A foot in two Irish counties : Cross border research
As if researching Irish ancestors is not difficult enough, when they lived close to the border between two counties, life is even more challenging for genealogists. My great grandmother's story demonstrates the importance of research both sides of the border. [Sponsored]
My great grandmother was born on the Tipperary-Limerick border and set me a merry dance chasing her from first one county to the other and back again for the first part of her life. Thankfully, great grandma had an unusual family name - Mohide/Mahide - which made researching her a little easier than it might otherwise have been had she been a Ryan, an O'Brien or even a Lynch. Fortunately Findmypast has an excellent Irish collection which is easy to search.
Catherine (Kate) Mohide/Mahide was from a large Catholic family in Corderry, Co. Tipperary, only one kilometre as the crow flies from the Co. Limerick border. The family's name appears in records with two spellings which necessitated searching for both during research. Given many of the extended family were illiterate, the dual spelling is not surprising.
Kate's parents were both from Co. Tipperary, but they married across the border in Galbally, Co. Limerick. Her father was Michael Mohide, a labourer. But it was her mother, Catherine (nee Dwyer) who travelled 19 km from Corderry to Bansha and the nearest Government Register Office in Co. Tipperary to register Kate's birth in the summer of 1873. Sadly, the record shows that Catherine was illiterate and could only sign the register using her X mark.
Above: Kate's civil birth registration record. Courtesy of the Irish General Register Office.
Corderry in Co. Tipperary did not have a church when Kate was born in June 1873 and the family had to walk nearly 4 km (or 2 km in a straight line if they dared trudge across their neighbours' fields) to the nearest Catholic Church in Galbally, Co. Limerick for her baptism. It was the same church where her parents Michael and Catherine had married 14 years earlier and where her father was baptised in 1827. Kate's 12 siblings were also baptised in Galbally.
Above: Kate's parents, Michael Mohide and Catherine Dwyer's, 1859 parish marriage record at Galbally, Co Limerick. Courtesy of Findmypast.
Above: Kate's father, Michael Mohide's 1827 baptism record at the Catholic Church in Galbally, Co. Limerick. Courtesy of Findmypast.
Above: Catherine Dwyer, Kate's mother's 1836 baptism record at Golden, Co. Tipperary. Courtesy of Findmypast.
Census and other records show there were several Mohide families living in and around Corderry. There was also a branch of the Mohide family in Co. Cork. They were poor families and the main breadwinners worked as labourers who could ill afford to pay for a doctor when sickness struck. Sadly, in the bitterly cold February of 1892, Kate's tiny twin cousins Catherine and Bridget Mohide died from bronchitis (without medical attention) when they were just 15 and 16 days old respectively.
When she was only 15 years old, Kate found employment with James McGrath of Kilscanlon, about four kilometres from home and across the border in Co. Limerick. Something went badly wrong because in May 1889 she sued him in the Galbally Petty Sessions Court for "Balance of wages due within twelve months". The amount of non-payment amounted to £1.0.7 and suggests he had failed in his promise to pay what she was owed over a considerable time period.
Kate was very young to be in court as a complainant and perhaps explains why her mother was there as a witness. The Petty Sessions Order Book records the case was adjourned for a month.
Above: Kate Mohide's first entry in the 1889 Galbally Petty Sessions Order Book . Courtesy of Findmypast.
Nevertheless, it was only two weeks later when Kate's case was called before the court again. The court found in her favour and she won her case. The Galbally Magistrate decreed that her employer must pay what was owed plus 4 shillings and 6 pence in costs. A warrant to levy this amount on Mr McGrath was drawn up for 30 May.
But it didn't end there. The very next case in the register showed Mr McGrath counter-sued. He demanded that Kate show cause why she should not forfeit £1.4.7 wages by reason of leaving her employment without just cause on 2 May 1889 (the day after the first court hearing). Further, he begged the court to annul their contract.
Kate lost the counter suit when the Magistrate found in favour of Mr McGrath and decreed their contract was to be annulled. It seems Kate made a strategic error when she left her job the day after the first court hearing. Nevertheless, the young girl probably found herself in an untenable situation having had the gumption to take her employer to court in the first place.
The Petty Sessions Order Book raises more questions than it answers in this case but as her biased great granddaughter I can't help but feel angry at her being cheated of her hard-earned wages by what I choose to believe was a greedy and unscrupulous employer.
Above: Left side of the two-page register showing Kate Mohide's two later entries in the 1889 Galbally Petty Sessions Order Book as both a winner and loser. Courtesy of Findmypast.
Above: Right side of the same register.
In March 1896, Kate was 22 when she gave birth to her first child, Mary Mohide, at the Kilmallock Work House in Co. Limerick. Being unemployed and unmarried, she had few prospects as a single mother.
