Archive for the ‘Eneclann’ Category

New Research Takes Barack Obama’s Irish Family–The Kearneys–Back To The Late 17th Century

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Recently, Eneclann made the following announcement. Eneclann has been a partner since the beginning of 2008. Eneclann databases available on are the 1851 Dublin City Census and the Index to Irish Wills (1484-1858).

New Research Takes Barack Obama’s Irish Family–The Kearneys–Back To The Late 17th Century
Finds a family of wig-makers with an early involvement in local city politics

6 August 2008– Up to now, what was in the public domain, brought us back to Falmouth Kearney, Obama’s second great-grandfather, from Moneygall Co. Offally. Through extensive research genealogists at Eneclann ( have taken the Kearney family tree back to Obama’s sixth great-grandfather, Joseph Kearney born ca. 1698.

The Kearneys were skilled artisans, who prospered in the Eighteenth Century. One branch of the family did extremely well; Michael Kearney, (Obama’s sixth great-granduncle), a peruke (wig)-maker, becomes embroiled in the Dublin city politics of the day and John Kearney, who would be a distant cousin of Obama’s, went on to become the Provost of Trinity College Dublin, and later Bishop of Ossory. As the Nineteenth Century progresses the family line from which Obama descends fails to prosper and they emigrate to the US.

The Kearney family, were probably Gaelic Irish in origin, based on the family name, and the research has also discovered that the probable place of origin is Co. Tipperary.

Our starting point was the records at where we found Falmouth’s mother, Phoebe Kearney, in Griffith’s Valuation. If we look at the Kearney family that settled in Shinrone, Co. Offaly from the 1740s onwards – Obama’s direct line. Joseph Kearney from whom Obama is directly descended, was born ca. 1698, and had four known sons: Thomas born ca. 1725; Joseph born ca. 1730 [this is Obama's direct line]; John born ca. 1735; and Patrick bap. 9 Oct. 1741. Of these sons, Thomas followed in the profitable line of business established by the senior branch of the family, and he became a peruke-maker [from the 1768 Lease]; Joseph became a comber i.e. textiles/ weaving [1761 Marriage License Bond, Diocese of Killaloe]; The Kearneys were involved in the trade of peruke or periwig making. People wore wigs because they didn’t wash their hair – water was thought to spread disease. Wigs were not just a luxury item, they were worn by professionals, the gentry and the aristocracy, but also by many of the staff in big houses.

Early Political Involvement
Within the extended Kearney family, research revealed an early involvement in politics. Michael Kearney kinsman, (probably older brother) of Joseph Kearney, entered the Guild of Barber Surgeons & Periwigmakers in 1717, and was entered as a ‘Capillamentarius’ i.e. a hair dresser in the Freemens Rolls in 1718.

As a Freeman of Dublin City, he had the right to practice his trade and conduct business in Dublin City, and he had a vote in elections for the city council. Michael Kearney was very active within the politics of his trade guild. In 1720 within three years of joining he was elected house warden. In 1724, he was openly critical of the master and warden of his guild, and led a petition against them. Although he was suspended at that time, clearly he had the support of his fellow guild members, and within two years in 1726, Michael Kearney was elected master of the Guild of Barber Surgeons.

Research located a political pamphlet against Michael Kearney printed in 1726 called Hue and Cry. This pamphlet is written in fairly typical Eighteenth Century political invective, it is scurrilous, scabrous and slanderous, great fun to read but to be taken with a large pinch of salt. The following is an extract:

‘His head is still running
on tricking and cunning
But he mayn’t escape let me tell you
For the Fox has been caught
And pay’d dear at last
For the Geese he had put in his Belly’

Hue And Cry, After M-K, late Master to a Corporation in the City of Dublin.
By the Author of Namby Pamby.
( A copy of this pamphlet can be found at

In the 1750s, when the aristocracy tried to gerrymander elections to Dublin City Council to put in their own candidates, Michael Kearney was prominent among the Dublin Guildsmen in opposing them.

The Kearneys of Shinrone and Moneygall
Barack Obama is directly descended from the Kearneys of Shinrone & Moneygall Co. Offaly. The height of this family’s prosperity was between the 1760s and 1780s, when the nephews from Offaly stepped into their Dublin uncle’s business of wig-making. After the 1780s the fortunes of this line of the Kearney family went into fairly rapid decline due to a combination of the economic changes brought about after the Act of Union in 1801 and the decline in the fashion of wig wearing. Tracing the history of the Moneygall/Shinrone Kearneys, in the following generations William (1762-1828) and his son Joseph (ca. 1794-1861) both became shoe-makers, and there’s no evidence to suggest that they continued to transport their goods to Dublin for sale. In other words they were shoe-makers for a rural district, where the nearest market town was Roscrea. They did however retain some property rights in Moneygall and Shinrone, and it seems the family sold/ released their rights these properties in order to finance the family’s emigration to the United States.

