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I've just spent the first 4 weeks of COVID 19 restrictions doing some research on my grand dad who died in 1937 in Guilka Ballymoe Co Galway when my mother was only 7. She never knew how he got to America and back, only that he was wounded in France during WWI.

Private Thomas Connolly, born 8th December 1891 in Elphin Castlerea to James Connolly and Bridget nee Mulcahy

United States army 713174 305th infantry regiment Hq company

Age 28 when enlisted occupation Fireman Sept 19 1917 New York City Camp Upton L.I. Discharged Jan 25 1919

I managed to find him entering Ellis Island 17th Nov 1911 age 18 with an older brother, Patrick age 28 who appears to meetup with another brother John 25 at 156 40st New York (John had arrived 5th May 1907 to Patrick Connolly 151 East 50th St NY)

Another address on a postcard undated from Thos Connolly home gave 829 Third Avenue New York City addressed to James Connolly Willsbrook Castlerea Co Roscommon

Finally an address before he left US 16-22nd St Elmhurst New York

I believe a NY state census in 1915 and 1917 Draft Registration records may shine some light on Thomas, Patrick or John or if indeed his brothers were also enlisted. We never heard of NY Connolly cousins and I wonder if the reason he returned to Ireland after being wounded in France had anything to do with his brothers being killed perhaps. He married 5th March 1921 in Ballymoe Co Galway

Any advise on how to find more information as the number of sites with online records seem to all need paid memberships to explore any details and there are so many Thomas Connollys or variations Connelly, Connally, etc I'm not sure which site or where to look next for him or his brothers in NY

Unusually I'm looking to NY from Ireland for my Irish grand dad who survived both WWI and the Spanish Flu pandemic during the COVID pandemic.   




Tuesday 14th Apr 2020, 06:48PM

Message Board Replies

  • I have Patrick Connolly born around 1837 who emigrated around the time of the famine and settled in upstate New York.  He had a brother Michael. I believe his father was Thomas Connolly 


    Tuesday 14th Apr 2020, 09:04PM
  • Thanks for the repy Corey but those dates are too early and different Fathers name.

    I am getting some information from site - found Thomas Connolly Declaration form 1912 and Draft reg form 1917. Also found his big brother Patrick's Naturalisation in 1916 showing he was married and had a son. Alas no sign of Patrick and his family in 1920 US census for NY.

    The 1915 state census for NY appears to be only on so have to wait til the libraries open again. 

    Military records appear to be on, or can anyone advice on best site to find images and not just index?

    Sunday 19th Apr 2020, 05:43PM
  • Hello

    My grandmother was Mary Anne Connolly, your grandfather’s elder sister.

    Our great grandfather James Connolly was married twice, first to Mary McNeill in 1878 who gave birth to Patrick, Bridget, John & Mary. Mary the mother died shortly after the birth of Mary. I have not been able to find any more information about Mary the daughter.

    James Connolly married Bridget McCahy in 1888 resulting in the birth of Mary Anne, Thomas, James, Ellen & William.

    I have found the birth registration records for all the children from both marriages with the exception of Mary Anne, my grandmother & Thomas, your grandfather.

    I was surprised to read that Thomas had been born in Elphin since the marriage of James & Bridget was in Castlerea & all birth registrations I have found record the home as Willsbrook.  I would be interested to know where the information concerning the birth of Thomas came from, I might be able to find more information about the birth of Mary Anne.

    On the 1901 census Mary Anne & Thomas are recorded at the home of Mary McCahey in Cloonroughan but on the 1911 census are with the rest of the family. On the 1901 census James Connolly name is spelt as Connelly. It is on the 1911 census that the name Mulcahy appears. The Griffith Valuation has a Patrick McCahey listed in Cloonroughan so I think it is reasonable to suppose this is the real name.

    I realise this is not the information you are looking for but hopefully give you more back ground information of James Connolly.

    geoff carroll

    Tuesday 8th Sep 2020, 02:09PM
  • Hi, my mother always referred to your grandmother as Aunty. She was very close to the family especially after my grandfather died 1937 leaving my grandmother a widow with 3 children.

