Tracing your Irish roots can be fraught with issues especially if your family was Catholic. The Penal Law which was introduced to the statue books in 1695 ; forbade Catholic parishes keeping registers; although some ignored this order, in 1772/75 some Catholic Relief started due to the crop failures and therefore the necessity of record keeping became evident. It wasn’t until 1829 when the penal law ended that parish records were kept nation wide.

Before the introduction of central record keeping all births and deaths were recorded locally by the Priest or Reverent of the parish in which the person lived. In Marblehill’s case this was the Parish of Ballynakill.

As Ireland was predominately Catholic during this time period there is very little information for this time period pertaining to ordinary Irish folk. The censuses give some information about people who were resident in any given house on a particular date but they are often inaccurate and incomplete. The police were enlisted during the 1911 census in Dublin to try to build up a fuller picture but as there was a great deal of nationalistic feeling in Ireland at the time even they could not gather information on all the people.

The house at Marblehill was inhabited by the Burke family and due to their elevated position within Galway society at the time, is fairly well documented.


Burkes family crest. The arms of Sir Henry George Burke, 5th Baronet, of Marblehill, County Galway, Deputy Lieutenant and High Sheriff of that county 1883, displaying the hand Gules upon a field Argent badge of a baronet, after those arms illustrated in ‘Debrett’s Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage, 1893.

Further reading can be found on some of these Galway families by Donal G. Burke on his excellent website