Commenting on the research into Obama’s Irish links Fiona Fitzsimons, Director of Research at Eneclann Ltd. says ‘Apart from the obvious interest of a link to a US presidential candidate, the story of the Kearney family of Moneygall is a fascinating story in itself. The Kearney family history, illustrates over five generations, a family history that was not untypical in Ireland, but which we don’t often consider as a typical Irish emigrant story. However, we were taken by complete surprise to discover an early connection local politics and a distant cousin who becomes Provost of Trinity College Dublin and Bishop of Ossory.’

For further information:

Brian Donovan : +353 086 6486262 or
Cathy McCartney : +353 1 671 0338
(email) –,

Eneclann Partners With, Inc.

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

PROVO, UT, April 14, 2008 — Eneclann, Ireland’s leading historical electronic publishing company, recently partnered with, Inc. to add the Index of Irish Wills 1484-1858: Records at the National Archives of Ireland and The 1851 Dublin City Census to’s online genealogy collection.

“We have been heavily involved in Irish genealogy, history, and heritage for the past ten years,” said Brian Donovan, CEO, Eneclann. “We are excited to continue to preserve the wealth of Ireland’s heritage and further our reach by partnering with, Inc.”

The 1851 Dublin City Census index was compiled by Dr. D.A. Chart in the early 20th century from the original census records, which were destroyed in the 1922 Public Record Office fire. Chart’s index contains the names and addresses of 60,000 heads of household from 21 civil parishes. The index also includes scanned images from the original 1847 Ordnance Survey Town Plans to help users identify specific addresses. Since the 10th Irish Census was destroyed, Chart’s 1851 Census of Ireland has emerged as a useful substitute.

The 1851 Dublin City Census is unique in that family members absent from the household on census night were also included. This information is particularly useful for genealogists trying to track approximate dates and routes of migration.

The Index of Irish Wills 1484-1858 contains the name of the persons leaving the wills, or being covered by a grant of probate or administration; the location where the document was proved; their addresses; and sometimes their occupations. The names of approximately half of the executors, along with their addresses are also included.

The Irish Wills Index is important because most of Ireland’s wills and other testamentary records were destroyed in 1922. The staff at the National Archives of Ireland have spent more than 80 years trying to recover from that loss by getting replacement copies of records. Approximately 90 percent of the index contains testamentary records such as wills, probate, and administrations, while 10 percent includes records such as marriage licenses and assorted genealogical abstracts.

“Since meeting Brian Donovan in 2006, we have been anticipating a close partnership with Eneclann. We met Brian again in late 2007 at the Eneclann offices in Dublin,” said Yvette Arts, Director, Content Acquisition,, Inc. “The quality of the Eneclann team was evident, and we are excited to work with such a great group of people committed to historical research and archive management.


Media Contact
Whitney Ransom
Corporate Communications Director, Inc.

About Eneclann
Eneclann is a Trinity College Dublin campus company providing a range of professional services in the historical, heritage, archive and records management sectors. Founded by history graduates Brian Donovan and Fiona Fitzsimons, Eneclann was accredited as a Trinity College campus company in 1998. Also in that year Eneclann won first prize in a campus company development award sponsored by UCD and the Dublin Business Innovation Centre. Starting from a core business of historical research consultancy, Eneclann now has three distinct areas of business operations: Historical Research – House Histories and Genealogical Research, E- Publishing & Digitization, and Records and Archive Management.

About, Inc., Inc. is a family of services that includes,, and the We’re Related application on The focus of the company is to provide innovative tools to connect families.

Founded in 2006 by Paul Allen and several key members of the original team,, Inc. provides affordable access to genealogy databases and family history tools used by more than 600,000 monthly visitors. The site registers 9.4 million monthly pages views and has more than 25,000 subscribers. With thousands of databases–including birth, death, military, census, and parish records– makes it easy to fill in missing information in your family tree. Some of its partners include Everton Publishers, Quintin Publications, Archive CD Books Australia, Gould Genealogy, Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild, Archive CD Books Canada, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., SmallTownPapers®, Accessible Archives, Genealogical Publishing Company, Find My Past, Godfrey Memorial Library, Find A Grave, and FamilySearchâ„¢. Investors include vSpring Capital and several angel investors.

