Descendants of David and Bridget Kennealy Ryan


The Ryan name is one of Ireland's most popular surnames. It ranks among the ten most common surnames in the country. Its earliest form was Mulryan, but by the 17th Century Ryans outnumbered Mulryans four-to-one, and in present day Ireland the form Mulryan is almost obsolete.

The original Gaelic sept was called O'Maoilrian, and like most Irish surnames it was formed by the addition of Mac (son of) or O (grandson of) to the name of the distinguished relative.

The corruption and Anglicization of Irish surnames occurred predominantly during the 17th Century, when the English overran the country. The language as well as the customs of Ireland were influenced by this invasion.

Englishmen, imported to act as clerks, inscribed the names of the Irish tenants on rental records. Sometimes they attempted to translate the Gaelic names into their English equivalents. Usually, however, they tried to write down the names phonetically.

Mulryan or Ryan is not a total deviation from the original O'Maoilrian.

Another tendency that occurred with the Anglicization of Irish surnames was the absorption of uncommon names in common ones. The small sept of O'Rian, located principally in County Carlow, is distinct from the sept of O'Maoilrian. Since the 17th Century, however, they too have been known as Ryans.

The principal sept of O'Maoilrian did not appear on the records of Limerick and Tipperary until the 14th Century. They settled there and later became very powerful. It is in these two counties that the Ryan surname is numerous today.

From The Ryan Book by Frances Ryan Lamphere


David Ryan and Brigid Kennealy were married in the Chuch of Saints Peter and Paul, Bruff, according to the Rite of the Catholic Church, on the 31st day of October, 1824. The Witnesses were John O'Brien and Michael Kennealy. Certificate of marriage, Parish of Bruff, Diocese of Limerick.


The story goes that David came to America in 1838 but there is no record of him in New York State to prove that out. The story also goes that Bridget died shortly after their arrival in America because she had not fully recovered from her last childbirth. Since so many Irish people went to Canada first before they came into the United States I believe that David and his family were among that group and that Bridget died in Canada.

Our next record of David is in the Town of Perinton, Monroe County, New York, on June 25, 1855, and he is listed as being widowed and being in the country four years.

There is no mention of David in the 1860 Census for Perinton, or in Michigan where his son lived. In the 1865 Census he is listed as David Ryan, 58, born Ireland. Six children. Twice married, farmer, owner of land. Cannot read or write. Alien. Listed with him: Ellen C., wife, 43, born in Ireland. Four children. Twice married. Alien.

David was naturalized in 1866. He is listed in the Census records of the First District of Perinton for 1870, 1875, and 1880. He died on December 31, 1882. The record shows he was 80 years old, and was buried in the "Catholic Cemetary." His second wife Ellen died the following spring on May 24, 1883, and was buried in the same place. The "Catholic Cemetery" is probably Saint Mary's in Fairport, NY, but there are no markers to show where their graves are.

From The Ryan Book by Frances Ryan Lamphere

© Jack Herlocker 2015