Hardiman's History of Galway

Chapter 1: Chapter 1

An alphabetical list and concise accound of the ancient families of Galway

Chapter 1

Chapter 1

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Old map of Galway


This family is of great antiquity in Galway; tradition relates that one of the name erected the first stone house or castle within the town. They were from the earliest times highly respectable, William de Athy was appointed treasurer of Connaught, 8th December, 1388, with the fee of 10 yearly--Rot. Pat. Canc.--the name was also of consequence in other parts of Ireland. John de Athy was sheriff of Kerry, 7th Edw. II.--Rot. Mem. Scac.--on 3rd March, 17th of the same King, he was appointed marshall of Ireland--Eod. de an. 18 --and the 20th year, he was sheriff of the counties of Carrickfergus? and Antrim?.--Rot. Pat.--Philip Lynch Athy, Esq. of Renville?, is the present representative of this family.

Arms: Checky, argent and gules, on a chevron of the last, three etoiles, or.

Crest: A demi lion rampant.

Motto: Ductus non coactus.


This family is of British extraction, and, though the name seems derived from the Saxon, Blac, a colour; yet, Debrett, in his Baronetage, says, "they are traditionally descended from Ap-lake, one of the knights of King Arthur's round table," and adds, "that in the reign of Henry II, one of this family accompanied Strongbow, and after many exploits built himself a castle, at Menlo?, near Galway." --- Richard Caddell [w] surnamed Blake, (from whom, according to Lynch's MS. the Blakes of Galway are descended,) was sheriff of Connaught, Vicecomes Conacioe, 32 and 33 Edw. I, [x] he was also sheriff in 1306. and in 7 Edw. Il. the king's writ issued, for arrearages of his account. --- Rot. Mem. --- The arms of this family were first borne by him and descended to his posterity. The family of Ardfry, descended from Sir Richard Blake, who was speaker or chairman, of the assembly of the confederate catholics of Ireland, at Kilkenny, in 1647, was raised to the dignity of the peerage, in the year 1800, in the person of Joseph Henry Blake, Esq. who was then created Lord Baron of Wallscourt?, in the kingdom of Ireland. This widely extended name is, at present, divided into the opulent and respectable families, of Ardfry, Ballyglunin?, Belmont?, Castlegrove?, Corbally?, Forbough?, Frenchfort?, Hollypark?, Killeencastle?, Mace?, Menlo?, Merlinpark?, Moorfield?, Orancastle?, Rahara? or Annbally?, Renville?, (formerly of Lehinch?, in Mayo,) Tully?, Waterdale? and Windfield?, in the County of Galway; and Ballinafad?, Brookhill?, Garracloone?, Milltown? and Towerhill?, in the County of Mayo.

Arms. Argent, a fret, gules. Crest. A cat passant, gardant, proper, Motto. Virtus sola Nobilitat.


The Bodkins of Galway, and the Earls of Desmond and Kildare, were descended from the common ancestor, Maurice Fitzgerald, Lord of Windsor, and one of the first invaders of Ireland, under Strongbow. His son, Thomas FitzMaurice, acquired ample possessions in Munster, where his descendants became Earls of Desmond. Richard, the son of Thomas, about the year 1242, held considerable properties in Connaught, under Richard de Burgo, and Thomas, his son, was the ancestor of the Bodkin family. This family name originated, according to tradition, from a victory gained by their great progenitor, Thomas Fitz Richard (about the year 1300,) over a valiant Irish knight, whom he encountered in single combat, and having, in the conflict, made use of a short spear or weapon, in Irish called, a Baudekin, he was, from that circumstance, surnamed, Buaidh Baudekin, of the victory of the Bodkin, which name was afterwards retained by his descendants. Whatever doubt may attend this traditionary relation, none can exist as to the origin and descent of the family, which are fully ascertained by the testimony of antiquaries, by ancient stone sculptures and monuments, still remaining, and from the genealogies of the Geraldines, whose arms the Bodkin family bore for many generations, and whose motto, Crom aboo, they retain to this day. [y] Henry Bodkin, the son of Thomas, was Clericus ville in the reign of Richard II. at which time, there was a street or lane in Galway, called Baudekyn's lane?. They were then possessed of large properties in and about the town, particularly at Newcastle?, near the river; [z] and at Athenry?, [a2] Toherskehine?, Ballynameathagh?, Kilcornan? and Parke?. At present the principal families of the name, are those of Annagh?, Carrowbeg?, [b2] Castletown?, Kilcloony? and Thomastown?.

