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Dear Kilcar Reaching Out,

My great great grandfather Connell (Cornelius) McCauley (b. 10 August 1830 or 1831, Co. Donegal; d. 17 July 1911 Vallejo, California, USA) and his parents Connell (Cornelius) McCauley (the elder, b. 1783 Co. Donegal, d. 12 May 1868, Seneca County, Ohio, USA) and Katharine Byrne or O’Byrne  (b. 1787 Co. Donegal, d. 15 August 1855, Seneca County, Ohio, USA) emigrated to the US as a family from Co. Donegal in 1848 . They arrived in New York on the ship The Georgia from Liverpool on May 20. The family moved to Ohio, and then Connell (the son) moved to California during the gold rush there. We think the family had an older son too (James McCauley, born 1828, but are not sure).

I have spent years trying to figure out where in Co. Donegal the McCauleys and Byrnes were from. The past year, our family took several DNA tests and that led me to find a set of cousins (including a  Byrne) with roots in Kilcar. We are pretty sure from the DNA results that the Byrne part of my family is from Kilcar and it is likely that the McCauleys were too.

My mother and I will be visiting Kilcar for the first time next month (June 16 and 17). We would love to learn more about Kilcar and its history and people, and how we are connected.

Among the Byrnes we are related to by DNA is a James Byrne (1901) from Umiskin, Kilcar, Co. Donegal. He married Ellen Doherty (1909) from Giblin, Clonmany, Co. Donegal. James'
father was Bernard O'Byrne (1874), from Bogagh (moved to Umiskin), Kilcar Co. Donegal; who married Mary O'Byrne (1877) from Ballymcfadden, Kilcar. James' grandfather was Brian O'Byrne from Bogagh, who married Nora Gallagher from Kilcausey, Kilcar. James' other grandfather was Andrew O'Byrne from Ballymacfadden, Kilcar who married Margaret Brown from Ballymoon, Kilcar.

The DNA also suggests we are related to some McShanes from Kilcar.

So I looked through the records I could and I found one Conel McCawly in Kilcar parish, in Shannagh in the Tithe Applotment Books from 1834 (see In the Griffith’s Valuation of 1856, Connell is no longer listed. So this would be consistent with the family emigrating in 1848. Since Shannagh is near the locations that James Byrne’s family is from, in seems plausible that this Conel McCawly might be from our family.

Is it possible that your group might be able to help us figure out some more about our family connections in Kilcar?

In case it is helpful, below is information about Connell McCauley (junior) from his published biography. I have a photo of him too, but haven't yet figured out how to post it here.

Thanks in advance for any assistance you might be able to offer.

Best wishes, Carolyn Malmstrom.


From The History of Solano and Napa Counties:

CORNELIUS McCAULEY (My great-great grandfather)


With characteristic hardihood and thrift, coupled with intelligence and

optimism. Cornelius McCauley attained success in this western country

where so many of his fellow countrymen have sought opportunity for prog-

He became one of the well to do citizens of Vallejo, and about ten

years before his death retired from the active business life to which his

younger days were so energetically devoted. Mr. McCauley was born in

County Donegal. Ireland, August 10, 1830, and lived in that country until

the age of eighteen, when he with his parents emigrated to Ohio. He was

the son of Cornelius and Catharine (O'Byrne) McCauley, both natives of

Ireland. He first followed farming in Ohio, and later in Independence, Mo.,

from which place he set out in 1852 for California, with an ox team train,

going via North Platte. Neb., and Fort Kearney. This journey was espe-

cially hazardous and fraught with many dangers. They had a great deal

of trouble with the Indians and at one time were charged by a large herd

of buffalo. At one point the Indians held a bridge over the Platte river and

demanded exorbitant toll for crossing. A very fierce struggle ensued, dur-

ing which some of the party were killed. On leaving the Platte river they

followed the Johnson cut off and this trail they found to be almost impas-

sably rough ; over many places the wagons had to be pulled with ropes.

After leaving the Humboldt Sink they crossed the desert, which they found

a very pitiful sight, being strewn with the bodies of animals and dead men.

who had died of thirst in their wild desire to reach the land of gold. Water

was so scarce that on arriving at a Mormon camp they were compelled to

pay the same price for water as for the whiskey on sale there. After safely

passing through so many harrowing experiences, the train arrived at Lake

Tahoe and from there proceeded to Hangtown. where Mr. McCauley and

his brother opened up a store, also conducting a freighting business to

bring their goods from Marysville. For eighteen months they carried on

a very profitable business in this line. They received a- pay for their com-






modities pinches of gold dust instead of coin, and so amassed quite a quan-

tity. In addition to their store they also engaged in mining with good profit.

