This post was contributed by Roger McDonnell and he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brennan Family-Glenfad Townland, Clonleigh Parish, Co. Donegal
James Brennan was my great-great grandfather. Information on his family was obtained from an 1851 census extract that was searched when his son William filed for the Old Age pension. The 1851 Irish census showed that James was 60 years old which corresponds to a date of birth around 1790. He married his wife Jane O’Donnell in 1825. Jane was shown as 58.
The 1851 census listed nine children in the household: Mary(20), Margaret(19), Richard(18), William(17), Jane(14), Nancy(10), James(7), Robert(5) and Catherine(3). Possibly there were other older children living on their own.
The Brennan family lived in Glenfad townland in Clonleigh civil parish in East Co. Donegal about three miles from Lifford town very close to the border with Co. Tyrone. James Brennan was a farmer and had a very small holding (less than two acres). The 1851 census was taken soon after the worst of the famine years (1846-1849).
The next record of James Brennan is the Griffiths Valuation Survey conducted in Co. Donegal in 1857. James was listed as head of household in Glenfad. James probably died between 1858 and 1863.
James’ widow Jane left Ireland from Belfast in late March 1865. Her son Robert (my great-grandfather) and daughter Catherine accompanied her on the ship Stadacona of the William McCorkell line. The ship arrived in Philadelphia in early April, 1865. Jane and her children Robert and Catherine settled in South Philadelphia. Some of her other children were already in the city. Jane died in 1878.
Robert Brennan eventually married Catherine McFadden (also from Donegal) in 1873 and they had five children who lived to be adults including their son Robert (1887-1964) who was my grandfather. A number of descendants of Robert still live in the Philadelphia area.
William Brennan, son of James and Jane, remained in Ireland. In the 1901 Irish census, William listed as age 70, and his wife Mary Doherty Brennan (68) were living in Desert townland in Leckpatrick civil parish in Co. Tyrone. Also, living with them was their unmarried son, Hugh (30). William filed for the Old Age pension benefit in 1908 and from that application came the 1851 census data for the Brennan family.
In the 1911 census, William was living in Greenlaw townland just north of Desert. Both townlands were on the border with Co. Donegal and near the family homestead in Glenfad. William was listed as 80 and a widower. Mary had died in the early part of 1909. Hugh was 37 and the grandson Henry James was 25. William died on January 5th 1914. Age was shown as 90 but he was actually in his early 80s.
I'm a Brennan with clear roots in Clawinch Island, Co. Longford (on the Shannon) Brennan Family Clawinch, Co. Longford and possibly in Kilteevan, Co. Roscommon. As a child my father's people told me that our family came from Kilkenny originally and that Cromwell threw us out. This story has intrigued me all my life and of late I have begun to collect information about Brennans the world over. If you have Brennans in your family, you are cordially invited to join me and maybe we will get to the root of this family story, or maybe not...