In 1863, Daniel Fitzpatrick, his wife Ellen McIntyre, and eight children left Ireland and sailed on the Ship Thornton to New York City. Tragically, Ellen died during the voyage and was buried at sea. Among her bereaved children was five-year-old Mary J., my great-grandmother.
In 2013, after years of research, I finally found an 1857 baptismal record for my great-grandmother Mary J. Fitzpatrick, identifying her home place as Derryvoney (also called Deravona), Drumlane, Co. Cavan. A year later, my husband, Tom, and I spent time driving around Derryvoney and visiting the Catholic church in Drumlane. We also explored the cemetery at Drumlane Abbey, an old monastic settlement, and discovered a cluster of Fitzpatrick graves. We could make out “Derryvoney” on some of them and “Kilkonny” on at least one of them; the townland of Kilconny is where two of my Mary’s siblings were born.
The headstones were thick with lichen, making the inscriptions difficult or impossible to decipher. But with a lot of elbow grease, Tom was able to remove decades, if not centuries, of matter from them.
The inscriptions revealed early family relationships, most of which would seem to precede church records, censuses, and so on:
Drumlane Abbey Graveyard Transcriptions
- This stone was erected by Rose Fitzpatrick in memory of her husband John Fitzpatrick age…also in memory of his son Terence Fitzpatrick departed this life May 12 1799 age [22? 29?]
- Erected by Polly Fitzpatrick of Derryvoney in memory of her husband Owen Fitzpatrick who departed this life Sept…aged 55 yrs
- This stone was erected by James Fitzpatrick of Derryvoney in memory of his father Terrence Fitzpatrick who departed [this life]…178[3?] aged 58 yrs
- Erected by John Fitzpatrick of Derryvoney in memory of his father Patt Fitzpatrick [who departed from this life?] June [the 2]…
- This monument was erected by Conner Fitzpatrick in memory of Terrence Reily who died May 22 1742 agd 64
- IHS Here lies…[Patrick?] Fitzpatrick…Died 12 176[?]
- Erected by Phil Fitzpatrick of Kilcunny Jan. ….1822 Age 35 ….
- Erected by John Fitzpatrick of [Milltown?] in memory of his father Hugh Fitzpatrick…who departed this life…
While I have yet not linked my great-grandmother Mary Fitzpatrick to the individuals buried in the abbey graves, the inscriptions confirm that there were Fitzpatricks living in Derryvoney in the 1700s. They also show that some of the Drumlane Fitzpatricks were named Rose, Mary, James, and Patrick—the same names as my great-grandmother and three of her siblings.
This article is adapted from “Cavan Graveyard Yields Family History” by Patricia Phelan, Newsletter of the Irish Family History Forum, February-April 2015. Copyright c 2021 by Glanvil Enterprises, Ltd.