Having written about my wayward ancestors in previous Trove Tuesday posts I thought I should write something about an ancestor who was an upstanding member of the community. The Rev Michael Harrington Ryan, one of the first priests ordained in Australia, was a good candidate for such a post.
I entered the search term, Michael Harrington Ryan, into the Trove search box and was rewarded with some results that I had not previously seen. One of these was an obituary for a Mrs Mary Ellen Mallon who was unknown to me; I read through this long article with interest until I got to this sentence "At the suggestion of her uncle (Rev. Father Harrington ), then resident priest at Carcoar, she was sent as a boarder to Carcoar Convent...". This stopped me in my tracks, if the lady who was the subject of this obituary was Father Ryan's niece then she would have to be related to me. I did a quick check of my database and found no one by the name of Mallon there and only one person with Mary Ellen's maiden name of Rigney.
I had intended on having an early night but I just had to find out how Mary Ellen fitted in to my family. Using the resources I have on hand including the New South Wales BDM indexes, Trove (where I found a raft of obits for this upstanding Catholic family),Ancestry (The Carcoar Cemetery Index was especially useful) and Find My Past I started sleuthing. I will have to buy a couple of certificates to confirm this but I am fairly confident that Mary Ellen is a descendant of my Irish ancestors Thomas Ryan and Ellen Harrington from Westmeath whose daughter, Bridget Ryan, is my 2x Great-Grandmother. So Mary Ellen Mallon (nee Rigney) is the daughter of Bridget's sibling, Annie Ryan whose existence I was unaware of until last night. Mary Ellen RIGNEY is my 1st cousin 3 times removed.
I found so much information last night and so many potential cousins that, when I got to bed I just couldn't sleep. This Ryan mob, who I have been researching for 25 years, have been so hard to track down and just one small sentence in The Freeman's Journal on Trove opened a door for me.
And what of the Rev Michael Harrington Ryan? I have shelved his story for another day.
Mary Ellen's obituary can be found here: 1931 'Obituary.', Freeman's Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1932), 19 November, p. 33, viewed 27 August, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article118079942.