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I have a record about my paternal ancestors written by my grandfather stating the ancestors of my paternal grandmother, Lillian Mary Anne Gibson. He says that my grandmother’s ancestors (Gibsons, Majors and Bairds) left Scotland to settle in Northern Ireland after King James VI in Scotland. He says they settled in Valhalla, Ireland.

I have not been able to locate Valhalla, does anyone know where it was or if it actually existed? 

My ggg grandfather, John Gibson was born in Youghall, County Cork in 1780. My other ggg grandfather, William Major, was born in Armagh, Ulster in 1803


Thursday 22nd Sep 2022, 09:20PM

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  • Hilts,

    I can’t identify anywhere named Valhalla in Ireland. Irish names can be difficult to interpret and were often mistranscribed overseas.  There’s only one townland in Ireland that begins “Val”. That’s Valleymount in Co Wicklow. Don’t think that fits your information. So Valhalla seems significantly awry from whatever it was in Ireland. Can’t suggest what it might be.

    The information that your ancestors came from Scotland in the 1600s generally points to them settling in the counties of Ulster. Some 200,000 Scots came to Ireland then (about 20% of the entire Scottish population).  But some did settle outside Ulster in cities like Dublin, Cork & Galway so it’s not a universal rule. They were often Presbyterian which can be an indicator as to their origins.

    None of the names you have mentioned (Major, Gibson & Baird) are native Irish names so that tends to point to them all having moved to Ireland from Scotland or England, probably in the 1600s, or later.

    Researching in Ireland in the 1700s is very hard going due to the general lack of records. If you don’t know where they lived it’s a needle in a haystack. Ideally you need to know the person’s exact denomination and the townland or parish they lived in to have any chance of finding them, and even then there may not be any records for that location.

    Possibly DNA testing may be a way of matching with others who have additional information about where the family originate. Family Tree DNA reportedly has more people with Ulster roots than any other company. That obviously increases the chances of finding a match. You might want to try them or, if you have already tested, you can transfer your results to them for no fee.

    The North of Ireland Family History Society is running an Ulster DNA project in conjunction with FTDNA and can offer testing kits at a reduced price. (Go to DNA project on the website).

    Griffiths Valuation for Armagh c 1860 has 8 Major households in the county. The website shows the relevant parishes. You might want to research church records there. (The records may not be on-line, and a visit to PRONI in Belfast may be necessary).

    The 1901 census of Armagh has 41 people named Major in the county. 6 were RC, the rest Church of Ireland (Anglican). So you might want to focus on COI church records in Armagh. The records are in PRONI. A few are also on-line on the rootsireland site.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 22nd Sep 2022, 09:54PM
  • Much thanks, Elwyn! Lots of great leads to continue my research. I have DNA tests with Ancestry and MyHeritage, will look into transferring to widen possibilities. Thank you so much for your swift response! 



    Friday 23rd Sep 2022, 12:50PM
  • Hi Jill

    I might add to that "Val" can also be a variation of "Bally~" depending on the dialect of Irish (Gaelic) particularly in the Munster dialect (Cork and environs). For example "An Bhaile Thall" (on-val-hall) appears in Co Tipperary as Ballyhall aka Glebe View. "Baile an Halaigh" turns up as Ballyhall in Co. Kilkenny. That said, I'd agree with Elwyn that you're best starting point would be somewhere in Ulster. 

    Valhalla may also be the given name of a house or lodge (within a demesne) rather than an actual placename. You might try a search in the British News Archive for "Baird Valhalla" etc. to see if it turns up as an address in the news in some way connected to any of the surnames you mention. 

    Hope this helps!

    Rua, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘︎

    Saturday 24th Sep 2022, 05:17AM
  • Jill,

    Could he have meant the "Home of the Slain". Apparently they were dead?



    Saturday 24th Sep 2022, 08:40AM
  • Thank you, Rua. He wrote (his handwriting was very clear) that they settled in the Valhalla, Ireland area. My sense is he was referring to a location. That said, I also understand ancestor’s recollection changes over the generations. I really appreciate your input, thank you!



    Sunday 25th Sep 2022, 06:32AM
  • McCoy - I apologize as I do not understand your post. Would you please further elaborate? 


    Sunday 25th Sep 2022, 06:34AM
  • Hilts,

    VALHALLA - from Norse Mythology -  1. The Great Hall where victims slain in battle are brought

    2.  A place of Honour, Glory or Happiness - HEAVEN

    Just another view.



    Sunday 25th Sep 2022, 07:18AM
  • Thank you, McCoy!


    Monday 26th Sep 2022, 06:08AM

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