Arms. Ermine, on a saltire, gules, a leopard's face, or. Crest. A leopard's face, or. Motto. Gom aboo.


Philippus de Browne, is said to have come to Ireland in 1170, and, in 1172, was appointed Governor of Wexford?. In 1178 he went to England, and soon after returned with 60 armed knights, and was a leader at the siege of Limerick. [c2] He had three sons, William, who settled in the territory of Clanmorris, in the County of Kerry, and Walter, who settled in the County of Galway, where his posterity still remain, the destination of the third son is not mentioned. Another account states, that ''Sir David Browne, who was cotemporary with Richard de Burgo, the Red Earl of Ulster, that he died in 1303, and had a son, named Stephen, who settled at Killpatricke?, near Dublin?, from whence, after a time a branch of that house settled at Brownstown?, near Loughrea, and thence branched forth to Athenry? and Galway.'' [d2] The principal families of the name at present in the province, are those of Ardskea?, Gloves?, Kilskeagh?, Mounthazle Moyne?, Rockville? and Tuam?, in the County of Galway, and Ballyhowly? and Castlemagarret?, in the County of Mayo.

Arms. Or. an eagle displayed, with two heads, sable. Crest. An eagle's head, erased. [e] Motto. Fortiter et fideliter.


This family stands highly distinguished in the annals of the kingdom. Its descent is derived from David D'Arcy, (of an eminent family in France which deduces its origin from Charlemagne,) who took his surname from Castle D'Arcie, his chief seat, which lay within thirty miles of Paris. His son, Christopher, having, with a band of his vassals, joined the crusades, died in Palestine, leaving Thomas his heir, whose son, Sir Richard D'Arcy, accompanied William the Conqueror to England, where, after he was settled that monarch enriched him with ample possessions, which some of his posterity still enjoy. [f2] From him descended, Sir John D'Arcy, who was high in repute with Edward II. by whom he was appointed justice of Ireland in 1323. He married the Lady Jane Bourke, daughter of Richard, Earl of Ulster, from which marriage are derived all the D'Arcies of this kingdom. [g2] The Galway family is immediately descended from James Riveagh D'Arcy, who settled here about the end of the reign of Elizabeth, and, in consequence of his superior abilities and address, rapidly acquired considerable power and influence. From him sprung in a direct line the house of Kiltulla, and the families of Newforest, in the County of Galway, (formerly of Clunuane? in the County of Clare), Gorteen? and Houndswood?, in the County of Mayo.

Arms. Azure, semee of cross crosslets, three cinquefoils, argent. Crest. On a chapeau, gules, doubled ermine, a bull passant, sable, corned, unguled, and furnished, or. Motto. Un Dieu, un Roy.


The first of this name, that settled in Galway, is said to have been William Allen, or Den, who came hither from Bristol in the reign of Henry VI. and was afterwards elected Provost. Members of this family, were amongst the first Mayors and chief Magistrates of the Town. [h]

Arms. Azure, three wings, two and one, argent. Crest. A demi lion rampant, azure. Motto. Arte vel marte.

Ffonte, or De Fuente

This family settled in Galway in the beginning of the fifteenth century, they sprung from an ancient English family of Leicestershire, and, are said, to have been established in Athenry?, in the County of Galway, as early as the reign of King John. [i2] The name is now nearly extinct. Geoffry Ffont, who died near Galway, in 1814, aged 105 years, is supposed to have been the last survivor of the Galway branch of this family.

