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A Donlin Family History by Dan Jensen
Donnellans, Mealys and Mulvihills of County Clare

Donnellans are recorded in West County Clare as early as 1796, when a Cornelius Donnellan was listed on the "Flax Grower's List"[7].
No Mealys, or any other O'Malley variant, was listed in the 1796 "Flax Grower's List" for County Clare[8]. There were Mealys near Milltown-Malbay in the mid-19th Century.

The Mealy and Donnellan names both occur in a cemetery at Killeman Township, Kilmurry-Ibrikane Parish, south of Milltown-Malbay[9]. In 1855, a Jeremiah Mealey lived in Knockanalban, adjacent to Killeman, in the same parish. Both Killeman and Knockanalban are adjacent to Kilfarboy Parish, wherein is Milltown Malbay, where a dozen Donnellan families lived in 1855. Two men named John Mealy lived in Kilmanaheen Parish. They each lived in the adjacent townlands of Furraglaun and Gortnaclohy (or Gortnaclony), south of Ennistimon[10]. Three Malley families lived in Kilfarboy Parish. Two of these families lived in Cloghaun More, and a third lived in Kildeema North.

Michael Patrick Donnellan

Michael Patrick Donnellan
Michael Patrick Donnellan

Patrick Donnellan and his wife Alice Mealy lived in or near Lahinch, County Clare, Ireland. They had four children as far as we know; two sons and two daughters. One of those children was Michael Patrick Donnellan. They appear to have lived in the civil parish of Kilmacrehy - the Catholic parish of Liscannor, at least during the Famine. Church records[11] show that two of Michael's sisters were baptized there during the Famine. These are the only records we have of Michael's family in Ireland.

Which Milltown?
Michael Donlin was probably born in September 1837 in Milltown Malbay, down the coast from Lahinch, perhaps because his parents had family there to support his mother.
Family recollections, and more specifically Michael's obituary, state that Michael was born in "Milltown, County Clare." The problem with this is there are two Milltowns in County Clare. Fortunately, one Milltown, fully named "Milltown Malbay", but also referred to as "Milltown", is much closer to Lahinch than the other, and had about a dozen Donnellan households when Michael was a young man. Lahinch and Milltown Malbay, seven miles apart, might be said to be neighboring towns along the coast road. Both Lahinch and Milltown Malbay were within the Ennistymon Poor Law Union during the Famine.

In contrast, the other Milltown is on the other side of County Clare, may not have had any Donnellan households in Michael's time, and is so insignificant that one must wonder whether Michael would have referred to it as his place of birth to his family in America. A story has been passed down that Mike would collect eagle eggs as a young man in Ireland. It turns out that men used to hang off the Cliffs of Moher to collect sea birds and their eggs. So it appears that the word "seagull" must have somehow changed to "eagle" as the story was passed down[12]. This story may indicate that the Donnellans lived northwest of Lahinch, toward the cliffs.

The Mulvihills
The first report we received from the Clare Heritage Centre indicates that the sponsors for one of Michael's sisters were James[13] and Bridget Donnellan[14]. These names match a couple that lived in Milltown Malbay at the time. This "Bridget Donnellan" in Milltown Malbay was born Bridget Mulvihill. What is particularly interesting about this is that currently available US census indexes for 1860 indicate that 7 of 10 Mulvihill[15] households in New England were in Palmer, MA, in the Springfield area. Michael's first wife Bridget Carmody appears to have had relatives in Palmer.

Mulvihills in New England, 1860:

Palmer, Hampden Co, MA 7 (Mulvihill, Malvihill)

Chelsea, Suffolk, MA 1 (Mulvahill)

Dedham, Norfolk, MA 1 (Mulvehill)

Danbury, Fairfield Co. CT 1 (Mulvahill)

Who were the Mulvihills? Were they the link between Michael Donlin and Bridget Carmody? Did Michael meet Bridget while visiting the Mulvihills in Palmer? Did Michael reside in Palmer before getting a job at the Springfield Armory? We have reason to believe Michael did not know Bridget from Ireland. They were both from Clare, but Bridget was very probably from the far South, by the River Shannon. However, there were Carmodys in Milltown Malbay, and they may have known Bridget's family. In turn, Michael's relatives in Milltown Malbay may have known the Carmodys there. A minor but noteworthy coincidence: one of the brothers of Bridget Carmody married a Hennessey. Curiously, one of the sponsors of one of the children of James Donnellan and Bridget Mulvihill was a Hennessey.

The accumulating circumstance gives us cause to focus on the family of James Donnellan and Bridget Mulvihill of Milltown Malbay. By comparing the list of sponsor names, we can attempt to link together families. Unfortunately, this method only extends our search to one more family: that of John Donnellan and Bridget Brown[16], also of Milltown Malbay.

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The Donnellan and Mealy Names
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Michael Patrick Donlin
and Bridget Carmody