, surveyed 1823, Sheet 8, Mountbagnall
Townland,  'White House Point' is to south west of Castlecarragh Townland).

          Below is a recent road map of the area, along Dundalk Bay, showing, Riverstown bridge,  and the Castlecarragh, Rathcor & Templetown area.

Map -  Giles Quay, Riverstown
(Source: OS Discovery Series, Louth no.36).


  Finnegan Families in Templetown Townland.

Finnegan Families of Templetown Townland listed, approximately pre 1850, on the Cooley Roman Catholic Parish Registers are given below. They are listed by forename of father. The list does not include non Finnegan families with a Finnegan mother.
          Some entries on the register are faded and difficult to read. In addition, especially in the early part of the baptism register, it can be a problem to determine the year on some pages.

Bryan Finnegan & Anne Finnegan (of Templetown).
(married 25 June 1834, witnesses: Pat Feegan & Cathr Finnegan)
08 September 1834   Mary Finnegan      (sponsors: Owen Finnegan & Cather Finnegan

Hugh Finigan & Anne Murphy (of Templetown)
(married 21 December 1813, witnesses: Nicholas Carroll & Patt Murphy)
15 January 1815       Thomas? Finigan    (sponsors: Tom? [?] & Mary Finigan)
01 Auguste1819        Mary Finigan        
 (sponsors: Henry Murphy & Biddy Christy)
09 March 1823          Patt Finigan           (sponsors: William Quin & [Elen?] Murphy)
24 January 1825       James Finegan       (sponsors: Richd Quinn & Rose Hanraty)
23 April 1827            John Finigan?       
 (sponsors: James Murphy & Betty Killin)
30 September 1829   Anne Finegan        (sponsors: [Pet]er Murphy & Bid? Hanratty)
07 November 1831    Jas Finnegan         (sponsors: Hugh Roarke & Anne Roarke)
30 November 1834    Cathn Finigan        (sponsors: Patk Rice & Bridget Finigan)

James Finegan & Mary White.
(marriage entry not located so could be older children)
25 October 1812        Ann Finigan          (sponsors: John Finigan & Peggy Finigan)
15? February 181[4?] ---- Finigan         
 (sponsors: Edwd Finigan & [Jane?] Finigan)
(page torn at forename)
23 March 1817          George Finigan      (sponsors: Bernard Smyth & Mary Carrel)
21 October 1819       Richard Finigan      (sponsors: Patt Callely & Mary Finigan)
19 July 1822             Edward Finegan     (sponsors: William Quin & Cathy Roarke?)
18 April 1825            Rose Finegan         (sponsors: Patt Connel & Betty Quinn)
07 February 1828      Mary Finigan         (sponsors: Pat Cristy & Mary Killen)

James Finigan & Mary Mills
(no marriage entry located so could be other children)
18 May 1818            Danl? Finigan          (sponsors: John McGee & Rose Kelledy).

John Finnegan & Mary Kearney
(married 14 December 1813, witnesses: Owen O'Callaghan & Peggy Kearney)
24 October 1814       Owen Fingan          (sponsors: Artr Magee & Margt Finegan)
16 October 1816       Ro[ber]t? Finigan    (sponsors: Lau? Quin & Rose Kellidy?)
27 December 1817    Richd Finegan        (sponsors: Pat White & Cate Kearney)
30 April 1820            Patrick Finigan        (sponsors: Mary Connel & Pat Rallety?)
09 February 1823      Ann Finegan          (sponsors: Thomas Ke[l]aly & Judy Murphy)
03 March 1826          Mary Finegan         (sponsors: Richard Quinn? & Rose Kellely?)
03 March 1826          Biddy Finegan        (sponsors: Patt Finegan? & Betty Killen?)

John Finnigan & Biddy Carroll
(no marriage entry located so could be other children)
05 September 1835   Michl Finnigan         (sponsors: John Finnegan & Mary Conor)

Laurence Finnegan & Anne McDonald (Mary Anne?)
(no marriage entry located so could be other children)
6 March 1834           Rose Finnegan         (sponsors: Peter Killin & Mary Hughes)
(mother : Mary McDonald)
21 May 1835            Thos Finnegan        
 (sponsors: Laurence Murphy & Mary Hughes)
(mother Anne McDonald)
See later for possible other information on Laurence.

Patrick Finegan & Catherine Connell
(Married 18 February 1833, witnesses: Jas Connell & Cathrn Finnegan, Templetown)
16 November 1835    Peter Finnegan        (sponsors: Owen Finnegan & Margt Lyons)
16 November 1835    Pat Finnegan           (sponsors: Pat Fagan? & Cathrn Finnegan)
[03 October 1838      Anne Finigan          
 (sponsors: Patt Christy & Rose McCann)
Born in Castlecarrah]
18 February 1847      Bernard Finegan      (sponsors: William Karny & Mary Connell)
24 June 1850            John Finegan           (sponsors: Thomas Connell & Bridget Magee)

Peter Finigan & Mary Cristy
(Marred 28 August 1811, witnesses: James Kearney & Wilm Kearney)
08 June 1812           Bryan Finigan         
 (sponsors: John Finigan & Mary Finigan)
15 February 1816     Cate Finigan            (sponsors: James Maguigan & Bid Cristy)

Simon Finegan & Mary Mills
(no marriage entry located so could be other children)
11 February 1816     Biddy Finigan           (sponsors: Owen Smyth & Anne Rourke)
10.04.1820              Mary Finigan           
 (sponsors: Bernard Murphy & Biddy Calely)
18.12.1822              Thomas Finegan       (sponsors: James Christy & Catty Roarke)
01 May 1
829            Daniel Finegan         (sponsors: Hugh Roarke & Betty Murphy)

Tom/Thos Finigan & Mary Markey
(No marriage entry located so could be other children)
05 December 1817    John Finigan            (sponsors: Patt McCahy & John McCahy ?)
30 October 1820       Edwd Finigan           (sponsors: Owen Carroll & Betty Mc[Cooye]?)

