Menlough Diary 1984
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Menlough, County Galway Ireland

Dsc0775.jpg (63084 bytes)The Journal  Notes of 1984

Our sources (James Costello's marriage certificate and Michael Costello's death certificate) told us that Menlough is the area in Galway where the three brothers left to find a new life in Australia late last century.




bulletAs we explore more into the history, we are amazed to discover that there were probably six children who came to try their luck in Australia, not three. One can only surmise what forced a whole family to leave home and what the parents must have gone through to endure the loss of their children.
bulletThere were two girls among them, Bridget and Mary. We seem to have heard the story of the two brothers, but not the two sisters, and not their earlier story of immigration. John and James came out later. How did the girl's stories fall out of the memory of our side of the family? Was there a parting of the ways between various parts of this family?

In our 1984 journey, it took a while to discover- turn off, a mile outside Mount Bellew Bridge on the way to Galway.

The land is very low lying, almost bog or drained marshes-very little evidence even now or crops or animals. Menlough- lough means lake and is pronounced "la" as in Menla. It looks very poor, sparsely populated.  The village is just one street with a garage, a general store, a church, and a few houses. We visited the church first, and while there, we were able to search the register for the names of our ancestors. The parish register goes back too 1800.

The register has the records for Garbally, Skehena and Menlough. In those days, the parish was centered at Killascobe, where all remains now is a ruined church and graveyard.

We came across the record we were after on page 134 which read

Thomas Costello marries Bridget Flemming  26th February 1844 and witnesses were Dennis Costello and Mary Flemming.

It is interesting to note that the marriage took place in 1844, a year before the Potato famine struck Ireland.Dsc0918.jpg (61490 bytes) In stories recorded from the survivors, ( see Echoes of the Famine we learn that Galway was devastated. One priest told of being on his way to say a morning mass and having to stop to anoint 19 people whom he passed dying on the side of the road.
Another story recounted the Landlord asking one of his tenants how quickly his people were dying, and when told that they were all dying within weeks of each other, he said, "Good."

bulletWhat was it that forced a family to let all their children go, to try their luck in alien lands knowing that there was little chance of ever seeing them again. What did the famine do to this young married couple, Thomas and Bridget, as they set out to start a family in the year before the worst disaster in Irish history? Did the children who survived learn that they had to look elsewhere to secure a future? To see the landscape around Menlough is to see soil that one imagines would not support large families. The migration might have been the only way a family could keep its children and itself alive.

When we searched for baptismal records of their children, all we could find was one on page 190

Feb 13th 1867 Bridget of Tom Costello and K. Flemming sponsors Tom Kenny and Mrs. Kenny.

Is this the Bridget that eventually comes out to Australia and marries a Heffernan, and becomes Bridget Heffernan? If so, then the letter that a T. Kenny sends to Bridget in 1926 when he is 84 years old might also be the same Tom Kenny who is her godfather, and would have been 25 years old when he witnessed Bridget's baptism. But Bridget's mother, if it is our Bridget, should be B. Flemming, not K. Was that a misspelling?

There was another Costello-Flemming wedding  where Patrick Costello marries a Mary Flemming on January 31st 1854 and sponsors were John Flemming and Mary Day.

Mary, one presumes, is the same as Tom and Bridget's bridesmaid and Patrick-could he be a brother to Thomas and Denis. If so, we have two brothers marrying two sisters. Costello-Flemming.

interesting to note within the family tradition that brothers are marrying sisters quite often. Here Flemmings it seems marry Costello's, and the next generation. Heffernan's marry Costello girls and the next generation, two Murphy's marry two Costello's.

Costello's appeared all over the register. For instance-

p 124 Thomas and Mary Costello p.125 Pat and Glyn Costello

p.126 Peggy Costello  P 129 Celia and John Costello

147 Katherine Costello  p.149 Tom Costello

P.171 Pat and Allen Costello   P.173 Pat Costello

P. 176 John Flemming and other entries on pages 123,134,168,180,181,187. We may have passed over others, but we looked right up to 1900.


Garbally- we are told is the place where James Costello was born.

Skehanagh used to have a church where James used to go.

Menlough(Tiaquin) was the name of the family home in Ipswich-Australia which he called after the place he came from in Ireland.

For Birth Certificates registrar General Custom House Dublin, Eire

Deputy Keeper, Public record office of Ireland, the Four Courts, Eire.

A Cemetery

We headed out towards Mt. Bellew Bridge (pronounced Bell-Ya) and the cemetery and there we found found only two Costello's buried-

Patrick Costello died march 27th 1907 aged 82 years Wife Anne September 27th 1912 aged 75 Daughter Mary October 17th 1889 aged 16 years and son Patrick May 26th 1936 aged 73 years and wife Katherine May 2nd 1937 aged 73 years and son Martin August 18th 1969 aged 58 years. Erected by sons Tom and Pat. Notice the same Christian names that are on our side of the Costello clan.

When we followed our contact, the local Paris priest  Fr.Canney's advice to contact a Costello family who ran the general store beside the church at Skehana, we missed the route and ended up miles away. But we managed to find a Sean Costello whom we called on the phone- He was able to tell us that his grandfather John had migrated to Australia, but had returned later on and married a Mary Riley. He didn't know who John's parents were. He remembered he had a cousin in Australia now deceased named Nellie O'Brien and that an Uncle was killed Sydney just outside the cathedral. But that was as far as we got.

Married on Boxing Day 1898 at St. Mary's IpswichDsc0888.jpg (61504 bytes)

Marriage Certificate of
James Costello/Catherine Lynch

Marriage solemnized in the district of Ipswich in the colony of Queensland 1899 registered by Robert Miller, District registrar.

Number 1121    4504

When and where married- 26th December 1898 Ipswich

Name and Surname-   James Costello (born 16th June) Catherine Lynch

Condition-  bachelor/Spinster

Birthplace-   Garbally Galway Ireland / Kilbenhing Limerick Ireland

Profession- Blacksmith / Tailoress

Age-   25 / 22 years

Usual Place of residence-  North Ipswich/Ipswich

Parents- Thomas Costello and Bridget Flemming  / James Lynch and Margaret Leinnard

Father's rank or profession- Farmer / Bootmaker

Conducted in St. Mary's Church according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church in the presence of David Lynch and Margaret O'Toole and date of registration January 5th 1899 by me, James Duhig, Officiating Minister.

I, Harold William Tesch, Registrar General......extracted 2nd March 1981.

Contacts (1984)

The Costellos' in the area who may be the relatives we lost contact with are Mrs. M.A.Costello at the General Store (Merchant) Skehanna, Menlough phone 0905 8 47 34 Ballinasloe. Sean has died since our visit.

The parish house at Menlough was Father Canney at parochial House Menlough Ballinasloe 
St. Michael's 0905 4 21 16. Father Canney has died since our visit.

The Lost Brother? Menlough Diary 99 Menlough 2002 In Search of Costellos Menlough Diary 1984 Ireland to Ipswich A Lost Letter


Last updated 02/02/2008. This is the Costello family web site designed to help gather and pass on the stories of our clan.. If you have any comments or additions, please email me at