My ggggrandmother is Mary O’Dea hoping for info

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    • #10797

      <p>Mary O’Dea born 1834 claretuam. Parents: Thomas O’dea & Bridget Monaghan. At the age of 15 she travelled to Australia aboard the inchinnan. I would love to find information about her life before beginning her life in Australia. </p>
      <p>Kind regards,  kery</p>

    • #10799
      Ed and Pat O’Day

      Hello Kery,

      If my experience in the U.S. is any indicator, you are among the fortunate few who know both when and exactly where your Irish ancestor was born. Many third and fourth generation Irish-Americans do not even know their Irish county of origin. You are in luck that there is only one Irish place known at Claretuam. It is a townland (the smallest Irish geographical unit) in the Civil Parish of Belclare, in Clare Barony, County Galway. So you have the equivalent of a postal address in modern day Ireland.

      Ordinarily, that would be enough for you to locate your ggggrandmother’s baptismal record, and perhaps the marriage record of her parents Thomas O’Dea and Bridget Monaghan. Unfortunately, not all the Catholic Parish Registers in the area of Claretuam have survived, and I cannot locate either record in the indexed Catholic sacramental records available on line.

      I have some good news, however. A series of books known as “Griffith’s Valuation” list every household in Ireland, and they serve as a mid-19th century census substitute for the entire island. The book that includes Claretuam was published in 1855, six years after Mary O’Dea set sail for Australia. Only 15 families lived in Claretuam at the time, three of them O’Deas. The Thomas O’Dea at #4, who leased 14 acres of land, is presumably Mary’s father. At 8 pounds annual rental for a house, land and an outbuilding. the rent was substantial. It as not a large farm, but probably enough to sustain a family in ordinary times. But these were not ordinary times. The Great Irish Potato Famine, which had begun in 1845, cost the lives of a least a million Irish men, women and children, and forced another million and half, including your ggggrandmother Mary, to emigrate or starve.

      For more details, you may view an image of the original printed page at

      Learning anything specific about Mary O’Dea’s life in Ireland before her emigration is unlikely. She probably had little or no education; there were no public schools in the area when she was born. For example, my Great Grandfather, born in a neighboring Galway parish in 1826, signed his American railroad payroll with an X. His native language, and hers, would have been Irish, not English.

      Do you know if any of Mary’s siblings also emigrated? If so, learning more about them might help you learn more about her. The Irish Census of 1901 gives evidence that some of her siblings or cousins not only survived the famine, but lived on the same townland into their 80’s.

      I wish I could tell you more, but I hope this information may at least be more than you had.

      Ed O’Day
      O’Dea Clan Genealogist USA

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