The Verifiable Pedigree of Hugh O’Neill of Shanescastle “who jumped ship” and Changed His Surname to O’Neall

Hugh O’Neill of Shane’s Castle, Ancestor of Judge John Belton O’Neall.

Judge John Belton O’Neall of South Carolina wrote his major historical work, the Annals of Newbury, in 1858 on the eve of the American civil war, which, like the revolutionary war during the preceding century, would pit the descendants of his great-grandfather Hugh O’Neill’s eight sons against one and other. While this sort of interfamilial warfare may be suprising for the people of other races and origins ; since the encroachment the fetters and the manacles of the English into our island, the brutal repression and or expulsion of the majority of its native inhabitants into a world created by our enemy, and their utter repression of our culture, this has been the norm for the Irish. Masters of political intrigue, none can deny the might of Perfidious Albion, and now, her Five Eyes, in applying the concept “dividum et imperum” to the people whose worldly possessions they have consumed, plundered, and destroyed. In it, he describes his descent from the royal house of O’Neill, Shanescastle, County Antrim : –

Justice John Belton O’Neall of South Carolina

“William O’Neall’s father’s name was Hugh ; he was, I think, a midshipman in, or at any rate he belonged to, the English navy, and not liking his berth, while at anchor in the Delaware he jumped overboard, swam ashore, and landed near Wilmington, as well as I remember, at the little Swedish town of Christiana ; this took place about 1730 ; here he lived many years, and married Annie Cox.  On landing, to escape detection, he altered the spelling of his name, either from O’Neill or O’Neale to O’Neall ; the latter is the tradition.”

Memorial plaque of Shane Frankagh, or French John, O’Neill. Note the inscription ; Shane m’Brien m’Felim m’Shane m’Brien m’Felim.

Since then, his descendants have held fast to this story, but, having only a hazy and tentative knowledge of the history of Ireland, this family has fallen into utter obscurity. Genealogy, on its own is, in the words of the Venerable Charles O’Conor of Belanagare “bare meat without any bones.” Similarly, history without the articulating science of genealogy lacks the attention-increasing element of personal connection, and could coversely be equally truthfully said to be bare bones without any meat. In this instance, it is more the case that the bones were scrambled through the shifting vicissitudes of a refugee family, as were those of French John O’Neill and his family in their vault thanks to that perfidiously mischevious creature we call the badger !

Descendants of this Hugh held tight to the false story that he was descended from Bryan mac Felim O’Neill, of Shanescastle, which is true !

The author and Raymond Lord O’Neill at Shanescastle, 2013, direct descendants in the female line of Bryan MacPhelim Baccach O’Neill

Luckily for them, Irish history and genealogy and especially that of mine own family is my specialty, and, I am, as a write this, only distracting myself from a much larger work – the Life and Letters of Charles Henry O’Neill, The O’Neill of Clanaboy – whose only child Elizabeth married Judge James Gervé Conroy, and had an only son Charles O’Neill Conroy, K.C. O.B.E., the present writer’s great-grandfather.

The Bryan MacPhelim O’Neill our O’Neall cousins suppose themselves to be descended from is the stem of my family tree above, which is taken from Arms Authorised by the Laws of Heraldry, by Sir Bernard Burke. Where they have fallen into error, leaving a more than century-long hole in their story, which casts doubt upon it in the eyes of any competent genealogist, is that they have mistakenly supposed their ancestor, Hugh of the British Navy who jumped ship and swam ashore to be the son of the more famous Bryan MacPhelim, that restored the sept of Felim Baccach O’Neill, who had fallen as sovereign Prince of Clanaboy in either 1533 or 1537 (the state papers record his death in both years) to supremacy as Sovereign of his clan by the strong hand, when, in fact Hugh who swam to shore in Delaware was the son of Bryan O’Neill of the Largy, son of Phelim Duff O’Neill, and thus a brother of French John O’Neill. In other words, Hugh’s father Bryan MacPhelim Duff O’Neill was the great-grandson of Bryan MacFelim Baccach O’Neill. My ancestor Charles Henry O’Neill, the barrister, writing in 1855 to the Belfast Daily Mercury, described the descendants then living of the Royal House of O’Neill in the following terms : –

“I will now conclude with a resumé of the male line of Sir Bryan MacPhelim O’Neill of Edenduffcarrick.  As stated, his eldest son, Shane MacBryan O’Neill had five sons, Sir Henry O’Neill, and Arthur, Phelim Duff, Hugh, and Shane Oge O’Neill.  The male line of Sir Henry O’Neill became extinct upwards of 200 years ago, on the death of his sons, Arthur, Henry, and Conway O’Neill.  The male line of the second son, Arthur O’Neill, became extinct in 1716, on the death of his grandson Colonel Charles O’Neill, and the male line of the third son Phelim Duff O’Neill is centered in the person of the present General Lord Viscount O’Neill of Shane’s Castle, who is the present chief and head of the house, and “The O’Neill of Clanaboy,” and in Mr. Charles O’Neill of Aldergrove, Crumlin, late of Brecart, Toome, and his two brothers who are sons of the late Mr. Charles O’Neill of Brecart, and nephews of the late Captain Daniel O’Neill, also of Brecart, deceased, who are descended from Arthur O’Neill, the second son of Phelim Duff O’Neill, and uncle of French John.  The late Mark Ker O’Neill, Esq., of Flowerfield, Coleraine, was also descended from said Arthur O’Neill.

     The issue of Hugh O’Neill, the fourth son, I am unable to discover in my collection for “The Annals of History and Pedigree of the House of O’Neill,” which I have in a forward state for publication ; and I am therefore, at present, under the necessity of stating that his issue, if he left any, is unknown.

     The male line of Shane Oge O’Neill of Shane Oge O’Neill is centered in and represented by the Messrs. Hugh and Arthur O’Neill and their families, of Ballynemony, in the County of Down, who are of the younger branch, the eldest male line having failed in the person of his great grandson, Ambrose O’Neill, of Ballybollan, Esq., whose daughter and co-heiress, Henrietta O’Neill, married Daniel O’Rorke, Esq., of Dromshane, in the County of Leitrim, by whom she had a son, Ambrose O’Rorke, who was grandfather of the present Ambrose O’Rorke, of Ballybollan, Esq., J.P.

