Killernan Graveyard, Kilmurry-Ibrickane Parish, County Clare, Ireland

Killernan Graveyard, Kilmurry-Ibrickane Parish, County Clare, Ireland

The Sexton's of Knockanalban, Kilmurry-Ibrickane Parish, County Clare, Ireland

Sexton family of Knockanalban,

County Clare, Ireland

Former Sexton homes at Ahey Bridge, Knockanalban, County Clare, Ireland

I have studied the Sexton family of Knockanalban for a number of years trying to sort out the numerous Sexton families.   My interest with the Sexton family in Knockanalban is that my great grandmother, MARY SEXTON 1802-1854 was married to John O'Halloran and raised a large family in Knockanalban.  The baptism, gravestone, marriage, death, of the Halloran family list their residence as KNOCKANALBAN, AHY BRIDGE, MT SCOT or KNOCKNAGERAGH.  All these descriptive place names refer to the land at the south west corner of Any Bridge or North East corner of Knockanalban Townland.  Near this area the townlands of Kildimo, Knockanalban and Killernan meet.  This is near the intersection of four Ordnance Survey Maps 30, 31, 38, & 39.

1826 Tithe Applotment Books

The earliest record that can be examined is the 1826 Tithe Applotment Books for the Townland of “Mount Scot otherwise Knockanalban”.  This document lists the Denominations and Occupiers living in the townland paying a tax to the protestant church in Ireland. 

The Tithe Applotment Books is sometimes referred to as a “census substitute”.  The only available census records for this area are 1901 and 1911.

In the Tithe Applotment Record of 4 June 1826, I find listed John Halloran, 18 acres, Daniel Sexton 18 acres and Thomas Sexton 18 acres.  This 1826 document is hand written and also records the subdivisions of land in the Knockanalban townland.  John Halloran, Daniel Sexton and Thomas Sexton are all listed as residing in the Knocknageragh section of Knockanalban.  In 1826 there are only two Sexton families living in Knockanalban.  Another edition of the Tithe Applotments for 23 April 1834 is on a printed form with the occupier’s names and denominations written in.  Here John Halloran, 29 acres, Daniel Sexton 29 acres and Thomas Sexton 29 acres are listed.  I don’t understand the difference in acreage but this does tell me that they have equal acreage in this townland and they were still living in April 1834. 

Now, I suspect that John Halloran is the brother-in-law of Daniel Sexton and Thomas Sexton and the reason that John has equal acreage with the Daniel and Thomas is John Halloran married into the Sexton farm with his, wife, Mary Sexton’s equal share. 

There is an old story that the Senior Sexton elder was upset that his son would not return from Australia to take over the farm and he divided the land up amongst his heirs and he didn’t leave any adjoining fields.  He cursed the family to have troubles as long as the Sextons were living on this land.  If you look at the color map attached you will see how each Sexton family‘s fields are separated by other fields making it difficult to conduct business on a farm.

In Killernan Graveyard where the Sexton and Halloran families are buried; there are two grave stones to help support my theory.




The first inscription is from the Halloran family vault and lists a very specific area in Knockanalban townland names “Knocknageragh” as the residence of John Halloran and his wife, Mary Sexton.  This is the same as the Tithe Applotment Books of 1826.

The second inscription list son, John Sexton erecting the monument to his father Thomas Sexton and brother, Daniel Sexton. 

I am now assuming that Daniel Sexton, Thomas Sexton and Mary Sexton (wife of John Halloran) are all siblings.  There is another sister in this family that is known to this researcher.  My grandfather’s sister, Bridget O’Brien b 1870 of Killernan married John Cahill b 1853 of Frehane, Knockanalban in Elmira, NY in 1906.  There was a dispensation for this marriage because John Cahill’s grandmother was a sister, to Mary Sexton grandmother of Bridget O’Brien.  John Cahill’s mother was Catherine Darcy of Bonavilla.  She was married to Michael Cahill of Frehane Knockanalban.  Catherine Darcy’s father was Luke Darcy of Bonavilla and his wife, ? Sexton.  I do not know her first name.   I did ask Moira Darcy Sexton 1919 – 1907 of Bonavilla and she related the same story that was told to me in Buffalo, NY by my Uncle John O’Brien but she did not know the name first name of Luke Darcy's wife.   Bridget O’Brien and John Cahill were second cousins and married.