Arms. Argent, semee of cross crosslets, a lion rampant, sable. Crest. A demi lion rampant. Motto. [ ]


This family is descended from Sir Maximilian Ffrench, the first of the name, whose descendants accompanied their kinsman, William the Conqueror, into England. [j2] Their original place of settlement in Ireland, together with many other English and Anglo-Norman adventurers, was the County of Wexford; [k2] from whence, in process of time, they gradually spread throughout the other parts of the kingdom. Two families of the name settled at different periods in Galway, the first, with Walter French, in the reign of Hen. VI. about the year 1425, and the other, with Henry Begg Ffrench, in the reign of Elizabeth; since which time, they have ranked amongst the most considerable in the Province. The family of Castle Ffrench?, near Ahascragh?, in the County of Galway, was raised to the dignity of the Peerage, in the year 1798. The Right Honorable Charles Baron Ffrench, of Castle Ffrench? is the present Lord. The other branches of this respectable name, are those of Ballinahalla, now of Beagh?, Carrorea?, Elmhill?, Ffrenchgrove?, Monivea?, Portcarn, Rahasane and Tyrone in the County of Galway, Ballykeneave and Culliane in the County of Mayo, and Foxborough?, Frenchpark?, Port, Rocksavage and Snipehill, in the County of Roscommon [l2]

Arms. Ermine, a chevron, sable. Crest. A Dolphin, embowed, upon rocks, proper. [m2] Motto. One heart, one mind.

Joyes or Joyce

This old Galway family is of ancient and honourable English descent, and was allied to the Welch and British princes Thomas Joyes, the first of the name that came to Ireland, sailed from Wales in the reign of Edward I. and arrived with his fleet at Thomond? in Munster, where he married Onorah O'Brien, daughter of the chief of that district; from thence, putting to sea, he directed his course to the western part of Connaught, where he acquired considerable tracts of territory, which his posterity still inhabit. While on the voyage, his wife was delivered of a son, whom he named Mac Mara, son of the sea, he extended his father's acquisitions, and from him descended the sept of the Joyces, a race of men remarkable for their extraordinary stature, who, for centuries past inhabited the mountainous district, in Iar Connaught, called, from them, Duthaidh Sheodhoigh, or Joyce country, now forming the barony of Ross?, in the County of Galway, and for which they were formerly tributary to the O'Flaherties. [n2] Walter Jorse, Jorze or Joyce, brother of Thomas, Cardinal of Sabina, of this name and family, was Archbishop of Armagh, he resigned in 1311, and was succeeded by his brother Roland. The former was confessor to Edward II. and was author of several works. [o2] The families of Joyes-grove in the County of Galway, Oxford? in Mayo, and Woodquay? in the town of Galway, with that of Merview?, near the town, are the present descendants of this old family.

Arms. Argent, an eagle displayed, with two necks, gules, over all Fess Ermine. Crest. A demi-wolf-rampant, argent, ducally gorged, or. [p2] Motto. Mors aut honorabilis vita.


This name and family are Irish, and the heralds have gone very far back indeed to deduce their origin. They tell us, that Maoldabhreac, son of Fiobhrann, son of Finghin, descended from Heremon, second son of Milesius, was father of Ciorrovan or Kirrovan, from whom the Kirwans are descended. [q2] They appear to have settled in Galway, in the reign of Henry VI. about which time, the name first occurs in its modern form, mention being then made of William Kirwan and his children. Some think them much more ancient, supposing them to be the family of Kirwicke, already enumerated amongst the more early inhabitants of the town; [r2] and this supposition is very probable, as the orthography of the name has undergone various changes, viz. O'Quirivan, Kyrvan, Kerovan, Kirevane, &c. but it is now generally written Kirwan. To this name and family, Ireland is indebted for two individuals, of the first order of genius, men whose splendid talents have raised their native country to a most elevated point in the scale of literature and science; by those the reader may easily anticipate, are meant the celebrated Dean Kirwan, and his distinguished relative and friend, the late Richard Kirwan, Esq. of Cregg?; the former, acknowledged to have been the first christian orator of his day, and the latter, one of the greatest philosophers of the age in which he lived. Biographical accounts of these eminent men, will be found in another part of this volume. The families of Blindwell, Castlehackett, [s2] Cregg, [t2] Gardenfield, Glan, Hillsbrook and Woodfield?, in the County of Galway; and Dalgin?, in the County of Mayo, are the principal of the name.

