So your name is Doran and your family lived in Belfast. Ours too! Are we related?

One family story that was shared with us was that our ancestors moved to the Belfast area from “the West of Ireland” to find work in the growing linen industry. Supposedly they came from County Clare. We have not found a shred of evidence for any Doran in County Clare who might be even remotely related. Our DNA tests do however, indicate that our roots are from the West of Ireland. We may never know exactly where, but that’s okay. We have found out so much more about our ancestors after that early time period than we ever dreamed of finding. Additionally, we have located many records of other Doran families who lived in the same localities during the same time periods.

From where, and however they got there, by at least the end of the 18th century our Doran ancestors were living in Counties Armagh, Louth, and Down. Additionally, we find several other branches of the Doran name living close by. We have distant DNA connections with some of these seemingly related families. For some others, while we don’t match the descendants directly, we match with people who also match with other Dorans whom we don’t share enough DNA to directly match. We therefore think the common ancestor was born in the very early 1700s or late 1600s, and probably was living in the border area between Armagh, Louth, and Down.

The first record we find for our Doran branch was a Catholic Church baptism record in Lurgan. in 1822, Bernard Doran and Ann “Nancy” Smyth baptized their first child, Maria. They were not married and may have been quite young. On several of the early baptism records for their children the priest noted the child was “illegitimate” or the “parents not married.” We find a huge gap of time between the baptism of their first child, Maria, and the next child, Ellen in 1829, also in Armagh. Ann followed in 1831, and then Hannah in 1835. Hannah’s birth place was noted as Dixsons Lane, Shankill, Armagh. After a gap of three years, our direct ancestor, John Doran, was born in the Union Workhouse, 51 Lisburn St. They had at least two more children, both born in Belfast, Catherine born 1840 and Bernard born 1843.

As mentioned, we find quite a few branches of Dorans in Down, Armagh, Louth and later Antrim (predominantly Belfast).

One interesting note is that another Doran family, whom we have not been able to directly connect to ours through the available records, lived one door away from ours in Belfast, not just once, which could easily be a coincidence, but several times in the mid to late 1800s they appear to move to a new street and again live next door to each other.