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  • reiltinmurphy

Johnston and O'Hara families in Co. Antrim

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My Johnston and O’Hara story has its origins in great-grandma’s memoir, Memories Of My Irish Home Chapter 7, in which she tells of a chance meeting between strangers Uncle Fr. John O’Hara and Uncle Dr. James Johnson who discover that they are en route to stay with the same family - one is the sibling of Mother, the other of Father.

Untangling this story and fitting it into historic fact took many years, a DNA test, and loads of research. Great-grandma had assumed, or implied, that the encounter had taken place between her uncles when in reality they were her great grand-uncles.

Mother and Father of this story were Catherine O’Hara (c1770-c1850) and Robert Johnston (c1760-c1845): they are my four-times great grandparents. Catherine O’Hara’s sister Mary married Hugh O’Hara and few generations down the line Mary and Catherine’s descendants married and left me with a double dose of this ancient O’Hara blood. Catherine and Mary seem to have had a brother Fr. John O’Hara as suggested in great grandma’s memoir. The O’Hara family lineage is described in the medieval Book of O’Hara - one of the pages is reproduced here: you can view the original manuscript at go to Collections then to National Library scroll down to the Book of O'Hara. You can find a translation in The Book of O'Hara = Leabhar Í Eadhra / edited by Lambert McKenna: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1951 (reprinted 1980).

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