Jeremiah Murphy & the Peter Robinson Settlement to Ontario, Canada in 1825


Jeremiah Murphy & the Peter Robinson Settlement to Ontario, Canada in 1825

Although I have known for many years that my great-great-grandfather, Jeremiah Murphy, emigrated from Kilshannig parish, near Mallow, Cork as part of the Peter Robinson settlement in 1825 to pioneer a homestead on west 1/2 Lot 19, Con. Xl, Emily Township, east of Lindsay, Ontario, CANADA, we had only visited that area of Cork once 25 years ago in 1992 when we were both raw genealogical searchers and also on our earliest trips to Ireland.

In September 2015, on our 15th trip to Ireland, armed with more knowledge, all mostly courtesy of the internet, [none of which was available in the late 80s/90s], we returned to Kilshannig parish for some more hands on research.

I had discovered on the internet the Historic Graves website and there found access to a grand chap called Donie O’Sullivan who had spearheaded the recording of all the graves and headstones in the historic graveyard in Kilshannig, [Newberry], Cork, an overgrown with long grass, cemetery.

I contacted Donie by e-mail and asked if we could hook up with him on our trip to the west of Ireland this year on our annual trip to Kilkenny. Donie, a sprightly lad of 70+, enthusiastically agreed and we spent a day with him on Sept. 16.

In that we have no record of the Murphy family in Ireland after JM emigrated to Canada in 1825, what I was hoping to find was a Murphy grave, later than 1825,....perhaps in the 1890s or so, that would have had a common Murphy forename which would have suggested a link to we Murphys in Canada, i.e., Thomas, William, Edward, Jeremiah etc. In genealogical searching, one proceeds occasionally on a thin premise.

On that morning, we met Donie at our hotel in Mallow at 9:30 for a coffee and exchange of a few known facts and then set off for Kilshannig graveyard, just outside the town of Mallow, about 25 miles north of Cork City, close by the now closed sugar beet factory. Donie led us through the long, wet grass of the cemetery, located a Murphy grave/headstone which he thought had promise, and with his spade, cut back some thorns and bushes and dug down below ground level to uncover all the engraving on the stone. He had a ‘special’ archaeologist's Lenser LED P7 torch [flashlight] which, when shone across the lettering on the stone, revealed clearly its carved writing, usually undecipherable in daylight.

After an hours work, sadly, there was no Murphy connection for us on the stone as neither the names, nor the date of death of the departed, were relevant to us. Donie then took us to another Murphy stone which had fallen over on its face and after another hour of digging and cutting back branches, we slugged the stone upright, scraped off the encrusted vegetation, but once again, no connection.

Donie opined that Kilshannig was a huge parish, [organized on a much larger scale than Canadian parishes], and included a dozen churches and graveyards, [Glentane, Bweem, Kilgobnet], in which our ancestor, [and his remaining family], could have lived. Admitting temporary defeat, we repaired to Donie’s home at Gortavoher, Lombardstown where his wife Margaret had laid on tea and scones. Donie had called a friend Ger O’Keefe over who brought maps and cemetery records which we poured over, still to no avail.

At 6:00 pm, with hugs and kisses with people we had only known for a few hours, we set off on the 2 1/2 hour drive back to our cottage at Ballyvoole, Inistiogue, promising to be in touch,....which we have a number of times since by e-mail. Donie promised to continue the search for us on his own. By the way, Donie would not take a penny; he said gaining new friends was payment enough.

In an incredible co-incidence, Donie’s grandfather and grandmother, eloped and emigrated to Canada at the turn of the 20th century; found their way to Uptergrove, ON working in the hotel business, and were married at Guardian Angels Church, Orillia, ON, just north of Brechin, where my great-grandmother Mary Murphy and great-aunt Nellie Murphy from Whitechurch, Co. Cork were married as well.

Incredibly, the Murphy family of Kilshannig, Cork and the Murphy family of Whitechurch, Cork, [no relation to each other and from villages only 25 kilometres apart], met up in Ontario, Canada and I am the 5th generation offspring.