Tracing your Ancestors in Effin

For the year of the gathering 2013, I finally completed my family tree on the Kennedys of Effin. I am very proud of my ancestry as they have fought and died for our rights and the rights of our country. Our ancestors have lived through some of Ireland’s darkest hours, from the famine and survived two world wars. They have spread their wings to the four corners of the globe. In researching my family tree have found it very interesting and it has given me a deeper understand my roots and linked me to what was going on in Ireland and the world and all these have helped to shape us and my family today.

During my research, I found the following links helpful in this piece of research.

  1.  – this was my choice – and I used the software called Family Tree Maker which linked all updates to their online site

However, both sites require payment to search their records.

Speak to older members of your family to get their memories. – Initially, I spoke to the older members of the family to write down their relations (sadly some have now passed on, so was glad to have done it.)


An invaluable source for getting dates and working out their year of birth.

Both Effin and Kilquane Graveyards are now digitally recorded on the http://www.historicgraves site.  This was a joint project between local volunteers and Ballyhoura.

Effin –


Parish Register Records

This website contains images from the NLI’s collection of Catholic parish register microfilms. The registers contain records of baptisms and marriages from the majority of Catholic parishes in Ireland and Northern Ireland up to 1880.

Effin and Garrienderk :

Microfilm 02427 / 03
Baptisms                  Mar. 1843 to 17 Mar. 1881
Marriages                24 Apr. 1843 to 19 Nov. 1881

The national Census of Ireland

The 1901 and 1911 censuses are the only surviving full censuses of Ireland open to the public. Both censuses cover the island of Ireland. They were released to public inspection in 1961, because of the stream of requests for information about people’s ages, particularly those born before civil registration of births began in 1864.

The 1901 census was taken on 31st March 1901. The 1911 census was taken on 2 April 1911.

See if you can find your ancestors in the link below

Tithe Applotment Books

If your family was in Effin around 1823 – 1837 you may find them on the Tithe Applotment Books for the parish, however, only the head of the family was named on the list.

There are other useful links you may use, like the local library and the Ordnance Survey Maps the find what buildings, houses were in the area at different times.,559319,623172,5,9

So why not get started and start your family tree, it’s a fantastic legacy to pass on to your children and grandchildren, after all, to find out where we are going we need to understand where we came from.


Brother Stephen Russell from Thomastown,

I recently came across this article below written about Brother Russell. He was born and reared in Thomastown, Effin and is one of our parishes colorful and well known citizens. His work and advocacy for the homeless men of limerick was recognized after his death by the naming of a homeless shelter after him. It is located between Mount St Laurence cemetery and St Joseph’s hospital. The building mentioned in article below is now knocked and a new bigger facility is being built in its place, it will keep the name Brother Russell house.

Many of you may not have heard of him or this facility, but we should be proud of his achievements and compassion during his lifetime is still having an impact and positive effect on people’s lives in limerick.

Article below written by his friend Ted O’Riordan, Charleville

Bro. Stephen Russell – Good Samaritan of the down and outs
To have known Brother Stephen of the congregation of the Alexian Brothers was a privilege, but to have known Jim Russell, the man who became Brother Stephen, was indeed a revelation. I was privileged to have known the two sides of this wonderful man of God who to use a cliche, became a legend in his own lifetime this kindly loving and loveable character who became the apostle of the drop-outs and the winos and the Good Samaritan to the homeless and the lonely. I do not think I am doing his memory any injustice in referring to him as a drop-out and a misfit, since after are we not all drop-outs and misfits, unless and until we eventually find our true niche and answer the call to our real vocation in life! Some of us indeed never find it and so become all of our lives Jim Russell truly found his when he became an Alexian Brother.
After a rather hectic and varied career from the time he left school until he reached the age of 31 years he appeared to be carefree and happy but deep down in his heart and Soul he was lonely and unhappy and when eventually he found experession for his God given gifts of caring for and helping the outcasts and the homeless, he expressed his thoughts and feeling in poetry. The title of the little book is entitled Happiness and it reads as follows:

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Tobernea Manor

Effin had a Norman manor, located in the town land of Tobernea,  it was in a field near Leos farm near Macs cross.   Nothing remains now of the castle except what’s documented on ordinance survey maps. It appears to have been an important place in its time around the area,

In the Thirteenth century the Manor of Tiberneyum (Tobbernea)was an important castle at the time holding a weekly market and yearly fair. It was given to Gerard de Prendergast as a part dowry from Richard De Burgh in 1240. Its size and boundaries were defined in 1251 as  “7 fees, 7 carucates and 59 ½ acres” Some of this land was sub-let as part payment for knights fees. There is evidence of serfdom in this manor and the native Irish had given up their freedom and some rights in order to be protected by the local lord. They could not move out of their area without the permission of their lord.

