Research at the Rectory in Quin, County Clare

At the rectory in the village of Quin, County Clare, Ireland, Father McInerney and I review the handwritten ledgers kept by the parish priests in the 1800s.  The large book on the right in the photograph begins in 1816, and contains many mentions of my ancestors.  It is open to the page containing the handwritten notation of the baptism of my great-grandfather, John Nestor, in 1824.

The book Father McInerney and I are looking at contains the handwritten notations of most of my father’s immediate family (twin daughters, Ellen and Bridget, were baptized in the adjacent Parish of Tulla, and appear in the records there).  Father McInerney is pointing to the record of my father’s baptism on July 22, 1887, as it was written by the priest who performed the baptism, Father Michael Corry.


Above is a photograph of the actual handwritten notation of the baptism of my father, John McNamara, on July 22, 1887.  The ledger written by Father Corry lists my grandfather’s name, Patrick McNamara, and also my grandmother’s maiden name, Mary Nestor.  The townland where they lived was Maghera.  

I had always wanted to see the actual record as written by the priest because there had been confusion over the exact year my father was born, with some records indicating his year of birth as 1888.  Seeing the priest’s handwritten ledger, which lists page after page of baptisms in chronological order, confirms absolutely that my father had been baptized in 1887.

To view more handwritten records from Ireland, view the Time Line of my father’s family.

The Children In My Father’s Family

Below is a listing of the dates of baptism of the children in my father’s family.  In 19th Century Ireland, the date of baptism is the only real record of when a person was born, especially as birth certificates were generally not issued to Catholics.  All of these dates have been confirmed by the research I conducted in Ireland.

Photographs of most of these records can be viewed on the second page of the Time Line of my father’s family.


Name Date of Baptism
Bridget and Ellen (twins) December 9, 1878
Patrick March 7, 1880
Mary  (“Minnie”) February 5, 1882
Margaret July 29, 1883
Eliza August 9, 1885
John July 22, 1887
Ann April 17, 1889
Michael April 3, 1891
Elizabeth  (“Bessie”) August 24, 1892
Teresa  (“Tessie”) September 28, 1894


This is a photograph of the handwritten notation of the baptism of my grandmother’s father, John Nestor, on May 12, 1824.  The parish priest wrote “The 12 of May was baptised by me at Maghera in the parish of Clooney John son to Darby Nestor and Margaret McGrath his wife.”

As you might imagine, it was a moving experience to handle the actual pages upon which a parish priest in rural Ireland wrote those words more than 175 years ago.


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