The intense research and compilation of the script below was made by a collegue who has taken an interest in our original post 'The Search for John Cotter', as per the Home Page of the Parish Website

I was in Dublin for the day recently. I don't go there very often - so I took the opportunity to do a little searching in the National Library of Ireland parish register microfilms - including St Patrick's records. Some time ago, the NLI copied onto 35mm microfilm rolls all the Catholic parish records that were made available to them: unfortunately they are only available at the main Dublin library.

I visited once previously looking for my own family records and found the relevant registers almost impossible to read. The good news is that many of the pages of St Patrick's registers were quite legible, though some were slow to read - and I got some interesting records.

I concentrated on the years 1836 to 1850 (as far as possible - the records are not all in chronological order on the film) and noted all the Cotters I came across. I found two records of baptisms for a John Cotter who was son of John Cotter and Mary XXX. Below I have grouped the findings into families, including the marriage record where found. I have underlined the ‘addresses' where given - to find any address is unusual for these years, but most welcome.

some Cotters in the St Patrick's Church registers 1837-1850


15 Apr 1837   baptism of John Cotter (born 12 th April,) parents John Cotter & Mary McGrath, sponsors John Conolly/Mary White

14 Sep 1837*   baptism of Michael Cotter, parents John Cotter & Mary Magrath, sponsors Walter White/Ellen Delohery

* [I wrote 1837 in my notebook - I think it should be 1839]

26 Oct 1841   baptism of Bridget Cotte,r parents John Cotter & Mary Magrath of Ballinamucht, sponsors Daniel Linehan/Margaret Murphy

10 Aug 1844   baptism of Mary Cotter, parents John Cotter & Mary Magrath, sponsors David McGrath/Abigail Hickey


20 Jun 1837  
baptism of Catherine Cotter parents, John Cotter & Mary Mahony, sponsors Daniel Scully/Margaret Mahony

03 Aug 1839   baptism of Mary Cotter (born July 30 th ), parents John Cotter & Mary Mahony of ???cht ( page torn - may be Ballinamucht) sponsors Denis Lenihan/John Pyne/Mary Buckley

26 Dec 1841   baptism of John Cotter, parents John Cotter & Mary Mahony of Gordon's Cross, sponsors Richard Casey/Margaret Scully

25 Feb 1844   baptism of Margaret Cotter (born 25 th Feb), parents John Cotter & Mary Mahony of Gordon's Cross, sponsors Denis Twomey/Catherine Hurley

08 Nov 1846   baptism of Anne Cotter; parents John Cotter & Mary Mahony



11 Dec 1842   baptism of Mary Ellen Cotter, parents Bartholomew Cotter & Margaret King, sponsors Daniel Flaherty/Mary Fitzgerald

13 Oct 1844   baptism of Margaret Cotter, parents Bartholomew Cotter & Margaret King, sponsors Thomas Hurtin (or Curtin?)/Catherine Byrne

27 Aug 1848   baptism of Catherine Cotter, parents of Bartholomew Cotter & Maranne King, sponsors Walter Hussey/Thomasina Cronin


Note: Abigail Hickey was one of the sponsors of Mary Cotter (1844), daughter of John Cotter and Mary Magrath above - so perhaps ‘her' William is related to that family of Cotters: there are marriages for two other William Cotters below.

05 Oct 1846   baptism of Bridget Cotter (born 2 nd Oct), parents William Cotter & Abigail Hickey of Ballinamucht,; sponsors John Flynn/Bridget Cotter

20 Apr 1851   baptism of Jeremiah Cotter, parents William Cotter & Abigail Hickey, sponsors James Noonan/Catherine Cotter



29 Feb 1848   marriage of Bartholomew Cotter & Hanora Hanlon, witnesses John Hanlon/Margaret ?Dorney/Ellen ?Medbreagh/Mary Cotter 2

29 Aug 1848   baptism of Bartholomew of Bartholomew Cotter & Hanora Hanlon



01 Oct 1837   marriage of Patrick Cotter & Mary Ives, witnesses Richard Cotter/Catherine Delohery/Anastatia Delohery

18 Oct 1838   baptism of Patrick Cotte,r parents Patrick Cotter & Mary Ives; sponsors Robert Keller/Mary Ives

23 Dec 1843   baptism of Bartholomew Cotter, parents Patrick Cotter & Mary Ives of Gordon's Cross ; sponsors Bartholomew Cotter/Ellen Keliher


