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Reply from Marie Daly, Senior Genealogist.
Thank you for your query regarding John Francis Hayes and his birthplace in Ireland. John Hayes and his wife and children appear in Saint Johnsbury in the 1870 census, mis-transcribed by ancestry indexers as John Hayer. The 1870 census had a column to indicate citizenship status, and he is not checked off as a U.S. citizen. Naturalization petitions are a good sourcefor determining origin in Ireland. However, he did naturalize in 1880, and you can find him in the index to New England Naturalization Petitions on familysearch.org at https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-14739-60932-47?cc=1840474.However, the naturalization records for the US District Court in Burlington for that time period do not provide even the county of origin. In addition, he cannot be associated with other people of the same name in Caledonia County. He first shows up in the 1860 census, and is not listed in the 1850 census. There is a John Hayes in Caledonia in 1850, but he is 12 years older. However, I cannot trace this John Hayes forward, so given the proximity of Ryegate to Saint Johnsbury, this may be a case of a census taker getting the information wrong.
There is a Margaret Wright, age 70, who died in Ryegate,Vermont in 1888. The names of her parents were given as Joseph Wright and Margaret Hayes, and her birthplace was Limerick, Ireland. In 1850, Ryegate had 349 Irish immigrants, and most of them are gone by 1860. It is likely that these were Famine era immigrants and that they had arrived through Quebec. Many may have moved into Saint Johnsbury.
One of the ways to overcome brick walls when the records for your ancestor are non-existent is to increase the focus of your research to include others in the same community or who may be related to your ancestor.