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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Was Castleconnell ever within the boundary of County Clare?

In researching my ancestors on the west coast of Ireland, I have found some interesting quirks along the way.  Whitegate, County Clare used to be in County Galway.  After the Griffith's Valuation was completed in and around 1869, the county line was laid out and Whitegate was then within the boundary of Clare.  With that appears to have come a shifting or name change to the Roman Catholic Parish that also contained this location.  In order to find records for the 1800s, you have to ask both the Clare Heritage Centre and the Galway counterpart to research your family line.

The above scenario is the case for researching my Hickey's, Minogues, and the other family surnames who's origins hug the border in the northeast corner of County Clare.  This makes research rather tricky.  Is this similar phenomenon what has transpired in Castleconnell, County Limerick for my O'Brien's?  I need to find out so that I know where to look for my family tree.

Last Fall 2010, I received a response to a message board post.  Someone had looked up RC (Roman Catholic) church records for County Limerick in Castleconnell.   They seemed to have found my great great grandmother's, Catherine "Kate" Mary O'Brien, birth/baptism record but indicated the most of the other records had not survived.  I have been thinking lately that the older records my be with County Clare.  Afterall, Kate indicated that she was from Castleconnell, County Clare, Ireland.  So, did I find another county line shift?   Does it have the same drastic impact to my research as that Clare/Galway line shift?  I wonder.   Am I looking in the right place?

When I look up Castleconnell in Wikipedia, I find it in County Limerick, along the River Shannon, and about 7 miles from Limerick City.  I have to pause here and take that in.  Mind you in 2004, I travelled through Limerick City, walked the streets, and had no idea that my ancestors had lived so close.  That is to say, close by today's stands.  In 2004, I knew little of where my Irish ancestors originated in Ireland, except for my Flanagan's in Louth.

Back to Castleconnell......Was it ever in County Clare?  When I look through the information on "Wiki", it doesn't say.  It does say that the village has a bridge that connects Limerick and Clare.  The historical information also mentions John FitzGibbons, the 1st Earl of Clare.  That's a lot of mention about Clare when you talk about Castleconnell.

In all seriousness, when I look at Castleconnell on Google Maps, I have to wonder if the village should be considered in County Clare.  It certainly looks that way.  I, however, am no authority on this subject but seek some truth in the matter.

A sheer Google search of "Castleconnell Clare Border" produces some genealogy discussions online about locating ancestors in county border towns of Ireland.   The overall suggestion is to check in both county's heritage centers.  It is possible that while your ancestors may have lived in one county, they spent their time in the town or village in the adjacent county for church and social events.  However, they would have been registered in the county in which they actually lived.

You've got to love those "border town ancestors".  I have two family lines who lived in border town/villages in Ireland.  It can make researching these lines even more interesting.

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