Cavan's Migratory Mulligans

The Mulligans of County Cavan, in common with many Irish families, have a long history of migration, within Ireland and further afield.

John, Joseph and Francis are known to have migrated to Canada in the late 1830s. James remained in Ireland to run the family farm of Regaskin. He died in February 1847. After James’ death Francis returned from Canada and took over running the family farm. In May 1847, Francis married Sophia Humphrys, and together they had eleven children.

In 1821 a Thomas Mulligan with his wife and children - John, Phoebe, Eliza, Sarah, Thomas, James and Nathaniel emigrated to Canada. It is believed that Thomas was a cousin of ‘Old Joe’. Again, in 1822, William, James, John and Thomas Mulligan, sons of William Mulligan, Regaskin, migrated to Canada. This William was a brother of ‘Old Joe’.

In the churchyard at Ballyhaise there is flat tombstone which reads "William Mulligan, Regaskin, died 1812 aged 29 years". Further, church records refer to a Joshua Mulligan who came to Cavan via Hope Township, Canada, in 1826. Joshua had eleven children.

Again in the early 1820s there were other Mulligans attending Ballyhaise Church: Arthur, Richard, and Stewart. All were married men with families, who must have all emigrated as there are now none of their descendants living in the area.

Wallace Mulligan, a Canadian descendant of the Cavan Mulligans, believes

that the three brothers that arrived in the Ottawa Valley of Quebec came from Ireland at a sad and stressful time in family life and in Irish history. They were young and adventurous; they held great hopes for their new life in Canada ...

I believe they were so occupied with getting on with their new lives and opportunities there was little time to keep up with developments in Ireland. Yet, ... some contact had been maintained.

Wallace further learned that

Three young brothers ... walked through the bush from Ottawa to Shawville, Quebec near Campbell’s Bay.

Wallace has been able to trace the cemetery in which are buried John and Joseph Mulligan (Wallace’s grandfather and great great grandfather respectively). It has been restored and today may be visited. It is along a road called Craig’s Line, in the Campbell’s Bay area of Quebec.

Clearly, however, the farm was not sufficient to meet the long-term needs of a large family. As mentioned earlier, Francis married Sophia Humphrys, in May 1847, and together they had eleven children, including James and Margaret, who migrated to New Zealand.

According to George Milligan, James’ nephew, Humphrys, visited New Zealand for a period of about 7 years, and tried to persuade Margaret to visit Ireland. She refused because of her fear of shipwreck. Humphrys returned to Ireland, and, some time later, he and Joseph’s son George, were all set to go to New Zealand when George’s brother William took seriously ill. The trip was called off, never to occur.

During World War One, three New Zealand Mulligan brothers (George, Alexander, and Edwin) visited Regaskin. George’s son, Ronald, also visited after the end of World War Two in 1945, and again in 1960.