The McClory Homeland
McClory often told his daughter Betty and his nine other children that his
grandparents were from County Down in the North of Ireland. They had left there
for America on their wedding day, sailing from the town of Newry about the time
of the Great Famine. Long forgotten was the actual year that they had left
Ireland, where in County Down they originated, and what had become of the
McClory ancestors who remained in Ireland.
chain of events beginning over two years ago led the 76 year-old Elizabeth
“Betty” (McClory) Kearney, her husband, three of her six children, and a
son-in-law back to the land of her ancestors this past Spring of 1999. These
events include her son Bob’s amateur golf career, and the continuing
development of the Internet.
June of 1997, the then 40-year-old Bob Kearney qualified as one of five amateur
golfers to play, among a field of 151 professionals, in the 1997 United States
Open Championship at the Congressional Country Club outside of Washington D.C.
Bob has since gone on to play in three U.S. Amateur Championships.
However, the accomplishment of qualifying as an amateur to play in a U.S. Open
Championship earned Bob an automatic exemption to play in the British Amateur
Championship for the following five years.
Of the future sites selected for the British Amateur, one would be held in Ireland in 1999 at a course considered among the world’s ten best. A British Amateur Championship to be played in Ireland would prove too great an opportunity for Bob to pass up. He decided that he would travel from his Houston home to Ireland in late May of 1999 to play in the tournament. Many in his family also decided to accompany him: his sister Joan Winterfield and her husband Nate from Colorado Springs, his parents from Hamden, Connecticut, and myself from Seattle.
my siblings and I had forgotten the stories that our mother had long ago passed
on to us from Leo McClory. Until Betty Kearney reminded us, we had not realized
that the golf course, the Royal County Down Golf Club in County Down, Northern
Ireland, was also located in the homeland of our McClory ancestors.
the few short weeks before departure to County Down, the writer gathered
existing family information and commissioned ancestral research to be undertaken
in Ireland. Much assistance was provided by Betty Kearney, Charles McClory of
Pittsburgh, Mary McClory of Pittsburgh, Regis McClory of Trowbridge, Illinois,
and Robert McClory of Evanston, Illinois. With little time or background
information, the Ulster Historical Foundation in Belfast agreed to conduct
research in Ireland and to communicate expeditiously by e-mail and fax.
information in this report originally unfolded as if solving a detective
mystery. Leo’s daughter, Mary McClory, first provided a 34-page family history
written by hand in 1958 by Leo’s older sister Mary (“the 1950’s
history”). A nephew of Leo, Regis McClory, was located in Trowbridge and found
a grave marker and birth date of the first child born to Leo’s grandparents.
After days of tedious searches, the Ulster Historical Foundation came up with
the first potential lead: an obscure marriage record and birth record from a
small town in central County Down.
with just a few days remaining before our departure, we still lacked a
reasonable secondary confirmation as to the town in County Down where the McClory's
originated. Then, amazingly, a distant relative from the Illinois line,
Robert McClory, was found in Chicago. Robert is a teacher of religious studies
at Northwestern University and a grandson of the youngest of Leo’s six uncles.
Whether good fortune or the luck of the Irish, Robert and his brother Eugene of
Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, had in their possession many of the remaining family
documents from the Illinois branch of our family.
immediately located and faxed a typed, seven-page history written by Mary
Henneberry, a granddaughter of another of Leo’s
six uncles from the Illinois branch. This history refers to dates as late as
1976 (“the 1970’s history”). It also contained information that provided
the reasonable confirmations as to the location of the McClory ancestral home.
our return from Ireland, Robert found and provided what was effectively the
oldest history of all. It was 14-pages of handwritten copies or summaries of
earlier notes. The summary was again written by Mary Henneberry and made
reference to notes originally written as early as 1930 (“the 1930’s
prior family histories are priceless. Reading their many stories makes our
ancestors come to life. As such, no attempt was made to rewrite or to
consolidate them. However, most of the stories pertain to our family’s history
after our ancestors arrived in Pittsburgh. The purpose of this summary is to
address the questions of where in County Down our McClory ancestors originated,
when did they leave, why did they leave, and what became of our ancestors who
stayed in Ireland.
the early 1800’s, the Allegheny Mountains were the western frontier of the
United States. The Northwest Territories that would later become Illinois,
Indiana, Michigan and Ohio were rich in timber, minerals, and fertile land for
farming. But to reach them took weeks of bone-jarring travel on rutted turnpike
roads that baked hard every summer and dissolved in a sea of mud each winter. At
that time, the principal gateway to the west was through Pittsburgh and down the
opening of the Eire Canal across upstate New York in 1825 would spur the first
great westward movement of American settlers and provide access to the rich land
and resources west of the Appalachians. The canal also would eventually result
in New York City becoming the preeminent commercial city in the United States,
far surpassing its principal rival at the time, Philadelphia.
compete with the Eire Canal, the worried financial leaders of Philadelphia
convinced the Pennsylvania legislature in 1826 to authorize the construction of
a canal from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. In 1834, the Pennsylvania Main Line
Canal was opened for service, reducing travel time from Philadelphia to
Pittsburgh from a minimum of twenty-three days to as little as four days.