Arms. Argent, a chevron, between three shelldrakes, sable, beaked and legged, gules. Crest. A shelldrake close, sable, beaked and legged. gules. Motto. J' aim mon Dieu, mon Roi et mon Pais. [u2]


This is one of the most ancient, and, until the middle of the seventeenth century, was one of the most leading families in Galway. In the old volume of pedigrees, preserved in the Heralds office, it appears, that, ''William le Petit, came to Ireland, in 1185, with Sir Hugh de Lacy, who granted him, by his charter, Macherithirnar, &c. (now the barony of Macherydernan?, in the County of Westmeath,) except the Logh and Town of Dysart?; that they were palatine barons of Molingare?, and that William le Petit, had a son, Nicholas, [v2] who was ancestor to the family of Lynch of Galway. [w] William, (or according to other accounts,) John de Lynch, was the first settled of the name in Galway, he was married to the daughter and sole heiress of William de Mareschall, and, it is stated, that the eldest branch of the family, was called Mareschall, until the male line became extinct. During the greatest part of the 15, 16 and 17th centuries, they possessed the principal authority within the town. Dominick Lynch Fitz John, commonly called Dominick dubh, in 1484 solicited and procured the charter of Richard III. under which he caused his blother, Pierce, to be elected first Mayor, and was himself the second. His son Stephen, at the same time, sued out and obtained the bull of Innocent VIII. which established here that singular ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the wardenship. Thomas Lynch Fitz Ambrose was the last catholic mayor in 1654, when the ancient inhabitants were dispossessed by Cromwell; and during a period of 169 years, 84 members of this family, were mayors of Galway. The eldest line of the Lynches from which the younger branches sprung, was distinguished by the appelation of Cranmore, which means, the great tree or stock; and the house of Newcastle, descended from Emon-a-Tuane, who lived in 1342, claimed this distinction. The present lineal descendants of this family, are, the Count Lynch late Mayor of Bourdeaux, (who so eminently distinguished himself in the cause of the royal family of France, against Buonaparte,) and his relative, John Lynch Alexander, Esq. of Galway. The respectable families of Barna?, Cartron?, Clough?, Drimcong?, Lavally?, Lydican?, Moycullen?, Rathglass?, and Shannonbridge?, in the County of Galway, Duras? in the County of Clare, and Ballycurren?, Castlecarra? or Ball?, Clogher? and Partry? in the County of Mayo, are now the principal of the name.

Arms. Azure, a chevron, between three trefoils, slipped, or. Crest. A Lynx, passant, argent. Motto. Semper fidelis.


This family is of early origin in Galway. Their pedigree relates, that Oliver Martin was the first of the name, that settled in Ireland, that he was a follower of Strongbow, and that the name was derived from Martius, warlike. Some antiquaries, however, are of opinion, that they were of ancient Irish descent. O'Brien and Vallancey, say, "they are derived from the belgian firbolg, or Martini, Ir. Mairtinigh, respectable remains of which still subsist, in the Cities of Limerick and Galway." Richard Martin of Dangan or Ballinehinch Castle, Esq. is descended from the eldest branch of this family, and the houses of Curraghmore?, Ross?, Spiddle? and Tullyra? [x2] are numbered amongst the most respectable in this Province. [y]

Arms. Azure,a calvary cross, on five degrees argent, between the sun in splendor, on the dexter limb, and the moon in crescent, on the sinister. or. [z2] Crest. An etoile wavy, of six points. or. Motto. Auxilium meum a Domino.


This family first settled in Galway, in 1485, the name was then written Mares, it was afterwards changed to Morech,[a3] and finally assumed its present form. Nothing particular occurs on record relating to this family. except that several of its members served the offices of Mayor and Sheriffs, and were otherwise active and distinguished in the affairs of the former corporation. Their descendants reside at present, in the town, and at Spiddle?, in the County of Galway.

Arms. Or. a fess dauncettie, a lion rampant, in base, sable. Crest. A lion's head, erased, argent, guttee de sang. Motto. Si Deus nobiscum quis contra nos.


This old and respectable family is of considerable antiquity in Galway, the name was originally Huscared; and they derive their origin from a noble English family, one of whom, Roger Huscared, is mentioned by Dugdale, as a judge, at a very early period. Robert Huscared, or Scared, held lands in Connaught, under Richard de Burgo, in 1242. In the registry of the monastery of Athenry?, Walter Huscared and Johanna his wife, are mentioned amongst the principal benefactors of that foundation, and Richard Scared or Skeret, who is supposed to have been their son, was Provost of Galway, in 1378. To him belonged, the estate of Ardfry?, in Mearuidhe, and other lands about Clare-yn-dowl, now Clare Galway? to the friars minors; of which convent, he bestowed a piece of ground, on which, part of their monastery was built. Some of these lands are held by his descendants to this day. The principal branches of this name, at present, are those of Ballinduff, [b3] Carnacrow, Drumgriflin and Nutgrove in the County of Galway and Finvarra? and Funchien? in the County of Clare.

