Ancestral Quest

By Patrick Lavin (1929 - 2017)

(© 1997 by Garryowen, Inc., Publishers. All rights reserved.)


Tracing the lineage of elusive families, such as the Lavins and Callerys, requires much patience and a fair amount of research aptitude. I began my search a few years ago, which at the time was limited to tracing my immediate ancestors. My interest became more intense with each item of new information identifying another connection. I became hooked, although I must admit that at times the slow pace of my research and the dead ends I ran into, because of missing information, were enough to make me consider throwing in the towel at times. But, I stayed the course and the more I explored, the more expansive my research became. I was not satisfied with knowing just my ancestors' names, I wanted to know something about them; what the society was like in which they lived; what the times were like. What started out as a nominal family history search grew into a painstaking search of the lives, times and customs of the septs of North Roscommon. This is an abridged version of what I have prepared for my yet-to-published book, "Ancestral Quest." I am grateful to Ed Finn for permitting me to share it with you on his Leitrim-Roscommon homepage.


This story is an attempt to sketch the lives, times and places of my ancestors -- unpretentious families who have lived for generations in the baronies of Boyle and Ballintuber North in County Roscommon. Through centuries of toil and hardship, laced with political and religious adversity, they managed to eke out modest livelihoods in their respective farming townlands in the parishes of Kilmore, Clooncraff and Ardcarne. It is the story of times and events told in relation to the lives of three families -- Lavins, Callerys and O'Haras. There were other ancestors, of course, linked over the generations through wedlock. The Mulloys, Boyds and McDonaughs married into the O'Hara family. The Lallys, Fords and Flynns joined up with the Callery family. And the Stapletons exchanged marriage vows with the Lavins. We must not forget them for they too were branches of our ancestral family tree. For now, this research recounts only my paternal and maternal forebears, the Lavins and the Callerys, and my father's maternal forebears, the O'Haras.

A search of genealogical records confirms that my immediate Lavin ancestors have lived in the townland of Ardgallager, in the parish of Kilmore since the early 1800s and possibly earlier. Nearby, in the parish of Clooncraff my Callery ancestors were living in a townland more recently called Coolmeen, from at least 1825.

Clooncraff and Kilmore are contiguous parishes located in a district known in ancient times as Tir Briuin na Sinna, one of three districts in a region of North Roscommon known as the Tri Tuathas (three countries) stretching from Lanesboro in the south to Jamestown in the north. The area included Slieve Bawn, presumably one of the last strongholds of the Firbolg tribes who, according to tradition, ruled much of Connaught down to the third century. Tir Briuin na Sinna was ruled by the O'Monaghans up to the late 1200s, when it was taken over by the O'Beirnes who ruled it until the early seventeenth century. Then it fell into the hands of an Elizabethan adventurer named Crofton. Tir Briuin na Sinna was defined at its north and east limits by the River Shannon and the picturesque Lough Bodarig. Its southern boundary, defined by a chain of lakes stretching from Carnadoe to Muckanagh, separated it from neighboring Kilglass and Lissonuffy, an ancient tuath named Doohie Hanley ruled by the great O'Hanley family. To its west lay the third tuath called Corca Achlann, which in St. Patrick's time was ruled by the Archruid Ona, ancestor to the MacBrennans (later O'Brennans). The MacBrennans are documented as chiefs of Corca Achlann from the time of Ona in about 460 A.D. until 1526. Their territory lay between the River Owenure and the River Scramogue, both of which flow into the River Shannon.

My O'Hara ancestors belong to the County Sligo O'Hara clan. Laurence O'Hara and Mary McDonough (my grandmother's great-grandparents) were born in or around Riverstown County Sligo in the latter half of the eighteenth century. They migrated to the Cootehall area of north Roscommon sometime in the early 1800s, once a part of MacDermott territory. where, incidentally, we find first mention of the Lavins. Each family will be covered in greater detail in later chapters.

But first we take a trip back in time to the dawn of Celtic Ireland and from there we travel down the ages with our cultural ancestors in Ireland where we will witness the revival of Celtic civilization as it continued to unfold and flourish long after it ceased to exist on the continent.

Celtic Invasions of Ireland

The question as to when Ireland was settled by the Celts has proved difficult for archaeologists to answer precisely. According to tradition, the earliest settlers were Mesolithic people who migrated across the North Channel from Scotland sometime after the last ice age. Some traces of their existence remain, mostly in the northeastern region of Ulster. The next wave were the Neolithic Peoples who arrived about 3,500 B.C. These settlers were growing crops and domesticating animals. Over the following 3,000 years the island was settled by successions of invaders. Some had intensely skillful and sophisticated cultures, as attested to by the numerous megalithic tombs and dolmens still seen throughout the country. Sadly, those settlers had no written language to pass on more about themselves. However, their elaborate structures tell us they must have been accomplished in many skills.

We know from historical references that at least four waves of Celtic invaders colonized Ireland in pre-Christian times. First, there were the Priteni who settled both Ireland and Britain; next the Euerni, or Belgae, who invaded Ireland from Britain; then the Laginian tribes, who came from Armorica and who may have invaded Ireland and Britain more or less simultaneously; and lastly the Goidels who reached Ireland from northern Iberia and southern Gaul. The earlier invaders were linguistically known as P-Celts; the Goidels alone belonged to the linguistic family of Q-Celts, and their tongue eventually replaced the P-Celtic idiom and became the dominant dialect of Ireland.

The Priteni tribes, after whom Ireland and Britain were known to the early Greeks as the Pritenic Islands, are believed to have arrived sometime after 600 BC. In Ireland their descendants became the Cruitin tribes later living alongside the powerful Dal Riada tribes (Belgae people) who dominated northeastern Ulster up to the ninth century AD. The Romans referred to them as the Picti, probably because of their incursions into Pictish Caledonia.

The second wave, known as the Euerni and later called Erainn (also known as Menapii, Bolgi, Belgae and Firbolgs) by annalists and historians, arrived after 500 BC. They called their new home Eueriio, which would later evolve through the old Irish Eriu to Eire, and from Eire to Ireland. Claudius Ptolemy's map of ancient Ireland shows branches of the Erainn widely dispersed throughout the island, but with strongest connection in the areas around Cork and Kerry where they first settled. These tribes, more frequently called the Firbolgs, were, according to historian J. Rhys (1890), a seafaring people who wore breeches, wielded improved weapons and traced their origins to the goddess Bolg. Norman Mongan, in his well-researched book, Menapia Quest (1995), traces their origin to the Menappi, a confederation of Belgae Celts from north Gaul and the area now known as Belgium. Among the several tribes he identifies, were the Dal Riada of west Antrim and the Dal Fiatach of east Ulster. Both of these tribes, he believes, were granted Gaelic ancestry and thereafter identified only as Gaodhail (the last of the ancient Celtic invaders). Mongon suggests that many Firbolgs survived into early historic times as "tributary" tribes. He also suggests that many of today's nameplaces in Ireland and elsewhere containing syllables such as mong, muin, maion, maine, managh, monach, manach, mannog, etc., attest to the presence of the Firbolgs in the area at some stage. Fr. Hanlon's edited version of the Life of St. Greallan, Patron of the Ui Maine, refers to the Firbolg people as the earliest noted aboriginal inhabitants of Connaught.

The third colonization is believed to have taken place sometime about 300 B.C. These trailblazers, called the Laginians, and mythologically referred to as the Tuatha De Danann, are believed to have come from the northwestern region of Gaul, later Normandy. Their name association with Laighi, the ancient name for Leinster, suggests that this was where they first settled. Eventually, they extended their power to Connacht, and in the process forced the Firbolg tribes into the remoter parts of the province. The remains of many great stone forts built by the Firbolgs in their defense against the Laigain tribes can still be seen in remote areas of western Ireland. Within a few generations the Laigain tribes had established themselves in Connacht, where in County Sligo their descendants include the O'Haras, O'Garas, and others. Their strength, nonetheless, was uppermost in southeastern Leinster where they remained the dominant power into historic times. In Munster and in Ulster they made little impact, suggesting that their conquest was limited to parts of present-day Leinster and Connacht.

The last major Celtic settlement in Ireland took place about 150 BC They were the Gaodhail, or Milesians after their leader, Milish or Mil, who, according to tradition, fled Roman incursions into the Iberian Peninsula The ancient manuscript, Leabar Gabala, has them landing at two locations -- Kerry in the south and the Boyne estuary in the east. Those who landed through the Boyle estuary pushed the earlier Laginian settlers from their land in north Leinster and established their kingship at Tara. The southern Gaodhail invaders had no fixed location at the beginning, instead they pushed inland moving from one district to another until eventually they made Cashel their headquarters.

Most pre-Gaodhail tribes remained in place forming the basis for the future society which would be dominated by the less numerous but more powerful Gaodhail. Verse passed down from the filidh[1] mentions that tribes from the Gaodhail, Firbolgs and Laigain peoples coexisted and intermarried. In his Introduction to Leabhar I Eadhra (1980), Lambert McKenna, S.J. mentions that the filidh, who were also genealogists, tell us of the existence of two distinct kinds of ruling families in early Ireland. To the first kind belonged the families of the conquering Gaodhail people, who had established themselves as ascendancy powers. To the second were the leading families of the other races, such as the Firbolg and Laginain peoples, who, although demoted to the level of tributary folk in many instances, were allowed to carry on a certain measure of control and freedom within their communities. Their chieftains, many of whom were men of wealth and influence, were often granted noble ancestry, linking them to the ruling Gaodhail families. The early annalists tell us that Firbolg people survived as distinct tribes well into early historical times. In Connacht, they were the Ui Maine, Conmhaicne, and others farming alongside Ui Fiachrach and Ui Briuin families of the ascendancy Gaodhails. In Leinster, they were the Ui Failige, Ui Bairrche and Ui Enechglaiss to mention but a few. In Ulster and in Munster many tribes can be identified whose pedigrees can be traced to the Firbolgs.

Likewise tribes of the Laigain people flourished alongside their Iberian Gaodhail masters. In the Midlands they entered the service of the Gaodhail who assigned them "sword-land" in return for their services and tribute. Laginian tribes (Gailing) also aided the Gaodhail in their conquest of Connacht and were rewarded with a grant of territory in Mayo where the barony of Gallen preserves their name.

Eastern Connacht and its Ancient Tribes

Connacht, Ireland's western province, was in ancient times known as coiced2 Ol nEcmacht before it was given its present name, which was probably in the seventh century AD. In early times this area, stretching from the River Shannon to the Atlantic seaboard, was inhabited by many tribes and vassal peoples, belonging to one or other of races that inhabited Ireland before the Milesians arrived from the Iberian Peninsula. All of Ireland's ancient colonists however, belonged to the great Celtic family which had separated from the main stem centuries before, and which in the course of later centuries blended together again on the island of Ireland.

Among the pre-Milesian tribes of Connacht were the Gregraige, a Firbolg tribe, that inhabited much of the western part of present day County Sligo between Loch Gara and the Ox mountains. Other tribes sharing the same area were the Gailenga and the Luigne, tribes of the Tuatha de Danann Celts from which O'Hara and O'Gara are descended The Ciarrage tribes or "black people" populated much of northwestern County Roscommon and are believed to have been the early lords of Airtech, an area corresponding to the present-day barony of Frenchpark. Their seat was believed to be at Baslic near Castlerea. The Calraige, another important tribe, had lands in Sligo and Mayo and north Roscommon. They may have been the rulers of Moylurg who were in later centuries absorbed by the expanding Sil Murray (later the MacDermots).

Another powerful federation of tribes was the Ui Maine (O'Kelly) whose extensive territory embraced large areas of what is now south Roscommon, Galway and north Clare. According to O'Rahilly[3], the Ui Maine were pre-Milesian Celts who were later given a fictitious Milesian pedigree showing them descended from Maine Mor, son of Eochu, etc. Notwithstanding their importance, O'Rahilly points out that they were vassals who paid tribute to the Milesian kings of Connacht. Among the Ui Maine dwelt the Sogain, a Cruthin (Pict) tribe, and the Dal naDruithne believed to be Tuatha De Danann Celts.