36-mile link over the Allegheny Mountains between Hollidaysburg and Johnston was
handled by the Allegheny Portage Railroad. Much like today’s single incline
rail on Mt. Washington in downtown Pittsburgh, the portage railroad was equipped
with ten incline planes, five on each side of the mountain. These planes lifted
the canal boats on railroad-type flatcars up and down the ten inclines. As
locomotives at the time did not have the power to pull the cars up the steep
mountains, stationary engines were used at the head of each incline to pull the
cars using an endless system of ropes (wire cables were not introduced until
1847). Locomotives or gravity were used on the more level stretches of the
mountain between the inclines. Canal systems on both sides of the Alleghenies
then connected Johnston to Pittsburgh (utilizing 66 locks to overcome an
elevation change of 1,700 feet), and Hollidaysburg to Philadelphia.
from the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society indicate that
the state’s Canal Commissioners allowed reduced fares for immigrants who had
recently arrived in Philadelphia and who traveled west on the canal. According
to Ms. Diane Garcia of the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site in
Gallitzin, Pennsylvania, the regular fare for passage between Philadelphia and
Pittsburgh was $12 with any of the several transportation companies operating on
the Main Line Canal. She also stated that she would not have been surprised if
some people elected to walk up and down the inclines as the sight of huge boats
on an inclined railcar being pulled with ropes up a steep slope would have
likely been frightening and appeared dangerous.
costly and amazing engineering feat of its day, the Main Line Canal and
Allegheny Portage Railroad would be shut down in 1857 after only 23 years of
service. It was replaced by the Pennsylvania Railroad which opened the first
rail line into Western Pennsylvania in 1854, linking Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.
from a couple of sources provides a very good indication as to the year that
Leo’s grandparents left Ireland.
to all prior family histories and stories, John McClory and Bridget Dewey were
married in County Down and left for America on their wedding day. Their first
child would be a daughter named Mary, who was followed by seven
sons. In the
cemetery at the now demolished Saint Patrick’s Church in Trowbridge, Illinois,
the grave marker for Mary (McClory) Moran indicates that she was born on March
the 1930’s and the 1970’s histories also provided important and similar
references to the year 1838. The 1930’s history states that “John and
Bridget arrived in Philadelphia, took a canal boat to the Allegheny Mountains,
walked across the mountains, took a train on the other side, and arrived in
Pittsburgh in 1838”. (Clearly, they had traveled on the Main Line Canal and
Allegheny Portage Railroad. Although this sentence in the family history is
remarkably accurate considering that it was probably first written down more
than 50 years after the actual event, a less ambiguous phrasing of this sentence
probably would have been that… “John and Bridget arrived in Philadelphia,
took a canal boat to the Allegheny Mountains, walked up the mountains, took a
train to the other side, walked down the mountains, and arrived in Pittsburgh by
canal boat in 1838.”)
and Bridget were also buried at St. Patrick’s cemetery in Trowbridge. Their
grave markers state that John was from County Down and died August 25, 1879 at
age 68, and that Bridget died January 31, 1888 in her 71st year. Accordingly,
John was born about 1811 and Bridget most likely in 1816.
upon these key dates and some additional information outlined below, the likely
circumstances surrounding John and Bridget’s immigration to American begin to
and Bridget most likely married and left Ireland in 1837, or very close to 1837.
John was about 25 and Bridget about 21. Based upon our longstanding family
stories, they left from the port of Newry. In the History of Newry (p.135) at the Newry main library, it states the
following with respect to the period of the famine in the late 1840’s:
“…Being a port of some significance, Newry became the centre of emigration for southern Ulster and northern Leinster. Ships carried thousands from Newry and Warrenpoint, sometimes directly to America or, more often, to Liverpool, the major centre of emigration in England.”
Down is in “southern Ulster”. Warrenpoint is a smaller port town located a
few miles from Newry on the same inlet from the Irish Sea. John and Bridget may
have sailed directly to Philadelphia. It is also possible that they first left
from either Newry or Warrenpoint by regular steamer service to the large
embarkation hub of Liverpool, England. During the famine years of 1845 through
1848, for example, published sources have reported that 76% of all Irish
immigrants who arrived at the port of New York had first come through Liverpool.
U.S. National Archives maintains on microfilm an alphabetical list of passengers
indexed from the passenger lists from all ships arriving in Philadelphia between
1800 and 1906. John and Bridget are not on the list. This is not at all unusual.
