Surname Saturday – Barnes Family in County Offaly (King’s Co.), Ireland

JohnBridgetBarnesOur Barnes clan from County Offaly, Ireland died out with the family of John Barnes (1870-1949), his wife Bridget Larkin Barnes (1879-1934), and their only son, John Joe Barnes (1914-1998). Their son didn’t marry, and after his death the family farm went to the Larkin family. I took this photo of their gravestone at the Dungar Cemetery, Fancroft, County Offaly, in the Midlands, very near to County Tipperary and the town of Roscrea.

I’ve blogged previously on our Irish Barnes clan. It took quite a few years of research to get to the point that we knew exactly where in County Offaly our family came from. The Barnes name isn’t as common in Ireland, as it is in Scotland and England. We know our Barnes family originated in Scotland, but we still aren’t sure which generation emigrated.

John Barnes’s father and grandfather were both named John, and both died in County Offaly. Some of John Barnes’s eleven siblings that became citizens of the United States put down on census records that their family was born in Scotland, but others put down Ireland.  While starting my research an aunt gave me all of the names of her aunts, uncles, her mother, and her grandfather, John Barnes, that had died suddenly in 1892 while driving his horse and cart back from work in Birr (Parsontown). Research from the Irish Midlands confirmed all the information that she had shared with me. John Barnes had indeed died at the age of 60, on 16 April 1892, at Roscrea No. 2, Dromakeenan, County Offaly. He was listed as a farmer on his death certificate.

Research also showed that his father, John Barnes, died at age 80, on 4 June 1866, at Aughadouglas, County Offaly. What amazes me is that this family of farmers survived after the Great Famine of 1845-1852, and that they held on to their farm through such hard times. I wonder how bad times were in their native Scotland that they resettled in Ireland. The family was Roman Catholic, and the church of Kilcolman has records of their marriages and baptisms.  When my daughter and I visited County Offaly in 2008 the parish priest was away in Belfast. When we returned home I sent a letter and the priest supplied me with more information including that John Barnes (1832-1892) married Mary Ann Ryan on 13 June 1859 at the Kilcolman Roman Catholic Church. Ryan, in contrast to Barnes, is a very common surname in County Offaly. He also suggested we contact the parish ahead of time if we come back for another visit.

The National Archives of Ireland has the Census Records of 1901 and 1911 available free of charge, and for anyone doing Irish research it is an invaluable source to research for all 32 counties. For the 1901 Census, using only the surname Barnes, there are 836 entries, in contrast to Ryan which has 30,840.   County Offaly, then called King’s County, have listed in the 1901 Census for the surname Ryan 1060 entries, and 37 Barnes’s including our family.

For anyone with family roots in Ireland that are thinking of taking a trip back to their ancestral lands, go for it. My daughter and I combined sightseeing with some family research, and along the way we met so many helpful and wonderful folks. It turned out that we found the end of the line of one branch of our Barnes family, but we discovered a beautiful section, the Midlands, not always suggested on itineraries for trips back to Ireland. Along the way we talked to neighbors that remembered John Joe Barnes with very fond memories of a kind, sweet old bachelor, that loved his family and helped his neighbors.

May neighbors respect you,
Trouble neglect you,
The angels protect you,
And heaven accept you. ~ Irish Blessing

County Offaly, Ireland - Branes homestead down this lane.
County Offaly, Ireland – Barnes homestead was down this lane.
Birr Castle, County Offfaly, where the Barnes family worked in the 1800s -
Birr Castle, County Offfaly – beautiful gardens are open to the public – where the Barnes family worked in the 1800s –
Coolderry, County Offaly - home of our Barnes, Ryan, and Larkin families.
Coolderry, County Offaly – home of our Barnes, Ryan, and Larkin families.
The ancient monasteryof Clonmacnoise, County Offaly, Ireland, along the Shannon River.
The ancient monastery of Clonmacnoise, County Offaly, Ireland, along the Shannon River .

Surname Saturday is a blogging prompt suggested by GeneaBloggers. All photos taken by Maryann Barnes.

17 thoughts on “Surname Saturday – Barnes Family in County Offaly (King’s Co.), Ireland

  1. I remember a Navy Officer Shipmate from Maine in late 80’s, Steve Larkin, who we figured we were related some time back as I recall… The note on passing the Barnes farm to a Larkin may be a confirmation. I do not temember the details on whether it was a blood relative or a relative of a friend of my mom? Just that there was some connection…


  2. My Grandfather was Charles Barnes, his father was James Roderick Barnes born on the ship coming to New York Jan or Feb 1848 to 1850 His father was also James Barnes. We do not know the mother of James Roderick Barnes, as she died giving birth to him. He is listed as Scotch on the census but his mother was Irish, that’s the story. He had red hair as a young man. Did you find a James Barnes or any Rodericks?


    1. Thanks for reading this blog. Do you know what county in Ireland your Barnes family was from? I have heard of Charles and James but not Roderick. The records often put down under Barns. We are still trying to determine what part of Scotland the family came from.


  3. There’s no record that I know of to tell us where James Barnes lived, his son was born on the ship in New York Harbour. His mother died in child birth, and we have no record of her maiden name. She was catholic and Irish. James Roderick always said he was Scotch. I think James may have moved to Ireland. He may have been born around 1820. One thing that always comes through is the red curly hair. I’m still looking for the ship they arrived on. He puts his birthday as Feb 1848 and then on another census, it differs by a few years. I was hoping you may have had a James listed as one of the 11 siblings!
    I found your blog so interesting, thanks!