(Sources: and )


Dividing line on MC Research website

US Vice President Biden did visit Cooley on Saturday 25 June 2016. He travelled along the R173 to Carlingford town, situated along the Lough through which the Marchioness of Bute sailed in 1850, and visited the old Kilwirra Cemetery in Templetown Townland and Lily Finegan's Pub in Whitestown Village.

Dividing line on MC Research website

The following will be revised, under the headings used below, as new information comes to light.
          As will be seen genealogical research involves searching for records, clues etc., analysing results, revising, reviewing, digging further, and repeating the process sometimes many times.


Finnegan Families, Castlecarragh Townland

The standard spellings of the surnames are used below.

          The Boundary of the two Roman Catholic Parishes of Lordship and Cooley would appear to be the Castletown River that flows under Riverstown Bridge on the now R173 road. Immediately crossing this bridge the road today appears to have been straightened from that existing in the mid nineteenth century.

          In 1855 the now R173 road was termed the High Road from Dundalk to Carlingford. After crossing the Riverstown Bridge was the village of Riverstown, in Castletown-Cooley Townland, and after the junction (beside the present Riverstown Inn) with what was termed the 'road to Newry'  was Castletown-Cooley Townland on the north side and Castlecarragh Townland on the south side. On the  latter side the land occupiers were Peter Donnelly and Elizabeth Hanlon occupying 19 acres and 1 rood; Matthew and James Finnegan occupying 22 acres and 2 roods; James Ward and Patrick Malone occupying 22 acres and 2 roods and last John Boyle occupying 10 acres and 3 roods.

          As seen, above, in the Tithe Applotments Books, 1833, for Castlecarra [Castlecarragh] Townland a George Finnegan was listed with a James and Michael Finnegan for 12 Irish acres of land.
          By the time of Griffith's Valuation survey, completed around 1852, a Matthew, Michael and James Finnegan each occupied a house and offices (that is out offices such as sheds) and jointly 21 statute acres and 38 perches of land. See above copy of this record. The land was stated to be in tillage and giving very good crops. In addition it was stated that the occupiers of Castlecarragh Townland claimed the sea weed, along the townland's seashore, in proportion to their holdings.
          For the good land the Finnegan's seemed to pay £1-6-0 an acre per annum. It was stated that some occupiers of land, in the townland, gave up their holdings because they did not receive enough rebate of rent. The rebate was likely sought due to the uncertainty, generally, with the potato crops. A Pat Carroll did leave as occupier of his house and garden in this townland, at Plot 6c, in 1853. Could he be the Patrick Carroll living in Lodi in 1875? (see Missing Friends' advertisements above).

         Also on this Finnegan holding was a house occupied by a James Donnelly, free, and held at will from Michael Finnegan and another house occupied by an Arthur Magee and held at will, from James Finnegan, for which he paid £1-0-0 a year.

          From the various records, so far searched, this would appear to be the position with the named occupiers above:- 


George Finnegan.

He maybe the George who was married to a Catherine Finnegan and children included Ann (1830); Laurence (1832) and Mary (1833) all born in Riverstown. Since the marriage entry was not located it is possible there were other children. He maybe one of the George Finnegans that died in Cooley parish around 1849-50 as he is not listed on Griffith's Valuation.

          It would appear that a Matthew Finnegan followed on his property.


Matthew Finnegan.

Matthew is listed in Griffith's Valuation. He was born about 1804 and married a Judith McBride, in Lordship Parish, but his children were baptised in Cooley Parish. Their family included:-

Mary (1859); Catherine (1861); Bridget (1863); Michael (1865) and  Rose (1868).

         When Mathew and Judith died their son Michael and family followed as occupiers on the property. Michael married a Bridget Murphy of Benagh Townland and died in 1924 in Castlecarragh Townland.


James Finnegan.

He was born about 1785 and was possibly the person who married a Judith Finnegan. It is probable that either James or Judith came from Mucklagh Townland (further to the north-east of Castlecarragh) as some of their children were born there. The family may have included:-

Mary (1815); Mic/Michael (1818); John (1819) and Thomas (1821) who was born in Castlecarragh.

          A Thomas (likely his son) followed on his property. Thomas Finnegan was married to a Margaret Finnegan in 1858, in Lordship Parish, and family, all born in Castlecarragh and baptised in Cooley Parish, included:-

John (1859); Bridget? (1861); Peter (1863); James (1865); Michael (1867); Pat (1870); Mary? (1873) and Catherine (1876). Michael followed as main occupier of the property and afterwards Catherine's family. Catherine was married to a John J Hughes from Killin Townland, in Lordship Parish.