Examining the 4 June 1826 Tithe Applotment books again I find”widow (Luke) Darcy” as occupier in Bonavilla.  This should be a sister of Mary, Daniel and Thomas Sexton of Ahy Bridge.  Does anyone know her first name?


The next available land record that would help me with the Sexton family investigation is the Griffith Valuation of 1856.  This was the tenement survey which valued individual property separately for the first time and which also valued all buildings in the townland for the first time.   

This is also a few years after the Irish Famine where the Irish population was cut in half by starvation and immigration.   Farms were consolidated and it is believed that Daniel Sexton died in 1835, Mary Sexton Halloran died in 1852 and Thomas is absent from the 1856 Griffith Valuation probably dead and his widow is on the property.

After the printing of the Griffith Valuation Books in 1856 in County Clare the property registry was kept in the Griffiths Revision Books.  These were hand written and included the names and dates of property transfers.  This is very helpful in sorting out the Sexton family in Knockanalban.  Here we find in many cases the next generation of Sextons. 

In the 1856 Griffith Valuation in Lot #29 Ann Sexton held about 12 acres. 

On #29 there were four houses. (These are on the Map)

·         House 29a was Anne Sexton

·         House 29 b was Michael Sexton (Daniel);

·         House 29 c was John Sexton (Tom)

·         House 29 d was Catherine Sexton.  Anne Sexton held Lot # 27 & 28.

Griffith’s Valuation Revision Books
Between 1858 – 1860 some houses changed hands.

·         Anne Sexton was removed (died) and Michael Halloran held Lot #28 and the House 29A.  He married Joanne Sexton daughter of Anne Sexton.  Michael Halloran was the neighbor and son of John Halloran and Mary Sexton.  They would have been cousins when they married.  Patrick would be a son of Anne and Daniel Sexton of the 1826 Tithe Books.   Michael Halloran was living in house #24 in 1901 and house #22 in 1911.  The house was turned over to son-in-law Terrence Hehir of Miltown Malbay in 1903.

·         Patrick Sexton (Daniel) held Lot 29 where all the Sexton houses were.  In 1874 Patrick Sexton left the home to his wife, Catherine Darcy Sexton.  .  This house was turned over to Peter Droney in 1877  .    Peter Droney married the widow of Patrick Sexton, Catherine Darcy Sexton on 22 Sept 1874.  This was House #22 in 1901 Census and house #24 in the 1911 Census.  After this time the house was sold to Margaret Bracken in 1925 and then to James Bracken in 1930.

·         Catherine Sexton who lived in House 29d was removed (died) and her son, Michael Sexton (Tom) held her house 29d and her other properties of #22, 23, 24, 25, 26.   Catherine would be the wife of Thomas Sexton of the 1826 Tithe Books. 

·         Michael Sexton (Daniel) was still in House 29b and had Lots 30, 31 & 32.    Michael Sexton was married to Catherine Cahill of Frehane.  Michael was listed as deceased on his daughter, Bridget Sexton marriage record in 1891 when she married Michael (Brogan) O'Brien of Killernan.   He held the house until 1892 and James Carmody and wife Phyllis took the house over.  They were living in this house in the 1901 and 1911 census.
·         John Sexton (Tom) was still in House 29c and had Lots # 18, 19, 20 & 21.   John Sexton died circa 1863 and wife Mary O’Connor Sexton inherited the property.  This house then went to son Thomas Sexton in 1886 and wife Nora Vaughan and in the 1901 Census house # 23 and the 1911 Census House # 23.

·         Michael Sexton (Frank) holds Lot # 39 and House.  Michael Sexton was married to Mary Walsh.  Michael Sexton died circa 1876 and Mary Walsh Sexton inherited the farm.  Thier son, David inherited the farm in 1882.  He was married to Margaret Curtin and they were living in 1901 Census House 29 and 1911 House 19.  After David son, Patrick Sexton held farm and his wife was Catherine Crowe.  This is the grave stone inscription referred to earlier in the blog.

·         John Halloran holds  Lots 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38 with a house at 38 a for himself and two laborers cottages were his son-in-law, John Power lives with his wife Bridget Halloran Power.  The other cottage is  Peter Meade and John Halloran and Patrick Sexton (Daniel) are the Immediate Lessors.  John Power and family had an assisted immigration to Australia with his wife and 3 daughters in Dec 1857.  John Halloran’s son, John Halloran took over farm after marrying Bridget Curtin of Leeds, Miltown Malbay.  He died young circa 1875 and left 4 children.  They went to Australia.  Bridget remarried Tom Griffin and had two more kids who ended up with the farm and never married and worked as servants in the area for Master Gorman.

