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My father knew very little about his family history.

He knew his grandparents, Lawrence Ryan and Johanna Roche, were from Ireland where they were married and where their first three children, Maggie, Mike and Mamie were born.

But what part of Ireland?

Fortunately, Larry and Johanna Ryan were married after Ireland started civil registration and it was fairly easy to find their marriage certificate. They were married in the Chapel of Doon, County Limerick on February 2, 1875, and lived in the townland of Commonealine, County Tipperary.

When my parents visited Ireland in the 1980s they went to the chapel and my father saw the marriage record. He also had the opportunity to visit Commonealine.

Larry Colbert in front of the church and rectory, Doon, 1984

Little did he know that years later, after he died, I would be able to find even more records. A few years ago, some church records became available, for a fee, at The Irish Family History Foundation.  I was able to find baptismal records for both Larry Ryan and Johanna Roche, plus the 1841 marriage record for Johanna Roche’s parents.

The Pastor of Doon holding the Ryan-Roche marriage record.

Turned out, they weren’t baptised in Doon, but in Kilcommon parish. Johanna lived in Bahagha, not far from Commonealine, and Lawrence lived in Foilinefingoe, Upper Turraheen, about 5 miles from Commonealine.

Foilinefingoe, Commonealine, and Bahagha

The Ryans and Roches lived in a remote mountainous area with many hills and valleys. Commonealine (Cuimin an Fhaill) means the commons of the cliff or the hill of the common land. Foilinefingoe (Foileen na Finoga) also meant cliff, but I don’t know the rest of the meaning; this townland was in a more mountainous area of the county than Commonealine. Bahagha? I’m sure it has some meaning, but I have no clue what it might be.

The Ryan part of the book is almost done, at least the first draft. Next on the list –  the Colberts. They were the first of the family to arrive in New York, just before the Irish famine.
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