    I believe I found a record of Mary Anne birth a month or 2 before James Connolly's first wife died of consumption, making Mary and Thomas half siblings, which was a surprise.

    I'm not sure how to private message you but I can dig out the record and share with you if you know how or are you on Ancestry? I also have photos of James, Bridget, Mary, Thomas and Ellen from 1925 in Guilka, Ballymoe, Country Galway. I suspect that James Connolly's father Patrick Connolly was from Guilka based on his first marriage record to Mary McNeill 1878 (spelt Gaolka on the record??) but haven't been able to get a second record that confirms this yet. 

    Delighted to get your message.

    P.S. My brother went to NY in1988 to find Private Thomas Connolly army records pre-internet, and he had written granddads date and place of birth. Elphin refers to the Diocese of Elphin. Castlerea is in the parish of Kilkeevin, in the Diocese of Elphin. But I have yet to find where he got this date as I also have not found a record of his birth or baptism online. Luckly it didnt stop me finding lots of other online records.


    Wednesday 9th Sep 2020, 03:27PM
  • Hello Kelly

    I am very pleased to make contact with you.

    I am not on ancestry so making private contact may prove difficult. On the photo you  refer to from 1925 I assume it is James and Bridget the parents. It makes me wonder what happened to James and William, did they also emigrate. My grandparents married in 1916 with Mary Anne recorded as from Willsbrook so there must be a particular reason they are all at Guilka and I do not remember anyone sayihg they lived anywhere but Willsbrook, Guilka is a name I am familiar with but know little about. The fact that an official misspelt the name certainly makes you wonder the accuracy of any of the details that are recorded 

    I found the record of the birth of Mary shortly before the death of Mary Connolly. The confusion for me is that the age of Mary Anne on the 1901 cencus is given as 10 which would indicate that she was born in 1890/1 whereas Mary DOB is June 1887. Mary Anne died in 1963 and her age was given as 73 giving a year of birth as 1890 which tie in with the 1888 marriage of James and Bridget. I always visit her grave when I am in Castlerea and next time I am there I will look to see if the full date of her birth is shown, Whilst there may be a mistake in the birth year I am confident that the month would be correct, I know many of the ages given on the census and other documents are inaccurate because for most people it did not matter that much. On the wedding record for Mary McNeil she is said to be 25 and yet on her death record 9 years later she is said to be 42. I had an uncle Vincent who was making the family tree and he only refers to the 5 children of Bridget. He mentioned that her birth name was Milachy yet another variation of the name although this may be a typo error due to his scrawling script. Vincent  also recorded James lived from1847 to 1942 with Bridget living from 1858 to 1944, while there might be inaccuracies with the birth years Vincent was born about 1930 so he would have known both of his grandparents so I think it is reasonable to assume these might be correct. Unfortunately I have not been able to confirm birth or death of either.

    I live in the UK and  visit Castlerea most years but because of covid 19 I have not been able to do so this year. I was hoping to find out some more informattion about the family tree,

    ,The family still have land in Willsbrook and I have 2 cousins living Castlerea.

    many thanks for getting in touch


    geoff carroll

    Thursday 10th Sep 2020, 07:31PM
  • Attached Files
    IMG_2174.jpg (624.08 KB)
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    James and Bridget Connolly's death records are available on website as Connally in 1942 and 1945 respectively under Castlerea. I've attached one.

    Their grand daughter Mollie Carroll was present for both. Records only show Mary and Michael Carroll having Ellen in 1918 and a son James, I assume after 1920 as he was present when Michael Carroll died 1956. My mum was also born 1930 and recalled her grandparents from Willsbrook but I only recall her keeping in touch with Bridgie Carroll, who I think was Ellen Connolly daughter. Ellen Connolly married James Carroll 1927. William Connolly married Katie Thomas 1920 from Castlebar. He worked for the railway and was eventually station master in Ballymoe station I believe. They had no children and I recall many visits to Aunt Katie in Patrick Street, Castlerea where she lived til sometime in the 1980s. Willie passed away in 1968 in Roscommon Hospital.  Funny to think that his eldest (half) brother Patrick Connolly also worked for the railway in Grandcentral station NY, as a baggage foreman.

