A Story of Emigration

Southeast Wicklow to Ontario

    Written by Anne Burgess and Joseph Kenny  / Chart research by Anne Burgess

(Please read to bottom)

    In his book, Surplus People, Jim Rees has described the program of assisted emigration that Lord Fitzwilliam initiated in the late 1840s to reduce the number of tenants on his estate in southwest Wicklow. Most of these emigrants sailed from New Ross to Quebec City, but few of them stayed in Quebec, where the population was for the most part French-speaking. Instead, they continued on down the St. Lawrence River to the province of Ontario (then called Upper Canada) and became part of Irish communities there. The following details the chain migration that drew them to two such communities.

                             Eastern Ontario

    The British government’s creation of the Rideau Canal in eastern Ontario (1826-1832) was accomplished with the labour (and in some cases, the lives) of many Irish workers from the Fitzwilliam estate in southwest Co. Wicklow.

    We know at least some of their names, recorded in an 1829 petition (the McCabe List)[i] to have family members join them: John Byrnes of Ballynultagh (family at Knockatomcoyle); James Byrnes (family at Muskeagh); William Hopkins (Coolkenna); Thomas Hawkins (Kiltegan); Charles Dowgard (?) (Tinahely); Daniel Murphy (Coolbeg (Killabeg?); Lancelot Jackson (Tullow, Aghowle); Matthew Dunn (Ballintemple).

     The Canal, intended to provide a navigable link between the Ottawa River and the town of Kingston, Ontario to the west, provided wage work for the labourers. It also provided them with an opportunity, at the time of the Canal’s completion, to acquire grants of land along the route.

      Thus, in the 1840s when Lord Fitzwilliam’s tenants began arriving in Canada, the Rideau Canal labourers from southwest Wicklow, now settlers, were the source of new Canadian homes for many of the emigrés.

    The 1851 and 1881 Canadian censuses document [ii] the presence of these new immigrants and their families, from Ottawa to Smiths Falls to Brockville to Kingston:

        Name of Tenant                    From              Settled In
        Name of Tenant  From              Settled In
BAILEY, William and Letitia Rosnastraw Kingston, ON
BALANCE, Mary and Elizabeth Minmore Bytown (Ottawa, ON)
BALFE, John and DOBBS, Alice Hillbrooke Kitley, ON; later Oro, ON
BALFE, Nicholas and KEALEY, Catherine Hillbrooke Montague Twp., ON
BALFE, Thomas and KENNY, Sarah Hillbrooke South Elmsley, ON
BALLANCE, William and Jane Ballard Marlborough, ON
BEAGHAN, John and BYRNE, Ann Tombreane Bytown (Ottawa, ON) and Chelsea, QC
BEDLOW, Richard and Sarah Aghowle Brockville, ON
BOURKE, John and Ann Cronelea Camden, ON
BOWE, Sarah Coolattin Brockville, ON
BOWEN, Richard and Mary Ballybeg Escott, ON
BREEN, James New Row Sidney, ON
BREEN, Martin, Catherine, and Mary Coolattin (New Row) Prescott, ON and Oxford, ON
BREEN, Michael and LEE, Mary New Row Kingston, ON
BREEN, Thomas; Mary; Elizabeth Ballykelly Camden, ON
BROUGHAN, Alice HENNESSY; Ann; John; James; Richard Gowle Hungerford, ON
BROWN, Lawrence and Cecilia Minmore Bytown (Ottawa, ON)
BURKET, John and KINSELLA, Elizabeth Killinure Sheffield, ON
BYRNE, Andrew and ROARKE, Catherine Hillbrooke Brockville, ON
BYRNE, Arthur and KEHOE, Elizabeth Coolruss Park Augusta, ON
BYRNE, Daniel Boley Hungerford, ON
BYRNE, Denis and DONAHOE, Bridget; James; Hetty Boley Sheffield, ON
BYRNE, Edward and CONNORS, Bridget Coolattin Bytown (Ottawa, ON)
BYRNE, Garret and PIERCE, Elizabeth Ballincorbeg Brockville, ON?;  Rossie, NY
BYRNE, Henry and HOGAN, Mary Drummin Sheffield, ON
BYRNE, James and Catherine Ballyraheen Bytown (Ottawa, ON)
BYRNE, James and DEWEY, Mary Coolkenna Hungerford, ON
BYRNE, John and Ellen Ballynultagh Kingston, ON
BYRNE, John and Mary Coolkenna Brockville, ON
BYRNE, Luke Moylisha Gloucester, ON
BYRNE, Michael and Jane Ballyraheen Bytown (Ottawa, ON)
BYRNE, Michael and Margaret Ballynultagh Marlborough, ON
BYRNE, Patrick and DEEGAN, Alice Killinure Belleville, ON
BYRNE, Patrick, and CASEY, Ellen; Dolly; Bridget Ballynultagh Gloucester, ON and Bytown (Ottawa, ON)
BYRNE, Rachel; John Coolattin Bytown (Ottawa, ON)
BYRNE, Samuel and Ann; Mary Anne Rosbane Brockville, ON
BYRNE, Timothy (s/o Thomas and Sarah) Ballynultagh Gloucester, ON
BYRNE, Timothy, Thomas, John, and Mary Ballynultagh Camden, ON
BYRNE, William and Mary Gowle Camden, ON
CALL, Thomas; Francis; Sarah Mucklagh Hungerford, ON
CARR (KERR), Richard and Ann Coolboy Elizabethtown, ON
CARR, Mary; George; John Ballykelly Brockville, ON
CARROLL, James and WELSH, Margaret Coolattin Camden, ON
CARROLL, John and Bridget; John Jr. Ballycumber Winchester, ON
CASSIDY, John and HARMON, Bridget Killinure Hungerford, ON
CASSIDY, Samuel and HUGHES, Mary Killinure Camden, ON
CASSIDY, Thomas and FOLEY, Bridget Killinure Hungerford, ON
CASSIDY, William and DUNN, Mary Killinure Hungerford, ON
CLARE, Thomas and CONNORS, Rebecca Motabower, Co. Wexford Camden, ON
CLEARY, Simon and Ellen Farnees Brockville, ON
COGHLAN, Thomas and MURPHY, Margaret Park Kitley, ON
COGHLIN, Elizabeth; Margaret Laragh Camden, ON
COLLINS, Patrick and Margaret Coolfancy Brockville, ON
CONDELL, George; Thomas Rathbane Bytown (Ottawa, ON)
CONNERS, John and Catherine Boley Sidney, ON
CONNORS, Thomas and Catherine Motabower, Co. Wexford Camden, ON
COSKER (COSGROVE), Robert and FANNING, Bridget Croneyhorn (Hot Pot Lane) Gloucester, ON
CUMMINS, Thomas and BARRETT, Ann Croneyhorn Cornwall, ON
DAGG, Edward and CODE, Eliza Aghowle Kitley, ON
