Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Skerry and Racavan Parish

Last week I spent most of three days in PRONI, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. For the first two days I sat glued to the screen of a microfiche reader - rather bad for the eyes - attempting to read very faded information, mostly about baptisms, marriages and funerals. On the basis that most of our clan were Presbyterians but that there may be some early records before the foundation of Presbyterian Churches, I chose to concentrate on the Church of Ireland records, though I did look at some early Presbyterian ones too.

I began with the Skerry and Racavan Church of Ireland records, the parish in which my own McIlhagga family lived in the 19th Century townland of Ballcloghan. William McIlhagga married Agnes McCosh, and although I found no McIlhagga records I did find one McCosh record, albeit somewhat incomplete. It is thought that Agnes had a brother David. The record reads: Baptism, Feb 21 (?), 1852, William (illegitimate), 'mother only', McCosh, Knockboy (Townland), Labourer. The space for the father's name had 'David' crossed out. I presume that 'Labourer' applied to the father. It is uncertain whether the father or the mother was a McCosh.

The microfiche did have some interesting population statistics for the four townlands in the parish, form 1821 (a Census year), as follows:

Kenbilly 44 houses; 242 inhabitants;
Eglish 26 houses; 182 inhabitants;
Lisnacrocher 24 houses; 131 inhabitants;
Ballycloghant (sic) 42 houses; 196 inhabitants.

Understanding from the IGI (which, by the way, no longer exists) that Agnes McCosh and William McIlhagga were probably married in Clogh Presbyterian Church and having read in a book on Irish resources that this Church's records were held at the Linen Hall Library, I went there to request them. They did produce the records of Clogh Presbyterian Church going back into the 1700s, but frustratingly they turned out to be from Clogh, County Down, not Clogh, County Antrim!

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