Family of Valentine Ryan and Bridget Tobin of County Kilkenny, Ireland, and Grant County, Arkansas: New Information (2)

The Baptism, Marriage, and Death Records of Kilmacow Catholic Parish, County Kilkenny: The Puzzle of What, Where, and When

As I’ve also stated previously (again, see the posting linked above and postings to which that posting links), since couples usually married in the parish of the bride, I think it’s likely Bridget Tobin’s family lived in Kilmacow Catholic parish: I think this is where her family roots lie. As this previous posting explains, the Mullinavat Catholic parish (it’s also called Kilbeacon parish after its patron saint) began keeping records separate from the records of Kilmacow parish around 1840. Up to that point, Mullinavat parish was part of Kilmacow parish. The two parishes were separated in 1842.[1]

Map showing the location of Kilmacow and Mullinavat Catholic parishes, County Kilkenny, from National Library of Ireland’s Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI

Visit the National Library of Ireland’s webpage for Kilmacow parish, and you’ll discover that its baptism, marriage, and death records do not begin until 1858: the record of Valentine Ryan and Bridget Tobin’s marriage in Kilmacow parish I shared with you above is from a diocesan-level transcript of marriage records from parishes throughout the diocese of Ossory from 1801-1842.[2] It’s my understanding that at the time this marriage occurred, the Mullinavat parish was also already keeping its own transcript of baptism and marriage records recorded in the Kilmacow parish register, and that this marriage is also recorded in the Mullinavat register — but if so, I have not seen that record. The National Library of Ireland’s webpage for Mullinavat parish says that its baptism and marriage records begin only in 1843. But according to John Grenham’s Irish Ancestors website, Rothe House in Kilkenny, owned by the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, has Mullinavat parish records dating from 1836 — copies of which are available for a fee. This website has similar information for Kilmacow Parish.

As this previous posting also notes, visit the catalogue of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City via the Family Search website, and you’ll find the following entry under Kilmacow in the category “church records”: “Extracts from Kilmacow Catholic parish of Kilmacow, 1836-1866.” The catalogue description of this material says that it’s typewritten extracts from the Genealogical Office in Dublin (manuscript 683a), which have been filmed by the Family History Library. This catalogue entry does appear to confirm that there are, in fact, records for Kilmacow parish going back to 1836, though how to find those has proven a mystery to me in the many years I’ve worked on my Ryan and Tobin families in this part of County Kilkenny.

As the posting I’ve linked several times above tells you, on 18 July 1996 I wrote to Rothe House to inquire about these matters, and received a reply on 25 July telling me the following: 

We can confirm that all baptism and marriage records from the Catholic Parish of Mullinavat have been entered onto our data base. These records date from 1836, previous to which the parish was one with Kilmacow, from which all extant baptisms and marriages have been entered (up to 31/12/1899). We should point out that while marriages from 1786 exist from the Catholic parish of Kilmacow, baptisms exist only from 1836.

If marriage records exist from Kilmacow back to 1786 and baptism records from 1836, why does the webpage for this parish at the National Library of Ireland speak of baptism, marriage, and death records for Kilmacow starting in 1858 — and why does the NLI copy of the parish records begin with that year? Where are those older Kilmacow records, and how can researchers access them?

Kathleen Laffan also speaks of Kilmacow parish records dating to 1798, when she notes in her book The History of Kilmacow — A South Kilkenny Parish that one of the first entries in the Kilmacow parish marriage register is the marriage of Richard Lonergan, late of Newfoundland, and Mary Ryan, in Kilmacow parish.[3] Laffan’s history of Kilmacow also notes that, as a town, Mullinavat dates from not long before 1800, and that the settlement grew up along existing roads: it’s at the junction of an east-west road running between Carrick-on-Suir and New Ross, and a north-south road running from Waterford to Kilkenny.[4] The development of the town of Mullinavat from about 1800 would account for the development of a Catholic parish in Mullinavat separate from Kilmacow parish in the late 1830s. The town of Kilmacow (as distinct from the Catholic parish of Kilmacow) is about 4 miles south of Mullinavat.

To summarize what I’ve just told you:

  1. According to the National Library of Ireland’s webpage for Kilmacow parish, the parish’s baptism, marriage, and death records do not begin until 1858.
  2. James G. Ryan also says that Kilmacow records begin only in 1858 in his Irish Records: Sources for Family and Local History.
  3. According to John Grenham’s Irish Ancestors website, Rothe House in Kilkenny has transcripts of Kilmacow parish records dating from 1836, available for a fee.
  4. The catalogue of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City shows, via the Family Search website, an entry entitled “Extracts from Kilmacow Catholic parish of Kilmacow, 1836-1866.” This catalogue entry points to a manuscript at the Genealogical Office in Dublin.
  5. Rothe House told me in a letter dated 25 July 1996 that marriages exist from 1786 in the Catholic parish of Kilmacow, and baptisms exist from 1836.
  6. Kathleen Laffan’s The History of Kilmacow — A South Kilkenny Parish states that marriage records in the Kilmacow parish register date to 1798.