DEEGAN, James and WHELAN, Catherine Killinure Belleville, ON
DEEGAN, William and DOYLE, Catherine Killinure Belleville, ON
DOLAN, Bridget; Thomas Gowle Sheffield, ON
DONNELLY, Bartholomew and QUAIL, Joanna Ballyraheen Bytown (Ottawa, ON)
DONOGHUE/DONAGHUE, James and NOLAN, Anastasia Aghowle Camden, ON
DORCEY, James and Margaret Ballynultagh Kingston, ON
DOYLE, James and ROARK, Mary Hillbrooke Brockville, ON
DOYLE, Morgan  Kilballyowen Dungannon, ON (Hastings N.)
DOYLE, Patrick and Catherine Killinure Camden, ON
DOYLE, Patrick and OSBURN, Bridget Aghowle Camden, ON
DOYLE, Peter and siblings, and mother Honoria DOYLE Coolruss Park Augusta, ON
DOYLE, Stephen Glenphilippeen Montreal, QC and Cornwall, ON
DUNN, Peter; Ann Killabeg Sheffield, ON
EAGERS, Charles and Jane; Thomas and Joshua Knockatomcoyle South Elmsley, ON
EBBS, John; Thomas Knocknaboley Bytown (Ottawa, ON)
EDWARDS, William and Esther Ballycumber Augusta, ON
FENLON, William and DOYLE, Bridget Killinure Hungerford, ON
FITZGERALD, Richard and Catherine; William; John Killabeg Camden, ON
FLEMING, Joanna Killinure Camden, ON
FLEMING, Patrick and McGRATH, Mary Killinure Hungerford, ON
FOSTER, George Ballykelly Brockville, ON
FOSTER, James and BALFE, Margaret Carnew Kitley, ON
FOSTER, John and Mary Ballynultagh Camden, ON
FOX, Simon Coolboy Brockville, ON
FREE, Mary; Samuel Kilcavan Kingston, ON
FURLONG, John and Margaret Ballard Loughborough, ON and Camden, ON
GAFNEY, Jeremiah and MURPHY, Ann (Ann died at Grosse Isle.) Stranakelly Hungerford, ON
GAHAN, William and KENNEDY, Mary Kilquiggan Camden, ON
GARRET, Thomas, Eliza and Bridget Coolnafinogue Brockville, ON
GILES, Miles and Sally Coolroe Brockville, ON
HAFFERY, John and Ann Minmore Elizabethtown, ON
HANDRICK, Michael and BALFE, Margaret Kennystown Chelsea, QC (close to Ottawa, ON)
HANNON, Matt and Margaret Knocknaboley Gloucester, ON
HEADON/HAYDEN, John and Catherine Glenphilippeen Kingston, ON
HEALY/HEALEY, Bridget MORAN; Lawrence; Denis Killinure Hungerford, ON
HEALY/HEALEY, Thomas; David Killinure Kingston, ON & Wolfe Island, ON
HENNESSY, Elizabeth BYRNE; Mary; Catherine; Daniel Ballynultagh Camden, ON & Hungerford, ON
HICKEY, Patrick and Dolly Kilcavan Brockville, ON
HICKEY, Peter and family, including John HICKEY and wife Mary DORAN BIRCH HICKEY, plus the BIRCH children Kilcavan Brockville, ON
HIGGINS, Michael Ballyvolen Belleville, ON
HINCH, James and Bridget Ballynultagh Camden, ON
HINCH, John; Bridget; Mary Killabeg Sheffield, ON
HINCH, Thomas; William Ballinguile Camden, ON
HOPKINS, Nicholas and BYRNE, Elizabeth Ballynultagh Bytown (Ottawa, ON) and Gloucester, ON
HUGHES, Philip and Betty Laragh Camden, ON
HUNT, James and KAVANAGH, Catherine Ardoyne Bastard, ON
JACKSON, Benjamin; Mary Knockatomcoyle South Elmsley, ON
JACKSON, Martha; Joshua; Samuel; John; Mary; Elizabeth; Joseph Hillbrooke Brockville, ON
JAMES, Mary FLEMING; Michael; Martin; Lawrence Kilquiggan Camden, ON
KAVANAGH, John; Ann; Catherine; Killinure Camden, ON
KAVANAGH, Phelim/Felix and HICKEY, Mary Kilcavan Kingston, ON
KEARNS, Edward Ballinguile Camden, ON
KEHOE, Denis and HANDRICK, Mary Kennystown Bytown (Ottawa, ON)
KEHOE, Martin and WHITE, Elizabeth Ballingate Sydney, ON
KEHOE, Michael and HANDRICK, Johanna Tombreane Camden, ON
KELLY, Thomas and Catherine Aghowle Brockville, ON
KENNY, Thomas  and PURCELL, Eleanor Motabower, Co. Wexford Kitley, ON; later S. Elmsley, ON
KERRIVAN, James  and HASKINS, Ellen Boley Gloucester, ON
