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AHERN-Listowel/Lyreacrompane-San Francisco/EUREKA
Posted by: Robert Ahern (ID *****2918) Date: May 10, 2008 at 12:17:55
  of 1091


From the Greek heur¨¥ka I have found; from the exclamation attributed to Archimedes on discovering a method for determining the purity of gold; akin to Old Irish fo-f¨²air he found. So too, I have found my Paternal Ancestral roots in Knocknaglough, Lyreacrompane, Listowel, County Kerry! Please bear with me as I share my breakthrough!

Although, long for a posting, I believe it is very important to thank all from this site who have responded with suggestions and assistance during my search. Even more importantly, I want to encourage all who might be interested in their own heritage to keep looking for your ancestral roots!

Several years ago, I commenced a search not knowing where it would lead. I had limited information but received encouragement, from my friend, ¡°Patsy in Redwood City, CA¡±. Keep looking!

My initial resources, for this particular search, included: The LDS site,; Social Security Death Index;;; and
These expanded with my search to include: County Kerry Genealogy (; Griffiths Valuation 1848-1864 (; Kerry Library Tralee (; The Ahern Family (
San Francisco and California resources included: San Francisco Genealogy (
And in Ireland: The Irish Rambling House (

In July and August, 2007, my wife and I vacationed in Ireland, for the very first time. We looked for records in Listowel relating to my Grandfather, Patrick Brown Ahern, but were unsuccessful. We were looking in Listowel not knowing Lyreacrompane was approximately 12 miles to the south. Prior to arriving my knowledge about my Grandfather was limited, to the following:

PATRICK (BROWN) AHERN, born 1879, Knocknaglaugh, Daugh, Listowel, Kerry, Ireland, and

ANDREW (BROWN) AHERN, born 1886, Knocknaglaugh, Daugh, Listowel, Kerry, Ireland

A third brother, name unknown, remained in Listowel, to tend the family farm near ¡°Knocknaglaugh¡±. That brother purportedly had a son who in turn had five children. Two of those children were Esther Ahern (who married Conner last name unknown and may have moved to England) and Mary Ahern Stark (a nurse),

We were looking for ¡°Knocknaglaugh¡± but nobody knew where it was located. The librarian in Listowel could not find the name among old townlands. Later we met a wonderful lady, near Moyvane. She translated it to mean ¡°Hill of the Ducks¡±. Still later we would learn a more correct translation was ¡°Hill of the Rocks¡±.

I purchased a book in Moyvane, ¡°Logainmneacha¡±, Place names of North Kerry, including Tralee and Ballymacelligot, by Dan Keane, also of Moyvane. His translation was ¡°Hill of the Rocks¡±. We had to continue on our trip and were not able to closely examine the contents of his book until arriving home.

The book, on page 43, under the heading LYREACROMPANE, lists ¡°Knocknaglough¡± (which has a one letter difference in the spelling we had). In the book it is translated as ¡°The hill of the stones¡±. With this new information I went back on the computer after returning home and refined my search.

I then began to post on several Genealogy sites, hoping someone might provide assistance. ¡°Kate from Chicago¡± read my posts and contacted me offering her assistance. Her knowledge and expertise led to Kate becoming my guru, mentor, and my friend! Her fundamental advice was as follows:

1. Acquire all US documentation available; death certificates/obituaries
2. Let the documents point the way
3. Don't get hung up on dates of birth -- only glance at them for about a 10 year range
4. Don't get hung up on spellings/middle initials/"reported" middle names, etc.
5. Work from the 1930 census backwards
6. Post, Post, Post!
7. Subscribe to lists!
8. SHARE your research!
9. Ask/don't tell a researcher what you need; include dates/places!
10. **Be open minded**
11. Put things aside and come back to them a few months later -- you may find new posts.
12. DON'T spend time on research someone has already done.
13. Be open to all distinctive names/similar given names
14. There are Gen pages for all US counties - start at and click down
15. Take family lore with a grain of salt

A response, from, led to the Archivist, at the Kerry County Library, in Tralee, who in late January, 2008, provided the following critical, but condensed, information:

I have taken Knocknaglough as a starting point to search our available records. This is limited to the 1901 and 1911 census returns. "Ahern" was a pretty common surname in the townland (3 out of 6 family returns in the town land are Ahern¡¯s in 1901 & 3 from 7 in 1911), but there are some distinctions to be drawn.

Johanna, aged 60, Widow & Head of Family.
Ellie, aged 30, her daughter.
Michael, aged 24, her son.
Andrew, aged 18, her son.
Mary O'Brien, aged 6, a visitor.

