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Langley | Print |  E-mail

My Tullylish Roots

Kevin F Langley

I had never heard of Tullylish until a few weeks ago. I came upon it when I discovered that my grandfather, William Langley, was born there.

I became interested in tracing my ancestry when early last year the Irish Government published the census papers for 1901 and 1911 on-line. Until then I knew very little of my grandfather beyond the fact that his name was William. He died many years before I was born. My father had no relations that I was ever aware of and was always reluctant to speak about his family. Langley is an unusual name in Ireland, although common enough in England and the USA. It is originally a place-name meaning “long wood”.

I was born 65 years ago in Belfast. My father was Richard Joseph Langley, headmaster of the Holy Rosary (originally known as Rosario) primary school in Sunnyside Street, just off the Ormeau Road. He was born in Lurgan in 1895 and brought up in Belfast. He attended St Gall’s School on the Falls Road, where he stayed on as a monitor (a sort of apprentice teacher) until he was 18. In 1913 he won a scholarship to the De La Salle teacher training college in Waterford. Returning to Belfast, he taught in St Peter’s school until he became headmaster at Rosario in 1941.

The census for 1901 showed that the family was living in Balkan Street. By 1911 they had moved to Leeson Street. William was a linen weaver. The census also showed that my grandmother, Mary Jane Langley née Maginnis had given birth to two children, only one of whom was still alive. From the General Registry Office (Births, Marriages and Deaths) in Dublin I was able to obtain a birth certificate for my father’s younger brother, James Roger, who died in infancy. I also obtained a marriage certificate and birth certificates for my grandparents. This told me that William was born in Tullylish in 1866 of Richard Langley and Sarah McCusker. Richard is described as a labourer. Mary Jane was born in Ballymoney, Co. Down – a small townland between Castlewellan and Newry.

Through Google I found the Tullylish Parish website with an invitation to anyone interested in the parish register. An email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it brought a very prompt response from Catherine McEvoy with the following information extracted from the parish register:

1846 July 7          John of Edward Langley and Mary Flannigan

1857 May 4         John of Richard Langley and Sarah McCosker

1859 Sep 11        Samuel of Richard Langley and Sarah McCusker

1862 Mar 16       Thomas of Richard Langley and Sarah McCusker

1865 Sep 3           William of Richard Langley and Sarah McCusker

1867 Aug 25        Eliza of Richard Langley and Sarah McCusker

Clearly my grandfather, but the wrong date of birth! His civil birth certificate showed 1 Jan 1866, with the birth being registered in March 1866. I guess that it took his father rather longer than he should have done to register the birth. The Registrar’s office was at Waringstown, and I imagine he had to walk there. Also, civil registration had only started in Ireland in 1864 so the idea was quite new and probably controversial. People were not keen on the government knowing too much about them. So by the time Richard got around to it he was probably embarrassed to put down the correct date of birth. Maybe there was a penalty for late registration.

So what happened to William’s four siblings? Through the census and with a bit of help from Google, I can identify my father’s uncle John as living in Lurgan, also a weaver. He had a son George, whose name appears on the Lurgan War Memorial – died 1 July 1916 at the Somme. Samuel died in Lurgan in 1868, age 10. So far I have not been able to trace the other siblings. There is a John Langley listed in Griffith’s Valuation in 1864 as living at 48 High Street, Armagh who may be the other Tullylish John Langley, son of Edward. He would have been 18 at that time.

Who was Edward and how was he related to Richard? Perhaps he was his older brother or his father. I would love to know when the family arrived in Tullylish and where they came from.

Richard Langley died in 1872, age 45 from peritonitis in Lurgan Workhouse. They were hard times.

Kevin Langley

Wootton, Oxford

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

8 January 2011




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