Share This:

O'Friel Ancestry

From DNA evidence, it is clear that my ancestors originated from the parish village of Arraheernabin.  My earliest known confirmed ancestor, Edward (born circa 1795), emigrated to the United States around 1815, probably through Philadelphia, to work on the building of the Union and Main Line Canals in Pennsylvania.  DNA has allowed me to determine who his likely relations were, but I would like to back this up with documentatry evidence.  Does anyone have a map of the Friel families living in the area in that time period or could anyone suggest any additional sources of information?  (Note: The DNA tie appears to be with Hugh "Rua" Friel b. 1819 in Araheenabin, Clondavaddog, Fanad, County Donegal and Charles Friel b. 1836 in Clondavaddog, Fanad, County Donegal). With deep apprecation, Paul O'Friel


Thursday 14th March 2019, 08:08PM

Message Board Replies

  • I have traced family back to Clondavaddog, Fanad, Donegal who may be related to your Friel family. I have not been able to make a connection, but on the Baptism Records for the children of my great-great grandparents, they have sponsors with the last name of Friel. I don't know if the Kerr's and/or Gallagher's were related to the Friel's, but it is common that a close relative would be a sponsor.


    My G-G-Grandparents were Charles Kerr/Carr b.~1832 and Grace Gallagher b.~1833.

    Their children's names (and sponsor's listed on Baptism Record) are:

    Daniel (Bridget Friel and Edward McGrenaghan)

    Mary (same as Daniel's)

    Catherine (Hugh Friel and Sarah McConigley)

    John (John Friel and Mary Gallagher)

    Edward (Mary Gallagher and James Kerr)

    Sarah (Dennis McConigley and Mary Kerr)


    Maybe we have a connection?

    Have a great day,

    Howard King


    Saturday 16th March 2019, 01:14AM
  • Hi Paul, welcome to Ireland Reaching Out. 

    That is a fascinating story about your earliest ancestor Edward Friel, who you traced back to the Parish of Araherra near Fanad Head. There are that many people that log into the that have had varied success in finding out an actual location where their ancestor emigrated from so long ago especially when you go back far beyond 200 years. I am afraid when you get back beyond the mid-1800’s the documentary evidence or records become less and less, in this you have been very lucky as DNA has stepped in and branching the gap to bring you back a few more steps while also being helped by local family research from Fanad also. 

    I have come across your O’Friel family tree on ancestry and it is very impressive, it is well detailed and you can clearly see the connection stepped back to Arraherabin. I was born not too far away and would have some local knowledge of the area, I should say also that you are coming up as a DNA match for my father and he was born only about 10 mins walk from there. The local name for the Araheera is pronounced sounding as ARA-hear-ah. It is a beautiful part of the countryside quite close to Fanad Lighthouse. There is a few history articles on this page you should check out, there is one for the lighthouse built back in 1814, the same era when your family would have lived there.

    I see that you are looking for a family map of the Friels families from Arraheera but because it is so far back as records go, I can't see there being any better or more accurate information than what you have up on your family tree already. The information you have added into your tree is local Friel family information researched by Friel families from Fanad. I have contacted the family researcher that supplied the information that you have displayed on ancestry to see has he any more information to give or any updates that can be shared with you. It is quite possible you may know him already. He is very helpful with his time and sharing knowledge. 

    The Birth and baptism started to be recorded in the Parish of Clonadavaddog (Fanad & Glenvar) in 1846 and the Civil recorded for the local area in 1864, so none of these go back as far as you need as regards Record Evidence. 

    The land records taken in 1850’s called the Griffith Valuation (1858) is somewhat helpful as it give the head of the household in every townland within the Parish which is an anchoring point for you to other Friel families that stayed and did not emigrate. The only other land record that can bear names for certain location is the Tithe Applotment Book (CLICK HERE) taken back in 1834. I have attached both of these images to this reply. This is as far back as I can go to help your cause.

    I am afraid very caught for time at the moment but send me a reply regarding this. As I say you are as good as an expert in this family research at this stage and there is very little I can add more then you have already. 

    Location of Arraheera in Google Maps - Lighthouse Tavern 




    Clondavaddog Donegal

    Saturday 16th March 2019, 07:52PM

    Attached Files

  • Howard:

    I am extremely interested in trying to learn more about your Kerr/Carr family. 

    My wife of my great great great grandfather, Edward, was named Catherine Carr (b. 1800).  However, the census records indicate that she was born in the United States.  What do you know of the earliest Carr/Kerr emigrants to the United States?   My supposition is that the families knew or knew of each other in terms of arranging the marriage.  

    Further, there are two separate Friels who wound up in Hollidaysburg, Pennsyvania.  One, Bernard O'Friel (b.1775), married to Margery (b.1774), was a major contractor on the Union and Main Line Canals.  The other, Francis O'Friel (b. 1811) emigrated to the United States in 1836 and was apparently well-educated. (His occupation was listed as clerk on the ship's manifest and he was later a highly successful merchant and politician.)  In researching Francis O'Friel, I came across another Kerr/Carr connection.  Francis' young neice, Annie Kerr (b.1862), was instantly killed by a bolt of lightening that struck his house in July 1881.  She had only arrived six months earlier from Ireland.  

    I look forward very much to hearing from you.




    Saturday 16th March 2019, 09:20PM
  • Seamus:

    I look forward to going through the information you passed along.  You mentioned that I have a DNA connection with you father.  Could you please tell me more?  It would be extremely useful to correlate that match with the others that I have made.  

    How many of the current Friel families in Arraheernabin can trace their origins back to the early 1800's? Are they receptive to outsiders at all?  I very much hope to visit the area this summer to learn more.  

