There are times in Irish research, where a record was kept so poorly that you either laugh or you cry. I had this happen recently when researching in the Catholic registers of Moylough & Mountbellew, County Galway. I had access to two different microfilming editions of the originals, and I utilized them both. Here is what I found out:
- Several priests were serving the parish at the same time, each with his own record keeping style.
- A common writing style in the christenings was to list the parents as Pat and Mrs. Sullivan. In this case, I could not trust whether the female godparent was listed by her maiden or married name.
- Another common writing style was Pat and Mary Sullivan. In this case, I still could not assume the female godparent was listed by her married or maiden name. However, I had to wonder if whatever the surnames were of the godfather and godmother, if this could have been Mary’s maiden name.
- Place names were commonly abbreviated. M. Bellew was obviously Mountbellew, but something like C. Bridge or B. Bridge required some thought. Perhaps, Carrickbridge and Ballybridge.
- The writing was so poor that Pat Sullivan could just as easily have been Bat Sullivan for Bartholomew rather than Pat for Patrick. If the mother or godmother was listed with the first name of B. it was assumed this meant Bridget, K for Catherine; with M. being the mystery name of Mary or Margaret.
The bottom line is no index, not even one I could generate myself, could be used as the final word on what was preserved in this parish register. However, I knew what surname I was looking for and felt confident I could at least read that name accurately. So I could still research my targeted family. With my list of everybody by the surname in question documented, whether as a parent or godparent, then I could line up my findings and begin reconstructing various branches of the family.
The moral to this is even with access to an index online; I still had to go through them page by page. No index will be accurate for this parish as that is just not possible, and it’s no one’s fault.
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