Looking for Thomas Barry in Kilkenny, Ireland before 1840

We know that Thomas Barry and his wife Mary Aide lived in Moanroe Commons, Knocktopher, Kilkenny when their son, Edward, was baptized at Ballyhale Catholic church in February 1840, and when their daughter, Mary was baptized in May 1843. Also Thomas Barry is listed in the 1845 House Book for Moanroe Commons, however, he is not listed in the 1848 House Book nor in Griffiths Valuation in 1850.  In 1855 New York State Census Thomas, wife Mary, and children, Edward and Mary, are listed in Evans, Erie County, New York, and it indicates that they have lived in the same location for 5 years.  The 1875 New York State Census lists that Thomas Barry died 25 March of that year at age 63 or 65, and that Mary Barry died 12 September 1874 at age 65 (see earlier blog post).

Where was Thomas prior to 1840?  Ballyhale Catholic church baptismal records prior to 1823 and all early marriage records have not survived.  It is not known when or where Thomas or Mary Aide were baptized or when or where they married.

A DNA Match Connection

I have a DNA match to a Barry family that lived in Sugarstown, Kilfane, Kilkenny, which is 12 km (7.5 mi) from Moanroe Commons.  Sugarstown is in the Thomastown Catholic parish, where many older baptism and marriage records have survived.  There is a baptism of a Thomas Barry, son of J Barry and Ellen Shea, on 19 Nov 1812.  That year would fit for my Thomas Barry’s birth based on the age given in his death record.  Could this be my 2nd great grandfather?  

Thomas Barry’s 1812 baptism lists James Comerford as one of his sponsors.  Looking at the tree from my Barry DNA match James Comerford was a witness at the wedding of his 3rd great aunt, Mary Barry, also at Thomastown Catholic church.  Is there a connection between this Thomas Barry’s family and my DNA match’s family?

John Barry and Ellen Shea had four other children: Alexander (born 1807), Paul (1810), Margaret (1815), and Judith (1818). For Alexander’s and Judith’s baptisms the residence is given as Oldtown.  No residence is given for Thomas’s, Paul’s or Margaret’s. There are four Oldtown in Kilkenny, however, the Oldtown in civil parish Jerpointchurch is the only one that has Thomastown Catholic church.  It is 3.5 km (2 mi) between Moanroe Commons and Jerpointchurch.  Oldtown is not on a modern map. 

Alexander and Paul are both unusual names in Ireland, which made it easy to find other records for them.1 John Barry is listed in Tithe Applotment with 7 acres in Oldtown, Jerpointchurch in 1833.  As would be expected Alexander, the oldest son, inherited that land and is in the 1850 Griffith Valuation in Oldtown, Jerpointchurch.  It was pretty easy to find Alexander’s marriage and their children and then his death in the civil records.  Paul never married and worked as a porter at the Workhouse in Thomastown.  There were three possible marriages for Margaret and two for Judith, which I’ve not pursued so far.  Figure 1 shows the family tree I built for Alexander down to living people, whose names are blocked off.  

Figure 1. Alexander Barry’s family tree.

Alexander’s grandson, Richard, immigrated to the US, and I was able to find several trees for Richard on Ancestry.  I sent messages to all the tree owners and was surprised to receive replies within a week.  One of them gave me the name of a potential 4th cousin, who was his DNA match.  She does not match me, but there’s only a 45% chance that a 4th cousin would match.  I sent her a message, but I’ve not received a reply.   There are several other descendants who could be DNA matches, and I need to follow up with them.

Can I Prove my Hypothesis?

That got me thinking of other Thomas Barrys in that part of Kilkenny.  Another way to prove a hypothesis is to show that none of the other Thomas Barrys could possibly be the one baptized in 1812 in Thomastown.  Starting with civil parishes connected to Thomastown Catholic parish I looked at Griffiths Valuation for these areas.  

There is a Thomas Barry (Thomas #1) in Stoneen, Kilfane in Griffiths Valuation in 1850, see figure 2.  Stoneen is 7 km (about 4 miles) from Moanroe Commons.  There is also an Andrew Barry listed here, but I don’t know who he is.  Could he be Thomas #1’s brother?

Figure 2. Griffiths Valuation for Stoneen, Kilfane, Kilkenny.

Looking for Thomas #1 marriage in Thomastown Catholic parish I found that he married Betty Mulloy 15 Aug 1836.  They had a dispensation for 3rd degree and 4th degree on the marriage record.  Third degree means 2nd cousins, and 4th degree means 3rd cousins.  Likely Thomas’ great grandparents were Betty’s 2nd great grandparents.   Elizabeth Molloy, daughter of Edmund Molloy and Margaret Kealy of Stoneen was baptized 21 Jul 1813 in Thomastown RC.  This is likely the bride in this listing.  I didn’t find a baptism for Thomas #1, which makes me wonder if he’s the Thomas Barry baptized in 1812 in Thomastown. Had he been from some other Catholic parish I’d have expected to see a note on the marriage record about receiving a certificate from another parish that indicated he’d been baptized there.  If he were baptized in 1812 he would about the same age as Betty when they married.

