St Patrick’s Day and finding out more about my Irish Ancestors


The trail of my Irish ancestors leads from Ireland to Scotland, USA and Canada. Last year I had been researching my ancestors on my mother’s side. In the Censuses of 1911, they are recorded as being of the United Free Church of Scotland and are living in Belfast. They emigrated from Belfast to Canada in 1920 at a volatile time when the Irish Civil War was brewing.

Recently I have discovered more about my Irish ancestors on my father’s side who were also from the north part of Ireland. Aided with the marriage certificate from Scotland for great-grandmother Margaret (Maggie) McGinnes and great-grandfather Michael Solan, that I have had for some time, combined with some intense research I was able to link to my Irish McGinnes ancestors.

I discovered that there are Irish records online from various Catholic parishes here at NLI (National Library of Ireland). This is where I found original birth records in Latin for my great-grandmother Margaret McGinnes and many of her brothers and sisters. There were 11 children, all born around in or near Limavady, Londonderry (Derry), Northern Ireland. Luckily, the church had hung on to these records so they were not lost in the 1922 fire at the Public Records Office in Dublin. In later documentation, the birthdates of the McGinnes children were mostly recorded as some years later than that what their original Latin birth records from the Catholic Church in Derry stated.


Baptism Record for Margaret McGinnes

Baptism Record for Margaret McGinnes


To trace the McGinnes family to Scotland I was able to use the Ancestry site somewhat but the ScotlandsPeople site was invaluable. Here I found many original documents for the McGinnes family, including birth certificates, death certificates and Censuses of Scotland. I was able to do many crosschecks, ensuring that I did indeed have the correct McGinnes family. Margaret or Maggie McGinnes, who was my father’s grandmother on his mother’s side was one of the eleven McGinnes children, all born in Ireland who emigrated from Ireland to Scotland at some point after the birth of the last and eleventh child in 1877. Their parents were John McGinnes and Margaret Ann Haggerty. I was not able to find the family in the 1881 Scottish Census so chances are that they arrived in Scotland after 1881. The family turns up again in the 1891 census in the town of Wishaw living in a house at 5 Scotts Row, Berry Hill, Wishaw. By this time, Margaret Ann McGinnes has been widowed; husband John McGinnes, blacksmith, having died at this same address in Wishaw two months earlier.


Beryhill Rows Wishaw, Scotland

Beryhill Rows, Wishaw


Her daughter, my great-grandmother Margaret McGinnes, was also living at 5 Scotts Row, Berryhill when she married her neighbour, my great-grandfather, Michael Solan, whose address at the time of their marriage was 8 Berryhill Rows, Wishaw. Michael’s parents had also emigrated from Ireland to Scotland and Michael had been born in Scotland. The marriage took place on June 12, 1893, at the Roman Catholic Chapel in Craigneuk, Parish of Daziel.


Marriage of Michael Solan and Maggie McGinnes

Marriage of Michael Solan and Maggie McGinnes


After her marriage to Michael Solan, it appears that Michael may have gone on ahead of Margaret to the USA, as in 1894 immigration records show Margaret travelling alone by ship from Glasgow to New York, with intention to meet her husband in Springfield, Illinois. The ocean voyage lasted almost two weeks and she arrived in Springfield just in time to give birth to her first child, my grandmother, Margaret Solan.


Margaret Solan New York Passenger List 1894

Margaret Solan New York Passenger List 1894


Margaret McGinnes’s birthplace, Derry, later became part of Northern Ireland. Next county over, Donegal, where husband Michael Solan’s parents were born, became part of the Republic of Ireland.


Counties of Ireland: Northern Ireland in orange, Republic of Ireland, green and yellow

Counties of Ireland: Northern Ireland in orange, Republic of Ireland, green and yellow


  1. This is interesting. My great grandmother Maria O’Connell (McGinnis) was born in 1867. Mother’s name was Margaret McGinnis (Haggerty). Father’s name was John McGinnis.
    They married Jan 01 1887. She was 20 years old and lived at 5 Berry Hill Rows. Wishaw Lanark, Scotland
    Susan McGinnis (sister?) signed as witness to the marriage.

    • Thanks for commenting. Your great grandmother Maria O’Connell (McGinnes) was a sister of my great grandmother, Margaret Solan (McGinnes) who was born in 1866. Susan McGinnes, born in 1855, was one o​f the other sisters. I have a photo of Susan McGinnes (Cairns) sent to me by one of my AncestryDNA contacts. I would be happy to share any information or photos regarding our mutual ancestors.

  2. Interesting to me as well.

    My great grandmother was Norah Solan – who it looks like was your grandmother’s sister.

    I hadn’t managed to get earlier than Michael Solan and Margaret – was just starting to see what I could find…..

    Would be quite interested in sharing and whatever you can share.

    • Thanks for contacting me. Norah Solan(1897-?) was a sister of my grandmother Margaret Solan (1894-1954). Norah was married to William George Hoy (1887-1952)and they lived in Vancouver, BC, Canada. After the death of her husband, Norah can be traced to Seattle, Washington, USA. The last reference to her that I could find was as a resident of Seattle in the 1957 US City Directory. Norah Solan also had a daughter named Florence Norah Hoy, who was born in Nanaimo, BC, Canada in 1916. If you would like to send me an email so that we can share more information you could just click on the “Contact Me” menu item at the top of my website. I look forward to hearing from you.

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