A Visit From Bishop Ireland

On October 27, 1880, Bishop John Ireland paid a visit to Clontarf to officiate over the first Confirmation class of St. Malachy’s.

Settlers had begun coming to the area in earnest only a year or two prior to Confirmation day, but already there were forty-two young people ready to be confirmed.  It is likely everyone in the Clontarf area was excited for this visit from Bishop Ireland, and I bet they had a full house for the service.

There were twenty-one girls and twenty-one boys.  I wonder how that worked out?  Do you think Father Oster told William Bedard to bring along his little brother Albert so they would have equal numbers of boys and girls?  I picture them processing into St. Malachy’s in boy-girl pairs.

Most of the family names that appear on the list are of the French and Irish settlers in Clontarf and Tara townships.  A few of the young people came from surrounding areas that did not yet have a Catholic church.  For instance, there is James and Mary Boisvin. 

I recalled reading the story of a French-Canadian family who, shortly after settling in Marysland Township (south of Clontarf and Tara), changed their name to reflect the English translation of their French name.  The translation was DrinkwineBoisvin would translate to Drinkwine – the family from Marysland.  Maybe the family had not yet changed the name, or Father Oster wrote the correct name since he was French.

From the families that we have already mentioned here, Jane Kenna and Mary Ann Purcell were confirmed on October 27, 1880.  Also confirmed th day were William Shinnick, Matthew Ledwidge, Zelina and Albert Coti, and Theresa Fisher (among others).

Care to guess the most common confirmation name chosen by the young ladies of St. Malachy’s?  Add a comment with your answer.

I am starting a new contest (and this time I will actually declare a winner and send that winner a very special Clontarf prize!)  For the remainder of the month of July, for every comment you make on the blog you will be entered in a drawing for a Clontarf Prairie Pub t-shirt.  It does have to be an actual comment, but it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate…simply I grew up in Clontarf! or I like this post! or Where’s Clontarf?  will be enough to get your name in the drawing.  I will announce the winner by August 2nd.

Build your entries, leave a comment! Just click the Leave a Comment link at the bottom right of each post.

By the way, if you are curious as to whether or not an ancestor of yours was confirmed on October 27, 1880, just ask me and I will be happy to check!



Filed under Early Settlers, French, Irish

7 responses to “A Visit From Bishop Ireland

  1. Keith

    Was there any Casey names on the list? My Great Great grandfather was John Casey who settled in Clontarf in 1876(his adult children also came out the same time- Frank, Mary Casey O’Neal, and Thomas-great grandpa)…Story has it that he helped found the church there….

    • Keith,

      In the October 27, 1880 Confirmation class was Patrick “John” Casey and Michael “Joseph” O’Niel (spelling?). The name they chose as there confirmation name is in quotations.

      I have come across the Casey name many times, especially when I have looked at other Church records and the ledger from McDermott’s General Store, so it is great to hear from a descendant. Let me delve into some other church information and see if I can learn more about John Casey. If he was in Clontarf by 1876, he would have played a big role in St. Malachy’s. Where did the Casey live before Clontarf?

      I will keep a special eye out for the Casey name and be sure to include it on the blog when I come across it.

      Thanks for your comment!


      • Keith

        If the kids were age 9 at the confirmation there was a Michael O’Neal and a Patrick Casey in both families, according to the 1880 census.

        I’m unsure of where they lived in Clontarf, John and Frank appear to have been neighbors (next to each other on the census) and Michael O’Neal (Mary Casey O’Neal) are on the same page in the census.

        They came through Boston about 1870ish, and believe they were from County Louth (Ardee) Ireland, but we have only family stories and no documentation as to what county they were from.

        My Great Grandfather (Thomas) came a few years after and he settled in Breckinridge, MN.

        Thanks for keeping an I out for the Casey name.


      • I think 9 is about right for Confirmation back then. I will check the plat maps for the Casey family.

        Thanks Keith!

  2. Anne Schirmer

    Katherine King of Coon Rapids, MN, did some correspondence with me a few years ago, and then her son & daughter were able to bring her to Clontarf when we celebrated the 125th anniversary in 2003. We drove out to the location of the Casey and O’Neil farms on the northern edge of Clontarf Twp. where the very SW tip of Pope County touches Clontarf Twp…
    Interesting location… Does Keith want pictures of cemetary markers or anything?

    • Yes, Keith is interested in pictures of cemetery markers. I can remember seeing a tall Casey marker. Send them to me and I will forward them on to Keith. Much appreciated! I will look at my plat maps and see if the Casey and O’Neill families show up. I didn’t see them the first time I looked, but I will check the 1886 one again. Thanks, Anne!

  3. Keith

    Thanks Anne & Aine!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s