Irish Census

The National Archives of Ireland now has the census records for 1901 and 1911 for all counties online. These databases are free and searchable by all categories. What a valuable resource to those of us researching Irish records! Many of my ancestors had come to the United States by this point in history, although they had siblings and parents that stayed in Ireland. I like learning about as many extended relatives and friends as possible, you may find many hidden clues and resources this way and every piece of the puzzle helps.

The website also has a variety of articles on the early 20th Century in Ireland in different counties. Here is an article about County Cork. Several photographs also give an enlightening glimpse into life at that time.


Barrett Family

My grandmother Mary Elizabeth Barrett was born November 26th, 1916 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was the oldest daughter of Mary Elizabeth (Brady) and Flowrence Howard Barrett, and her siblings were Margaret (b. 1918 ), Eileen (b. 1920), Evelyn (b. 1922), Alice (b. 1924), and Charles. She would often tell me about the fun times in her youth that were spent going to Red Sox games and how she could buy a soda or ice cream for a nickel and ride on the subway for ten cents (that’s inflation for you)! My sister and I always called her Grammie. After she passed away in 2002, I began researching the family tree in earnest, and I wished I had asked her more questions while she was with us. I did try sometimes, but as anyone who knew her would verify, she had a stubborn streak. Overall my memories of her are sweet ones, and I am grateful for them.

The Barrett Family

The Barretts emigrated from Ireland to the U.S. in the mid 19th Century.  John Barrett was said to be from County Cork from family records. He married Mary Collins on February 6th 1883 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. At the time of their marriage, John was a laborer and Mary was a cook. (Source: Mass Archives Marriages Vol.345 P.238). They had 8 children, five of whom survived to adulthood:  Flowrence Howard (b. 9 Dec 1883 d. 1954), James N. (b. 6 Oct 1888), John “Jack” (b. 1892), Edward D. (b. Aug 1893), and Margaret Barrett (b. Jan 1898). The family lived in Cambridge, MA at the time of of the US Census in 1900 and 1910.

John Barrett family on the 1900 Census

John Barrett family on the 1900 US Census living in Cambridge, MA.

John Barrett family on the 1910 US Census

John Barrett family on the 1910 US Census living in Cambridge, MA

In 1920 John, Mary and their sons James N. and Edward D. Barrett lived in nearby Somerville, MA. At that time their eldest son Flowrence Barrett and his wife Mary had 2 daughters and lived on Stearns St. in Cambridge, MA. His occupation was listed as painter.

1920 US Census, John Barrett family in Somerville, MA

F.H. Barrett family on the 1920 US Census

By the 1930 US Census, John Barrett had passed away and Mary lived in Cambridge with her son James N., his wife Sarah and their children Muriel, J. Norman, and Richard Barrett. Flowrence and his family were still at Sherman St. in Cambridge where the family would be centered for many years.

James N. Barrett and family with his mother Mary on the 1930 US Census.

F.H. Barrett family on Sherman St. in Cambridge on the 1930 US Census.

Mary E. (Needham) Nolan, Mary E. (Brady) Barrett, myself (age 2), and Mary E. (Barrett) Needham Hughes.


1) Descendants of John Barrett, compiled by Kathie and Ray Needham, September 2004.

2) Photo of Barrett girls, courtesy of Mary “Betsy” (Needham) Nolan.

3) Massachusetts Archives Marriages Vol.345 P.238, Record of John Barrett and Mary Collins.

4) US Federal Census Records 1900 – 1930. Source Information (for all census records):, [digital images]. Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Cambridge Ward 5, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Roll T623_657; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 727.

John Barrett, Year: 1910; Census Place: Cambridge Ward 10, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Roll T624_596; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 785; Image: 1323.

John Barrett, Year: 1920;Census Place: Somerville Ward 6, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Roll T625_718; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 444; Image: 1014.    F.H. Barrett, Year: 1920;Census Place: Cambridge Ward 11, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Roll T625_708; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 97; Image: 571.

James N. Barrett, Year: 1930; Census Place: Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Roll 917; Page: 23B; Enumeration District: 66; Image: 157.0.   F.H. Barrett, Year: 1930; Census Place: Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Roll 917; Page: 20A; Enumeration District: 76; Image: 691.0.

Wordless Wednesday: Rowboat

Margaret and Mary Barrett in a rowboat, circa mid 1920's

I am guessing this may have been just a photo op, due to the hand holding the rope. An in depth post on the Barretts is on the way for this week! Digital Image copyright 2010 of original from my private collection, Massachusetts, USA.

Mystery photo: Miss Nelligan, a handsome woman

I have a handful of mystery photos which I will feature on this blog. This one has a surname on the back: Nelligan. If anyone is related to the person in the photo, I would love to return it. The Thomas Nelligan and Maurice Nelligan families were either somehow related to or merely neighbors and friends of the Maurice Ahern (alternate spelling Ahearn) family in Cambridge, MA.

