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My original knowledge only took me back to Thomas, my great-grandfather. My grandfather, Charles, had suffered several strokes, and his memory was bad. However, from him and his papers, I went back one more generation to his grandfather, Stephen, whom he remembered as living at Woodlawn, Co Galway. I was able then to get the parish records from Galway.
Further, my great aunt Ethel (my grandfather's sister), then living in a nursing home in Dublin, gave some more leads - she remembered going to a place called Barna, near Templemore, to visit relatives. But by now touch had been completely lost with all my great-grandfather's (Thomas') brothers and sisters and their descendants.
I wrote to the Church of Ireland clergyman at Templemore, who had heard of Grants living further North. There is a Barna near Roscrea, and the clergyman at Roscrea put me in touch with John Henry Grant of Barna. It took him several months to reply, and through him I was able to trace a William, Stephen and Mary all living in the same area. Parish records confirmed that they were all descended from Thomas (a brother of Stephen b.1811). I was later able to almost completely fill in this branch of the family tree.
Then Mrs Whitford of Aghancon (whose mother was a Grant) and Miss Louise Primrose (matron of the Ulster Hospital), plus church records, gave a fairly full picture of another of Stephen's (b1811) brothers, William.
By now I had filled in the main details of the family tree as far back as about 1800, certainly as regards the Grants of Tipperary and Offaly who stayed in Ireland and their descendants. There were one or two dead ends as I combed for clues. For example a Daniel Grant, owner of Grants Castle hotel in Cashel, was contacted as he was living in the right place. However he was a Catholic from Kilkenny.
According to my grandfather there was a connection with Molly Cooke, who was involved in a spicy divorce case with Lord Francis Russell in 1915. I got bogged down in this one, Molly and John Cooke, he said were first cousins of his father Thomas. Marion Cooke (married 1st John Watson, 2nd G J Somerville, 3rd Lord Francis Russell). She was a daughter of George Cooke. Now the difficulty was finding any connection with George Cooke, bookmaker of Ballinasloe, father of Molly and John Cooke (John Cooke, b1851 in Ballinasloe, BA at TCD in 1882). I never found any connection with them.
Then an American connection opened by chance. Howard McNeil from Fort Worth, Texas, wrote to my father, whose name he had been given by the vicar of Shinrone, whom Howard had contacted. By chance I happened to be passing through Fort Worth on business within a few weeks of this, and I called to see him. This gave a whole new raft of information about another brother of my great-great-grandfather Stephen (b.1811), called John. John had gone to work in Bywell, Northumberland about 1865. Two of his sons, William (b.1868) and John (b.1866) went to the USA in about 1890 to seek a new life. The Grant name has continued through John's descendants only. Interestingly he choose not to tell anybody he was Irish, claiming instead to be Scots. Hence the family had still believed that the family had come from Scotland until they tied into the Irish information.
In Australia, in 1988, I was looking for clues on the fate of Thomas's two brothers who are believed to have gone there. I found information of an earlier generation who was transported to Australia in 1810. And this story has been added to the chronicle. I have now also discovered that Thomas' two brothers founded families there, Richard died in 1894, but James survived till 1948
The consensus of family lore was that our family came from an area a few miles west of Thurles. And indeed there is a Grant family still there today. The records are not very complete, but by digging deep one can put the story together.
It was then a question of going to every possible library, both in Ireland and in England. I have now a data base of every reference to a Grant that I have found. They are extensively recorded in many places from the Calendars of State Papers in the Middle Ages, through their loss of land by Cromwell, through to various parish and marriage records. When you put it all together, we discover that they were Fitzgeralds, who came to Ireland. Were briefly Barons of Iverk, and had to sell the title. They continued to live in the same estate in Kilkenny until the Cromwellian confiscations - but remembered their roots as a James Grant, who fled to France, was rewarded with the title of Baron Iverk by Bonnie Prince Charlie. They never got their confiscated land back, but moved to Tipperary. Where we find them living at Moyaliffe, near Thurles prior to their move to Shinrone.
I continue to update the records as more information becomes available.
From Corluddy Castle, Kilkenny to Woodlawn Gate Lodge, Galway
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