In Connacht as elsewhere, the continuous flow of invaders over many centuries and the inevitable assimilation has made it difficult at distinguishing, with certainty, which tribe belonged to which people. As the Milesians came to dominate, many of the earlier colonists were reduced to subsidiary tribes. Others, however, were powerful enough to exercise a substantial degree of sovereignty within their well-established territories and they managed to coexist with the new rulers.

According to the ancient scribes, Connacht was ruled during the first century BC, by a king whose name was Eochaidh Feidleach. Legend has it that it was he who built the great palace at Rathcroghan, once the stronghold of Connacht kings One of his descendants, Fearadach, ruled from Rathcroghan in 75 A.D. Fearadach's son, Fiacha, was killed at Magh Cru during the revolt of the Aitheach Tuatha4 or Attacotti. As the story is told, the Aitheach Fiacha decided it was time to take revenge against their oppressive Milesian rulers. They secretly planned a death-feast and invited Fiacha, his chieftains and supporters. During the feast, the insurgents attacked and massacred all, including Fiacha. The Attacotti then assumed the kingship, but were later vanquished by the great warrior, Tuathal Teachtmhar, who established the kingdom of Meath for himself. He was succeeded by his son, Felim. Felim was the father of the celebrated Conn Cet-Chatach (Conn of the Hundred Battles) who reigned as high king in the early sagas of the Tara kings.

Conn's descendants, known as the Connachta, were an ambitious and expansive people who did not rest content with ruling only their Meath kingdom. At an early period some pushed westward across the River Shannon and made themselves master of a territory then known as coiced Ol nEcmacht, which eventually was renamed coiced Connachta as a tribute to the descendants of Conn who settled there. In earlier times the term Connachta people applied only to Conn's followers in Meath.

The early genealogists trace the genealogy of Connacht's dynastic tribes to Con through Eochaidh Mugmedon who was king of the province at the end of the fourth century. Eochaidh's grandfather was Cormac Mac Airt who himself was grandson of Conn. He is said to have three sons by his first wife -- Brioin, Fiachra and Ailill. A fourth son by another wife was the warrior, Niall Noigiallach (Niall of the Nine Hostages). The sept stronghold was at Durna Shelca, near Carn Froach[5] in County Roscommon. Niall moved across the Shannon where he founded the dynasty of Uisnech in Westmeath. He later assumed the high kingship at Tara. In early historical times the offspring of Brioin, Fiachra and Ailill separated into three dynasties -- Ui Briuin, ancestors to the Sil Murray (O Conors and MacDermots); Ui Fiachra, ancestors to the O Dowds and O Heynes; and Ui Aillela, whose descendants left no mark in history, except their name is perpetuated in the barony of Tir-Errill in County Sligo.

At the time Christianity was brought to Ireland it is thought that Fiachra's6 son, Amalgaid, was ruling. The Four Masters record his death as 449 A.D. Amalgaid was succeeded as king of Connacht by his nephew, Ailill Molt. Ailill was a son of Nath I who ruled Connacht at an earlier date. Ailill later became king of Ireland upon the death of Loegaire mac Neill in 462. Twenty years later he was slain in the battle of Ocha by a confederacy of the descendants of Niall, aided by the Lagin and the Daui nAraidi[7]

Ailill was succeeded by Daui Galach who, according to tradition, was the first descendant8 of Brioin to assume the kingship of Connacht. It was under Daui Galach (482-502) that the Ui Briuin embarked on the road to power. The next two kings after Daui were Eogan Bel and Ailill Inbanda who were of the Ui Fhiachrach tribes. Brioin's next descendent to attain the kingship of Connacht was Aed mac Echach Tirmcharna about 577. He was followed by his son, Uata in 601. Throughout the next century or two the kingship of Connacht alternated between various branches of the Ui Fiachra and the Ui Briuin Ai The Ui Briuin Ai defeated the Ui Fiachra in 622 in the Battle of Canbo and, in 649, Guire of the Ui Fiachrach recovered the kingship.

In the seventh century the Ui Briuin Ai began separating into three branches -- Ui Briuin Seola (O Flahertys), Ui Briuin Breffney (O Rourkes) and Ui Briuin Ai (O Conors, MacDermots and others). This was not unusual in Gaelic Ireland because inheritance customs were such they allowed multiple male heirs to compete for the leadership upon the death of the king or chief. To minimize dynastic contention, seldom avoidable, some leaders imposed their kinsmen as rulers of smaller neighboring kingdoms or set them up as abbots of monastic communities. When they subdued neighboring tribes they extracted tribute and allegiance, but did not take their land by conquest.

At the end of the seventh century the kingship reverted to the Ui Briuin Ai under Muiredach Mullethan (from whom the dynastiic name Sil Murray is derived). Muiredach's son, Indretach (707-723), began an aggressive campaign to consolidate Sil Murray sway over the other Connacht tribes. Two centuries later the Sil Murray succeeded in dominating Connacht. Many of the earlier ruling tribes lost power, others fragmented or disappeared as tribal units altogether and, still others were forced into subsidiary status as expansion moved across the province. There were some, the O Monaghans and O Kellys among them, that sank into obscurity, but emerged again at a later date.

The Lavin Sept

Among the families of lesser status inhabiting the rugged terrain of north Roscommon since the sixteenth century is a sept with the surname Lavin. Before that time we can find no confirmation of its existence in Ireland. We now know that a community of Lavins inhabited the province of Cantabria in northern Spain from a much earlier date. They too are Celts and are a typical surname from an ethnological group of Cantabrians known as Pasiegos living in the valleys along the Pas River. We find that in some instances they have similar social and economic characteristics to those of the Irish Lavins, such as confining themselves to nucleic communities with an unwillingness to venture beyond their territorial boundaries. Another similarity is that both groups are traditionally cattle farmers.

Edward MacLysaght (More Irish Families, 1960), describes Lavin as a sept located in MacDermot country in north Roscommon. He observes that the name ranks prominently as one found among the "Followers of MacDermot Roe," ruler of Tir Tuathail a territory in the northeastern part of the county. MacLysaght gives little details, except to say that the name has been occasionally anglicized to Hand, and points out that there is no correlation with the surname MacLavin, an entirely different family believed to be of the Mullavin sept found in County Westmeath.

William and Mary Durning (A Guide to Irish Roots) inform us that the name Lavin originates from O'Flaithim or O'Lamhain, a surname found principally in the counties of Roscommon and Mayo. They also inform us that Lavin/O'Lamhain has a pedigree traceable to a descendent of King Cormac mc Airt who reigned as high king of Ireland some two centuries before St. Patrick brought Christianity to the Island. Oddly, they do not identify the descendent, nor do they provide any substantiation to back up their claim. In ancient Ireland pedigrees were quite often fabricated by the genealogists to lend respectability to septs not of Millesian lineage.

Patrick Woulfe (Irish Names and Surnames) acknowledges that O'Lamhain/Lavin is the name of a family originally 'Followers of MacDermott Roe' in County Roscommon. He suggests that the name could be a variation of O'Flaitimin in use in County Kerry, but stops short of providing any singular linkage to collaborate this claim.

Lavin is among the families mentioned by Dermot MacDermot (MacDermot of Moylurg, 1996) under 'marriage alliances and territorial neighbors' of the MacDermots. He cites MacLysaght in describing them as a sept located in MacDermot country, connected with the MacDermot Roes.

The lack of data supplied by MacLysaght, Durnings and Woulfe provides little clues to the Lavin family genealogy. They all accede, but without further account, that the Lavins were "followers of MacDermot Roe." Whatever this characteristic indicates it appears that it was the Lavins alone, among the many septs inhabiting MacDermot territory, that had this distinction.

We find no reference to Lavin before the sixteenth century although the MacDermot Clan with whom they were identified was ruler of the kingdom of Moylurg from the eleventh century. A well-known topographical poem[9] from the fourteenth century, dedicated to Clan Mulrooney (MacDermots and O'Conors) and its tributary septs, does not mention Lavin. This non-mention might suggest that Lavin was not a sufficiently important tributary sept to justify recognition. Alternatively, it could be an indication that the Lavins had not yet arrived in MacDermot country.

The earliest reference to Lavin is in the sixteenth century where we find two mentions of the name in the Annals of Loch Ce10. The first recounts the killing of Domhnall O Laimhin (Donal Lavin) in a battle at Muninoghter near Boyle in 1551 between Jordan Boy MacCostello and the "descendants" of Muirchertach MacDermot Roe. MacCostello had marched on Moylurg in 1547 to seek return of property stolen by the MacDermots. In the resultant affray Rory's son, Brian, was wounded. According to the Annals of Connacht, this touched off a quarrel which lasted intermittently for ten to twelve years.

The second Lavin account was that of Maghnus mc Cormac mc Domhnall Mael O Laimhin who was killed in 1567 by the sons of Eoghan MacDermot in treachery "on the Mollog." Maghnus, possibly a grandson to Domhnall who was killed in 1551, is described as a servant to Rory MacDermot, king of Moylurg (1549 to 1568). According to the Annals of Loch Ce, Mangus lost his life in one of the many unrelenting MacDermot tribal clashes which started when Rory's son, Brian, attacked the monastery at Boyle then in the possession of Eoghan MacDermot's sons, one of which was abbot of the monastery at the time. Later Eoghan's sons returned and burned the place down and in the melee, Eoghan MacDermot's son, Tadhg, killed Rory's eldest son, Mulrooney.

We have already mentioned that Lavin is customarily described as a sept located in MacDermot country, linked with the MacDermot Roes. With little historical information available on the surname, we probe into the history of the MacDermot clan for clues that might help unravel the relationship that distinguishes the Lavins as 'followers of MacDermot Roe'.

The history of the MacDermots began in Moylurg in the immediate vicinity of Loch Ce to the east of present day town of Boyle in the tenth century. They descended from the powerful Ui Briuin Ali dynasty through a branch popularly known as Sil Murray after its foremost ancestor, Muiredach Mullethan, King of Connacht (697-702). After the death of Tadhg of the Towers who reigned as Sil Murray king of Connacht (924-956), the kingship and much of the territory passed to his son, Conor (the eponymous ancestor of the O'Conors). Another son, Mulrooney, was given or acquired the territory of Moylurg and there founded an independent tuath in 956, which became known after him as O Mulrooney. The Clan Mulrooney later adopted the name Clan MacDermot following the emergence of Dermot, who reigned as King of Moylurg from 1124 to 1159.

The territory of Moylurg, embracing the two tuaths of Moylurg and Tir-tuathail, corresponded roughly with the modern barony of Boyle. It was bounded on the east by the River Shannon; on the north by Loch Arrow, the Arigna and Curlew Mountains; on the west by Loch Gara and the Breedogue River. There was no natural boundary separating it from the Magh Ai of the O Conors to the south, but the dividing line would have run from Dungar (now Frenchpark) in the west through Elphin to the River Shannon west of Drumsna. The area north of Lock Ce to the Arigna Mountain was Tir-Tuathail. Airteach, a tuath stretching from west of the Breedogue River to the marsh lands between Loughglynn and Ballyhaunis, was added at a later date. Tir-Tuathail produced its own chieftains from the MacManus and MacDermott Roe septs, as did Airteach from the MacDermot Gall sept. However, these leaders were at all times subordinate to the king of Moylurg.

To the north of Moylurg a region, which later became the baronies of Tirerrill and Corran in County Sligo, was also part of MacDermot's domain. The MacDonaghs, an offshoot of the MacDermots, later became its rulers. The Annals of the Four Masters record that the MacDonaghs took their patronymic name from Donough, son of Tomaltach MacDermot, who was king of Moylurg 1197-1207. The MacDonaghs too produced their own chieftains while remaining an integral part of the Moylurg kingdom. They later split into two septs, the MacDonaghs of Tirerrill (Collooney) and of Corran (Ballymote).

