Arrival of the Heenans

The first ancestor with the name of Heenan that I’ve been able to trace is my paternal great great grandfather Patrick Heenan who settled in the town of Rhymney. According to information provided on census returns, he came from Limerick county in Eire Exactly when he the first arrived in Rhymney or even in Wales is unclear however.

The first record I’ve been able to trace of him is in March 1868 when his son Patrick was baptised at St John’s Roman Catholic Church in Rhymney. The entry reads

Die 16 Martin 1868 baptizavi

Patricus Heennan filius Patricus et Helena Heenan (born) et die 16 Martin

Helena Heenan (olim OBrien)

conjugam a me Alfred Wilson (the priest)

Patrinus fuit: (godfather) Thomas  Brown

Matrina fuit: (godmother) Margaret  (Coghlam) surname could be Eaghlam

Patrick was about 23 years old at the time (though even this is questionable since he gave his age differently in each census return). His wife Ellen (or Helen) was a few years older  and came from the same part of Ireland.


Had they only recently arrived in Wales or had they been living somewhere else first?  There is no record of them in the 1861 census either in Rhymney or elsewhere in Wales or even England. It’s been impossible to discover their path because the Irish were not classed as immigrants and so were not recorded on any passenger logs. Popular routes were from Cork to Swansea or into Liverpool but that’s as far as I’ve been able to go. And the baptism records don’t give any indication of where they were living at the time – it may well have been with another Irish family of which there were a number in Rhymney.

It isn’t until the 1871 census that we get any real information. By then, they are living at Upper High Street, they have a second child – called Murial who is two years old. Patrick is an ironworker which is expected given that Rhymney was the location of the huge Bute ironworks which had opened in 1801.


10 thoughts on “Arrival of the Heenans

  1. The following is a copy of a letter from Dennis Heenan to his daughter Mary Fitzgerald in Australia. The Heenans and Fitzgeralds were neighbours at Carrigeen, Kilbehenny.

    Upper Coolattin
    November 19th 1876.
    My Dear Son & Daughter,

    I got your kind letter on the first day of November and I was very glad to hear that you were well in health but I was sorry to hear what happened to your husband Tom. We hope he will be soon well.

    I got the 2 pounds which John sent – I feel thankful to him for his kindness to me.

    I feel most thankful to you dear daughter for your kindness to me in remitting to me £4.

    Let me know how your brother Denis is in health and each of the other brothers – and all the friends and old neighbours.

    I was glad to hear that the Fitzgeralds’ were all well.

    Your brother Patrick, wife and children are well, but the rent was greatly increased by the agent and the potato crop is again blighted this year, so that your brother Patrick has nothing to spare to give me and he has a house full of young helpless children. He has too much to do to maintain them and pay the high rent without giving his father any help. He wrote a letter to one of the brothers last spring but got no answer.

    I am sorry to have to state here that your aunt Peg was buried last spring – pray for the repose of her soul.

    Aunt Mary and family are well – so are all the friends and neighbours.

    There is one thing now to which I would draw your attention, and that is to unite to place a headstone or tombstone at Brigown – for I know I have but a short time to live being now over 86 years of age, so that a little from each would help to do it.

    I would like to hear from your all again – remember me dear Mary to all my grandchildren and to each of your brothers and to their children and to all friends and relations as well as all our old neighbours.

    Hoping to hear from you all soon again I will bring my letter to a close by wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

    I am dear daughter,
    Your loving father
    Denis Heenan

    • Hello Ken, thanks for adding this info. I received a copy of this letter just recently from Pat Heenan in Kilbehenny. It’s fascinating info but whether this Denis is any relation to my great great grandfather Patrick Heenan is still unclear at the moment. What is your connection if you don’t mind me asking

  2. Hello I came across your blog by accident I was researching The link with Big Ben and Rhymney iron works for my grand children and was amazed because I am a great great grand daughter of Patrick and Ellen Heenan and am starting to make a family tree. Patrick’s daughter Mary Catherine was my great grandmother she married Jeremiah Woods their son Jeremiah was my grandfather his daughter Mary Catherine is my mother and her married name is Williams. I live in Rhymney.

    • Hello Theresa -how wonderful to hear from you especially since we seem to be related. Living in Rhymney you might know my parents because they had the cake shop in the main road for years (its the one almost opposite the Royal). I have some census documents which show your great grandmother. If you use the website you can find this in the trees i have created. maybe this link will work

      If not just ;et me know your email address

      • Great thanks my mother always shopped at “the cake shop” and I remember your parents well never once thought ther’d be a connection will tell my mother and my aunty Bet

    • Yes I did – I have a photo too. The ages given dont match other official documents though so its hard to pin down exactly when they were born. You wouldnt have any photos of Catherine or the family would you?

      • I do I have one of Mary with her 3 children Bridget (Bridgy) Thomas and my Grandfather Jeremiah. Her husband Jeremiah served in the welsh guards in South Africa and I have a photo of him I also have Patrick Heenans chair and other bits and bobs my mother said they always called him Fadder

  3. Pingback: Heenan research goals for 2018 – Heenan Footsteps

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s