Removing the Irish Bricks, Ever so Slowly

IrelandMy O’Connell family is my biggest brick wall and I have been struggling to break down for many years. It seems that with every wall that comes down a new one goes up. It’s just a temporary removal of bricks that create a brand new wall on a new O’Connell ancestor.

Once a month I go to a genealogy meeting at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago, IL with the hopes of uncovering a new lead or possibly someone might come in researching the same family. Mostly, I go and listen; take notes on anything that seems might be able to help me.

Well, last week I went on FamilySearch because everyone talks about their Irish records. To be honest, I had been there many times and have never found anything for my family. However, this time I found the index for my 2nd great-grandfather, John Connell / O’Connell. Now, this is not new information to me. I have the indexed information from www.irishgenealogy.ie and have had it for a few years now.

But, there was something different on this index. John’s mother was listed as Ellen  Fehine and not Helen Tehan. The names are very close and I can see these two ladies being the same person. So, within the next few days I was at Newberry Library researching and I looked up the index in the O’Keif, Coshe, Mange books. It took me a bit of time to make sense of the books (there are multiple volumes). But I finally found the baptismal information in there as well. Guess what, John’s mother was indexed again as Ellen Fehine. After I found that information, I gave up and moved onto client work for the day.

Well, after dinner I decided that I needed to look at FamilySearch and Irish Genealogy websites again. Maybe there is more family out there. Maybe her name is Ellen Fehine and not Helen Tehan.

Stay tuned as I research deeper into the new possible name for John’s mother.





Similar Posts


  1. Hi Terri, I can certainly relate to this struggle. One of my ggg grandmothers is Ellen Phelan, sounds hauntingly like your ggrandmother’s name. But I’ve come to understand that Helena is the Latin version of Ellen, which you may find in some church documents or not depending on the time period. We believe her name was Helena but was often in documents as Ellen. It can be confusing. So Helena and Ellen can be the same person. Check out this link, may help. http://www.from-ireland.net/irish-names/Latin-Names-In-English

    1. Lynn,

      I definitely knew that about Ellen / Helen (maybe I read it on your post before, or maybe we discussed it at the Irish center).

      Thanks for reading and commenting, I appreciate it.

  2. I have a Helen Clifford that was changed to Ellen and if you do not know what you are looking for it can be hard. Bridget was also a given in the states to change because they picked a different first and middle name which can be hard to trace. My grandmother was Bridget Nee but went her whole life as Delia Frances Nee and we only found out after she passed when we found her birth certifucate!

    1. Changing of names can make it hard. Though at this point, I have not found that any of my Irish ancestors have changed their names. The only change from Ireland to the US is the O in O’Connell, in Ireland I have only found them listed as Connell.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.