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I am trying to tie together information about my wife's family.  I hope you can help.

My wife's great great grandmother was Catherine Phelan.  The family lore is that she was born August 15, 1828, in Johnstown, Kilkenny.  She and two sisters, Bridget and Ellen, emigrated to the United States.  They were first in Connecticut and then moved to Minnesota.  Catherine married Dennis Buggy, from Freshford, while in Connecticut.

Family lore is that Catherine's parents were James Phelan and Alice Walsh.  In addition to Catherine, Bridget and Ellen, we believe that James and Alice had other children including Mary, Martin, John and Michael.  The family lore is that Mary Phelan married Philip Dollard and they had 12 children.  Supposedly, those children emigrated to the United States.  Family lore is that Martin Phelan married and had at least two sons and a daughter.  The sons were Father Michael Phalen and Patrick Phelan, bishop of Sale, Australia.

I have a photocopy of a letter written by Lawrence Walsh to Catherine Buggy.  The letter is from 1887 and was sent from San Francisco.  The letter implies that Lawrence and Catherine are cousins.  The letter includes references to Martin Phelan and Lawrence's mother, although her first name is not given.  I am in contact with one of Lawrence's descendants but she had less information than me.  U.S. census records indicate Lawrence was born around 1835, but I am not sure of the accuracy of that.

I have a photocopy of a letter written by Annie Dollard, perhaps born Annie Dockery, to Catherine Buggy.  The letter is from 1886 and was sent from San Francisco.  The letter refers to Lawrence Walsh and other people who might be from Kilkenny.  I believe Annie Dollard was the wife of John Dollard of San Francisco.  My guess is that John Dollard was the son of Mary and Philip Dollard but I have no documentation of that.  John Dollard might have been born in 1832. has many articles about John and his children but I cannot find anything about John's parents or relatives outside of his direct descendants.

Within, I can find baptismal records for the children of Martin Phelan, including Michael, Patrick and two sisters.  Their parents are listed as Martin Phelan and Margaret Collier.  This seems to match up with an online biography I found for Bishop Phalen.

I have tried to view the baptismal records on to find Catherine's baptism in Johnstown.  The image is blurry and I cannot make anything out.  I am not sure where to look for other information.

I am hoping someone can help with the following:

What were the names of Catherine Phelan's parents?

Can anyone locate records about the baptisms of the other children of Catherine's parents?

Can anyone locate records about Lawrence Walsh and his parents?

Can anyone locate records about Mary Phelan and Philip Dollard and their children?

Can anyone recommend other places for me to search?

Thank you for taking the time to read this.



Tuesday 14th Nov 2023, 05:10PM

Message Board Replies

  • MinnVids:

    I searched on the subscription site Roots Ireland and located a November 20 1825 baptismal record where the father was James Phelan and the mother was Ally Walsh. Ally presumably was a nickname for Alice. The RC parish was Callan. There were no other Phelan baptismal records in Co.Kilkenny where the father was James and the mother had a first name starting with A

    I looked at the Johnston parish register and reviewed a record for August 20 1828 (you mentioned 8/15 in your message but there was no 8/15 entry). The page was  very difficult to read and possibly looking at the actual register would help. In any event, I can see Ally Walsh as the mother's name and Phelan appears to be the father's surname. The given name of the father is tough to read maybe Martin?? I also could not determine the name of the child.

    I did not find a marriage record for a Martin Phelan to a Collier. I did locate the baptismal records for Michael Patrick Bridget and Mary children of that couple.

    I could not find any records for a Mary Phelan/Philip Dollard marriage, However, I located four baptismal records in Durrow Co. Laois for children of Philip Dollard and Mary Phelan. They lived in Cullohill Mountain. The children were Mary 1843 Ellen 1850 Philip 1852 John 1859 

    Let me know if you have any questions.

    Roger McDonnell

    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Monday 4th Dec 2023, 05:41PM
  • Dear MinnVids:


    Thank you for your post to the message board and welcome to IrelandXO.

    I have looked at your various questions, and I will deal with them in order.

    Catherine Phelan:

    I note that you have a lot of "family lore" which sounds as if these are stories and names that have been passed down.  I also note that you had specific names such as James Phelan and Alice Walsh as parents of Catherine.  I have had a look at the Kilkenny records that are available to view (and transcribed) on Roots Ireland --- a subscription site.  I have not found any couple by that name with a Catherine Phelan.  However, there are other couples.  I see a Timothy Phelan and Mary Walsh who had a daughter Catherine Phelan born about 1826.  This couple had a number of other children which included some of the names that you mentioned. The residence of this family was Glashare, Johnstown, County Kilkenny.  

    I also note that Catherine Phelan and Dennis Buggy were enumerated in the 1860 US Census in Naugatuck New Haven, Connecticut with 2 children and 2 brothers (possibly) of Dennis's.  Based upon the ages of the two children,  (3 and 1) it sounds as if Catherine and Dennis married about 1856-57.  The Naugatuck town records are available on FamilySearch but you will have to scroll through to view them.  The link is here:…

     You may/may not find the parents of the bride and groom, but you will definitely find witnesses, and this may be a further clue.  

    You also mentioned that a sister, Mary Phelan married Philip Dollard.  I have found 6 children born to a Philip Dollard and Mary Phelan between 1843-1859 in the parish of Durrow County Laois.  These records are transcribed on the Roots Ireland website, but they are also available on the NLI website under Durrow parish

    You mentioned that the children emigrated to the U.S.  Did they emigrate to Minnesota or elsewhere?  

    You have several letters which you should definitely  transcribe and create a family diagram from as it appears that they give a lot of information.  They are a great resource and worth looking at in more detail.

    I would recommend using the ResearchWiki at FamilySearch which you can use by searching by location.  It may be possible to view the death certificate for Catherine Buggy which may give her parents' names on her death certificate.  FamilySearch has a huge source of records, but they have not been indexed which means that you will have to click through the pages as if you were turning pages in a book.  It is tedious, but it can give great results.

    Another thing that you might consider is looking more closely and tracking the two letter-writers:  Lawrence Walsh and Annie Dollard Dockery.  They may give further clues to the family tree.  

    The best of luck with your research, and please reply to this message if you have any other questions.

    All the best,




    Tulla Clare, IrelandXO Volunteer

    Monday 4th Dec 2023, 08:56PM

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