Researching Families in Drumderg and Dunmurry before 1922

Having used the 1901and 1911 Census and the Griffith’s Valuation of 1859 [with its subsequent revisions] to establish who was living in the townlands of Drumderg and Dunmurry during the second half of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century, more depth can be added to the study by researching individual families in some detail.

Clearly, this will involve searching for marriages, births/baptisms and deaths/burials. The original documents recording these events are held within church and civil records and, in the case of deaths/burials, also on gravestones.  Below is a table which sets out where information on marriages, births and deaths can be found. Remember here we are talking about pre-1922 events.

Church Records Online Databases Civil Records

PRONI, Belfast.

Coleraine Library.

Local Custody

Irish Family History Foundation [IFHF] online databases

Irish Genealogy: Central Signposting Index,

Emerald Ancestors

GRONI, Belfast         Local District Council
Registry Offices for marriages

GROI , Roscommon & Abbey Street, Dublin

Ireland, Civil Registration Indexes 1845-1922;t=searchable;c=1408347

Clearly, there are a number of ways of going about researching the genealogy of a family. You can choose the traditional approach of using church records [usually in microfilm format] or visiting [or phoning] the General Register Office to obtain a "copy" of a marriage, birth or death certificate. However, the growth of online databases in recent years now makes it possible to research families from your computer desktop. I tend to move between all three methods depending on the particular family I am investigating, the records available for that particular case and the amount of time that I want to spend on the search.

Of the three events I find the details recorded in the civil marriage register the most useful. It usually gives me the names of the bride and groom, where they were residing at the time of their marriage, their occupations and the names and occupations of their fathers. Sometimes an exact age is given but, usually the entry will simply read ‘full age’ (i.e. over 21) or ‘minor’ (i.e. under 21). If the father of one of the parties was no longer living, this may be indicated in the marriage certificate, but in many cases it is not.

If I am researching a townland where I have no personal knowledge of the families I begin by searching through the families listed in the 1901 and 1911 Census Returns. Even allowing for the fact that ages in these census forms [particularly 1901] are not always accurate, I am able to calculate possible dates for marriages and births. Also the census usually provides me with the forename of the wife which, as you will see in the example that follows, is key to identifying a marriage in an online database.

The example below is a search for the marriage of a Hugh Mallaghan and his wife Mary. The family were listed in the townland of Dunmurry in both the 1901 and the 1911 census, shown below.  Note that, according to the details given by Mary Mallaghan in the 1911 Census, the couple had been married for 33 years and had 11 children born alive, of which 9 were still alive in 1911. Only 3 of the children were still living in the house on the night of the 1911 census. By contrast the 1901 Census lists 9 children, probably the 9 who were still alive in 1911.


Because I know the forenames of Mr & Mrs Mallaghan, from the 1901 and 1911 Census Returns, I can search for the year of their marriage in the Central Signposting Index at the Irish Genealogy website   The CSI is an index, only, to marriages held in the Derry~Londonderry Genealogy Online Marriage Database. You need to go to a that website to get details of the marriage [see below]. Note that, as mentioned earlier, the 1911 Census Return indicates that the couple had been married for 33 years by 1911, suggesting a date of 1878. However, I deliberately did not include that date in the search shown below. Often, entering too much information in a search box can be counter-productive. The screenshots shown below should illustrate how this site works. Note that searches on this site are absolutely free.


Since I am now certain that Hugh Mallaghan’s wife was a Mary Hagan, I can now search for the Mallaghan marriage on the  Derry~Londonderry Genealogy website - which is part of the IFHF online databases website -  Note that here the initial search is free but you will have to pay to view the details.

Before you search this site for the details of the Mallaghan marriage you will need to register. Once you have done that – click on the Derry map and this will take you to the Derry~Londonderry Genealogy part of the website where you select the Marriage Records for Co. Derry database from the List of databases that are searchable.  This should take you to the first screenshot shown below. The other two screenshots that follow illustrate the remainder of the process.

The data entered in the search box above produces the screenshot shown below.

Up to this point everything has been free. For details of the marriage you will have to pay to view either the Church Marriage or the Civil Marriage. I always choose the civil marriage. The details of the marriage are shown below.  Note that Dunmurry has been spelt as Drumaneeny.


If you are searching for a number of marriages within an area you will find the Emerald Ancestors website  useful. There is a free search option but it provides very limited information. You will have to pay a fee to access the information shown in the screenshots below.

I could then request a lookup which will cost another fee and I will have to wait about a week for an email providing the details of the marriage. Alternatively I could use the church marriage register or obtain a "copy" of the entry in the civil marriage register marriage certificate from the Local Registrar's Office. For more information on the how to obtain "copies" of civil marriage certificates see  the paper Accessing Civil Birth, Death and Marriage Records for North Antrim. Although written with particular reference to North Antrim much of what is said in this paper applies to most areas within Northern Ireland.


With regard to church records, the table below shows the church records available for Ballinascreen Roman Catholic Parish. MIC refers to the reference numbers of microfilms in PRONI, Belfast and CL refers to the reel number in Coleraine Library.

Roman Catholic Parish

Name of Church

Details of Available Records

Where the Records are held

Baptisms in DGC Database

Marriages in DGC Database

Burials in DGC Database

Ballinascreen [Draperstown]

St. Columba's, Straw.

The Roman Catholic parish of Ballinascreen was more or less synonymous with the civil parish of Ballynascreen. Records available: Baptisms, 1836 and 1846-81; marriages, 1834-85; funerals, 1831-32 and 1848-51.

MIC1D/59*    [CL 69]

1836 & 1846-1900



Ballinascreen [Draperstown]

St. Eugene's, Moneyneena [Moneyneany].

See St. Columbkille's, Straw for details of records available.





Ballinascreen [Draperstown]

St. Patrick's, Tullybrick, Sixtowns.

See St. Columbkille's, Straw for details of records available.





I consulted the microfilm copy of the Ballinascreen Marriage Register in Coleraine Library [No. 69]. However the page that would have contained the marriage had a piece missing from it. However, the amount of information recorded for each marriage in the church marriage register at that time is disappointing; civil marriage registers are much more informative. Note also the the Derry~Londonderry Genealogy Marriages Online Database contains church marriages up to 1900.


When searching for births I would usually make more use of church registers. However, there are times when the entries in the civil registers can be more informative. Again, the Derry~Londonderry Genealogy Births Online Database is a quick way of obtaining information. However, where a family is very large, it can be expensive. Below is an example of a search for Hugh, the son of Hugh and Mary Mallaghan who according to the 1901 and 1911 Census was born c. 1892. Note that typing in the father's name narrows the search. Note also that you have a choice between a church baptism and a civil birth e.g. the church baptisms will give the sponsors, the civil birth does not. The civil birth entry gives better information on the address of the parents and the occupation of the father.

Copyright 2009 W. Macafee.