Johana Cullinane was born in about 1807 in Ireland, according to her death certificate. She is believed to be the mother of John Carey, because she is found on the census living with them, and is buried in the Carey family plot. At the time of her death she lived with John and his brother, Patrick, at 158 Bunker in Chicago as the head of the household.

Johana was born in about 1807 in Mahoonagh, County Limerick, Ireland, the daughter of Patrick Cullinane and Ellen Kennedy. She married Richard Carey in 1826 in Mahoonagh. The family moved to Richard's home parish of Ballingarry, County Limerick before 1849. Richard and Johana raised their family in Commons townland, until they emigrated to Chicago in the 1860s.

Chicago City Directory, 1872

Johana Carey death

Johana Carey death certificate, 1872, Chicago

Johana died of liver congestion, most likely due to congestive heart failure.

She died September 20, 1872, at the age of 65, and Patrick paid for the Carey family plot in Calvary two days later. Johana was buried there on September 22, 1872.

Johana Carey burial

Burial record for Johana Carey at Holy Family, Chicago:
"Johanna Carey - On this 22 day of Sept 1872 I performed the funeral service over the remains of Johanna Carey aged about 48"

Richard Carey is John Carey's father. Richard was born in Ireland in about 1807. He had a brother, Jeffery, who was born in Ballingarry, County Limerick, in about 1805. There is also an Irish naming tradition which supports the selection of Richard as John Carey's father. By tradition, the firstborn son is usually named for the father's father. John Carey's firstborn son was named Richard. Richard is listed in the 1872 Chicago City Directory as the deceased husband of the widow Johanna Carey of 158 Bunker.


Richard Carey and Johana Cullinane were married on 30 January 1826 in Mahoonagh (also known as Castlemahon), Limerick, Ireland. The witnesses to the marriage were John Cullinane (possibly a brother?) and Patrick Kiely. 

Carey marriage

Mahoonagh parish register 30 January 1826 for Richard and Joana Cullinane (in Latin)

Richard was the sponsor at the baptism of John, illegitimate son of John Connell and Honora O'Donnell 7 May 1826 in Ballingarry. Jeffrey was the sponsor at the baptism of James, son of George Lynch and Mary Carey 21 February 1826 in Ballingarry.


A son, Patrick, was born to Richard and Johana 12 October 1838 in Mahoonagh. Patrick later married a woman from the nearby parish of Ballingarry, Bridget O'Brien (on 1 September 1859 in Ballingarry). Richard and Johana's daughter, Margaret married a man from Mahoonagh, Thomas Clifford. No christening record has been found for John Joseph, but the Mahoonagh parish registers have gaps in late 1838 to 1839. The supporting evidence all points to Mahoonagh as John J. Carey's birthplace.


Other children, James, Michael, Edward, and Margaret were born to Richard and Johana in Ireland. The family appears to have moved back to the Carey land in Ballingarry, and are found in House Book for Griffith's Valuation land survey of 1849 in the townland of Common (An Coimin), in the center of the parish of Ballingarry. The record shows that Richard Carey, Geoffrey Carey and John Carey all had houses in Common, with about eighty others in the area. Patrick Carey had land other than a house in Common. The townland of Common or Commons is at the base of Knockfierna, which means "the hill of truth". This may explain the Carey family story that John came from "Knock in County Limerick". Knockfierna is the tallest hill in County Limerick.

Jeffrey, Richard's brother, and Mary Gibbon had two daughters in Mahoonagh. They are Bridget, christened 25 January 1822 (sponsors Demetrii (Dermot or Jeremiah) Hartney and Bridget Carmody) and Mary, christened 25 December 1824 (sponsors Edmund Moore and Joanna Moore). Jeffrey then married Mary Donohue in Ballingarry, and has two sons, Patrick (about 1830) and Thomas (about 1847).