KERRIVAN/KERWIN, Patrick and CUMMINS, Ann Croneyhorn Cornwall, ON
KIDD, William; Joseph; Thomas Coolkenna Camden, ON
KIMMIT, John and Dorothy/Dolly Knocknaboley Camden, ON
KINSELAGH (KINSELLA), Michael Ballynultagh Gananoque, ON
KINSHLEY/KINSELLA, Pierce and Betty Coolattin Belleville, ON
LAWLOR, Morgan and WELSH, Catherine Killinure Sheffield, ON
LOUGHLIN, Denis Laragh Camden, ON
LOWMAN, Michael and BALFE, Mary, and Michael’s brother, Thomas Coolattin Kitley, ON
LYONS, Edward Boley Camden, ON
McCANN, Elizabeth O'BRIEN; Bryan; George; Patrick Aghowle Bytown (Ottawa, ON) and Gloucester, ON
McGORMICK/McCORMICK, Michael and DOYLE, Ann Stranakelly Camden, ON
McGRATH, John Killinure Hungerford, ON
McGRATH, Nicholas Killinure Hungerford, ON
McGRATH, William and BYRNE, Mary Ballynultagh Gloucester, ON
McGUIRE, Patrick and FOX, Mary Ballard Camden, ON
MURPHY, Patrick and DOBBS, Julia Parkmore Kitley, ON; later Oro, ON
NEALE, Michael and Bess Ballynultagh Camden, ON
NEALE, Patrick and Jane Coolkenna Camden, ON
NEALE, Thomas and Catherine Gowle Camden, ON
O’TOOLE, Thomas and Mary Gurteen Brockville, ON
O'TOOLE, John and Mary Coolboy Edwardsburgh, ON
PARSLEY/PASLEY, John and Mary Glenphilippeen Kingston, ON
PEARSON, Richard, Sarah, and John Carnew Elizabethtown, ON
PIERCE, Rachel Coolattin Elizabethtown, ON
PIERCE, Robert Coolattin Brockville, ON
POLLARD, John Toorboy Nepean, ON
PRESTLEY, Elizabeth O'DONOGHUE; Catherine Ballynultagh Bytown (Ottawa, ON)
PRESTLEY, Robert and Susan Motabower, Co. Wexford Goulbourne, ON
QUIRKE, Peter and Betty Ballynultagh Camden, ON
RICKERBY, John; Hannah/Ann Tomacork Elizabethtown, ON
ROARKE/ROURKE/O'ROURKE, Thomas; Hugh Ballynultagh Earnestown, ON
ROCHE, Michael and Eleanor Ballyvolen Belleville, ON
SCANTLIN/SCANLIN, William and DALTON, Elizabeth Stranakelly Sheffield, ON
SHERIDAN, Nicholas  and MULLINS, Eliza, and Eliza’s father, Michael MULLEN Carnew Brockville, ON
SINGLETON, Eliza and Ally Ballykelly Brockville, ON
SINGLETON, John and Sally; William Jr. Ballynultagh Brockville, ON
SPRAT, Michael and Byrne, Mary Newry Sheffield, ON
SUMMERS, John and Ann Hillbrooke Brockville, ON
SUMMERS, Thomas Coolattin Earnestown, ON
SWEENEY, Roger Kilquiggan Sheffield, ON
TALLON, Matthew and WALKER, Mary Knockatomcoyle Bytown (Ottawa, ON)
TALLON, Peter; Denis; John Kilquiggan Portland, ON
TALLON, Peter; Edward; Catherine Ballynultagh Portland, ON
TIMMONS, Peter, Patrick, and Peggy Ballynultagh Portland, ON
TOMKIN (TOMKINS), Peter; John; Catherine Newtown Gloucester, ON 
TOMKIN, Charles and Anne Coolroe Yonge Front, ON
TOMPKIN (TOMPKINS), William and Susan Croneyhorn Camden, ON
TRACEY, Thomas and Ann Ballyconnell Camden, ON
TRAINOR, Thomas and BRADY, Honor Croneyhorn Augusta, ON
TRAVERS, Peter and Harriet Aghowle Bytown (Ottawa, ON)
TWAMLEY, Henry and Elizabeth Ballykelly Camden, ON
TYRRELL, Nick Ballyconnell Camden, ON
VALENTINE, Jane Knocknaboley Camden, ON
WALL, Margaret DEWEY; John; Mary; Sarah; Abraham Coolkenna Camden, ON
WALL, William and LOUGHLIN, Anne Laragh Camden, ON
WALSH, John and BURKET, Ann Killinure Sheffield, ON
WELSH, James Coolattin Camden, ON
WHELAN, Bridget SIMPSON Ballynultagh Aylmer, QC
WHELAN, James and Betty Ballynultagh Aylmer, QC
WHELAN, William and IRETON, Frances Aghowle Camden, ON
NEALE/O'NEILL, Peter and HUGHES, Mary; brother Thomas NEALE. (Peter died at Grosse Isle.) Aghowle Hungerford, ON
NEALE/O'NEILL, Owen and Margaret (Owen died at sea.) Aghowle Camden, ON
RATHWELL/ROTHWELL, John Killaveny Brockville, ON