The serfs in Tobernea Manor held 3 carucates for 3 marks a year,

“…the natives here as elsewhere where treated as serfs by the Norman, though it is pleasant to find that some of them occupied a more elevated position in the organisation of this manor than is usually allotted to them”.

The serfs boundaries would have been defined a boundary of by the area of the manor they were attached to which may have been in operation in other castles in Effin, where Ballymacshaneboy Castle and Brickfield Castle

Muinter na Tire in practice and concrete –

Muinter na Tire in practice and concrete –
The building of the Canon Hayes Memorial Hall in Effin 1955- 1959’

The above quote comes from an photographic scrapbook kept by Canon Gerard Wall whose first raised the idea of building a parish hall in Effin at the first annual general meeting of the local Muintir na Tire (MNT) in 1950 . This idea was to grow into a solid functional memorial with the involvement of the entire parish, young and old. Effin is a rural parish located between the towns of Charleville in north Cork and Kilmallock in south Limerick and Ireland in the 1950’s was rife with unemployment and emigration and choice in rural Ireland was the boat or the farm. Canon Hayes who was founder of MNT believed Ireland was losing its sense of community and that the best part of entertainment was meeting the neighbour’s and parish unity was being forgotten. In 1937 “Muinter na Tire” (MNT) a guilds or councils in rural parishes in Ireland was formed by him to stop the vanishing Irish from rural Ireland. Rural communities were still recovering from the bitter and community destroying civil war in the 1920’s. MNT was a persistent and lone voice in the world of Irish Community Development. Between 1937 and 1958 there was a high number of active guilds around the axis of Tipperary, Cork and Limerick, and the Garrienderk and Effin MNT Guild was one of these. In 1958 MNT commissioned a social and economic survey of county Limerick and Effin was included in this extensive survey of rural parishes in Limerick which resulting in the publication of the Limerick Rural Survey (LRS) 1958 – 1964. The growth in the economy in the late 1950’s after was accompanied by a big expansion in social spending which meant that women now had money to socialise and be independent. The Irish Country Women’s Association (ICA) was also helping women to campaign for better facilities and realised that rural water and electrification were essential in rural areas. Russell highlighted the importance of women in rural Ireland by claiming that ‘we cannot build up a rural civilisation in Ireland without the aid of Irish Women’.

Dancing became an important social outlet for young men and women in the 1950’s with many Ballrooms opening up around Ireland under the patronage of the Catholic Church, with profits going to fund the church, there were approximately over 1,100 dancehalls, 1,640 total bands in existence in Ireland between the 1950 and 1970’s. Boys and girls of all backgrounds and ages would dance together, even an elderly bachelor would have no problem getting a dance partner if he was a good dancer Many new ballrooms were quickly built by entrepreneurs and local communities to meet the increased need of the dancing public. The halls were custom built for dancing and usually included a few bathrooms, a cloak room, and a mineral bar. There was little seating, other than a row of benches around the perimeter of the dance floor. Some included an upstairs balcony area where weary dancers could catch their breath. Halls were often built “in the middle of nowhere,” drawing patrons from towns and villages for miles around. However the onset of extended opening hours and Discos heralded the end of many of the Dance Halls.
Fortunately many primary sources remain in researching the building of the hall in Effin, Canon Ger Walls’s scrapbook containing photographs, newspaper cuttings, and poetry of the construction of the hall form 1955 to 1958 is an important record of that time. The souvenir brochure from the official opening night on 23 March 1959 provide useful details of the committee, builders, architects, engineers and organisations involved in the project. Two of the original committee members, Willie Mortell and Alice McCarthy were interviewed on their memories of the building of the hall and the parish at the time. Many local poems were written about the guild at the time praising their efforts and work. MNT head office in Tipperary fortunately has a large collection of material related to all local guilds and correspondence and annual reports submitted by guilds. A local man kept a diary listing all the dances he went to which includes the venues from Effin to Dublin, the showbands and admission costs.

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Edmund Spenser, The Fairie Queen and the Effin connection

edmund spenser

Edmund Spenser (1552 – 13 January 1599). the old English poet who was famous for writing the Fairie Queen may have had connections with Effin and it is unsure if he lived there for a while.