My interest in tracking the whereabouts (and date) of Kilmacow’s parish records is obviously to try to obtain information about the family of Bridget Tobin Ryan. Since her date of birth — her tombstone indicates she was born in 1818 — predates any baptism records for Kilmacow parish that I have been able to find, I have not been able to determine who Bridget’s parents were, or to identify other members of her family.

Tobin Clues in the Sparse Early 19th-Century Kilmacow Parish Records I’ve Been Able to Find

I do, however, find some probable clues in a number of records about Tobins who seem to me likely related to Bridget Tobin Ryan, and I’d like to share these now. These are not major breakthroughs in tracing Bridget’s lineage, but nonetheless seem to me to be some promising clues I’ve found in the exceedingly sparse records available to me to trace Tobin families in Kilmacow parish in the first half of the 1800s. Here are the tidbits I have found:

Record of the marriage of John Walsh and Catherine Tobin, Kilmacow Catholic parish, County Kilkenny, Ireland, 20 January 1833, from Ossory diocesan transcript of parish records in a microfilm copy at the National Library of Ireland under the title Catholic Parish Registers (microfilm 05028/04)

On 20 January 1833 in Kilmacow parish, a Catherine Tobin married John Walsh. This marriage is recorded in the diocesan-level transcript of records from parishes throughout the diocese of Ossory from 1801-1842 which also records the 1836 marriage of Valentine Ryan and Bridget Tobin in Kilmacow parish.[5]

The record of John Walsh and Catherine Tobin’s marriage in January 1833 shows the couple marrying in Kilmacow parish with witnesses Edmond Hayden and Margaret Fitzgerald. Do those two names ring a bell for you? Look at the record of the marriage of Valentine Ryan and Bridget Tobin in Kilmacow parish in September 1836 discussed above, and what do you see: the same witnesses, Edmond Hayden and Margaret Fitzgerald.[6]

The fact that Valentine Ryan and Bridget Tobin and John Walsh and Catherine Tobin, both marrying in Kilmacow parish three years apart, had the very same witnesses for their marriages surely means something. An obvious question to ask: were Bridget and Catherine Tobin sisters? They would evidently have been close in age if they married within three years of each other. They lived in the same parish. Valentine Ryan and Bridget Tobin named a daughter Catherine.

And this, too, is worth noting: on 13 February 1838 in Kilmacow parish, Valentine Ryan’s brother Daniel Ryan married Mary Fitzgerald — likely a relative of the Margaret Fitzgerald witnessing both the marriage of Valentine Ryan and Bridget Tobin, and of John Walsh and Catherine Tobin.

Richard Griffith, General Valuation of Ireland: County of Kilkenny, Barony of Knocktopher, Parish of Killahy (Dublin, 1850)
Ordnance Survey map of Inchacarran townland, County Kilkenny, accompanying Griffith’s Valuation, showing houses 2B (Valentine Ryan) and 10 (John Walsh)
Ordnance Survey map of Inchacarran townland, County Kilkenny, accompanying Griffith’s Valuation, showing Inchacarran townland

Then there’s this to add to the discussion: in 1849, Griffith’s Valuation shows Valentine Ryan’s family renting half a house from Walter Costello in Inchacarran townland of Killahy civil parish — in the outlying area of Mullinavat known as Buckstown (note: the valuation was taken in 1849 and published in 1850). Walter Costello and the Ryan family occupy houses 2A and 2B in Griffith’s enumeration of families living in Inchacarran. In house 10 is found the family of John Walsh. Look at the Ordnance Survey map to which these house numbers point, and you’ll discover that Valentine Ryan’s house 2B is almost adjacent to John Walsh’s house and land, enumerated as 10 on this map.

Once again: it’s very tempting to conclude that Bridget Tobin Ryan and Catherine Walsh were likely sisters marrying within three years of each other and living in close proximity to each other in Buckstown on the outskirts of Mullinavat just before Valentine and Bridget emigrated to America with their children in the first half of the 1850s. Though it’s possible that Catherine died prior to Griffith’s Valuation and John Walsh remarried, since the Mullinavat parish register shows Mary, a daughter of John Walsh and Ellen Power of Buckstown, baptized on 29 November 1844, with James Walsh and Mary Power as godparents.