    I have been in touch with Donal Friel, who has been invaluable in trying to piece together this complicated story.  Is he the researcher you mentioned?

    Also, please see my earlier post to Howard mentions two other Friels, Bernard and Francis, who likely originated from the same area.  Francis clearly was highly educated (he wrote math puzzles for the local newspaper in Cambria County) and had ostensibly had a government position as a clerk before he emigrated to the United States.  Bernard was a very successful contractor on the Union and Pennsylvania Canals, with substantial other investments in land and warehouses.  He had to have some capital on arriving in the States to do the work he did.

    My belief is that Bernard, Edward, and Francis were all related, possibly as brothers, but most certainly as cousins.  

    Does any of this fit with your understanding of the history and genealogy of the area?

    Very best,


    PS -  Would you have any suggestions on where to stay during my planned visit in July?  My thought is to fly into Dublin, rent a car, and then drive north to Donegal.  My wife and I would stay five days.


    Saturday 16th March 2019, 09:33PM
  • Hi Paul,

    The Kerr/Carr family that I referred to (with all the Baptism Records) was the first family to emmigrate in the Kerr/Carr branch of my family tree. They arrived in New York on the Ship Minnehaha on 16 May 1866.

    In that family, Edward Carr b. 14 Jan 1865 married Catherine Shaw (born in Philadelphia). The names fit what you mentioned about your 3x great grandfather, Edward Carr, marrying a Catherine who was born in the U.S. , but the time frame does not match. You mentioned 1800 , but this  couple married about 1885..

    Have a great day,

    Howard King



    Monday 18th March 2019, 01:30AM
  • Paul,

    We must talk.  My line of Edward Friel’s are exactly the same as yours I believe. Birth 1795 but immigrated to Philly about 1840. I’m from his line of a son who immigrated to New Brunswick in 1830s.  I visited Ireland last year and drove to donegal from Dublin  we drove to FANAD. At the time I did not stay or tour around FANAD area but wish we would have.  I’ve only recently found out about the township of Arraheenabin and next time go back i plan to tour more in that area longer and get a real feel of the Friel land.  My Edward Friel born in 1795 was a traveling veterinary and was married had a son named Charles in 1816, but his wife died in 1816. He then married Catherine Sweeney  and they had three children.  She died in childbirth in 1822  their three children were Stephen Friel, Mary Friel and Edward Friel (my gggrandfather was the son Edward.) we know father Edward married again to Bridget Boyce And had six more children.  My gggrandfsther immigrated to New Brunswick alone while the other Friel’s immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1840. I found ships passenger lists of the Pennsylvania family but have lost touch after that.  My line of Friel’s immigrated West after New Brunswick  I would love to talk with you 

    Thank you

    Cindy In CA 








    Thank you 



    Cindy Friel Ovard

    Monday 18th March 2019, 03:34AM
  • Cindy:

    I would very much love to talk with you!  Have you or any member of your family taken a DNA test?  The test results allowed me to fill the historical gaps and identify my family's origins from Arraheernabin. was offering a great sale price that is still good through today, if you have not taken one yet.  

    My email is:  Drop me a note and let's figure out a good time to chat.  



    PS - Have you put any of your tree on or another site?




    Monday 18th March 2019, 08:09PM
  • Hi Paul, I am related to Friel's and Carr's from Fanad. My Cousin Maura Martin still lives there on the Martin land.  We had a cousin James Friel who lived a mile away but he died several yrs ago.   Maura knows more of the Friel's and Cars then I do. I know there is a Catherine Friel who liveds in England. I met a Friel here in Phila, but forget her last name now. I also have Sweeney's someone mention not sure if  it was you.  See if you find me Mary Martin on your DNA match.  I  have a Christopher Friel from Fanad on my match but do not know him. there are other Friel matches do know know them either. I have Hugh Carr and Shaun carr dont know them either.


    Do you have any Cannon's or Coyle's or Sweeney's?  

    Patrick coyle is a researcher on this site and my cousin. I can see who the other Friel names are and let you know. I have done research for many yrs but never really studied the Friel's or Carr's 



    Tuesday 19th March 2019, 01:32PM
  • Cindy: you could also be related to me, I don't have enough info on the Friel's but when I go to Ireland in JUly , I am going to ask my cousin where Jimmy Friel lived it was about a mile or not that far from the Martin land in Ballynalost. If you go there the Ballynalost P.O. is nt that far from Fanad Lighthouse. The guy in the P.O could help you with info on the Friel's they seem to know everyone. There is a Saint Mary's Church in Ballynalost where you may also find some info, Clondavvadog Parish has many records.  Birth and Marriage records are kept in a small town near Fanad called Milford then you would come to Letterkenny. I found Milfoord had more information for me on the Martin's.


    My Grandparent's were married and buried at the Chapel of Masmount and there are many Friel  gravesites there at Massmount Cemetery. 

    The farm that Jimmy lived on may well be the original Friel homestead. I am not sure if they sold the land or not , he died about 8 yrs or more now.

    Mary Martin


    Wednesday 20th March 2019, 01:28PM
  • The Friel Birth's anyone interested call go to this site and find list of Friels with themarried spouses name and the Child's name. The site ask that you do not copy and share but you can look at the list. 


    Donegal Genealogy Resources.

    Friel Births, Clondavaddog, Co Donegal this parish includes Arahhera


    also has Marriages you just have to change the search field.


    If you google Friel births it will come up without going directly to the records but I think you have to join first it is free, you can look up different parish's here.





    Wednesday 20th March 2019, 02:04PM