By Kate Heaney
A COUPLE arrived in Donegal from Australia this week hoping to trace descendants of one of their ancestors, who was shipped from Letterkenny Workhouse to Australia in 1848.
Bill and Wendy Haseman have been researching their family histories for the past ten years – Bill’s great grandmother is a direct descendant of Margaret Patton, an orphan who was shipped from Letterkenny workhouse with her sister Mary.
Sadly no records exist from the old workhouse, now the county museum, to enlighten Bill as to who his relatives here might be, if any.
Bill and Wendy visited the Donegal News as part of their five-week trip to Ireland, Scotland and England as they attempt to trace their respective ancestors.
“We are going to all of the towns in the UK and Ireland where our relatives come from and we know for sure that Margaret Patton who was born in 1830 was shipped to Australia, as an orphan in 1948 aboard the ‘Lady Kennaway’. She and her sister Mary would have been taken to Dublin to board the vessel and then they sailed to Port Philip in Victoria.
“On arrival, the then head of St Mary’s Church there, recommended Margaret marry John Shannaghan, who was seeking a wife. Three months later they were married and Margaret had 12 children by the time she was 39. Both lived to a ripe old age,” Bill explained.
Margaret’s youngest son, Edward had a daughter who is Bill’s grand mother, all of the connection had large families.
As no records exist pre-856, Bill is unsure whether his ancestor from Donegal actually was an orphan or was one of the many children sent to the workhouse as their parents could not afford to feed them.
“I would love to hear from anyone who thinks they might be related to these Pattons. Margaret is mentioned in the book ‘Barefoot and Pregnant – Irish Orphans in Australia’. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org,” Bill said.
They have managed to trace the Shannaghan side of the family to Templemore in County Offaly. Wendy explained that her ancestors were named Deans who hailed from Scotland.