The MacDermots also acquired a territory called Clann-Cuainn in the barony of Carra in County Mayo in the middle of the twelfth century. It had belonged to the O Quins, tributaries of the O Dowds who were lords at the time of the country between Ballinrobe and Sligo. As the story is told by MacFibis of Lecan[11], Rory O Dowd, head of his sept, raped the beautiful daughter of Domhnall O Quin. O Quin slew O Dowd and then ran to MacDermot of Moylurg for protection in exchange for his patrimonial. In 1230 the MacDermots lost the territory to the Stauntons, a Norman family under the de Burgos.

Beyond the boundaries of MacDermot country were several other noteworthy clans. The O Garas were to the northwest across Loch Gara. North in Sligo were the O Conors of Carbury and east across the River Shannon were the O Rourkes and the MacRannalls. South along the western side of the Shannon was the territory known as the Tri-Tuatha where the O Beirnes, O Hanleys and MacBrannans governed their separate kingdoms. West of the Tri-Tuatha were the powerful O Conors with their tributary septs, MacGeraghty, O Finaghty, O Mulrennan, and O Flynn of Ballinlough, and nearby was O Flanagan of Elphin.

Moylurg, Tir Tuathail, Airteach and Tirerrill continued to make up the integral parts of the Kingdom of Moylurg for several centuries, except that the MacDonaghs (Tirerrill) became more closely aligned with their O Donnells and O Conors of Sligo neighbors to the north from the end of the fifteenth century. Throughout the territory other MacDermot kinfolk and associated families of lesser ranking eked out modest livelihoods from an agriculture economy of tillage and livestock. The Lavins were among those families. Because of their alliance with MacDermot Roe, one could probably expect to find them located somewhere in craggy hills of Tir Tuathail where several families of the name are still to be found. The O Mochains (Mohan) were a family of ecclesiastical distinction in Moylurg. One family member, Gregory O Mochain, was Archbishop of Tuam in the fourteenth century. A branch of the O Duigenan ollave family settled in Tir-Tuathail and became professionally associated with the MacDermots of Moylurg and the MacDonaghs of Tirerrill and Corran. The Book of Ballymote is said to be written by an O Duigenan, and the Annals of Loch Ce was compiled and transcribed by an O Duigenan under the patronage of Brian MacDermot of Moylurg.

Throughout much of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the Gaelic chieftains of Connacht encountered little interference from their English rulers who were occupied with their own problems at home. But, this did not mean that peace reigned in Connacht. On the contrary, Gaelic kings and chieftains battled one another barbarously in internecine warfare that wrought havoc everywhere and in the end their own self-destruction. The MacDermots, unrestrained in their ambitions and ruthless when it came to extracting tribute from their neighbors, were among the most predatory of the clans.

In 1526, Rory MacDermot's sons killed five or six O Conors in a retaliatory raid at Corrdrehid in Killukin parish. In 1526 and again in 1527 O Donnell forces invaded MacDermot territory and captured several castles. By the mid-sixteenth century Moylurg under Rory MacDermot had reached the peak of its power, holding sway from Athenry to the Sligo/Donegal border. Rory hired gallowglasses (mercenaries) from the Scottish Highlands to augment his military strength, paying them from the spoils he collected from the coffers of the vanquished tribes. As was noted earlier, among those who died in the service of Rory was a Donal Lavin who was killed in 1567 in a skirmish between Rory's forces and those of the sons of Eoghan MacDermot.

Following Rory's death in 1568, Moylurg power waned rapidly. His death marked a turning point for the worst for the MacDermots. His great rival, Turlough, became king. He would be the last ruler to carry the title, King of Moylurg. It was no easy reign for Turlough. Moylurg came under attack from O Rourke and Maguire who laid a path of destruction in their wake.

About the same time the English government began to take a greater interest in the affairs of Connacht, attempting to restore law and order in the province. Roscommon and the rest of Connacht were shired in 1575, sheriffs were appointed and provision made for law courts. But in reality the state of affairs was unchanged. Another attempt at change came in 1585 when Sir John Perrott presented the Compossicion of Connacht.

The aim of the Compossicion was to supersede the Gaelic Brehon Code with the English legal and administrative system. Perrott believed that the root cause of Gaelic social disorder was in Brehon Law with practices of gavelkind[12], coshering[13] and others, which led to endless intercine feuding and warfare. His plan to end these abuses was: 'that every quarter14 of land within the province should be enrolled and laid down in a way of rental, and the owner thereof named, as every man knew what rent he was to pay her Majesty, for and in respect of, being freed from cess, coign and livery; and what rent he should pay his chief lord in respect of taking away his extraordinary cuttings, coshering and other Irish demands so that every man should know what was his own and what he had to pay on it.' But, the Compossicion had its deficiencies. In the first place, not all owners of land were listed. Secondly, freeholders, to avoid the expense of registering their land, agreed to have their local overlord sign for them, thus excluding themselves from the record of land owners. The agreement (which was never enacted into law), insofar as it applied to Moylurg, was signed by seven MacDermots who, in doing so, unmindfully relinquish the lands of Moylurg to the Crown only to receive it back as its tenants. The name Lavin is not mentioned in the Compossicion. Neither are any of the other tributary families of Moylurg.

Failure to enact the Compossicion did not dampen the Crown's efforts to push for the English legal and administrative system throughout Connacht. Crown efforts to extend control over non-compliance areas moved ahead and Connacht was thrust into another cycle of warfare. At the end of the sixteenth century it was particularly chaotic. Disunity among the Connaught chieftains was hastening the break-up of the Gaelic aristocracy. Political and social upheaval followed defeat of Irish and Spanish forces at the Battle of Kinsale in 1602. There were a few isolated holdouts after Kinsale. The MacDermots fought their last successful Battle of the Curlieus against Crown forces under Lord Dunkillin. For them also the handwriting was on the wall and they finally surrendered in 1604. The Crown tightened its control over Moylurg by building a stronghold at Tintagh between Lough Arrow and Lough Key. Religious institutions were confiscated and decrees of banishment were issued against Catholic clergy. After Kinsale considerable tracts of land were confiscated in Ulster and planted with Scottish and English settlers. The threat of land confiscation caused unrest everywhere. Moylurg was no exception. Sir John King established a foothold there and in 1607 built a castle at Boyle. Throughout the province of Connacht, the distinctive Gaelic aristocratic old guard was now more or less coming to an end.

Among the soldiers who sailed for Spain with the retreating Spanish forces following the Battle of Kinsale was a Captain Edmond O Lavien (Pacata Hibernia). We have no further information of him. Most likely he was one of the Lavins of MacDermot country. Although, it's also possible he might have been a Lavin from Cantabria returning to his homeland.

As can be seen, the information available on the Lavin sept in the sixteenth century is indeed sparse -- limited to references in the Annals of Lough Ce in connection with MacDermot battles. Acknowledgment by Edward MacLysaght and other genealogists calling Lavin a 'follower of MacDermot Roe' could be an inference from the references in the Annals of Lough Ce. Acknowledgment in the Annals, however, suggests that they must have been a relatively important sept. The family members who received mention died in defense of Moylurg and we are told that only Freemen had that responsibility.

There is no mention of the surname Lavin in any relative seventeenth century document. The Annals of Lough Ce, the MacDermot's family chronicle, ended recording family events in 1590. As the sixteenth century faded into history, so did the barbaric warfare of the old Gaelic order. Elizabeth's regime had changed all of this by imposing English laws, admittedly at the point of a bayonet. But, the English, having defeated the old Gaelic order, couldn't resist the opportunity to claim the spoils -- good land, that is! And for the Irish the seventeenth century was one of more wars, confiscation's, forced transplantation and the like. In Roscommon, as elsewhere, Tudor English families were replacing many of the Gaelic families as the new elite. English law, requiring individual ownership of property in place of 'collective ownership' by the sept as was previously the case, was meeting compliance to avoid confiscation by the Crown.

In 1617 Brian MacDermot received the King James I Grant allocating him his ancestral lands of approximately 17,400 acres. Brian's principal lands were those of what later became Rockingham and Oakport estates, but he had large or small holdings in practically every parish in the newly created the barony of Boyle. MacDermot Roe received 3,000 acres and other MacDermots received 3,800 acres with the stipulation they pay ground rent to Brian. In Boyle barony only half of the freemen received Letters of Patent confirming title to their land. There were no Lavins among them. Were they then among the freeman who did not receive Letters of Patent confirming title to them? It's unlikely one will find the answer to this question without some future unexpected revelation.

The Lavin name does not appear in the Books of Survey and Distribution[15] a record showing transfer of property ownership in the mid-sixteenth century. This Survey began in County Roscommon in 1635 and took place over the next few years. It shows the land ownership in parishes and baronies prior to and following the forfeitures of land under Cromwell and King William, and includes the names of the original owners before confiscation, the description and extent of the lands confiscated and to whom the forfeited land was allocated. There was great anxiety and unrest everywhere as great tracts of land passed into the possession of foreign adventurers and transplants from other provinces. Cromwell's command, 'To hell or to Connacht' was the password of the time.

The Lavin sept might as well have ceased to exist in the seventeenth century as far as reference to it is concerned. Possibly, its population had been decimated after the barbarous internecine warfare of the previous century. According to the 1659 Census, Ireland's population was estimated at between 500,000 and one million Constant warfare and slaughter, no doubt, had taken its toll on lives and property.

Enter the eighteenth century and we find the Lavin surname has reappeared. Amazingly, it is still in MacDermot country although dispersed well beyond the boundaries of the original MacDermot Roe tuath. Records are hard to find on Irish Catholics in the eighteenth century. It should be remembered that during the previous century land belonging to the Catholic Gaelic chieftains had been confiscated and given to English Protestants who became the new landlords. The Registry of Deeds, established in 1708, required the registering of all land transactions, such as, conveyance, mortgages and leases. Marriage settlements and wills were also registered as if they were deeds. As deplorable as it seems, the purpose for establishing the Registry was to prevent land passing into Catholic ownership and, consequently, few Catholic landholders registered their deeds until the Penal Laws were relaxed in 1778. After this date Catholic landholders were more likely to register, especially if the agreement was between persons of equal economic standing. It was unlikely that the mass of small tenants would have bothered registering their deeds. Unfortunately, this policy severely impeded record keeping where Catholics were concerned, and it left a void as to their activities throughout most of the eighteenth century. Because of the policy, English surnames appear to a degree that is disproportionate to their minority status at the time.

There are at two surviving Surveys listing the surname Lavin in eighteenth century Ireland. They are the 1749 Elphin Diocese Census of all Religious and Economic Classes and the 1796 Spinning Wheel Survey of Ireland.

The Elphin Diocese Census was undertaken in 1749 by Bishop Edward Synge of the Church of Ireland. This Survey, limited to householders in the diocese of Elphin, covers most of County Roscommon and the eastern third of County Sligo. It does not cover the districts in Mayo and western Sligo where Lavins are living a century later, because they are in another diocese. Charts I and II below show the Lavin population distribution in Counties Roscommon and Sligo (southeastern region only).