    Because irish records for births stop at 1920 I dont know anymore about the generations after this. The next census 1926 should fillin a few gaps when it is made available in a few years. The 1911 census shows James and Bridget having 8 children, 8 alive still alive so I assumed Mary and Mary Anne was one and the same. It was Bridget's and Patrick's ages in the census that made me courious about an earlier marriage. I know what you mean by ages in the census - Thomas was 20 in April 1911 and by Nov entering Ellis Island with Patrick that year he was 18. In 1917 he was 26 when enlisting in the US Army. My grandmother Ellen Walsh was registered birth Feb 1897 but we always had her bithday as Dec 1896. The avoidance of a late registration fee may explain this discrepency.

    I'm not sure where the picture of James and Bridget Connolly was taken, but I do know the one with Thomas, Mary, Ellen Connolly Michael Carroll and Ellen Walsh (my grandmother) was taken in Guilka when my grandmothers sister returned from NY in 1925 to visit after emigrating 1907. Her uncle was visiting from Australia in 1907 and took her to NY on his way to reuniting with 5 siblings in Wisconsin, all of whom had left Ballymoe c.1880 or earlier.

    I'm amazed at the amount of travel that occurred and indeed that some family did return for visits from so far away. 

    For now we can only travel back in time online with them :)

    p.s. I have found the free online account in works well to record the family tree. I'm sure if you search for James or Thomas Connolly you'd find them. 





    Saturday 12th Sep 2020, 02:41PM
  • geoff carroll

    Sunday 13th Sep 2020, 01:51PM
  • geoff carroll

    Sunday 13th Sep 2020, 05:37PM
  • Doreen/Kelly

    Thank you so much for the photos, I never imagined that there would be any available.

    I did see the listing with the death record for James when I was searching but because the age was incorrect (17 years according to Vincent) I did not view it.

    I did not know who Ellen Carroll was at first but finally realised it is my Aunt Nellie, James is her younger brother and Vincent’s twin born in the late 20s.

    Up until around 2008/9 I used to take my mother to meet Michael? Carroll and family who lived on a farm just outside Ballymoe, down a lane on left hand side from the Ballymoe to Roscommon road and never understood the connection since Michael Carroll was from West Meath so it was unlikely to be a relation from his side of the family.

    I was hoping that Mary was the daughter of Bridget (I like the name McCahey) but I have not found a death record for the Mary born to Mary McNeil or a birth record for Mary Anne so it would appear that her mother was most likely  Mary. It must have been a very difficult situation for James having 2 young sons and a baby to raise without the mother. He lived to 95 so is it having 2 wives and 8 kids the key to long life or is it the Willsbrook air?

    As for Thomas lowering his age when entering the US I was wondering if there was any advantage being a minor as opposed to adult when arriving

    I understand what you mean about the travelling of some family members so we have to assume they were very successful in their new life



    geoff carroll

    Sunday 13th Sep 2020, 05:38PM
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    Geoff, another lockdown and bit more time to travel back in time. 

    I came across a 'Fairy Story' recorded in 1938 in Willsbrook by Attracta Carroll, told by her 88 year old grandfather, as part of a school collection of folklore (now available online

    It's very like tales my uncle James Connolly of Guilka used to tell around the open fire. The tale is based in Ballymoe about a man call Pat Hussey (a neighbour of Connolly's in Guilka)!

    I recall my mother had a picture of Attracta Carroll, her cousin from Willsbrook, and based on his age I have to believe her grandfather and our great grandfather are one and the same.