The records are known to be far from complete. Only four McClory's are listed for
this entire period, all arriving on the same ship.
first steamship to cross the Atlantic, Steamship Sirius of the British and
American Steam Navigation Company, did not make the crossing until April, 1838,
one month after John and Bridget’s first child was born in Pittsburgh. In
1837, John and Bridget would have crossed the Atlantic on a wooden,
schooner-type vessel with sails. Trans-Atlantic sailings in such vessels
generally occurred more frequently, and certainly would have been more
desirable, from spring to mid-fall. Marriage in the late spring of 1837 could
have resulted in a May or June sailing to Philadelphia, arrival in Pittsburgh
sometime in the last half of 1837 or in early 1838, and a first child being born
in Pittsburgh at the end of March in 1838.
attempt was also made to find a marriage record for John and Bridget in Ireland.
The Ulster Historical Foundation in Belfast reported that civil registrations of
marriages for Roman Catholics only became obligatory in Ireland in 1864, versus
in 1845 for Protestants. Before 1864, research success is dependent upon
imperfectly maintained church records, which were often lost or destroyed by
fire. The Foundation was unable to locate a marriage record for John and Bridget
in either the Newry parish or three other parishes in Central County Down which
had high concentrations of McClory's in the 1830’s.
and Bridget were from County Down. However, the connection with Newry is less
clear, and has likely been somewhat misunderstood.
was mentioned by Leo McClory in his stories to his children. Newry is also
mentioned in a short letter written by Leo’s sister, Sister Mary Josephine, to
Betty McClory in about the 1960’s, which states that John and Bridget were
born in the town of Newry. Finally, in the 1950’s history written by the older
sister of Leo and Sister Mary Josephine, it states that John and Bridget married
in Newry. However, the older 1930’s history as well as the 1970’s history,
both written by the Illinois branch of the family, does not mention Newry. These
histories state only that John and Bridget came from County Down.
likely explanation for these inconsistencies is that references to living or
marrying in Newry probably refer to in the area of Newry.
to the History of Newry, between 1820
and the late 1800’s Newry was Ireland’s largest commercial center north of
Dublin. A canal over fifteen miles long had been built from the port of Newry to
Ireland’s largest lake in the interior of the Ulster Province. In this period
prior to railroads, shipping by water vastly dominated all other means of
commerce. Newry’s geographic position as a Port, and the existence of its
inland canal, provided the city access to a vast hinterland and a steady flow of
the nature of the Irish economy and the English system of land-leasing left most
Irish impoverished, Newry was relatively prosperous. In 1842, novelist William
Makepeace Thackeray, author of Vanity Fair
and Barry Lyndon, wrote of Newry in
The Irish Sketch Book, 1842:
“Steamers to Liverpool and Glasgow sail continually. There are mills, foundries and manufactories….and the town, of 13,000 inhabitants, is the busiest and most thriving that I have yet seen in Ireland.”
Belfast is the largest commercial center north of Dublin. However, Belfast did
not surpass Newry until 50 years after John and Bridget left Ireland.
information presented in the next sections indicates that John and Bridget came
from a town about fifteen miles northeast of Newry in central County Down. John
and Bridget probably sailed from Newry, and may have possibly married in Newry.
However, immigrants living in the U.S. and originating from anywhere in central
County Down would have often, for convenience, identified themselves as coming
the largest recognizable city close to where they lived, which would have been
good analogy to this misunderstanding is the lifelong presumption on the part of
myself, my mother and probably many other family members that since our
ancestors left Ireland ‘at the time of’ the Irish Famine, that their leaving
was presumably associated with the catastrophe of the Great Famine. This
assumption has clearly been wrong. The Great Famine lasted from 1845 through
1848. John and Bridget left Ireland at least eight years prior to the start of
the famine. From the standpoint of a parent in the 1900’s telling a story to
their children, the year 1837 could certainly be considered ‘about the time
of’ the famine. Likewise, the McClory homeland was likely not in Newry, but in
the Newry area.
this London’s a wonderful sight
with the people here working by day and by night.
don’t sow potatoes nor barley nor wheat
but there’s gangs of them digging for gold in the streets.
least when I asked them that’s what I was told
so I just took a hand at this digging for gold
but for all that was found there I might as well be
where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.
The River Bann has it origin high in County Down’s fabled Mountains of Mourne, a mere six miles from the Irish Sea to the east. But instead of flowing the short distance east, the River Bann winds its way north for almost eighty miles to cross all of Northern Ireland, finally emptying into the Atlantic Ocean at the far northernmost tip of Ireland.
As the River Bann completes its short descent to the base of the Mountains of Mourne, it begins to meander through the beautiful, rolling green farmlands of Ireland. It passes an endless hodgepodge of small farms with fields enclosed by ancient stone walls and earthen hedgerows. It flows past numerous ‘magical’ trees and thickets of bushes where the local farmers have for centuries claimed that the fairies live, and which they dare not disturb. It flows through a land where grass grows so lush and hearty that the vast armies of sheep and cow spend long hours merely sitting idle in the fields instead of searching for food.