     And the male line of Con MacBryan O’Neill (brother of Shane MacBryan O’Neill), whose grandson “Bryan MacHugh Oge O’Neill of the Feevagh,” was left the estates by Sir Henry O’Neill, as before mentioned, is represented by “Don Carlos Felix O’Neill,” of Spain, son of the late Colonel Con O’Neill of the Spanish service, formerly of the Feevagh, and his sons, who all reside in Spain ; and by the nephew of Colonel Con O’Neill, namely, Mr. Felix C. O’Neill, of Drumderg, in the Feevagh, who has four sons and five grandsons all living.  There is a very curious pedigree, which is one hundred and twenty years old, of Con Modera O’Neill, the grandfather of Colonel Con O’Neill, among the family papers in possession of Mr. Felix C. O’Neill.  It is headed “Genealogy of Mr. Con O’Neill, of Carlyan” (the name of a townland in the Feevagh, on which the house was built.)  It is written in columns, and terminates with his own name “Con” ; and, after naming his father, Con MacBryan the 2nd – his grandfather, “Bryan MacHugh Oge,” – his great grandfather, “Hugh Oge,” and Hugh Oge’s father, Con MacBryan the 1st, it proceeds backwards, according to the custom in all old Irish pedigrees, from son to father, until it terminates or rather commences with Adam !  There is a glossary at the end in the following terms : – “Note -That ‘K.U.’ stands for King of Ulster ; ‘K.I.’ for King of Ireland ; and ‘K. in S.’ for King in Spain, and also carry ‘son of’ in your mind – as, for example, Con, son of Con, son of Bryan, son of Hugh Oge, &c. – Collected by Mr. John Conry (son of Peadair, son of Fearfeasa, of the Four Masters) and transcribed by Patrick O’Kinan, January 31, 1735.”

North wall of the old church in Saint Olcáns graveyard at Cranfield, in the county of Antrim, where the author’s ancestors celebrated mass during the Penal Laws

French John, brother to Hugh O’Neill who jumped ship, married Charity Dixon, and, after a life of, at all events, systematically violating the provisions of the statute 25th Henry VI., chapter 4, by wearing the “Glibbe” in the most approved Irish fashion, was interred with her in the vault he had built for the purpose, which is shown in the topmost picture here, according to the specifications of his will : “no cloth, clasps, or hinges to be put upon his coffin, which should be coloured only with lampblack.” French John O’Neill had been esteemed in public during his life as a loyal man to the reigning power, but suspected, and not without reason, of having secretly espoused the cause, and sympathised with the fortunes of the fallen House of Stuart. Martha, sister of Hugh who jumped ship and French John, married Captain Arthur O’Hagan, and was interred with him at the old church at Cranfield, in a family plot along with my ancestors for several generations from Hugh Oge O’Neill and his wife to Hugh O’Neill and his wife Anne, daughter of Charles O’Neill of Clonkeen, as well as some of the ancestors of Hugo Riccardi O’Neill, the current O’Neill of Clanaboy, his sister my dear cousin Madelena, and the rest of the Portugese O’Neills, when they were Lords of the Feevagh, prior to my forebear Hugh Oge O’Neill moving into the district. The plot was in the vicinity of the north wall of the old church shown in the photo above. The headstone for Martha O’Neill and Captain O’Hagan was restored in the 19th century by the Earl O’Neill, but no trace of it could be found in 2016 when the author visited. It is possible that they were removed to the Randalstown cemetary when the bodies were removed from the vault at Shanescastle due to pest problems referred to earlier.

Charles Henry St. John Earl O’Neill, Grand Knight, Orange Order, used “fines and recoveries” to bar the entail

Here is the correct line of genealogical descent John Belton O’Neall described :

Niall Mór O’Neill

Felim Baccach O’Neill

Brian mac Felim Baccach O’Neill

Sean mac Brian O’Neill

Felim Dubh O’Neill

Brian of the Largy O’Neill

Hugh O’Neill/O’Neall

William O’Neall

Hugh O’Neall

Justice John Belton O’Neall

With this little musing I hope that I have added a bit of accuracy to the pride with which my American cousins must boast of their princely descent ; for they are as entitled to such bravado as any, being verified and documented lineal descendants of the Royal House of O’Neill, Shanescastle, anciently descendants of that prince-scholar and fountain of knowledge, Niul, of Scythia, whose antiquity stretches back into the very mists of pre-European history.


The “Oak O’Neills” of Old Arboe

In the old graveyard at Arboe, just steps from the High Cross from which it derives its fame, there is a curious grave ; over a double trunkated stump, a large slab supported by four corner pillars.

O'Neill Ardboe Grave

The tombstone is dedicated to the memory of Captain Lewis Gordon O’Neill, his brother Lieuteneant Adjutant St. John O’Neill, and their mother Elizabeth O’Neill of Killygonlan.


The husband of Elizabeth O’Neill, and father of Lewis Gordon and St. John, was James O’Neill, who was a military officer. Alan O’Neill, who provided me the will of St. John O’Neill, speculates that this James, was first a member of the Irish Brigades in France, and this is how he earned the funds to gain a commission as an officer in the British Army. He also speculates that they were the descendants of Gordon O’Neill, the son of Felim Ruadh O’Neill, the famous instigator of the 1641 Rebellion and Irish Confederacy. I tend to support him in this belief, Lewis Gordon and St. John are fairly curious names for Irish Catholics.

What is known is that this James O’Neill had a brother John O’Neill, who was likely the elder as he seems to have inherited the property at Ardboe, or Muinter Doibhleainn, where he had a daughter Mary. Mary, the first cousin of Lewis Gordon and St. John married Bernard mac Harry na Pairce O’Neill of Annaghmore, not in Tyrone but in Antrim near Toome. Originally, he was from Ballygrooby and Drummaul, which adjoined Shanescastle Park. He seems to have been the senior descendant of Conn O’Neill mentioned at Ballygrooby and Drummaul in the 1669 Hearth Rolls. It was during the era of the Popish Discoveries in which Bernard’s father “Harry of the Park” lost his estate known as Hill-head, and not unlikely to those most unscrupulous means ; in any event, Bernard and Mary’s daughter Mary married Felix-Cunningham O’Neill, and their eldest son Charles Henry O’Neill, frequently mentioned in this blog, was my great-grandfather’s maternal grandfather. The second brother to Charles Henry was Louis Gordon O’Neill, and in fact my Dad’s youngest brother cas carried the name to his generation, he being Louis O’Neill Conroy.

Farsnagh & Kiltagh 1833

The above map shows the area around the Ardboe graveyard. Here I will attach a long passage provided to me by Pat Grimes of the Ardboe Gallery, related originally related by one Paddy Oak O’Neill. It is not known if he descends in the direct male line from the ancestors of Lewis Gordon and St. John O’Neill or not, though as he relates himself he considered himself to be one of the O’Neills in the grave, we can be quite certain that it is the line of Lewis Gordon and St. John O’Neill who were the locally famous “Oak O’Neills of Ardboe”.

