Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Kilkenny origins of Great Grandfather John Whelan

JohnWhelan - thought to have been taken on a visit
back to the family farm at Ashtown, Kilkenny

Earlier on in the blog we began an exploration into the roots of Great Grandfather John Whelan.

John Whelan and Anne McDonnell were the parents of my grand mother Elizabeth Lawlor, nee. Whelan.

An entry from the Irish marriage registery indicated that John and Anne married in North Dublin in the quarter ending 30th September 1904 ( Reference ; Volume 2 . Page 488 . number 50). They married at the Pro Cathedral in the Union of North Dublin on 31st August 1904, both were single and of full age (Anne would have been 24). At the time of the marriage John Whelan was residing at 93 Capel Street and he was a grocer, Anne's address was Cloghan Sands in the County of Dublin.

John's father, according to the marriage certificate, was Richard Whelan and Anne's father was John McDonnell, both men gave their trades as farmers (these men are our great great grandfathers). The witnesses at the wedding were Joseph Lucen and Catherine Barrett.

Evidence from the 1911 census confirms that our great grandfather John Whelan was born in Kilkenny, a county to the south of Queens county (Laoise). Some of my mom‟s cousins in Ireland recall that John used to go back for visits to his home farm at Piltown in the south of Kilkenny.


There is also a record of a John Whelan living in Dublin in the 1901 census. I believe that this is definitely our great grandfather because he is the right age, he was born in Kilkenny and he is working in a grocer‟s shop just a few doors way from where Anne McDonnell (whom he married three years later) was living with her family, the McDonnells at 78 Chancery Street.

We knew little else about John‟s origins at the moment, except that his father‟s name was Richard and he may have had a brother named Lawrence. I have previously speculated about possible records for family members of Richard living around the Piltown area of Kilkenny in the 1901 Census, though never found anything concrete.

New evidence which pinpoints John's family origins in Ashtown, Kilkenny



Last weekend I had an email from my mom's cousin Gaye Muholland with some new evidence I have not seen before. Gaye has located an online copy of the marriage register from the actual church where John Whelan and Anne McDonnell got married on 31st august 1904.

A lot of the information is the same as that on their marriage entry in the public records office but what is new is the name of John's mother, Catherine Whelan, and a reference to their place of origin which was Ashtown, Kilkenny.

There is also a different spelling to the McDonnell place of origin, whereas I have for several years worked on the basis of the place being called Cloghan Sands, on this document it looks more like Cloghan Swords or even Gloucester Swords.

Ashtown in the census

Ashtown is very close to Piltown in the south of the county of Kilkenny near the border with Waterford, so this ties in with family anecdote amongst the Whelans that John Whelan would visit home at or near Piltown.

Gaye did some further online research and found the following family in the 1901 census:

Residents of a house 1 in Ashtown (Muckalee, Kilkenny)

Catherine Whelan, aged 70, head of family, Roman Catholic born in Kilkenny. A farmer and a widow, cannot read. Specified illness - blind.

Margart Keever aged 52. Daughter of Catherine Whelan. Roman Catholic born in Kilkenny. Also a farmer, can read and write, married.

Richard Keever, aged 16, grand son of Catherine Whelan. Born Kilkenny. A scholar who can read and write.

The same family appear ten years later in the 1911 census

Catherine Phelan aged 81, head of family, Roman Catholic, born Kilkenny. Widow, cannot read, blind.

John Keever aged 62, son in law, born Kildare, gardener  domestic servant, can read and write, married.

Margaret Keever, aged 62, daughter of Catherine Phelan, born Kilkenny, domestic at home can read and write, married for 29 years, 2 children born, 2 living.

Richard Keever, aged 24, grand son of Catherine, born Kilkenny, general labourer, can read and write, single. 

The House and Buildings return for the Whelan (or Phelan) house in 1911 lists the following:

Muckalee, Ashtown house number 10

Inhabited private dwelling with 5 outhouses.
House made of stone or concrete, with slate or tiled roof. Has 2,3 or 4 rooms.
Has 5 windows. All of these features make it a second class house.
The head of household is Catherine Phelan who is also the land owner.
Four rooms are occupied by a total of four people.

Of interest, at house number 11 is a Denis Whealan.

John Whelan at the wheel of a car, could this have been taken outside the family
farm house at Ashtown, Kilkenny?

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