Wonderbase of the Week: 1851 Dublin City Census

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

The Wonderbase of the Week at is the 1851 Dublin City Census from Eneclann Ltd, a Trinity College campus company specializing in Irish history. The company is the largest research agency on the island of Ireland, and is the only digital publisher of historic records on CD-ROM, DVD and online.

The 1851 Dublin City Census index was compiled by Dr. D. A. Chart in the 19th century from the original census records–since destroyed in the 1922 Public Record Office fire. Chart’s index was converted to computerized form by Seán Magee. The index is accompanied by scanned images of the original 1847 Ordnance Survey Town Plans, to help users identify specific addresses.

This index covers central Dublin–the inner city area between the canals–and consists of approximately 59,000 names and addresses of heads of households, from 21 civil parishes, 15 on the south side of the Liffey (St. Audeon, St. Andrew, St. Anne, St. Bridget, St. Catherine, St. James, St. John, St. Luke, St. Mark, St. Michael, St. Nicholas Within, St. Nicholas Without, St. Patrick’s Deanery, St. Peter, and St. Werburgh) with a total of 33,565 entries or 56.9% of the city’s population, and 6 parishes on the north side (St. George, St. Mary, St. Michan, St. Paul, St. Thomas, and Grange Gorman) with a total of 25,429 entries or 43.1% of the population of Dublin city.

The destruction of the 19th Irish Census returns is probably the greatest loss that genealogy in Ireland has suffered. Irish genealogists have tried to fill this gap using extant documentary sources from the 19th Century, as census substitutes.

The most commonly used substitutes– the Tithe Applotment Books (compiled 1823-1838), and Griffith’s Primary Valuation (compiled 1848-1864), and Thom’s Directories (compiled after 1845), are of little or no use to researchers tracing ancestors in Dublin City. All these surveys are based on land or house holding, and do not attempt to document actual residence, in particular they do not reflect the practice of “tenement dwelling” in Dublin city, common in the mid 19th Century, whereby two or more families occupied apartments in a house.

One important census substitute has survived for the capital city however, and that is an index of the heads of households in Dublin City from the 1851 Census of Ireland as compiled by Dr D.A. Chart.

A particular feature of the census was that family members absent from the household on census night were also included; in 91 households the head of household was absent or away including Thomas Shaw, who was absent from a canal boat at Broadstone (Royal Canal) Harbour.

Another 30 heads of households are recorded as gone away, though the precise meaning of this term varied; it was used to encompass individuals such as Mary Ann Plant of 31 Mecklenburg St. Lower, who had gone to America; Michael Byrne, formerly of 84 Church St. who had gone to [the] poorhouse; and Michael Fields of 8 Rogerson’s Quay who had gone to sea.

In 122 cases the head of household had removed, an ambiguous term which encompassed:

(a) changes of address within the city, as in the case of Isaac Usher formerly of 18 North Earl St., who removed to Kingstown;

(b) emigration, including William Branagan of 7 Aldborough Place and Thomas Fitzgerald of 2 Parkgate St., both of whom removed to England; and even

(c) admittance to hospital – a Bridget Rafferty formerly of Brown St. North, was recorded as having been removed to [the] asylum.

This level of detail–though relatively rare throughout Chart’s Index–is particularly useful for the genealogist trying to track approximate dates and routes of migration.

Where the male head of household was absent, Chart recorded the wife or female head of household in his index. This information was provided from 66 households (approximately 27% of all absentees noted in the 1851 census) by the wives or other female relatives. By also recording the women present on the night of the census, as well as the absent male head of household, Chart may have allowed for the possibility that some of these women may in fact have lived independently from their men-folk, for whatever reason. However these numbers are negligible, and do not substantially alter the statistics.

In a small number of cases Chart distinguished heads of household with the same name, by noting on their occupation, or their spouse’s name.

The index is not confined to householders, but includes persons working in various institutions on census night. These include: the Royal, Richmond and Arbour Hill Barracks; the North and South Dublin Union Workhouses; Trinity College Dublin; the Royal Dublin Society; the Rotunda, Meath and Richmond Hospitals; the Dublin House of Industry; the Richmond Bridewell, and Grangegorman Prisons; the Bank of Ireland; Jury’s Hotel, etc.