Less than ten miles from the foot of the Mountains of Mourne the River Bann reaches the heart of the small village of Katesbridge, crossing under a centuries old stone bridge built with graceful arches and subtle curves. The river then continues beyond to form the northeasterly boundary of the adjacent town of Annaclone. With the Mountains of Mourne looming off in the distance, the story of the McClory homeland brings us to this place.
A few weeks before our journey to County Down, Leo McClory’s daughter, Mary McClory of Pittsburgh, sent to me a copy of the 1950’s history written by Leo’s sister. This was the beginning of the research. For purposes of determining where in County Down the McClory's originated, this family history provided only two small pieces of information: it stated that John and Bridget McClory married in Newry sometime in the 1830’s and came to America the same day, and it referred to a sister of John’s whose married name was Nancy Kearney (no known relation to the writer). No other details were given.
few days after receipt of the 1950’s history, I contacted Regis McClory, a
nephew of Leo, who lives near St. Patrick’s cemetery in Trowbridge, Illinois.
Eager to assist, Regis made two trips to the cemetery in search of a grave
marker for a person Regis had never heard of. On his second trip, he found the
marker for Mary Moran indicating that she was born on March 28, 1838. As Mary
(McClory) Moran was the first child born to John and Bridget, and as John and
Bridget by all accounts left County Down on their wedding day, it could be
assumed that John and Bridget probably left County Down in 1837, or possibly
only these few slim details, the next step was to contact the Ulster Historical
Foundation in Belfast, who agreed to undertake some ancestral research in County
Ireland, family surnames have been indexed for all parishes based upon a church
tithe survey listing farmers in about 1830, and a valuation survey of all
properties conducted about 1864. These were checked for all parishes in County
Down for the surnames McClory and Dewey. The McClory name was prevalent in the
surveys, whereas the Dewey name was not. The 1864 property survey listed 54
McClory properties of which 42 were concentrated in three adjoining parishes in
central County Down: the Adhaderg parish with 15, the Annaclone parish with 14,
and the Drumballyroney parish with 13. The Dewey name only appeared once in the
County. Several variations on the Dewey name were checked, such as Dowey and
Douie, but were also not very common. However, to find such a large
concentration of McClory's in such a small area of County Down was an unexpected
and exciting development.
Foundation had also indexed all surviving pre-1900 registers of baptisms,
marriages and burials for the Roman Catholic parishes in County Down. Civil
registrations of births, deaths, and marriages only became obligatory for Roman
Catholics in Ireland in 1864. Prior to 1864, records are incomplete. It was in
these records that the first potentially significant connection was discovered.
no marriage record for John and Bridget could be found, a marriage record was
found for a John Kearney and an Anne McClory dated 1843. Based upon the
Foundation’s experience, they felt that it was most likely the marriage record
for the sister of John McClory. At that time, according to the Foundation, the
name Nancy was always used as a nickname for the formal name of Anne. It was
sometime later that the name Nancy evolved into a formal name in and of itself.
marriage record indicated that both Anne McClory and John Kearney were from a
town named Anaghlone (old English for the modern day Annaclone).
this point, a second potential connection followed relatively quickly. The next
day the Foundation found a birth record in the Annaclone parish dated March 6,
1846 indicating that a son Bernard had been born to John Kearney and Anne
McClory. This was followed by more than a week of continuous searches which
failed to turn up anything.
reasonably establish that Annaclone was John and Bridget’s likely place of
origin in County Down, more direct evidence was needed. With five days remaining
before our departure to Ireland, my last hope was to try and find a distant
relative from the Illinois branch who may have some additional information.
After leaving a telephone message in Chicago for Robert McClory, we first talked
three days later. Robert and his wife had visited County Down the prior year and
had spent some time driving around looking for McClory's without be able to find
any. Robert said that he had received some family history information originally
in the possession of another relative, Mary Henneberry, who had died in 1992.
That day, Robert faxed a copy of the 1970’s history written by Mary Henneberry.
To my complete astonishment, this history indicated that:
husband’s name was John.
first child was a son named Bernard.
McClory was the first of seven children, and Nancy (“Anne”) was the fifth
child. (This was important. If John married about 1837 at the age of about 25,
it is reasonable that a younger sister Nancy would have married about 1843.)
This provided reasonable confirmation that the marriage and birth records found in Ireland were, in fact, those of John McClory’s younger sister Nancy.
the 1970’s history provided some vague information which could potentially
indicate John and Bridget’s place of origin. The history states that Bridget
Dewey’s sister Molly was born in 1813 and…
“Married at about age 40 to Charlie Peterson in Ireland and lived about 20 miles from Belfast, near Kate MacKay’s Bridge and Belle Shote (?) and Belle Negrehin (?)”
question marks in the text of the history obviously indicate that whoever
originally wrote the names of these places had no idea how to spell them.
studying a map of Ireland, I was suddenly startled to notice a small village
named Katesbridge. It was located right next to Annaclone. The River Bann
divided the two small towns.