Michael Finnegan.

He was born about 1797 and died unmarried. James Donnelly followed on his property.


Sally Finnegan - James Donnelly.

A Sally (Sarah) Finnegan was born about 1788 and married a James Donnelly, a weaver.  The weaving trade was already in decline by the 1830s. This maybe the James Donnelly who occupied a free house from Michael Finnegan. Their family included:-

Mary Donnelly (1813) and James Donnelly (1815) born in Riverstown.
           This latter James Donnelly married, in 1840, his cousin a Bridget Finnegan. This Bridget was present at the death of Michael Finnegan above, born 1797, so maybe she was a near relative?. These Donnellys followed on Michael Finnegan's property. Their family included:-

Elizabeth (1847); James (1849);  John (1851) and maybe others. The property passed to John Donnelly and afterwards to a Feehan family.

          Could this James Donnelly, born 1815, be the witness to the marriage of Owen Finnegan & Jane Boyle?.


Arthur Magee.

In the early 1850s Arthur Magee paid £1-0-0 a year for the house to James Finnegan but it was down before 1860.
         So far nothing was found to suggest the Magees were related to the Finnegans. However in Griffith's Valuation there was no Arthur Magee listed as the main occupier of a house in Templetown Townland. Yet there was an Artr Magee a sponsor in 1814 to the baptism of Owen Finnegan the son of John and Mary Kearney of Templetown. The latter maybe the Arthur Magee, born about 1788, who may have been married to a Rourke girl and died in Templetown in 1871. His occupation was a 'labourer' which could mean an 'agricultural labourer'. But again no record has, so far, been found to verify that he was the same person that lived in Castlecarragh in the 1850s.

Finnegan Families, Templetown Townland.

In the Tithe Applotment Books, 1833, for Templetown Townland (see copy below) were:-

County Louth, Civil Parish of Carlingford, pages 22 and 28.
1833 TAB for Templetown Townland
1833-TAB for Templetown Townland (part)

1833-TAB for Templetown Townland (part), County Louth

Simon Finnegan.
Simon and Co [possibly other family members] was in occupation of 9 Irish acres and 1 rood. See later.

Laurence Finnegan.
Laurence and Co occupied 6 Irish acres and 2 roods.
          This may be the Laurence Finnegan who married, 26 September 1829, an Ann McDonnell (aka Mary Anne?) and their children
may have included:-

Seragh?, born 1830, but no specific address was listed;
, born 1834 in Templetown, with mother 'Mary McDonald' and
, born 1835 in Templetown, with mother 'Anne McDonald'

          Their marriage was listed in the Marriage column of the Belfast Newsletter.

 1829 Belfast Newsletter, Laurence Finegan
(Source: The Belfast Newsletter dated 20 October 1829, British Newspaper Archives.)

He was not the Laurence Finnegan of Templetown that died in 1865. That Laurence Finnegan died 16 May 1865 in Templetown, a bachelor age about 59 years old and a farmer. A Daniel Finegan, possibly residing in same house as Laurence but relationship not stated, was the informant of the latter's death.
          While no Laurence Finnegan was listed in Griffith's Valuation as the main occupier of a premises there was a Sarah Finnegan occupying a house where Simon Finnegan wa
s the immediate lessor.

Bryan Finnegan, deceased.
The Representatives of Bryan Finnegan occupied two parcels of land amounting to 13 Irish acres, 2 roods and 24 perches.

          Following is a copy Griffith's Valuation, published in 1854, for Templetown Townland where Finnegans were listed as main occupiers.

 Griffith's Valuation - Templetown Townland, County Louth

Griffith's Valuation - Templetown Townland (part)
(source: but is widely available)

Again from various records, so far searched, this would appear to be the position with the named occupiers above:-

Hugh Finnegan.
At Plot 12ABa a Hugh Finnegan occupied a house, offices and jointly with Simon Finnegan 12 statute acres, 2 roods and 30 perches of land.  The land was in good condition and in tillage.
          This Hugh Finnegan could be the person that was married to Anne Murphy from Templetown on 21 Dec 1813. Hugh and Anne were residing in Templetown when the children were born. Their family included: Thomas (1815); Mary (1819); Patt (1823); James (1825); John? (1827); Anne (1829); James (1831) and Catherine (1834).

Simon Finnegan.
Simon Finnegan resided in a house at Plot 12ABb. He also was the occupier of a number of neighbouring parcels of land including at the Kilwirra (Cill Mhuire) old cemetery; some of the strand (which gave rights to the sea weed but seemingly only with the consent of the landlord's agent) and some vacant houses in the townland. Again the land was described as been of good quality and in tillage. There was also a house occupied by a Sarah Finnegan, free, and held at will from Simon.

          As Simon Finnegan was probably the person who was listed in 1833 in the Tithe Applotment Books he was likely the person that was married to Mary Mills and had family including Biddy (1816); Mary (1820); Thomas (1822) and Daniel (1829). This Simon may have died in 1859.

Catherine Finnegan
At Plot 13c a Catherine Finnegan occupied a house where the immediate lessor was a Patrick Kearney. 