“Information received from 93 year old Mr Willie Forbes of Drumaney, Ardboe

I remember Paddy Oak very well. He lived on the Bor na Mona road. His house was beside where we lived. Like ours, his house was built with the gavel (gable) to the road. The gavel of the house was on the roadside, that’s how close it was to the road. He had a brother Dan.
Paddy Oak was a big, well-built, strong man. He was very intelligent. He was smart – all the people came to him to find out dates: when certain things had happened, when people were born or married or went away. When he was answering the people, he would lean over the fire, a hoult of the crook in his hand, and he would say, “Clout!”. That was a word he had, he always used it when he started to say something. One day he was standing outside and a man was going past, driving a cow. “I have to get this cow home, she’s about to calve,” the man said to Paddy.
“Not for another two weeks,” responded Paddy, and he was right. He had a great knowledge of animals. He was smart – one of the best.
He always liked to have the pirtars in before the cuckoo was heard. That was one thing he was always very careful about. So this day he was in the field, setting the pirtars, and John Neddy – John Devlin, he was the father of Eamon Neddy who stood for me – had climbed up into a tree and he started to cuckoo. “Clout!” says Paddy, “There’s the cuckoo, and I haven’t got the pirtars in!” And he was very annoyed; he never knowed it was his neighbour John Neddy up in the tree.

Paddy always claimed that he was the same O’Neill as the wans on the headstone there at the Church, and I mind him always standing beside it at funerals or times when there would have been praying, say round Lammas time when the people would have went to the Old Cross. Paddy was a big strong very nice man. Aw, he was a good class of a man.

Later on Charlie Welcome and his sister Mary came to live with Paddy. They had lived just a field above him. Another man who lived near us too was Jack Welcome. Jack was married to a sister of Dominick Ban’s. Jack Welcome was a rough man. He said to my father one day, “Come here till you see this.” And he had the plough strapped to the wife, and he was making her pull the plough. That was Jack Welcome.

Another place just below us on the other side of the road was Joe Dawson’s. He was Queen till his own name. Joe and Biddy lived just below us, the house very close to the road too. I was always in and out of that house, doing turns for them when I was a boy. I mind going away to the Big Moss with Joe. He had a bicycle and there was a stub on the back axle. I stood on the stub and he rode up to the Moss. It was in Killywoolaghan, down the Crock loanin. The whole country used that moss. The ground belonged to Amby Taylor. It was all mud at that time, throwing out the mud to make baker turf. I would have went into the house, and Biddy would have sent me up to the Diamond, to the shop. She would give me a shilling to get an ounce of tobaccy and a box of matches for Joe, and five Woodbine for myself. They had a name on every field – the long field and the short field, the big nheu and the wee nheu, Bet’s field. I could have had the place, Joe was for giving it to me, but he died before Biddy and she gave all to the wans in America. She cried to me later but it was too late then. The wans in America sold it and the Tennysons got it. That was Joe Dawson’s.”

Now, given that Paddy Oak was from Killygonlan, as we know Elizabeth, the wife of James, and mother of Lewis Gordon and St. John O’Neill, to have been from the same place, we can be quite certain that Paddy Oak was a male line descendant of the relatives of Elizabeth rather than James ; this is somewhat supported by the curious grave of Captain Lewis Gordon and Adjutant St. John O’Neill, with the double trunk cut off by the grave slab. To me this suggests the end of their paternal line.



The will of Lieutenant Adjutant St. John O’Neill, who died at Bombay 22nd October 1813, his elder brother Lewis Gordon having been killed in a duel at the Cape of Good Hope, 16th January 1808, aged 37, certainly doesn’t refer to any male descendants of their family, as he mentions only his mother, Elizabeth O’Neill of Killygonlan, and his three sisters, Bell, Brita, and Winiford, next in remainder.

I apologise I am missing the first page of St. John O’Neill’s will, and if my memory serves me right, I also have Lewis Gordon O’Neill’s to add here. There are a couple of interesting obituaries I can’t seem to access currently I will also add when I can find them which give more details about this family of O’Neills, including that they are “of the Princely Line of Tyrone” though their specific descent is unfortunately not referred to. However, Gordon O’Neill did have a son, known as the Conte De O’Neill, who served in the Irish Brigades, as well as another who was  a priest. It is quite probable that John and James O’Neill and the rest of the Oak O’Neills were thus descended from this Conte De O’Neill, who was born about 1678. Allowing for about 30 years per generation, it would seem that this Count O’Neill was likely the grandfather or possibly great-grandfather of John and James. He first gained a commission as a Captain of Infantry in his father’s French regiment in 1692, before being granted the rank of Colonel in the Service of the ‘Grand Duke’ in Italy, before removing to Spain about 1707, where he was captain of a regiment of Dublin Dragoons. (Henry, M. “O’Neills of the Fews-New Findings”.)

My previous computer died and I have been transferring the files from that, as well as my cell phone getting water damaged from working outside as a carpenter here in the West Coast rain. I will try to find more time to add more of this detailed genealogical stuff to allow a place to store it for myself and any others researching the same groups, but have just had a bit too much on my plate recently between being in the middle of a major refit on my boat (and it being too cold to do fiberglass so I can install my windows – which means I’ve got poly for windows currently) and too many writing projects on the go at once, on top of working 60 hours a week as a carpenter. Ultimately, I’ve been sacrificing my present for my future for nearly two years, but nearly ready to set sail, so finally ready to see some reward for my investment of time and money ! It’s not an easy life of chosen, where often major investements mean major work, and nothing comes easy. That being said, doing everything at once has its advantages, and I look forward to years of low-maintenance, having for the most part spared no expense quality-wise and kept my systems relatively simple.

Sailing and writing sounds like a dream after all this hardship, but finally the light at the end of the tunnel is emerging from its dark recesses !

A Prophecy

Just let myself ramble on a bit here, sorry. My book “Life and Letters of Charles Henry O’Neill, the O’Neill of Clanaboy” is nearly complete, and this blog will become far more active when I can focus on some other things as well as sharing some excerpts from the book.

One of my strongest early memories was a strange dream I had. My grandfather, Edward Patrick Conroy, came from Montreal to visit my family who were living in Fort McMurray. In the dream, we went to watch the movie The Muppet Take Manhattan at the local cinema. However, during the movie, my grandfather just spoke.

He basically outlined how the early part of my life would be. I would have an easy childhood, which I did—picture postcard perfect, in a close-knit family with three beautiful sisters. Then my dog, Chimo would die, and my life would become more difficult. He had come to me in no ordinary manner, while my mother was pregnant and living in Les Cèdres, he began to appear at our house, often leaving presents of his fresh kill at our doorstep, particularly as the time for my birth loomed. My parents thought that a strange German Sheppard cross who left dead rabbits on the door step may be a danger and checked him into the pound ; but lo and behold, when they arrived back from the hospital with new-born me he had dug his way under the fence of the pound, and my new best friend awaited at the doorstep. He had epilepsy and the vets always said he would die any time, but he lived with us a good thirteen years.

