Murphy’s and Sinnott’s of Glenbrien

My Murphy line starts with my grandmother Mona Veronica Murphy, whom I was named after, she was born in Australia in 1892. It was quite a surprise to me when I first started researching my family that both her parents were born in Australia as she would often say she was Irish, claiming Wexford and the Black North as her Irish origins. Her black north origins refer to her mothers side of the family, Cassidy’s from Fermanagh.

Her paternal grandfather James Murphy was the original Murphy emigrant from Glenbrien, Wexford, Ireland to arrive in Australia, his parents Maurice Murphy and Margaret (Peggy) Sinnott. James was a carpenter, he arrived in the colony as a bounty immigrant on the ‘Hope’ in 1842. Shortly after his arrival he married Elizabeth Kennedy (or Bateman) believed to be from Limerick, a mystery woman in her own right – a story for another time!

At the time of Griffith’s Valuation in about 1854, we believe James’ family still occupied two pieces of land in Glenbrien listed under Maurice Murphy. The first at Ballydonfin is now known as ‘The Old Post Office’,1 plus a small plot of grazing land just out of the village centre at Ballynastraw.

Following the valuation records for the Ballydonfin property (10b), the property changed hands over the years as follows:

  • 1854, Maurice Murphy (my 3rd great grandfather, m Sinnott);
  • 1859, Larry Murphy (son of Maurice, brother of James);
  • 1892, James Cosgrave (grandson of Maurice, nephew of Larry and James, son of their sister Mary Ann);
  • 1923, John O’Connor (nephew of James via his wife Mary Hayes but not a blood connection);2
  • 1970, Maggie O’Connor, nee Murphy (wife of John O’Connor).3

Following the valuation records for the Ballynastraw land (7), it changed hands over the years as follows:

  • 1854, Catherine Roche (7a) and Maurice Murphy (7b) ;4
  • 1877, Anthony Cleary (from Catherine Roche);
  • 1910, James Cleary (beneficiary of will of Anthony Cleary);
  • 1957, John Cleary (inherited from brother? James);
  • 1963, Patrick Nolan.

Finding my family with DNA

I am seeking to identify my Murphy family back in Ireland, though DNA. Do you know more about the families mentioned in this post? If you are connected to any of them (particularly if you have DNA tested, or are willing to test) I would love to hear from you. It’s the power of DNA that can help us breakthrough our brick walls! If you have ancestors from Wexford and have DNA tested, please join our project at Family TreeDNA.

You can view our Murphy family tree on Wikitree.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me via this blog or by private message via Ancestry, Wikitree or Facebook.



  1. Featured image, provided by F. O’Connor 2017, image late 1950’s.
  2. Research conversations with F. O’Connor 2017 advised John O’Connor was ‘not entitled’ and had to purchase the property when the Post Office was offered for sale as James Cosgrave had not left a will. A Mrs Hayes had been very interested in also purchasing the property but had been eventually outbid by John O’Connor, sale price was 40 pounds.
  3. Maggie Murphy was the first of her family to come to Glenbrien when she started working at the Post Office. Her family were not related to Maurice Murphy’s family, having originated from Glynn, Wexford.
  4. Griffith’s Valuation in 1854 indicates two occupants Catherine Roche (7a) and Maurice Murphy (7b), however later valuation record books only record 7a.