Thomas Fin
At Plot 30AB a Thomas Finnegan occupied 12 statute acres and 29 perches of land as well as three houses (two vacant and one occupied by a Mary McArdle). This land was at the eastern end of the townland near the seashore. It was stated that it was excellent land, the best in Templetown, and the best of tillage. He would also have a claim to some of the sea weed along the seashore which was used as manure and any excess could be sold. This seemingly differed from the occupiers further north in the townland, such as Simon Finnegan, who could only obtain the sea weed with the consent of the landlord's agent. The land was held at will, at a rent of £1-9s-0d per acre per annum from the Representatives of Ross Moore.  
          This Thomas Finnegan, or his son Thomas,
was stated to be living in the adjoining townland of Whitestown.

          Thomas born about 1827, likely son of Thomas, by the time of his death in 1887 occupied more land as well as a public house (known today as Lily Finnegan's Pub) in Whitestown Village. He also occupied some land to the north-west, in Willville Upper and Lower in the adjoining Willville Townland.
          In the early 1850s it was said that the land in Whitestown was continually being improved by the occupiers and without much cost. This was due to the rents being low and limestone and sea weed obtainable from the shore where the occupiers had also two or three good lime kilns built. As a
result they were said to be 'considerably well off'. However it was also stated that if their leases expired the rent would be raised from £1-6-0 to about £2-0-0 per acre per annum.

         Thomas Finnegan, born about 1827, was married to a Margaret Kearney and had at least eight children. When he died he left a will but besides some confusing wording some of his children were under age at the time of his death and so an Administration was taken out by his widow Margaret. However she died, within a few years, and before its completion and so a further Administration was granted to their eldest daughter.

          From Thomas Finnegan's will his 8 acres and 3 houses and garden in Templetown Townland was to go to his son John as well as £300 and two horses?; his son William, when he became of age, was to inherit the farm in Upper Willville, Halpenny's house and the house in Whitestown known as the 'potatoe house'', £150 and two horses; his son James was to inherit 7 acres in Lower Willville and the 6 acres of land and house where family resided with pub in Whitestown Village. Provision was made for his widow and it was intended the family would continue to reside in Whitestown and James would manage the business until his youngest son, likely John, came of age.
          However, when Thomas died and also his wife Margaret a few years later, the son James was under age to obtain the licence for the pub. The older sister Kate had to agree to provide a manager until James came of age. James died in 1901 and his brother William took over managing the pub. The sister Kate was married to a Bernard Sloan, a widower and a butcher in Newry, County Down, and they had about seven children. By the 1911 census, and after her husband's death, she and two of her children went to live and work with her brother William in the pub. William died, in 1928, and was buried in Kilwirra cemetery in nearby Templetown Townland.

          The above Thomas Finegan was stated to be born about 1827 and if the old headstone in the above graveyard was erected by him then his parents, based on details stated to be on headstone, were Thomas and Catherine and brothers included James and Patrick who were also mentioned on the headstone. His mother could be a Catherine Murphy.

From the Cooley Baptism Parish Registers the children baptised with parents Tom [Thomas] Finigan and Cate [Catherine] Murphy included:-

Anne? Finigan, baptised March 1813?, Whitestown;

Cate [F]inegan?, baptised 23 December 1814, Whitestown;
James? Finigan,
baptised 18? December 1815, Whitestown;
Mary Finigan
, baptised 6 May 1818, Whitestown;

Catherine Finigan, baptised 3 January 1821, Whitestown;

Patt Finigan, baptised 3 January 1821, (twin of above);
Ann Finegan,
baptised 23 July 1824, Whitestown and
Tho? Finegan
, baptised 30 December 1829?,

           In an 1841 census for tenants in Whitestown, found among the private papers of a landlord, this would appear to be the above family:-

Thomas age 60 (so born about 1781);

Cath (age 54);

James (age 22);

Mary (age 21);

Pat (age 20);

Cath (age 18)

Thos (age 14).

Cooley Parish Registers - Gaelic.

As stated, above, some details in the Gaelic language appeared on the Cooley Parish registers.
          The original registers, that have been scanned and available on the National Library of Ireland [NLI] website (, are in some parts difficult if not impossible to read.
         For the period 1841 to 1844 the original entries of baptisms, marriages and burials were all mixed together at the back of the first register beginning in 1811. The number of entries also seem small compared to previous years. In 1909 they were copied, according to the note below in the Irish language, to the part of the register where they should have been originally written. At present (August 2016) these old entries are not among the scanned images on the NLI website. However they are on the scanned images of the parish register on

 Gaelic-In Cooley Parish Register

The baptisms were transcribed in eight pages as another note stated:-

1841 to 1844 -Old entries in Cooley Parish Register

However, the names etc. as transcribed were incorrectly spelt and the contributions paid were not listed. See the following. The first are two of the original baptism entries mixed in with marriage and burial entries and the next is the transcription of the same entries inserted in the Baptism Register after 11 December 1841.

 1841 to 1844-Old mixed up entries in Cooley Parish Register

1841 to 1844-Old mixed up entries in Cooley Parish Register

So if a baptism entry is located, in the index, in the 1841 to 1843 period it would be best to look at the original old entries above.
          The Baptism Register for the rest of 1844 to 1846 is mixed up in places and it appears as though there could be missing entries.



US Civil War etc. Records.

There were a number of emigrants who left the small Riverstown Village area of Cooley Parish in County Louth, settled around Ovid in Seneca County, New York, and fought in the Civil War. Among them were members of the following families.