How was this possible? Spenser acquired his main estate at Kilcolman, near Doneraile in North Cork and was appointed by the Bishop of St Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick as a prebendary of the parish of Effin, of which he received a sum of 100 pounds a year. Part of his brief was to preach to the heathen Irish,

During part of my research, I came across two articles in mentioning Spensers connection with Effin in the 1580′s. I hope to explore more on this at a later on but for now enjoy the articles below.

When he went back to England he wrote the “Fairy Queen” may be inspired by the number of fairy forts in the parish of Effin, and who knows he may have had an encounter with one of the Fairies.

Spenser in Ireland

Author(s): Frederic Ives Carpenter
Source: Modern Philology, Vol. 19, No. 4 (May, 1922), pp. 405-419
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Stable URL:


Spenser and the Clerkship in Munster
Author(s): Raymond JenkinsSource: PMLA, Vol. 47, No. 1 (Mar., 1932), pp. 109-121
Published by: Modern Language Association
Stable URL:

Have a read and decide for yourself.

Effins Holy Wells

In the first photo above you will see a Stone with carving on it, there appears to be a spout for the water to pour through just above the carved cross, this stone in now by the side of the bank. the well is located in the Ballyhouras, on the following link

There appear to be conflicting reports on the name of the wells Toberreendowney and Our Ladys Well as you will see from the articles below.

Limerick Diocese Web Page Article on

Holy Wells

Lady’s well is located in the townland of Effin. It is about 3-4 miles from the public road and it is accessible through the roads of the forest. The well is in a circular mound. Danaher wrote that the well is within a ring fort and that the overflow of water from the well was used as a water trough for cattle.

At the well there is a statue of Our Lady and there are also medals and rosary beads left at the well. The well is well kept and people still visit the well regularly. The water from the well is believed to cure many ailments. There are no organised devotions there now, although it is still regarded as a Holy Well.

Lady’s Well and Toberacran ceased to be pilgrimage sites by 1840. Toberacran, in the townland of Gortnacrank derived its name from Tober a Chrann, the Well of the Tree.

St Bridget’s well in Kilbreedy townland was no longer a pattern site in 1840. It was a small clear pool, roughly lined with stones. One large stone was set on edge beside the well. It was formerly very popular especially for the cure of sore eyes.

Danaghers Account

The following account of the Holy Wells in Effin are mentioned in an article on the Holy Wells of Co. Limerick in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries Vol 85, No 2 (1955) p208.

71. Par. Kilquane, tld. Ballymacshaneboy, sheet 55, 7712:206. “Toberreendoney ‘ on 1840 map. A small well about two feet by three feet at mouth. Small flagstones projecting from the dry stone walling which lines the well holds cups and other drinking vessels. The well is in a space about twenty feet in diameter, surrounded by an earth bank, three to four feet high and four feet thick at the bottom. Rounds are still made. The water cures sore eyes. Rags and religious objects are left as offerings. This well is among the heather on the mountainside, about half a mile from the nearest house.

72. Par. Kilquane, tld. Ballyshanedehey, sheet 55, 617:303. “Lady’s Well on 1840 map. A strong clear bubbling spring in a horseshoe-shaped well lined with good dry-stone to ground level. Rounds were made within living memory, but there are no devotions now.

The Holy Wells of Co. Limerick Author(s): Caoimhín Ó Danachair Source: The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. 85, No. 2 (1955), pp.193-217 Published by: Royal Society of Antiquaries of IrelandStable URL:

Updates from John Carroll, Ballymac

“the above stone is one of a series that Tom Comber cast in cement around 1966 when he tidied up and generally restored Tobar Rí an Domhnaigh, the well located in Ballymacshaneboy. He designed the stones to hold small stautes and intended them to serve as a type of reliquary if you like. Local tradition always associated this well as having a cure for those who suffered from eye related ailments. Tradition has it that the earthen mound around the well was constructed by a local man as a token of appreciation when his daughter’s eyesight was restored at the well following a fall from a horse ! As far as I know there wasn’t water coming from them..there was a good few more, set at intervals all the way around the inside of the well..I suppose they crumbled over the years and got damaged….the cement mightn’t have been hectic..!! When the forestry was being planted originally the area around the well was ploughed and a huge number of blackened and broken stones were discovered, they were supposed to be a strong indicator of a fulacht fiadh being present…I suppose the supply of water would have been ideal for the bit of a roast ! ….so that well is in action since ancient times.”