Janet Maher,

When I set out in 2006 to seriously delve into our family’s history, I had no idea it would continue to develop in such fascinating and ever-evolving ways. Notes, photo albums and scrapbooks stored for decades led to a series of questions and an urge to discover more about everyone represented. The journey seemed to become an uncanny communication with our ancestors, and in particular, with our great grand Aunt Josephine Agnes Maher (Josie), and our Maher grandmother, Alice Whalen, who seem to have left the most important early clues toward piecing our post-Ireland story together. Guidance has come in powerful and unexpected ways, and the layers of information continue to peel themselves back to reveal ever more. “When the student is ready the teacher will appear,” seems an apt explanation for the feeling that accompanies this quest. Simultaneous to the family history research has been a complete immersion into the history of Ireland. I continue to imagine our ancestors’ paths from specific places in Ireland to a specific one in Connecticut. Direct surnames in my family include Maher, Butler, Whalen/Phelan, Donovan, Ryan, Walsh, Martin, Sullivan, Murphy and O’Mahony, with many extended others.

Janet Maher (Sinéad Ní Mheachair) is Professor Emeritus of Art, Loyola University, Maryland.

94 thoughts on “About”

  1. Virginia M. Lyle said:

    A cousin just clued me into your blog.
    I am of the Rochester, New York branch of Meaghers, descended from Martin Meagher (1812 – 1888) and Bridget Quinlan (1822 – 1898). Martin served in the 108th NY Volunteers Company H.
    Martin’s war record is filed under MAHAR and MEAGHER and mentions also MAHER and MAYHEW. He was wounded at Antietam and subsequently discharged. His brother Patrick Meagher was born in Tiperary 17 March 1847 and died 12 April 1914.
    Would you know of the link between the NY and CT branches?
    I’m just getting into family history research.
    Thank you for any light you can shed on these Irish ancestors.

    • Janet,

      I have spent two or more years tracing the ancestors of Thomas B. Meager of Beaver, Clarion, Pennsylvania. The records for his immigration and naturalization state that he was born January 11, 1801 in England but no county or parish is given. The original naturalization petition states he emigrated in the month of March in 1818 and arrived in the U.S. on the 22nd day of May of that year. There are no passenger lists available for that date with his name in the ports of Philadelphia, Maryland or New York. The naturalization petition was filed in April of 1836 in Venango, Pennsylvania. He states that he had been in that county for more than eight years.

      There is a great deal of documentation about his family and occupation as the town Justice of the Peace from the years 1830 to his death in 1866. I cannot find an obituary.

      I have found this blog very enlightening. For some time I have been gleaning the book by Joseph Casmir O’Meagher to find where Thomas B. would fit. The paragraph on this blog on Thomas Meager, 1796-1874 (Father of the Brigadier General) would fit as a cousin. I have found references to a Thomas and Timothy baptized in Barbados in 1802 and 1803 on British Army lists. Do you have histories to reference the father’s name of this Thomas Meager born in 1796? His father was referred as a sea merchant, who owned an estate and seven ships. There was a ship owned by a Meager that sailed into the U.S. in 1818 as listed in Lloyd’s British Registers of Shipping. I would appreciate any references to reading material on the Meagers before 1830.

      • Renee, Thank you for writing. It’s great that you have found what you have! The J.C. O’Meagher book is a true godsend for getting started. Regarding finding out more about Thomas Francis Meagher’s actual ancestry, I recommend the book edited by John M. Hearne and Rory T. Cornish, “Thomas Francis Meagher: The Making of An Irish American,” which I am only just currently reading. It begins with a pretty detailed discussion about his family’s genealogy, which included many established Norman surnames in the Waterford-Kilkenny-Kildare areas. Although Brigadier General Meagher grew up in Waterford, where his father was mayor, his grandfather was born in Tipperary at Nine Mile Hill (or Ninemilehouse) in Grangemockler. Thomas Maher, Sr. (the grandfather) emigrated to St. John’s Newfoundland and became very wealthy. Thomas Maher, Jr. (T.F.’s father) was born there before the family returned to Ireland. Even with the amount of research these authors have done, having been able to turn up references to the extended family, they state “The Meaghers themselves are more difficult to trace.” Wish I could help you more, but this book may be a good next step. -Janet

    • Brian Burkhart said:

      Virginia: I have been researching the 108th NY Volunteer Infantry Regiment for many years, hoping some day to publish it as an extension of the regimental history that was published in 1894.

      I would be very interested to see what other info you have on Martin, his family, and his descendants. I am collaborating with others here in Rochester to possibly hold an event of some sort next year to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the return of the Rochester troops from the field of war. We are trying to find and inform as many descendants of soldiers in the 108th NYVI as possible. Would you be interested? Keep in mind this is still in the “how to” stage. Thank you.

      • Paula Smith said:

        I am a great-great-great granddaughter of Martin Meagher. I have a fair amount of family still in the Rochester, NY area that may be interested in the event that you are trying to organize.

    • Paula Smith said:

      I am of the same Meagher family (Rochester, NY), Patrick Meagher was the son, not brother, of Martin Meagher.

