Research Sources


The Research Sources

Research on the Walshes, Langans and related families in Ireland was was done at the Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, commonly called LDS. The following records (all on microfilm) were used:

  • The baptismal registers for the Parish of Ballinrobe, 1848 to 1900+.

    Note: The years 1856 to 1861 are missing.

  • The marriage registers for the Parish of Ballinrobe
  • Note: The years 1856 to 1861 are missing.

  • Civil birth registrations from 1864 to part of 1881
  • Civil marriage registrations from 1864 to 1870
  • Civil death registrations form 1864 to 1870
  • The Tithe Applotment tax books.

    Note: The Tithe Allotment is a list of people who paid taxes between 1820 and 1840 to the Church of Ireland (Protestant Church). The assessments were made in different years in different parishes.

  • The Griffith Tax Valuations from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s.
  • The 1901 Irish Census

The parish records for Shrule (the birthplace of Penelope Byrne and her daughter, Maggie Langan) start in 1831 but are not availabe through LDS . I sent to the South Mayo Family History Center, Main Street, Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland for a report on the Bryne family in Shrule Parish.

Additional sources of general information came for histories of Ireland, including several local histories of Ballinrobe that I bought when I was in Ireland in June 2000.


The Geographical Organization of Ireland

Not only are the records for Catholics in Ireland minimal, they are found under a variety of administrative divisions. It helps to have some understanding of the diverse civil and parochial divisions.

Civil Divisions

For civil administrative purposes, Ireland is divided into the following divisions:

  1. The provinces form the largest geographical divisions and are mainly used for cartographic and census distinctions. There are four provinces, Connaught in the west, Leinster in the east, Munster in the south and Ulster in the north.
  2. The next division by size is the county. There are 32 counties, of which 26 are in the Republic of Ireland and six in Northern Ireland. The county system is a replication of the shire system in England. County officials oversee a variety of functions including courts, taxes, and highway maintenance. County Mayo is in the province of Connaught. The counties in Connaught province are Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, and Sligo.
  3. Baronies (which ceased to be a territorial division at the end of the nineteenth century) were administrative area from the 16th century.
  4. Parishes were founded during the Reformation on the 16th century. A parish was both a civil territorial division and an ecclesiastical division of the church of Ireland (Protestant church). There are 2,447 civil parishes. The civil parish boundaries frequently cross both barony and county borders.
  5. Poor Law Unions were established as a result of the 1838 Poor Relief Act. This act divided the county into districts in which the local taxpayer would be responsible for the care of the poor in their "union". The Union was centered on a large market town, which also contained the Work House. The Unions boundary often crossed county boundaries. When the Civil Registration Act of 1863 was passed requiring the registration of birth, marriages and death a Superintendent Registrar's District was instituted whose boundaries were the same as the Poor Law Union.
  6. The townland is the smallest administrative district. The 60,000 townlands in Ireland are small areas of land such as family farms or groups of farms. They vary in size from a little over an acre to 7,000 acres and on the average are comprised of about 326 stature acres. Townlands frequently take their names from a local physical characteristic, a local ruin or a local clan name.
  • All the civil records for the Walshes, Langans, and related families were filed in the Union of Ballinrobe, County of Mayo, Kilmaine Barony, and Province of Connaught.
  • The family of Joseph Walsh and Fanny Feeney Walsh lived in the Town of Ballinrobe, Union of Ballinrobe, Civil Parish of Ballinrobe, Kilmaine Barony, County of Mayo, Ireland. From at least the birth of their daughter, Mary, in 1865 until the birth of their son, James, in 1867, John and Fanny lived in the townland of Carnalecka. From at least the birth of their son, Thomas, in 1869 until the birth of their daughter, Fanny, in 1875 they lived in the townland of Knackanotish.
  • The family of Matthias Langan and Penelope Byrne Langan lived in both the Civil Parish of Ballinrobe and the Civil Parish of Shrule. Both Ballinrobe Parish and Shrule Parish are in the Barony of Kilmaine and the Union of Ballinrobe, County of Mayo. At the birth of their son, Pat, the Langans lived on Creagh Road in the town of Ballinrobe. At the birth of their son, Martin in 1872 they lived in the townland of Mochara in the district of Shrule in the Union of Ballinrobe. They were in Mochara at least until the birth of their daughter, Maggie, in 1875. By 1877, at the birth of their son, James, they lived on Glebe Street in the town of Ballinrobe.

