There are some surprising records online these days. You can look at dog licenses. A dog license had to be renewed every year. This provides some way of tracking people. The normal caveat applies: absence of information does not imply information about absence, merely that information may have disappeared.
Some court records have been published. Familiar names appear. Some examples are covered in other blogs. The electoral rolls are another source of information. The franchise was gradually extended. Even after an Act passed in 1884, estimates put the number of men over 21 on the register at little more than 50%.
When records from Ireland started to be published, it appeared that deaths were almost non-existent. That has been corrected subsequently. The Family Search website has three records of the death of a man called John Stanley in Roscommon that are of interest.
- On 13th February 1898, John Stanley died of exposure to cold in the townland of Islands. He was a retired coachman and a widower. His age was given as 84 (born about 1814).
- On 26th March 1900, John Stanley of Islands, died aged 64 (born about 1835). The death was reported by his son William.
- In late February 1898 (either 23rd or 25th) John Stanley, a labourer of Cloonenbane died aged 77 (born in 1821). The informant was his wife Bridget.
By far the best fit is the third one. The location, occupation and name of his wife are correct. As stated elsewhere, ages are notoriously variable. My great grandfather did not, as far as I am aware, have a son called William. Furthermore, he was not a coachman, he was a labourer.
There are two townlands called Islands: Islands Upper and Islands Lower. They are about three miles to the south west of Cloonenbane, straddling the railway line. Their proximity makes further investigation worthwhile.
(Graveyard at Lissagallan, about 1 mile east of Cloonenbane)