Many of the Nelligans appear on the census listings living on and around Dublin St. which later became Sherman St. Thomas Nelligan was married to Hanorah “Hannah” and their children were: Mary Ann b. circa 1866, Margaret b. circa 1868 (married name was Hayes), Hanora b. circa 1869, David b. circa 1873, Thomas b. circa 1875, and John P. Nelligan b. circa 1878 who became a doctor and appears with his family on the 1920 census on Mass Ave in Cambridge.

U5a1a – my haplogroup

Recently, I had my maternal mitochondrial DNA (also known as mtDNA) tested through the web site I had been interested in genetics and the connection to genealogy, and in learning about the earliest generations and what their lives were like. I was somewhat surprised to be categorized in the U5a1a supgroup of U5, because it seems like only a small population of that subgroup were “Irish”, but there is a percentage nonetheless and it is interesting to know about these roots. The haplogroup is strongly linked to Finland and later *cough cough* Scotland and England, basically the extreme Northern sections of Europe which early people migrated to as the ice retreated after the ice age. There is even a U5a connection to Cheddar Man in England, who besides the great name was a pretty interesting guy.

A collage of photos taken of all the M.E.’s around age 17.

Known maternal line:
1) Ellen Haley (Alternate spelling Healy) b. about 1830 + m. Maurice Ahern (Alternate spellings Ahearn and Hearn)
2) Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Ahern b.1862 + m. John B. Brady
3) Mary Elizabeth Brady b.1892 + m. Flowrence H. Barrett
4) Mary Elizabeth Barrett b.1916 + m. Raymond M. Needham
5) My mother (living)
6) me (living, obviously)
The Ahern, Haley, Brady and Barrett families all emigrated to Massachusetts USA from Ireland in the mid 19th Century. They were all quiet Irish. For the most part. 🙂 My Dad is supposedly 100% Irish, and eventually I may have to get him a DNA test to prove it.

Skibereen postcards and Julia’s journey

These postcards are some of the few items that Julia Hayes brought with her from Ireland on her journey to the United States as a young woman. She would never see her homeland or her family that stayed again, although some of her sisters also emigrated to Massachusetts. Julia was the daughter of Timothy Hayes and Mary O’Leary, and they lived in Glandore, County Cork Ireland. Timothy Hayes was a fisherman. On the O’Leary side from Kinsale, some of the relatives worked at the Galley Head Lighthouse.

Townshend Street, Skibbereen.

Pro Cathedral and Provincial Bank Skibbereen.

Tragumina, Skibbereen.

A photograph of Ellen “Nellie” Hayes and Julia Hayes

Below is a passenger list of the S.S. Canada from September 1899. Julia Hayes, age 19, was a passenger, and last residence was listed as Rosscarbery. The relative she was going to join was her sister Nellie Hayes living in Dorchester, MA. Another passenger, Ann Ryan, 22, was going to Hingham, MA. One must wonder if Julia heard about Hingham from Ann during their long journey, as that later became her home.

Source Information: Boston Passenger Lists, 1820-1943 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2006.Original data: Boston, Massachusetts. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, 1891-1943. Micropublication T843. RG085. 454 rolls. National Archives, Washington, D.C.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick’s day always means corned beef & cabbage (and maybe a wee pint or two). 🙂 A couple of years ago I found a wonderful recipe for corned beef in the crock pot which has always turned out very flavorful and makes all the cabbage, potatoes, turnip & carrots absorb the deliciousness. For some great Irish music to set the mood for the day I suggest checking out the Irish & Celtic Music podcast.

I thought it a fitting day for the first “real” post on the Potato Roots blog, about the Dennehy side of the family. My great-grandfather Daniel Dennehy was the son of Michael & Margaret Dennehy.

Photo above: Michael Dennehy (seated) with sons Patrick and John.

Michael Dennehy married Margaret (also spelled Margret) Sheahan on February 3rd, 1874 in Ballyshea, Co. Cork. The priest was listed as J.R. and their witnesses were John and Mary Foley.

Their children were:

  • Daniel Dennehy, born Dec 9 th, 1874
  • John Dennehy b. 1877
  • Michael Dennehy
  • Patrick Dennehy, b. June 24th, 1884

Above is a photo of the Dennehy family home. The parents and John stayed in Ireland, but their son Daniel emigrated to Massachusetts and his brothers Michael and Patrick also came to the United States and went back and forth. We have a lot of information on Daniel and his family which I will post about in the near future. For now I am doing a bit more research on his brothers.

Recently I came across records for Michael Dennehy in the 1901 and 1911 Irish Census. In 1901, there is only a listing for heads of household so Michael is listed in Ballyshanedehy, in the parish of Effin, Limerick, Ireland. In 1911 there is an image, and the household filled out their own census record. We will perhaps never know why Michael filled in “America” as birth place because all of our other evidence suggests that he never set foot there, but I will lean toward the probability that he was joking around.

Sources: Marriage record (transcript): Irish Family History Foundation.

Photograph of the house: courtesy of my aunt Regina Hickey. Census image: 1911 Ireland Census.