First sighting of my elusive Gavin family in Dublin, Ireland…alleluia!

For years I’ve been trying to locate something, anything about one of my families while they were still in Ireland. Despite evidence on their shipping records, their death certificates, obituaries etc, the Irish lives of Denis Gavin and his wife Ellen nee Murphy have remained elusive. The daughter who arrived with them on the Fortune in December 1855, was Mary, aged 2, born in Dublin. The parents were said to have married in Dublin, and Denis was supposedly born in Ballymore, Co Kildare and Ellen in Davidstown, Co Wicklow. Research into these has so far been unproductive despite visiting both places.

In October 2011 the Irish Department of the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht released new Dublin church records on its wonderful site, Irish Genealogy. Ever optimistic I gave the new records a chance with my Gavin-Murphy search. It’s a little fiddly compared with many of the sites we typically use, but well worth persevering….and it’s FREE!

Imagine my astonishment and delight to find a baptism of a daughter, Mary, to this couple at St Catherine’s Church in Dublin on 5 December 1851. This is the first sighting of this family in Ireland so a cause for great celebration. It’s clear this child cannot be the one who arrived with them in 1855 despite having the same name as it would be difficult to claim a four year old as a two year old. So it’s likely this child was one of their children who died young.

Extract from the St Catherine's registers which show Mary Gavin's baptism from the IrishGenealogy site.

Research indicates that the church in which Mary was baptised is the Roman Catholic church of St Catherine of Alexandria in Meath St, Dublin. This blogtalks a little about its architecture and provides some images. This Irish Ancestors link also provides some information on the parish in general.

This may be a small step in my search to trace the Gavin-Murphy family back to their Irish roots but as we all know, each little chink in the armour leads us on. The progressive digitisation of records is invaluable in the search for missing ancestors in a city as large as Dublin.

16 thoughts on “First sighting of my elusive Gavin family in Dublin, Ireland…alleluia!

  1. I know that feeling well… and it is so exciting. I burst into tears when I first found my then elusive family in the 1901 census… from there on, there was no stopping me, as I actually had a parish and the names of more than my grandmother and two sisters… from all of that I traced through and found the village my family had lived in, no longer just Co Clare.. and found that the great uncle I’d been writing to had lived not far from where he was born and where other family live today. Well done, Pauline, I am so pleased for you.


    1. Thanks Crissouli, I empathise with your discovery. That first find is all the sweeter when Irish research can be so tricky. I love your wonderful success story. Which village were they in?


    1. While we research we hope Geniaus….we family historians must be the ultimate optimists at least in regard to research. The Irish are a challenge without a doubt.


    1. How interesting that you’ve had the same experience Ruth. I have my fingers crossed that as more are released I might find more entries. Still I’m very grateful for the one I did find.


  2. Wow, I was almost as excited as you about the siting — and not even close to my family. We genealogist are a weird bunch.
    BTW, I really like your pictures that cycle through on your heading. Very nice. One day when the dragons and alligators are at bay, I will query you as to how you did that. Very nice, I say again.


    1. Thanks Joan…we are indeed a weird lot (as per a movie and book title re Aussies from 1960s). One of the nice things about genealogy is that we all share each other’s excitement with a find. The pictures on cycle is part of the blog design I chose from WordPress but the pictures are mine of different family places overseas with one or two I just like (eg the Irish beach scene)


  3. I have just found your comment in my moderation box. Thank you for visiting my blog. It is interesting to note that you were in Papua at one time. I also worked there for 7 years in the 60’s.
    You are doing a fine job with your genealogy. I started some years ago but gave up. I should start again as a relative sent me heaps of info. It must have been exciting to find a lost family.


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