    • Virginia, I deeply apologize for not replying to your comment, which I have not just found. There was a Company H unit in CT with many Irish members from New Haven County, led by one Patrick Maher. Whether a name was spelled both ways, the original (Meagher, with more odd older variations) or the more recent would not matter, really. It’s the same name. When Meagher is pronounced by an Irish person it sounds like “Ma-her” or “Ma-har”, with the emphasis on the first syllable. That may be what someone heard who was writing out a list. I wish I knew how to link NY and CT, as the individuals were probably very much related, but there are far too many loose ends everywhere. After all these many years I am happy enough to know that the deep history is connected. The family branches are difficult to tie w/o paperwork, much of which simply does not exist. My own research centers around New Haven County, CT, where Quinlan was also a name, as were Oh, so many surnames that parallel across to Ireland and within various census records, town vital records, etc. I am happy to have honed in on general areas in Ireland for my own people, but have to put to rest any more scouring. No doubt you will find an enormous amount of material once you sort all your direct lines. It is hugely gratifying and I wish you well! Janet

  2. Virginia, Thanks for your note. Patrick, also the name of my great great grandfather, as you probably know, is one of the common Maher/Meagher names. At the moment I don’t know how the NY and CT groups might link, but would not be surprised if they do. Mahers/Meaghers, as you also probably know, were very active in the Civil War, not only through Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher, who led the Irish regiment in NY, but at every level of soldier. (This will have to turn into a post of mine at some point.) Some of us have also been studying New Haven’s Major Patrick Maher, and there is much activity at the moment through the Connecticut Irish-American Historical Society around the topic of Connecticut Irish in the Civil War. One of the Connecticut Mahers in the Civil War was also killed at Antietam. If you are just getting started, I recommend checking out the links I’ve salted into my posts that may help as you begin to sort out your own family. When enough of us know enough and are far enough back in Ireland I believe we will be better able to find connections between emigrated families, and it will begin to happen.

  3. I am a relation of the Meaghers, from Rocherster. My great grandfather was John Meagher and my great great grandfather was Martin Meagher.

  4. erikbjarling said:

    Hi Janet,

    What an amazing website you’ve created!

    I wanted to let you and any of your readers know that there is a Meagher and variants (O’Meagher, Meagher, Magher, Maher, Mahar, Marr) surname project on FTDNA, where any interested person can test their DNA and find out more about their ancestry:


    I would be happy to sponsor any O’Meagher, Meagher, Magher, Maher, Mahar, or Marr person for a free test to start out. The person can then order additional testing if they so desire.

    So far, there are several distinct Maher lines, including haplogroup I1 and 12a (Nordic or Viking-descended), R1b “Ely Carroll” DF21+, two other R1b DF21+ lines possibly with indirect connections to the Eoganachta of Munster, possibly an R1b U152+ line (Alpine or Italo-Celtic), and several other as-of-yet undefined R1b lines.

    There is also a Meagher, Maher, Mahar surname project on WorldFamilies that I just started putting together today:


    This is intended as a secondary site, where Meagher and Maher people can post their patriarchs and lineages, consolidate their genealogical research data, and post questions in the forum. I’m interested in finding someone to collaborate with me on this site, as my strength is in DNA research, not in web design. I posted a link to your blog on the home page of this site.

    For what it’s worth, my Maher line comes from County Clare. For years, I’ve been trying to find the connection to the O’Meachair homeland in County Tipperary. I’m still searching for the link.

    Erik Maher,
    co-admin, Meagher Maher Mahar surname project on FTDNA.

    • Hello Erik,
      Thank you for writing. I’ve spoken with my brother about this, as only the male lines “count” in these studies. He is not interested in participating. I do know someone, however, who has participated in one DNA study and his line led him directly to Spain. It seems there is not a large enough bank yet of Meagher DNA samples to compare on a satisfying scale. If I were male I would certainly contribute, however. For myself and for most others the in-the-trenches approach to research still seems to be the surest way to find out anything. It is possible to hone in on an area, although it does take a huge amount of work and time. I expect that you must be also looking at the BMD records available from Family Search. They are invaluable. (Even with DNA results one would need to do actual research to find anything meaningful, don’t you think?) Still, I applaud your efforts and am glad that you like and linked my blog!
      Wishing you well,

      • Hi Janet,

        I had bought your book several years ago while doing my own family research in Naugatuck, CT where my great grandparents lived for many years. I see in one of your blog posts you mention your Maher ancestors lived on Cherry Street near Scott St. which is where my family was from. You also mention the Farren family which is a family that my father’s DNA matches. I’m wondering if you came across any information or photos of John J. Sullivan and Ellen Sullivan Sullivan of Scott (and formerly Cherry) Streets in the 1880’s-1910 before they moved to Hartford?

        Thank you,

        Sheila Sullivan

      • Hi Sheila, I apologize for my late response. Am just returning to this kind of research after a long break. Thank you for purchasing my book. I hope it helped in your own research. I have not come across any photos of your John and Ellen, but would like to be in touch offline with you about them. Please email me at janet at janetmaher.com. Wishing you well, Janet

    • Kevin Logan said:

      My grandmother was Mary Maher who married James Logan (poss 1925-1935) and lived in Liscannor, County Clare, Ireland until her death 1988. Maybe there is a connection?

      • Hello Kevin, although I do not know of any info for you, I did come upon graves of Mahers in the Ballyvaughan area of County Clare. It’s a beautiful area if you have an opportunity to travel to Liscannor sometime. – Janet

  5. erikbjarling said:

    Hi Janet,

    Yes, genetic genealogy is complementary to traditional, hands-on, “in the trenches” genealogy. You need good source data and need to know what question you want answered, for genetic genealogy to have any usefulness – that is, unless you’re just curious and want to find out who you’re most closely related to genetically, both in the historical time frame and the deep ancestral time frame.

    Through Y-DNA genetic research, I now know that my Maher line has common ancestry with one particular Meagher line and one particular Moore line. Moore is not a surname normally regarded as being part of the O’Meachair sept. My Moore matches and I think that, somewhere along the way, either his family was originally named Maher, or mine was originally named Moore. We also know that we have Y-DNA connections on a deep ancestral level to only about 50 other men in the UK. I would probably never have been able to find any of this out through traditional genealogy, as the common ancestors were at least 500 years ago.

    The Y-chromosome is most useful for genealogists not only because surnames tend to follow the male line, but also because the markers in the Y chromosome mutate at a rate that is slow, but not too slow. The mitochondria (inherited from a person’s mother) mutates more slowly, and is more useful for studies of entire populations unless the person sequences at least to the the “HVR2” level.

    However, all four methods (Y, X, autosomal, and mitochondrial) have come a long way. While it is still relatively expensive, both males and females can now sequence the entire mitochondria and find perfect matches on the direct female line, and can test X chromosomes and autosomes to find matches several generations back on all lines. Of course, in order for any of these non-Y tests to be useful for genealogy, the person still needs to have their genealogy sufficiently researched.