Michael P Ahern, aged 35 & Head of Family.
Mary, aged 28, his wife.
Johanna, aged 71, his mother & a widow.
Ellie, aged 37, his sister.
Patrick, aged 2, his son.
James, aged 1, his son.
Joseph, aged 1 month, his son.

Family 1 seems to be the closest fit to your one. The presence of an Andrew in 1901 (even with a somewhat wrong age) would be a strong indicator of this. Michael would be the "third brother" that you refer to in your message. The addition of "P" to Michael's 1911 census entry would also indicate that his own father had the initial "P", which would tally with Patrick being his father's name. It was standard practice to use the father's initial to differentiate between landholders of the same name in a townland. Meeting 3 Michael Ahern¡¯s in the same place would be a bit of a nightmare otherwise!

As for church records, our notes here indicate that Knocknaglough would have been part of Kilshenane Civil Parish. This became a part of the greater Listowel Catholic Parish area, and records (if they survive for that portion of the parish) will be there.

About this same time, we discovered a concurrent computer search, on, which indicated someone else had been submitting data on family siblings, a full 10 years older than my grandfather, Patrick Brown Ahern, and all derived from Patrick Ahern and Johanna Brown, Lyreacrompane, Duagh, Listowel, Kerry, Ireland. Those new names were: Honora Ahern, 5 Jan 1867; Johanna Ahern, 22 Jan 1869; Catherine Ahern, 14 March 1872; and Patrick Ahern, 2 Jan 1879. Clearly there was another person researching this same family. But there was a problem! The ¡°submitter¡± contact information was outdated. It became quite frustrating to see the ¡°family data¡± on and yet not be able to find who had submitted it. Never give up! We did a Google search for the name of the submitter. This information would ultimately lead to newly discovered family connections in New Hampshire, Florida and Massachusetts and mail from a newly discovered US cousin, indicating:

¡°My Grandmother, Mary Josephine 'Minny' Ahern¡¯s birth was recorded in St. Bridget¡¯s Chapel at Duagh, Kerry (a stones throw from Listowel) on 4-Dec-1880. (Baptized 12-April-1880) She was the 11th of 13 children of Patrick Ahern and Johanna Brown. She had an older brother Patrick and a younger brother Andrew. Her father Patrick was born in 1829 to John Ahern and Honora Broder. Patrick and Johanna 'Ma' Brown were married 30-Jan-1866 their 13 children were - Honora, Elizabeth, Johanna, John, Catherine, Ellen, James, Michael*, Catherine, Patrick, Mary, Andrew, and Margaret. *(Michaels grandson Dan still lives on the farm at Lyreacontane townland earlier records have it as Knocknaglogh ) Family 'lore' has it that Mary immigrated to help care for her older brother¡¯s children when he was widowed.¡±

Next, out of the blue, I received mail, from Lyreacrompane, in response to a posting I had made on

¡°A Chara,

I'm enclosing copies of articles that mention both the surname Browne and Ahern. I copied them from 'Lyreacrompane & District' Journals. I hope they are of some help to you. There are a couple of Ahern Families living in Lyreacrompane. Lyreacrompane has a web site you might find it interesting. Lyreacrompane & Duagh are one parish with the same Parish Priest, Fr. Pat Moore, who resides at the Duagh Presbytery.¡±

Kay O'Leary

Kay O¡¯Leary, God bless her, provided the definitive information I had been trying to find. ¡°Dan James & Pat Ahern are brothers and reside in Knocknaglough¡±. I believed they were my second cousins. Kay then verified, ¡°They are related to you!¡± ¡°Pat said his grandmother¡¯s name was Browne. He remembers hearing about a granduncle/great granduncle going to California but he thought that he never married¡±. Their sister Mary Ahern Stack resides in Daugh. EUREKA!

Lyreacrompane is pronounced ¡°Lyre a crum pawn¡± and lies between the towns of Tralee, Listowel, Castleisland and Abbeyfeale. There is one Post Office/Shop (Nolan's), one pub (Roche's) and a Catholic Church, each of the buildings about a mile apart. The population is approximately 300. Lyreacrompane claims to hold Ireland's real rural Festival. They pitch a marquee next to the pub for a weekend. The ¡°Dan Paddy Andy Festival¡± takes place during the first weekend in August each year.
Now it is time for me to make the long journey home and pay my respects to my newly found family. I am the first male Ahern descendant to return home, to Lyreacrompane. And, to make this journey even more memorable, I will meet my new cousins for the very first time! On top of that, I have been invited to officially open the ¡°Dan Paddy Andy Festival.

To all who responded to my many postings, go raibh mile maith agat!

To Patsy, Kate, and Kay, each of you are dluthchara!

Thanks to all who have made this search successful!
go mbeannai Dia thu,


Bob Ahern
San Jose, CA, USA

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