  4. Glory, I thank you for the extra information, and for your kind words. One of the 12 children of John and Mary Ann Ryan Barnes was James. All of the children were baptized Catholic. James was born 1867 and died in Queens, New York in 1931. All of the 12 children were born in County Offaly, then called Kings County. I remember also seeing a Charles Barnes listed in the county records. We know that John Barnes (1831 – 1892) was born in Scotland. Roderick is also a surname and I wonder if that could be a clue to a clan name. Did your Barnes family live in New York City? Only one of the 12 children stayed in Ireland, and the other 11 all went to NYC and it could be they had other family there. I’ll try looking for some records for your family.


    1. Hi Maryann, James Roderick married Francis Harriet James and called his first son Ernest Richard, the next son he called Charles Pinkett, this Pinkett is a surname from the James side, but we don’t know where Ernest Richard or Charles came from. Maybe these were Barnes family names?? I think they stayed in NY and then moved here. But James Roderick was married in Duluth Mn. She was Canadian. I did try on Ancestry to find a Barnes & Roderick marriage in Ireland but could find nothing. I’m also one of 12 children. My Uncle Wesley Williard had only 3 children. My father was George Frederick and he is the son of Charles Pinkett.
      This is so exciting;in all the years searching for James Barnes’ family, your information appears to be very close. We know he was Catholic. But, because he didn’t have a mother to tell him about his past, very little is known about the life his father left in Ireland
      The name Wesley appears in other records here in Ontario, but we don’t know who James Roderick’s siblings were or if he even had sibblings.


  5. Glory, You may have the marriage record of James R. Barnes and Francis Harriet James, from St. Louis County, MN: 119 Barnes, James R. James, Fannie H. 1887-09-10 Duluth 1887-09-10 Duluth
    [Source – ]
    I’m wondering if that record is still available to order a copy. It may give more information. In the 1901 Canada Census: James Barnes, age 46, birth-date 9 Jan 1855, Irish ancestry, listed with his wife, Francis, and children in Moulton, Ontario – but I would think you’ve seen that, too.
    In searching the Kings County (Offaly) Ireland records, in the 1821 Ballybritt Census there is a James Barns listed age 36, servant boy, living in the Parish of Aghancon, and the Townland of Aghancon. The 1850 Griffiths Valuation for Kings County (Offally) Ireland lists a Charles Barnes in the Union of Parsonstown [now called the town of Birr]. I don’t know if either of these two men were Catholic.
    It is simply wonderful to know that you are also searching for Irish Barnes roots for family that were Catholic and came to Ireland from Scotland! ~ Maryann
    PS – The Castle Garden website lists ten with the name James Barnes that came from Ireland between 1847 and 1856:
    Good luck researching!


    1. Thankyou Maryann, I appreciate all the info and suggestions you’ve sent. I will try to get the actual record of James Roderick Barnes’ marriage. I have a print out of the list of all the marriages that took place around the same time. But there should be a marriage license registration you think?
      Anyway this is the most information I’ve ever had, and I thank you again. Glory


    2. Hi MaryAnn,
      I just found your website from an Irish Genealogy FB group post! Your article caught my eye because, while you are searching for Barnes in Kings County, I am searching for Burns in Kings County! I am not able to go to Ireland for research and find myself at a bit of a dead end was — so, I was wondering if you could point me to any helpful Offaly sources that I might also be able to access/contact.
      Btw, I’m trying to find Thomas Burns, father of Joseph Burns (b. 1837 in Kings), and have identified 2 such persons on Griffiths that were in Kings. One of them was in Birr, in fact! I know Thomas died before 1861 because he was listed as deceased on Joseph’s 1861 marriage record (in Lancashire, England).
      Any and all suggestions on possible places for additional research are so, so appreciated!


      1. Hi Kat, Great to hear from you! I will look through records and see if I can add any information to your search. It will take at least a week since I am in the middle of some other genealogy research. Cheers, Maryann


      2. Kat, I don’t know if any of these three death records are for your Thomas Burns, but good luck! I tried a search at, since the name is so similar to Barnes. I know our Barnes clan came from Scotland. Burns is so Scottish! I wonder if there was an industry in the Birr area that took workers originally from Scotland. I only searched between the dates you gave. I didn’t find any from Birr, but close by. The last one would have had to have died before your Joseph was born, so most likely you can rule that one out. But it could have been another family member. Do you know if your Burns family were Roman Catholic or Protestant? I would also try the surname and county forums on to try and find other researchers. There is a good one for Kings (Offaly) County, and folks have helped me there.
        Thomas Burns; Died 15 April 1859; Parish: Clonmacnois; Address: Lehern; Roman Catholic.
        Thomas Burns; Died 27 Feb 1842; Parish: Lemaraghan; Address: Kilgarin; Roman Catholic.
        Thomas Burns; died 11 Nov 1836: Parish: Conmacnois: Address: Carrikeel: Roman Catholic.
        Best regards,


  6. I’m trying to find out where my grandparents came from, my grandmothers maiden name was O’Brien and my moms maiden was Cameron, my father’s last name is Babcock I’m trying to understand more about my past.


    1. Patricia, If you haven’t already, check out the surname forums at and also the county forums there for each country your ancestors came from. You don’t have to pay or be a member to search these. None of your names are in my family tree, but they do sound Irish! Sometimes you can find a link to your family from what others have posted. Gather any obituaries or cemetery information also. Look under and and also look at the free 1940 Federal Census: and the free information at
      Good luck and happy searching!


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