Extract from Griffith's Valuation, 1852, Ballingarry parish

Griffith's Valuation, a land record taken in 1852 shows Richard in the townland of Common, parish of Ballingarry. He has a house and land in Lot 10a. The record shows Patrick Carey, with 3.3 acres of land only owning Lot 10. It is subdivided to Richard, Jeffrey and John Carey. Richard has a house and land of 3/4 acre. Jeffrey (Geoffrey) has a house and garden of 1/4 acre. John has a house and garden of about 1/8 acre. Patrick may live in one of the houses.  It is interesting to note that they own the land in fee. It is not rented, and they are not living on the commonage land in famine houses. The size of the lot indicates a cottier or agricultural laborer's property.

House Book, Common townland, Ballingarry parish, 1849

A House Book record created in 1849 gives details about the size of their houses. The unit of measure at this time in Ireland was in feet. Richard's house was 21 1/2 feet long by 15 1/2 feet wide, and 5 1/2 feet tall. The height may be measured from the ground, with the house dug in to the ground inside. The quality rating for the house of 3C+ indicates that it was an old thatched roof house of stone walls with mud mortar, or mud walls of the best kind. It was old, but in repair.

Jeffrey's house had belonged to Bridget Carey in 1849, but was Jeffrey's by 1852. His house was smaller - 10 1/2 feet long by 15 feet wide, and 5 feet tall. The quality rating of 3C indicates that it was an old thatched roof house of stone wall with mud mortar, or mud walls of the best kind, which was old and out of repair.

John Carey's house was bigger, although he had the smallest property. It was 30 1/2 feet long by 16 feet wide by 5 feet tall. The quality rating of 3B indicates that it was a medium-age thatched roof house of stone walls with mud mortar, or mud walls of the best kind, which was of medium age, slightly decayed, but in good repair. John was living in a newer and larger house than Richard and Jeffrey.

Jeffrey emigrated to Chicago with Richard in about 1863, and is believed to be his brother. They were both about the same age. Patrick owned the land on which Richard, Jeffrey and John's houses stood, but Patrick owned no house. In another related record, he is shown to be living with John, and is most likely the father. John must be the oldest son, as the land passes to him.

House Book, Common townland, Ballingarry parish, 1849 (next page)

A Land Book record, created in 1849, gives details about the quality of the land:

Land Book, Common townland, 1849

The land is shown to be clay and moory arable. John Carey's land is moory arable. Arable land was fit for the growing of crops, and moory meant marshy. The quality of the land was determined by the valuator and an assistant, who used a shovel to dig up some of the soil and decide its quality. By analyzing the kind and quality of the soil, the valuator could estimate the amount of crops that could be grown on it, and set a value by acre for the soil. Land and buildings valued at under five pounds would not have been taxed, so the Carey land was not taxed.

Another record created in preparation for Griffith's Valuation were the Tenure Books:

Tenure Book, Common townland, 1849

This record showed that Richard, Patrick and Bridget, then Jeffrey, owned the land in fee, free forever since 1827. John rented his house and garden from Patrick. The small arrow near Patrick and John's name shows that they shared lot 10c.

Ballingarry was a booming town in the early part of the nineteenth century, with the important industry being weaving and linen. The famine had a serious impact on the population, and the town's prosperity was affected. Ballingarry is the site of a park dedicated to the famine houses – houses that were built and occupied on commonage land by those who were evicted by ruthless landlords in the potato famine. The site is maintained by the Knockfierna Heritage society, and the houses are being restored.


Houses on Knockfierna

Ballingarry is dominated by the hill of Knockfierna. A history in the late 1800s describes Ballingarry in this way: "The village of Ballingarry lies just within the upper or southern division of Connello Barony, about half-way between Bruree and Askeaton. Its population is roughly 400; in 1837 there were 1,685 inhabitants, these baing largely weavers, boot, brogue and patten makers, turners or makers of piggins, harness makers, carpenters, wheelwrights, simth, nailers and chain makers...Markets were held twice weekly, and fairs four times a year. The glory of Ballingarry has departed...The town is divided into two sections by the Grinoch (grannach, gravelly) stream. This flows between two hills or ridges, up the lower slopes of which the streets climb, Main Street toward Knockfierna, Turret Street passing up over a shoulder of the ridge opposite. "  Records of Ballingarry, G.F. Hamilton


Richard, Jeffery and Patrick Carey emigrated together to America on the ship Hecla, arriving 2 November 1863.

