The History of 8 Families

The McTernan / McTiernan Family

From 1703 on

Currently there are over thirty McTiernan / McTernan families that are researching their family history in the County Leitrim general area. Most of the thirty McTiernans are from the north west area of Connaght in County Leitrim, Ireland. We share any information we find to hopefully establish a link thereby increasing the historical information for each family.

My McTiernan family is from the Townland of Sheskin, Killargue five miles from the town of Drumahaire in North Leitrim. My family's first American immigrant was my grandfather, Hugh McTiernan, 1779--1946. Hugh and his wife, Anne McGrael were married at the chapel of Killargue, County Leitrim in 1895, coming to America in June of that same year.

Hugh's brother, Michael left in the 1890's to land in New Farm, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Patrick, the youngest sibling left around the turn of the century to fight for the British Army in one of their many far flung wars somewhere in the Empire. He died in the British army according to verbal family history but exactly where, when or how is still unknown. John the remaining brother stayed in Ireland. His daughters married brothers by the name of Flynn. They settled in the Coventry area of England after the Second Great World War. Hugh, the son of John McTienan the sibling that stayed in Ireland still farms Sheskin today.

The family's earliest known McTernan was Hugh McTernan I, 1708--1781 born in the Townland of Sheskin. There are over eight McTernan ancestors with the name of Hugh. This required Roman numerals for each name to tell them apart. Hugh I is buried at the foot of the High Altar in the Abbey of Creevelea which is located next to the Bonett River near the town of Drumahaire. The Abbey of Creevelea was the family chapel of the O'Rourkes, historical Kings of Drumahaire. Irish folk history states that MacTiernan's were sub chiefs to the O'Rourkes. Exactly why the earliest known McTiernan from Sheskin was buried at the foot of the High Altar , one of only four graves in the main altar room of the chapel is unknown. The earliest gravestone at the Abbey is for a Hugh O'Rourke and Catherine McTernan, buried on August 22, 1721. Our McTernan gravestone reads:

"Hugh McTernan, died March 17, 1781, at 73 years of age. This gravestone put here by his loving son, Hugh"

So, the second known McTernan ancestor from Sheskin was also named Hugh. Most of the recent McTiernan's from Sheskin have been laid to rest under the same large flat gravestone at the Abbey. The Abbey of Creevelea has two additional graves sites for McTernan's outside of the main chapel room which appear to be for the same McTernan family that was from Mount Allen, Mountallen townland, Kilronan parish, Barony of Boyle, Co Roscommon, [PO is Drumshambo, Co Leitrim]. The connection to the McTernan family from Sheskin is likely but as yet unknown. The inscriptions read:

"This Monument was erected in the memory of Charles McTernan, by his father, Hugh McTernan of Mount Allen, (Co. Roscommon) July 1829."

"Pray for the soul of Hugh McTernan, Esq. of Mount Allen, born c. 1760, who departed this life June 9, 1832, aged 72. Also, his five sons: Hugh, Bryan, Charles, John and Francis McTernan, all of whom died young."

A McTernan linked to our Sheskin line is Rev. Stephen McTernan, 1811--1906. He was made a member of the Royal Irish Academy for his work on Irish history. Rev. Stephen McTernan's "Copybook" is key in that it will most likely detail the information on all the McTernan's living in County Leitrim. Rev. Stephen, born in Sheskin started writing in his copybook when he was about 10 years old. So far, it is still a mystery as to where it is located. Rev. Stephen McTernan's family is buried in the old cemetery behind the Chapel of Killargue in the village of the same name.

Besides Rev. Stephen McTernan, 1811--1906, several of the McTernan descendents in the Sheskin line were Knighted or received honors from the British Empire. Sir Edward McTiernan, 1892--1990, was a Justice on the High Court of Australia. Marie Blake, nee Watson, 1927--1993, whose mother was Maisey McTiernan, was awarded the Order of Australia and the OBE. Maisey organized General MacAurthur's staff during his stay in Brisbane before returning to the Philippines. Maisey used to fly with the General and his staff to New Guinea.