My grandfather next explained that he would be the first person I know to die, and that from then on my life would become increasingly harder. Which it did, though I must admit that of all things my family is blessed with and not, good health is definitely one of the blessings. My youngest sister was hit by a speeding Chevy Avalanche while cycling on the side of the highway, and has recovered to become top in the world in her sport. So, while I grieve the loss of all my beloved grandparents, they all lived to ripe old ages and had good lives, I certainly do not count the loss of loved ones among my numerous sufferings. My parents would eventually split up and my family are, through no fault of my own now estranged from each other. My entire life up until that point had been centred around my father’s career, and I was in a place which I did not feel suitable for me. I decided to pursue music as a career, despite knowing the difficulties, however the music industry was basically collapsing in on itself, at east as far as live local music, just as I was entering it. The band I was in did not want to move too far from their families, so we elected to move to Vancouver. I had preferred Madrid or at least my hometown of Montréal. I now see that Spain would have been a better choice for me, and Montréal the better choice for the band, as there are many populous centres nearby and a still thriving, at least in comparison to Vancouver, local music scene.

My bandmates kept pushing off the date, until eventually I set an ultimatum. My guitarist had still planned to accompany me until the last couple of weeks, we were to drive his car out so I had sold my truck. He bailed at the last minute, and I headed to Vancouver on a red eye Greyhound. It was only as the bus pulled into the Fraser Valley after a series of mishaps and breakdowns that I realised that it was my bandmates, not I, who wanted to move to Vancouver ! Unfortunately, my luggage also did not accompany me, as Greyhound misdirected it to Prince George, not to arrive for three days.

Those early days were exciting, and I have met many interesting people in Vancouver, of the famous, not famous, and occasionally even infamous variety. I think that my current self would have taken stock of the signs all around, and not decided to stay in Vancouver—my first inclination was in fact, to quite oppositely have all inflatable furniture so I could easily just deflate my apartment and go anywhere—I do not regret that I did. The biggest thing that people like and hate about Vancouver both have had their benefits, that being the easy access to nature has led me to become a much more healthy and fit person than I probably would have been, and the sense of loneliness and isolation has led me to have a lot more time to learn about how who I am as a person is a direct result of who my family is and our place in Irish history. But at the same time, so many factors, like the outrageously high rate of property crime, are the cause of so many of my difficulties ; aside from the generally increasingly intolerable social factors which have over half of the current residents of the city considering leaving for the affordability issues.

When I was in my twenties I just wanted to play some funk music on my bass, drink some beers, smoke some buds, and get laid. Heading into my thirties, increasingly I have wanted to find a lifelong partner, and settle down and get married and have children. I have in fact been engaged twice. The first time was a nearly eight year relationship which ended in my early 30’s, and the second time, my most recent serious relationship. The first was in itself difficult on me. Without getting into complaints about people, she was the type of person who liked to fight with the people she was closest to, and breaking up from that impending marriage seemed life a relief. The more recent one was much different. In between, I had undergone a generally difficult, and not too enjoyable period of about five years of generally being single, and coming to feel that Vancouver is a horrible place to be single, and that I’ve wasted too much of my life here already. Then, suddenly out of the blue I get a friend request on Facebook. A pretty young lady, very estimable, begins liking my posts and interacting with me and I knew something was up. Quickly, she invited me out to something she had been throwing hints at about right from the start. She had seen a picture of me on Instagram from my running club and been given the downlow on me from our club president who posted the picture. We hit it off immediately, and the rest, as they say, is history. Especially because it is over.

Very shortly after we got together, my beloved dog and best friend, Shazam, died. He had come from my days with the West Coast Funk Mob, a pitbull-wolf hybrid. It was of course heart-breaking, as the loss of any such reliable and loving companion is, but having her in my life made it so much easier that no matter how heart-wrenching our breakup has been I could never regret us having been together and one of the many reasons I will always love her and hope today we can rekindle at least our friendship. The loss of such a great lover has been tough, but the loss of two of the greatest friends I have ever had in such short span of time even tougher. But I always had a feeling that she was only a temporary comfort. One of our first serious conversations was regarding the desire for children, she said she didn’t, I said I did, she said we could talk about it, and we went on from there, I suppose not talking about it enough. We at one time did talk about it, and she seemed, at first, more resolutely opposed than she originally sounded. I could speak of her many great attributes, but lets just say that aside from being fit, active, artistic, educated, intelligent, resolutely loyal, and easy to get along with, if I am Newfoundland royalty, she is most certainly West Coast royalty ; her godmother was Nancy Greene being one indicator. One day at this time I was rowing in my dingy out to my sailboat, and I began to think about how much I loved her and how happy she made me. And, not even being a Christian, or at least a proper Christian believer, I cried out in my desparation “Please, God, let it work !”. To which he responded with a frowny face of clouds appearing suddenly in an otherwise utterly clear sky, allowing me just enough time to pull out my cell phone and snap a picture, before dissipating just as fast.

But she said her thoughts on the matter were somewhat based on her own feelings as an only child whose parents had drifted apart and split up, much like mine, when she was entering adulthood, and after speaking to her father she was less opposed to the matter. Later that week I asked her to marry me. I’ve honestly never been more in love all my life, and our joy continued right up until our last weekend together, when we took a road trip to Canon Beach in Oregon. We stayed in a beautiful room on the seaside, and it was one of the best and certainly most romantic weekends I have ever had. It seemed like we were together in a paradise. Don’t get me wrong, my luck did not change during the course of our relationship, it was just so much better having someone to bear it with. In fact, I felt guilty at times that a lot of the misfortune I had been experiencing was now just transferring to her.

But we returned to Vancouver, and the big divide over the issue of children began to rear its head. We are both very handsome and well built people, and relatives on both sides started making social media posts about babies. Her responses were quite flippantly contrary considering our known differing desires and previous conversations on the matter. It was like our love became a suddenly deflated balloon. Without a fight, it just caved in on itself and went away. I can’t even describe the feeling, but it is worse than betrayal. At least with betrayal, you have anger—you can distract yourself from your pain with thoughts of revenge or the more noble principle of overcoming your adversaries. Death is at least final. But leaving the love of your life because you simply desire two different lives is something altogether different. She is career motivated, in that she is a professor and feels rewarded by teaching her students, even if it meant giving up a former better paying and more stable position to do it. I, by contrast, was working in a good paying job with good benefits, because I am family oriented and it was a good choice of jobs to maintain a family. To her credit, she always encouraged me to leave that job, as it did not make me happy, which I finally did after our breakup, not having any earthly burdens. I now work as a ship builder, which is certainly less stressful, but certainly not as rewarding as being able to be in a position to be what I am for a career, which is an Irish historian and history teacher. Not having any Irish history programs in BC, or any materials of any antiquary value to the Irish historian, is aside from the women the other issue driving me away from BC and towards Europe.