Michael Woods and Anne Malone.
The village of Ovid.

1860 US  Census - Michael Woods

In the 1860 US Census, above, in the Village of Ovid were Michael Woods, his wife Anne and some of their children stated to be born in Ireland.

          On the Cooley Parish Register Michael Woods and Anne Malone married 5 February 1839.  The baptism entries of children found were:-

Peter baptised 28 December 1839, Riverstown
Arthur (not located around 3 June 1844 - but, as stated above, part of the register appears to be missing)
Anne baptised 24 February 1847, Riverstown;
Mary baptised 13 May 1849, Riverstown.

          Since the next son John was stated to be born about 1853 in Seneca County then the family emigrated sometime between 1849 and 1853.
          In the 1870 US Census Michael Woods, age 57 years, a tailor and labourer, his wife Ann, age 54 years, and son John, age 16 years, were still residing in Ovid. But in November 1879 Michael Woods, a tailor of Ovid, died of consumption.

          Could above Michael Woods be the witness to the marriage, in 1839, of Owen Finnegan?.

          From a US Record of Soldiers and Officers, in the Military Service Peter and Arthur Woods joined the Union army (148th Infantry Regiment) during the US Civil War. Both lived in Ovid, Seneca County, New York.

          Peter was listed as born 29 December 1839, in Ireland, and parents as Michael Woods, a tailor, and Ann Malone. He joined the 29 August 1862 and later was promoted to 1st. Lieutenant.
In the 1915 census Peter Woods was still residing in Ovid Village. He may have died about 1920.

          Arthur joined the same day, 26 December 1863, as Stephen Finnegan although in a different regiment. The former's date of birth was listed as 3 June 1844, in Ireland, and parents Michael Woods, a tailor, and Ann Malone and the latter as born 22? May 1843, in Ireland, and parents as Owen Finnegan, a shoe maker, and Jane Boyle.

          The daughter Mary Woods had married a James Donley about June 1868, and lived in Covert, Seneca County, but died about 6 months later.

The other daughter Anne/Annie Woods married a Thomas O'Hanlon, a boiler maker and had family. They lived in Bristol St., Utica, New York and maybe the same family that was listed in a trade directories as manufacturers of steam boilers.  There is an Family Tree on for this family which shows her husband Thomas O'Hanlon was also born about 1844 in Ireland  the son of Thomas O'Hanlon and Catherine Malone.

The baptism entries of children of a Thomas Hanlon/O'Hanlon and Catherine Malone found, in Cooley parish, were:-

Felix Hanlon, 14 November 1823, Castlecarragh;
Rose Hanlon, 3 April 1825, Riverstown;
Mary Hanlon, 1 May 1829, Riverstown;
John Hanlon, 21 October 1831, Riverstown;
Margt O'Hanlon, 8 July 1834, Riverstown;
Loughlin O'Hanlon, baptised 16 March 1837, Riverstown and
Thomas O'Hanlon stated born about 1844 (but this part of Baptism Register is missing).

          Again it is likely some of the above Hanlon/O'Hanlon boys fought in the US Civil War. Mustered out were a Felix Hanlon born in Ireland about 1821 and also a John Hanlon born in Ireland that enlisted in Ovid and Romulus. Felix maybe the farmer listed, in the 1900 Census, as residing in Ovid.

William McCann and Mary Finnegan.
From the same military record, as above, was listed 25 December 1863 in the 164th Infantry Regiment, John McCann of Ovid, born 1838 in Ireland, the son of  William McCann, a labourer, and Mary Finnegan. He enlisted the day before Arthur Woods and Stephen Finnegan who also joined the same regiment.

          John was stated to be killed instantly at Cole Harbor on 3 June 1864. This was the same day as Michael Finnegan of Ovid died (see headstone inscription above in Ovid Cemetery).

          There was a family of a William McCann and Mary Finnegan in Cooley and Lordship Parishes. William McCann and Mary Finnegan, of Riverfoot married 2 July 1835 in Cooley Parish. Only baptism entry of one child found born in the 1830s. But other children were born later:-

James McCann baptised 25 April 1839 in Lordship Parish;
Bridget McCann baptised 21 January 1844 in Lordship Parish
Thos McCann baptised 13 June 1848 in Lordship Parish;
Michl McCann baptised 4 September 1850 in Lordship Parish and
Elizabeth McCann baptised 17 March 1853 in Lordship Parish

However, as already stated, the Lordship Parish Registers only commenced in 1838 so maybe John McCann was born in late 1837.

          In Griffith's Valuation, published in 1854, there was a William McCann occupying a house and a small garden in Mountbagnal Townland. Riverfoot was at the south east of that townland along Dundalk Bay and with the Castletown River, that separated the townlands of Mountbagnal and Castlecarragh, on the east.  By the first Valuation Office Revision Book, about 1860, William McCann was no longer listed for this area.
          In the 1870 US Census for the Town of Ovid there was a William McCanne, a farmer, born about 1806 in Ireland, his wife Mary born about 1816 in Ireland and a son Michael McCanne stated to be born about 1851 in Ireland.


