US SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, TIP O'NEILL'S FAMILY VISIT THEIR TOLAND COUSINS AT THE FAMILY FARM IN RASHENNY, CLONMANY, CO DONEGAL
The sun was shining for this momentous and historic occasion which had been planned since last year and a large contingent of the Toland Family had gathered to welcome their US cousins.
My associate Agnes O'Donnell and I had the greatest pleasure today of taking the O'Neill family to their ancestral home farm in Rashenny, Clonmany, Co Donegal. It had been almost 150 years since TIP O'NEILL's grandfather, JAMES TOLAND left the family farm in the 1860s to emigrate to Woburn, Massachusetts. And this was the first time that a member of his line had set foot back there since, and what a warm Irish welcome they received!
After emigrating as a teenager to the US from the port of Derry, like many of his peers, JAMES TOLAND went to work in a tannery. He was part of a large number of Irish sons and daughters who were encouraged by the promise of plentiful work there. He married EUNICE FULLERTON (of Sleadrin, Buncrana) in Woburn, MA in 1872, and raised twelve children. Their second child, daughter Rosa (born 1874), was Tip O'Neill's mother.
The Toland Family of Rashenny are descended from James' brother JOHN TOLAND who remained in Clonmany Parish, and who married MARY HARTIN of Carndonagh in 1871. They raised eight children in Rashenny, just opposite Rashenny National School which recently celebrated 175 years. Their son PATRICK TOLAND's children met their O'Neill cousins today. They would be second cousins of TIP O'NEILL and Tip's children would be third cousins of PATRICK TOLAND and his wife MADGE KEARNEY of Leenakeel.
Little did Agnes and I know when we were first asked by Donegal County Council to research the O'Neill-Fullerton links in Buncrana that it would lead to us finding a whole new branch of the family living in Clonmany.
The O'Neill Family - Rosemary, Susan, Tom and his wife Shelly wanted me to extend their deepest gratitude to the entire Toland Family who welcomed them home and showed them such warm friendship and a real sense of family. They were blown away by the welcome they received and this is the first of many visits to their ancestral home in Clonmany Parish.
This is why I love genealogy and making connections!
Clonmany Genealogy / Irish Ancestral Research Services