SS Hecla

The ship's passenger list shows Patrick Carey, age 20, laborer, Richard Carey, age 30, laborer, Jeffrey, age 30, laborer, and Mary, age 27, servant. The understatement of the ages is not unusual, as emigrants wanted to appear young and healthy. Patrick may be Richard's son or Jeffrey's son.

Ship's passenger list, Hecla


Richard  must have sent for the rest of his family, as they begin to appear in Chicago records in about 1865. Patrick and John, Richard's sons, may have already been working in Chicago. Richard must have died  in the 1860s, but is not buried in the Carey family plot, with his wife who died in 1872.

          Carey ad
Advertisement in The Boston Pilot 28 January 1865

Another Carey family member, Margaret Carey, had emigrated to America in about 1842 according to an inquiry placed by Jeffrey Carey. Jeffrey placed an ad in The Boston Pilot seeking information about his niece Margaret. The inquiry reads: "OF MARGARET CARRY, who left Ballingarry, co Limerick, about thirteen or fourteen years ago for this country; when last heard from was married to John Kelly, and living in New York. Any information of her will be thankfully received by her uncle, Jeffery Carry. Address J Graham, Catholic Bookseller and Emigration Agent, P O Box 1564, Chicago, Illinois." Margaret must have been born about 1820. Possibly her father was Richard and Jeffrey's brother John. (Searching for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Adverstisements Placed in The Boston Pilot, 1831-1920,

What happened to the Careys in Ireland after Richard left? The plot of land Richard owned, Lot 10a, passed to John Carey in 1866. Jeffrey's land passed to John Carey in 1865. With the delay in recording, this is the right time to reflect their immigration. John Carey, then his son John, then another John, then Ned continued to own the land, although the houses were down in the 1870s. John is then shown living in Ballynahaha. The lot was owned by Careys at least up until 1970, when Edmond (Ned) Carey is shown as its owner.


Jeffrey, Richard's brother, had two sons, Patrick, born in about 1830, and Thomas, born in May of 1847. Jeffrey is found living with his son, Thomas, age 19, a drayman, and Thomas’ wife Mary, in the 1870 census at 79 Ewing. Thomas is shown as the head of the household.

Jeffrey is still found living with his son in 1880, although he is called Jefferson Carey in this census. Thomas is now a liquor store clerk. Thomas' wife Mary is still alive, with children Bridget, Katie, and Maggie.

Jeffrey died in 1884. His obituary reads “Carey, Jeffery, May 26, 1884, father of Thomas and Patrick Carey, aged 79, native of Ballingarry, Co. Limerick. Funeral from his son’s resid., 225 Ewing Street to Calvary. Gallena papers please copy.”  The house mentioned on Ewing Street is very near the Carey's house on 250 Ewing Street. 

Recent DNA testing on a direct male Carey descendant shows deep Celtic roots for the Carey family: Carey DNA

Richard and Johana had the following children:

1. James was born in about 1837 in Ireland. He married Mary Russell in about 1868. James was the sponsor at the birth of John's second son, James in 1868. James, age 33, his wife Mary, age 28, daughter Johanna, age 1, and new baby John, three days old, are found in the 1870 census in Chicago. The Holy Family parish register shows his children as: Johanna, John J. (born 24 June 1870), Alice (born 13 December 1872), Mary (born 5 May 1875), David (born in 1878), and James (1880), all christened in Holy Family, Chicago. His occupation was listed as musician in the Chicago city directory of 1874/5, and he was living at 163 Johnson. This was the address where Michael Carey died in 1878. James is still at 163 Johnson in the 1880 city directory, and he is listed as a violinist. James' death date is not known, and he is not buried in the family plot in Calvary Cemetery.