They had 5 children all baptized at Thomastown.  Ellen was baptized 23 Aug 1836, 8 days after the parents wedding.  This was definitely the oddest thing I’ve found in looking at the records!  I double checked the dates on both the marriage and this baptism to make sure I had the correct records. Their other children were Elizabeth (1839), Anastasia (1840), Mary (1842), and Rose (1846), see figure 3.  Following this family I could not find civil death records from Thomas or Elizabeth.  It’s possible they died prior to the 1864 beginning of civil death records.  I also couldn’t find any marriage records for any of the daughters, nor civil death records for any of them.  Either the family all died, perhaps in the famine, or they emigrated from Ireland.  

Figure 3. Thomas #1 family tree.

Next I looked for Andrew Barry, who appeared in the Griffiths Valuation for Stoneen.  Andrew Barry is the son of John Barry and Mary Barron baptized at Thomastown Catholic church in 1814.  The family residence was given as Stoneen.  Other children of this family were Laurence (1818), Thomas #2 (1823), and Margaret (1827).   Thomas #2 cannot be Thomas #1 as he would only be 13 in 1836 when Thomas #1 married.  

Thomas #2 married Ellen Ryan at Tullaherin Catholic church 30 Aug 1854.   Thomas and Ellen’s children were: Patrick (1855), Maryann (1857), Judith (1860), Andrew (1866), Bridget (1867), Margaret (1870), Ellen (1873), and Johanna (1876), see figure 4.  Thomas #2 died 17 Feb 1898, age 75, which agrees with his being born in 1823.  He was a laborer and the informant was Ellen Barry, likely his wife or perhaps his daughter Ellen.

Figure 4. Thomas #2 family tree.

I found an extensive tree for Thomas #2 on Ancestry, and there is a photo of the family tombstone in Kilfane Cemetery.  Bernie and Mary sent me information about this tombstone that was erected by Ellen Ryan Barry in memory of her husband, Thomas.  It also has information about their children: Mary Ann, Johanna, Bridget, Margaret, and Andrew who died young, as well as their daughter Johanna Walsh, her husband Walter and their daughter Anne.

Is Thomas #2 the one on Griffiths Valuation in Stoneen?  As the 4th son in the family his brother Andrew would have inherited the land from his father, so it seems unlikely.  Could Thomas #2 have inherited a farm from his father-in-law?  

There is an Ellen Ryan, daughter of Edmund Ryan and Mary Flannery baptized 1 Feb 1834, who is likely the Ellen Ryan who married Thomas #2.  Edward Ryan is in the Tithe Applotment in Stoneen as well as being in Griffiths Valuation in Stoneen along with Andrew Barry and Thomas Barry, see circled names in figure 2.  This makes it unlikely that he gave his farm to son-in-law Thomas Barry #2.  Also Thomas #2 death record said he was a laborer and not a farmer.  Thomas Barry #2 is not the one in Griffiths Valuations in Stoneen.

At this point I’ve not been able to prove my hypothesis that Thomas Barry baptized at Thomastown in 1812 is my 2nd great grandfather. More research is needed.


I have a DNA match to a Barry family who lived in Sugarstown, Kilfane, Kilkenny, but I don’t know how my Barry family connects to them.  Kilfane is in the Thomastown Catholic parish.  There’s a Thomas Barry baptism there in 1812, which is about when my 2nd great grandfather was born based on his age at death. I have a hypothesis that this Thomas Barry is my 2nd great grandfather.  John Barry and Ellen Shea were the parents of that Thomas and had 4 other children; Alexander, Paul, Margaret and Judith.  Alexander and Paul are unusual names which made it easy to follow Alexander’s family down to a potential 4th cousin.  She had done DNA test, but we did not match. There’s a 55% chance that 4th cousins won’t share any DNA.

Another way to prove my hypothesis would be to show that being my 2nd great grandfather was the only possible solution.   I looked at other Thomas Barrys in the area.  Thomas Barry #1 married Ellen Ryan and had 5 daughters.  I cannot find a baptismal record for him, which makes it possible that he is the 1812 baptism.  However, since he’s listed in Griffiths Valuation in Stoneen, and would not have inherited land if he were John Barry and Ellen Shea’s son Thomas, it suggests that he is not the Thomas Barry baptized in 1812. I cannot find marriages for any of his daughters, nor death records for any of the family.  It seems very likely that they emigrated from Ireland.

Thomas Barry #2 married Ellen Ryan and had eight children.  I was able to find his baptismal record, marriage, baptismal records of his children, his civil death record, and tombstone in Kilfane.  His life is totally documented.

Next I am going to look for Thomas Barry baptismal records in a wider range of Kilkenny.  As well as looking at other DNA matches that triangulate with the Sugarstown Barry family and me.

  1. FIona Fitzsimmions, transcript of online chat, 12 Dec 2020, privately held by Coleman, Grand Marais, MN.

One thought on “Looking for Thomas Barry in Kilkenny, Ireland before 1840

  1. Hi I’m researching my family, Barry’s from Thomastown, my research only goes back as far as the 1850s where my great grandfather Lawrence Barry was a union clerk in the workhouse there, they lived on a farm, I can’t seem to trace back further, but your post interests me as there’s a Lawrence Barry mentioned!!


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