    See Geno 2.0, for a look at how tremendously far genetic genealogy has come in only the past ten years:



  6. Thank you, Erik, for explaining it further. Do you have a direct link online to Meagher results that have been compared so far? I’m curious how large the database is at this point. Congrats to you about your great find!

  7. Erik, I’ve wondered about the surname Moore, since it also occurs a fair amount in the early histories I’ve read. Once surnames came into use they were spelled phonetically, which created all those variations, including “Mor.” Sometimes slight changes were made to differentiate one family from another, along with the use of nicknames. The Moores were in the same places as the early Meaghers/Mahers. I’d like to know myself if they were part of the same root. The first planted counties, Queen’s and King’s, were created in order to make it harder for the O’Moores to connect with their allies. (See my book, pg. 40.)

    • erikbjarling said:

      Janet, that’s intriguing. I will check out your book when I have a chance. Also see this clans of Ireland map, showing “the spheres of influence during the reign of King Henry VIII”:


      The larger version that I have shows that the O’Meagher sept occupied territory about midway between Limerick and Carlow. O’More (Moore) occupied a much larger territory, directly northwest of Carlow. In between them were Fitzpatrick, and the northernmost extension of Butler (Earldom of Ormond), the latter of whom are shown half-encircling the O’Meagher territory as if attempting to snuff them out.


  8. Thanks, Erik. Indeed, the O’Meaghers appear to have been on the “snuff them out” radar. They were found aligned with Butlers in various times, presumably with those who had remained Catholic and were also under attack. The O’Carrolls were the overlords of the O’Meaghers.

  9. Tom Maher said:

    Hi Janet,
    Thanks so much for organizing such a wonderful website!
    I am a Maher on both sides, as my Tipp/Offaly grandmother’s maiden name was Maher – some of her family used the Meagher spelling. Five of her six children came to New York in the late 50’s/early 60’s. I am interested in learning more about my father’s family and only know that my Irish-born great-grandfather returned to N.Y. after serving in the Civil War to learn that his brother had been killed in the war, prompting him to move to Michigan, where he had been stationed during the war years. What advice would you have for a beginning geneologist/historian? (I have my paternal grandfather’s D.O.B./D.O.D and a few W.W. I medals, but no documentation.) Thanks in advance for any suggestions you may have.
    BTW, I see that you’re at Loyola in Maryland – my undergrad degree was from Loyola, New Orleans after transferring from Fordham.
    Take care, and all the best for 2013!

    • Hi Tom, Thank you for finding me and liking the site! It is certainly possible to find out more from the facts that you do have, though it’s difficult for me to summarize all the ways in a short reply. I hate to say that my book is very much about this – a model for beginners who don’t know where to start – but it really is (especially for Mahers/Meaghers).

      In Minnesota is the excellent Irish Genealogical Society International, http://irishgenealogical.org/, which might be a good resource for you re the settlers of middle America. They produce a good journal, and back issues can still be purchased about particular areas. (I must re-up my own membership, actually.) If you travel to Indiana, you may find good Irish resources at University of Notre Dame, where they have a Department of Irish Language and Literature and one can major in Celtic Studies.

      Basically, start with all that you know about your immediate family and work backwards. Study census records, city directories, get microfilm from Family Search to find birth, baptism, marriage and death records, become a member of a society that will allow you to access Vital Records in the towns you seek information from, join Ancestry.com and gain access to census, war, and other records. (One caveat about Ancestry – although you will find yourself putting up a tree and getting “hints” that some other people’s data “fits,” check out everything on your own. Have as many back-ups for the data as you can, and be choosy about what you put on your tree. Beware of others who may glom your data whether or not they actually are related and of those who keep private trees but still take your data.)

      If you really want to get into this you need to jump down the rabbit hole and do it seriously. There is no one out there who has everything you need to find. This is about putting together a puzzle without knowing what it should look like. You need to find all the pieces, and you need enough of them to begin to build something that takes some kind of organic shape. When you have enough pieces you may find that others’ info points to a similar place in America or in Ireland. Then some connections or semblances of enough similarity to become possible hypotheses may occur. It’s a great deal of work, but a fascinating journey.

      Happy 2013 to you and your family. Once you get farther along it would be great to hear from you again. You can also contact me at janet@janetmaher.com (an email that I need to check more frequently).

  10. Daniel Maher said:

    Hi Janet.

    What a wonderful resource you have here! I can not believe i have only found it now!

    My name is Daniel Maher, i am from a little village called Lorrha, just outside Nenagh County Tipperary, Ireland (My family are still there and I was raised there, quiet close to Roscrea). By chance i came across your site and i felt i should get in touch.

    I have just found out about the connection with the Milesian group who came from the east Mediterranean up through Europe and Spain to invade the island and defeated the Tuatha de Danann. Its such an amazing story, and i put faith in its legitimacy. I would love to discuss this further with you.

    I work as an Archaeologist, but i am also a musician and songwriter and compulsive traveller, at 30 i have been all around Europe, particularly Greece, Egypt, Jordan and Israel (Asia). I am currently living and working in Western Australia as an Archaeologist. Working with indigenous people here (aboriginals) and have previously worked with the Maori’s in New Zealand. And i am slowly piecing the world together.

    I am fascinated by history, prehistory and anthropology as well as Archaeology. Recently i have discovered the song-lines of the Aboriginal people in Australia. Their ancient songs and stories that span thousands of years. It made me want to know more about my people, about my heritage, about why i NEED to travel and discover. I am on some sort of mission, and i would be so thrilled if we could discuss more about the our name. Particularly the Milesian connection.

    Kind regards,
    And congratulations on such a comprehensive work with this site.

    Daniel Maher.

    • Shirley Majors said:

      Hello Daniel, are you still in Western Australia? I have Mahers in my family line, but also passionate about Indigenous rights, and i live in W.A.