Parochial Divisions

For their own purposes, the Catholic Church divided the country differently than the civil authorities. There are three divisions:

  1. Four Ecclesiastical Provinces, which predate the civil provinces and do not necessarily correlate with them. The synod of Kells in 1151 formed the four Archdioceses: Armagh, Tuam, Cashel, and Dublin.
  2. Each ecclesiastical province is divided into 28 dioceses.
  3. The dioceses are further divided into parishes. The parochial parishes do not necessarily correlate to the civil parishes.


  • All of the parish records for the Walshes and related families were found in the Parish of Ballinrobe, Dioceses of Tuam.
  • Records for the Langans were found in the Parishes of Ballinrobe and Shrule, both in the Dioceses of Tuam.
  • While civil and parochial parish do not always agree, both the civil parish of Ballinrobe and the civil parish of Shrule correlate to the parishes as designated by the Catholic Church.


These records are available on microfilm through the Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, commonly called LDS.

Since the parish records for Shrule are not available on microfilm through LDS, I sent to the Mayo Family History Center in Ballinrobe for information on the Langan and related families in Shrule parish.

The civil records, kept by the government, start in 1864 and include: marriage, births, and deaths.

The church records, start in Ballinrobe in 1848 and in Shrule in 1831 and include baptisms and marriages.

The Tithe Allotment is a list of people who paid taxes between 1820 and 1840 to the Church of Ireland (Protestant Church). The assessments were made in different years in different parishes. Every person who owned or rented land, regardless of religion, was required to pay tithe to the Church of Ireland.

The Griffith's Valuations are lists of people who paid taxes to the Irish Government from 1840 to at least the 1930s. The assessments were made in different years in different parishes.

Since so few genealogical records are available for Catholics in Ireland before the mid 1800s, these lists are important sources of information about Catholic families living in a given area.

In addition to the above records, I have gotten information from several histories of Ireland and several local histories of Ballinrobe including several books by local Ballinrobe historian, Birdie Mulloy.

www. is a great web site where one can search the marriage and baptismal records for the parish of Shurle.

Church Records in Ireland

According to James G. Ryan, Ph.D. in "Irish Records-Sources for Family and Local History", most rural Catholic Churches did not keep written records before 1820 partly because of restrictions on the Catholic Church by the English Penal Codes and also because of internal church disorganization and the poverty of many rural parishes.

Some Notes in The Roman Catholic Church Records in Ballinrobe

The Roman Catholic Church records for the parish of Ballinrobe start in 1848.

The Registry of Deeds

Deeds were registered in Ireland for 1708. Unfortunately, small farmers and cottiers rarely figure in registered deeds. I am trying to determine if anyone in the community connected with the Walshes, Feeneys, or Langans appear in the Registry of Deeds.

These deeds sometime mention heirs. It is possible that Nicholas Walsh, who seems to have had control of a lot of property in the area might be mentioned. The Lardners, who were trader people might be mentioned.

There are two indexes for these deeds. A place index and a name index, which is listed under the name of the grantor of the deed. It is possible that deeds for the Walshes etc would be listed under Kenny or Knox who were the two biggest landlords in the townlands of Carrownalecka and Knockanotish.

Name indexes:

Film 0100330 1860 to 1869 I-L. There were Knox and Kenny listed but not connected with anyone in the Walsh clan. There was one Lardner listed who was not mine

Film 0100304 W 1833-1839 Nothing related

Film 0100317 W 1840-1849 John Walsh and sons May 1843 "DB" 1-160 Nicholas Walsh and sons (Deed) no denomination 1843-17 282 John Walsh and sons deed Mayo 1849 221- 151(?)

