Death of a farmer, death of a laborer: The two Philip Stacks of Coolkeragh

The two Philip Stacks of Coolkeragh in County Kerry, Ireland lived side-by-side for most of their lives, but examining the land records and their death registrations makes clear that in life as in death, there was disparity between Irish farmers and agricultural laborers.  My great great great grandfather, Philip Stack the farmer, died in April, 1884, and his death record reads: Philip Stack of Coolkeragh, aged 72, married, died of heart disease. His son William Stack was listed as present…

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Farmers without a farm: Researching rural Irish ancestors

“What class of men do you mean by laborers?” — “The men who use the spade.” “Do you mean by labouring men, men who have no land?” — “A man who has no land; who goes out with his spade or pitchfork on his shoulder, and hires for employment.” 1 In the 1850s in Coolkeragh, a rural townland in County Kerry, Ireland, there were two men named Philip Stack. Born just two or three years apart, they lived on adjacent…

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But which Catherine Stack and Tom Collins?

In the 1800s in rural Ireland, people weren’t about to get creative with their children’s names. They drew on a very small number of popular names when baptizing their children, often using an Irish naming convention that named the children after their parents and older siblings. It’s not uncommon to find families in which a man’s mother, wife, and daughter are all named Bridget. This can be a problem when researching a common surname in small Irish towns, most of…

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