  11. Thank you, Daniel, and I’m so glad you found the blog! I’m sure you know that you are from the original Meagher territory, in and around Roscrea. Although I meant to go specifically to that town on my last trip, we didn’t actually get there, spending the majority of the time around Abbeyleix, Kilkenny, and other parts of Laois, Tipperary and Kildare. Next time, for sure.
    Regarding the Milesians, yes, I’ve also studied that and have written about it, although I have not put that up on the blog. I mention it in my book, which begins in ancient Ireland. All the earliest Irish surnames evolved from one of two brothers (the third was a druid), sons of King Mhileadth of Spain. As Irish history was an oral tradition the lore of the Milesians and the original inhabitants of Ireland before them is undocumented in the manner of today’s history, but some of us are happy to believe the tales as a good starting place.
    The Milesian chronology has been extracted from one of the the oldest texts, the Annals of the Four Masters, about which you may know. A map that I have traces surnames from the brothers and places them in the original areas. It is, of course, a blind leap across centuries, to try to get from the Milesian story to modern surnames, but since families stayed put for so long, it also seems like a “good enough” start, given all the suppositions and the fact that there is nothing else.
    You can see a version of the Milesian genealogy archived on rootsweb: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~fianna/history/milesian.html
    Yes, I feel too that the indigenous Irish had strong similarities to the earliest land-based, spiritual cultures like the Aboriginal Australians, Native American Indians, Tibetans, and others, and were treated as badly, and in similar ways, by those seemingly “more civilized” peoples who colonized them. In Ireland, the waves of newcomers became grouped in various ways, and ultimately issues over religion determined everything. (Hence my study being focused through Catholicism.)
    A great deal of Irish archeology has been and is being done, so when you get back home, run straight to the National Museum of Ireland and talk to folks in the Antiquities area. (I’ve heard, anecdotally, that Irish archeologists are picking up work due to the big interest these days in people trying to find their Irish roots.)
    Please keep in touch, and I’ll dig through my older files and see about trying to get my Milesian piece leading to the origin of our surname up here on the blog.
    Wishing you well,

  12. Larry Maher said:

    Janet. Was gifted your book by my brother and while reading it was intrigued by the image posted on page 610 referenced as 1.33 (Emblem on front cover of Captain Lyon’s book). Does this image exist digitally? Could you point me to it, I love it as it has our family motto on it.

  13. Larry Maher said:

    sorry., that was page 61, not 610..

    • Hello Larry, Sorry for the late reply, but I’ve been out of town til last night. Please thank your brother for me for purchasing my book, and I hope you both enjoy it! The image to which you refer was scanned and photo-corrected by me for use in my book, as the original copyright had expired. Yes, it’s a beautiful image, but I don’t intend to make it available online. -Janet

  14. Hello Janet,

    I just stumbled across your blog, only a few weeks after discovering that my birth father’s ancestry has a Maher line, descending from Timothy Maher and Catherine (Cummings) Maher of County Tipperary and Wyoming County, NY. I am trying to get to Timothy’s ancestors who never left the old sod, and this is a whole new area of research for me. I hope to learn more about the history of the name and immigrant families, and maybe connect with one or two people here who might know more about the Mahers who settled in Wyoming County.



  15. Dear Chris, There is really so much to do, some of which is modeled in the way I did mine for my book and about which I’ve written in pieces and comments on this site. Essentially, start with yourself and all you know about your family and methodically work backwards. You’ll be able to scour the correct places in Wyoming County, become familiar with the vital records and organizations there, and, if lucky, come upon documentation that will lead you to the correct area of Tipperary. Along the way you’ll learn more than you ever thought possible! Much good luck to you! – Janet

  16. Thanks Janet,

    The Hearne and Cornish book may be another great clue.

    • Yes, I think it will, certainly in regards to the other surnames and the family’s background story. They do note that T.F. Meagher may not have even known about his surname relatives, and likely was not in touch with them. “A general lack of knowledge, interest, or deliberate obscuring of ordinary origins was evident in Irish Catholic mercantile society…” “‘The bitterest thing that could be said about a public man’ Arthur Griffith wrote of Waterford snobbery ‘was that his father made boots, was successful as a tailor, or tanned the best leather.'”

  17. Hi Janet –
    GREAT BLOG ! I found your site and have been reading it with interest.

    Possible Maher Connection?? – My grandfathers name was William Maher and he was from Swiftsheath, Jenkinstown which abuts Freshford. So we may claim some distant relationship.:-)

    I found you as I begin my slow journey into the Maher genealogy making my first attempt to take a look into my maternal grandfather’s ancestors etc. I do have hid Irish baptismal cert floating around somewhere in the family acquired by my mother (his daugher) during one of our trips to Ireland.

    I am going to look for your book and hopefully it will be a useful tool in my quest.


    P.S. from a post above “‘The bitterest thing that could be said about a public man’ Arthur Griffith wrote of Waterford snobbery ‘was that his father made boots, was successful as a tailor, or tanned the best leather.’”

    Ironically, my grandfather was a tanner and ended up holding office in the Leather and Boot Makers (not sure of the exact name of the union) here in Boston.

    • Thank you so much, Kathleen. A slow journey, indeed. That you have baptism records is great. You might look at Griffiths Valuations (http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/index.xml) and see if there are clues amid people who were in the place of his baptism ca. 1850. They might be relatives. Likewise, the Irish censuses of 1901 and 1911 (http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/)
      I hope my book will help lay a foundation for you. I wrote about what I wished I had known starting out, and what I learned along the steep introductory curve.
      I am beginning to work on a second one, focusing more closely on the bridge between the immigrations into Waterbury, Connecticut from particular areas of Ireland. Am going back in May (so excited!), hoping to scour more closely the area that so many of us seem to share. Cheers to your grandfather, the tanner!

  18. Lynn Millar said:

    I was wondering if your Meaghers are connected to ours in Meaghers Grant, Nova Scotia?

