What are the chances?


I’ve been researching in Northern Ireland for months now using the FAN (Friends, Associates, Neighbours) technique to build up a picture of the extended family.

I have James and Mary FITZSIMONS who married in Portaferry in 1854 and had their children on the townland of Tullcarnan/Tullyharmon from 1854 – 1873 but then they disappear from the records.  I can’t find the deaths of the parents or marriages of the children.  I’ve wondered if they migrated as at least 4 of Mary’s siblings did?

Last week, I thought I’d take a fresh look at this family.

After some research, I thought I had hit the jackpot and was preparing to get up and do the geneadance of joy when I realised there were some discrepancies between the info I had verified during previous searches and my newly discovered info.

I found a 1901 census record of the widowed mother, Mary living with a married daughter, whose name was the same as one of the daughters of the original family.  Then I backtracked and found the death of a James I thought was her husband a few years prior to the census.  Fantastic!! BUT ….

Then I looked more closely at the death certificate and realised that while the townland name was correct, it was actually on the other side of the Strangford Lough.  Portaferry is on the Ards Peninsula, south of Belfast and bordered by the beautiful Strangford Lough and the Irish Sea.  Further research confirmed my suspicions that yes, there are 2 townlands in Co Down called Tullycarnan.


What are the chances that there were 2 FITZSIMONS families with parents of the same name both living on Tullycarnon but those townlands were on both sides of the Lough?  Or could it be that my FITZSIMONS lived on the one near Portaferry and then moved across the water to the one near Ardglass?  Or were there 2 families who accidentally were around the same age and just happened to live on the townlands of the same name?  My feeling is that the latter is true till I have further information.



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