Eoin Ryan and Elaine Boyne in Ballymore.

Reeling back the years as Rooneys hold a reunion

When 25-year-old Laurence Rooney and 18-year-old Margaret Geraghty got married in Ballymore in 1866, little is it likely that they envisaged the day when their descendants would number close to a thousand.

That day has, however, arrived: an updated version of the extensive family tree was unveiled at a reunion in Ballymore, and according to the family, including now-deceased people, around an estimated 900 direct descendants have been born to the couple.

Approximately 120 people gathered at Cunningham’s pub in Ballymore for the Rooney family reunion.

The family remains very much a Westmeath family, with members in Mullingar, Athlone, Moate, Ballymore, and Moyvoughley – but there are also strong branches in Canada, the USA, Australia and Argentina, some still bearing the Rooney surname.

Among those who travelled farthest for the event were Patricia Ryan, who came from Argentina, and Susan Walsh, who came from Scotland, but there was also representation from Cork, Dublin and Monaghan as well as from across Westmeath and Longford,

The descendants of Laurence Rooney and Margaret Geraghty are now seven generations down, meaning that at this stage, some of the couple’s youngest descendants are actually fifth cousins of each other.

Largely however, those present were within the third cousin range or closer.

While the focus was on the descendants of Laurence Rooney and Margaret Geraghty, research by family member Paul Rooney takes the line back two further generations, to the 1700s.

Also credited with research on the early generations is genealogist Helen Kelly, while Eilís Ryan coordinated the addition of the names of the more recent generations.

Over a meal prepared by Nicola O’Callaghan of SIP Café, Ballymore, family yarns were shared, old photographs copied, and a whole set of new friendships formed.

Research on the family tree is ongoing, and there are plans in hand to have a digital version available online in the future, plus, there are hopes that there can perhaps be a website via which members can upload and share photographs and other family details and information.