A tribute to my Irish Ancestors

According to my Ethnicity Estimate on my DNA test, I am about 25% Irish. We know my Great-Grandfather, Andrew Kelley, and his father Michael Kelly, immigrated from Ireland around 1867.  What is surprising, however, is that my mom showed up as 35% Irish.

Danas ethnicity estimate2

On my mom’s side we know for sure my 3rd great-grandmother, Catherine Lawson Clifford was born in Donegal, Ireland. (She would account for about 6 1/4% of mom’s Irish.)

Her father, James Lawson, also born in Donegal, Ireland, was thought to have been the Captain of a merchant ship (Grace) which is said to have figured prominently in numerous sea battles during the American Revolution. “The ship Grace was later purchased by the Fleming family (relationship to [his wife] Sarah Fleming Lawson unknown.)”

James Lawson ship Grace

He brought his wife and 11 children to the United States sometime around 1795, and settled in Fairfield Township, in Westmoreland County Pennsylvania. His daughter Catherine, was married to Thomas Clifford.

One source states:” James Barbour Lawson, came to America about 1775 from County Donegal, Ireland. The family name apparently was originally McLaren, but family tradition has always said the Lawsons were not originally from Ireland or Scotland, but from the Isle of Man…”

My 4th Great-grandfather, Edward Irwin, might also have come from Ireland. (That would account for another 3 1/8 % of mom’s Irish).


My Dad’s Grandfather, Andrew Alfred Kelley, was born in Kinnitty, Kings County (now Offaly), Ireland. He probably mostly grew up in Beigh/Beagh in Limerick, County. He was a poet and often wrote reminiscing about his native Ireland:

My Native Village


Michael KellyHis father, Michael Britt Kelly, was born in Bruff, Limerick County, Ireland. He was a schoolteacher and sometimes worked as a “Visiting Tutor.” He was knowledgeable in Latin and Greek, as is evident from writings in his bible. He also was aware of his Kelly heritage. There is a hand drawn sketch of a tower with the Kelly motto below: “Turris fortis mihi deus,” “God is my Tower of Strength.”

Kelly Coat of Arms

Here is the Parochial schoolhouse where he taught in Beigh, Limerick County in 1847:

From Google Street view.
From Google Street view.