intriguing development quickly followed. The names of the old Irish townlands
are rarely used any longer, and do not appear on modern maps. Many of the
ancient townlands contain the word “bally” within the overall name. The
names “Belle Shote and “Belle Negrehin” contained in the family history
would likely be the names of old townlands located somewhere near the major
local landmark for that area, Kate MacKay’s Bridge. I then remembered that The
Ulster Historical Foundation had earlier faxed a small old historical map of the
Annaclone parish. It so happened that the map also showed most of the old
townlands in the parish. Two of the townlands within Annaclone, and in close
proximity to each other, were named Ballyshiel and Ballynafern. Ballyshiel was
also immediately along the border with the adjacent village of Katesbridge.
left for Ireland two days later.
a rainy Saturday morning, May 29, 1999, possibly the first descendents of John
and Bridget in 162 years returned to Annaclone just as a special Saturday mass
was starting at the beautiful little parish church. Betty (McClory) Kearney met
her first Irish McClory descendent, Kathleen Farrell (whose mother was a
McClory), during the mass celebrated that morning by the Annaclone parish’s
priest, Father Frank Kearney.
right. We had journeyed to Annaclone with the former Betty McClory and her
husband John Kearney based upon a marriage record indicating that an Anne
McClory had married a John Kearney there in 1843, and immediately upon arrival
at our first stop at the Annaclone church, we meet a McClory descendent at a
mass said by Father Kearney. Either Irish eyes were smiling, or some local
fairies were up to some mischief, or the spirits of our McClory ancestors were
happy to see us.
mass we had a long and splendid conversation with Kathleen Farrell and Father
Kearney. Although Kathleen was a grandmother many times over and had lived here
all her life, neither one knew if Katesbridge and Kate MacKay’s Bridge were
one and the same. At this point, we were extremely anxious to answer this
question as it would then definitely link our written family histories to this
place. They politely suggested that we might look up a 75 year-old man living
near Katesbridge named John Hugh McGinnis who would know about local history. We
politely thanked them, but had little intention of bothering anyone.
the spirits of our McClory ancestors refused to remain still. As we drove away
from the church an annoying rattling sound could be heard on the car roof. We
drove a mile to an intersection and pulled over to find that the roof antenna
had mysteriously come loose from its clip. Before we could drive off a very old
man seemed to come from nowhere and was hurrying towards the car. Dressed in an
old heavy wool suit with wool cap and tie, he asked for a lift down the road. I
looked at the four of us in our compact car, looked at him, and told him to
“jump in”. Before he could, out of thin air, a mile from the church we left
not minutes before, Father Kearney walked up behind the very old looking man.
“This is who I told you about. This is John McGinnis.” said Father Kearney.
I immediately asked John if Katesbridge and Kate MacKay’s Bridge were one and
the same. The question had startled him. After a moment of searching thought, he
answered “the old story goes that Katie MacKay lived in a cottage next to the
bridge and made tea every day for the workers who built it”. Needless to say,
this was confirmation enough for us. At that moment, we knew we had returned.
of the local sources who we later talked to thought that the names “Belle
Shote” and “Belle Negrehin” contained in the 1970’s history must refer
to Ballyshiel and Ballynafern. They could not see any other logical explanation.
There were no other places with similar names anywhere near Kate MacKay’s
Bridge or in the entire area.
It is also interesting to note that Bridget’s sister Molly would have married about 1853, which was about 16 years after Bridget left for America. Obviously, Bridget received communications from or about her sister for many years after she left Ireland. There is no indication that Bridget could read or write. It is somewhat remarkable for the names of these places to have even survived for so long after 1837. They probably were not written down for the first time until the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. For John or Bridget to have such knowledge of the area around Kate MacKay’s Bridge so many decades after leaving County Down may be a further indication that this is where they likely originated.
summary, no records with respect to John or Bridget have yet been found in
County Down. However, a marriage and birth record found in Ireland with respect
to John’s younger sister both indicate that she was from Annaclone, and
completely separate information from family sources in the U.S. indicate that a
sister of Bridget married and lived in or very close to Annaclone as well.
is the basic information that led six of us on our journey to Annaclone. For
those of us who made the trip, studied the research results, talked to the local
residents, and spent hours in cemeteries reading McClory gravestones, there is
reasonable certainty on our part that Annaclone is where John and Bridget
originated. At the very least, this
summary may provide the background information that may inspire other McClory
family researchers on both sides of the Atlantic to continue to move the
the parish of Annaclone, two miles south of the townland of Ballynafern, is the
small townland of Imdel. It was in Imdel that Eleanor (“Alice”) McClory’s
first of ten children was born on March 17, 1777. Alice had married Hugh Brunty
the previous year. In 1802, their first born, Patrick, would leave his humble
origins in County Down far behind to enter St. John’s College in Cambridge,
by ambition, Patrick changed his name to the more impressive sounding Bronte. He
was ordained as a clergyman and became a published author of poetry and fiction.