    It looks like my uncle might have gotten his story telling gene as well as his name from his grandfather James Connolly of Willsbrook.

    It's courious that at 88 years of age he'd be telling tales of Ballymoe and makes another strong connection between our great grand father and where he might have come from.

    You mention that your grandmother's grave is in Castlerea, do you know the name of the graveyard? and if James and Bridget Connolly are also there?

    Hope your staying safe - Doreen  



    Wednesday 11th Nov 2020, 01:06PM
  • Doreen

    I am fine and trust that you and your family are all well in these difficult times,

    thanks for the update, Attracta is my mother so it is of a particular interest to me concerning the fairy story,

     Jame Connolly certainly was some man,

    My grandparents and other family members are buried at St Josephs Cemetery in Castlerea, I always visit when I am in Castlerea, a habit that started when I used to take my mother to Ireland but there was never any mention of her grandparents being buried there so I am unable to help in that matter at present,

    I do not know the registration district for Guilka so I am unable to search for any records for James or his father Patt who was recorded as being a farmer in Guilka at the time of James wedding to Mary McNeil, All I know is that Patt died after the wedding to Mary but before the wedding to Bridget

    Willsbrook does seem to have an attraction, my grandfather Michael Carroll and our greatgrandfather both moved there.





    geoff carroll

    Sunday 15th Nov 2020, 05:08PM
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    patt.JPG (162.65 KB)

    Doreen/ Kelly


    hope you are all well.

    I have managed to find some info on Patt Connolly, our great great grandfather. Not as much as I would like but at least its a start

    Patt Connolly is listed in the Griffiths Valuation of 1857 along with other Connollys  as being an occupier in Gilkagh which I assume is the anglisised spelling for Guilka. I have also found the death register for him showing he died in 1884  which ties in with being between the  1st & 2nd marriage of James, both files attached. No luck as to finding any wedding record for him at present. The registration district for Guilka is Glenamaddy.


    geoff carroll

    Wednesday 25th Nov 2020, 03:47PM
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    Hi Geoff

    I came across a few more records you might like to see from a Petty Sessions in Ballymoe 1859 with Patrick Connelly of Guilka, defendant. What's really interesting is that it records Patrick as 'landowner' which really surprised me as I didn't think any of the tenant farmers in Guilka or indeed the local area were able to own land until 1870s or 1880. Also because James Lynch is the landowner in Griffiths. Seeing he didn't pay the thatcher for his work as a curious thing and makes me wonder if some of the 'old' houses along the road in Guilka where built about this time. The first OSI map in 1840 shows houses clustered together at the bend of the road near a well.

    The Tithes Applotment records for Kilcroan Parish were taken in 1833 and show John or 'Jon Connolly' in 'Gilkagh French', later to become Guilka East, along with 6 other men, though the entry for the tax and land is just across from his name. It's interesting too that the family names in Guilka change from 1833 to 1857 Griffith land records, all but Connolly. Either through work arrangements, marriages and or the famine years 1845-1852 and emigration? With so few records from this early period we can only speculate on what relationship if any John Connolly and Patrick and James Connolly might have, but its quite likely there was some connect. It would be interesting to see the land records in the Valuation Office in Dublin when it reopens, as it might shed some light on how and when the farms were purchased and past on.

    Guilka shows up on maps and records back to 1640 and means 'place of reeds'. My mother used to say that when she was growing up there during the summers men would harvest reed from the river behind her house for thatching!

    Patt Connolly and Bridget Brannen of Guilka register births in 1867 and 1876, and Bridget Connolly appears in the 1901 census for Guilka, but I have not been able to find any record of their marriage. If James Connolly was born 1846 I wonder if Patt may have remarried, Bridget would have had to be giving birth for 30 years!

    I have pulled together a history about the land/landowners Marnell and Bagots 1750-1900. If your interested in reading it let me know and I'll post it for you.

    Take care, Doreen


    Thursday 8th Apr 2021, 12:46PM
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    Thursday 8th Apr 2021, 12:57PM

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