Mathew Donnelly (Donley) and Ellen Toner.
James Donley of Covert, Seneca County, enlisted 31 August 1864 in the 148th Infantry Regiment. He was married, born about 1844 in Ireland, the son of Mathew Donley, a labourer, and Ellen Toner.
          There was a Mathew Donnelly and Ellen Toner, in Castletown Cooley Townland, who married 27 April 1836 in Cooley Parish.
Only one baptism entry of a child found in that parish:-
Margaret baptised 17 September 1840, Castletown, Cooley.
But, as stated, part of the register, around the mid 1840s, appears to be missing.


Bernard Feehan and Margaret Carroll.
John Feighan of Ovid, enlisted 25 August 1864 in the 148th Infantry Regiment. He was stated to be born 15 April 1846 in Ireland, the son of Bernhard Feighan, a farmer, and Margaret Caroll.
A Bernard Feehan and Margaret Carroll married in Cooley Parish on 6 September 1839.
The baptism entries of children of above found, in Cooley parish, were:-

James baptised 16 July 1840, Rathcor;
Elener baptised 5 March 1843, Rathcor.

The Baptism entry of John around 15 April 1846 was not located.


Andrew McArdle and Mary Donnelly.
Peter McArdle of Ovid, enlisted, 20 January 1864 in the 164th Infantry Regiment. He was married and stated to be born 23 January 1824, in Ireland, the son of Andrew McArdle, a labourer, and Mary Donley.
          There was an Andrew McArdle and Mary Donnelly in Cooley Parish.
Children listed on the Baptism Register included:-

Margaret baptised 12 January 1813, Riverstown;
Ann, baptised 15 April 1819, Castlecarragh;
? baptised 15 December 1821, Castlecarragh (per digital index, page torn);
Peter baptised 31 January 1824, [Riverstown?];
Sally? baptised 6? May 1826, Ballug?.


James McGee and Margaret McKeown.
A James McGee of Ovid enlisted in the 160th Infantry Regiment on 31 August 1862. He was the head of the family, a labourer, and his wife? was Margaret McKone. He was born in Ireland on 29 September 1820. The military record stated he was wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek on 19 October 1864 and died in Newtown Hospital, on 20 October 1864, of his wounds.
          In Cooley Parish there was a James Magee and Margaret McKeown residing in the Riverstown area. Baptism entries of children included:-

Bridget baptised 2 August 1842, Riverstown (one of sponsors was a George Finegan);
Patrick? baptised 7 February 1847, Castlecarragh (mother listed as 'Mary McKeown).


Michael Toner, a mason, and Mary Donnely.
John Toner of Ovid enlisted 31 August 1864 in the 9th New York Artillery Regiment. He was stated to be born 25 January 1845 in Seneca Falls the son of Michael Toner, a mason, and Mary Donley.
          There was a Michael Toner and Mary Donnelly in Castletown-Cooley Townland.
A child, to above, baptised, there, was:-
Margaret baptised 29 July 1839, Castletown.
So family emigrated between 1839 and 1845.

          A Michael Toner of Ovid, the above?, enlisted 18 December 1863 in the 148th Infantry Regiment, born 29 September 1802 in Ireland, the son of Hugh Toner, a labourer, and Ellen Donely.
          The Parish registers for Cooley Parish only commenced in 1811 but after that date there are two baptism entries of children to a Hugh Toner and Ellen Donnelly:-

Patt baptised 24 December 1813?, Castletown, Cooley;
Jane baptised 3 July 1821, Castletown, Cooley.



          As seen from above, on Michael Toner, these US records may provide information on an Irish person's date of birth and names of parents that may not be available in Ireland. In addition the occupation of the father of the soldier can be listed. Again this latter information, in a number of instances prior to 1864 when civil birth registration began, may not be found in records in Ireland.

Business Directory.

It would seem from the death notice, in the Ovid Bee newspaper, of the child Thomas Finnegan that Owen was residing in Ovid by 1855. By 1867, after George Finnegan left Ovid,  Owen was listed, below, in the Child's Gazetteer and Business Directory of Seneca County, NY, 1867-8, p.149. (Source:

         Child's Gazatteer & Business Directory, Seneca County, 1867-8

In the same Directory he would have seen some advice, for young men, on 'How To Succeed in Business'. (Click to see Page 90, Page 91 & Page 92). I wonder did it bring to mind his time in Ireland and recall, besides the natural disaster with the potato crop, the failure of the public authorities to adequately deal with the problem; the inability to have any real say in local never mind national affairs and no matter how hard he worked benefit would likely accrue to others - the 'enemies to freedom'. It is small wonder he and his neighbours allowed their young sons to fight in the Civil War.

          I hope the above will be of some help to descendants researching their family history.


As well as emigration from along the coast of Lordship and Cooley Roman Catholic Parishes there was also migration. Some looked across the bay and saw the "greener pastures" around Castlebellingham and settled here. By the mid twentieth century persons of the surname Boyle, Feehan, Finnegan, McBride and White had settled here.

Dividing line on MC Research website

In two months time, on 20 January 2021, the USA President will be inaugurated.

Dividing line on MC Research website

Priests in Cooley Roman Catholic Parish, 1811-1855.

According to the Archdiocese of Armagh Jubilee A.D. 2000 Directory, 1999, pp.57-8, the dates of the three churches in Cooley Roman Catholic Parish are:

-        The Church of St James, Grange, 1762

-        Church of St Anne, Mullaghbuoy, 1853 and

-        The Church of St. Mary, Boher, 1865.