     A large number of Fitzwilliam émigrés from the Carnew area settled around Smiths Falls, many of them part of the extended family of Edward Balfe of Kennystown, and the families they were connected to by marriage.  This area around Smiths Falls includes the townships of Kitley, Lombardy,  North and South Elmsley, Bastard,  North and South Crosby, Wolford, Montague, Yonge, and Burgess.

 Edward Balfe had two relatives who had worked on the Rideau Canal: his brother, John Balfe (m. Mary Byrne) of Gurteen; and his niece’s (Mary Balfe) husband, Michael Shanks of Boley.  These early Balfes had acquired land in Kitley; it and South Elmsley, farming townships close to Smiths Falls, were home to a number of other Canal workers, as well.

 In the late 1840s, Michael and Mary Shanks offered a welcome to their Balfe connections from Carnew: John Balfe and Alice Dobbs (from Parkmore); Thomas Balfe and Sarah Kenny (from Kennystown); Nicholas Balfe and Catherine Kealey (from Kennystown); Michael Lowman and Mary Balfe (from Carnew), along with Michael’s brother, Thomas; James Foster and Margaret Balfe (from Carnew); Thomas Kenny and Eleanor Purcell (from Motabower); and Patrick Murphy and Julia Dobbs (from Parkmore). [iii]

 Edward Balfe’s daughter, Margaret, and her husband Michael Handrick, had left Kennystown a year before the group above, and settled just outside Ottawa, to farm in the Meech Creek area, as did John Beaghan and Ann Byrne (from Tombreane). Margaret and Michael Handrick’s  daughter, Mary (m. Denis Kehoe of Tombreane) settled in Bytown itself (as Ottawa was then known).

     Most of the Balfes remained near Smiths Falls, raised their families, and prospered. Thomas Balfe and his son farmed some 300 acres, and later took over another farm that was the future site of the Smiths Falls Golf and Country Club. In time, Thomas and his wife, Sarah Kenny, took on with Mary Balfe and Michael Shanks the care of those in need. 

  Nicholas Balfe and Catherine Kealey’s son, Nicholas Jr., founded the grain exchange in Winnipeg and became a millionaire.

Another family that left the Carnew area in 1851 was Thomas and Ellen Purcell Kenny, with their  family, which first settled in Kitley, then South Elmsley.  Their family had the lease in Kilcavan/Kennystown and have farmed the land, even to present day.  The Balfe family lived in Kennystown with this family and even for a short time, was granted the lease, which was later given back to Richard Kenny, which was Thomas' brother. On arrival to Ontario, they were in Kitley, where they lived in a shanty, later moved to South Elmsley where they had a small farm. The children were raised in South Elmsely and once adults, most had moved to Nasewaupee, Door County, Wisconsin, in the early 1870's. Thomas lived out his life in South Elmsley and is buried in the Catholic Cemetery, in Smiths Falls.

   Central Ontario

       The Kenny family of southwestern Carnew parish, and in particular Myles Kenny (who married Dorothea Briscoe Wilkie in Kennystown on July 10, 1829),  was the nucleus for a wave of settlers from the Fitzwilliam estate to an area north of Toronto, Ontario: the town of Barrie, and the surrounding farming communities of Vespra, Essa, and Oro.