Then there’s this: have another look at the record of John Walsh and Catherine Tobin’s marriage above, and what do you see immediately above this marriage record in the diocesan transcript of Kilmacow parish records? The transcript shows Walter/Watt Costello marrying Elenor Walsh on 26 November 1832 in Buckstown — that is, in Kilmacow parish. 

This is obviously the same Walter Costello from whom Valentine Ryan was renting land in Buckstown shortly before he left for America in 1852. It’s interesting that Walter Costello’s wife was a Walsh, isn’t it, and that he married Elenor Walsh right before John Walsh married Catherine Tobin?

It’s tempting to see another family configuration here, to think that it’s likely that John Walsh and Elenor Walsh were siblings. So that these families all living close to each other when Griffith’s Valuation was taken were related through multiple ties of marriage and kinship…. Valentine and Bridget Tobin Ryan named a daughter Elenor/Ellen, by the way. Her baptism record in the Mullinavat parish register shows her baptized on 7 May 1840 with godparents Watt Costello and Margaret Smyth, and with Val and Biddy Ryan living in Buckstown. Ellen had died before her parents took their children to America.

Record of the marriage of Daniel Tobin and Bridget Walsh, Kilmacow Catholic parish, County Kilkenny, Ireland, 12 February 1832, from Ossory diocesan transcript of parish records in a microfilm copy at the National Library of Ireland under the title Catholic Parish Registers (microfilm 05028/04)

As I look at Tobin records I in Kilmacow parish, as they’re captured in the diocesan transcript of records of parishes in Ossory diocese between 1801 and 1842, I also spot the marriage of Daniel Tobin to Bridget Walsh in Kilmacow on 12 February 1832, with William Murphy and a woman whose name is given as Miss Lyons as witnesses. Is this another close relative of Bridget Tobin Ryan, possibly a brother? Another Tobin marrying another Walsh in Kilmacow parish in the 1830s….

And who’s the Edmond Tobin who married Mary Comerford in Templeorum parish on 23 July 1839, with the marriage record in the Ossory diocesan transcript stating that the couple lived at Buckstown? Michael Hyland and Mary Holden witnessed this marriage. I do not spot other records of either Daniel or Edmond and their wives in the Mullinavat parish register, and do not spot them on Griffith’s Valuation. Did they possibly emigrate in the 1840s?

In my next posting, I want to say more about Walter Costello and what his connection to Valentine Ryan and Bridget Tobin might indicate to us about some of Valentine Ryan’s relatives living in Buckstown. I’ve shared some information about Walter and his Ryan connections in a previous posting. In my next posting I’ll share a few new pieces of information I did not share in that posting, which have led me to think I may have found the father of Valentine Ryan’s father John Ryan of Templeorum Catholic parish.


[1] See William Carrigan, The History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory (Dublin: Sealy, Bryers and Walker, 1905), p. 171.

[2] James G. Ryan also says that Kilmacow records begin only in 1858 in his Irish Records: Sources for Family and Local History (Dublin: Flyleaf, 1988), p. 267. The Ossory diocesan transcript of records from parishes in this diocese is available in a microfilm copy at the National Library of Ireland under the title Catholic Parish Registers (microfilm 05028/04). Ancestry has published this collection under the title Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1655-1915. The marriage of Valentine Ryan and Bridget Tobin in 1836 in Kilmacow parish is recorded in a register of Ossory parish records from 1801-1842 at the Ossory cathedral parish, St. Mary’s in Kilkenny, found here in the Ancestry microfilm of this collection.

[3] Kathleen Laffan, The History of Kilmacow — A South Kilkenny Parish, 2nd edition (Waterford: GK Print, 2005), p. 92. 

[4] Ibid., p. 107. Carrigan, History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory, notes the town’s growth in the first half of the 1800s by stating that in 1801, it contained 35 houses, whereas in 1841, there were 110 inhabited houses in Mullinavat (p. 172). See also L.M. Cullen, “The Social and Economic Evolution of Kilkenny in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries,” in Kilkenny, History and Society: Interdisciplinary Essays on the History of an Irish County, ed. William Nolan and Kevin Whelan (Templeogue: Geography Publications, 1990), p. 278, noting that Mullinavat is the nearest approach its region has to a focal point, and that the town is “largely post-1800 in origin.”

[5] On this diocesan-level collection of parish transcripts in the Ossory diocese, see supra, n. 2. In Ancestry’s reproduction of this collection of records, the marriage of John Walsh and Catherine Tobin is found here

[6] When Valentine Ryan and Bridget Tobin’s son John was baptized in the Mullinavat parish on 1 February 1844, the godparents were Edmond Hayden and Anty Hennebery. The baptismal record shows John’s parents living at Buckstown.

2 thoughts on “Family of Valentine Ryan and Bridget Tobin of County Kilkenny, Ireland, and Grant County, Arkansas: New Information (2)

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