25 Feb 1844   marriage of Richard Cotter & Hanora O'Sullivan; witnesses Jeremiah Rearden/Mary ?Tuohy

19 Mar 1845   baptism of William, parents Richard Cotter & Hanora O'Sullivan

08 Feb 1837   marriage of William Cotter (‘age about 20') to Hannah Keyes (‘age about 25')

24 Feb 1838   marriage of William Cotter & Margaret McDonnell; witnesses Thomas Donoghue/William McDonnell

25 Feb 1844   baptism of Daniel Cotter (born 22 nd Feb), parents Richard Cotter & Mary Murphy of Ballinamuch , sponsors James O'Sullivan/Mary Neville

13 Mar 1846 marriage of Absolom Toogood & Ellen Cotter

25 May 1849   marriage of John Desmond & Johanna Cotter

01 Sep 1850   baptism of Michael Cotter, parents Thomas Cotter & Catherine Sheehan, sponsors John Linehan/Bridget


John Keating supplied the Margaret Penney letter and wondered if your John might be her brother. The photos of the Penney letter on St Patrick's Church website also gave the date of baptism of an Anne Cotter in 1846. The John Cotter/Mary Mahony family above have children named Margaret (born 1844), Anne (born 1846) and, most importantly, a John Cotter - born in December 1841 - which would mean that he was indeed 26 if he married Catherine Harrington in August 1868. The family also have Catherine (1837) and Mary (1839).

Another useful piece of evidence that this might be ‘your people' is that Margaret Cotter Penny's father is described on her marriage cert in 1865 as John Cotter, smith. [not a St Patrick's - marriage was at Cork Registrar's Office]

Now of course you can't always rely on the accuracy of the dates/ages given: in her letter Margaret Cotter says that she thought she was 65-68 when in fact she was 69 - and at marriage she gave her age as 19 when she was actually 21. However, the ‘other' John Cotter above (of the John Cotter/Mary Magrath family) was born in 1837 which would make him about 31 on marriage (1868) - perhaps less likely to be our target.

You have, of course, no guarantee that either of these two is actually your ancestor - ‘your' John could have been the son of a blacksmith and come from some other area altogether - but solely of the evidence we have, John (1841) above seems to be the bookie's choice.
It also seems to be that the Cotters were in the Dillon's Cross area since at least the 1830s. Later I will try to tease out what can be gleaned from the baptismal ‘addresses' (where given) and from the sponsors' names, but first one other possible sibling.

This is the St Patrick's Parish section of the NLI Parish records index (the contents of film reel 4788):

The index suggests that some records from 1831-1836 are included: in my visit I didn't notice any from those years - but then I didn't scroll through the entire reel of film - fast-forwarded (what I thought were) the 1850-1880 sections and there may have been earlier records out of sequence in those sections. Also, St Patrick's Church opened in 1836 - why would they have records from earlier years?

What is of particular interest in the case of the John Cotter/Mary Mahony family is that the North Cathedral records include the baptism of a William Cotter on March 26 th , 1835 whose the parents were John Cotter and Mary Mahony.

It is possible that this is the same couple who had children baptised in St Patrick's in 1837/39/41/44 and '46, and William could well be another of their children.

Before St Patrick's opened, the North Cathedral was the parish church for the St. Luke's/Dillon's Cross/Mayfield areas. If this is the same couple, their marriage would have been 1834 or even earlier - which would mean the ‘1836-1842' search for ‘John Cotter and Mary ???' was too late. It would also mean that their marriage record should not be in St Patrick's - and it's not in the North Cathedral either because I had already checked there and found no John Cotter/Mary Mahony marriage.

Another possibility is that the Cotter-Mahony family lived elsewhere on the north side of the city (pre-1837) before moving to the Old Youghal Road area. It would be good to find their marriage record, but it is unlikely to have any form of address on it.

The addresses: where is Ballinamuch?

Mayfield is a suburb of Cork city but the use of the name only goes back to the 1800s - before that the area used to be known in Gaelic as Baile na mBocht, meaning ‘the place of the poor (or unfortunate) people'. The belief is that part of the Mayfield area was home to a colony of ‘lepers' in medieval times: the knowledgeable tell us that leprosy is not found in a climate as cold as ours, but that persons showing signs of a range of unsightly or contagious skin diseases were not allowed to live in towns but were cast out to live or die in designated areas until they could show they were ‘clean'.

In English, Baile na mBocht was written Ballinamought and this is the name that appears in the Ordnance Survey maps in 1850 and 1900. [See OSI maps at,569492,572957,6,7 ] The land on which Harrington's Row now stands would previously have been in Ballinamought West.