BALFE, John and DOBBS, Alice Hillbrooke Oro, ON
BANNISTER, Andrew and Elizabeth Askakeagh Trafalgar, ON
BOGGS, Leyburn and BYRNE, Jane Rossbane Garafraxa East, ON
BOULGER, Judith Glenphillippeen Cobourg, ON
BOWES, James and ELLIOT, Eliza Coolfancy St. Vincent, ON
BYRNE, Edward and Betty Coolfancy Barrie, ON
BYRNE, Edward and Margaret Tanseyclose Haldimand, ON
BYRNE, Hugh Ballyshonog? Garafraxa West, ON
BYRNE, John and Mary Toberlownagh Hamilton Twp., ON (Northumberland County)
BYRNE, Margaret DOYLE Coolfancy Barrie, ON
BYRNE, Mary KENNY Kilcavan Vespra, ON
BYRNE, Mary; Joseph; Lawrence; Mark; Mary Ann; Peter Ballinguile Hamilton, ON
BYRNE, Mat and Fanny Toorboy Niagara, ON
BYRNE, Patrick and Ann Toberpatrick Etobicoke, ON
BYRNE, Patrick and Ann Cronelea Darlington, ON
BYRNE, Patrick and Ellen Rosbane Trafalgar, ON
BYRNE, Simon and BRIEN, Margaret Coolboy York, ON
BYRNE, William and Bridget Coolfancy Toronto, ON 
CARNEY, Betty; Richard Moylisha Etobicoke, ON and Colborne Twp, ON
CARROLL, John and Bridget Coolfancy York, ON
CARROLL, Joshua and Alice Coolfancy Etobicoke, ON
COADY, Patrick and Mary Rathshanmore Whitby, ON
COLLINS, Ann and Jane (Grandy stepdaughters) Croneyhorn Manvers, ON
CONNELL, Edward and McCARTHY, Ann Kilcavan Arthur, ON
CONNELL, James Kilcavan Arthur, ON
CUFFE, James and Mary Askakeagh Percy, ON
CUFFE, John and Anne Askakeagh Bentinck, ON
CURREN/CURRAN, Patrick and TOOLE, Mary Coolboy Toronto, ON (Peel)
DILLON, Richard Rosnakill Dereham, ON
DORCEY, Miles; Peter; Catherine Coolroe Etobicoke, ON and Glenelg, ON
DOYLE, James and Judy Kilmalone Toronto, ON
DOYLE, Pat and Biddy Killinure Hamilton Twp., ON (Northumberland County)
DUNN, Frank and Lucy Rathbane Whitby, ON
FOX, Denis and Elizabeth Coolboy Hamilton Twp., ON (Northumberland County)
FREEMAN, Richard Toorboy South Easthope, ON
GAHAN, Elizabeth Farnees Toronto, ON and Newmarket, ON
GRAHAM, Nicholas Carnew Toronto, ON
GRANDY, Henry and Susan Croneyhorn Manvers, ON
GRIFFIN, Thomas and Jane Knocknaboley Howick, ON
HAGEN, John and Ann Carrigroe Markham, ON
HARMON, Edward, James, Peter, Thomas; cousin Peter Harmon Ballinguile Hamilton, ON and Aldborough, ON (Elgin West)
HEALY, James and Winny Askakeagh Brighton, ON
HEFFERNAN, John and TOMPKINS, Sally Coolroe Vespra, ON
HOPKINS, Edward and Jane Corndog Somerville, ON
HUTTON, Thomas and Charlotte Slievenamough Bentinck, ON
JOHNSTON, Henry and Mary Ballinglen Hamilton, ON
KAVANAGH, Garret and Mary Ballyraheen Arthur, ON
KAVANAGH, John and KENNY, Catherine Parkmore Vespra, ON
KEARY/CAREY, Robert Kilballyowen Niagara, ON
KENNY, Martin  Tomacork Vespra, ON
KERRIVAN/KERWIN, Cornelius; Eliza Ballinguile Niagara, ON
LAMBERT, Catherine Slievemweel Brighton, ON
LAWRENCE, Anthony and Dorothy Rathshanmore Toronto, ON
LAWRENCE, Henry; Anthony; Susanna; Martha Slieveroe Bobcageon, ON and Somerville, ON
LAWRENCE, John and Martha Slieveroe Glenelg, ON
LAWRENCE, Thomas and Henrietta Rathshanmore Whitby, ON
LEE, John and Mary Coolfancy Trafalgar, ON
LYNCH, Anne Byrne; Michael Glenphillippeen Barrie, ON and Toronto, ON
MELLON, Peter and Jane Coolboy Vaughan, ON
MOORE, Mary HEFFERNAN Ballykelly Barrie, ON
MORRIS, Stephen and CUMMERFORD, Bridget Mullans Toronto, ON (Peel)
MURPHY, Edward Mullannaskeagh Proton, ON
MURPHY, Margaret DOYLE; John; Margaret Parkmore Vespra, ON
MURPHY, Patrick and DOBBS, Julia Parkmore Oro, ON
MURPHY, Philip and Bridget Tomnafinnogue Proton, ON
MYERS, Dorothy Tallyhoe Manvers, ON
NOWLAN, Mary; Edward; Patrick Killinure Normanby, ON
O'NEAL, Patrick and Dolly Kilballyowen Etobicoke, ON
PRESTLEY, Robert and Mary Motabower Etobicoke, ON
REDMOND, John and Ann Croneyhorn Hay, ON
ROACH, Catherine Motybower Chinguacousy, ON
ROSSITER, Ann Tombreane Adjala, ON
ROSSITER, John Tombreane Tecumseth, ON
ROSSITER, Patrick and Ann Tombreane York East, ON
RYAN, Michael and Mary Coolfancy York, ON
SHANNON, Ann DOYLE Hillbrooke Barrie, ON
SHERIDAN, Edward and DOYLE, Ann; William; Mary Slievenamough Orillia, ON
SHERIDAN, Lawrence and Bridget; Patrick Slievenamough Orillia, ON
TWAMLEY, George and Eliza Rosnastraw Whitby, ON
WHELAN, William and Mary Ballynavortha Pickering, ON
BYRNE, Silvester and Ann Coolfancy Toronto, ON
DOYLE, John and O'BRIEN, Ann Rosbane Adjala, ON

