Families of Tubber (Co.Clare, Ireland)

  The Teampal na Deirce cemetery in Tubber


This genealogy project and website has mushroomed from a family history project started many years ago on the descendants of four families, the Caseys, the Howards, the Ryans and the Holmes in Tubber, a rural community in the West of Ireland on the Clare/Galway border. The research has been a collaborative effort on the part of several descendants of those families around the world. Paddy Casey is coordinating the documentation and publication of the data on their behalf.

The data, which was originally published on Compuserve, has now been moved to this new website which is based on the TNG system of genealogical web publication. This, together with publication within the www.clareroots.org domain, allows us closer control over the promulgation of the family history than that which might have been available if it had been published on "free" server space provided by a genealogy data vendor.

Feature Articles

feature 1 Tubber/An Tobar, a community in the West of Ireland on the Clare/Galway border. Tubber (An Tobar in Irish) lies in the West of Ireland on the Clare/Galway border. It is a large rural area and community without officially defined borders that one would find on a map, i.e. it is not a town or a townland or a borough. Very roughly, the townlands within a 3 mile radius of St Michael's church at Tubber Cross (GPS coordinates N52.99004 W008.89419; Irish OS map square R 93595/40001) make up Tubber. Part of Tubber is in County Clare and part in County Galway. The Tubber post office is in Galway. Part of Tubber is in the parish of Kilkeedy (Co. Clare) and part in the parish of Beagh (Co. Galway).

The Irish name Tobar means "well" and there is indeed a holy well in Tubber, that of Tobereendoney.

Tubber must have been a bustling place 165 years ago with a population of 4,975 in 1841. However, by 1911 the population had fallen to 996 and in 1991 it had fallen to 565, which was only 56% of the 1911 figure and just 14% of the 1841 census. The population of Tubber at the moment is about 550.

There are several other Tubbers in Ireland (not surprising since Tubber/Tobar simply means 'a well' and Ireland is full of holy wells) but this one is arguably the best known of them.

