The ship named the British Queen sailed from Dublin
and docked in New York on November 7, 1850. On board
were passengers Mary, Michael and John McGrath. Edmond
had arrived two years earlier on November 29, 1848 on board
the New Hampshire. Both ships arrived at South Street on
the lower eastside of New York City. They eventually wound
up in Cortland County, NY but where did they come from and
who were their ancestors?
The McGraths were of Dalcassian ancestry, stemming
from Cormac Cas, son of Oilioll Olum, King of Munster in the
3rd century A.D.. The name McGrath is from the Irish
MacCraith or MacRaith with the prefix Mac denoting the "son
The MacCraith’s of the Thomond Sept supplied
hereditary poets and genealogists to their kinsmen, the
O'Briens of County Clare. They fought alongside the O’
Briens, MacNamaras and O’Deas to drive the Normans from
Thomond in 1317. Sean MacCraith wrote a famous history of
the times, "The Wars of Turlough," in 1365.
Their castle at Islandmagrath, in County Clare, was
recorded as in their possession as late as 1574. One branch
migrated north and settled in Co. Donegal. Other branches
eventually migrated from Clare to the Counties of Tipperary,
Waterford and Limerick. In the 16th century, the MacCraiths
established a bardic school in Cahir, County Tipperary.
The Rebellion of 1641 found the Magraths of Cashel, Co.
Tipperary and the McCraghs of Co. Waterford doing well and
in possession of substantial land holdings. Oliver Cromwell
crushed the rebellion and fortunes of the various McGrath
families took a turn for the worse but they persevered.
Some of the Cashel Magraths persisted in the parish of
Clonoulty. The proximity of the parishes of Clonoulty and
Upperchurch and additional evidence suggests that Edmond
McGrath of Upperchurch was descended from Edmond
Magrath of Ballymore, who was a grandson of Miler Magrath,
the notorious Archbishop of Cashel from 1571 until 1622.
Miler was descended from the MacCraith’s of Islandmagrath
by way of the Magraths of Termon Magrath, in County
Donegal. Therefore it is highly probable that the ancestors of
Edmond McGrath of Upperchurch extend back to the original
MacCraiths of Islandmagrath.
Evidence indicates that Edmond’s immediate family had
been living in the civil parish of Moyaliff, Roman Catholic
Parish of Upperchurch, County Tipperary in 1851. His
ancestors had probably occupied land in that area as far
back as the mid-1700’s. The family of his wife, Mary Ryan,
had occupied the townland of Gleninchnaveigh since at least
The story of Edmond and Mary Ryan McGrath picks up in the parish of Upperchurch in Co. Tipperary, Ireland. The Ryans were from the townland of Gleninchnaveigh (Glown) just west of the village of Upperchurch whereas Edmond was
from the townland of Drumdiha in the parish of Moyaliff on the southern border of the parish of Upperchurch. During a
family visit to Ireland in June 2000 we visited with relatives of Mary Ryan. Con Ryan and his ancestors have lived in Glown for at least the last few hundred years and there is evidence of Ryan occupation even earlier than that although the relationship is uncertain. While in Glown we visted with Con’s daughter Eileen whose family was living in the ancestral cottage occupied by Mary Ryan in 1850. The Ryans are a huge family with many cousins but due to the efforts of Con and his cousin Michael Quinlan they were able to show that we are related. Eileen and I are sixth cousins while her father Con and I are fifth cousins once removed.
Edmond McGrath arrived in America on November 29, 1848 at New York City on board the New Hampshire. Mary followed two years later along with sons Michael and John arriving in New York City on November 7, 1850 on board the ship British Queen. What they did prior to arriving in Onondaga County, New York in the early 1850’s is still unknown at this time. They settled first near the northern edge of the Keeney’s Settlement. In March 1855 they moved to the portion of the Town of Truxton that would later be renamed the Town of Cuyler when that town was split off from the Town of Truxton. Edmond, Michael and John purchased land in the north part of the Town of Truxton on Kettlebail Road in January 1868. They ran into financial problems and were foreclosed on this property and the Cuyler property in 1874. Michael became a laborer on the Miles farm in Tully and John and Ellen and Edmond and Mary moved to a small farm on Shackham Road in the northern part of the Town of Truxton.
Copyright © 2006 Michael F. McGraw