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland, 1844, under ‘Carlingford’ i. e. the Civil Parish of Carlingford, p.309, suggest that there was a church in Mullaghbuoy in 1844. It stated that the ‘Roman Catholic chapels … two at Grange and Mullaboy, have 3 officiates, and an attendance of 1.462 and 479; and each two, in the Roman Catholic Parochial arrangement, are mutually united’.

       Cooley Parish was part of the Parish of Carlingford but was divided from it about 1807 and originally called South Carlingford.


The Parish Priests.

Fr. James  Byrne.
Fr, Byrne had been Parish Priest of Carlingford and was transferred as Parish Priest of Cooley when the division occurred. He died in 1811.

Fr. Peter Kearney.
Fr. Kearney became Parish Priest after 1811. He was educated at Maynooth College and it was stated he preached in both English and Irish. He died in 1838.

Fr. Edward Holland.
Fr. Holland was transferred as Parish Priest of Carlingford Parish to Cooley Parish in 1838.  He died in 1846 and earlier that year he was admitted to the Louth Repeal Club.

Fr. Anthony Gossan.

Fr. Gossan was Parish Priest of Cooley Parish from 1846 to 1873.
      By all appearances Fr. Gossan helped developed the Cooley Roman Catholic Parish although he did not hold back boasting on his own achievements. See later. But at the time he was possibly speaking to a wider audience than his parishioners.
      When he died in Drogheda, County Louth, on 9 April 1879, he left his books to All Hallows College, Dublin, his house on Fair St., Drogheda, to named Presentation nuns to be used as an orphanage for poor orphan children and, after providing for Masses for various persons, the residue of his estate was to go to the same nuns.


Fr. John Kearney.
Fr. Kearney was curate in Cooley Parish from 1835 to 1837, and in neighbouring Lordship Parish from 1839 to 1840. He died in 1869 in Knockbridge Parish, where he had been Parish Priest, and was buried within the church there. His obituary stated:-

 ‘…. Father Kearney was about sixty-two years of age, and through his edifying life he always laboured earnestly in the popular cause of his country …*
(Source: Dundalk Democrat dated 3 April 1869,

It is believed that Fr. Kearney was the son of Nicholas Kearney of Whitestown, Cooley Parish.
The parish register for Cooley Parish only began in June 1811 and there was a baptism entry, on 3 September 1811, for an Anne Kearney, the daughter of Nich Kearney and Be[t or s?]ty Murphy. The sponsors were Pat Fing
n [Finegan] and Anne Finigan. There were later baptism entries for other children on the Baptism Register.

Fr. James Finegan
Fr. Finegan was born about 1803 and died on 29 December 1876 at Lower Rath Townland in the Civil Parish of Carlingford. So far records found state that he was curate in Cooley Roman Catholic Parish in 1836 to 1842 and in neighbouring Lordship Parish from 1842 to 1843.

His obituary stated:-

‘It is our sad duty (says the Dundalk Democrat

of Saturday) to record the death of the Rev. James

Finegan, which took place at his own residence in

Grange, Carlingford. He was a native of the parish

of Cooley, and spent almost all the years of his

missionary life there, and in the adjoining parishes.

For a considerable time past, however, he was
unable to discharge any public functions by reason

of his infirmity; and years, too, were telling on his

delicate constitution. On Sunday week after the

Office and High Mass in Grange Church

his remains were interred in Templetown graveyard, the family

burying ground, amidst the deep regrets of many.

May he rest in peace.’
Source: The Nation, dated 13 January, 1877, p.10,

It is quite possible the above Fr. James Finegan was the Celebrant at the marriage of Owen Finegan and Jane Boyle in 1839.

Fr. Felix McKevitt
Fr. McKevitt was stated to be curate from 1843 to 1848. He may have been a member of the Louth Repeal Club in 1846 although he was listed as C.C. in Carlingford.

Fr. Henry Duggan.
Fr. Duggan was stated to be curate 1849 to 1851;

Fr. J Kelly
Fr. Kelly was stated to be curate 1852.

Fr. J. McVey
Fr. McVey was stated to be curate 1853-55.

Rev. Anthony Gossan, P.P. of Cooley Parish from 1846 to 1873.

Parish life in the Roman Catholic Parish of Cooley from 1846 to 1873 can be gleaned from a reply by the Parish Priest. The Very Rev, Archdeacon Gossan, P.P. V.G. to an Address by the Parishioners on his departure from Cooley Parish.  

On leaving Cooley Parish for St. Peter’s Parish, Drogheda, Fr. Gossan stated:-

‘ …. In the parish of Cooley there is no extensive

Catholic proprietor, no rich Catholic. The in-

habitants of the district are simple country

farmers, who have to work hard, and upon the

fruits of their toil they must rely for their sus-

tenance ….

I never yet appealed to my parishioners that

I did not receive a generous response. Last

year the weather was most unpropitious, and

as a consequence the crops, generally speaking

were very poor. Notwithstanding this unfa-

vourable circumstance, the principal farmers

of the parish blotted out a very considerable

amount of debt, which I contracted with them

in hurrying on the work of the church ….

During nine weeks before I was called away [possibly 1873),

associated with my hard working curate, the

Rev. Father Hugh Murphy, I went though the

parish from house to house, soliciting help for

the new church ….

