Thursday, April 11, 2013

10. Clues in Geography

Where ARE These Places in Ireland?

Online databases suggest Dennis Buggy’s birth in
            Northern Ireland
            County Kilkenny, Ireland
            Freshford, Kilkenny, Ireland[1]

Dennis Buggy’s Faribault County Register obituary, rooted probably in family tradition, places his birth in county Kilkenny, Ireland. [2]  The Phelan family book notes that his parents were buried in Freshford, Kilkenny.  It also identifies his wife Catherine (Phelan) Buggy’s birth in Johnston [sic], Kilkenny.[3] 

Historically the Buggy surname has been common in an area that spans the north-northeastern part of Kilkenny and the south-southeastern part of its northern neighbor, county Laois.[4]  Joe Buggy, author of the Buggy Name History blog, makes this assertion from personal experience: he is himself from the area, a much more recent immigrant to the U. S. from Ireland.  His video presents a lively and informative discussion of Irish surnames, including Buggy.  Joe’s work lends support to Dennis Buggy’s origins in county Kilkenny.

Where Are These Places?
It’s time for a geography lesson.  In the map below, the Republic of Ireland is green.[5]  Northern Ireland is peach.  County Kilkenny is darker green, in the southeast of the Republic of Ireland.  Dennis Buggy’s obituary and Joe Buggy’s blog probably eliminate Northern Ireland as a possible place of birth.

Republic of Ireland (green) and Northern Ireland (peach)
County Kilkenny in darker green

Since the nineteenth century County Kilkenny has been comprised of ten divisions called baronies.[6]  They are outlined in the map below.[7] Freshford lies in Crannagh (yellow), and Johnstown in Galmoy (peach-tan), both in the northwest of the county.

County Kilkenny
Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

This detail shows Johnstown, birthplace of Catherine (Phelan) Buggy, to the left of center, and Freshford, burial place of Dennis Buggy’s parents, to the right of center.

Johnstown and Freshford, County Kilkenny

Johnstown and Freshford are about thirteen kilometers (eight miles) apart.  While Dennis and Catherine did not marry in Ireland, they certainly hailed from the same general area.  No source has yet identified an exact birthplace for Dennis Buggy, so searching Irish records at this point is a questionable endeavor.  Still, the Freshford parish records are available on microfilm and beg to be examined.  It's worth a try, especially since we now have a probable date of birth (11 June 1830).

Next time: A peek at Freshford baptisms

[1] Judy Kellar Fox, “2. Online Databases,” Pinpointing Dennis Buggy’s Irish Origins (
[2] Dennis Buggy obituary, Faribault County [Minnesota] Register, 27 May 1915; Blue Earth Community Library, Blue Earth, Minnesota.
[3] “The Phelan Descendants: The Buggy Family, The Delaney Family, The Dollard Family,” privately held, 2013, 8.  This soft-cover, unnumbered, forty-two-page typescript bears no indication of author, date, or place of publication.
[4] Joe Buggy, “Buggy,” Buggy Name History ( : accessed 9 April 2013).
[5] “Ireland Counties,” Wikimedia Commons ( : accessed 9 April 2013); a public domain map modified to show County Kilkenny.
[6] “County Kilkenny Ireland Genealogy,” RootsWeb ( : accessed 9 April 2013), “The Baronies of County Kilkenny.”
[7] P. W. Joyce, “County of Kilkenny,” Atlas and Cyclopedia of Ireland (1900); digital map, Library Ireland ( : accessed 30 March 2013).

© 2013 Judy Kellar Fox, CG,

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