    • Hello Lynn, thank you for writing. Except that the Meaghers are likely all somewhat related anciently, it wouldn’t be possible to know the answer to your question. So far I, personally, haven’t come upon any direct references to Nova Scotia.
      We work our own spirals and tangents as far as we can take them. Sometimes they then can link up to someone else, but finding the links between known families are the hardest part – even when they end up living in a similar proximity as they had in Ireland. There is the “finding proof” portion of the equation, balanced against “getting as close as possible”. I’m still in the latter for my own direct lines (hence the continual search), though I’ve found proof for a lot of others! Wishing you well,

  19. Lois Farley Shuford said:

    Hello Janet – I’ve been enjoying your posts. My family also has Irish connections to New Haven. The Farley (Farrelly) brothers, Patrick and Andrew settled there in the mid 1800’s. Patrick is my g-grandfather, who worked as a gardener in New Haven (probably Yale) and then moved to Farmington where he was the gardener for Miss Porter’s School. The family eventually moved west to Nebraska. It’s quite a remarkable story. Patrick came to the US in 1851, fought in the US Civil War, returned to Ireland, married and came back to New Haven. I’ve been following his journey now for several years – both in the US and in many, many trips to Ireland and his home parish. I’ll be in NH at the end of the month for a Farley reunion – always looking forward to learning more. It’s addictive 🙂
    Glad to find you here at WordPress. I have a blog here also, though I’ve neglected it lately. Will have to remedy that!

    • Good to hear from you, Lois. Your story sounds very interesting! Please let me know when you have your blog going again. I’d like to read it. Cheers, Janet

  20. Paul Healey said:

    Hello. Not sure if you are still actively posting to this blog, but being an Irish Catholic from Waterbury, I was intrigued. Best wishes.

    • Thank you, Paul. I am about to make a post about the upcoming book and a talk, very soon, in New Haven. Wishing you well. Janet

  21. Rachael Wrafter said:

    Hello Janet – firstly congratulations on a very impressive blog!
    I stumbled across your site from the picture of a cemetery statue referring to Wrafter, although I could not find any connection on your blog to Wrafter. My branch are from Nth Tipperary, Rathcabban, Graigue, Lorrha. I also have Meagher’s in the early 1800’s, an Anne Meagher B1833 married a Thomas Wrafter and I have found mention of another Meagher, Michael which may have been her brother?
    Interested to find out about the cemetery picture, and whether you have known Maher/Meager conncections to Wrafter?
    Cheers Rachael

    • Thank you, Rachael. Yes, I have researched the people connected to that stone and have always felt that it was a key to linking some people. The people ended up in Waterbury, Connecticut. Please see info about my soon-to-be-released book about the Irish there — http://www.waterburyirish.com/ Doubtful that I could tie directly into your research, but it might be good to discuss some of this offline. I have your email, so will send a note at another time. Wishing you well, Janet

  22. Rachael Wrafter said:

    HI Janet, I’ll be sure to get a copy of your book once its released, and look forward to chatting about this further offline. Warm regards Rachael

  23. Hi Janet,
    My great great great grandmother was named Mary (Ellen) Maher.
    Her brothers were Matthew, Philip, Patrick.
    They were from laghile. Tipperary. They were in Maher Family of Madison Parish.

    I am interested in anyone with information on this family.

  24. Freddy Ramm (O'Reithe) said:

    Dear Janet,
    Marty (of West Point Fame) was kind of roll model for me. I once met his nephew Hughey at The Park Restaurant in Highland Falls. I knew in The Blairstown NJ area Tommy (who was also from Tipperary) and looked almost a dead ringer for Marty…He knew he was related, but did know specifically. I heard rumor around that Tommy is still living in PA.
    Found out a few years ago, that my Reid Side of my family is from Birr, just up the road from Rosecrea. My ancestors from Birr where John Reid and his Wife Hester McKeon…are there any of those names in your family?
    Slan go folile
    Freddy Ramm (O’Reithe)

    • Dear Freddy, thank you for writing. There were Reids in New Haven County, Connecticut in the early nineteenth century, some that come close to my research but aren’t directly related to me. I was told that there had been a Maher connection w/Birr Castle way back. Do you know anything about that?
      Happy New Year! – Janet

    • I am also a descendant of John Reed and Hester McKeon. Would love to compare information with you.

      Kerry Ross Boren

  25. Mike Maher said:

    Pleased to run across your blog. Most of your earlier respondents seem to be Mahers and Meaghers from the Northeast. Our Maher tribe descended from James and Catherine Fanning Maher, who crossed the Atlantic aboard the Erin’s Queen in the 1850s, landing in New Orleans. Seventy-two died in the crossing, including two of their children. They settled in Greenville, Ohio, and raised 10 children. i am great-grandson of one of the younger boys, Frank, who eventually moved to Oklahoma City.

    We have reconnected with our Irish relatives who own our ancestral home near Roscrea. Our ancestors are buried in Killough (Killea) near Devil’s Bit. I have photos, genealogical tidbits and contact info for our Irish cousins, who have a B & B in the Roscrea area. However all this seems beyond the scope of your “Leave a Reply” section. So let me just mention that I’d be interested to hear from any of the Ohio Mahers; I’ve been in touch with a couple of distant cousins who are from Denver. I’ll also mention this blog to the small army of Mahers who are descended from Frank.

    Best wishes,
    Mike Maher

    • Dear Mike, thank you for writing too! Such a sad story regarding your ancestors’ arrival. Fantastic that you know where they were, exactly, and you know and are in touch with so many of your direct line. Thank you for the explanation of Killough. I did not realize the two were the same place. Thank you for passing on the word about this blog (which I have not be as active on of late). You may be interested in the Maher Facebook site (a public group) and may have much to offer there. As Freddy, below, I must say that, like his Reids, there were Fannings in early nineteenth century CT, in an area I delved into deeply. Fascinating how the clusters of surnames (and first ones too!) seemed to cluster.
      Happy New Year! – Janet

  26. Dermot Meagher said:

    My great grandfather was Denis Meagher of Worcester, Massachusetts. With his mother and some of his brothers he came to Worcester in 1853 as Denis Maher. Het changed his name in honor of Thomas Francis Meagher after fighting in many of the major battles of the Civil War while still a teenager. His brothers, who did not enlist, kept the Maher name.
    Denis’ family came from Moyne or Moynard in Tipperary. My brother, Timothy, and I visited what we think was the family farm. We have also found baptismal records for Denis and his brothers.
    I am on 23 and Me, but have not found many relatives on the Meagher/Maher side.