Film 0100325 W 1850-1859 Mayo 1853, John Walsh to Edward Walsh #19 of file and vol. 63 and 64

Film 0100334 W 1860-1869 John Walsh to Walter Burke and sons, Mayo 1860/34/89 John C. Walsh and sons to Edward Walsh, Mayo 1869 5/199 and 1869 8/11

Film 0100372 W 1890-1899 John C Walsh to Standard Life Assurance 1895/56-294

Film 0100365 L 1890-1899 No Langan in Mayo, lots in Galway, no Lardner in Mayo.

Place indexes:

Film 0100391, 1708-1820 Nothing related

Film 0100447, 1821-1828 Nothing related

Film 0100747, 1890-1894 Nothing related


The following sources used to research the Walsh and related families in Ireland are available on microfilm through the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, known as LDS.

  1. The Tithe Applotment survey book for Ballinrobe Parish.

    The earliest record that included Catholic families in Ireland was the Tithe Applotment survey. The Tithe Applotment survey was a calculation of the value of the land and the amount of tax to be paid yearly by every person in Ireland who rented or owned land, regardless of their religion. The monies raised were used for the support of the Church of Ireland (Protestant Church) in rural areas. The Tithe Applotment was done in Ballinrobe in 1827.

  2. The Griffith valuations for Ballinrobe Parish.

    As second set of tax valuations were made about 25 years later. Called the Griffith's Primary Valuations, they were made as a result of the Tenement Act of 1842. A uniform "valuation" based on the productive capacity of the land and potential rental of buildings was made between 1846 and 1864 for all the taxable property in Ireland to determine the amount of tax each tenant or landlord should pay to support the poor and destitute within his "Poor Law Union". Some property was worth more than other property and was taxed accordingly. These records are named after Richard Griffith who was the Commissioner of Valuation when the assessment was made. The records are arranged by County, Barony, Poor Law Union, Civil Parish, and Townland. The first Griffith Valuation was done in Ballinrobe in 1851. The Griffith¹s Valuation was updated every few years through the 1930s.

  3. The Ballinrobe Parish registers for baptisms and marriages.

    The Ballinrobe parish records were kept in ledger books starting in 1850 and ending in the early 1900s. Baptisms and marriage records were kept separately.

    There were two LDS microfilmings of the parish records, one set is slightly more legible than the other. LDS microfilm #0926219 contains the earliest baptismal and marriage records for Ballinrobe parish and is also the more legible copy. The baptismal records on LDS microfilm #1279209 starts later and ends later. This film was not photographed as well and is dark and very hard to read.

    Some of the handwriting in the church ledgers is very, very bad. In fact, some of it is completely illegible. Where I simply cannot determine the name, I have indicated this in one of two ways. I have used ---- to indicate that I have no idea what was written and (?) to indicate that I can read a few letters but am uncertain how the name comes together. In some instances I have made an educated guess based on other known information. All of these are marked with (?). In addition to the handwriting, there is some damage to the edges of the pages making it difficult at times to be sure of the date, which was noted in the margin. Frequently, I only have an idea of the year. Furthermore, the years 1856 to 1861 are completely missing in both the baptismal and marriage records.

    Another complication is that the spelling of the names in the parish records varies wildly. There are baptismal records where all four people listed (father, mother, and both godparents) had the same last name and there are four different spellings of that name. This causes problems with names that are look somewhat alike such as Meehan and Mechan, Feeney and Tierney, and Morahan and Monahan. I can't tell if it is bad handwriting or bad spelling.

    One of the biggest problems with the baptismal and marriage records is the fact that there does not seem to have been any consistent way of listing married female when they acted as a sponsor or witnesses. Sometimes they were listed under their married names and sometimes they were listed under their maiden names. Obviously this makes it difficult to know if a given Mary Hughs was born a Hughs or married a Hughs or if Bridget Lardner was Bridget Walsh Lardner or an unmarried Bridget Lardner.