To go back to the prophecy, the final, and as I have seen it most important part of that dream, is that my grandfather told me I would reach the lowest part of my life, and that I would meet the woman I should spend the rest of my life with, and from then on my life would become very easy. Understanding this final part has been by far the most difficult part. It has affected my decision-making in a very strange fashion. For I have been unwilling to submit myself to the parameters of the prophecy, and yet, as for example with my ex my life certainly did not become very easy—in fact, we arrived back from Canon Beach to find my dingy and Honda 15 outboard motor, which took the savings of well over half a year to afford, stolen. I often wondered how she could be the one if my life did not become easy. It would have been irrational if not insane to reject her on such a strange basis as a childhood dream. But ironically, if I had held firm to the prophecy it would have saved me an immense amount of misery. I have to admit there were many days along the way when I did not know if I would live to have children, even if I wanted to live… but the prophecy has not been wrong thus far.

I do not believe the prophecy will come to pass passively, and this has at least to a degree shaped my direction in life. This has largely led to a great part of the hard life I have been living. Creating a boat which is self-sufficient and provides for all the necessities of life is no mean task. Especially when I had nearly completely abandoned the project the year I was with my ex, and having pulled into the shipyard the Saint Paddy’s day before last an utterly miserable wreck of a man. But finally, I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Anyone who undertakes such a task should expect numerous setbacks, and failure is the norm, succeeding in your project the anomaly, and actually sailing anywhere an utter rarity. It seems hard because it is hard. Living in a tiny space when you’ve got it half ripped apart is not a lot of fun. My boat will be ready to set sail, and whether I find the right woman for me around here to enjoy it with, or in Ireland, most certainly my eventual destination if someone doesn’t give me a reason to go elsewhere, or somewhere along the way, I have never been so sure that the prophecy will come true. If I were to stay in Vancouver, no way would I consider moving to land at this point, it is out of my price range, if I am left to my own devices I will finally be leaving to pursue my fate within the year.

If I can stay the course, or more accurately if I find good reason not to, I will head to Ireland, probably to the green hills of the Feevagh, or at least Belfast, find me a good Irish woman, of which, in the countryside of Ireland there are many suitable for a man such as myself, who would best be described as an “Irish country gentleman” or a “gentleman and a scholar” ; in any event of the old school. I cannot see my life but being happy. Property can be had cheaply there, and the people are very genuine and friendly. In extreme contrast to Vancouver, which is cold and isolating, people in all parts of Ireland describe living in deeply interconnected communities. So far as the people I spend my time with principally currently, I am part of an elite group of people who actually prepared with knowledge and skill to survive the inevitable changes western society is about to face with regard to its impending collapse due to two inevitable asteroids which doom it to extinction : climate change and the end of possibility for economic growth. We are not preppers or survivalists of the common perception but sailors who have a good knowledge of science and politics. Most of my friends envision themselves leaving here for a place with few people and lots of resources. Unlike them, I feel safe around people. My ancestors, the O’Neills, successive Kings of Ulster, walked among their people without the slightest fear anyone would touch a hair on their head. I want to head to the people I feel safe around, not hide from people I know half of whom would stab you in the back if it could get them your job at the best of times, let alone what they will do when faced with scarcity of necessary resources.

I now have two beautiful little dogs, Niamh and Oisín, and generally, life is much better now that the soothing action of time has had its course to nurture my wounds for many months. I wake up in the morning thinking that I don’t want to go to work instead of that I don’t want to be alive. Which, having split up with a woman I loved over the reason of wanting a family is an absurd feeling to have, whch left me despairing beyond description ; that you are so miserable not being with someone you don’t want to even go on, which of course would end any possibility of having children and thus defeating the purpose of the change which led to your miserable state. An encounter when I was dealing with one of the numerous difficulties involving my boat, an observer said, “if that happened to me, I’d kill myself,” to which I responded, “if you’d kill yourself over this, there’s no way you’d have survived my yesterday.” At times I think my friends have seen me as a whiner at times when they’ve heard me venting, but they haven’t been there to witness the events, nor heard anything about the vast majority of travesties I am able to just take a deep breath about and deal with internally. No matter how much life sucks, I am blessed with a certain possibly naive hope that happiness is soon around the corner. Misfortune still stalks, but I feel one day I will outrun it. Many years ago, when my luck seemed to be taking a turn for the worse, a friend of mine who is not the superstitious type said to me in all seriousness “maybe you’re cursed ?” Turns out I am, for my great-father Conn Baccach O’Neill, the first Earl of Tyrone, cursed all his descendants who would sow corn, live in English-style houses, or speak the English tongue. If I can’t shake this misfortune by foot or by sail, perhaps the best solution is to take my two dogs (who only speak Irish) and go hide away on Tory Island, and give up the Saxon tongue for good. One would think in this day and age, merely being an Irish speaker living where I live would be enough, that old Conn the Lame would have been more sparing in his curses.

One thing is for certain, between curses and prophecies I definitely prefer the latter.

Mrs. O’Neill of Carlane

I must apologise for my absence from this blog for the past several months. It has been a trying time, with what I can only describe as the hardest breakup of my life – at the peak of love, and engaged ; we decided to break our relationship off due to differences over wanting a family.

Today, thanks to Patrick McAteer, whom I met due to his reading this blog, a current resident of the Feevagh, and his contact Dr. Patrick MacKay, a specialist in Irish place names, I have discovered the location of my family’s residence from 1602 until 1814.

Feevagh House, marked here in the Northwest corner of Carlane in the County of Antrim near Toome in blue pen, was constructed in 1602 by my ancestor Hugh Oge O’Neill. Following the Nine Years War, with him fighting on the side of his maternal great-grandfather, the Great Hugh O’Neill, called by the English the 2nd Earl of Tyrone, against the Queen Elizabeth’s English forces, he received a pardon from James I, and settled in the Feevagh, in the townland of Carlane/Carlyan. His brother, Owen mac Con mac Brian O’Neill, settled about the same time at Mullaghgaun House, shewn on the same map, and is the ancestor of “O’Neill of Mullaghgane” represented in the female line today by the Letaignes, assuming they are still extant. Both are named in the will of Sir Henry O’Neill of Shanescastle as heirs-at-law.

On Turlough O’Carolan’s “Mrs. O’Neill of Carlane” was composed on his celebrated trip to Ulster in the 1730s, in which he composed his most famous piece of music ; the planxty “Bumper Squire Jones”. On this trip he stayed at Feevagh House as the guest of Con Modera O’Neill. We descend from his first wife, Rose O’Neill of Killalagh, only sister of Sir Neil O’Neill, however we can be quite certain that she had passed away, as he remarried Neine Roe O’Hara, alias O’Neill, the widow of Judge Hugh Dubh O’Neill, by whom he had his second son Con, with whom Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped to Uist and Flora MacDonnell, and a daughter Sarah, who married Brian Horseman O’Neill. Unfortunately, I do not have my 3rd great grandfather Charles Henry O’Neill’s papers (he was the great-grandson of Charles Dubh O’Neill, eldest son of Con Modera O’Neill) but when I have the information in front of me, I will add further details here regarding Turlough’s visit to Feevagh House.

