Finding Catherine

by Laura

So. After writing about Catherine Loughran, my 4th Great-Grandmother this past Monday, I decided to renew my search. She was on my mind, and spurred on by a comment my Cousin Mariellen made on Facebook, I’ve spent the last few days researching a couple of additional branches on the Family Tree. For once, things went pretty well.

I have two go-to websites that aren’t free, but are my sites of last internet resort:  RootsIreland and ScotlandsPeople. RootsIreland requires a subscription. But it allows you to tap into every online database they’ve got (so far): birth , baptism, death information; Griffith valuations; marriage banns; census reports and census substitutes; passenger lists. All is transcribed, more or less accurately, with any accompanying notes (illegitimacy, witness names, how much was given to the priest/minister baptising the child, and so on). Everything on paper can be found. You can search by county, or you can take a shot with minimal info and hope for the best by choosing the whole of Ireland. Of course, not everything is still extant. But if Ireland has it, they are putting it out there.

ScotlandsPeople has something similar, although, not having had so much war, famine, genocide, and what-have-you in the last couple of hundred years, their records are a bit more organised. Unfortunately, they don’t go as far back as Ireland’s, but they are easier to read since they are standardised across the board. ScotlandsPeople is pay-as-you-go, which can get a bit pricey if you’re randomly searching without much info to begin with (I recommend you use broad parameters), but when you hit it right, it’s all right there: names, dates, places, registrar’s names, maiden names, reporters (who are usually family members), addresses. A plethora of information awaits you!

Well, RootsIreland finally paid off this week as they’ve been adding data and I finally…finally…found more about Catherine. Actually, I found a couple of Catherines. This is where the time-honoured concept of WAG comes into play. A WAG is a wild-ass guess. And whilst not generally recommended in family research, sometimes, you have to use them. In Catherine’s case, I had two Catherines in the same county with similar birthdates but different parents. Except one had a witness to her baptism named…Catherine Loughran. Might this be a family member? Irish naming convention calls for naming children after family members. So I looked up the parish as well as the “address” of the parents (usually a village or farm) on Google maps and compared the two. Then I looked up all four of the parents in RootsIreland. I found marriage info and baptism info for the one of the Fathers, Andrew. His father was a Bernard Loughran. I found that he died 4 years later, age 26. I also found some more family members. By the time my 4th Great-Grandmother was born, 20-ish years later, the family had moved to another county. But, here again, according to Google maps, that was, quite literally, next door.  I’m wondering if Bernard and Andrew’s Mother remarried. OR since most of the farmland in Ireland was owned by absentee English or Anglo-Irish landlords, and the Irish farmers rented from them, families tended to move from one place to another to find a farm on which to settle. OR, in the case of skilled workers, like flax weavers, shoemakers, blacksmiths, and so on, they moved to where they could find work. So a move down the road wasn’t that unusual. Next on my list of people to research.

So what could I find out about Bernard? Well, I found his baptismal information and his death information. On his baptismal info was his Mother’s name, Ann. His father was also named Bernard (great!). So this second Catherine may be his Aunt or his Grandmother…hard to say, but, knowing something about how Roman Catholic families do things, I’ll bet it’s his Aunt (again, a WAG, although an informed one). Which brings me back to…

Catherine. My 4th Great-Grandmother. And the rest of the Family, whom I believe I’ve found. The name “Catherine” figures quite prominently in my family. Catherine’s mother’s name, given on her baptismal information, is Catherine. Catherine Conway. Catherine Loughran will later name her Daughter, Catherine. And so on down through the generations. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to fill out the rest of her story: how many children did she have? what were their names? what drove them to Scotland…although I suspect it was The Great Hunger? But, for the time being, I’ve added two generations to the Family.

It’s all good.