Sarah Palin, Knockhall, Ballykilcline, Kilglass Parish, Co. Roscommon, Ireland, Family Roots?
A day after the U.S. vice-presidential candidates’ debate between Sarah Palin and Joseph Biden, The Irish Times announced that Sarah Palin may be able to trace her ancestors back to the pre-Famine era Co. Roscommon, Ireland.
According to a US based genealogist the maiden name of Alaskan Governor Palin’s mother is Sheeran. The ancestors of Sarah Palin were evicted from their Irish townland of Knockhall which is in the Barony of Ballintober North, Parish of Kilglass, Strokestown Poor Law Union, in County Roscommon. The Governor’s Roscommon ancestor was a Michael Sheiran or Sheeran, who crossed the Atlantic in 1844 and subsequently applied for U.S. citizenship on 12 September, 1855. His son, Michael James Sheeran, was born on 10 August 1852 in West Rutland, Vermont.
John Hamrock, the author of Tracing Your Roscommon Ancestors, a genealogist based in Ireland, believes that the work of the American genealogist, Mary Lee Dunn, is credible. Hamrock has explored further the origins of the Sheeran family by accessing the Griffith's Valuation land records which was a survey carried out in Co. Roscommon between 1855 and 1858 to determine the liability to pay tax called a 'Poor Rate'. It provides the name of the occupier (head of household only) of land and buildings in each townland. The following two pages are excerpts of the townland of Knockhall showing Sherwin and Sheeran families.
According to Edward MacLysaght's The Surnames of Ireland, the origins of the (O) Sheeran, Sheerin name are Gaelic in origin. Ó Sírín is a sept (or clan) of the Donegal-Fermanagh area whence the name has spread soutwards in Ireland. MacLysaght also goes on to say that Sherwin is a sometimes variant of Sharvin or Sharvan, i.e. Ó Searbháin, a Co. Roscommon sept now almost extinct there (searbh means bitter). Sherwin is also an English name well known in Ulster and Dublin.
For more information on Sarah Palin’s Roscommon Ancestors or to buy a copy of Tracing Your Roscommon Ancestors, contact John Hamrock at or visit his website at http://www.ancestor.ie.