Hugh McTernan VI, 1866--1944, left for America in 1895. Michael McTiernan emigrated before 1892 settling in New Farm, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Patrick McTiernan joined the British army at the turn of the last century and was never heard from again. John McTiernan, 1874--1949, remained in County Leitrim, Ireland to farm the townland of Sheskin. The descendents of the first Hugh McTiernan, 1708--1781, live in America, Australia, England and Ireland.

The McTernan searchers number about 30.

The key is Rev. Stephen McTernan's "Copybook", a life long journal on many McTiernan's in the County Leitrim general area.

The 60 page history of the McTernans from Sheskin.

In the 1860's Captain McTernan carried out a mining trial in one of his land holdings by the name of Clerhanmore in Ballinaglera Catholic parish. The coal was of poor quality and when peat production increased this mine was closed.

Captain McTernan, was mentioned by Ellen Flynn, nee McTernan, 1919--1989, and is also noted in the 1880 dispute called the Land League of Leitrim. Seems as though Captain McTernan offered 6/8 discount on the land rents and the rest of the Leitrim landlords were offering 2/4 discount to the starving farmers. He also had an estate in Heapstown, Co. Sligo and Mount Allen, Co. Roscommon. More info on the Mt Allen and Heapstown McTernan family.

Additional names without a confirmed connection to the Sheskin McTernan or McGreal families are;

  • Nora McKernan
  • McWorthy
  • Judge
  • McHugh, a name mentioned by Anne McTiernan, nee McGreal was a local person in Leitrim Co. near her home. He was the P.A. McHugh that was the editor of the "Sligo Champion" and the person that was very active with the Nationalist Movement along with Bernard McTernan. Both were against Charles Dolan at the time.
  • The McNiff family must have had the best looking girls in Co. Leitrim. There are three McNiff women that married into the McTernan and McGreal families.
  • Anne McNiff, on July 20, 1835, married Peter McTernan, <1815--, and had a son named Hugh. (Peter's connection to the descendents of Hugh McTernan (I) is not confirmed.)
  • Bridget McNiff, married Thomas Byrne sometime before 1837. Thomas Byrne may have been the father of Mary Byrne, the wife of Bartley McGreal Jr.
  • Mary McNiff, married Patrick McTernan on February 20, 1835. Patrick McTernan was the son of Hugh McTernan (III) and the uncle of Hugh (V)

Below is a list of McTernan's and McGreals that were on the branches of the Irish National League in North Leitrim.

  1. Drumkeeran (March 1887): Hugh McTernan, Stephen McGrail, C. McTernan
  2. Killenummery (Jan 1889): Geoffrey McTiernan
  3. Creevelea (Dec 1887): P. McTernan

A list of subscribers for the Drumahaire St. Patrick's Church fund circa 1890 were:

  1. James McTernan, Doonkelly, Drumlease parish.
  2. John McTernan, Moreagh, Drumlease parish.
  3. Owen McTernan, Fawnarry, Drumlease parish.
  4. John McTernan, Gortnaskeagh, Drumlease parish.
  5. Michael McTenan Sr., Gleneige, Drumlease parish.
  6. Michael McTenan Jr., Gleneige, Drumlease parish.
  7. Pat McTernan, Gleneige, Drumlease parish.
  8. James McTernan, Gleneige, Drumlease parish.
  9. Owen Carney, Cloonaquin, Cloonlogher parish.
  10. Michael Carney, Corrigeencor
  11. Thomas McTernan, Fawn, Drumlease parish.
  12. Mr. McGrail, Merchant, Drumkeeran, Inishmagrath parish.
  13. Miss McTernan, New York, N.Y. USA
  14. Miss McTernan, Cork


Michael McTiernan

N40 03' 09.4"
W75 24' 14.1"

Email: michael@mctiernan.com

Return to the beginning