  27. Dear Janet,
    Thanks for this blog.
    My great grandfather was Denis Meagher of Worcester, Massachusetts. With his mother and some of his brothers he came to Worcester in 1853 as Denis Maher. Het changed his name in honor of Thomas Francis Meagher after fighting in many of the major battles of the Civil War while still a teenager. His brothers, who did not enlist, kept the Maher name.
    Denis’ family came from Moyne or Moynard in Tipperary. My brother, Timothy, and I visited what we think was the family farm. We have also found baptismal records for Denis and his brothers.
    I am on 23 and Me, but have not found many relatives on the Meagher/Maher side.

  28. David McMahon said:

    Hello Eric,

    My grandmother is Ellen Maher from Co. Clare, there is only one Maher family from Clare so when I read your family had Clare links i was very excited. Please drop me an email.



    David McMahon

  29. Dermot, while it is very hard to find direct “hits,” that you know as much as you do and have baptismal records is great. Be sure to deeply research all the lines in your family, including the women. Working sideways, studying the community can be very important too.
    Wishing you well,

  30. Hi, Janet — You mention that, while Thomas Meagher Jr. and Sr. were born in Newfoundland, they returned to Ireland. Do you know if the whole family returned or if there were some members who remained? I am descended from Mahers in Newfoundland. My great-grandfather William Maher was born in Greenspond, NL, in about 1859. My grandfather, Walter Maher, was born on Burnt Island, NL, in 1888. From there, the family migrated to the Montreal area. I have been (unsuccessfully) looking for info about William’s father for a number of years.

    • Barbara, that information would have been from the book Thomas Francis Meagher, The Making of an Irish American, edited by John M. Hearne and Rory T. Cornish (Irish Academic Press, 2006). I do not know more about that family. There is a new book out by Timothy Egan (which I have not yet read) – The Immortal Irishman, The Irish Revolutionary Who Became An American Hero. It won a National Book Award and is available on Amazon. Wishing you well, Janet

    • Barbara, just looked at the Meagher pedigree in the Hearne/Cornish book. According to that Thomas Francis Meagher’s grandfather had two other sons in addition to the Waterford merchant who married Alicia Quan (T.F. Meagher’s parents). T.F. Meagher’s uncles were Henry Meagher (merchant, born Newfoundland, died Waterford, IRE, 1791-1838) and Patrick (a lawyer and priest in Dublin, born 1799, Newfoundland). No further info on either.

  31. Christina Gardner said:

    Hi Janet, I am researching the family of a John Maher born May 10th 1888 at Castelcomer. His father was also called John (born circa 1860) – his Mother’s name is at present unknown. John (born 1888) gave his place of birth as Castelcomer when he signed up for military service in Durham England during WW1. Both he, and his brother Thomas (born circa 1892) and his sister Mary (born circa 1894) gave their place of birth as Kilkenny in the English 1911 Census and the whole family, including a brother Michael (born circa 1881) gave their place of birth as Ireland in the English Census of 1891. By 1891 John (born circa 1860) was already a widower. I’ve found a marriage for a John Maher in 1880 and the births of a Michael Maher in 1880 and Mary Maher in 1894 registered in the Thurles Registration district but that is in Tipperary in understand. So I’m not sure if they are the correct birth / marriage registrations. Have you come across this family at all? Or do any of your readers recognise any family members? Kind regards Christina

    • Christina, I’m happy to include this here in case anyone else comes upon it and finds links to it. There were a great many Mahers in Thurles, in particular, and Tipperary, in general, but they appear in all the places you mention too. Very hard to literally tie the right groups together. I recommend also looking at the 1901 and 1911 Irish censuses, which are online through the National Archives — http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie. They list the names of everyone in the household. Wishing you well, Janet

  32. Hi, I am interested in knowing if the following families that lived in the Ansonia-Derby-Birmingham area are mentioned your book: Broderick, Dwyer, Knight. I have been unable to find from where in Ireland any of them emigrated except that I know it was the Irish Republic. Any help greatly appreciated. This is my husband’s maternal family and they apparently took no interest in their Irish heritage. Thank you, Elaine Pavone /812-342-9733.

  33. Hi Janet, my dad did a DNA test as well. Is it possible for him to add his results to the Maher DNA page? Cheers, Melanie Maher

    • Hello Melanie, I am not attached in any way to that. Information about joining DNA groups would come to you through your test. All good wishes, Janet

      • Melanie Maher said:

        Thank you very much Janet! I’m still looking for information on my great grand father. We have a lead that indicates he may have been born to Patrick maher and Mary (can’t recall right now) but we think he was born June 13, 1870 in Greenspond while his mother was from Fogo/Tilting area. We have not been able to find information on Patrick so if anyone that reads these messages might know something, please drop me a line! Thanks in advance, Melanie

      • Meanwhile, learning about the areas, the time, will help bring them to life. You can imagine their lives and learn what you can when you can. Actual records and solid proof may never appear, but that shouldn’t prevent you from learning an enormous amount and then being able to make educated hunches. Enjoy the journey, Janet

  34. HI Janet, I have been reading through your great blog on the Mahers. My G-G- Grandather was Malachy Maher from Kiltinan/Killusty area at the base of the Slievnemon. We just visited there as we traced what might be the land farmed by the family. The last Maher to own the land was Pat Maher who married Ellen Williams. After Pat died, Ellen left the land to her nephew Christy Williams who is in his late 80s now.. I can’t seem to find the link from that Pat to my family. It seems Pat’s father was a John Maher.