In any event, I suspect that the “Mrs. O’Neill of Carlane”, Turlough’s muse and subject, was not Mrs. Con Modera O’Neill, but the wife of Charles Dubh O’Neill, eldest son of Con Modera. Mrs. Charles Dubh O’Neill was Mary O’Neill (1691-1791), daughter of Captain Hugh Dubh O’Neill, who fought in the Earl of Antrim’s regiment at the Battle of the Boyne. Captain Con Modera and his father Colonel Con mac Brian, had fought in the regiment of Cormac O’Neill of Shanescastle at that tragic battle, under Con mac Brian’s brother in law Sir Neil O’Neill. Captain Hugh Dubh O’Neill was the son of Colonel Brian O’Neill, who routed George Monroe’s regiment on their way to Benburb to Coleraine, setting the stage for that greatest of Irish military victories by his famous father General Owen Roe O’Neill, at Benburb. The daughter of Mrs. O’Neill of Carlane, and her husband Charles Dubh O’Neill, Mary O’Neill, married David McLorinan, originally of Cranfield, who later came into inheritance of the Ballylummin estate, near Ballymena. Her obituary is melancholy but informative – although it describes the mother of her and Hugh O’Neill Esq., proprietor of Feevagh House listed on Lendrick’s 1780 Map excerpted at top and grandfather of the above-mentioned Charles Henry O’Neill – as granddaughter of Owen Roe O’Neill in error ; she was his great granddaughter.

I have been able to discover if any lyrics (Turlough’s music was composed in Irish) survive. At present the best I can provide is the melody and Irish language title, Béan Ó Néill Charn Liatháin :

The following details of Feevagh House, demolished in the time of Mrs. Bailey, later of Rock Mount, whose family were its final proprietors :



“Mrs Bailey (aged 87) of Rock Mount told of an old house she used to live in known as Carlane House, built in 1603. It has now been totally removed & the site occupied by modern farm buildings. It had a thatched roof with 3 chimney stacks & was 2 floors high. Mrs Bailey stated that before she lived there, a member of the O’Neill family lived there. There is a reference in O’Laverty to a house built by Hugh Oge O’Neill in 1602, which may be this house.”

Will return to this piece to finish it and tidy it up soon !

The Family of Fionn mac Cumhaill

According to some, Finn McCool was an Irish giant who fashioned the Giant’s Causeway between the county of Antrim and Scotland, before smashing it and hurtling it into the sea to keep his competition on the other side.

According to the rude and vulgar, he was not even Irish at all, but a Lesser Scot !
But the truth of the matter is Fionn mac Cumhaill was an aristocratic soldier in the Irish national infantry of his day, patrolling the coast of the Isle of Destiny, and exhibiting many great displays of chivalry in the glorious dint of battle both for and at times in opposition to the national monarchs in the reigns of Conn of the Hundred Battles of Cruachán, his son Art mac Cuinn, and his grandson Cairbre of the Liffey.

And, as his name attests, he was the “Son of Cool,” the commanding officer of the Fianna.  They came from Ballyfin in County Laois, the patrimony of their clan from ancient times, and from where, in the generations following their ancestor Laeghaire Lorc, “the mariner”, High King of Ireland – brother of Calbhach Caolbhreag, “the emaciated”, another High King, called so because he feigned illness so he could stab his grieving brother Laeghaire and himself obtain the throne, ancestor of the Connachta, O’Neills, O’Donnells, and others – their line produced the High Kings Aongus Ollamh, Fergus Fortamhail, Crimthann Coscrach, and Nuadhu Neacht, in opposition to the more powerful descent of Calbhach ; though it should be pointed out, that until the conquest of Clan Fergus by the Conn of the Hundred Battles, and subsequent conquest of Tír Conaill, Tír Eoghain, and Teffia by the sons of Niall of the Nine Hostages, High King meant of the ‘Feine na Teamhair’, or High King at Tara. It was only during the glory years of the Irish monarchy, after the introduction of Christianity and prior to the depravations of the Danes, when the High King altered in peaceful succession back and forth from the Northern Uí Néill King at Aileach to the Southern Uí Néill King at Tara, that the High King of Ireland truly held the whole country under their sway, with a few exceptions. For though the people of Leath Mogha conveniently forget it, even Brian Ború could not gain a submission from the Northern Uí Neill.

Cumhaill’s father, and Fionn’s grandfather was named Baoisgne, who had a brother named Fergus Fairgé, and from this Fergus Fairgé the extant descendants of Fionn mac Cumhaill derive their ancestry.

A famous descendant of this Fergus Fairgé was Calbhach O’Connor Failghe, Lord of Offaly, who died in 1458, twenty-fifth in descent from Ros Failgeach, from whom their country takes its name, who was eleventh in descent from the father of Fergus Fairgé, Nuadu Neacht, who was the great-grandfather of that most famous of Irish generals, Fionn mac Cumhaill.

County Offaly, territory of the O’Connors Failghe, and County Laois, territory of the Seven Septs of Laois, headed by the O’Mordhas, descendants of Conall Cearnach, of the Red Branch Kinghts of Ulster, in 1562

Calbhach O’Connor, Prince of Uí Failghe, or Offaly, married one of the most illustrious and beloved Irishwomen of all time, Magaret O’Carroll, who was the daughter of the chief of Elie, in Tipperary. In 1433, Thomas D’Arcy McGee, who would go on to be a founder of Canadian Confederation before being Canadian politics’ only victim of assasination, wrote poems praising this beloved Irishwoman.

Mairgréag an Einigh, “of the hospitality”, as she was known in her native Irish, and her Prince, Calbhach, lineal descendant of Fionn mac Cumhaill’s great-grandfather, Nuadu Neaccht, among a total of seven children including five boys, had a daughter Fionnguala, who married firstly Niall Garbh O’Donnell, King of Tir Conaill, who died in 1439, and secondly Aodh Buidhe II, by whom she was mother of all the principal septs of the Clan Aodh Buidhe ; that of Henry Caoch, blinded by his three brothers led by Aodh Buidhe II due to his usurpatious proclivities, and ancestor of Sir Bryan O’Neill, Bart., of the Battle of Edgemont fame, excepted. She was spoken of by the poets on no less lower terms than her mother : –

Fionnghuala’s splendour is so great,

That no woman can be set above her,

From her girlhood – high praise ! her mother’s nature shows in her,

Ere she came to a husband she was pregnant with generosity !