Chart I

1749 Elphin Diocese Census of all Religious and Economic Classes
KilmactranyHighwoodLavin, Loughlin
KilmactranyHighwoodLavin, Cormuck
KilmactranyCreevaghLavin, Thomas
KilmactranyCreevaghLavin, Cormuck
KilmactranyCreevaghLavin, Lahine?
KilmactranyCreevaghLavin, Thomas
KilmactranyCreevaghLavin, Owen
AghanaghCoradney*Lavin, Patrick
AghanaghCoradney*Lavin, John
AghanaghKinntha*Lavin, J.
KilladoonCarramoreLavin, Luke
DrumcolumbCoolboy*Lavin, Thady
DrumcolumbKnocktraver*Lavin, Patrick
*Information taken from handwritten records. Spelling may not be correct

Chart II

County Roscommon
1749 Elphin Diocese Census of all Religious and Economic Classes
AughrimArdlecknaLavin, Martin
AughrimLissavillaLavin, Mike
ClooncraffCloonicattenLavin, James
KilbryanCloghbrack*Lavin, Luke
BaslicBallagh ??Lavin, Patrick
BaslicBallagh ??Lavin, James
BaslicLisboyLavin, Michael
Cloonfinlough*FarranawillinLavin, Michael
CloonfinloughFarranawillinLavin, Edward
CloonfinloughFarranawillinLavin, Thady
CloonfinloughFarranawillinLavin, Bryan
CloonfinloughCarrowduffLavin, Richard
CloonfinloughKiltultogeLavin, Luke
CloonfinloughKiltultogeLavin, Patrick
TibohineCorskeaghLavin, D.
TibohineTurlagh*Lavin, K.
TibohineBallinphuillLavin, M.
TibohineLisduffLavin, M.
TibohineLisduffLavin, P.
TibohineBuckhillLavin, M.
TibohineBuckhillLavin, D.
TibohineBuckhillLavin, T.
KillukinKnowaltion*Lavin, B.
KillukindittoLavin, M.
KillukindittoLavin, D.
KillukindittoLavin, J.
KillukinMullaghmoreLavin, P.
KillukinMullaghmoreLavin, M.
KillukinCarrowardLavin, P.
KillukinCarrowardLavin, C.
KillukinFrissoge*Lavin, M.
KillukinMontshady*Lavin, O.
KillukinBoher*Lavin, J.
KillukinToorymartinLavin, J.
KillukinTawlaghtLavin, J.
TumnaMeery*Lavin, O.
TumnaUsnaLavin, J.
BoyleGrangemoreLavin, Manus
BoyleDoonLavin, Mick
BoyleSheegoreyLavin, Luke
BoyleSheegoreyLavin, Patk.
* Information taken from handwritten records. Spelling may not be correct

The 1796 Spinning Wheel Survey contains a listing of 53,900 persons throughout Ireland who, in the year 1796, filed applications with the Linen and Hempen Manufacturers of Ireland for awards for growing hemp and flax that year. Only Counties Dublin and Wicklow are missing. Of the thirteen Lavins listed in this Survey, twelve are from County Roscommon, primarily from the Tibohine and Killucan areas (see Chart III).

Chart III

1796 Spinning Wheel Survey
Lavan, JohnRoscommonElphin
Lavan, ManusRoscommonElphin
Lavin, BartholomewRoscommonKilumad
Lavin, ThadyRoscommonKilumad
Lavin, LukeRoscommonKillucan
Lavin, EdmundRoscommonKillucan
Lavin, CormickRoscommonKillucan
Lavin, DominickRoscommonTibohine
Lavin, MichaelRoscommonTibohine
Lavin, ManusRoscommonTibohine
Lavin, PatrickRoscommonTibohine
Lavin, ThadyRoscommonTibohine
Lavin, JamesSligoTaunagh

Both Tibohine and Killucan parishes are within the boundaries of MacDermot's former territory. Tibohine is located in Airtech the country over which the MacDermots Gall were chieftains. They were a tributary branch of MacDermot of Moylurg and much of their lands was later acquired by the Dillon family. When the Lavins moved into Airtech is anyone's guess. It seems they followed all branches of the MacDermot Clan, and not just MacDermots Roe, wherever they went. In the next century we will find that they even ventured beyond Airtech into what was formerly MacCostello country in Mayo. We know that the MacCostellos and the MacDermots were arch enemies through much of the sixteenth century. Terrance MacDermot, as we already mentioned, was granted land in Tumna parish following the post-Cromwellian transportation. He was also granted land in the parish of Killuken, which is on the Roscommon side of the River Shannon at Carrick-on-Shannon. This might account for the Lavins settling there.

There are two significant documents from the nineteenth century, the first being The Tithe Applotment Books, compiled between 1823 and 1838 in preparation for the Tithe tax. Included in this survey, were the occupiers of titheable land; omitted were cottiers, laborers, other trades and urban dwellers. The second, An Index of Householders based on Sir Richard Griffith's Primary Valuations of 1848 through 1864 (hereinafter referred to as Griffith), lists every householder and occupier of land except for Dublin City. Griffith gives no personal particulars other than the name, townland address, acreage held and the estimated value of the holding, and from whom the land was leased. The information obtained from those documents, particularly Griffith, gives more conformation on the locales of the Lavin sept at the time.

Interestingly, Griffith shows that the Lavins (and the variant name spelling, Lavan, Laven, etc.) were still on lands once the domain of the MacDermots of Moylurg, the clan to which they had been closely identified with some three hundred years earlier. In County Roscommon, for example, the Lavin surname appeared most frequently in the barony of Frenchpark where forty-nine families were listed, mostly in the parishes of Tibohine and Frenchpark. This area, previously Airtech, was ruled by MacDermot Gall, a subordinate branch of MacDermot of Moylurg. In the early 1600s, much of Airtech west of Dungar (Frenchpark) had been acquired by the Dillon family. Following the Cromwellian settlements, Dungar went to the Frenches, a family of merchants from Galway, leaving the MacDermots with only a small territory near the Breedogue river.

The next highest frequency of the Lavin surname was in the barony of Boyle, east of the barony of Frenchpark, where it appeared twenty-six times, mostly in the parish of Killukin at the southern end of the former Moylurg tuath. In the northern region of the barony, few Lavins are recorded and, in the parish of Kilronan, former seat of the MacDermots Roe, only three families shown. South of the ancient territory of Moylurg, in what had been the Tri Tuatha, a few families were scattered in Kilmore, Aughrim and Elphin parishes. To the southwest in the parish of Kilkeevin (Castlerea) the Lavin surname appeared ten times. But nowhere else in Roscommon was it found. (see Chart III, County Roscommon).

Chart IV

County Roscommon
Lavin2x 1834BoyleArdcarn
Lavin1x 1833BoyleBoyle
Lavin1x 1833BoyleKilbryan
Lavin16x 1835BoyleKilluckin
Lavin--x 1842BoyleKillumod
Laven1x 1833BoyleKilronan
Lavan1x 1833FrenchparkKilnamanagh
Lavin1 CastlereaBaslick
Laven--x 1842RoscommonAughrim
Lavin1 RoscommonBumlin
Lavan1x 1824/42RoscommonClooncraft
Lavan1 RoscommonElphin
Lavan3 RoscommonKillucken
    (see Boyle barony also)
Lavan4x 1838Ballintober N.Kilmore
Lavin1xBallintober N.Kilmore
Lavin--x 1826Ballintober S.Killbride
Laven--x 1833BallymoeOran
G = Griffith Survey
T = Tithe Survey
Total Lavin families in Co. Roscommon according to Griffith = 97

In County Mayo the name appeared in four baronies mostly in the eastern region along the Roscommon and Sligo borders (see Chart V).

Chart V

County Mayo
Lavan1 GallenKildacommoge
Laven5 GallenKillasser
Lavin1 GallenCong
Lavan2 CostelloCastlemore
Lavan10 CostelloKilbeag
Lavan4 CostelloKnock
Lavin2 CostelloCastlemore
Lavin7 CostelloKilmovee
Lavan1 ErrisKilmore
Lavvan1 TirawleyBallysakeery
Lavin xTirawleyKilmoremoy
Lavan2 CarraKildacommoge
Lavan2 CarraTurlough
Lavin4 ClanmorrisKilcolman
Laven1 ClanmorrisKilcolman
G = Griffith Survey
T = Tithe Survey
Total Lavin families in County Mayo according to Griffith = 124

The highest concentration was in barony of Costello-Gallen where the name appeared ninety-nine times, most often in the parishes of Killedan (40), Aghamore (10), Kilbeagh (10) and Kilmovee (7). In Mayo the name also appeared in other baronies with less frequency, including Cara (10), Tirawley (9) and Clanmorris (4). It is worth while drawing attention to the fact that Clann-Cuain (a territory around Castlebar) in the barony of Carra once belonged to the MacDermots who acquired it from the O Quins and lost it to the Stauntons in the thirteenth century. Possibly the Lavins had arrived there then.

The MacCostellos were an Anglo-Norman family that established a foothold in the Costello-Gallen region in the twelfth century at the expense of the O Garas who were pushed eastward into Coolavin in County Sligo (before the MacDermots acquired it). Throughout much of the period, but particularly in the 1500s, the MacCostellos were frequently at war with the MacDermots Gall, their next door neighbors across the River Lung in Airtech. Between 1547 until 1559, Jordon Boy MacCostello and Rory MacDermot, King of Moylurg, were continually at war with each other. In one of the battles Domhnall O Lavin was among those killed in the service of MacDermot16. According to the Annals, the MacDermots and their allies went on a plundering trip to Clanmorris in Mayo in 1548. They killed the Abbot, Richard MacMorris, captured the castle of Castlekeel, put between one and two hundred men to death and came away with nearly a thousand head of cattle and ten horses. Other citations from the Annals tell of the death and destruction by the MacDermots and their hired mercenaries on the MacCostellos. But there is no reference in the Annals that the MacDermots ever ruled the Costello-Gallen territory, or that the MacCostello sept was at any time tributary to MacDermot. How then, and when, did the Lavins come to settle in Mac Costello country? Possibly it was due to normal expansion from a rising population in neighboring Airtech following the decline of the MacCostellos and MacDermots Gall. The merger of the two territories, following acquisition by the Dillons in the early 1600s, possibly opened up the boundary permitting unencumbered travel between the former tuaths.

Although Griffith shows that Lavins were living in contiguous baronies on both sides of the Roscommon/Mayo border in the mid-nineteenth century, it is worth noting that the two largest clusters -- Killedan in Mayo and Tibohine in Roscommon -- were some distance apart.

In County Sligo (see Chart VI) the Lavins were most frequently listed for Corran and Tirerrill, contiguous baronies north of the barony of Boyle in County Roscommon. This too was MacDermot territory before it passed into the hands of the MacDonaghs in the fourteenth century. According to the Four Masters, the MacDonagh sept took its patronymic from a Donaugh who descended from Tomaltach MacDermot, King of Moylurg (1197-1207). The MacDonaghs remained tributary to the MacDermots well into the fifteenth century. About 1446 the MacDonaghs agreed to divide their territory into Tirrerill and Corran and elect a MacDonagh chief over each. It has been said that the MacDonaghs were a predatory sept, always at war with their neighbors and when they couldn't find neighbors to fight with they fought among themselves. Did the Lavins settle in south Sligo when the MacDermots first moved into the region, or was it at a later date when it came under the rulership of the MacDonaghs? Because of the scarcity of reference to the Lavin sept, one can only venture a guess at the answer.

According to Griffith, there are two significant clusters in County Sligo in the mid-nineteenth century. One, comprising of the contiguous parishes of Emlaghfad and Toomour in the barony of Corran, has a combined total of forty-four listings. The other, in the parish of Kilmactranny, has seventeen. The pattern in Sligo follows that of the other two counties, a nucleic settlement and unusually limited dispersion. Beyond those three nucleic settlements very few listings of the surname is found in Ireland. In County Leitrim ten of thirteen families listed are in parishes contiguous to Boyle barony in County Roscommon. In County Monaghan in Ulster five families are shown. The surname is not found in fourteen of the thirty-two counties.

Another interesting observation from Griffith is the variant spelling of the name (see Chart VI). In Roscommon most registrants identified with the 'Lavin' spelling; few with 'Lavan' and fewer still with 'Laven.' In Mayo, by contrast, most of the registrants identified with the 'Lavan' spelling; few with Lavin and still fewer with Laven. Two oddities -- Lavvan and Larvan -- are also listed for Mayo. In Sligo the 'Lavin' variant is used three to one over 'Lavan.'