    My G-G grandparents and 3 children including my Great Grandfather , Michael (1843) immigrated to America around 1854. They were farmers in Saginaw, Michigan area.

    If anyone knows any more details about the Mahers from Killusty, I’d love to share notes.

    • Thank you, Kathy. I’m glad you like the blog! How exciting to have located the actual land where your family might have lived! Delving deep into the 1850s and earlier in Saginaw may reveal more about the cluster of Irish immigrants into the area, one group helping another come over. That may also help shed more light upon the link back to the Slievenmon Mountain area, which is also Maher territory. Unfortunately, there were so many Mahers named John! Have a look at Griffiths Valuation records, http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/ and the 1901/1911 censuses, http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/ Maybe you can spot the family there.
      All good wishes, Janet

  35. Catherine (Kate) Daly Canning said:

    Hi Janet,

    Having grown up in an Irish American familty in Waterbury, CT, I was really looking forward to reading your book, WATERBURY IRISH,from the Emerald Isle to the Brass City. I read it enthusiastically and can see that it was well researched and I enjoyed reading about so many people I knew personally while I lived there from 1950-1972. But I was very disappointed to see that my own prominent Irish forefathers from Waterbury were not included in your historic review of this place where my family has lived for six generations.

    FYI: My Great Great grandfather, Michael J Daly, was born and was raised in Baltic, Sprague, which then became Norwich, CT in 1850. He moved to Waterbury around 1875 and established his firm, MJDaly and Sons, in 1882. It was located for many years on Freight St near Wards Flats. Passed down through several generations, the business remained in our family for 125 years until it was finally sold in 2007. Over that time, many of my family members contributed to the formation of important institutions in Waterbury – banks, country clubs, churches – as well as to the cultural and professional life of the community, including my own father, Dr Jos. E Daly, who was the Chief of Surgery at St Mary’s Hospital for 10 years. They all helped to contribute to the achievements of their fellow Irish Americans and I am very proud of their accomplishments.

    So my question to you now is why wasn’t the Daly family included in your research? How did some folks manage to make “the cut” while others did not? Sorry but this is ather glaring omission on your part I’d say.

    😥 Catherine (Guilfoile) Daly Canning
    Bennington, VT

    • Dear Catherine,
      Yes, there was so much cut from the first incarnation of that book that it broke my heart and put me into a real tailspin. No less than 40,000 words, and at least as many more than that getting to the first submission. I apologize that your ancestors were left out. If only I had been able to find you earlier on, meet and speak with you! You would probably have been a great help to me overall.
      As I no longer live in CT I was at a great disadvantage doing research from so far away and making so many (expensive) marathon research trips–cramming, as it were, while working full time in an entirely other quite labor-intensive profession. I did the best I could under the circumstances and have to live with that. I do have regrets.
      Cheers to the Daly family and their extensive roles in contributing so significantly and broadly in building the strong nineteenth century foundations of Waterbury! I can only reiterate my apologies.
      Wishing you well, Janet

  36. Wendy Laffely said:

    I have been searching for Michael Meagher born about 1806 Mulliuahome . He may have been in the Canada British Regiment .
    I have come to a brick wall . He would be my 4th great grandfather .
    I would love to hear from you
    Thanks so much,
    Wendy Laffely

  37. Only just found your site – you kinda look like my grandmother does actually. Hapy to connect and share more information as well

  38. Christa Brady said:

    Hi Janet,
    Do you have any suggestions for me on how to find my great-grandmother and great-grandfather’s graves? I believe that they’re in Old St. Joseph’s as the rest of my family is buried there. James Mansfield died in 1904, a year after he my my g-grandmother, Ellen “Nellie” (O’Connell) Mansfield were married. She died in Feb 1957. I did write to Calvary Cemetery Assoc., but I haven’t heard back from them yet. Any thoughts appreciated. I feel so compelled by their story.
    Thank you!
    Christa Phelan Brady

    • Hello Christa, Old St. Joe’s is a wonderful, beautiful cemetery where many of the graves reference directly back to locations in Ireland, particularly Queen’s County and Tipperary (and Phelan is a very popular surname among them!). Sadly, several years back there was an awful case of vandalism, and a great many stones were damaged or destroyed. The Assn. is notoriously bad and getting back to people or offering much help, unfortunately (probably get too many requests). If you are able to access the Hale transcriptions that are held in the CT State Library, you can peruse the entire set that were done ca. 1930/40s (?, as I vaguely recall). I’ve done a great deal of transcribing over years of studying and photographing that cemetery, including many in my book, Waterbury Irish. Mansfield doesn’t ring a bell for me regarding what I published, as I was focused upon certain families and locations at the time. If you are nowhere near CT, you might join Ancestry.com, where you’ll find the Hale transcriptions and may get a bull’s eye once your personal tree fleshed out to this couple. All good wishes, Janet

      • Christa Brady said:

        Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly, Janet! I don’t know how I happened upon your blog years ago, but I certainly enjoy it. I have your book : ). I do belong to Ancestry.com and get lost in it for hours. In my most recent surge to uncover more (including my message to you), I did find my g-grandmother and g-grandfather (O’Connell and Mansfield). I was mistaken…they’re actually in the New St. Joseph’s. Anyway, I live out-of-state now, but will look forward to visiting and making sure they’re graves have been cared for in a manner befitting their courageous lives. Thanks again, Janet!