Three of his six children, Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte, would go on to
write some of the world’s greatest literature and poetry, including the
classics Wuthering Heights and Jane
and Bridget McClory married in County Down in or close to 1837. Also in County
Down, and also in 1837, Larry Boise (or Boyce?) would marry Mary Morgan. The
Boise’s would go on to have four children and would be living in Ohio when
Mary Boise died after being stepped on by a cow. According to the family
histories, their daughter Lizzie, born in 1857, would go to live with John and
Bridget’s family, also living in Ohio at that time. Lizzie would later live
with the McClory's in Illinois as well, possibly moving there with them in 1864.
In 1877, she would marry one of the seven McClory sons, and would become the
mother of Leo McClory.
as Patrick (McClory) Brunty would leave County Down in 1802, and John and
Bridget McClory would leave in 1837, and Lizzie (Boise) McClory’s parents
leave in or after 1837, many other McClory's would leave their ancestral homeland
as part of a mass migration over a relatively short period.
has been written about this migration in general. Sometimes the reasons for
emigrating appear obvious. John’s sister Nancy McClory married John Kearney in
1843, the first of the several great potato crop failures occurred in 1845,
their first child was born in 1846, and sometime after that Nancy’s family
arrived in Pittsburgh where John’s family was living. Sometimes the reasons
appear less obvious. The following are a few points which may shed some light on
the particular situation of the McClory's of central County Down prior to the
October of 1834 and January of 1837, the very last years that John and Bridget
lived in County Down, England’s Royal Engineers happened to have undertaken
detailed ordinance surveys of the parish of Annaclone. These surveys provide an
exceptionally unique insight into life in Annaclone at that time, as well as
possible clues to the McClory migration. According to the surveys of 1834 and
There are neither towns nor villages in this parish (Annaclone)…”
Buildings…The only building of any note in the parish is the Established
(Protestant) Church, situated in…Ardbrin…The Roman Catholic Chapel…in…Tullintanvally…In
the same townland…is the Seceding (Presbyterian) meeting house…The
Presbyterian meeting house in Ballynanny…”
are no resident gentlemen…but there are a few most comfortable
farmhouses…Mr. Brown’s…Mr. McKibbin’s…and Mr. William Hillis’s…are
each 2-storeys high, which is rather an uncommon thing in this part of the
comprises 12 townlands, containing an area of 6,544 and a quarter acres. With
the exception of about 196 acres of exhausted turf bogs scattered over the
parish, it is all under tillage so it cannot be said to be in a good state of
cultivation. The chief and best manure, lime, lies at such a distance, namely…
12 miles, that its great expense retards cultivation and improvement.” (The
Royal Engineers emphasize this point by presenting detailed calculations with
respect to the unprofitable economics to move lime to Annaclone.)
There are very few bogs in this parish and any that remain are mostly exhausted.
The largest is Monteith bog…which together with a small lake in the centre
covers about 60 acres…McClory’s bog in the townland of Tullintanvally covers
about 12 acres…It is exhausted, the greater portion converted into pasture and
of the People… The cottages are generally of stone and thatched, with 3 and 4
rooms on the ground floor. Food: potatoes, meal, milk and sometimes bacon. The
fuel is turf mostly, got in the Lacken bog in the adjoining parish of
The farms vary in size: very few exceed 30 or 40 acres, the greater number not
exceeding 8 or 10 acres and many not more than 3 or 4. It may be said about half
of the parish is let on old leasses at from 2 to 10 shillings per acre, and the
remainder tenants at will, averaging from 30 to 50 shillings per acre, for the
most part held directly from the landlord and paid wholly in money…”
and Crops…Rotation of crops is first potatoes, next oats, barley. The soil is
rather light for the production of good wheat…”
with their agricultural employments …hand-spinning was the chief employment of
the women; but since the introduction of mill-spun yarn, it has become
are 8 mills in this parish…5 for preparing flax and 3 for grinding corn…With
the exception of the flax mill…(which is) on the River Bann, the streams which
turn the above (mills) have their source in or near the parish and are mostly
dry in the summer…The linen trade is not much followed here…Russell…(is)
the only manufacturer…”
to these surveys, about half of the 3,426 residents of the parish were
Protestant and half Catholic. There were 473 children in three open schools and
four smaller private schools, of which about 43% were female. Of the 323
students in the open schools, a quarter were Catholic. From these published
numbers it appears that out of a population of about 1,700 Catholic residents in
the Annaclone parish, only about 110 Catholic children were in the schools.
on these surveys, the particular circumstances that existed in Annaclone in the
mid-1830’s certainly seem compelling if not perhaps overwhelming. It is also
important to consider that the British at this time held little sympathy or
regard for the Irish. It is probably fair to assume that the British bureaucrats
who undertook the surveys likely understated the circumstances which existed for
the Catholics of Annaclone.
these surveys, it is evident that agriculture was the primary means of
subsistence. However, all existing land was under cultivation. As no new land
was available for farming, the existing farm land required replenishment, but it
was completely uneconomical to move lime from its nearest source 12 miles away.
all farmers leased their lands from large landholders. It appears that as the
old leases expired, rents may have been jumping from 2 to 10 shillings per acre
to 30 to 40 shillings per acre. According to the 1930’s family history, John
was “a plow-man in Ireland (who) introduced lines, rope and then leather”.
