Searching for the birthplace of our Gallaghers in Ireland

My wife and I spent five weeks in Ireland in 2002 looking for the birthplaces of my six great grandparents who were born in Ireland.

We spent a week in County Down with some Muckle relatives who showed us around Belfast, County Antrim and all over Down but especially the Ards peninsula where our Muckles lived. Then we drove across Northern Ireland to Donegal where we stayed a couple of days before heading south to County Roscommon.

We knew before we set out on our trip that my great grandmother Bessie Gallagher and her sisters were baptized at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Boyle. So we planned to spend a lot of time in the Boyle vicinity even though we would be staying for four days in Rooskey on the Roscommon-Leitrim border and another couple of days in Strokestown. Rooskey is about a 30 minute drive down along the River Shannon from Boyle and Strokestown is about 45 minutes south of Boyle.

A street in Boyle

We found Boyle to be a pleasant town and we enjoyed walking down some of the main streets and visiting some of the popular sites, the most famous being the Boyle Abbey, now in ruins.

Boyle Abbey

One day we spent a couple of hours at the Boyle public library trying to connect the dots of some of the scattered information we had on Bessie and her family. We then stopped for lunch and then decided to walk around Lough Key Forest Park and take in the views of Lough Key from there.

the viewing tower at Lough Key Forest Park

The view from the top of the tower

We then walked along one of the forest trails before retracing our steps back to the parking lot.

trail in Lough Key Forest Park

On the way to our car we met a local couple who were also out for a stroll. The wife told us that they take a 45 minute walk around here every day while her spuds are cooking! We introduced ourselves and told them about our quest to find some Gallagher relatives. They told us that they knew of a Gallagher family in Sheegora, a townland a couple of miles north of Boyle just west of Lough Key. Furthermore, they also were good friends of a couple who they believed were both related to this Jimmy Gallagher and his wife Pauline. They started to explain how to get to their friend’s house but we were hopelessly confused.  “Well,” they decided, “why don’t you get in your car and follow us. It’s only 10 minutes away from this parking lot.”  So we did! The friends drove up the highway for awhile and then turned off to a parking area. They told us that there is no way to drive to the street where their friends live. We would have to leave our car here and then walk across a wooden bridge over the Boyle River to their house less than 100 yards away. Then off they went to take care of their spuds. My wife and I then crossed the bridge, walked down the lane and knocked on their friend’s door. I explained who we were to this sweet elderly couple who invited us into their parlor and offerred us some pastries. “Are you driving?” the wife asked me. “No,” I answered and pointed to my wife. “She’s the driver and I’m the navigator.” “Good,”  she said and she handed me a glass of Irish whiskey!  They then proceeded to tell us how they were related to the Gallaghers and the Sheerans and that the Sheerans lived in Doon east of the Sligo road near the shores of Lough Key but the Gallaghers lived on a ridge west of the road.  They then gave us detailed instructions on how to find Jimmy and Pauline. We left their house marveling at the Irish hospitality we had just witnessed. And we could hardly believe how lucky we were to meet that couple who were out strolling while their spuds were boiling!

View of Lough Key from the Sligo Road near Doon

The next day we set out for Sheegora (all the signs say Sheegorey as did the documents we found at the library, but the locals call it Sheegora) and only got lost a couple of times. Each time a kind neighbor told us how to get back on the right path. Soon we found ourselves driving up a narrow driveway to the Gallagher farmhouse.  And then we met my mother’s second cousin Jimmy Gallagher and his wife Pauline and their dog Rex. We also met a daughter who was still living with them. Jimmy was living in the same house as his father William and his grandfather Peter, the same Peter who said Goodbye to his three sisters 140 years ago. It was most likely the same house where my great grandmother was born. We had found her birthplace!

Jimmy and Pauline Gallagher

The next three weeks took us to Counties Longford, West Meath, Offaly, Tipperary, Limerick, Clare, Kerry, Cork, Waterford, Wexford, Wicklow and Dublin and we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. But we never found another ancestor birthplace.

A couple of years ago I received a letter from a grandson of Jimmy and Pauline’s who was now living in Scotland. He informed me that Jimmy had died in April, 2005 at the age of 85 and that Pauline had died soon afterward in January, 2006 at the age of 71.

About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
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6 Responses to Searching for the birthplace of our Gallaghers in Ireland

  1. Fiona Moore says:

    Hello, My name is Fiona Moore, Im a grand daughter of Jimmy and Pauline Gallagher, Sheegora boyle. I was just looking up family history and up popped your trip to Ireland in 2002 with a lovely pic of my granny and grandad, im just curious as to how u are related to the gallagher family?

  2. Hello, Fiona. I’m glad you found my blog! I am your Gallagher parent’s third cousin. You and my daughters are fourth cousins. Your grandfather and my Mom were second cousins. His father and my grandmother were first cousins. Your grandfather’s grandfather Peter Gallagher and my great grandmother Bessie (baptized Bridget) Gallagher were siblings. Peter and Bessie’s parents were Peter Gallagher and Catherine Sheeran. Jimmy told me that his mother was also a Sheeran; so there are two Sheeran branches in the family. For more details on how we are related see my posting “The Gallagher Girls of Virginia City.”

  3. John Gallagher says:

    My name is John Gallagher son of Jimmy and Pauline I live next door to the house you visited.Sadly as you mentioned both my parents have passed away.I also grew up at that house and my sister Ann still lives there.Thank you for the lovely article you wrote on your adventures around Boyle and your description of how you got to the house is quite humorous.I did’nt have the pleasure of meeting you when you visited but I am trying to piece together a family tree of sorts and you can imagine my surprise when I came across this article by sheer chance and good fortune.If you would like to make contact please write to me at Sheegora Boyle County Roscommon

  4. Fiona Moore says:

    Thanks a million for the reply. I read the gallagher girls of virginia city and the plot thickens;) its very interesting because i can only at moment research back to 1901 irish census on the internet. I will have to dig deeper in the church archives. My great great granddad Peter Gallagher married a Maria Gallagher (same surname) who had a daughter and son, Winnie and William as per 1901 census. William my great granddad married Jane Sheerin from Doon, Co Roscommon. While winnie immigrated to america. William Gallagher and Jane Sheerin had 3 children Peter, James and Mary Kathleen. James is my granddad through Bridget Agnes my mother…so there are lots of sheerins in the family spelt different tho. I was wondering do u have any more information on Bridget and Peter Gallaghers mother and father; Peter gallagher and Catherine Sheeran as this is a link to the family tree?

  5. Ellen Gallagher Naughton says:

    Greetings from another Gallagher! I was directed to your blog by an Irish genealogist who found out for me that my Gallagher ancestors were from Sheegora (all I knew was “Boyle”). I am a descendant of John Gallagher who married Honora McDonagh Oct 11, 1826. I haven’t made a connection to a Bessie, William or Peter, but – considering John & Honora had I think 10 children, it seems entirely plausible. Anyway, I’d love to compare family trees!

    • Carolyn Mayes says:

      My name is Carolyn Louise Gallaher Mayes. I think my line was Charles Patrick and Bridget mg after th not 1640. In An Bun Beag, Donegal,Ireland. Son of Michael and Annie McGinley.1620. Then Thomas of falls her and Mary Mooney 1600. Anyway stories came to Pennsyvannia. George Burum Gallaher was in Knox Co. TN He had William T. Gallaher. Then David C. Then my grandfather John Henry then my father John Frank Gallaher.I left out a few names between

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