In the 1800s - indeed until the early 1960s - most of Mayfield was farmland once one moved a short distance from Dillon's Cross, travelling east along the Old Youghal Road. Near the eastern end of the Old Youghal Road there was a small village called Baile na mBocht. [BAILE in Gaelic can mean a village, a town or a piece of land; also ‘sa bhaile' means ‘at home']

In 1816, James, son of Isaac Morgan, a successful Cork merchant, returned from the West Indies and married Maria Poole of Mayfield House, Bandon (about 25 miles to the south-west) and went to live in the Morgan property, Tivoli House (on the Middle Glanmire Road where many of Cork's richest families lived). Some years later, their sons made a good attempt to burn down the house by setting off fireworks and they rented a house near the village of Ballinamought while repairs were being done.,570101,573470,7,7

Maria named her temporary home Mayfield House in memory of her home in Bandon. As time went on and more people came to live there, the area became known as Mayfield - which sounded more genteel than ‘the place of the poor'. The house itself was not remarkable for its architecture and was demolished - in the late 1970s, I think. The Springfield housing estate now occupies the site.

Ballinamuch, Ballinamouct and Ballinamucht are versions of Ballinamought written in the registers - probably written by priests from other areas trying to write down what the parents have said. At the time, many - perhaps the majority - of adults were unable to read or write. Also, many were Gaelic-speakers or perhaps spoke English with Gaelic accents.

Unfortunately, from the viewpoint of trying to locate where exactly people lived, the references to Ballinamought don't help. People living a mile apart could describe their location as Ballinamought - and given that Griffith's Valuation (1850) and the street directories list several ‘John Cotter' premises within a few blocks of Dillon's Cross, that's no help.

The addresses are only given on a small number of pages and are not given for every couple. Perhaps only one priest from the church wrote addresses - I didn't have time to check this.

The addresses: Gordon's Cross

You will remember that Margaret Cotter said she was born at ‘221, Golden's Cross, Old Youghal Road'. John Keating had never heard of such a crossroads and neither had I. He mentioned Gordon's Hill - but pointed out that it was a good distance from 221 Old Youghal Road (near the Army Barracks): it's about half a mile.

The ‘Cotter - blacksmith' addresses are a problem: altogether 6 street directories list ‘John Cotter - smith/blacksmith'

Directory Year Address for John Cotter

Aldwell 1844 224 Old Youghal Road

Laing 1863 270 OYR

Henry & Coughlan 1867 216 OYR

Slater 1870 215 OYR

Fulton 1871 220/221 Thomas Cotter, blacksmith

Guys 1875 215 OYR

Slater 1881 ‘Old Youghal Road' (no number)


In addition, Fulton's 1871 directory lists ‘Thomas Cotter - blacksmith' at 220-221 Old Youghal Road - this is the only directory reference to a Thomas Cotter - is the firstname here an error?

As well as the directories, there is the listing in Griffith Valuation (GV):

Griffith's Valuation - officially the ‘General Valuation of Ireland 1848-1864' - was a countrywide survey carried out with a view to assessing property taxes: it lists the person who would be tax-liable for every piece of land, house and ‘office' (non-residential buildings such as store, shed and workplaces). Also worth noting is that Griffith only records the names of those with a lease for one year or longer - he does not list ‘lodgers' or others renting for short periods.

In Griffith (1852), John Cotter has a “house, office, yard and small garden” at #270 Old Youghal Road. Another - presumably different John Cotter (because of the inclusion of a house with no mention of it being occupied by ‘lodgers') has a “house and yard” at #14 Ballyhooly Road. These may be the fathers of the two Cotter families listed above.


Relative positions of #215 and #270 OYR on modern map


When I first saw the directory/GV listings, I wondered if (a) there were two John Cotters who were blacksmiths on OYR - one near the Barracks and another much further east at #270, or (b) if John Cotter had worked near the Barracks (215/220/221/224), and then transferred to #270 for a period around 1863 before returning to his old workplace.

The strange thing is that none of the directories has two listings (in the same year) for John Cotter - so this makes it unlikely that there were two John Cotters who were smiths on OYR at the same time.

We also now know that the baptismal records for John 1842 and Margaret 1844 (of John Cotter/Mary Mahony) show an address of ‘Gordon's Cross' - so where is that?

Here are 3 possibilities:

A. it's an older name for Dillon's Cross itself

B. it refers to the junction of Rathmore Road (formerly Fairy Lane) and OYR - just at #215

C. it refers to the junction where both Gordon's Hill and Gardiner's Hill meet the Old Youghal Road

Of these, Dillon's Cross is the only classic ‘X' crossroads, but in Ireland ‘cross' is applied to many types of junction such as T and Y junctions.