2. Patrick was born 12 October 1838 in Mahoonagh, County Limerick, Ireland. He married Bridget O'Brien 1 September 1859 in Ballingarry, County Limerick, Ireland. She was born in Ballingarry, County Limerick, Ireland. This parish is near the parish of Mahoonagh, about 5 miles to the east. Patrick came to the United States and settled in Chicago in the early 1860s. Patrick worked as a laborer in Chicago. Patrick and Bridget were often found living with John Carey and his family. Patrick died 21 March 1911 in Chicago, and was buried in Calvary Cemetery on 24 March 1911. John J. Carey's granddaughter remembers that her father told her about Uncle Pat, who they called "Collars and Cuffs" because he would wear celluloid collars and cuffs under his suit, but no shirt.

3. John Joseph was born in about 1839 in Knock near Limerick, according to family sources, but was most likely born in Mahoonagh and raised in Knockfierna.  John emigrated to Chicago in 1862. He married Mary Harrigan 13 July 1866 in Chicago, and had 14 children. John died June 12, 1897 in Chicago. He was buried in Calvary Cemetery on June 15, 1897.

4. Michael was born in about 1840 in Ireland. He married Johanna Tucker 23 January 1870 in Holy Family parish, Chicago, and worked as a laborer. Michael and Johanna had the following children, all born in Chicago: Johanna (christened 26 May 1872 in Holy Family), Michael (1871), Thomas (1874), Maggie (1875), Mary (1878), John (1879) and Joseph James (born 23 January 1887). At the time of his death they lived at 163 Johnson in Chicago. He died 31 October 1878 in Chicago, and was buried in the family  plot in Calvary Cemetery. His age was listed as forty years old.

5. Edward was born in about 1841 in Ireland. In the city directories for 1865 and 1866 he is found living with Johana Carey and John Carey at 130 Bunker Street. He married Mary O'Brien 25 June 1866 in Holy Family Parish in Chicago. He was a sponsor at the baptism of John's firstborn son, Richard in 1867. Edward died 3 April 1868 in Chicago, and was buried in the family plot in Calvary Cemetery. His age was listed as 27 years old.

6. Margaret was born in about 1849 in Ireland. Margaret emigrated to America in 1862. She married Thomas Clifford 23 August 1868 in Chicago. Thomas Clifford was born in 1845 in Mahoonagh, the son of Jacob Clifford and Joan Fitzgerald. Thomas' birth in Mahoonagh gives additional confirmation to Mahoonagh as the Carey's hometown. Thomas and Margaret had eight children all born in Chicago: Anne (1869), John (15 June 1869), Thomas (24 February 1873) must have died young; Johanna (Hannah) (12 November 1873, she later married James J. Duffy), Thomas (18 October 1876), Michael J.(26 March 1879), Elizabeth (1885), and May (1887). Thomas's occupation is listed as driver in the 1900 census. The family is found living on Hastings Street in Chicago in the 1900 and 1910 censuses.Margaret died some time after 1910 and before 1920. Her husband Thomas is found living with three adult children in 1920.

[1]Chicago's Irish Families lists "Bridget Carey, March 27,1889, aged 70 yrs., wife of Patrick, nee O'Brien, native of Ballingarry, Co. Limerick. Funeral from resid., 640 W. 21st. St. to St. Pius Church to Calgary" Source: The Chicago Daily News, 1878-1902, funeral notices. Her death record shows: "Carey, Bridget, died March 27, 1889, aged 70 yrs., married, born in Co. Limerick, resident of Illinois for 25 yrs., residence at 640 21st St., cause of death - senility and heart failure, burial Calvary."  Chicago Irish Families, 1875-1925, citing Chicago death records, 1889, FHL# 1030938

The IGI lists the birth of Thomas Clifford 5 January 1845 in Mahoonagh, Limerick, Ireland to Jacob Clifford and Joan Fitzgerald. The births of Thomas' siblings, Michael, Catharine, John, Jacob, Demetrius, and Patrick, are also listed.

Sources: 1880 census; Holy Family parish register; IGI; Ballingarry, Granagh and Clouncagh, County Limerick Archival Records, 1800-1900; Ballingarry parish register online at; Mahoonagh parish register online oat



If you have additional information about this family, please contact me at If anyone is going to Ireland, please take pictures of the Carey property, and I'll be glad to post them.

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