Arms. Vert, a chevron, or, between two squirrels, counter sejant, in chief, and one in base, proper. Crest. A squirrel, sejant, proper. [c3] Motto. Primus ultimusque in acie.

From the foregoing brief notices of the descent and origin of the principal families of Galway, the reader may be enabled to form an adequate idea of their rank and antiquity; but another, and perhaps more important feature in their character, yet remains to be developed. From the earliest period, they were celebrated for commerce, and for many centuries were classed amongst the most considerable merchants of Europe. Their wealth was consequently great, and the ample landed properties, which hey gradually acquired by purchase, from the native Irish, throughout the Province of Connaught, are now enjoyed by their numerous and opulent posterity. During the earlier periods of their career, they carefully avoided all connexion with their surrounding neighbours; [d3] in consequence of which, added to the circumstance of the town being so remotely situated from the civilised parts of the kingdom, the inhabitants were necessarily obliged to intermarry amongst themselves, and in progress of time, their degrees of kindred so much increased that they became, as it were, one family, and in many instances, it was a difficult matter to effect a marriage amongst them, without an ecclesiastical dispensation, a circumstance, which in some cases, is still known to occur. As civilization, however, increased throughout the country, when the channels of communication were gradually opened, and intercourse became more general, and was less attended with danger, the natives of Galway extended their connexions, and their names now appear inrolled in some of the most respectable pedigres of Ireland, amongst whom may be ranked, the noble houses of O'Neil, Ormond and Clanricarde, with many others of considerable rank, property and influence in the kingdom.

Besides the names already enumerated, there are many other families, who, though not similarly distinguished, were equally ancient and respectable, as well from length of residence in the town, as through alliance with the other inhabitants, by whom they were gradually affiliated, and finally considered, without any distinction, as members of the same body. Of these families, the principal were, Barrett [e3] Bermingham, Burke, Butler, Crean, Fallon, Lambert, Nolan, [f3] Port, Quin and Tully. The Coleman family [g3] is also recorded, at an early period; and particular mention is made of Edmond Coleman, from whom one of the Blake family, is said to have acquired the ancient castle and estate of Menlo?. The name of Craddock occurs early in the fifteenth century, the Moores, [h3] Beggs, Sempers [h3] and Tierneys, were also old natives of Galway; and many of the descendants of these different families, still reside in the town and its vicinity.

Having thus far treated of the names and origin of the former inhabitants of Galway, their manners and characters next claim attention; and of these, the reader will be presented with the most satisfactory testimonies. Respectably descended, the citizens always preserved a due respect for their own dignity; and from the earliest period, ranked with the first orders of the community. Learning and science, were received and cherished, within the town, during periods, wherein the rest of the kingdom, with very few exceptions, was immersed in the most profound ignorance; and, in the reign of Elizabeth, we find the accomplished and celebrated Sir Henry Sidney, (who was then Lord Deputy of the kingdom, and who often visited Galway,) declaring, [j3] that for urbanity and elegance of manners, the inhabitants equalled those of the most refined community; and, that like the people of Marseilles, in France, they contracted no stain from their rude and unpolished neighbours. [h3] Sir William Pelham, Lord Justice of Ireland, who arrived in Galway, in 1579, states, that, "the townsmen and wemmen, present a more civil show of life, than other townes in Ireland do;" [l3] and, in Sir Oliver St. John's description of Connaught, in 1614, they are thus described, "the merchants are rich, and great adventurers at the sea; their commonaltie is composed of the descendants of the ancient English families of the towne, and rarelie admit any new English amonge them, and never any of the Irish; they keep good hospitalitie, and are kind to strangers, and in theire manner of entertainment, and in fashinninge, and apparallinge themselves and theire wives, do most preserve the ancient manner and state, as much as any towne that ever I sawe." [m3] These are the highly respectable descriptions, given by the first characters then in the kingdom, of the former inhabitants of Galway; as to their actions, together with those of their descendants, their public spirit, wealth and independance, and the persecutions and sufferings, under which they long afterwards laboured, they will be found fully detailed in the subsequent parts of this work; to which, for the present, the reader is referred, this being considered the most convenient place to describe the former state and topography of the town.