Yellow triangle is #215; red triangle is #270

For and against:

A. Dillon's Cross certainly appears to be the nearest to #270 and you expect someone living at #270 to say they were from Dillon's Cross. In 1840 (approx), when this map was made, it was called the Barracks Cross for obvious reasons (the ‘new' Barracks was opened in 1806). But in the St Patrick's baptismal records, Barracks Cross records and Gordon's Cross records appear on the same page - so they are unlikely to be the same place.

So, is John Cotter's 1841 birthplace ‘Gordon's Cross, more likely to be at B or C?


Reminder of the main streets (for our purpose):


Fairy Lane, Old Youghal Road. Ballyhooly Road, Gardiner's Hill, Gordon's Lane


Old Youghal Road housenumbers:

The red triangle (#270) is nearest the Barracks Cross, but that is the present location of #270 - I'm not sure if that position is the same as in Griffith's time as I have been unable to locate an 1840s/1850 map that shows housenumbers.

Also whereas John Cotter is listed at #270 OYR in 1852 and 1863, he may not have been in the same house when he (presumably) gave his homeplace as ‘Gordon's Cross' in 1841 and 1844.

This is a snip of the online map which accompanies the Griffith's Valuation (1852) and it only shows about 17 houses along the north side of OYR between the Barracks Cross and Gordon's Lane/Hill - yet Griffith lists the tenants of 31 houses in that stretch.


Originally I thought that #270 was in the same place that the (left) ‘smithy' is marked in the 1900 OS map - because it's 9 houses west of #279. Then I noticed #270 was marked further down the hill (west). It appears that there are nowadays some 15 houses between #271 and #272 OYR. I can't say if the numbers were always like this. There's only 300-400 feet between the possible locations, but it would make more sense for someone giving their address to use the nearer cross.

Modern map:

The 1900 OS map here shows few extra houses than 1850 - two smiths are shown: the one on the left is 9 houses to the left of #279, but it isn't 270 on the modern map.

Also, the modern #270 (red triangle) is a blank area on the 1840/1850 and 1900 maps - ???

In the ‘general' addresses as used in the earlier church records and school records, a family did not have to live exactly ‘at' the cross - rather just ‘near' the cross. You will remember the earlier discussion on ‘Barrackstream' which was recorded as the home address of many boys in St Patrick's School even though the name does not appear on any map that I have seen.

Margaret Penny, in her 1913 letter, wrote that she was born at 221 Golden's Cross, Old Youghal Road. Two years earlier, i n the 1911 Census of England, her place of birth is recorded as ‘Ashburton Hill, Cork, Ireland'. Now there is an ‘Ashburton Hill' marked on all the three online OSI maps - just off Gardiner's Hill.


Given what we know about #270 OYR and Margaret's mentioning OYR, I'm more inclined to think that she meant she lived on the hill (from the Barracks Cross) up towards Ashburton i.e. she lived on the Ashburton hill, not on Ashburton Hill.

From #215/221 to Dillon's Cross the road falls gradually; from Dillon's Cross to the junction with Gardiner's Hill (and Gordon's Hill), Old Youghal Road rises quite steeply.

I can't explain the directory entries for 215/216/220/221/224 - perhaps the Cotters moved several times, but the pattern makes no sense to me.

Evidence that suggests that Gordon's Cross is east of Dillon's Cross:

When I found the Cotter/Gordon's Cross baptisms (1841 & 1844), I noticed several other baptisms where Gordon's Cross was the address recorded. Time didn't allow detailed recording, but I noted a few of the father's names in the hope that they might be listed in Griffith (1852).

These were: Daniel Halahan, Isaac Love, Daniel Stanton, Jeremiah Lynch, James Shea

The standout name here has to be Isaac Love. Love is a relatively uncommon surname in Ireland - also only about 10% of the surname (in the 1901 census) are Catholic. Griffith records that Isaac Love has a house and yard at #24 Gardiner's Hill (also listed as Cambridge Place) which is near the ‘Ashburton Hill' triangle (nowadays the triangle boasts a little grass patch with some shading trees and flowers). Laing's directory of 1863 also lists “Isaac Love, carowner, Ashburton”.

Ashburton is the name used for the area along the top section of Gardiner's Hill before it meets Old Youghal Road.

I had no luck with the other names - if they were from the area and still living there, they may have been ordinary working-men whose name would not appear in a business/trades directory.

