Newry Museum helps the Magee family find their Killowen roots

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Monday, November 10th, 2014
In late July, Raymond Magee from Denver, Colorado contacted Newry and Mourne Museum via Facebook enquiring about the location of the townland of Ballindoalty.

Hubert O’Neill (Raymond’s second cousin) and Bernard Magee (Raymond’s great grandfather) pictured at the family farmstead at Ballindoalty

Through the help of Museum staff, Raymond was able to find the townland and more than he ever thought possible. The significance of this area for Raymond was that his grandfather, Peter Magee, was born here in 1886. Peter was one of a family made up of ten brothers and sisters, many of whom ended up emigrating from Ireland like countless others during the early 20th century. Shane McGivern, Collections Research Assistant at the Museum, contacted Raymond to inform him that he could tell him where the townland was, and more importantly where the Magee family homestead was located. Raymond was delighted that he would get to see the ancestral home where his grandfather was born and raised. In the interim, it transpired that a picture on the front cover of a book published by the Killowen Historical Society was in fact Raymond’s great grandparents Bernard and Jane Magee. Shane contacted Finola Sloan of the Killowen Historical Society who was able to shed more light on the picture. Finola was also able to inform Shane that members of Raymond’s family still lived in the locality and put Shane in contact with a lady called Bronach Quinn of Killowen. Bronach’s grandmother and Raymond’s grandfather were brother and sister. Shane gave Raymond contact details for Bronach and they arranged a family get together. Raymond arrived in Newry on 26th August, and he and his wife Shannon visited the Museum. They consulted land records in the Reside Collection, which give them details of where the Ballindoalty farm was located.

Raymond Magee, Shane McGivern, Shannon Magee pictured at Newry and Mourne Museum

Raymond went on to meet Bronach and other cousins in Killowen. The family visited the graveyard where Raymond’s great grandparents are buried and Bronach showed old family photographs. Museum Curator, Noreen Cunningham said, “The Museum is delighted to have helped Raymond and his family uncover their Killowen roots. The combination of our collection and the local knowledge of Killowen Historical Society has made this trip an unforgettable experience for the Magee family.” A delighted Raymond said, “We’ve had a fabulous time visiting with my cousins. They’ve made us feel so very welcome showing us Killowen, Ballindoalty, the graveyard where so many of my ancestors are buried, and Greenore where my grandfather began his journey to America. “Between what Newry and Mourne Museum provided and what Bronach provided I feel as if I’ve hit the jackpot! Far more than I ever imagined.” For more information on the Museum and its collections contact the Museum on 028 3031 3173 or email
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