HISTORY OF SOME GALWAY DONNELLANS

 

These excerpts were taken from The History of Galway: City & County by Sean Spellisy:

1.--Ballydonnellan Castle was the seat of the O'Donnellans of Ui Maine. The heads of this family were the chiefs of Clann Bhreasail, the district lying between Loughrea and Ballinasloe. The original castle is said to have been erected as early as 936 but this, more likely than not, was probably a ring fort. Another castle built on the same site was destroyed by fire some time before 1412 when it was rebuilt by the O'Donnellans. During the seventeeth century the family added a long two-storey house to the side of the castle. During the following century the castle was renovated and extended to form an end pavillon wing, and a matching wing was added to the other end of the seventeenth-century structure. The wings were redesigned after 1787 when the façade of the central range was altered with a four-bay pedimented breakfront. One of the wings was destroyed by fire before 1913 but the entire house was in ruin by 1978. This is located about two miles north of Kilreekill.

JLD comment: They say in every bit of myth there is a little bit of truth. For your amusement, I present this little bit of a tale I found on the internet. See for yourself if there may be a little bit of fact in Leprechaun Land'

An Old Woman who was Housekeeper to the Donnellans:
I'll tell you how the fortune of the family began. It was Tully O'Donnellan was riding home from Ballinasloe, or some other place, and it was raining, and he came to a river that was in flood, and there used to be no bridges in those times. And when he was going to ride through the river, he saw the greasa leprechaun on the bank, and he offered him a lift, and he stooped down and lifted him up behind him on the horse. And when he got near where the castle was, he saw it in flames before him. And the leprechaun said, "Don't fret after it but build a new castle in the place I'll show you, about a stone's throw from the old one." "I have no money to do that, "said Tully Donnellan. "Never mind that," said the leprechaun, "but do as I bid you, and you'll have plenty." So he did as he bade him, and the morning
after he went to live in the new castle, when he went into that room that has the stone with his name on it now, it was full up of gold, and you could be turning it like you'd turn potatoes into a shovel. And when the children would go into the room with their father and mother, the nurses would put bits of wax on their shoes, the way bits of the gold would stick to them. And they had great riches and
smothered the world with it, and they used to shoe their horses with silver. It was in racing they ran through it, and keeping hounds and horses and horns.

 

As far as the Ring forts are concerned, they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They are evidence of the existence of a long vanished martial race of fort dwellers ( from the Galway A. & H. Society publication via Jane Lyons). Some of these raths present interesting features. There is a Donelan fort at Belwell. There is also one at Killivoher. It is described as " an utterly insignificant square earthen lisheen (or moher ?) in water sodden ground. Traces of an outer ditch remain, but the bank has disappeared. The diameter of the garth is 60 ft., inner face of rampart, 6 ft., ditch 3 ft". A typical ringfort looked as follows:

Getting back to Ballyd, The following is the oldest picture of it I have located. I thank Mr. Patrick Larkin in Galway for sending it to me along with directions to
its location. "The main road from Dublin to Galway is the N6. It passes through Aughrim and Kilrickle; midway between these two villages, exactly 4.4 miles from Aughrim as you travel west, there is a sign posted crossroads. The road north goes to Cappataggle, the road south to Ballydonnellan. Take the road south and, at the first juncture you come to, turn right. You are now on Donnellan territory.

2.--The Castlegar Civil War Memorial is located at the junction of Tuam Road and the cul-de-sac at St. Columba's Church. It consists of a Celtic-style limestone cross mounted on a marble plinth. One of the three inscribed plaques (on the north face) reads as follows ( I'll not attempt the Gaelic but provide the English translation):

Volunteers of Ireland
Castlegar
1916-1923
In memory of
The Battalion Commander Thomas Duggan
who died as a result of wounds and hardship 1925
The Battalion Commander Joseph Donnellan
The Captain Sean Lohan
who were killed in the Civil War 1922
The Battalion Commander Louis Darcy
who was killed by the foreigners 1920

The article accompanying this data does not go into any detail on the role of Joseph. It is my hope I will uncover more in the future and report back accordingly.

3.--Temple Jarlath is located in the Barony of Clare which covers Tuam, Turloughmore, Corrofin, Claregalway, Tullinadaly, Annaghdown, Cloonboo, and Headford. The book reports that part of the western gable may have been incorporated into the mortuary chapel of the O'Connor Donnellans of Sylane (Dunmore). It is now in ruin but there is an old graveyard there that was a favorite place for interment of R. C. parishioners until the end of the nineteenth century.

4.--The Church of the Shrine is also in Tuam. Long after St. Jarlath's death, his bones were discovered and, as relics, were placed in the silver shrine in the church. The Church was destroyed somewhere after 1574 and many years later the shrine was found in the clay floor. It was last heard of in 1831 when it was in the custody of a Captain Donelan, who had taken it to Claremorris, County Mayo, in 1803.

5.--The section on the Clontuskert Augustinean Abbey is where the reference to Thady O'Donnellan presented on the Catholic Clergy web page was found.

6.--The Barony of Kilconnell section of the book lists these Donnellans as being prominent residents there in 1831---Hyacinth Donnellan of Hillwood, J. Donnellan of Carowmanagh and Captain Donnellan of Killagh.

7.--The Parish of Aughrim in 1837 had as some principal residents an A. Donnellan of Ballydonnellan and a P. Donnellan of Ballieghter.

8.--The Diocesan Museum is located near St. Brendan's Cathedral. It has ecclesiastical artwork from the Diocese of Clonfert. Two pieces mentioned are the Donnellan-Mostion [Mostyn ?] chalice from 1640 and the Bishop Donnellan chalice from 1686. I assume [uh oh !] this to be Maurice Donnellan.

All-in-all, the book contains some 492 pages of history in Galway. There are many references to places where the Donnellans hung their hats, intermarried, lived, fought and died.