      • Hello Christa, I’m so glad that you have liked this blog. New St. Joe’s is also tended well, so you’ll likely be happy to find your family there and enjoy the wandering. All good wishes, Janet

  39. Could the Arabic people with the Maher surname be our distant relatives?
    (Maa-her means Skillful in Arabic)

    Arab Mahers may have originated from a common root:

    “[‘around 300AD… Maher ancester’: Mogh Nuada] took refuge in Spain and remained there for nine years marrying Beara, the daughter of Heber Mor, King of Castile. …
    … The O’Carrolls are descended from Oilill Olum’s youngest son Ciann and his son Taig…

    Mogh Nuada = Bera (daughter of Heber Mor
    | King of Castille)
    Oiliil Olum = Sabia (daughter of Conn of
    | the Hundred Battles)
    | | |
    Eogan Mor Cormac Cass Ciann

    see this source for a more cleanly formatted familly tree / explanation:

    Folklore recorded hundreds of years later may be unreliable.
    It could even be the Mahers were originally arabian-iberian mercinaries, servants, slaves, illigitimate kin or war-orphans ‘adopted or abducted’ by the O’Carrols

    – the Mahers were likely only assigned a variation of the O’Carrol heraldic arms hundreds of years later – in the middle ages.

    Iberian DNA markers and shared cultural artifacts suggests it is quute likely that relationships were intermingled with people of the Iberian penninsular
    – per the description of Mogh’s exile / marrage connection with Castille, an alliance that is likely to have heen reinforced over succesive genterations )

    See also surname section:

    • sorry that broken link should have pointed to this archived page:


    • Hello Dobbo, I have approved your comments so others may see them. This is all very interesting. I don’t have any answers, but it seems possible. Origins are so ancient that we can never really know. In the larger, spiritual/metaphysical sense we are all related, all part of the same universal whole, of course.
      Wishing you well, Janet

      • Thank you for all your epic work piecing together our shared Maher heritage.

        It was particularly interesting to read about the branches of Mahers which have been involved in:
        – colonial merchant shipping (and the associated slave trades)
        – the drafting of the United States’s constitution and
        – the 20th Century fight against ‘America’s own apartheid’ / racial segregation.

        My other ancestral surnames are far less well documented / informative.

        I will be sure to pass on your website to my South African cousins one if which has a son carrying the Maher surname forward 🙂

        Dobbo, Kent, UK
        (fourth grandson of Thomas Maher of Liverpool).



  41. Denise Smith said:

    Have you read the trilogy by Brendan Graham. First is “The Whitest Flower”. Very well researched. My Grgrandmother was from Ballinderry, Tipperary so I was fascinated to read about the historical facts included, which brought to life areas & places I had visited in 2019. She emigrated to Australia aged 21 about 1877

    • Hello Denise, thank you for the recommendation. No, I have not read that trilogy but will look into it, as I love to read. That’s just the kind of connection I enjoy most, a film or book that brings the past to life and helps us imagine our own ancestors more clearly. – Janet

  42. Hi Janet, I am researching a William O Meagher of Bleakfield House, Borris in Ossory, whose descendants became lawyers in New South Wales, and wonder if you have come across this family in tour researches Kind regards John

  43. Good evening.
    During my genealogical research I found a baptismal certificate in the parish of Fundão, in central Portugal, of a child of Irish parents: Francisco (Francis) born 15/10/1779, son of Thomas Maher (of Fethard-Bishop of Cashel) and Anastacia Mary (of Cork), paternal grandson of Duarte (Edward) Maher and Cecilia (Cecily) Braron and maternal son of David Urle and Catherina (Kathryn) Branca.
    Here is the link: https://digitarq.arquivos.pt/viewer?id=4805801 image 63 at bottom right.

  44. Tom Maher said:

    I am a descendant of Thomas Francis Maher, Judge second City Court Algiers, LA. My 2x great aunt, Aldea Maher, his sister was first woman to graduate Tulane University med school and was an expert in Clinical Pathology with numerous journal articles written. My grandfather George O Maher, Sr is credited for inventing the metal detector.

    I’ve always been told If someone has the last name Maher, we are likely related somehow/someway. My 3xgreat grandfather was a general in Union army.

    Are we related?!?

  45. Todd E Maher said:

    I’m a Maher as well!

  46. Hello I’m not related to any of you as far as I know but I grew up in New Haven county in Waterbury Connecticut and I happen to pull over in a cemetery in Hartford and saw the name Dennis Maher on a grave with an American flag in front of it so I decided to Google it and I did a little research and came across this blog. It’s fascinating from the dawn of mankind we can all find people who come from the same lineage after thousands and thousands of years unfortunately we could only go back and find records to 300 years if we’re lucky and pronunciation obviously wasn’t that important back then I don’t think they had English teachers even in England hitting people on the hand or nuns walking around hitting you with a ruler for mispronouncing certain things LOL so some people went to the grave believing whatever the spelling was of the person they knew and over time it gets lost in translation. Like I said I grew up in New Haven county and the kicker is 70 to 80% of the surnames that you listed I kn ow someone with that last name so I bet you can imagine there are a lot more people out there than you and all these people are related to and don’t even know it because the records have to go too far back to realize that some guy you’ve known all your life is possibly related to you but the relation is so far out that records disappear before you can get your research done maybe people we’ve known all our lives but imagine 70 to 80% of those names in New Haven county which are all your family it seems every one of you up here possibly are related to a bunch of people in New Haven county I may have played basketball with a few you said Phelan I grew up and went to Catholic school with a kid named Scott Phelan now of course I don’t know his mother’s ancestry so I can’t say if you’re definitely related to him but the last name Ryan there’s so many remember some of these names are even the big family names that came over from England and brought hundreds of people with them like the founding families of Connecticut you know you just don’t know but a very interesting read to read how you all have came out of the woodwork to realize you’re all related that’s a lot of people it’s amazing but I went through something similar keep searching keep looking you will be shocked to know that some people you even know are directly or indirectly related to over mankind’s journey from the last 20,000 years that is really something to think about godspeed to all of you 11 years later Bob Johnson

  47. Even more amazing once my comment posted I am shocked to learn that people are still writing on this blog I am extremely impressed I think about stuff like this a lot it is just awesome that you guys are still writing about this and still researching never give up all of you should feel amazing about yourself because that’s what life’s all about is passion and the passion you have shown for knowledge is what sets us apart from wild animals I guess LOL plus we don’t eat each other

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