Chart VI

Griffith Registrants
Lavine  1

Why the truncated versions of the name? Possibly, students of orthography can explain. On the one hand, these variants could have evolved before spelling became standardized. Irish families often modify their name spelling to show an air of incomparability over other families of the same name. On the other hand, it might be the consequence of an accidental choice of the Griffith employees who did the survey. One other observation, the Gaelic prefixes, 'O' and 'Mac,' are not present with any of the truncated versions.

Chart VII

County Sligo
Lavan1 CarburySt. John's
Lavan17x 1835TirerrillKilmactranny
Laven1x 1835TirerrillKilmactranny
Lavin1x 1833TirerrillKilmactranny
Lavin2x 1835TirerrillShancough
Lavin1 TirerrillDramcolumb
Lavin5x 1824TirerrillKilmacallan
Lavin2x 1824TirerrillTawnagh
Lavin--x 1833TireraghKilmorency
Lavin1x 1834CorranKilshalvy
Lavin x 1828CorranCloonoghil
Lavin1x 1835CorranDrumarat
Lavin1x 1833CorronKilmorgan
County Leitrim
Lavin4x 1834LeitrimKiltoghert
Lavin6x 1829LeitrimAnnaduff
Lavin--x 1833LeitrimKiltubbrid
Lavin3 DrumahaireInishmagrath
County Monaghan
Lavin5 Cremorne?
G = Griffith Survey
T = Tithe Survey
Total Lavin families in County Slio according to Griffith = 78
Total Lavin families in County Leitrim according to Griffith = 13
Total Lavin families in County Monaghan according to Griffith = 5

What is one to make of the unusual demographic patterns of the Lavin settlements? Is it unusual or is it duplicated by other Connacht septs? Does it suggest any hint as to the origin of this sept? MacLysaght and other genealogists keep referring to the Lavins as 'followers of MacDermot Roe,' but fall short of explaining what the term 'followers' meant, or to what this distinction is attributed. The name is mentioned only on two occasions in the Annals during the Gaelic era, and both are in reference to warfare involving the MacDermots.

Some might suggest that the Lavin sept was a remnant of some ancient Celtic tribe inhabiting northern Connacht in ancient times? One such tribe, the Calraige-Luirg, held lordship of the district (which in more recent times included the Lavin sept) before the expansion and eventual dominance of the Milesian tribes. It's understood that many of the earlier settlers survived; some in subsidiary status, others flourishing alongside their Milesian masters. If the Lavins were among those tribes that survived, the genealogists would have attempted to identify their progenitor and given them a pedigree. A clue that their roots in Ireland are from a more recent period of time is that the surname is not traditionally linked to either Gaelic-name prefixes, "O" or "Mac." Another indication is the matter of the letter "v" in the name. The letter "v" does not exist in the Gaelic alphabet. However, in translating the name into Gaelic the "v" is replaced by "hm" thus retaining the "v" sound.

There is a slight possibility that the Lavins arrived as foreign mercenaries in the employ of the MacDermots and stayed on and settled in north Connacht. This can be supported on the basis of the references in the Annals of Loch Ce associating them with MacDermot Clan tribal warfare in the sixteenth century. From the fourteenth century on, Irish tribal leaders were assisted in their armed conflicts by foreign mercenaries, mostly Scottish galloglasses from the Western Isles, who were then pouring into Connacht in search of military employment. But, the evidence hasn't surfaced that the Lavins were one of the gallowglass tribes, despite their mention in MacDermot warfare. One such gallowglass tribe was the MacDowells who arrived in Connacht from the Hebrides at the end of the fourteenth century. There were others, the MacSweeneys among them, who engaged their services to one or the other warring clan in return for a share of the spoils. Many are known to have stayed on.

A third and more plausible answer is that the Lavins immigrated to Ireland from Spain sometime between the adoption of surnames in the twelfth century and their appearance in Ireland in the sixteenth century. A colony of Lavins have been living in the autonomous province of Cantabria in northern Spain since at least the eleventh century. Lavin there is considered to be a typical name from the ethnological group of Cantabrians called Pasiegos living in the valleys along the Pas river.

La Historia de Lavin shows that the Cantabrian Lavin surname originates from the town of Lavin, also known as Santa Marin de Lavin of the judicial area of Ramales, in the province of Santander (an earlier name for Cantabria), from where it spread to other parts establishing many separate houses from which many knights repeatedly proved their knighthood in the Royal Chancillery of Valladolid.

What's more, the Pasiegos Lavins are of Celtic origin and have characteristics similar to those of the Irish Lavins. For example, settlement patterns of both groups show them living for generations in nucleic communities with extremely limited dispersion. Both communities engage in raising livestock.

Is it possible that the Cantabrian Lavins originated in Ireland at some time in the distant past? The fact that the surname originates from a village in Cantabria discounts this suggestion. Most of the "Wild Geese" Irish that settled in Spain did so in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the Cantabrian Lavins existed from a much earlier date. It is more convincing that the Cantabrian Lavins immigrated to Ireland. During the Middle Ages Cantabria had written permission from the Spanish kings to trade with Ireland and England. One can't rule out that the Lavins arrived in Ireland during that period.

My Lavin Ancestors
My great-grandfather, Luke Lavin, would have been born in the year 1800, or shortly thereafter in County Roscommon. It was the year of the Act of Union linking Ireland with what was then the richest country in the world. The destiny of the majority of Ireland's Catholic population would no longer be decided by a Protestant minority parliament in Dublin. The Union had put their future and fate in the hands of 658 members in the London House of Commons, of which, only 100 represented Irish constituencies. The Union, however, got off to a disastrous start in that it had failed in the first instance to redress the remaining political and social disabilities of Ireland's majority Catholic community. In the late 1700s many of the penal laws restricting political activity by Catholics had been repealed. Those changes had allowed Catholics to carry on schools, join professions and vote in parliamentary elections. However, Catholics were still debarred from sitting in Parliament, or holding important state or military offices and their long-standing grievance of security of tenure for tenant leaseholders was left unchanged.

On the economic side, trade barriers between the two countries were removed and there was great expectation that increased British investment in Ireland would improve Irish living standards. However, the opposite was the reality. Irish industries, smaller in scale than their British counterparts and no longer protected by pre-Union tariffs, didn't have the economic resilience to survive the heavy competition from the neighboring island. Consequently, within a few short years Irish industries began a steady decline. There was further hardship from the economic slump which followed the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1814. Coupled with all of this was the greater demand in Britain for meat products, which set in motion a shift in Irish agriculture from tillage to grazing. The resulting effect was a significant increase in agricultural unemployment.

Little has come down to us about Luke personal life. We have not determined where he was born. Nor do we yet know who his parents were. He may well have been born in Kilmore parish, but it's more than likely that he was born elsewhere, possibly in the parish of Killuken, near Carrick-on-Shannon. A Luke Lavin was living there in 1796. Were they related? The name association, if not a mere coincidence, suggests that the Killukin Luke may have been his grandfather. It was customary in Ireland in those days to name the first son after the paternal grandfather. Further, the parish of Killuken is in close proximity to the parish of Kilmore and it is quite possible that Luke or his father were born there and acquired the Ardgallagher property sometime in the late 1700s or early 1800s We also know that Luke's son, Patrick, had a Thomas Lavin as one of his baptismal sponsors. We are not sure if this Thomas Lavin was a brother of Luke's, but in all probability he would have been. There is a baptismal entry in Kilmore Church records for a Thomas Lavin in 1818, possibly the same person. His parents were given as Patrick Lavin and Margaret Ford. Could they have been Luke's parents? He did name his first son by his second marriage, Patrick. Was he following the traditional naming practice?

Luke Lavin was married twice. His first marriage to a Joann Donlon took place about 1825. We have no information on Joann or the Donlon family. Baptismal records document three children by this marriage. The first child, John, was born in 1826. His baptismal record reveals that he was baptized on 15 May 1826 and Ardgallagher is given as his parents' address. This is the earliest record we have of Luke living in Ardgallagher. The Tithe Applotment Books covering the 1820s-30s period do not mention Luke or any Lavin occupying land in Ardgallagher at that time. The baptismal register shows that John's sponsors were Daniel Tighe and Mary Dowd. John evidently died in infancy because we find another child, born in June 1829, was also named John. His baptismal sponsors were John Galvin and Elizabeth Burns. The third listed in the baptismal register is Margaret. She was baptized on 9 September 1836 and her sponsors were Peter Oats and Eleanora Larkin. Luke's wife, Joann, seemingly died sometime between Margaret's birth in 1836 and 1839 when he remarried. There is no additional information on this family or their descendants, if there were any.

Luke's second wife, Brigid Stapleton, was a local Kilmore girl. According to information obtained from church records, Luke and Brigid were married in Dangan Roman Catholic Chapel, Parish of Kilmore, on August 11, 1839. Their marriage witnesses were Luke McGovern and Ann Deignan.

Brigid Stapleton had three sisters -- Margaret, Elizabeth and Ann. -- all of whom married local suitors. Margaret married a man by the name of Healy and Elizabeth married into the Glancy family. Ann married a Bernard Duignan at Dangan Chapel on August 14, 1833. Witnesses to their marriage were Peter Cox and Mary Regan. Seventeen years earlier in 1816, a Mary Stapleton married a John Dignan in Kilmore Chapel. They had six children and, interestingly, one was called Bernard. Bernard, according to church records, was baptized on June 6, 1822 which counts him out as Ann's husband. Ann probably was Mary's niece. A son of Ann's, William Duignan, married Brigid Healy at Kilmore Chapel on February 19, 1870. Brigid Healy was the daughter of Michael Healy and Winifred Beirne of Feeragh Mahon.

Luke Lavin and Brigid Stapleton had three children that we know of. A daughter, Ann, was born in 1840. Her baptismal sponsors were listed as Daniel Hanly and Margaret Stapleton. Another daughter, Elizabeth, married Roderick [Roger] O'Hara in Kilmore Chapel on June 29, 1868. Roger, age 43 at the time, was the son of William O'Hara and Jane Boyde of Cootehall. Son Patrick was born on March 13, 1843. His baptismal sponsors were Thomas Lavin and Elizabeth Stapleton. He married Jane O'Hara on June 14, 1869. Jane was niece to Roger who married Patrick's sister, Elizabeth.

Patrick Lavin, my grandfather, inherited the Ardgallagher family farm from his father, Luke, sometime prior to 1869. It's not clear if this happened upon the death of his father, Luke, or not. He was 26 years old when he married Jane O'Hara on June 14, 1869. Jane was 21 then. They were married in Cootehall Church. The witnesses at their marriage were Richard Duignan of Kilmore and Brigid Healy of Kilronan. Patrick died in 1912 at the age of 69. Jane died in 1922.

When Patrick and Jane married in 1869 a mere twenty years had passed since the Great Famine brought devastation to a large segment of Ireland's population. In 1841, the great majority of Irish families, living on farms of under seven acres, were existing at or below the poverty level. The significant decline in the population, caused by the Famine and subsequent emigration, brought a rapid change in farm sizes and agriculture methods. The size of farms increased rapidly from a mere seven percent with thirty acres or more in 1840 to more than thirty percent some forty years later.

