Category Archives: Irish


Where did the month of September go?  I will announce the September drawing winner later this weekend.  Stay tuned!

Anne had some info on the Roll descendants, read her comment here.  She also had something to say about Jim Gosson here.  Make sure you read all of Anne’s comments…she has tons of great information!

I just received this obituary from Marlys at the Swift County Historical Society.  Mary (Owens) Gosson lived in Section 10 of Tara Township.

Swift County News June 16, 1921

Many of the pall bearers have been mentioned already as residents of section 10 and neighboring parts of Tara.  Neal Regan, James Duggan, William Kenna, David Kent, and John Green.  I am not sure if I mentioned this when I wrote previously about the Gosson family, but I remember Donald and Gerald Regan telling me that when their uncle Jim Duggan was a young man he had a crush on Margaret Gosson.  Jim Duggan never married.  I wonder if Margaret Gosson did?

I am headed to New Hampshire next week, and while there I plan to do a bit of research.  If your family came from Clontarf from New Hampshire and I have not mentioned them, please let me know.

Have a good weekend!


Filed under Irish, Tara Township

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

The Reardon Family: Long Journey to Clontarf

Each week we will profile a family with its roots in the Clontarf area.  Since there has already been some interest, we will start with the Reardon family.  The following was taken from an entry in the Swift County History book published in 1979:

Henry and Bridget Reardon

Henry Reardon and his wife, Bridget, were both born in Dublin, Ireland.  They both left Ireland at the time of the potato famine, about 1845.  They went to Australia separately and met and were married in Melbourne, Australia.  Then they left for America and landed in New York where they stayed for a time.  In a few years they decided to move west and bought horses and a wagon which took them as far as the Mississippi River.  Here they hired a boat which took them north to Minnesota.  They settled first in Credit River, Prior Lake area in 1855.

In 1876 they and several other families moved to Clontarf Township, in Swift County.  Henry and his wife Bridget settled in Section 2 of what is now Tara Township.  Henry made several trips to and from Credit River moving other families to the Clontarf area.

Henry and Bridget had the following children: Andrew, Robert, John (Catherine Hogan), Henry (Sarah Byrne), Hannah (Michael Donovan), Mary(Long), Meg (Vorwick), Bridget (Ledwidge), and Thomas (Bridget McElgunn).

From this information, the Reardons arrived very early in Clontarf, before the colonization efforts by Bishop Ireland had begun in earnest.  The Reardon family is typical of many of the immigrant settlers in that Clontarf was not their first stop in America.  The Reardons had quite a journey – Dublin to Melbourne to New York to Credit River to Clontarf.

Dominic McDermott, who ran the first lumber yard in Clontarf and a general store also came from Credit River.  I believe Father Oster, the first parish priest in Clontarf, was in Credit River for a time as well.  Do you know of any other Clontarf families who came from Credit River?

Just a note – Tara Township was originally part of Clontarf Township.  It became its own entity in 1878.  Tara is west of Clontarf.

If you are a Reardon from Clontarf, we would like to hear from you!  Please add a comment.


Filed under Clontarf, Early Settlers, Family Histories, Irish

Andrew Reardon/Mary Callaghan, 1889

I just received the following question via an message board:

Do you have an Andrew Reardon who married Mary Callaghan about 1889? Mary was originally from Ontario, Canada.
Not my line, but I’m helping my cousin on her Callaghans.
Jim McCallum

Anyone have any information on these individuals? Post a comment if you do.  I know there are some Reardons out there in Clontarf…

Andrew was a son of Henry and Bridget Reardon who came to Minnesota from the Eastern U. S. in the early 1850s and settled in Credit River Township, Scott County.  The first lumber yard and general store owner in Clontarf, Dominic McDermott, also came from Credit River.  The family moved to Tara Township (near Clontarf) in 1876.

I don’t have anything on the Callaghans right now, but I remember the name from the plat maps.  More to come…


Filed under Clontarf, Family Histories, Irish

The Young Americans

The Young Americans

This photo appeared in the December 2008/January 2009 issue of Irish America Magazine.  Looking back at the text, there is more I have learned about the families and there is much more to tell about their lives in Clontarf and Tara Township.  We will hopefully be able to cover the details here in upcoming posts.

Here’s the text that accompanied the photo:

In March 1864, boyhood friends John Regan and Patrick Foley from Macroom, County Cork, arrived in New York port on the City of Baltimore sailing from Cobh.  They took to life in America quickly and in 1870 both were married.  John Regan married Mary Quinn and they had four sons and two daughters: Cornelius (Neil) , Ellen, John, Patrick, Jeremiah (Jerry), and Mary.  Patrick Foley married Mary Crowley and the couple had four children: Margaret, Timothy, Mary, and John.  After 15 years at work in the mills and machine shops of Fisherville, New Hampshire both families seized the opportunity to move west, own their own land, and raise their families in an Irish Catholic community.  By 1880, the Regan and Foley families were established in Tara Township near Clontarf, Minnesota – active in township government, members of St. Malachy Catholic Church, and proud farmers on land they owned.

This photograph of the sons of John Regan and Patrick Foley – four first generation Americans – captures one of those moments in American history when anything seemed possible.  It is the turn of the twentiesth century and Neil, Jack, and Jerry Regan and John Foley look poised to take on what the world had to offer.  Their confidence is palpable and represents the optimism shared by many Americans at the time.

Over the years, confidence waned as youth faded and the realities of life took hold.  This included falling crop prices, farm failures, personal hardships, and economic depression, but on the day this photograph was taken, with cigars pursed in their lips and hats perched jauntily on their heads, these four young men look as if the world is their oyster.

The Regans and the Foleys came together again in the next generation –  Mary Foley  was my grandmother’s mother and Cornelius (Neil) Regan was my grandfather’s father.

(Submitted by Aine C. McCormack, Saint Paul, Minnesota)


Filed under Irish