Griffith - whose list would have been compiled 8/10 years later (than the baptisms where the priest entered ‘Gordon's Cross' as address) - has several Stauntons (both spellings are used in Cork) in the area: Thomas Staunton at 288 OYR, Michael Staunton at 43 Gardiner's Hill, and Margaret Staunton at 4 Goulding's Lane (near Dillon's Cross) but has no Daniel. Daniel could be related to any of these but only the householder's name appears - or he could have died - or moved away - or .. or ..

Finally, I looked at the sponsors of the Cotter/Mahony children, and searched for their names in Griffith - not very optimistically as many sponsors are younger people who are not necessarily heads of households.

A Denis Twomey (sponsor of Margaret Cotter, 1844) rents a house and yard at #273 Old Youghal Road (3 doors from John Cotter).

Another Denis Twomy has a house at #35 Gardiner's Hill.


Daniel Scully sponsors Catherine Cotter (1837) and Margaret Scully sponsors John Cotter (1841):

A Daniel Scully is listed in Griffith as renting #11 Gardiner's Hill (a few steps from what I think is Gordon's Cross).


A Richard Casey is sponsor of John Cotter, baptised 26/12/1841: Griffiths lists two Richard Caseys in the area

a. Richard Casey, #79 Elmgrove, Ballyhooly Road rents a house and yard: Elmgrove is the bottom of Gordon's Hill.

b. Richard Casey, #301 Old Youghal Road (near Betty's Lane) has a house and 21 acres with 7 others renting houses from him - he is less likely to be the sponsor - further away and also a man of some property.


Denis Lenihan is recorded as sponsor of Mary Cotter in 1839: a Denis Lenihan is listed in Griffith as tenant of a house with 3½ acres at 96 OYR which is about 6 houses further up the hill across the street from #270.

All the above five live near Ashburton/Gardiner's Hill on the east side of Dillon's Cross with no link found to the west (Barracks) side (#215/221/224) - they may not be the right people and they're only minor clues but that's all I can find.

It's also worth noting that Griffith only names people who have a one-year (or more) lease on a property: houses let for shorter periods often have the word ‘lodgers' affixed to the name of the lessee, but the actual occupants are not named.

The approximate locations of the names found (1 other ‘Gordon's Cross' baptism; 4 Cotter sponsor names):


The red line shows #215-224 OYR; the orange line shows approximately where #270 is/was.

Taking all the above, I think that Gordon's Cross may be the ‘eastern' cross marked above - at the top of (the very steep) Gordon's Lane [modern Gordon's Hill].


In Cork there are many examples of streets named after the great and the good and the famous - some of whom have been forgotten. MacCurtain Street is named after a Republican Lord Mayor who was shot by the British in 1920, Alexandra Road near St Luke's commemorates Princess Alexandra, Millerd St recalls a former city councillor and Mayor - we even have a Washington St

But many ‘lanes' such as Gordon's Lane tend to be named after local inhabitants, or the business that was conducted there, or the next town: Shandon St was once known as Mallow Lane.

In the Ballinamought area which was predominantly rural up to the mid-20 th century, there is a good chance Gordon's Lane was named for a farmer called Gordon who lived there - so I looked:

Sir John Gordon, surgeon and apothecary, carried on a pharmacy business at 31 St Patrick St, and was Mayor of Cork in 1855; his name is listed again and again in directories - I don't think it was him.

I found a single reference to John Gordon on a list of men in 1838 who were newly eligible to vote because they leased property costing more than £10 per year: John Gordon's property was on Old Youghal Road (no number). He might (or might not) be the origin of the name.



Given the scarcity of records in Ireland, you can rarely be certain that you have found the right people once you go back beyond 1864. However, on the available evidence, I think it likely that John Keating is right and that the Cotter/Mahony family are ‘your' people:


- the father John Cotter is a smith at #270 Old Youghal Road (GV 1852, Laing's directory 1863)

- his wife is the former Mary Mahony

- they have had (at least) five children - Catherine 1837, Mary 1839, John 1841, Margaret 1844 and Anne 1846

- the 1841 birthdate would make John 26 years old on marriage as his 1868 marriage certificate says

- Margaret marries in 1865 - her father John is a smith

- William, baptised in the North Cathedral in 1835, could also be theirs

Google's Yellow Man on tour:

These are ‘snips' taken from Google Maps'Streetview' - which see


 Looking up the hill towards Ashburton

The grey house is the current #270

(Larger Image)

This is Dillon's Cross over 100 years ago, the exact date is not known. No. 270 Old Youghal Rd is about 13 houses to the right of the picture, the house being roughly in the position of the distant 'pole'.

Ths tin shed appears to be where the (left) ‘smithy' was in 1900.

Unusual - only one around. I often passed that way and never noticed it.