The Griffith Survey shows that Patrick's father, Luke, was farming 51 acres in the contiguous townlands of Ardgallagher and Scrabbagh ten years earlier in 1857. He is listed as having 17 acres at No. 2a Ardgallagher and 34 acres at No. 7 Scrabbagh. Fulke Greville was the lessor of the property and its valuation was listed at L28.5. In 1869, a feudal relationship still prevailed in Ireland with ownership of land in the hands of only three per cent of the population, mostly absentee landlords living abroad. Patrick belonged to the ninety-seven percent of Irish farmers who were simple tenants on the lands. There was alot of agitation about land ownership at the time with demands for transfer of ownership to tenants dominating the political agenda. The Deasy Act of 1860 had converted fuedal relations into a contractual agreement in an effort to provide some protection for tenants. This was followed by the Gladstone Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act [1870] which theoretically gave tenants security of tenure, but in actual practice changed nothing, since the landlords were still a power to be reckoned with and would not forfeit their rights so easily. Subsequent legislation would be required to deal effectively with the landlord class and it came about in a series of later measures which allocated funds making the transfer of land from landlord to tenant a reality. Much of the 51 acres that Patrick inherited from his father was good land capable of producing arable crops and grazing livestock.

Patrick Lavin and Jane O'Hara raised twelve children -- six boys and six girls -- born between 1870 and 1892. All were still living when Patrick died in 1912. Eleven survived Jane. Only the youngest member, Cairan Patrick (Fr. Damian), predeceased her.

The Cootehall O'Haras

My grandmother, Jane O'Hara, was one of eight children born to Laurence O'Hara and Catherine Mulloy at Cloongreghan, Cootehall in County Roscommon in June 1848. Her baptismal certificate shows she was baptized on June 14, 1848 and lists her sponsors as William O'Hara and Brigid Mulloy.

The Cootehall O'Haras were traced back to Jane's great-grandparents, Laurence O'Hara and Mary McDonough, who were born in County Sligo in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Mary would have been born in 1778, since it is believed she was sixty-one when she died in 1839. Laurence's birth date has not been determined, but more than likely he was born some time before Mary in the 1770s. We do not know from which area in County Sligo they came or when precisely they arrived in Cootehall. According to maps prepared around 1820-1825, there is mention of only one O'Hara living in Cootehall at the time. She was known as the Widow O'Hara who farmed a few acres in the townland of Moigh. Widow O'Hara, however, was not Mary McDonough, as Mary had died before Laurence and, therefore, could not have been a widow.

By 1833, the O'Haras were well established in the Cootehall area where Laurence and his sons were farming in the townlands of Cleigna, Knockadaff and Glooria. One theory would be that Laurence and Mary arrived in the area sometime between 1820 and 1833 and were sufficiently well-off to acquire land almost immediately. Folk memory has it that Laurence was a hatter. If in fact he was, one could speculate that he and Mary arrived at a much earlier date, possibly soon after their marriage in 1796, and were in the hat-making business until his family was raised and/or his resources were sufficient to secure himself some farm land.

Cootehall, where Laurence and Mary made their home in the early 1800s, was named for the Coote family whose ancestor, General Coote, was granted the surrounding lands following the Cromwellian Wars. The village itself is situated in the picturesque countryside of north Roscommon close to Oakport Lough and the navigable Boyle River which links up with the River Shannon at Drumharlow Lough.

Economic and social conditions throughout the region were in a depressed state when Laurence and Mary settled there. There was a privileged class of landowners living comfortably off their extensive holdings. Among them: Hugh Barton, Cootehall estate; William Mulloy, Oakport estate; and Lord Lorton, nearby Rockingham estate. There were some medium-sized farmers, merchants and tradesmen. Among them was Laurence O'Hara who eked out a modest living on the farm he leased probably from Hugh Barton. Below that were the cottiers and farm laborers whose population was growing at an alarming rate, and whose reliance on the potato for food was driving them to a subsistence level on the edge of starvation. It was a time when mass evictions were commonplace, as landowners sought to clear their lands of unprofitable tenancies. Tenant families were thrown out on the roadside and their homes destroyed, leaving them to fend for themselves.

Isaac Weld[17] has left some vivid pictures of Cootehall in the 1820s. He describes the village as 'an assortment of wretched cabins, whiskey shops and a forge.' The people, particularly the elderly women, looked miserable and the men were 'fierce of countenance.' He tells the story of an old man whom he called upon during his visit. The old man related how he was of English descent and a Protestant; that his ancestors had followed the King family into Ireland during the wars. He held five acres of land on a lease made thirty years before, at the rent of twenty-five shillings per acre, which he believed might be about the value of the land. He was concerned his rent would be raised when his lease expired. He told of having had different wives, and numerous children, most of whom had died of consumption. His cabin, according to Weld, had no windows, nor other light except the door, but it had a good chimney, and the fireside was most warm and comfortable. His little garden contained only potatoes and cabbages.

In the adjoining townlands, oats and potatoes were the principal crops. Wheat grown in small quantities. Flax used to be grown in the area to a considerable extent up until the late 1700s. There was some employment for local women spinning wool and weaving coarse flannels and other cloth. Weld tells how they worked for a mere pittance, their recompense mainly in the form of meals.

Such were the economic and social environments of the community into which Laurence and Mary arrived from County Sligo in the early 1800s. They remained in their adopted spot and were among the families that survived the famine disaster of the 1840s. By the end of the century their descendants had multiplied many fold making the O'Hara name predominate in the area.

From where in County Sligo did Laurence and Mary originate? That is a mystery. Record-keeping in eighteenth century rural Ireland, poor at best, made the task of tracking their movement hopeless. Folk memory, stories handed down from one generation to another, offered some insight. Larry O'Hara of Cleigna, widely regarded among family circles as the most knowledgeable when it came to discussing O'Hara family history, related the following some years before he died to Kevin Kelly18. "Laurence and Mary often went back to visit their families in Sligo. Those visits were usually for a short period, possibly only a day or two. When Laurence went alone, he went on horseback; when Mary accompanied him, they traveled by horse-drawn vehicle of some kind. The direction he took was along the Ballintogher road." According to Kevin Kelly, that would seem to suggest that the destination was some place between the line Lough Arrow/Riverstown and the Leitrim border. Kelly suggests that the length of the visit, mode of transport and the poor quality of secondary roads at the time would have their destination at not more than 15-20 miles away. Therefore, it can be accepted, with some degree of certainty, that the area in County Sligo where Laurence and Mary came from was somewhere within the Kilmactranny-Riverstown-Ballintogher triangle.

Kevin Kelly, with this theory in hand, set about identifying all O'Haras who had lived in or within a reasonable distance of this triangular area and matching their names with those commonly used by the Cootehall O'Haras in the nineteenth century (Laurence, Roger, etc.). He found some interesting matches that suggest that a kinship was possible. One example was the name Roger, popular with the Cootehall O'Haras down the generations, which showed up several times.

A Roger O'Hara appeared in the Hearth Money Rolls of 1665. His address was given as Templehouse, Kilvarnet, County Sligo. Roger O'Hara is the name given to the father of Captain Patrick O'Hara killed in battle near the River Poe in Italy in 1702. A Roger O'Hara, with two children under fourteen and two over fourteen, was listed as a papist farmer in the townland of Knockroe, parish of Kilmacallan in the Elphin Diocesan Census of 1749[19]. Other O'Haras listed in this Census were James, a papist laborer living in the townland of Rosses in the same parish, and a Charles, a papist laborer with three children, living in the townland of Heapstown also in the same parish. These were the only O'Haras listed in the Elphin Census for the area (within the triangle) we suspect Laurence and Mary came from.

We can't, of course, overlook the probability that Laurence's forebears may well have been living somewhere else in County Sligo during the eighteenth century. Roger of Knockroe appears to be a possible ancestral candidate on the basis of the name and address. Roger was a popular name with the Cootehall O'Haras, appearing with consecutive generations throughout the nineteenth century. James, on the other hand, was a rarely used name with the O'Haras, showing up once in 1860 and once again in 1874.

In 1779, an entry in the Convert Rolls, dated June 15th, reveals that a Roger O'Hara converted to Protestantism in the parish of Anchonry in County Sligo. This parish, while marginally outside the area from which it is believed Laurence and Mary originated, is none the less worth noting because of the name Roger.

In 1786, a Laurence O'Hara of the townland of Behy in the parish of Tawnagh, made a will leaving his entire property to his daughter, Mary, who was the wife of John Brett. Tawnagh is in the ecclesiastical parish of Riverstown and, therefore, within the area of interest. This record merits specific attention, as it is the only confirmation of the name Laurence O'Hara having shown up in County Sligo records. The name Laurence was always popular with the Cootehall O'Haras.

According to Tithe Applotment Books[20] entries, there were no O'Haras or Bretts registered for the townland of Behy [Tawnagh parish] in 1824. However, a Patt Brett, Esq. held seventy-two acres in the townland of Carrowkeel. It has not been ascertained if this Patt Brett was a son of Mary O'Hara and John Brett who received the Behy property from Mary's father, Laurence, in 1786. There were no entries made in the Tithe Applotment Books for O'Haras in the townland of Knockroe, parish of Kilmacallan in 1824 (where a Roger O'Hara was living in 1749). However, a Pat O'Hara resided on six acres in the townland of Rossangle and a Carmac O'Hara had eighteen acres in another townland. We don't know if they were descended from the 1749 Roger, or related to the Cootehall O'Haras. As a matter of interest, Carmac (or Cormac) is a name we have not found associated with the Cootehall O'Haras. The name Pat, of course, was very popular.

Also in the Tithe Applotment Books [1824], for the parish of Drumcolumb, there is an entry for a Charles O'Hara farming six acres in the townland of Lisconeytown and another for a Mick O'Hara with eight acres in the townland of Copperhill. This is the first evidence we have of O'Haras in this parish.

In the parish of Killadoon in 1834 we find two O'Hara entries. Charles O'Hara was farming thirteen acres and John O'Hara had eight acres in the townland of Coolemoneen. In this same parish there were ten McDonough families with holdings between four and twenty-seven acres. There is a strong probability that Laurence's wife, Mary, was from this area, because of the similarity in the name spelling, which differed from that in other Sligo parishes.

We cannot overlook the possibility that other O'Haras were in the area at the time. The Tithe Applotment Books survey didn't register all householders. Only occupiers of land above a prescribed valuation were included. It didn't take into account cottiers, laborers, tradesmen and urban dwellers.

Laurence O'Hara and Mary McDonough[21] raised four sons -- William, Roger, Patrick and Laurence, Jr. There may have been other children that did not survive. For instance, Patrick was born in 1808 and the next birth, that of Laurence, wasn't until 1815 suggests that a birth or two may have occurred in the interim years. It was not unusual to encounter one or more infant deaths in a family in those times. There were no daughters, at least none were recorded.

William was born in 1797 and since his mother, Mary, was then nineteen it is conceivable that he was their first child. William married Jane Boyde, also from the Cootehall area. William and Jane were my great-great-grandparents.

Roger was the second son. His birthdate is not known, but on the basis of collateral information it's believed to have been about 1800, He married a lady by the name of Maria Murry. They resided in the townland of Knockadaff where in 1834 they farmed ten acres, which had risen to seventeen by 1858. They had issue: Maria (m. Maxwell), Patrick (m. Meehan), Catherine (m. Tobin), Andrew, Anne and Roger (m. McGreevy).

Patrick, the third son, was born in 1808. He married Honoria Lavan. We have not researched Honoria's family history and have no idea as to which Lavins she belonged. When she died in 1896 her age was listed as 86, confirming she was born in 1810. Patrick farmed in Cleigna. In 1833 his farm consisted of four acres; by 1858 the acreage had risen to fifty-five. Patrick was nicknamed "The Colonel." The story[22] goes that when he and his brother, Laurence, were young lads they had a quarrel. To resolve the matter, their father arranged a boxing contest between them which Patrick, upon trouncing his little brother, was supposedly told by his father 'You're the Colonel now me boy' and the nickname stuck. Patrick and Honoria reared six children: Patrick (who became a priest and was parish priest of Kilbride Parish when he died in 1921 at age 78[23]), Roger (m. Hunt), Mary (m. Simon), Anne (m. Murphy and McDermott), Michael (m. Hogg) and Bridget.. Patrick died in 1886. Honoria lived another ten years; she died in 1896 Their grave is located outside the O'Hara family plot in Ardcarne cemetery.