‘First – ….. I

went to Cooley on the 26th of May, 1846, -

When I entered that parish I found three Na-

tional Schools for the education of the youth of

the parish; and that all the children of the

parish might have the schools within a con-

venient distant of their homes, I opened at

subsequent periods two more schools. And

during my mission there I always felt it to be

a most grave obligation to visit the schools of

the parish. They were frequently visited both

by the parish priest and the curate; first to see

that all the children who ought to be in atten-

dance were present; and secondly to see 
that the teachers cons[c]ientiously discharged their

duty towards the children by attending both to

religious and secular instruction – religious in-

structions so far as would be compatable with

the regulations of the Board of Education.

       On Sundays and holidays I endeavoured to

secure as large an attendance of the children

of the parish to receive instruction in

the Christian doctrine as I possibly could, keep-

ing always before the minds of parents their

obligation with regard to their children, and

the rigorous account they will one day have

to render as to whether they observed or ne-

glected their duty on this head. So far for the

youth of the parish.

Secondly _ As a rule, on Sundays and holi-

days generally speaking in conne[ct]ion with the

gospel or epistle of the day, I endeavoured to

direct the attention of the flock to a consider-

ation of some one or other of the great truths

of religion, teaching them what they were

bound to believe, and what they were bound

to practice, that they might one day be found

worthy of the great end for which God called

man from nothing into being; and with this

view, I always urged the necessity of daily

prayer, assisting at Mass on Sundays and fes-

tival days; frequenting in sickness and in

health the Sacrament of Penance and the

Holy Eucharist; and when not otherwise em-

ployed, you remember how I have often gone

from townland to townland, and from house

to house, making strict enquiries, and pressing

the people to come in to their religious duties,

and imploring those who had already complied

to lend a helping hand in the glorious work of

saving souls.

           From time to time I pointed out the stumb-

ling-blocks which the enemy would never fail

to place in their path, but which they should

struggle to surmount, or otherwise expose them-

selves to the imminent risk of being lost for

ever. And here, my dearest friends you can

easily call to mind my frequent exhortations

against the sins of drunkeness, desecration of

the Sabbath, secret societies, secret company

keeping, and upon the frightful crime of en-

tering into the marriage state without due pre-



Third,  …. our churches are the

dwelling places of God upon earth. In our

churches God is present. There He receives

the worship of his people, and there He dis-

penses His favours. Therefore, I have laboured

hard, and made great sacrifices, that the parish

might be furnished with churches in some

measure suited to the sacred purpose for which

they are set apart and consecrated.

1st – When I went to Cooley I found one

old church in the townland of Irish Grange;

that church was then in poor condition;

but since then, through the generous aid of

the people of the parish, it has been renovated,

and although rather plain as to the exterior,

in the interior it deserves to be classified

amongst the most comfortable country churches

in the entire diocese.

           2nd – On going to that parish, I found in

the mountain district a wretched mud-wall

thatched cabin as a place of public worship;

whereas, at the present moment, there stands

in that district a very fine Gothic church, ac-

cording to the design of J.J. McCarthy, Esq,

architect, Dublin. But when and how was

that church erected?  It was erected at a time

when all Ireland, from end to end, but in a

special manner the parish of Cooley, was suf-

fering grievously from the potato disease. After

long struggling I was only able to realise in

the district where the church now stands, the

small sum of £44. And having got so much

I then travelled from town to town almost

throughout the entire kingdom, and when my

health gave way, and I became unable to go

abroad, during a period of ten years of suffer-

ing and infirmity, year after year, by little

and little, as well as my very slender means

could afford, I advanced with the work, and I

never halted until I succeeded in bringing that

church to its present condition.

           3rd – On the opposite extreme of the parish,

when I first entered Cooley, there was no

church whatsoever; during upwards of forty

years every Sunday and holiday Mass was

celebrated in a small kitchen of a farmer’s

house; the great bulk of the congregation, in

summer and winter, were obliged during the

celebration of Divine worship, to remain with

uncovered heads in the open air; whereas, at

the present moment, there is in that same dis-

trict one of the finest country churches in all

Ireland. This church was also designed by the

talented architect whose name I have already

given. But for the accomplishment of this

task, what was required?  First the contri-

bution of the people of the parish; The par-

ishioners contributed most generously; indeed,

I believe, considering their circumstances in life,

no people, in Ireland contributed more, nor per-

haps so much. But notwithstanding their gener-

osity, yet more was still required, and therefore

I travelled the greater part of Ireland a second

time, and a small portion of England and Scot-

land, but almost entirely amongst the Irish

labourers; and lastly, as far as I was able, by

money and by own personal sacrifice, that is

by sufferings and humiliations of all sorts, from

the commencement until very lately, as long

as the interests of the Church required it, I

never for one moment thought of sparing

the parish priest.

And now I will sum up; churches being

once sufficiently provided; to offer the holy

sacrifice of the Mass for his flock, to pray for

them, to administer the Sacraments when and

where, and as often as the ordinance of God

and His Church require, to dispense the Word

of God, to provide for and to watch over the

education of the youth of the parish, and to

stand incessantly upon the watch, and cry out,

warning the people at the approach of

danger, these I believe, are to be considered

amongst the most prominent duties of a parish

priest; and aided as I trust, by Divine grace,

these duties I have endeavoured to perform. ….’

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