After having accumulated some $30,000 Mr. McCauley returned to Ohio.


Mr. McCauley was married in Ohio to Miss Mary A. Kinney and to

that union there were born five children : James B., Edward J., Charles F.,

Anna, Mary A. Edward J. married Mary Best and they have four children ;

Mary A. married Joe Gorman, and they with their two children reside in

Vallejo. Mr. McCauley gave all of his children a splendid education and

they are living lives of profit to themselves, their parents, and the com-

munities in which they reside. James B. was elected commissioner of Vallejo

in 1911 under the new charter; Charles is employed in the barracks at Mare

Island; Edward is proprietor of the Bay Shore Laundry Company of Vallejo.


In 1867 Mr. McCauley came to Vallejo with the intention of making

this town his permanent home, and accordingly purchased two lots and

built a large house and improved the place with other buildings. In addi-

tion to this property, he owned real estate in San Francisco, and also a

valuable quicksilver mine which produced a good revenue for many years.

He was an upright and conscientious man of good character, a good father

and a conservative citizen of sterling worth, and his death, July 17, 1911,

was a sad blow to his family and friends. Politically he held to the tenets

of the Democratic party but did not always vote the Democratic ticket, as he

believed in exercising his right of franchise by voting for the man who in

his judgment would best fill the position, regardless of political party. The

two sons, James and Charles, are of the same political affiliation as their

father, and they are members of the Elk Lodge of Vallejo. The entire

family are well thought of in the city and they are regarded as among the

most desirable of citizens.







Thursday 28th May 2015, 11:21AM

Message Board Replies

  • Carolyn:

    It looks like we don't have a parish liaison in Kilcar parish that I can identify. I'll alert our HQ about your message.

    Kilcar RC records start around 1848 which may be a little late for your purposes. On July 8th the National Library of Ireland plans to place all RC parish registers online for free searching.

    I'm glad you have had success with DNA testing. I also used DNA to pinpoint where in Donegal my great-grandmother lived and emigrated from. Donegal is very difficult to research as you know because church records start so late.

    Make sure that you visit Slieve League when you are in the Kilcar area.

    Roger McDonnell

    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 29th May 2015, 06:17PM
  • Dear Carolyn

    You may be interested in the link below to the Donegal Gathering:

    There is a contact for the parish council at the bottom of the page that could be be option for you in terms of finding a local contact. Even though this event happens a month after your arrival I think it would be a good idea to find out more.

    Let us know how your visit goes.

    Best wishes
    Clare Doyle
    Genealogy Support

    Clare Doyle

    Tuesday 2nd Jun 2015, 08:47AM
  • Dear Carolyn

    Another poster has added a message re her Byrne and would like to hear from you. Her post is here:…

    Best wishes

    Clare Doyle

    Genealogy Support 

    Clare Doyle

    Wednesday 5th Aug 2015, 09:30AM
  • Hello,

    I'm an O'Byrne living in Ireland. My Grandfather was from Kilcar. It's a common name around that part of the world- and not really anywhere else I've lived in Ireland.

    A few things which may help:

    1: My father refers to Glencolumbkille, west of Kilcar, as the "ancestral homeland." Beyond that, the name originates from Roscommon O'Beirnes, and is scandanavian. There's a separate O'Byrne name in Wicklow, which is an angliscised version of O'Broin- no relation at all.

    2: The 1901 and 1911 census data for Ireland is available online.

    While one of my aunts has a family tree compiled somewhere, I doubt it goes back quite far enough to be of use to you.


    Andrew O'Byrne

    Sunday 26th Feb 2017, 06:43PM
  • I am also a decendent of (4th G-Grandparents) Cornelius (Connell) McCauley, born about 1783 in County Donegal and Catherine O'Byrne, born about 1793 in Kilcar, County Donegal - through their son James, born in 1824 in County Donegal.  Just submitted my DNA sample and awaiting the results. Any help on actual birthdates and/or their ancesters would be greatly appreciated.  Thank You,  Linda Granville


    Wednesday 21st Jun 2017, 08:04PM
  • Hi, Linda -- Nice to see our connection!  Can you email me at  Looking forward to sharing more information. thanks! Best, Carolyn


    Saturday 24th Jun 2017, 10:11PM
  • I am the 3rd great-granddaughter of Bridget McCauley - born ~1829 to Cornelius and Catherine McCauley. She came with her brothers Cornelius (Connell) and James on the Georgia in 1848. Thank you for this thread and the information.

    Monday 28th Jan 2019, 02:35PM

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