History repeated itself less than a year later when Kate found herself pregnant again. This time she gave birth on 1 November 1897 to a girl she named Anne. The birth was slightly closer to home this time in the austere Union Workhouse in Tipperary Town. Fortunately for me, Kate did not learn from her mistake in getting pregnant the first time because baby Anne was my grandmother.
Above: Kate's daughter Anne Mohide's civil birth registration. Courtesy of Irish General Register Office.
It is hard to imagine the local priest allowing a young woman to flout convention by raising one, let alone two, illegitimate children without pressuring the father to marry her. This suggests he (or they) were not free to wed.
As was standard practice at the time, birth certificates listed only the mother's name of illegitimate children. Some baptism records recorded the father's name either in the margin or by recognising the child as his "natural" son/daughter. Regrettably for my research, the father/s of Kate's children were not recorded in either the birth or baptism registers, thus throwing up a difficult and unwelcome brick wall which I have yet to break through.
Still unmarried, Kate had to earn a living to support herself and her children. The 1901 Irish Census showed she was still living in Co. Tipperary where she was working as a farm servant for the Hammersley family in Lattin, just 10 km from her parents' home in Corderry. In 1889 Lattin was described as a village of about twenty houses, in the parish of same name. Kate was in good company because her sister Mary was also employed by the Hammersleys. Judging by other census records, Kate's children were cared for by her widowed mother in Corderry while Kate worked in Lattin.
Three months after the Census was taken Kate married Patrick Kelly, a Tipperary farm labourer who was nine years her senior. With her sister Mary as one of their witnesses, Kate and 32-year old Patrick tied the knot in Lattin's Roman Catholic Chapel on 14 July 1901.
Above: Kate Mohide's marriage to Patrick Kelly 1901 marriage in Lattin, Co Tipperary. Courtesy of the Irish General Register Office.
Patrick's occupation put him on the lowest rung of the social ladder although, unlike his father, Patrick could at least read and write. He happily took on Kate's daughters and raised them as his own. They in turn adopted his surname. It was third time lucky for Kate because yet again she found herself facing the prospect of giving birth as a single mother. This time there was a happy ending because she and Patrick married three months before their son Patt was born in October 1901 and his birth certificate included his father's name.
Above: the 1901 Irish Census showing Patrick Kelly living with his widowed father in Lattin, Co Tipperary. Courtesy of FindMyPast.
Above: the 1911 Irish Census showing Kate and her family living in Lattin, Co Tipperary. Courtesy of FindMyPast.
In the 1911 census I found Kate and Patrick living with two of their children at Shronell More, a townland near Lattin. By that time Patrick worked a small farm on which stood their five-roomed house. I know from their Census record that it was made of stone or brick with a thatch or wooden roof and four windows across the front. They also had a stable, piggery, cow house, calf house and fowl house. While they were far from well-off, they managed to get by and eventually moved to a better property in Lattin next door to their daughter (my grandmother), Anne who was by then married.
While Census records are valuable family history records, they often contain inaccuracies and inconsistencies from census to census. Such was the case with the 1911 entry for Kate's family. Both Patrick and Kate's ages were incorrect as were the number of years they had been married and the number of children born and still living. Kate's eldest daughter Mary was working away from home which probably accounts for her missing from the family's census return. According to family folklore, my grandmother's family distrusted the Government and were unlikely to provide accurate information when required.
Kate lived until 1941 when, aged 68, she died at home from cardiac failure. It was during the Emergency when Ireland was a neutral country in World War 2. Her daughter Anne was with her when she passed away. Patrick only outlived Kate by a year and their son Patt inherited the farm as was usual at the time.
I thought my border hopping days were over. But wait, Kate's daughter - my grandmother Anne - married James Lynch in Lattin, Co. Tipperary. James was from Kilfinnane 15 km inside Co. Limerick so the dual county searching continued. Anne and James are a story for another day.
There is nothing remarkable about Kate and her family. But hopefully through her story I have demonstrated the need to look for records not only in the county where your ancestors lived but also across the border if it is nearby. It may take twice the effort but it will often generate twice the results. Had I restricted my search to Tipperary records, I would have never found Kate's actions in the Galbally Petty Sessions Court, nor her giving birth to her first child, Mary in the workhouse. Neither would I have found her parents' marriage nor her father's baptism.
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Do you have any ancestors living on the border between counties in Ireland or elsewhere? Do you have any favourite tips or tricks you would like to share for efficient cross-border searching in two or more counties? If yes, I'd love to hear from you in the Comments box at the bottom of this screen.
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In the meantime, happy ancestor hunting.
Your Family Genealogist
Ireland Roman Catholic Parish Marriages;
Ireland, Petty Sessions Court Registers;
Ireland Census 1901;
Ireland Census 1911;