But sadly, the days of splendour of Rath Imayn were numbered, and where once Margaret of the Hospitality held her great banquets, Gaelic culture and traditions would be washed away and replaced with English ones. One of these customs in particular which stands out to me as highly unusual was the tree of Frances Cosby, the English governor, which was described by Don Phillip O’Sullivan Beare, who encountered him firsthand, in his Latin , traslated by O’Byrne : – “He lived mostly at Stradbally, where before his doors he grew a tree of great height and abounding in spreading branches.From this he was accustomed to hanging not only men but also women and children for no crime. When women were hanging from the tree by a halter he also took an incredible pleasure in hanging by their mothers long hair their infant children. It was said that when the tree was without the corpses of Catholics hanging from it, he was wont to say – “You seem to me, my tree, shrouded with great sadness, and no wonder, for you have now long been childless. I will speedily relieve your mourning. I will shortly adorn your boughs with corpses.” Observing that perverse mantra of the English in Ireland ; ‘nits beget lice.’

R. Barry O’Brien describes the end the chieftains of this unfortunate clan would meet, along with above a hundred and eighty O’Mordhas, at the hands of the heretics in his 1905 synopsis of the 1641 Rebellion in Ireland : –

In 1547, the Chiefs of Leix and Offaly were attacked. The O’Moores, the O’Connors, the O’Dempseys were driven from their possessions, and a horde of English settlers — the Barringtons, the Cosbies, the Breretons, the Hartpools, the Deverels, the Bowens, and the Pigots — poured into the country to seize the lands of the plundered clans. A fierce struggle followed. ‘The warfare which ensued,’ says Mr. Richey, ‘resembled that waged by the early settlers in America with the native tribes. No mercy whatever was shown to the natives, no act of treachery was considered dishonourable, no personal tortures and indignities were spared to the captives.’ This warfare went on during the reigns of Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth. The combatants, on both sides, were at length exhausted, and terms of peace were proposed. It was agreed that the English settlers should hold the lands they had captured, and that the Irish clans should keep the lands they had preserved; and that both should, in future, live side by side in friendship. In 1577 the English invited the Irish chiefs to meet them in conference at the Rath of Mallamast, in order that the terms of peace should be ratified. The Irish — the O’Moores, the O’Lalors, the O’Kellys, the O’Donnellys — came with their retainers to the number of 200. They were met by the English settlers — the Cosbeys, the Hovedens, the Hartpools. The Irish — who were unarmed — marched between files of English soldiers into the rath.But none of them ever returned. When the last man had filed past, the English soldiers surrounded the fort, and the doomed clans were slaughtered to a man.”

My grandfather’s grandfather was James Gervé Conroy, he was a native of the country northwest of Elphin in the County of Roscommon. In the centuries following this event the English persecution of the natives never waned, and this region of the country became sort of a native Irish reserve. His father, Luke Conry, who was born in 1811 at Runaharka, in the parish of Kilmacumsy, where his father rented a ten acre farm as well as a seven acre farm on the adjoining townland of Lisphilip, from George Murray McGusty. Luke married Sarah Garvey, daughter of James Garvey, Esq., whose family’s residence in Roscommon was likely due to either the Tudor invasion and Plantation of Ulster, or the Cromwellian expulsion, as they are an Ulster family descended from the Uí Brassil, from whom the country of Brazil takes its name.

In any event, the father of Luke, Francis, was born at Runnabull, Ballinameen, in the parish of Kilmacumsy, and this is where we re-encounter the family of Fionn mac Cumhail. He married Brigid, whom I presume to be either the daughter or sister of John Dempsey, who rented a twelve acre farm in Runaharka and another twelve acres in Lisphilip.

The Dempseys, or O’Dempseys, you should remember from that horrible pre-meditated slaughter which R. Barry O’Brien described. It seems most likely that the Dempseys had only arrived in Roscommon recently at the time John Dempsey and Francis Conry were renting side by side. Prior to that I could only find records of this family in the Eastern part of the County of Galway, but by the time of Griffiths Valuation in the 1850s there were numerous Dempsey families settled throughout the county of Roscommon. That being said records in the century preceding are scarce to non-existent, that being the era of the Penal Laws against the native Irish Catholics by the alien government. In fact, agitating against these dehumanising and inhumane laws if there ever were any is where I first find mention of the father of Francis Conry, although whether it was John (which I tend to prefer, as Luke named James’s eldest brother John) or Patrick I am as of yet unable to discern under the patronage and alongside of Denis O’Conor of Belanagare, The O’Conor Don and “uncrowned King of Connacht” way back in 1792.

It remains to be seen if I will be able to trace Brigid Dempsey back any further, although I will keep a keen ear to the wind, other than to say that it is not unlikely that John was her father as opposed to a brother, as the estate record was only about a decade after she had given birth to Luke Conry in 1811.

So here, after a divergent preamble, I will give a brief history before describing the descent of the O’Dempseys from those pure hearted chieftains who marched in to that gruesome rath to negotiate peace, only to meet with the treachery and slaughter characteristic of its perpetrator in their actions in Ireland.

Now for the divergent preamble, or you could say, possibly even squeal in the manner of James Brown, take it back to the top. Oisín was the son of Fionn mac Cumhaill by his wife Sadhbh, daughter of Bodb Dearg. He married Niamh, and had a son, Osgar, who fell in the Battle of Gabhra, resulting in the eventual extinction of the issue male of Fionn mac Cumhaill, against the monarch Cairbre Lifechair, grandson of Conn Céadcathach, “of the hundred battles”, and a daughter Plúr na mBan (flower of women). I know nothing of any descent of Plúr na mBan, but that is not to say she did not have any.

After returning with Niamh from Tír na nÓge, of which kingdom she was a princess of the most eloquent renown and beauty, he is said to have returned to Ireland, after much time abroad, at the time of the mission of Saint Patrick, when he famously confronted the churchman to say : “what are you ranting about old man ? I don’t want to be sorry for all the wrong I’ve done in the past ; or for that I’ll do in the future ; I just want to feast and celebrate like in the old days when Fionn and the Fianna were around.”

Soon after, while Oisín was riding his horse, he is said to have stopped to help some people move a rock that was blocking the road. Falling from his horse, Oisín is said to have touched the ground and thus broken some kind of magical connection with Tír na nÓg.

But the people of Elphin know that this is just a ridiculous fable.

Douglas Hyde – President of Éire

For Oisín was seen for many years there afterwards labouring away, day in and day out carrying heavy rocks, in the woes of his longing and misery, where Douglas Hyde, first president Éire,”An Craoibhain Aobhain”, a native of the district and himself an Elfin man, collected and translated this poem Oisín wrote while he spent his drawn out and toilsome final years, where he and Ronan met Saint Patrick when he arrived there on his mission : –


                  Oisín i n-Ailfinn.

