Ronan Lyons | Personal Website
Ronan Lyons | Personal Website

Byrne, baby, Byrne… Wicklow inferno!

OK, my blog titles are getting worse not better! Welcome, nonetheless, to another Irish genealogy post.

Earlier this week, I was contacted by my fourth cousin, Stephen Macken. Like myself, Stephen runs a family tree website on Stephen worked out, through the SmartMatch system, that we share a set of great-great-great-grandparents. Thomas Boyd, whose first name I hadn’t known until now. married Mary Fields in November 1841. (Until now, I hadn’t known any details about her at all, so I’ve just found my 20th of 64 surnames at the 3-times-great-grandparents!) One of their daughters, Catherine, married a German migrant, Philip Mannweiler, and they had ten children including my great-grandfather, while her elder sister, Mary Anne Boyd married Michael Kinsella, and their son John was Stephen’s great-grandfather.

It made me focus a little more on my Wicklow roots, which had suffered from a bit of neglect as I was busy chasing my Cork and Tyrone roots. In particular, I’m interested in finding out how surnames like Boyd and Fields crop up in seemingly earnest Irish Catholic families in Wicklow in the mid-19th Century. Part of the reason, I guess, is that if a Protestant man married a Catholic woman, while the surname came from the father, the mother would typically pass on the religion, turning previously Protestant names into Catholic ones!

The very useful Failte Romhat website has lots of data on Griffith’s Valuations, the best Census substitute for Ireland for the mid-19th Century. In Wicklow, the valuation was taken in 1852-1853, so it’s a good post-Famine snapshot of Wicklow. Taking the data for the various civil parishes in Wickow, the most common surname – by a good Wicklow mile – is Byrne. Don’t take my word, here’s the by now customary word cloud:

Given that I’m looking for Boyd and Fields, it’s interesting to see that pretty much all the top surnames are Irish Gaelic surnames – Byrne, Toole, Kavanagh, Cullen, Kelly, Murphy, Doyle… (If I’m honest, I do actually have a Farrell and a McGrath, more than likely Wicklow-based, in the same neck of the family tree woods.) I think you’ll agree that Byrne is a little overbearing, though! So I did the cloud again, this time without Byrne. It allows a slightly better perspective of some of the medium tier surnames – in particular some non-Gaelic surnames like Wilson and (if you’ve got your glasses on!) Hopkins, Gilbert and even Powerscourt!

Wicklow Griffiths Valuations, excluding Byrne
Wicklow Griffiths Valuations, excluding Byrne

The good news for those like myself looking into North Wicklow for their roots is that the Catholic records in Bray, for example, go back well beyond what’s typical for Ireland – to before 1800. For those with Protestant ancestors, the news is even better – records for Bray and Delgany go back to 1667! And while it looks like those records are probably not on, they will be on the Irish Family History Foundation’s site ‘soon’, to quote their site.

So who knows where we’ll end up – or rather what surnames we’ll end up with – soon?!

  • Yakub ,

    Cool theme for site! Where can i download it?

    • ronanlyons ,

      Hi Yakub, thanks for the comment. I’m using the Digg 3-column theme, available from the Admin part of my wordpress blog.

      In Design – Themes – Custom Image Header, I changed the image header (the wp-admin/admin.php?page=custom-header part of my site) to a photo I took of Clew Bay, County Mayo (Ireland). I can send that photo on to you, if you’d like.

      Thanks for stopping by,


      • Christie Ash ,


        My Grandmother was Sadie Manweiler, from Dublin. I have (somewhere in the atic) a family tree that she made for one of my school projects (about 25 years ago). I also have a copy of a letter from the decendants of philip manvieler, who was a bigamist with a family in germany. There is a cottage still standing in Wicklow where he lived with his irish family, the story goes that at his funeral his eldest son stood at the doors of the protestant church and would not let any of his catholic siblings enter.

        • Geoff Kirkland ,

          My grandmother, Elizabeth Manweiler, left Greystones in about 1920 at age 16 and came to Australia. Her father was William Manweiler and her mother was Mary KInsella. I have been trying for about 20 years to contact my relatives in Greystones. When my grandmother came to Australia she was accompanied by either an aunt or uncle who moved further on in Australia and changed their name to Boyd to avoid post-WW1 stigma of a German last name. Now I have some idea as to why the name Boyd was chosen. MY family olst contact with them many years ago. My grandmother had abrother named Phillip, my father’s name is Phillip, and my legal first name is also Phillip. It seems that I have inherited the first name of the German immigrant. Could it be that your great grandfather and mine (William Manweiler) were brothers. I have photos of William Manweiler with either his parents or his wife’s parents.

          • Brrr… Sure ’tis cold in Sligo: A heat-map of Ireland’s property prices since early 2007 « Ronan Lyons | Blog ,

            […] who’ve checked out/had to put up with my many word clouds on various different topics from Wicklow genealogy to Barack Obama will testify, I’m always looking for new ways to present data and […]

            • Sue Homer ,

              Hi Geoff

              I knew your grandmother, she was my great aunt Lizzie, she is my grandma’s sister, (Susan Manwieler) I could have met you in the seventies, Was in NSW for a while. I have a lot of history on my family tree that could be of interest to you.


              • John Synnott ,

                Hi Sue
                I had been browsing geneology sites when I came across your post on this site which I find very intriguing.
                Sue here is some information which if correct would mean I am you Uncle.
                My Father who’s name was James Synnott was married to Susan Manweiler from Greystones Co Wicklow Ireland in 1933. Susan’s Father was William and her Mother was Mary they had two children, William and Mary, my Father’s parent’s were Jane and John, if this matches your information we are related.


                • John Fields ,

                  I was always led to believe that my Grandfather James Fields was from Greystones but on the 1911 census it has his birthplace as Liverpool. I do know that he was back and forth to Greystones and my late father told me that Greystones was the family origin. None of James’s 6 children remain to enlighten me further and wondered if anyone can shed any light on the Fields family history in Greystones. Many of the grandchildren like me remain in the Liverpool area.

                  John Fields

                  • ,

                    Hi Christie
                    Your comment intrigued me,
                    would it be possible to see your family tree?
                    and the contents of the letter?My paternal
                    grandmother is Susan Manwieler, Philip’s granddaughter. I have a tree on both
                    Genesreunited and myheritage you are
                    welcome to view them.
                    Kind regards

                    • Jamie Byrne ,

                      Geoff Kirkland – Hi Geoff
                      My mother was a Manweiler from the cottages in Windgates. Her name was Patricia and her father was John Joseph Manweiler. His father and mother was William and Mary Ann. There is still a daughter of theirs living in the cottage to this day! It would be great if I could see the photo of William to show my aunt – she might be able to tell you who they are and if we are on the right track.

                      • Tania ,

                        Hi everyone. Mary fields would have been my great great great grandmother. Not sure if any of you will see this message as last one posted was a few years ago

                        • Ronan Lyons ,

                          Hi Tania,
                          Thanks for commenting – I think that means we’re related, albeit distantly!

                          • Tania ,

                            Hi Ronan,
                            Sorry Mary Field and Thomas Boyd were my great great grandparents, just looked at my tree. I find the history so fascinating and am always looking for new relatives

                            • Tania ,

                              Hi Ronan,
                              Sorry Mary Field and Thomas Boyd were my 2nd great grandparents

                              • Mary Kenny ,

                                My grandmother Mary Pamela O’Regan came from Windgates in Co. Wicklow. Her maiden name was Manweiler. We often went to visit there when we were young children. My mother who passed away in May of last year talked of Aunt Lissie who went to Australia. My grandmother and Susan Sinott were sisters.

                                Leave a comment