In Ireland, the Gaelic surname O Griobhta or O’Griffy has been virtually replaced by the anglicised version Griffin. It is a relatively common name in Ireland today, with the highest concentration of Griffins being found in Counties Clare, Cork, Kerry and Limerick. A few Irish Griffins, however, descend from a Welsh family which settled there shortly after the Anglo-Norman invasion.
John Griffin, a farmer, married Mary McCann in Kilmovee, Mayo on 2 March 1840. The couple had one known child:
After his first wife's death, John married Bridget Kerins in Kilmovee on 13 February 1859.
Michael Griffin was born in Leveelick, Kilmovee in 1847, and married Mary Ann Caulfield on 18 February 1872. Mary Ann was born in Rusheens, Kilmovee on 20 December 1849, and was the daughter of John Caulfield and Honor Horan. Michael and Mary Ann had nine children:
m. Mary Ann Gregory, 1898
During the Great Famine of 1845-1850 in Ireland, when the potato crop on which a third of the population depended for survival was ravaged by disease, the Irish started to leave the country in large numbers. The majority flocked to England and the United States, and in the decades following the famine, many of their compatriots followed them, including - according to family tradition - the entire generation of Kilmovee Griffins.
The 1901 census of Ireland shows Michael and Mary in Kilmovee with just two of their children: Catherine and John, as well as Michael's step-mother Bridget. Their oldest son Thomas had left Ireland as a teenager, and was working in England by 1891; all the other surviving children are reputed to have emigrated to the United States.
Michael died in Kilmovee on 11 April 1923 and Mary Ann on 31 August 1928.
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