Priests’ Comments on Baptism and Marriage Records, Co Tipperary, Ireland

As I trawled through many baptism and marriage records my interest was taken by anything out of the ordinary.

This storm  on 15 Feb 1838 was so great the Borrisokane priest noted the occurrence in the marriage register:

Here the priest at Borrisokane Parish describes a terrible hurricane which hit Ireland in Jan 1839:

Another storm

5 Feb 1850 a another storm in Borrisokane

However, nearly all of the priests’ notations concerned the morals of his parishioners rather than the weather!

Calling children born out of wedlock bastards was common.

14 April 1850 Holycross/Ballycahill Parish Co Tipperary
Baptism In Drom & Inch Parish April 1833
Drom & Inch 1839

1840 Baptism Drom & Inch

In Moykarky Parish around 1850, one of the priests conducting the baptism called illegitimate girls Hedwig (in latin Hedwigis) Was this so everyone would know they were illegitimate? No other children were called this. An example is below:

Illegitimate child of a Protestant father 1854 Drom & Inch Parish

The baptism records have illeg (illegitimate) clearly marked and often the father’s address and occupation. One priest, no doubt gleefully, pointed out the father was the son of the Protestant pastor!

Priest’s comment on baptism record Feb 1840 Thurles Parish Not sure what he was referring to.
Note the cross next to the record. 1864 Holycross

Some of the priests marked the record with the word bastard in large letters!  Most of the records for illegitimate children have a large cross next to them.

If both parents are listed on the Baptism record and there is a cross next to the record I think this indicated the priest suspected infidelity on the mother’s part.

1833 Thurles Parish. Priest’s comments re the father of this illegitimate child.

One kinder priest has entered such a birth as a “natural birth” but this compassion is very rare.

Borrisoleigh Baptism record 1816


1 Nov 1817 Loughmore Parish


The latin way of saying born outside marriage.


Outside of marriage? Latin rant. Moyne Baptism record for Oct 1819


From Drom & Inch baptisms 1828.


The father is married. 1855 Thurles Parish Baptism record.


A married man and a virtuous wife Moycarky Parish 1843


Drom & Inch 1838 Father’s name not entered.


No Father’s name given 1862 Drom & Inch Parish


Child out of wedlock Drom & Inch 1839


Drom Parish Baptism record


The word “spurious” written after the Baptism record Thurles 10 Jun 1825


Looks like spurious has turned into suspicious! Thurles Baptism record 1826


Pointing the finger! 1842 Drom & Inch Parish


“Pater Dubious” Drom & Inch Parish 1843

A couple of baptism records have the word “dub” which puzzled me, until I came across the full word “dubious”. The priest believes the father on the certificate is not the actual father.

Illegitimate or not, dubious 1840 Moycarky Parish priest


priest’s comments “doubtful” & “stranger” 1833


At the beginning of the baptism records for Loughmore Parish on the side of the first page is written the codes used to designate births out of wedlock etc. While shocking it is less so than the words”bastard” on many other records. But it shows the extent to which the priests monitored the lives and morals of their parishioners.

22 Aug 1850 Johnstown Catholic Parish Co Kilkenny

Not all parish records have crosses and comments it seems to have been very much up to the priest. Drom & Inch Parish stands out for the numerous condemnatory crosses and comments whereas in Borrisoleigh occasionally records are marked with a cross or designated “illegitimate” but the whole tone is a lot friendlier.

+ children born out of wedlock; / where parents married after the child’s birth; + where either of the parents was an adulterer;o the person who violated the marriage bed. Marks placed on baptism records by the priest in Loughmore Paris from 1798


Marks made by the priest re illegitimacy and relationships


Wrong father listed, priest’s comments Moyne 13 July 1817

Not sure what the scandal being avoided was in this case? was it a pregnancy or because of who she was marrying?

Marriage record 2 Oct 1870, Moyne Templetuohy Parish, Co Tipperary


Poor servant girl and the Protestant. Thurles 1834


Priest’s note added to record 1834 Thurles




“An Old Protestant Blackguard” Thurles 1836


Strangers 1840 Drom & Inch Parish Baptism


Another “stranger” entry:

“Stranger” July 1843 Drom & Inch Parish


Pauper 15 July 1820 Loughmore


Vagrants Borrisoleigh 1819


A foundling found in Pudding Lane Thurles 1835


Child left at Mrs O’Shea’s Hotel Thurles Jan 1839


Foundling 1845 Drom & Inch


Foundling Moycarky 29 Apr 1836


Foundling named after where she was found in Moycarky Parish 1842

It seems that foundlings were sometimes given surnames related to where they were found, for example, John Ditch or Margaret Field. Below is an example

Moycarky Parish 1844 baptism of a foundling named Mary Green after being found in a green field.