 Myles Kenny and his family arrived there in the early 1830s, along with Peter Murphy (m. Margaret Ann Doyle) from Kilcavan (Murphy had been a British navy veteran who had petitioned for land in Vespra); Michael Kenny (m. Mary Doyle) from Parkmore; Bridget Kenny (m. Patrick Doran) from Kennystown; and Henry Murphy (m. Catherine Kenny) from Umrygar.

     Myles was their leader: he could read and write, where the others could not. The first school in Vespra was held in a log house on his property, where an older relative, Margaret Kenny (b. c1783) lived.

     Myles was also active in the early political life of the settlement. He was a member of the first municipal council, and he served as its Reeve (mayor) from

1837-1849. (Myles was a Catholic, and it is interesting to see his political prominence in this corner of Protestant-dominated early Ontario.)

     During the famine exodus years of 1847-1853, other Kenny relatives, and the families they were connected to by marriage, came to join Myles Kenny in the Barrie area: Martin Kenny (m. Catherine Toole) of Tomacork; Mary Kenny (m. Michael Byrne) of Kilcavan; Catherine Kenny (m. John Kavanagh) of Parkmore; Sarah Connors (widow of John Myers) of Carnew (she became Martin Kenny’s second wife); Margaret Doyle (m. Martin Murphy) of Parkmore; Ann Doyle (m. Patrick Shannon) of Hillbrooke; Margaret Doyle (m. William Byrne) of Coolfancy; John Heffernan (m. Sally Tompkins) of Coolroe; Sarah Heffernan (m. Patrick Moore) of Ballykelly.

    About 1856, John Balfe (m. Alice Dobbs) of Hillbrooke, and Patrick Murphy (m. Julia Dobbs) of Parkmore, [iv] (who had earlier settled near Smiths Falls, Ontario) having heard of the good land near Barrie, came to join their former Wicklow neighbors there.

    Myles Kenny’s story has a very sad ending, however.  In July 1838, nine of his children died in a single day from mushroom poisoning, and it is said that their coffins were constructed and set out on the Kenny farm’s front lawn. There was no Catholic cemetery in Barrie at the time, and the children were likely buried at the farm’s lot line, as was the custom at the time. Today, they are memorialized in a stone next to that of their parents in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Barrie.

    Myles Kenny died on January 11, 1874 in Vespra Township, Simcoe County, Ontario.

    Despite the terrible tragedy in Myles Kenny’s family, it is most consoling to uncover the web of family relationships in these two Ontario communities—relationships that made the emigres’ arrival in this country a bit less daunting.

For the most part, the lives of the people from southwest Wicklow who moved to Ontario appear to have been successful.  Many developed large farms and some became prominent in their communities.

     These successes are inspiring to report, as one reads that heartbreaking line attached to the Fitzwilliam emigration record for so many of their tenants:  “house to be pulled down.”[v]

[i] Bruce S. Elliott, The McCabe List: Early Irish in the Ottawa Valley, Toronto: The Ontario Genealogical Society, 2002

[ii] National Archives, Government of Canada: Census of 1851; Census of 1881.

[iii] Jim Rees, CD-ROM, Fitzwilliam Tenants Listed in the Coolattin Estate Emigration, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, 1847-1856, Haberfield, Australia: Clever Cat Genealogy/

[iv] Jim Rees, CD-ROM, Fitzwilliam Tenants Listed in the Coolattin Estate Emigration, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, 1847-1856, Haberfield, Australia: Clever Cat Genealogy/

[v] Fitzwilliam Manuscripts, NLI, Dublin