McGrath and Mooney: My Irish Roots

1880s - Mary McGrath Bucklin

Mary Ann McGrath Bucklin some time in the 1880s

This is my great great grandmother Mary Ann McGrath Bucklin and even though she was born in England, she was all Irish. I knew about her ever since I was young. I didn’t have much information on her and assumed that she was Irish. But she was born in England. So I searched for her parents’ names. I found her father’s name on the marriage registration when she married James A. Bucklin in 1854. I wanted more.

I wanted the name of my great great great grandmother and Mary Ann wasn’t talking! But her DNA was. My mom had a strong DNA match at 23andMe named Matt G. and the only common surname that we had with him was McGrath. Normally that wouldn’t be enough to go with since McGrath is a common Irish name, but since there was so much common DNA, I pursued it a bit more vigorously.

I sent him her birthdate and birth place, but the thing that revealed the connection was when I told him that she had settled in Palmer, Massachusetts. That was where his McGrath Irish roots were from also! And the best thing about it was that his grandfather and great grandmother had gathered information about the family and written it all down for the rest of the family.  (For someone who does genealogical research, this is a very exciting thing to hear.)

So I prodded him to find that written information and see if he could find the clear connection. And sure enough he finally found the name of a certain Mary Ann who had married a James Bucklin in Massachusetts in 1854.  Mary Ann and James later moved to Louisiana and over time they lost touch with the rest of the family back in New England.

And here’s the best part. (Wait, didn’t I already say something else was the best thing? Oh, well.) I told you earlier that I wanted the name of Mary Ann’s mother.  She was the last unknown great great great grandparent of mine.  And they had her name! And the name of all of Mary Ann’s siblings -Arthur, Margaret, James, Catherine, John, and Daniel.  They had lived in Roscommon, Ireland and the last sibling was born in Ireland in 1838. So the family moved to Massachusetts some time between 1838 and 1854.

And everyone knows what happened in Ireland during that time, right? The Great Irish Potato Famine.  I’ve heard about it all of my life, but never thought that it had any direct effect on my family. Boy was I wrong! Mary Ann’s parents found a way to move themselves and their seven children to the United States at a time when over 1 million people starved to death in Ireland.  They were among the million people who left to find a better life.

So this St. Patrick’s Day I’m going to celebrate my Irish roots. And I’ll be glad to tell everyone that I am the great great great grandson of Maria Ettadosia Mooney McGrath!


1893 - I was an Irishman

Part of a journal by Mary McGrath Bucklin’s son Louis Charles Bucklin in 1893. He refers to himself as an Irishman. (see green print)


  • The other thing that my long lost cousin was able to provide was the location of the final resting place for Edward and Maria Mooney McGrath. They were buried in the Old St. William Cemetery in Ware, Massachusetts. And they were willing to send a photograph of their headstone.

    Edward and Mary McGrath Headstone

    Families are the best.

  • Wow. I remember when you found Mary Mooney’s name, but somehow I missed or forgot that this is the marker for both of her parents. Great find.

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