  4. The civil records of Ireland for births, marriages and deaths.

    The civil records include births, marriages, and death. Civil records were not kept for Catholics in Ireland until 1864. The LDS has birth records from 1864 to part of 1881, death records from 1864 to 1870 and marriage records from 1864 until 1870.

    The parish records and the civil records contain a number of discrepancies. This includes differences in information, as well as events that were reported in one set of records and not the other.

    Birth records include: the name of the child, date of birth, the name and occupation of the father, the name of the mother, the "address", and the name and relationship of the person reporting the birth.

    Marriage records include, the name and occupation of the groom,

    Death records includes: the date of death, the "address", the name of the deceased, the age of the deceased, the occupation (or father's occupation if the deceased was a child), the cause of death, and the person reporting the death (sometimes this includes the relationship to the deceased). If the death was reported by a family member, it could be informative. The problem is that many of the deaths occurred in the Work House Hospital so the address was the Ballinrobe Work House and the name of the person reporting the death was the Work House doctor. Unfortunately, when the name was common, the address was crucial to positive identification.

  5. Censuses were taken in Ireland every ten years starting in 1841. Unfortunately, for one reason or another all of the censuses until 1901 were lost before they could be microfilmed. The first census that is available is the 1901 census. Although, Joseph Walsh and Maggie Langan had left Ireland by that time, I looked at this census in an effort to find any family who may have still been living in Ireland.

Addition notes on the above records: Joseph Walsh's father and mother's birth occurred too early to be included in the church or civil records. Joseph himself married in the United States. This means that there is only one generation of Walshes in the parish and civil records.

The Tithe Applotment and the Griffith's indicate that there were Walshes and Feeneys in very specific areas of the town of Ballinrobe in 1827 and 1851. In fact, a combinations of the tax record, parish records, and civil records show that there were Walshes and Feeneys at what constitutes the same address from 1827 until 1901. Given the numbers of Walshes and Feeneys in the town of Ballinrobe from the time the records start, it is highly likely that the ancestors of John Walsh and Fanny Feeney were in Ballinrobe for some time. John Walsh and the families he was associated with l ived in the north west section of the town of Ballinrobe and the "suburbs" directly to the west. Theses areas were called, Carrownalecka, Knockanotish, and Rathkelly. However, it should be pointed out that it is not possible to directly connect the records of 1827 with John Walsh. While some families stayed put for long periods of time, John Walsh had at least two addresses between 1861 and 1881. It should also be pointed out that Ballinrobe, as the biggest town in the area, was a magnet for people from the surrounding countryside, particularly after the famine. Consequently, the population was constantly changing with new names entering the records.

Both the Tithe Applotment and the Griffith listed only the "head of household". There is no indication of how many people were in the household. Given the structure of the Irish family at the time, it was not infrequent that the head of household was a widowed mother or father, who may have had married adult sons or daughters and their families living with her/him. Consequently there were households were the head of household did not have the same name as his/her adult children and their spouses and children.

Additional Sources of information for the Walsh and related families in Ireland included the following:

  1. The County Mayo Chronicles Volumes #1 through #13 available at the New York City Public Library. Among this information was a 1783 list of the Residents in the Parish of Ballinrobe. (This list was copied from the Analecta Hibernica #14.) In addition there was a list of the twenty most common names in county Mayo derived from the 1890 census.
  2. In June 1994 the South Mayo Family Research fieldwork team comprised a list of the tombstone inscriptions of the Augustinian Priory Graveyard, AKA as the Abby Graveyard. This cemetery is connected to the Ballinrobe Priory founded in 1312. I do not have access to the complete list. That information is available through SMFRC for a fee for each burial record requested.
However, there is a list of "surname occurring in gravestone inscriptions in the Augustinian Priory Graveyard" published in the "Restoration of Ballinrobe Priory" by Bridie Mulloy. This list includes the surname, the earliest date of burial for that surname, and the number of people with that surname buried in the graveyard. There are no first names or individual burials listed. I have used this list as an indication of the popularity of a given surname and an indication of the date at which the family may have arrived, in one sense or the other, in Ballinrobe.