Posted by: downtothesea | January 9, 2010

Surname Saturday: BREHENY, CANDON and BEIRN of Sligo?

This afternoon I was convinced I had busted through a brick wall genealogy problem with all the enthusiasm of the Kool-Aid Man…”Ohhhhhhh yeaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!” 

Tonight I am feeling a bit more reserved about my findings because:

1)  I am, by nature, a pessimistic optimist.  Or is that an optimistic pessimist?  Let’s just say Murphy’s Law tends to apply doubly to me, and so I proceed with caution in all things.

2)  I was partially drawn towards my shaky conclusions with help from’s OneWorld Tree, which is, as Ancestry admits, a place to root about for hints regarding one’s genealogy but certainly NOT a spot to secure hard and fast facts. 

3)  My conjectures depend on transcriptions of documents, available through the (reputable, as far as I understand) Irish Family History Foundation.  And until I find someone willing to give me plane fare to get to Ireland, chances are I will have to rely on these transcriptions for a little longer still.

But, as we all know, so much of genealogy depends on serendipity, so here goes nothing…or perhaps something…or maybe even everything:

New names and places that have popped onto my radar screen today:

BREHENY/BRAHANY, or its English equivalent, JUDGE–used seemingly interchangably during the early part of the 19th century in Co. Sligo, Ireland.

CANDON/CONDON, also from Co. Sligo

BEIRN, again from Sligo

The connection: I have reason to believe my 4X great grandfather, Thomas MCCABE‘s (c. 1805-1880) parents were called James MCCABE and Winnifred CANDON.  Thomas may have been born in the parish of Riverstown, Co. Sligo

Thomas’ wife, my 4X great grandmother “Ellen,” (c. 1807-1884) may have had the given name of Eleanora (though it might just be the Latin form on the baptismal record–I have no way of knowing right now), and the maiden surname BREHENY or JUDGE (both names appear in the records for the same woman…BREHENY is apparently Irish for JUDGE, according some quick side research).  Ellen/Eleanora’s parents may have been Maurice BREHENY/JUDGE and Winnifred or Jennifer (again transcription problems I can’t solve yet) BEIRN.

All of these families were found in the Riverstown parish of Co. Sligo in the first three decades of the 19th century.  Now, I would be over the moon to narrow the McCabes and their associated surnames down to a single parish in Sligo, but I cannot let my excitement allow me to make mistakes.  Thus, at the moment, I am just sending out feelers. 

And so I humbly impose on your good will and expertise, o fellow geneabloggers, to ask:  If these surnames or locale are familiar to you in your genealogical research, would you drop me a comment?  I’d be most obliged…and who knows?  I might even be on the right track “home.”



  1. Hi, I am hopelessly seeking information on my great grandmother, Bridget mcCabe who was born ca 1845…probably in Galway, Sligo, or Roscommon. I have found some who matched her in Sligo, mother of one of them was Elenore “Breheny”.
    Please contact me if you think we might be able to find our ancestors. Bridget McCabe is my mother’s maternal grandmother. I know a little about her once she emigrated, but nothing about her family in Ireland. Thanks…I just found your webpage by accident this morning.

    • Hi Sheila!

      Great–let’s dig into this. I’ll email you this afternoon!

      Take care,

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