John was also about 25 years old in 1837 and had either five or six younger
siblings. His parents, Tom and Mary, if they had their own farm, would have
likely leased between three and ten acres. This would hardly have been large
enough to support all five of their surviving children as they were now at or
approaching the age of starting their own families.
being the oldest, may have even been under some pressure to find alternative
income to help support his parents and his younger siblings. More likely, he and
Bridget wanted to marry and start a family but there was no room in his family
home for a wife. His only option to marry Bridget may have been to start a new
life elsewhere. Hence, the longstanding family accounts that they left Ireland
on their wedding day.
their farming duties, the primary employment for women was hand-spinning. But
this had become “altogether unprofitable” with the introduction of mill-spun
yarn. According to the families histories, “Bridget sewed by hand for a tailor
in Pittsburgh”, and “In Ohio the women had wool pickings and apparently
prepared the wool for spinning. The women made all the clothes for the
family”. Also, Bridget’s father was “a farm-hand or a plow-man” in
Ireland, “who worked for the neighbors by the day”. Bridget “worked for a
rich man before she married”. Even though Bridget was clearly skilled at
hand-spinning, she was not spinning at the time she married John, but was
instead working for a rich man. Perhaps this was because spinning had become
unprofitable, and Bridget was then forced to find employment in another area,
possibly an area that had traditionally provided lower income.
source of fuel was mostly turf. However, the bogs in the Annaclone parish were
exhausted, including the 12-acre McClory’s bog. Most fuel had to be
transported from the adjoining parish.
there was little opportunity for education, particularly if you were Roman
some of these factors set forth in the Royal Engineers’ surveys played a role
in John and Bridget’s decision to leave Annaclone, perhaps not. It is
interesting, however, to consider these factors in light of what we know of John
and Bridget from the family histories. They certainly appear to be consistent
John and Bridget left Annaclone, they each left behind parents and siblings.
What became of our Irish ancestors, and whether any distant McClory relatives
can be traced in Ireland today have long been compelling questions. At this
point, some of the answers can be provided.
1930’s and the 1970’s histories by Mary Henneberry answered many of the
questions. Bridget’s had one sister who did not marry until about age forty,
and no mention was ever made that she had children. Her mother’s name was
Clark. There is some uncertainty as to whether her name was actually Dewey. Her
mother died young. Her father Peter lived as a bachelor for about 70 years and
died at about age 100. Bridget’s only sibling appears not to have continued a
family line. As a result, research would have to start with finding any siblings
of Bridget’s parents, who were probably born about 1790. This would obviously
be difficult and the chances for success slim.
had six siblings, two of which died young. His sister Nancy followed him to
Pittsburgh. A brother Henry came to Virginia, went west in 1854 and disappeared.
A brother Thomas moved to Liverpool, England where he owned seven pubs and had
four children. The final sibling, a brother Patrick, married Bridget Ward and
apparently had three sons – Pat, Ed and John Henry (presuming that the name
John Henry refers to one person and not two).
brother Patrick appears to be the only possible sibling who may have remained in
Ireland. As we knew the names of Patrick’s children, and given that Patrick
should have lived to about 1880, and his children to the early 1900’s, a
concerted effort was made to find a link. The Ulster Historical Foundation had
provided a long list of McClory gravestone inscriptions recorded from the two
registered Catholic cemeteries in the Annaclone parish. We visited and checked
every marker in these cemeteries plus an older, unregistered cemetery which
local residents directed us to at the corner of Churchill and Bluehill Roads
near the townland of Ballyshiel (which contained only one legible McClory
marker, which dated from the 1700’s). Over several days, we met with one
McClory and two McClory descendents, all from one large extended McClory family
in Annaclone. Although the meetings were one of the great highlights of the
trip, and the family resemblance’s notable, no definite connection could be
McClory’s parents were Thomas McClory and Mary Morgan who were probably born
about 1785. There is no information as to the names of their parents or of any
siblings they may have had. No grave markers could be found for them. They
probably died between 1840 and 1870. Although there were several grave markers
going back to these dates and earlier, there certainly was not an abundance.
Many markers were also broken or so worn as to be completely illegible.
