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Hello, and thank you for your help in advance!  

I recently found a US Passport application for William Sweeney, who states his father was Hugh Sweeney. I believe this Wm is my GGrandfather. Per the application, he was scheduled to sail in April 1923. Per our family plot, he died sometime in late June 1923. I have not found a death certificate or obit for him, which makes me believe he did not die in the US. I am guessing; he died at sea going to or returning from Ireland. Or he died in Ireland (I have not found any record of his death in the US or Ireland). The only evidence I have found of his death is his interment in the family plot in Holy Cross Cemetery in PA.

Since I have a new name to research for Wm's father, I started researching Hugh Sweeney as the father of Wm Sweeney and found a baptismal record for him on born in Oct or November 1854; this record gave me his mother's name Mary Friel. I also found  Hugh and Mary's marriage record; they were married in Jan 1854. It looks like Mary and Hugh had several other children. I was able to find on, baptismal records and/or birth records for the following individuals:

Grace was also born in Oct or November 1854; her baptismal date is a week before William, which I found strange because they had different sponsors listed; the dates were too close not to say they were not siblings unless you can think of a reason.

Denis was born in 1856, 

Bridget was born in 1861; (there was also an Anabell born to Hugh and Mary Sweeney, but her baptismal date was two months prior to Bridget's. The location on the record seemed really out of the way compared to the others (Clondavaddog, Co. Donegal). Everybody else is either Letterkenny or Manorcunningham, Co. Donegal. Do you think  Anabell belongs to the same family? Her name seems odd for the time and place. If she were born in the Southern states of the US at the same time, I would not discount her as a family member. Or are Bridget and Anabell the same person possibly? 

Hugh was born in 1866,

Mary was born in 1869;

Lilly & Giles was born in 1871 (twins). 

I have looked on and have not found any other records. A few birth/baptismal records have popped up on Ancestry since I placed them in my tree. 

Any help or insight you can give me is greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Ellen Miller

ME Miller

Sunday 13th Aug 2023, 06:26PM

Message Board Replies

  • Ellen:

    There are many RC parishes in Co. Donegal that have records starting later than 1854. There could be other William Sweeneys with father Hugh who were born/baptized around 1854 but there baptismal record is not available.

    Can you tell us more about William Sweeney? When did he leave Ireland originally? Have you found his naturalization petition?

    I'm concerned you may have the wrong William Sweeney because not all Donegal baptismal records are available.

    Roger McDonnell

    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Sunday 13th Aug 2023, 07:40PM
  • Roger

    Hello -  Thanks for responding! Having a common surname of Sweeney and a relatively common first name of William is one of my concerns with finding the correct person. His US  naturalization application only says he is from Ireland. On his US Passport Application, he states he was born in Letterkenny. We do not have any more information on Wm besides his only son's birth certificate says his father's place of birth is Letterkenny, Ireland. Because we have not found his obit or death certificate, he is a black hole. The US passport application does say he is going to Ireland to rest because of his health. 

    When I searched on only one William Sweeney in Donegal came up for me with a father named Hugh. I used a 10-year spread from 1855 (1845 to 1865) when I filtered. I would have thought more people would have come up, especially since I was using a 20 yr span.

    What website are you searching on that you are getting more hits?

    Ellen Miller

    ME Miller

    Tuesday 15th Aug 2023, 01:04AM
  • Ellen:

    I use Roots Ireland and also    

    The fact that the passport application showed Letterkenny and the baptismal record was in Letterkenny gives me more confidence that you might have the correct record.

    I also searched and did not see a good lead for a William Sweeney death record in Donegal for 1923-1924.

    Let me know if you have further questions.


    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Tuesday 15th Aug 2023, 04:40PM
  • Roger

    Hi - a couple of weeks ago, I was able to find the ship's passenger list, Wm went back home to Ireland on, it was named the Camenonia. the name was also on his passport application. He arrived in Moville on May 6, 1923. His destination, according to the passenger list, was Main Street, Letterkenny.  The purpose of his visit to Ireland, according to his passport application, was rest and health.  Main Street seems to me to be a dead end. I have Googled Letterkenny today. It seems like a bigger city in Donegal.  Figuring out where Wm went 100 years ago may be a pipe dream. Wasn't the war ending, or had it ended a couple of years earlier?   Any ideas where he could have gone in Letterkenny (main street)?

    I can't imagine he was in good enough shape to sail back home within a month, only to be interned in Holy Cross Cemetery on June 21, 1923.  To be descriptive and a little bit morbid, the depth of his burial plot in the 'family plot' is deeper than anyone else. He is at 10 feet (nobody else is at 10 feet) the others start at 8 feet or 6 feet.  This leads me to believe he may really not be buried there; this is a total guess on my part. What also leads me to believe he is not there is I can't find a death certificate or Obit for him here in Pennsylvania, I should be able to find both since I have both documents for my great-grandmother (his wife) when she passed 15 years later and the six others who are buried in that plot some before him and some after him.

    I have tried to look for his death certificate in Ireland but have not had any luck coming up with anything.  He would have one if he died in Ireland, correct?  even if he was no longer a citizen? 

    Thanks for your help!

    Ellen Miller 

    ME Miller

    Saturday 9th Sep 2023, 05:40PM

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