feature 2 Tubber Families: how the families on this website came to be documented The information on the old families of Tubber is, despite extensive research, incomplete because the families retained few written records. To complicate matters, official Irish records of births, deaths and residence were - partly as a result of the turbulence of the times - fragmentary in the 19th century. Records of Catholic christenings and burials were partly kept by parish priests and archived unsystematically by them or regional ecclesiastical bodies. Centrally archived records were destroyed en masse in a fire at the Dublin records office in 1922. To top it all, political oppression, systematic evictions and frequent mass famines in the 19th century caused many people to move without leaving a forwarding address. Others were cast into mass graves on their death, leaving no archived record of their existence and demise. Nevertheless, and partly thanks to the Internet, my research has sometimes hit paydirt in unexpected places. An example is that of Thomas Casey (see below) who emigrated from Tubber to Australia around the end of the 19th century, enlisted in the British army in WW1, and was killed in France. Via the Internet I was able to obtain 30 pages (!) of his military records from the Australian archives. Currently my earliest recorded male ancestor is John Casey. One proof of his existence, and that of his wife, Mary Casey (née Holmes), is a record of the baptism of their son, Michael, in Tubber in 1836. I suspect that their family was much larger and that the majority died prematurely, emigrated or were transported in the 1830s, 1840s and 1850s. Grounds for this assumption lie in the census data of their townland, Shanballysallagh. In 1841 the population was 212; in 1851 it was 61. John Casey's existence has also been documented by a Death Register entry of 1876 which gave his age at death as 80 years, suggesting that he was born around 1796. This project has been a collaborative effort of numerous members of the family who supplied documents, reminisced, and humored me as I jogged their memories and scribbled. The work has been greatly simplified by the information facilities provided online by the Clare County Library at www.clarelibrary.ie. These facilities are unique to County Clare and, among other things, cover a wide spectrum of information relating to Clare families and their diaspora - census data, social and political history, folklore, archaeology, photographs, maps, you name it. I also received help from the Clare Heritage Centre in Corofin. An extraordinarily rich source of information has been the book "The Parish of Kilkeedy - a local history" compiled by Frank Brew of Castlequarter, Tubber. This book contains a wealth of contributions from local people and I am very grateful to them for taking the time to record their memories. Frank Brew passed on in March 2005. My cousin Teenie O'Grady, née Casey, of Tubber had an almost biblical memory of the Tubber families and their comings and goings. She filled in many gaps and often directed my searches to more fruitful lodes. Hers was usually the first phone number I would try when needing pointers on the genealogy of a Tubber family. Teenie passed on in March 2005. Mike Rose of Brassington in Derbyshire, an expert on the military side of family history, gave a lot of direction to my search for the members of the family who had fought and, in at least one case, died in the two world wars. Various total strangers responded out of the blue to my requests for help and information on the Internet. Some of them supplied me with key data on our family - names, dates, places, events, repositories of information - which either confirmed, refuted, or expanded on the family lore and in many cases allowed me to target my research more precisely. Some spontaneously conducted searches for me at no cost. I have constantly been amazed at this pool of goodwill out there on the Internet. It stands in stark contrast to some of the commercial genealogical websites which request large fees and deliver little. For many years I had wondered about the fate of a member of the family, George Casey, who had left Tubber in the latter half of the 19th century and, so the family lore went, emigrated to Australia. Substantial research effort had failed to reveal anything useful about this individual. Then, in the autumn of 2002, to my total amazement I received a phone call from an Australian lady, Helen Shogren, née Casey, who told me that she is a descendant of this George Casey and my second cousin one time removed. Whilst I had been ploughing my furrow over the years Helen had been ploughing a parallel one on the other side of the world. She has documented George Casey's Australian branch of the family and accumulated other items of data on the Casey families of Tubber. Then an e-mail came from Mary Ann Howard in Needham, Massachusetts, USA, announcing that she is a descendant of the Howards of Tubber and thus a cousin of mine. Mary Ann, like Helen, has collected a large amount of family information over the years (and, like Helen, has pilgrimaged to Tubber) and she has been passing her data to me for inclusion in this our common database. In May 2003 the New World Caseys finally came to light. We had long been fairly sure that at least two members of the family emigrated to the US around the beginning of the 20th century and research in various New England archives provided tantalizing evidence of their possible identities and abodes. Then, when visiting Tubber in May 2003 I called on cousin Pa Howard, a descendant of Denis Howard of Moyrhee. Pa mentioned that some years previously he had had a visit from Emily Bunker of Gonic, New Hampshire, and that she was descended from the Caseys of Moyrhee. He gave me her address, I called her on the phone, she confirmed that she was the daughter of William Edmond Casey, who emigrated from Tubber to the US, and another set of genealogical floodgates opened. She informed her nephew Paul Joseph Casey who had been documenting the Casey diaspora on that side of the Atlantic and he then sent me a whole genealogical tree of New England Caseys. Emily followed on with a thick wad of death and marriage certificates, photos, and facts and data. The rest will, as they say, be history. The team was then joined by Elaine Maynes, née Ross, a great-granddaughter of Denis Howard of Tubber. Elaine lives in Massachusetts, the headquarters of the Casey-Howard diaspora in the USA, and pumped her Howard data into the collection. At the end of 2005 Michael Kelleher, a Casey descendant who had seen the website, mailed me and told me about a family cluster that I had long been looking for. His data has now been added. The data on this website is now a combination of Helen's and Mary Ann's and Paul's and Emily's and Elaine's and Michael's and mine plus items from the other major contributors listed above. I am publishing this incomplete document in the hope that someone, somewhere, will have other bits of the jigsaw puzzle, i.e. another family group which dovetails with mine, or will recognise a connection with a family in Australia, America, or whatever.

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