McClory and McClory descendents we met in Annaclone were wonderful, friendly
people. They were quite amazed that we had information on McClory's going back to
the 1780’s. They were also keenly interested to hear stories of the exploits
of McClory's who went to America. As to the Irish side of the McClory family,
they were not aware of any recorded histories and they had little information on
their family genealogies beyond their grandparents. Although we had information
on Patrick’s children who would have lived to the early 1900’s and who would
have started having their own children about 1870, they did not have, and were
not aware of, written information going back that far.
two registered Catholic cemeteries in Annaclone seemed filled with McClory
family grave plots, many these plots containing close to a dozen names. One of
the reasons we had come to Annaclone was in the hope of finding a connection to
distant McClory relatives in Ireland. We were expecting that our major
difficulty would be in finding enough information on McClory's. To the contrary,
the abundance of McClory information presented the real difficulty.
outside of the cemeteries, this no longer is the case today. The current number
of McClory's or McClory descendents remaining in Annaclone appears to be declining
quickly. According to Father Kearney of the Annaclone parish, there are only
three remaining families with the McClory name in the parish. Ireland is rapidly
becoming more modern and mobile. As has happened in America, children leave the
farms seeking opportunities in the cities. The parents remaining on the farms
pass on. To survive, the farms slowly get bigger and more mechanized, reducing
both the amount of labor and the number of farms.
conclusion, the best opportunity to establish a link to distant Irish relatives
was clearly through John’s brother Patrick. However, we have not yet been
successful in finding one. The real possibility also exists that Patrick left
the Annaclone area, or may have left Ireland.
1930’s and 1970’s family histories state that while John and Bridget lived
in Pittsburgh between 1838 and about 1851, many distant Irish cousins came to
Pittsburgh to visit cousins. The probable case is that we are somehow distantly
related to some, if not all, of the remaining McClory's of Annaclone, but most
likely at the level of John’s parents, Tom and Mary McClory, and the several
generations before them going back prior
to the mid-1700’s.
McClory of Oldsmar, Florida, a grandson of Leo, has set up a McClory Family
website at [http://www.mcclory.com/].
It includes links to other McClory websites where several family pictures and
memorabilia can be found. A copy of this report will
be posted there, with plans to also post some or all of the prior family
histories. Copies of this report will also be sent to our new McClory descendent
friends in Annaclone, including copies to Father Frank Kearney at the Annaclone parish for distribution to the three remaining McClory families in the Annaclone
parish. Hopefully, a wide distribution on both sides of the Atlantic may result
in the uncovering of new information or the encouragement of continued research.
I can be contacted in the Seattle area at (425) 313-7652; or by e-mail at [email@example.com,];
or by mail at 2216 – 271st Court S.E., Sammamish, WA 98075.
It has been many months since we visited Annaclone. Research can go on forever and become all consuming. My wonderful wife Janet was convinced months ago that this had already become the case. As usual, she is probably right. At some point, it is also important to stop to summarize and share the findings to date. Future findings can always be appended later.
Whether in America or Ireland, there may now or in the future be a McClory descendent inspired to continue researching (and hopefully correct any mistakes or undo any damage created by this self-anointed researcher, for which I hereby apologize in advance). Since hindsight is often twenty-twenty, it is easy at this point to have additional thoughts, after thoughts, and after-after thoughts. In the event that they could be of help to a future McClory family researcher, they are summarized below.
Diane Garcia of the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic
Site stated that she saw lists, by various transportation companies, of
passengers who traveled on the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal. The lists are at
the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg. How complete or reliable the
lists are is unknown. If John and Bridget’s names are listed, their arrival
date in the U.S. could be determined more precisely.
I am not familiar with the naturalization process. I would guess
John and Bridget would have been naturalized in Pittsburgh (they probably had to
be citizens to vote, and the family histories tell a great story about their
voting against Lincoln in 1864). These records are probably readily available at
the county or federal level, and may contain key dates or places of origin in
Nancy (McClory) Kearney appears to have made her home in
Pittsburgh. One of her daughters did, and it also appears that her son Bernard
did as well. Should a record of death for Bernard Kearney be maintained by
Allegheny County and show a date of birth as March 6, 1846, this would beyond
any doubt confirm that the marriage and birth records found in Annaclone relate
to John McClory’s sister.
Bridget’s sister Molly appears to have married Charlie Peterson
about 1853. No search for a marriage record was done. Such a record would not
only indicate the correct spelling of Bridget and Molly’s last name, but would
show where Molly was from (and hence Bridget).
Likewise, no searches were undertaken for a marriage record for
John’s brother Patrick to Bridget Ward, or for the birth records for
Patrick’s three or four sons, or for the death records of all of the above
including John’s parents, Tom and Mary McClory. Such records would contain
valuable information, and could possibly lead to connecting Patrick’s sons to
today’s McClory's in County Down.
Finally, its worth noting that the name Mary Morgan appears in the family genealogy twice with respect to County Down. A Mary Morgan was the mother of John McClory, and a Mary Morgan was the County Down-born mother of Lizzie Boise. My summary of Lizzie Boise in this document certainly implies the question of whether the McClory's and Boise's knew each other in County Down. Perhaps the McClory's, Boise's and Morgan's were all close families in County Down.