·         Thomas Sexton (Frank) is in Lot 47 which is on the other end of Knockanalban in an area called “Frehane”.  They live near the Cahill and O’Brien family.  This is Thomas Sexton and Joanne Anglim’s family.  Their son, Thomas Sexton received the farm in 1876. (“Thomas Sexton, Junior” was listed in the Griffith Valuation Revision Books) Thomas Sexton Jr. and wife Mary Mealy were living in 1901 Census house 42.  They are not there in 1911 but Thomas did apply for Old age Pension in 1917.  The application said he was living on Main St, Miltown Malbay, County Clare.

In 1915 Patrick King took over farm from Thomas Sexton Jr. Patrick King married the daughter of Thomas Sexton Jr. and Bridget Sexton.  They were Residents of a house 1 in Knockanalban (Annagh, Clare) 1911 Census.

·         Patrick Sexton (Tom) holds Lot # 58 in the Mt Scott Village area. Wife was Mary Moroney. In the 1901 Census house is # 12.  1911 Census house is # 33.  Also in the house are son, John Sexton and family and next door in 1901 house 10 are son, Daniel and family and 1911 house 34.  This house was turned over to John Sexton in 1901.  There are Sexton Families still living there in 2012.

·         Michael Sexton (Daniel) lived in House 29b. He held the house until 1892 and James Carmody and wife Phyllis took the house over.   This may have been the end of the family of Daniel Sexton.  Mary Sexton married John Halloran.  Patrick Sexton’s farm went over to the Droney’s and Michael’s to the Carmody’s.

9 Feb 1898, Phyllis Looney Remarried to James Carmody and the farm was in the name of James Carmody in 1898.


  1. We are O'Briens from Quartermyre Knockanalban. We are related. Too late now but please get back to me.
    Brendan O'Brien

  2. Hi Brendan .. I've just found out that I too am related to the Sextons. My forebear was Honara (Honor) Sexton who migrated to Australia. Ann Morrison contacted me with this information and I am very grateful that she did this. Honara was on my 'maybe' list but I was never too sure but Ann put paid to all that. Just thought you may be interested in another long lost relative in the Sexton clan.

    Warm Regards
    Robyn Koszyk

  3. My Sexton family came from Ireland in the late 1700's to the U.S. to Connecticut, Alabama, the Houston, Texas. We have plans for a trip to Ireland in the near future and hope to find more family background.
    Johnny Sexton, Conroe, Texas

  4. My Sexton family came from Ireland in the late 1700's to the U.S. to Connecticut, Alabama, the Houston, Texas. We have plans for a trip to Ireland in the near future and hope to find more family background.
    Johnny Sexton, Conroe, Texas

  5. Johnny, have you any idea where in Ireland your ancestors came from. While west Clare has many Sextons there are pockets of them elsewhere in the country. It would be good if you got your DNA done and could compare with our Sextons in West Clare. Please read Sexton DNA by Peter McKay. Teresa Sexton

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  7. Hi there,

    Greetings from the Sextons of Castlehaven in west Cork (mostly from the townlands of Scobbaun and Toehead). I really enjoyed looking through your site. We have done quite a bit of research into 'our' Sextons including DNA testing and have traced our own families back to a common ancestor who lived in the mid 1700s. I would love to know whether we all share a relatively recent common ancestry. There are also groups of Sexton families around Timoleague in west Cork and in the Donoghmore areas of mid Cork and of course larger groups in Limerick and Clare. Any thoughts on how they might be linked and on how they became so scattered around Munster? My research shows that the Sextons (Ó Seasnáin) are thought to be originally a sept of the O'Briens from Thomand. That explains a lot about the Clare Sextons but very little about the Cork ones! And did you know that there are also Sextons in Cavan and that in some parts of Cavan the name Sexton has been anglicised as Tackney. All these Sextons are believed to be of native Gaelic origin and, as far as I can ascertain, even the Sextons who became Mayors of Limerick were originally of native stock.
    I'd love to hear from anyone who knows more about possible links at the 'macro' level.
    Thanks, Michael Sexton, Cork