Laurence, Jr. was born in 1815. He married Ellen Meehan. They farmed in Cleigna, Derrygirraun and Cloongreaghan. Their children were: William, Patrick, Ellen (m. Patrick Mulleany of Kilmactrany in 1867), John, Margaret, Bridget, Laurence, Elizabeth and Charles. Laurence, Jr. died in 1885. According to the 1901 Census, his widow Ellen, age 82, was still living in Cleigna with her son, Laurence.

Second O'Hara Generation:  William O'Hara and Jane Boyde were my great-great-grandparents. William died in 1872 at age 75. Jane, believed to have been born in 1798, died in 1879. They raised five boys: Laurence (m. Catherine Mulloy), Robert (m. Delaney and Keavney), Roger (m. Elizabeth Lavin[24]), Andrew (m. Anne Mulloy[25]) and William (m. Jane Bambrick[26]). Laurence and Catherine were my great-grandparents. They are profiled under Third O'Hara Generation below.

Third O'Hara Generation:  Laurence O'Hara married Catherine Mulloy[27] on February 16, 1846. They were married at Cootehall, which would suggest that Catherine's family lived in the parish. Witnesses to their marriage were Michael Brother and Catherine Mulloy. Laurence and Catherine were my great-grandparents. They raised eight children, including my grandmother, Jane.

Laurence was born in 1821; died in 1904 at the age of 83. He is described as having been a powerfully built man who showed off extraordinary feats of strength. When he was a young man in the early 1850s he volunteered his labor to help complete the Catholic church in Cootehall. This was just after the Great Famine that had devestated the countryside. The story repeatedly told over the years at family gatherings boasted of his strength carrying extremely heavy loads of masonry on his shoulders right to the top of the church tower they were building while tradesmen and onlookers stood in amazement at his capacity[28].

Catherine was born in 1821. We don't have the year of her death, but according to the 1901 Census, she was still living. We have not researched Catherine's family history and therefore have little knowledge of their origin. Cyril Mattimoe, author of North Roscommon---its people and past, claims that all the Cootehall Mulloys, including his maternal ancestors, were kinsfolk of the prominent Mulloy family of Oakport. The Mulloys, thrown off their extensive land holdings in County Offaly after the the Cromwellian Wars, settled in north Roscommon sometime in the 1650s. Laurence and Catherine raised eight children, two daughters and six sons. One of the daughters, Jane that is, was my grandmother. Names of their children were: Mary (m. King), Jane (m. Lavin), Patrick (m. Mulleany), William, John, Charles (m. Duffey), Laurence (m. O'Leary) and Joseph (m. Mulloy)

Son, Laurence, was a prominent citizen of Boyle in the late 1800s. In 1888, he was one of three new commissioners elected to the Boyle Town Commission. A search of archived copies of local newspapers from 1888 to 1903 in the London Newspaper Library[29] found many references to Laurence's civic activities, and some rare glimpses of Laurence the public figure.

In one of the stories, Laurence and a fellow councilor were named as defendants in a civil brought by a Michael Cunningham. Cunningham, a clerk for the town, had filed suit to recover from each defendant five hundred pounds damages for libel allegedly stemming from his dismissal by the town council, "... to save ratepayers from paying an officer who had nothing to do." In his motion asking for the case be remitted to the County Court Judge of Roscommon, the solicitor for the defendants told the Court that the defendants were not aware that they libeled the plaintiff. The motion was granted. The outcome of this case is unknown. No additional reference to it was found in subsequent newspapers.

Another newspaper story on town council meetings focuses on a resolution expressing confidence in Mr. Gladstone[30] as the man who passed the Franchise/Ballot Acts, and the Land Acts for Ireland. In seconding the resolution, Laurence O'Hara commented "that Parnell[31] had kept out of the light for the past five years." Sometime thereafter it was reported that Laurence was in attendance at a Parnellite meeting in Boyle. Laurence was known to be a great supporter of Parnell and his policies.

A news item in the local newspaper, March of 1898, tells of Laurence O'Hara, town councilor, having appeared at Boyle Petty Sessions charged with letting his dog wander the street unmuzzled. Have you anything to say Mr. O'Hara? asked the presiding court officer, Mr. Bull. "I suppose not, sir. The dog wandered out after I fed him and I knew nothing about it until I got the summons from Constable Kelly." The judge wasn't impressed and he fined Laurence one shilling and court costs.

Laurence was in the news again in March 1901 regarding a resolution he tabled at a commissioners' meeting objecting to the coronation oath of Edward VII who had just ascended the English royal seat following the death of Queen Victoria. The resolution read:
"Resolved that we, the Boyle Town Councilors, take this opportunity, at our first monthly meeting, to protest in the most emphatic manner against the oath administered to King Edward VII on the opening of Parliament, in which a gross insult has been offered, not only to the faithful Catholics of Eire, but to Catholicity the world over; and that we strongly urge Irish M.P.'s not to rest until they have such a disgraceful blot removed from the formalities in connection with the oath. Copies of his resolution will be forwarded to King Edward VII, Chief Secretary Mr. O'Kelly, M.P. and Mr. Tully, M.P."

Obviously, there was something in the wording of the oath that was offensive to the King's Catholic subjects and Laurence wanted the King to know it. The resolution was passed with one dissenting vote objecting on the grounds that religious matters had no place on the council agenda. The last reference to Laurence as town councilor was on March 7, 1903. It was in reference to a proposal he made to appoint a council committee to confer with the Board of Works on a "new works" urgently needed in Boyle.

So ends this story of my O'Hara ancestors. Their bond with Cootehall began two centuries ago with Laurence O'Hara and Mary McDonough. It has remained unbroken as succeeding generations found social and economic contentment in the tranquil countryside they had come to call their own. There were many, however, who did leave to find success in other lands, but for them the little village by Oakport Lough lingered in their memory.

I have not mentioned Paddy O'Hara or, as he was generally known, "Paddy from Cootehall," since I have not been able to link him with a specific branch of the family. Paddy was a noted Raparee[32] who operated around Cootehall in Fenian times. He was arrested and jailed following a raid for arms on the Hill of Leitrim. He died from typhus in Roscommon Jail in 1862.

The Callery Cept

My maternal ancestors were Callerys. My mother's name was Winifred Agnes Callery before she married my father, Francis Xavior Lavin in 1928. She was the second youngest of eight children born in 1899 to James Callery and Anne Flynn of Coolmeen, now a townland in the half-parish of Creeve, which at an earlier time was in the parish of Clooncraft. Her family had lived there for several generations all the way back to her great-grandfather.

The scope of my Callery ancestral research has, so far, been confined to information obtained from vital records relating to the parishes of Aughrim and Creeve. Other records searched included: 1659 Census of Ireland, 1749 Elphin Diocese Census, 1796 Spinning Wheel Survey of Ireland, Tithe Applotment Surveys of 1825, 1832 and 1842 and the Index of Householders, based on Griffith's Valuations [1848-64],

Edward MacLysaght[33] tells us that the name Callery is synonymous with the names Colleary, and its variants Collary and Colary, and is almost exclusively found in Connacht. MacCallery was among the landholders of County Sligo in 1633, and the name appears four times a century earlier in the Fiants, always in County Sligo. According to MacLysaght, the name is generally confined to counties Sligo and Mayo. where Irish speakers use "Mac Giolla Laoire" as the Gaelic form. Callery and Callary also are found in Meath and Cavan.

For several generations my Callery ancestors lived in Coolmeen, a townland in the Parish of Clooncraft in County Roscommon. When exactly they settled in Clooncraff, or from where they migrated, has not been determined. Our best guess is that they descended from the Callerys who were living in the adjoining parish of Aughrim in 1749. In 1749, a James Callery, his wife, Margaret, and their not yet fourteen year old son were living in Carrowagleragh, a townland in the parish of Aughrim. This we know from a census of all religions and economic classes undertaken that year by Bishop Edward Synge of Elphin. Aughrim, an ecclesiastical parish in the Diocese of Elphin, was comprised of three civil parishes -- Aughrim, Kilmore and Clooncraff -- each embracing several townlands, one of which was Carrowagleragh. The information collected through the census was limited, consisting of the household occupier, his spouse, the number and ages of their children under and over fourteen and their religion. Families identifying themselves as Roman Catholic were recorded as 'papists.'

The Census tells us that James and his family were of farming stock and that they were "papists". Another Callery family, possibly a relative, was shown as living in the same townland. His name was given as Edmund Callery. He was married and had four children, all under the age of fourteen. A Michael Callery, his wife Catherine, and their two children under fourteen were living in the townland of Lisnenoran, also in the Aughrim parish. Another family of Callerys, Matthew, his wife and six children, were living in the parish of Elphin in a townland called Glenballythomas. According to the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, Townland Index (1932), Glenballythomas straddles the road from Tulsk to Ballanagare.

The Census also shows two families of Callerys in North Roscommon. In the Parish of Tumna, a B. and E. Callery and one child were living in the townland of Lustia. In the same parish two other families of Callerys were living in the townland of Shanwallybane. They were the families of P. and M. Callery and J. and A. Callery. In other areas of County Roscommon, Thady, his wife, Margaret, and their two children were living in the townland of Knockglass, Kilcolagh parish, at Ballinameen Cross Roads. John Callery, his wife and three children, were living in the townland of Cloonkillawn in the parish of Kilcooley. The Census showed no Callerys for the parishes of Creeve or Clooncraft.

The 1796 Spinning Wheel Survey conducted in 1796, shows flax-growing farmers who filed applications with the Linen and Hempen Manufacturers of Ireland for grants that year. The eight Callerys among those listed are shown below:

Edmund CalleryRoscommonAughrim
John CalleryRoscommonCreeve
Thomas CalleryRoscommonCreeve
John CalleryRoscommonKillumod
John CalleryRoscommonLoughend
Michael CallerySligoKilloran
Christopher CalleryMeathRathkenny

A January 2, 1821 entry in the Aughrim Parish Register lists an Edmund Callery as a baptismal sponsor for Bridget Callery whose parents were recorded as Michael Callery and Margaret Hanley. More than likely he was descendent of the Edmund Callery mentioned 72 years earlier in the 1749 Census. Possibly he was a grandson, since it was then customary in Ireland to name a son after the father's father. Another entry in the Aughrim parish record for March 27, 1818 is that of a marriage of Bridget Callery to John Ledon.

Strokestown Parish, which included Kiltrustan, records two marriages of Callerys in the 1830s. Patrick Callery and Catherine Douane were married on January 8, 1835. Their sponsors were identified as Michael Douane and Elenor Naghtain. Also a Margaret Callery married a Thomas Wynn on November 11, 1837. In Elphin Parish the records there show a John Callery marrying a Lannan of Culleen on February 9, 1820.

The Tithe Applotment Books of 1842, which compiled information on this area in the years 1834-35 showing occupiers of titheable land, has a Thomas Callery occupying a holding of three acres and two roods in the townland of Cregga in the parish of Kiltrustan. The land was leased to him by Lord Hartland of Park House, Strokestown. Also in 1842, a Patrick Callery and a Patrick Callery, Jr. were farming two small holdings at Lisagrogy, also in the parish of Kiltrustan, on land leased from Gilbert Conry of Cloonahee.

In the parish of Clooncraff, the Tithe Applotment Books of 1842 record a Thomas Callery, his son Thomas, Jr. and son-in-law Thomas Moran then farming a holding of 25 acres in the townland of Cartron Bawn. He is also shown with one acre and one rood in Kildrum as well. Cartron Bawn and Kildrum would later become known as Coolmeen.

