Monday, January 28, 2008

Locations of my (Scots) Irish Ancestors

I've been lucky enough to know the exact location where my SAYERS family originated in Ireland before they emigrated to Canada in the 1830s. Letterkenny is the largest town in County Donegal, in the province of Ulster, Ireland, and apparently was the home of many Ulster Scots. I've mentioned before that I really haven't done much Irish research on my family, mainly because they lived in Ireland during a period of time for which it is difficult to access records, if they still exist. Many of the records that were kept when the SAYERS lived in Letterkenny were later destroyed, or are only accessed onsite.

I enjoyed reading through Wikipedia's descriptions of the place names I mentioned above. I also did a Google image search for Letterkenny, Donegal and Ulster, and by clicking on these links, you should be able to see some beautiful images as well.

When the SAYERS family came to Canada in the mid-1830s (the family immigrated in several stages over the course of about five years), they settled in Prince Edward County (not to be confused with Prince Edward Island), Ontario, particularly Picton and Athol Township. Some of the siblings and cousins moved into Hungerford Township in Hastings County, while my direct line traveled further to Cavan Township in Durham County and Port Hope in Northumberland County. I'm still studying the rather complicated histories of the locations and residences in which this family lived, backtracking bit by bit over time. As more and more information is available online (I haven't been able to find many resources for these areas at my local library), I've been able to educate myself further. There's much more to learn, and I've been keeping myself occupied with researching these lines after they came to Michigan.

I'd love to have the opportunities to visit all these locations and see the places where my Irish immigrant ancestors lived, worked, and worshiped. Until then, I'll be satisfied in being an armchair traveler using the amazing technology of the Internet!


Colleen said...

Funny how names pop up. My neighbors three houses down from our old house in Niagara Falls were Sayers.

I suppose it's all coincidence. I'm sure you'll determine no relation. Then I'll just call you a nay-Sayer.

Sorry. It's Monday is the best excuse I can come up with for THAT.

Miriam Robbins said...

(Shakes head sadly) Colleen, Colleen, Colleen...whatever am I going to do with you? Between you and Thomas, I don't ever know whether to groan or to collapse in laughter!

Unknown said...

Miriam, I read with interest your recent blog on your Scots/Irish ancestry in Letterkenny. My family are from Donegal (I now live in St Albans, England, but was born in the neighbouring county and view Donegal as my home from home). You are right, many of the genealogical records were destroyed, in the Civil War in Dublin, 1921. However, most churches should still retain the Parish Register showing births, marriages and deaths over many years, sometimes centuries. If you know the church to which your ancestors were linked, that would help – you could write there directly. Also, most churches have a website. On the question of onsite research, clearly difficult from North America, I do know of a group of people who can do "proxy" research on your behalf. Let’s have a look... OK, here are a few sites which will be of value to you:
Church records in Ireland - may be useful for remote research:
Irish National Archives:
Donegal – excellent website on the county: Donegal Genealogy & services: This Genealogy section, offers among other things, the research services I mentioned. Letterkenny is a very historic place and the gateway to the beautiful scenery of the county. From near here the last of the Irish native aristocrcy fled in the 17th century - the Flight of the Earls - and Lough Swilly, on which Letterkenny is built, was a British Royal Navy deepwater port in World War one and is still home to many famous shipwrecks. Good luck with your search ! John Bradley -

Barbara said...

Hi Miriam,
Nice to see you again.iI'am doing another carnival edition.
I have to give you credit; that's a long genealogy trail, from the Old county, to Canada and finally, to the States.
Very pretty photos of your ancetral areas.

Best of luck to you.

Miriam Robbins said...

John, I apologize for taking so long to respond to your comment. Thank you for the time you took to leave all these wonderful links! My Sayers ancestors were Protestant, and many of their church records in Letterkenny didn't begin until 1845...about 10 years after my family left for Ontario. While I'm certainly not giving up the idea of pursuing my Irish--and ultimately, my Scots--roots, I realized quite a while ago that I need to invest a lot of time in researching resources on this side of the ocean, first!

Thanks so much for dropping by!

Miriam Robbins said...

Hi, Barbara, thank you for dropping by. I enjoyed your post for the carnival, too, and was reminded that, like you, I was also going to post about my favorite fictional Irish location. Guess I'll save that for the next carnival!