Michael Carroll: Photographer

The Fields of Luggawannia


Why This Web Site?

Our late father, J. M. Lalley, constructed two descendant charts for our Hart(e) and Hannon ancestral lines but none for the Lalley (Lally) side of our family. The two charts contained the surnames of more than a dozen relations. According to the chart, some of these relations remained in Ireland. Unfortunately these charts listed few dates and locations. The search for our ancestors led us to Wilmington, Delaware where our grandmother Anna Honor Hart was born in 1848. Eventually we discovered that her father, Edward Hart, was born in Luggawannia and her mother likely in Carrownacroagh, both townlands southeast of Headford, County Galway near eastern shore of Lake Corrib.

In the process of searching for our Lalley ancestors, we recorded data for every Wilmington Lally family in nineteenth century civil and sacramental records. We expanded our research to include the sacramental and civil records for families listed on our father's descendant charts: Anderson, Biggins, Burke, Butler, Cassidy, Craven, Dooley, Eagan, Earner, Hines, Kyle, Lalley, Lee, McHugh, and Walsh. Later we broadened our investigation to research the families of baptismal sponsors and weddings witnesses for these families.

What began a simple search for our family's ancestors who arrived in Wilmington as early as 1830 soon became a major research project seeking the answer to why the Irish came to Wilmington, Delaware and a search for the locality in Ireland from which they emigrated. The records we amassed during the course of our research demonstrated that many with the above surnames came from townlands in the vicinity of Headford. Since the results of our research were of interest to others, we placed our databases on the World Wide Web.

Today, however, the records on our web site fall into two distinct categories: Records for Wilmington, Delaware, USA and vicinity; the other Irish Records for Counties Galway, Mayo, and Donegal. With the help of volunteers we have made remarkable progress as we seek to transcribe all nineteenth century sacramental records for the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington for placement on-line. At the same time we are enlarging our collection of Irish records for Counties Galway, Mayo, and Donegal. (Click here to see latest Inventory of records on-line).

Although we have expended considerable effort to verify data for accuracy, transcription errors surely have occurred. We also encountered difficulty deciphering handwriting and sometimes microfilms which are in places very difficult to read. To this we must add the fatigue factor that invariably intrudes itself after several hours of research and editing.

Researchers are very much encouraged to verify data by checking original sources or microfilm copies. Please send comments or errors detected to Joe Lalley.


Although I alone am responsible for any errors that appear in the various pages of this web site, the success this web site has enjoyed since its inception is the result of collaborative efforts by many generous volunteers.

A decade or so ago, my eldest son Joseph M. Lalley III introduced me to my first computer and guided me through the frustrations neophytes encounter with word processors, spreadsheets, and various technical problems. He continues to come to my rescue on many an occasion. Once he realized how quickly the databases for this research were growing, he suggested placing these records on the World Wide Web. Several years later a Christmas present arrived --  software to make web pages --  which subtly reinforced his suggestion. In addition to his duties as Director of Operations Support for Cornell University, Joe is Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Clarity Connect, an Internet service provider in Ithaca, New York. Thanks to his good offices, his company has graciously placed this web site in its system at no cost.

It is impossible to overstate the contributions of Michael Carroll. A computer consultant to a major Irish bank, Mike is the technical genius who has made our web site so user-friendly and its search engines so powerful. He is the managing director of his own consultancy firm, Clydagh Enterprises Ltd., located in Galway City. A kind and patient listener, a constructive critic and advisor, and a true friend, Mike is an authority on the history of the Headford/Killursa district. The results of his own extensive research can be found in his book, Valley of the Milk, published in 2000. In 2002 he compiled and edited Of Beauty Rarest, a history of Clydagh National School, Headford, Co. Galway celebrating the two hundred fiftieth year anniversary of the school. Both books can be ordered online here.

A dedicated and knowledgeable genealogist, Nancy Menton Lyons has enthusiastically supported efforts to enlarge the Wilmington databases of this web site. Not only has she transcribed many records herself but she also has recruited others to do so. In addition, she has spent countless hours photocopying microfilm records of the baptismal and marriage records for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington and distributing them to our volunteers as well as to our site’s webmaster. It is no exaggeration to state that rapid expansion of our databases would not have been possible without her constant encouragement and endless generosity.

Donn Devine, Certified Genealogist SM, Certified Genealogical Instructor SM, and the archivist for the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware pointed me in the right direction as I began my research and kept me from committing several gross blunders. He generously reviewed a manuscript I had prepared for the Journal of the Irish Family History Society. Recently, he wrote the essay "A Glimpse of French Refugees in Wilmington, DE in the 1790s" that appears in the Historical Features section of our web site. Earlier he was part of the team that translated the sacramental records for these French refugees. He continues to share his considerable expertise as we encounter new challenges and expand our goals. Those who have come to a dead end in researching their Irish ancestors may find his article, "Family History," in the October 1991 issue of The Irish Edition published in Philadelphia very helpful.

Further proof that this web site is the result of the collaborative efforts of many may be found by clicking the tab Meet Our Volunteers. (Click here.) The rapid and continuing expansion of this web site is the handiwork of those who have spent countless hours transcribing often difficult to read hard copies of microfilmed records and those who have helped proof their work.

My brother, Thomas L. Lalley, goaded me to expand the database of this research and has supported me since the project began. He not only did a fair amount of "grunt work," but put up with my frustrations, supported the research as it progressed, proffered advice, and challenged my hypotheses at every turn. Our work is richer for his active interest and wisdom. The few times we were at odds in our thinking, Tom graciously and respectfully differed but has never attempted to impose his will.

Eddie Brennan, a first cousin of Tom's wife, Myra, became as excited as we were when we first learned that Luggawannia in the Headford Electoral District of County Galway was the location of our Harte ancestors' home. He and his wife Betty made a special trip across Ireland to take pictures of the ancient homestead. In March 1999, Eddie introduced me to Michael Carroll via the Internet. They prepared the way and accompanied us during our three-week visit to Ireland. Eddie drove us to Luggawannia where he introduced us to Mike and his parents. Two days later, Tom and I visited our newly found cousins, Nellie Harte and her son Michael. The Carrolls and the Hartes of Luggawannia have known each other for generations. Their farms are close to each other.

I am also indebted to the staff and volunteers of the Family History Center of the Church of Latter-day Saints in Arden, North Carolina for making it possible to access a wide variety of civil and church records. I have also made extensive use of records available to the public by the National Archives, the Hall of Records in Dover, Delaware, the Historical Society of Delaware, the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center, and the Galway Family History Society - West.

Professional and amateur genealogists, I have found, enjoy sharing the results of their research and often are ready to assist those who have run into dead ends in their research. Charles Brown, whom I met earlier this year at the Arden Family History Center in North Carolina, is a prime example. I had suggested an avenue of research he might find worth investigating. Later that very day Charlie excitedly called long distance to tell me that he had found the names of my great-grandparents on the passenger list for sailing ship, The Messenger, which left Galway City on 24 May 1848 bound for New York City. It was a marvelous discovery. Such camaraderie is typical. There are many Charlie Browns one meets while engaged in genealogical and historical research -- male and female. To each of you who have helped me in any way, a quote from the comic strip Peanuts seems so apt. "You are a good man, Charlie Brown!"

Slan agus beannacht De leat!

Joseph M. Lalley, Jr.

8 January 2004

Slan agus beannacht De leat -- Good Health and God's blessing on you [Irish]