Winifred Highway, a foundling, Moycarky 1852


Conditional baptism of a foundling 1856 Drom & Inch parishTravellers are mentioned. I think this refers to Gypsies.

“Viatoros” written on the Thurles Baptism record meaning pilgrim or wanderer or other name for traveler or vagrant?

“vagrants of uncertain residence” Moyne Parish 18 June 1822The address of the father of an illegitimate child was often included or their occupation.

A Protestant policeman in Borrisoleigh has twins out of wedlock, 22 May 1873 

Note on Baptism record Thurles 1839

Another paternity dispute entered on the Baptism record by the priest 1841 Thurles

another excommunication 1841 Thurles

“An old offender” More comments 1842 Thurles

Scandal in Moycarky Parish 1840

An illegitimate birth as a result of a rape in Plymouth England Moycarky Parish 1852A priest comments on another priest in Bourney & Corbally Parish:

From Borrisokane Parish 1838 “incestuous commerce” :

Priest’s comment on this couple marrying in Borrisokane Parish in 1848 in the famine years.

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8 thoughts on “Priests’ Comments on Baptism and Marriage Records, Co Tipperary, Ireland”

  1. Hi my surnames are Ryan, McCarthy, County, Manton, most of them came from Hollycross, Templemore,Thurles, area yet to find any in Ireland have been researching 35 years cannot get past Mary Ryan m John McCarthy /Carthy )also Anastasia/Antice Manton m Michael “County “maybe Maher have all bmd family in Geelong Vic. Australia

    1. Hi Sandra,
      I would take out a short subscription to Rootsireland and do some all Ireland searches for those names. All the catholic baptism and marriage records are now online free but not indexed. They are on the National Library of Ireland site. All the civil records are also online now free at County and Manton don’t seem to be common Irish surnames, unlike Ryan, so I’d start with them. Good luck.

  2. Hi, would like to know Ellen Cavanagh’s mother and fathers real names. She had on her death certificate in Australia that her mother was Mary and her father John. She was born in 1838/39 I Thurles, Tipperary, Ireland. Only parents I can find are John and Bridget Barragry. Any help would be greatly appreciated, thx Mark

  3. Travellers and Romanii are two different ethnic groups and to suggest otherwise is incorrect. The use of the “G” word is also extremely offensive to many Romani people so I ask you to refrain from using it.

    1. Thanks for commenting. I wasn’t aware that this term was offensive.
      I’m quite interested to know who the people referred to by the priests as “travellers” were.
      Can you tell me more about who you think they were and also something of the Romanii people?

  4. I don’t think that the term Traveller would have been used at this time so I would presume that they were probably people who were travelling through the parish and were not locals. Sometimes you will see such people referred to as strangers. IN these isolated communities, everyone knew each other and were often interrelated through marriage, so the appearance of a stranger would have been noteworthy. They may have been people who were on the road due to eviction, a couple who had eloped, or a journeyman with a trade – like a tailor, a mason, or many other tradesmen who travelled from place to place to work. Travellers are an ethnic Irish Group. Romani are of Indian origin. There is some level of intermarriage between the groups but they are of completely different origins. However they share many of the same trades, and, like journeymen from the settled community, would travel from place to place carrying out their work. Many were whitesmiths and blacksmiths, farm labourers and horse dealers. There is also a history of them being forcibly enlisted into British Army regiments such as the Connaught Rangers in order to clear an area of their presence.
    Whilst it was acceptable at one time to call black people the “N” word, the Roma are beginning to fight against the “G” word, which is based on the incorrect label that was put on them by the settled people, of being Egyptians. After the murder of, some say up to a million Roma in the Porraijmos or great devouring, in the Nazi death camps they still continue to be a target of persecution and abuse throughout Europe, and, like Travellers, have lower life expectancy, face discrimination in matters of healthcare, accommodation and education and have yet to be accorded the same level of respect and human rights as the settled community.

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