In the year 1610, Speed, the celebrated English antiquary, visited Galway; and his description of the place, suffiently indicates its then importance. "The principal city," says this accurate writer, "of this province, and that, which may worthily be accounted the third in Ireland, is Galway, in Irish Gallive, built in manner much like to a tower; it is dignified with a Bishop's See,' [n3] and is much frequented with merchants; by reason whereof, and of the benefit of the road and haven, it is gainful to the inhabitants, through traffick and exchange of rich commodities, both by sea and land." [o3] About the same time, Heylin, the historian, describes Galway as the third city of the kingdom for extent and beauty; and relates and anecdote, worthy of his own words, "Galloway, a noted Emporie, and lately of so great fame with foreign merchants, that an outlandish merchant, meeting with an Irishman, demanded in what part of Galloway Ireland stood; as if Galloway had been the name of the Island, and Ireland only the name of some town." But the most particular and interesting account, at this period, is that contained in the description of Connaught, by Sir Oliver St. John, in 1614, before alluded to: he states, "the Province of Connaught hath only two corporations, the antient monuments, of the English conquerors, and inhabited only by English families and surnames; the one is Galway, a walled towne and port of the sea, latelie made a Countie, and governed by a Maior and two Sheriffs. The towne is small, but all is faire and statelie buildings, the fronts of the houses (towards the streets) are all of hewed stone, uppe to the top, tarnished with faire battlement, in an uniform course, as if the whole towne had been built uppon one modle. It is built uppon a rock, invironed almost with the sea, and the river; compassed with a strong walle, and good defences after the ancient manner, such as with a reasonable garrison, may defende itselfe against an enemie." [p3]

Such are the accounts given of Galway, upwards of 200 years ago, by visitors and strangers, who were eye witnesses of the state of the town, and described it as it appeared to them at the time; but the enthusiasm of the old inhabitants, when mentioning their native place, their ancient pride and boast, and the source and centre of all their wealth, happiness and connexions, was almost boundless; one of these, after giving a short description of the town, bursts forth into the following exclamation: -- and, as Jerusalem seemed to the Prophet Jeremiah, the princess among provinces, the beauty of Israel; so, thou, O Galway, dost to me appear, of most perfect beauty; [q3] nor will the reader be surprised at this, when he hears the following description of the town, given even at a subsequent period, by Henry Cromwell and the Privy Council of Ireland: "we may be bold to say, that for the situation thereof, voisinage and commerce it hath, with Spaine, the Strayts, West Indies and other places; noe towne or port in the three nations (London excepted) was more considerable, nor, in all probability would more encourage trade abroad, or manufactures at home, than this, if well improved." [r3] The increase, improvement and continual additions of strength to the town, by the erection of several strong bulwarks and fortifications, for nearly half the seventeenth century, and, particularly, during the civil wars of 1641, will be found described in their proper places. The reader is here presented with a complete and curious delineation of the place, as it appeared in its most perfect condition, after these improvements were made, formed under the following peculiar and interesting circumstances, and which will, for ever, remain an indelible memorial of the former fiourishing state of this once considerable town.

In the year 1651 the Marquis of Clanricarde, then Lord Deputy of the kingdom, entered into a treaty with the Duke of Lorrain, to obtain twenty thousands pounds for the King's service in Ireland; for this sum, he agreed to give the City of Limerick and town of Galway as security; and directed his Commissioners, Lord Viscount Taaffe, Sir Nicholas Plunket and Geoffry Browne, Esquire, "particularly to describe unto the Duke, the value of the security, the strength and situation of the places and the goodness and conveniency of the harbours, &c." [s3] for this purpose, a map of the town was made, which, after the restoration, (when the antient inhabitants were restored, by the Crown, to their freedoms and estates,) was finished blazoned and described by the Rev. Henry Joyce, then warden; and afterwards elegantly engraved, at the expense of the Corporation, and dedicated to King Charles II.

Next: Description of the old Map of Galway

Chapter 1

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