Surname Saturday – Tierney Family of Northern Ireland


“Tierney is an Anglicized form of Irish Ó Tiarnaigh (male), Ní Thiarnaigh (female), also spelled Ó Tighearnaigh/Ní Thighearnaigh. It is derived from tiarna, the Irish word for lord or master.” ~ Wikipedia. The motto is – By Serving I Govern. On top of the family crest is an oak tree. The shield has a red chief and a black chevron. Families were in Gaelic Ireland, in the counties of Clare, Mayo, Monaghan, Meath, and Tipperary with variations of this name. The name is also sometimes confused with Tiernan, and that was a variation we started with, along with Toomay, from our father’s cousin Sarah’s genealogy notes.

Our Tierney family comes from Belfast, Northern Ireland, most likely from the section that was called Springfield Village. At various times the addresses of our Irish Belfast family were given as Springfield Road, or Springfield Avenue or Row. Back in the mid 19th century it was still a village on the road to Belfast.

On the 13th of May 1861, Sarah Tierney married William Hall at St. Anne’s Church of Ireland, in Shankill, Belfast. When their first child, Annie Hall was born on the 29th of August 1861, they gave their address as 9 Union Street, in the Shankill Parish of Belfast. The only clue to her family was that Sarah Tierney’s father was listed as James Tierney, occupation laborer.

Sarah Tierney and William Hall had the following children: Annie, Mary, William John, Joseph, Agnes, Elizabeth, Sarah, and Agnes. Not all of these children lived to maturity. It is possible they had other children that we haven’t found the records for yet. Their daughter, Mary Hall Doran (1864-1899), was my great-grandmother.

Although Sarah and William married in a Protestant church, their children were baptized in Roman Catholic churches. Sometimes there was a note on the record written by the priest that the father of the child was Protestant.

Looking at the Griffith’s Valuation for County Antrim, I found only one record for a James Tierney, and that was in 1862. There were a total of nine other Tierney’s listed, but in all of Ireland there were 81 matches for James Tierney. The Griffith’s Valuations are from 1847-1864. The James Tierney from County Antrim was from the parish of Shankill.

Source:; Ireland, Griffith's Valuation, 1847-1864
Source:; Ireland, Griffith’s Valuation, 1847-1864

When Sarah Tierney Hall died on the 7th of October 1890 her age was given as 49, and her address was Springfield, Belfast. Since she was listed as 20 years of age when she married, it would put her year of birth around 1841. She was listed as Roman Catholic on her death record. Looking for a Sarah Tierney with the father listed as James, through the Ulster Historical Foundation birth and baptism records for Antrim and Down, gave me one record. Although the year of her baptism as 1850, it is still possible that it is the correct record. Sometimes children were baptized as infants, and again later if they were sick.

Name:  Sarah Tierney; Date of Birth:  [blank]; Date of Baptism:  02 February 1850; Parish/District: St. Patrick’s; Gender:  Female;  County:  Antrim;  Denomination:  Roman Catholic;  Father:  James Tierney;  Mother:  Margaret McCabe;  Sponsor 1:  Anne Tierney;  Sponsor 2: [blank].  Source:].

I did find a church burial record for a Margaret Tierney, and she died on the 28th of July 1885. She was listed as 60 years old, and buried at the the Milltown Cemetery, Belfast. She was from Shankill Parish, and her address was given as Union Hospital in Belfast.

Looking for any other children born during this time period, with a father listed as James Tierney, gave another record. There was a Catherine Tierney baptized on the 4th of May 1845 at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church. Her mother was listed as Anne Gordan. Then I found a church marriage record for James Tierney and Anne Gordan from the 29th of June 1844. They were both Roman Catholic. They married at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Belfast.

Searching a wider range of dates, I found a church baptism record for a Mary Jane Tearney, baptized on the 26th of April 1857, at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Belfast. Her father was James Tearney and her mother was Jane Rice. The first sponsor was a John Doran – one of the most common names in our family tree! The other sponsor was Rose Oneill.

Not to leave any stones unturned, I did a search of all of the counties of Ireland looking for Sarah Tierney. I found this one in County Tipperary around the right time, if she was baptized as an infant.

Name:  Sara Tierney; Date of Birth:  [blank]; Date of Baptism:  26 December 1838; Parish/District: Terryglass; Gender:  Female;  County:  Tipperary;  Denomination:  Roman Catholic;  Father:  James Tierney;  Mother:  Mary Harding;  Sponsor 1:  William Darcy;  Sponsor 2: [blank].  Source:].

Unfortunately none of these records  help me to pin down Sarah Tierney Hall’s family. It would have been a great help if her mother’s name had been listed on her marriage record. Searching Irish birth, marriage, and death records can be very challenging.

Surname Saturday is a blogging prompt suggested by Geneabloggers.

Springfield Road sign in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Photograph taken by Maryann Barnes
Springfield Road sign in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Photo taken by author.
  1. West Belfast, Northern Ireland, photograph copyright Maryann Barnes
    West Belfast, Northern Ireland, photograph taken by author.

    Copyright 2016 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.


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