      Is fada anocht i n-Ailfinn,

      Is fada linn an oidhche aréir,

      An lá indiu cidh fada dham

      Budh leór-fhad an lá indé.

      Fada liom gach lá d’á dtig,

      Ní mar sin do cleachtadh dhúinn,

      Mo bheith i n-eugmais na bhFiann,

      Do chuir sin mo chiall ar gcúl.

      Gan aonach, gan ceól, gan cuirm, 

     Gan bronnadh croth, gan lúth ngreadh,

      Gan díol ollamhan ar ór,

      Gan faladhain, gan ól fleadh.

                Ossian in Elphin.

      Long was the night in cold Elphin,

      More long is to-night on its weary way,

      Though yesterday seemed to me long and ill,

      Yet longer still was this dreary day.

      And long, for me, is each hour new-born,

      Lost and forlorn with grinding grief

      For the hunting lands, and the Fenian bands,

       And the long-haired generous Fenian Chief.

      I make no music, I find no feast,

      I slay no beast from a bounding steed,

      I give no gold, I am poor and old,

      I am sick and cold without wine or mead.

And here we pick up with the O’Dempsey family, refugees of the slaughter of the principle chieftains and fighting men and utterly barbaric continuing assaults on the civilian population, arriving, probaby first in county Galway, and then, it seems, centered in a few neighbouring townlands, expanding into Roscommon, and then some moving to that same area that their second cousin so many generations removed had laboured and carried rocks, I’m sure for those aware of the connexion, there must have been no bitter irony in toiling the land and carrying rocks for absentee landlords in Dublin or abroad for a pittance, and at times not even !

Now, Baoisgne, grandfather of the revered Fenian general Fionn mac Cumhaill, had a brother named Fergus Fairgé, who was the progenitor of Calbhach O’Connor Failghe, husband of Mairgréad an Einigh, who died in 1451 of breast cancer. 

Conchobhar Abhraoidhruaidh, son of Fionn Filé (evidently a poet, or so named), was High King of Ireland, and had a son Mogh Corb “slave of the chariot”, who was the father of Cu-Corb, “hound of the chariot”, King of Leinster. His son, Niadh Corb, was the father of Cormac Gealtach, “Cormac the crazy”, whose son Felim Fiorurglas was the father of Cathair Mór, surnamed “the great”, another High King of Ireland, who was the father of Ros Failgeach, “Ross of many rings”, from whom the land Offaly takes its name, Anglicised from Uí Failghe.

Six generations later, from father to son, there were Nathi ; Eoghan ; Cathal ; Maolumha ; Foranan ; and Congal, who was the father of Diamasach “the haughty one” ; from whom the clan O’Dempsey derive their name, O’Diamasaigh. Cineath Tumaltach, grandson of Diamasach, was grandfather of Aedh O’Diamasaigh, the first to assume that surname. Faithrí, sixth in descent from Aedh, was the first Prince of Clan Maoluraidh, and we can either presume a power struggle occurred in the generations following their mutual ancestor Diamasach, or the two groups becoming known as distinct through more peaceful vicissitudes, during the eleven generations previous to Flaithrí, first Lord or Prince of the territory called Clan Mhaoluraidh “territory of the Chief of good repair,” after Maoluraidh, grandson of Aedh, son of Donal, first to use the surname O’Diamasaigh, but either way the O’Connors became supreme in their territory of Uí Failghe, and they their underchiefs resigned to the role of supporter of their kindred.

And there, for sixteen generations, the descendants of Aedh O’Diamasaigh reigned as chieftains, until Turlough O’Diamasaigh was among those massacred in that gruesome rath, along with Eoghan and Turlough O’Diamasaigh, as well as Diarmuid Ruadh, their father, who was twelfth in descent from Flann, the first of his branch of the clan to take the name O’Diamasaigh, himself seventh in descent from Aedh, younger brother of Donal, whose brother Aedh’s descendant Diarmuid Ruadh and his two brothers Eoghan and Turlough also innocently lost their lives to that sharp-toothed and viperous calamity that calls itself the English with the rest of those doomed souls who marched into the treacherous slaughter of that rath.

In the 1749 Census of Elphin, which is unique especially to that time because all religious denominations were surveyed in the diocese, and there are three Dempsey households listed there ; Anne Dempsey of Athleague in the county of Galway ; Robert Dempsey also of Athleague ; and Charles Dempsey of Taghboy, which I previously stated somewhere to be in the county of Galway, but is in fact in the county of Roscommon, though in any event these three households all straddle the Galway-Roscommon and could well all be relatives or even siblings.

Brigid Dempsey, likely daughter, or perhaps sister, to Francis Conry, was father of Luke Conry, who was baptised at Elphin on the 6th of October, 1811, so was born sometime about 1790. If John was her father, which seems most likely as country people tended to live to be quite old at this period in Ireland (if they survived infancy !) then John’s year of birth would likely have been about 1760-1770, and there is a good chance that he was a son of either Robert or Charles, and if not odds are a grandson or relation of Anne Dempsey. Luke married Sarah Garvey, of Aughrim, also in thd county of Roscommon, near Carrick-on-Shannon.

She was the daughter James Garvey, Esq., who had a son, who became a medical Doctor in Westport, and two other sisters, one married a Mr. Greene, and the other Thomas O’Beirne of Meelick House, son of Owen O’Beirne, and whose grandfather Dennis O’Beirne is listed as “Dennis O’Burne Milich” right above John and Patrick Conry of Runnabull among attendees of the meeting agitating toward Catholic emancipation chaired by Denis O’Conor Don in 1792 shewn above.

The daughter of Anne Garvey, Cecilia O’Beirne, married Stephen Barrett, who had among his children Stiofán Bairéad, first treasurer of the Gaelic League, or Conradh na Gaeilge, as well as close associate of Padraig Pearse, who was godfather to his daughter Síla. Stiofán’s son Ciarán Bairéad was a noteworthy Irish language author.

Sarah and Luke Conry, whose eldest son John moved to Dublin, and may have descent still extant – writing in 1929 to my grandpa’s eldest brother James O’Neill Conroy, barrister and solicitor, Matthew J Barrett, brother of Stiofán and a manager with the Bank of Ireland stated he had daughters and maybe some sons – and whose second son, James Gervé Conroy was father, by Elizabeth O’Neill, shewn above, daughter of Charles Henry O’Neill the O’Neill of Clanaboy ; they had a daughter, Gertrude Mary, who died in infancy and and an only son, Charles O’Neill Conroy, K.C., O.B.E., the writer’s great grandfather.

The author would be interested to hear from any O’Dempseys or other families I’ve written about, especially with a connection to the Dempsey or Conry farms at Runaharka and Lisphillip, or the Conry farm at Runnabull.