In 1857, according to Griffith, there were four families residing on separately identified holdings in the townland of Coolmeen. Their names were Callery, Moran, Wynn and Dolan. Thomas Callery[1] shared 15 acres with six other unidentified persons. This holding was identified as Number 11. His son-in-law, Thomas Moran, was the occupier of Number 12a, which included a house, out-office and 15 acres and three roods. Thomas[1], his son Thomas[2] and son-in-law Thomas Moran also shared 53 acres with separate houses and out-offices identified as Numbers 16a, 16b and 16c. The lessor of these properties was Richard O'Farrell Caddle. James Wynn was identified as the occupier of holdings Number 12b containing one rood with house and out-office, and Number 15 containing 15 acres and one rood. Holdings Numbers 12d and 13 were occupied by Thomas Dolan. Mary Dolan occupied holdings Numbers 12c and 14. William Lloyd was the lessor of these properties.

As the 19th Century moved on we find the Clooncraff Callerys making significant expansion to their holdings. In 1825 they had owned 25 acres; by 1858 they had 93 acres. They acquired an additional holding in the townland of Clooncatten where in 1858 Thomas Callery is identified as the occupier of Holding Number 1a containing 27 acres and one rood with a herd's house. It has not been determined which Thomas owned this property but we know that it passed on to Thomas's[2] son, Patrick, a few years later.

Callerys were occupiers of land in the townland of Cartron Bawn in the parish of Clooncraft for at least five generations. My great-great-grandfather, Thomas[1] Callery, was, as far as I can tell, the first of the family line to arrive there. He was born about 1780, assuming he would have been 25 when his eldest son, Thomas[2], was born in or about 1805. The earliest record we find of Thomas[1] comes from the Tithe Applotment Books of 1842, which show him, his son Thomas[2]. and son-in-law Thomas Moran then farming a holding of 25 acres in Cartron Bawn. Thomas[1] married his first wife, Brigid Lally, about 1800. There were two children that we know of by this marriage -- Thomas[2] and Mary. Brigid Lally died sometime before 1850. We could not find a record of her death but we know that Thomas[1] remarried in 1850.

Daughter, Mary, married Thomas Moran sometime before 1825. Thomas Moran occupied an adjoining holding identified as number 12a. We have no record as to when Mary was born or when she died. Thomas Moran died in or about 1873, since in that year title to number 12a holding passed on to his son, Patrick.

Thomas[2] married Bess Ford in or around 1840. It has not been determined where Bess was from. After their marriage, the couple lived in Cartron Bawn at Holding 16c next to 16b where Thomas[1] and his second wife, Mary had their home.. Thomas[2] died at Cartron Bawn on July 17, 1880. He was age 75 at the time. Ownership of his holding at 16c was transferred to his youngest son, James, in 1881. There were eight children (four boys and four girls) born to Thomas and Bess. They named them Thomas[3], Patrick, Michael, Catherine, Maria, Liza, Margaret and James.

James, the youngest son, inherited the family holding at Number 16c upon the death of his father in 1881. He married Anne Flynn, daughter of Patrick Flynn and Mary Morris of Grange, Fourmilehouse, on April 28, 1884. The marriage was performed by Fr. Michael O'Beirne, P.P. and witnessed by Thomas Beirne and Mary Morris

Thomas's[1] second wife Mary Wynn was a local girl. Her father, James Wynn, occupied the neighboring holdings identified as Numbers 12b containing one rood with house and out-office and 12a containing 15 acres and one rood. She would have been age 19 at the time, based on the age given when she died in the early 1900s. Thomas[1] would have been in his 70s when he married Mary. In fact, Thomas'[1] two children by his first marriage were themselves considerably older than Mary. Notwithstanding the age difference, the marriage was bounteous in that it produced four children -- James, Mary Ann, Bea and Michael.

They had been together twelve years when Thomas[1] passed away in 1862. There is no record of his death, except that in 1862, ownership of his holding at 16b was transferred to his wife, Mary. We reckon that he would have been about age 82.

Select Bibliography

The following material was consulted in the preparation of this document:


Grenham, John. Clans and Families of Ireland(foreword by Donal Begley, Chief Herald of Ireland), Bramley Books, U.K. 1993

Herm, Gerhard, The Celts, New York, 1975

Laing, Lloyd. Celtic Britain, New York, 1979

Mongon, Norman, The Menappi Quest, Dublin. 1995


Cusack, Mary Frances An Illustrated History of Ireland (AD 400-1800), London. 1868 and 1995

Joyce, P.W. A Social History of Ancient Ireland, 2Vols., Kansas City 1997

Lecky, W.E.H. A History of Ireland in the Eighteenth Century [Abridged and with an Introduction by L.P. Curtis, Jr.] Chicago 1972

Lyndon, James Ireland in the Later Middle Ages, Dublin, 1973

MacManus, Seamus The Story of the Irish Race, New york, 1972

Moody, T.W and Martin, F.X., eds. The Course of Irish History, Cork, 1967

Mac Lysaght,Edward. Irish Families, Their Names, Arms and Origins, Dublin 1937.

O'Donovan, John ed. Annals Of The Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters from the Earliest Period to the Year 1616. (7 vols.) Dublin, 1854.

O'Rahilly, Thomas F,, Early Irish History and Mythology, Dublin. 1946

Otway-Ruthven, A. J., A History of Medieval Ireland, New York. 1980

Scherman, Katherine, The Flowering of Ireland, Toronto. 1981


Freeman, A. Martin, ed. The Annals of Connacht, 1224-1544, [with introduction, translation, notes and indexes], Dublin 1944.

Bartlett, Thomas. The O'Haras of Annaghmore c. 1600-1800.

McKenna, Lambert. ed. The Book of O'Hara [Leabhar I Eadhra], Dublin, 1980

O'Rorke, T., History, Antiquities, and Present State of the Parishes of Ballysadare and Kilvarnet in County Sligo, Dublin. 18?


Gibbon, Skeffington. Lives and Characters of the Nobility and Gentry of Roscommon, Dublin, 1829

O'Donovan, John. Tribes and Customs of Hy-Fiachrach [O'Dowda's Country], first pub. Dublin, 1844; special ed. pub. Kansas City, 1993

O'Donovan, John. Tribes and Customs of Hy-Many (O'Kelly's Country) Dublin, 1843; sp. ed. pub. Kansas City 1992

Hennessy, William M. The Annals of Loch Ce, 1014 - 1590, 2 Vols. 1939. Reproduction of the edition of 1871. The original manuscript copied in 1588 by a scribe named Philip Bradley for members of the MacDermot family.

Mattimoe, Cyril. North Roscommon -- its people and past, Boyle, 1992

MacDermot, Sir Dermot. MacDermot of Moylurg, Dublin. 1996

Simmington, Robert C., Books of Survey and Distribution (vol. 1 County of Roscommon), Dublin. 1949

Sharkey, Rev. P.A., The Heart of Ireland, Dublin. 192?

Simmington, Robert C. The Transplantation of Connacht (1654-58), Dublin. 1970

Weld, Isaac, Statistical Survey of the County Roscommon, Dublin. 1832

The following list will help in tracking your Irish ancestors:

Falley, Margaret Dickson, Irish and Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research. Baltimore, 1984.
Grenham, John, Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, the Complete Guide. Baltimore, 1992.
Ryan, James G., Irish Church Records. Dublin, 1992

Griffith's Valuation (1848-68). Undertaken to determine the amount of tax that each person should pay to support the upkeep of the poor. Arranged by Poor Law Union, the Survey lists all occupiers or tenants, and the immediate lessors of all lands, buildings, etc. In some areas, these valuations start in 1839; but the majority exist from 1848-64. Such information as the name of tenants, lessor, townland, parish, and tax will be found on these records. An index by surname by parish and county is available at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin. Also, available at the LDS Genealogical Society

Tithe Applotment Books (1823-38): This record provides a detailed account, parish by parish, of land occupiers in each townland and includes the extent and value of their individual farms. Those in urban areas are not included. The Tithe Applotment Books for all of Ireland are on microfilm at the Genealogical Society. Indexes for these records are available at the National Library in Dublin.

School Records (1850-1920). These are primarily records of public schools and include names of pupils, ages, religion, days absent or present, occupation of parents, residence of family, and the name of the school. Sometime the name of the county and school last attended may be given or the cause of withdrawal and destination of the pupil. Most of these records are indexed and are at the Public Record Office in Dublin or the Genealogical Office in Dublin.

The Books of Survey and Distribution. These contain abstracts of records dated from c. 1636-41 to 1701-03 compiling information pertaining to all landowners in Ireland, the description of their lands, the changes of ownership of each original estate or part thereof, and the rights or instruments of title within this period. Records are compiled parish by parish and barony by barony for all counties in Ireland. Two volumes of the Books of Survey and Distribution for the counties Roscommon and Mayo, edited by Robert C. Simington, were published by the Irish Manuscripts Commission [1949, 1956]. Because of the general lack of records for these two counties, these volumes supply useful records of land ownership in every parish and barony prior to and following the forfeitures of land under Cromwell and William III. Included are the names of the original owners before the confiscation, the description and extent of the lands consfiscated and to whom the forfeited land was allocated.

Census of Ireland [1659] is another source of information from the 17th Century. Edited by Seamus Pender, this work was compiled under the direction of Sir William Petty. The Returns are listed geographically by counties, baronies, parishes and townlands. In cities they are listed by parish and street. The Census enumerates the number of Irish, English and Scots in each townland. Some of the Census Returns are missing, but Returns for Country Roscommon are included.

In 1749 Edward Synge, Church of Ireland Bishop of Elphin, had a census of his diocese taken. This covered most of Co. Roscommon, the eastern region of of County Sligo and nine parishes in County Galway. Arranged by parish and townland, the data collected listed the householder, his occupation, his spouse, their children under and over the ages of fourteen and their religion. Also listed, the number, sex and religion of their servants. All religions and economic classes are covered.

In 1796, a survey referred to as the Spinning Wheel Survey of Ireland was conducted. It contains a listing of 53,900 persons from 30 counties who, in the year 1796, filed applications with the Linen and Hempen Manufacturers of Ireland for awards for growing hemp and flax that year. Only Counties Dublin and Wicklow are missing.

Census of 1901

Census of 1911

Roscommon Royal Families

Princes:MacDermott, O'Kelly
Lords:O'Feenaghty, O'Flannagan, O'Flynn, O'Glennon
Chieftans:MacBrennan, MacKeogh, O'Beirne, O'Connelan, O'Hanley, O'Maol Conroy, O'Monaghan, O,Mulrenin, O'Norton
No title designated:Conroy, French, MacDowell, MacManus, O'Concannon, O'Corr, O'Donnelan, O'Dugan, O'Duigennan, O'Fallon, O'Fihelly, O'Loman, O'Malbride, O'Meany, O'Moran, O'Molloy, O'Mulvihil

Written by Patrick Lavin

(Copyright 1997 by Garryowen, Inc., Publishers. All rights reserved.)

[1] The ancient poets

[3] Early Irish History and Mythology (1946)

[5] Carnfree

[7] O'Rahilly, p.401

[9] O Dubhagain's topographical poem (14th Century), O Donovan's Edition

[11] MacDermot of Moylurg, page 55

[13] A rule obligating strong farmers to wine, dine and accomodate dignitaries and their retinues

[15] Survey and Distribution (1635-1641). Vol. I prepared by Robert C. Simington

[17] Statictical Survey of the County Roscommon (1832)

[19] Conducted under the auspices of Dr. Edward Synge, Church of Ireland Bishop of Elphin.

[21] See Family Chart No 1

[23] Inscription on tombstone in Four-Mile-House church grounds reads Fr. Patrick O'Hara, P.P., Kilbride, died January 21, 1921, age 78.

[25] Don't know if Anne was related to Catherine

[27] See family chart No. 3

[29] Research undertaken by Damian Dodd, Ballyrush, county Sligo. Laurence was Damian's great-granduncle

[31] Charles Stewart Parnell, Leader of the Irish Party in the House of Commons

[33] "Supplement to Irish Families" (1964)