Surname Saturday – Ryan Clan

Ryan Crest photo by

Ryan Crest photo by

The Ryan surname is often listed as one of the top ten surnames of Ireland. The Ryan Clan that I’m researching comes from Kilcolman, County Offaly (King’s), Ireland.

“Ryan Family History. Irish: simplified form of Mulryan.Irish: reduced form of O’Ryan, an Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Riagháin (modern Irish Ó Riain) ‘descendant of Rian’; Ó Maoilriain ‘descendant of Maoilriaghain’, or Ó Ruaidhín ‘descendant of the little red one’. Source:”

Since I’m researching the grandparents of my husband’s grandparents, today I’m focusing on the maternal grandparents of Helen Barnes. Helen was baptized as Ellen Barnes at the Kilcolman Roman Catholic Church on 5 August 1881. Her parents were listed as John and Mary Ryan Barnes [Source: Irish Midlands Ancestry, Tullamore, Offaly, Ireland – Date: 12 May 2005]. Her sponsors were Pat Barnes & N.R. Barnes (N.R. means the first name was not recorded). The Barnes family lived in the Townland of Aughadouglas. When Ellen came to New York City she married Ernest Barnes, retaining her own maiden name.

Kilcolman Roman Catholic Church, County Offaly, Ireland. Photo taken by Maryann Barnes

Kilcolman Roman Catholic Church, County Offaly, Ireland. Photo taken by Maryann Barnes.

When I started researching Helen Barnes in 2000, I sent to the Social Security Administration for her original application for a Social Security number. The application showed that her father was John Barnes and her mother’s full name, at her birth, was Mary Ryan. Knowing her mother’s maiden name was a great help when I contacted the Irish Midlands Ancestry to compile a report for my husband’s family.


Original applications for a Social Security number are still available under the Freedom of Information Act. As an example, I submitted a request for another deceased family member on 5 February 2015. Since I knew the Social Security number the cost was $27. On February 20th, I received a form letter saying the request was received.  On 2 March 2015, a copy of the original application was sent to me. For more information on obtaining a copy of an original application under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) click here.

Along with researching our Barnes clan, the Irish Midlands Ancestry, also called the Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society, looked at Ryan records. The Kilcolman Roman Catholic Baptismal Records they hold start at 1830. With the information from family members about the twelve children of John and Mary Ryan Barnes, and their wedding date of 13 June 1859, there were two possible records.

At the Kilcolman Church on 18 March 1831, a child, Mary Ryan, was christened with the parents listed as Stephen and Mary Fitzpatrick Ryan.  This Mary Ryan was the only child listed of those parents. Another Mary Ryan was christened on 15 July 1841, with the parents listed as Jamy and Johanna Ryan. Mary Ryan Barnes also had two other possible siblings christened at the church. James Ryan was christened on 11 April 1839, with his parents listed as James and Jony Ryan. Honora Ryan was born on 23 April 1844, with her parents listed as James and Honora Ryan. For all three of these records the mother’s maiden name was also listed as Ryan. With two of the twelve children, of John and Mary Ryan Barnes named James and Joanna, it seems that our Mary Ryan was the child born in 1841.

When I contacted the priest of the Kilcolman R. C. Church in 2008 for more information, he replied that John and Mary Ann Ryan Barnes were married on 13 June 1859, confirming the information from the Irish Midlands Ancestry. Earlier in 2005 I had sent a letter to the church requesting information, but it was returned unopened because that priest had left! I was happy that in 2008 I had the correct name, Rev. Kieran Blake, and that he took the time to reply.

When my daughter and I visited the Kilcolman R. C. Church in 2008, the priest was away. We searched the adjacent cemetery for any Barnes or Ryan headstones, finding only one for a Mary Ryan, which was obviously not the one we were looking for. Here is a photo in case it helps another Ryan researcher. We also visited the Coolderry parish church. According to Father Blake there is also a third church in the parish. The Kilcolman Church is about three miles from Birr, County Offaly, going towards Roscrea, County Tipperary.

Headstone at the Kilcolman Roman Catholic Church Cemetery for Kiernan and Mary Ryan.

Headstone at the Kilcolman Roman Catholic Church Cemetery for Kieran and Mary Ryan.

County King’s (Offaly) Tithe Applotment from 1820 lists nine occupiers with the name of James Ryan. The Griffiths Valuation from 1850 recorded thirteen occupiers under James Ryan. Although the Ryan surname is very common, especially in the Irish Midlands, I’m hoping that the release of the Irish Roman Catholic church records from the National Library of Ireland, planned for this summer will help me to narrow down the possible Ryan families. The records will consist of primary baptismal and marriage records.

The Irish Midlands Ancestry had included the marriage records for the surname Ryan from the Kilcolman Roman Catholic Church when they did our family report. They had fifteen listed under the husband’s surname, Ryan, from 1832 until 1918, and another fifteen under the wife’s surname of Ryan, from 1831 until 1930. None matched up with James and Joanna Ryan, so it is possible their marriage record will be found at another parish.

Surname Saturday is a blogging prompt suggested by Geneabloggers. Take a look at their webpage for more information. Happy Saturday!

About Maryann Barnes

I live in Virginia and enjoy meandering walks back into the past. I also enjoy old photographs and sharing family research.
This entry was posted in Barnes, Boon Hill Township, County Offaly (Kings), Maryann, Ryan, Surname Saturday and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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