Ballydonnellan & Surroundings


 The earliest specific and documented clues relating to individuals interconnected in the Donnellan family come from the James Hardiman Library at the National University in Galway. These are in the form of notes and pedigrees collected and prepared by Dermot O'Conor Donelan back in the 1885 - 1905 timeframe. The Library has a 170+ page index on the Estate papers of Thomas O'Conor Donelan and four boxes of material ---- many of which are germane to his genealogical searches. The first notes refer to the Fiants (Warrants) of Queen Elizabeth I
which pardon various rebels residing at Ballydonnellan Castle:

Fiant No. 4687 - 2nd June 1585. Pardon to Shane (John) O'Donellan of Ballydonellan, Gent. Shely (?) Madden his wife, Owley (Auley) O'Donellan, Eris O'Donellan, Cormac FitzMor O'Donellan of same husbandmen.

Fiant No. 5009 - June 9, 1597. Pardon to Melaghlin O'Donelan of Ballydonellan, Gent. Gilcrest (?) and William Fyne (? Fion) O'Donelan, Gents.

Fiant No. 5228 (date torn). Pardon to Cormac O'Donelan, Gentlemen of same.

Fiant No. 5682 - 26 Nov. 1591 and 5685 of 27 Nov. same year to Melaghlin O'Donelan, Gent of same.

Fiant No. 6614 - 1 May 1602. Thomas Daniel of Ballydonelan

The above persons were shown living at Ballydonnellan during the time Nehemiah Donnellan was Archbishop of Tuam(1595-1609) in the Anglican Church (Church of Ireland). It is most probable that they were kinsmen of his but as yet the exact relationship has not come to light. It is also indicative of the fact that the Pardon is reflective of the religious/political splits taking place in many Irish families af the time. Whether the splits were real or feigned in the Donnellan family is unknown. Many Irish elected to "convert" to Henry's reformed church rather than lose their land(s) ---- not to mention their lives.
To put the times in historical context, Henry the VIII had broken with the Roman Catholic Church in 1531 and dissolved the monastaries between 1536 and 1540. Elizabeth came to power in 1558 and reigned until 1603. During her reign, the situation in Ireland became even nastier than it was under Henry. According to the Catholic Encyclepedia, a priest named Roger O'Donnellan had been put to death in Dublin Castle in 1582. Exact relationship to the family is unknown but there had been a number of Donnellan priests existent in the past.
Aside from the Ballydonnellan in Cappataggle, Co. Galway, there have been several other Ballydonnellans. There was one in Co. Mayo at Aghagower and an East and West Donnellan in Co. Roscommon. Most of these, I believe, came to existence at a later date.
At this same period in history, according to the Alumni Dublinenses of Trinity College in Dublin (TCD founded in 1592), the first Donnellan was entered there -- listed as Andrew, 4th son of Tully O'Donnellan of Bearnahallagh. Research to date has found no further data on this branch of the family although 24 known descendants of Nehemiah are entered in TCD's admissions list over the next 250 years.


Ballydonnellan Castle - alleged to have been built in 1412. Now in
ruins, it was the home for many generations of the Donnellan family.



Ballydonnellan Castle - close up photo.

From yet another family researcher, John Donnellan, this information on Ballyd- was excerpted from an unnamed publication:
"----of Ballydonellan near Loughrea. This last house was a most unusual place, which fascinated Beaufort when he visited it in 1787. The long eight-bay two-story single pile was flanked by turrets, crowned with cupolas topped by finials. The turret to the right had been an old castle on to which the house had been built, and this accommodated a back stair; the turret to the left contained, on the ground floor, a 'great room' with a tripartite window to the front and three windows in the bow on the garden front. It had five chambers on the floor above, and in the attic a single barrack-room lit by the cupola. The lay-out of the main part of the house was also singular, being divided into three sections: the centre formed the drawing-room with windows to the front and garden: on the left was the entrance-hall with the main staircase; to the right at the front a passage to the secondary staircase in the turret, and behind it a breakfast room. To achieve a symmetrical appearance the façade had twin frond doors approached by steps, that on the left being the entrance to the hall and that on the right a dummy. It is not clear which of the Donellans built this remarkable house; almost certainly not the Malachy Donellan whose will was proved in 1729, but perhaps the Malachy Donellan of Ballydonellan who died at Galway in 1758 or his son John who died at Ballydonellan in 1772".

According to an input I received from another family researcher, Sean Donelan, he has "seen the cornerstone [of Ballydonelan] at the National School House in Aughrim". It "sits in front of Saint Catherine's National School in Aughrim, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway--- approximately 3 miles from Kilconnel Abbey and 2 miles from Cappataggle (Ballydonelan).
It was placed there by a gentleman named Martin Joyce. He was the Principal there and the area historian. He passed away in 1991. He had received the cornerstone from an acquaintance of mine named Freddie Hynes. Her and her husband, Tom, own a bar/hostel in Aughrim and have lived in the area all of her life. Freddie had found the cornerstone used as the overhead piece to a doorway of a barn. Realizing what it was, she took great care in having it removed. Mr. Joyce, ---talked her out of it to place in front of the school.
Now I'm working with Freddie and folks at the school and at the Aughrim Interpretive Centre to possibly move it inside the museum to prevent further weathering and so further generations of Donelans' can see it".
Sean very kindly sent me pictures of the cornerstone as shown above (also see James and Sean to the right). Please note that it establishes the date of construction/dedication as 1412 by Tuly [Tully] O'Donelan.



Abbey at Kilconnell - Franciscan Abbey where Tully Donnellan built a
Chapel in the 16th century and where many Donnellans were buried.

 The following picture was received from a Donnellan researcher who recently visited Ballyd-- and the Abbey at Kilconnell. The Jensen's have been tracing their Wisconsin roots (Carolyn is the descendent) and this is their story:

"Michael Patrick Donlin (also Donlan, Donelin, etc.) was born in Milltown Malbay, County Clare, probably in late September, 1837. His parents were Patrick Donnellan and Alice M(e)aly of Kilmacrehey Parish (Lahinch). It is said he left for Boston in Autumn 1857, but appears more likely. It is expected that he immigrated with a brother and two sisters. In January of 1862, Mike married Bridget Carmody (also from Clare) In Springfield, Massachusetts. After the Civil War, they moved to Lancaster, Wisconsin. Bridget died there at age 37. Michael then married Delia Powers, who was born in Troy, NY to Irish immigrants. Anyone having information on this branch of the extended family can contact Dan and Carolyn at



Cloghan Castle in Tisrara - the ancestral home of James Donnellan, who
was the grandson of Sir James Donnellan (1588-1665) and Sarah Wheeler.


The Cross at Kilconnell - erected in 1682 by John Donnellan - a country
myth associated with the Cross is that it bows whenever a Donnellan
funeral procession passes by it.




This is the Tully Chapel, sometimes called Donnellan's Room, built in
1512 as part of the Abbey at Kilconnell. It was built by Tully
O'Donnellan. There are many Donelan's buried there over a 200 year