The Irish Clans
Michael O'Hair left Ireland in 1762, Irish history after that date has been
purposely omitted. Little is known of the O'Hare family in Ireland after 1762.
It is not known whether Michael left behind any brothers or sisters who could
have continued the family there. Many O'Hares, as the family name is spelled in
Ireland, live today in County Down. More information follows relative to the
first known O'Hare families living in Ireland.
Tribune reproduced a rare old map in the March 17, 1958 issue, depicting
the origin of ancient Irish families. The map is divided into the five
kingdoms of the ancient Milesian Kings: Meath in the east, Ulster to the north,
Connaught in the west, Leinster in the southeast and Munster in the south. The
old Irish family names of the 11th to 17th centuries are printed within the
counties where they lived. The name O'Hehir appears in County Clare. The name
O'Heir appears in County Armagh. Such names are listed as chiefs, meaning the
head of a clan. The original map, the work of Philip MacDermott, physician and
cartographer, first appeared in Connellan's famous Irish history, "The Annals of
Ireland," translated from "The Four Masters." The map is based upon ancient
studies, some dating back nearly three thousand years.
16th century O'Hehir families were located in counties Armagh and Clare. Armagh
was formed in 1586, and Clare in 1565 during the reign of Elizabeth. Clare
derived its name from the deClares who were lords of that country, formerly a
part of the Kingdom of Thomond in Munster. This
K R O'Hair PAGE-36
county is celebrated for its
orchards and production of cider.
territory which presently comprises the counties of Armagh and Down was named
Ulidia or Uiadh in the 12th century. In this territory there lived a chief named
O'Heire in the barony of Massareene. According to O'Dugan's topography, this
O'Heire was the chief of the Hy Fiachrach clan.
16th century the MacRannall family was located in the county of Leitrim. "Mac
Raghnaill or Mac Rannall, a name anglicized to Reynolds, who were chiefs of
Muinter Eoluis. This territory was sometimes called Conmaicne of Moyrein, and
comprised almost the whole of the present baronies of Leitrim, Mohill and
Carrygallen, in the county of Leitrim, with a portion of the north of Longford.
The MacRannals were powerful chiefs, and are often mentioned in the course of
these Annals. They were of the race of Ir, or Clanna Rory. . ." 1
According to O'Hart's "Irish Pedigrees," the Reynolds family were related to the
O'Hare family. "In Reynolds we have an example of a fine old Gaelic Irish
surname which has been given as its usual anglicized form a common English one.
In Irish it is Mac Raghnaill, Raghnall being the Gaelic equivalent of Randal and
Reginald. The forms Mac Rannal and Grannell, also used in English, are, of
course, nearer the original. The sept belongs to Co. Leitrim: their territory
was Muintir Eolasis in the southern half of that county. They remained
influential as long as the Gaelic order survived and indeed up to the end of the
seventeenth century. . . An excellent memoir on the MacRannals in the
"Journal of Royal Society of Antiquaries" (Vol. XXXV) gives much valuable
information. . . about the family of Lough Scur Castle, whence came
several notable members of parliament as well as James Reynolds, whose diary
(1658-1660) is of great interest. The Elizabethan Mac Rannal of this line who
was the first to change the name to Reynolds was known in consequence as Mac
Raghnaill Gallda (i.e. the English MacRannal). Their estates were very
extensive: after the Restoration and the Act of Settlement they were in
possession of no less than 6,600 acres in Co. Leitrim and 1,000 acres in Co.
Roscommon. Quite a number of Irishmen called Reynolds have distinguished
themselves in various fields of activity. " 2
K R O'Hair PAGE-37
families mentioned in "The Four Masters" as being located in Thomond are the
O'Hehirs, O'Kennedys, MacNamaras and MacArthurs. According to "The Four
Masters," a branch of the Heremonian Milesian race from Ulster settled in
Munster about the year one A.D. Some of the principal families of Thomond were
among these settlers. Also, some of the Irians, or Clanna Rory, of Ulster
settled in Munster in the first century A. D., in the territory now located in
County Clare. According to Seamus MacManus, the Ithians and Heberians ruled
Munster until a half century before the year one. They were then defeated by a
tribe called Deagades from the north who had been forced out of Ulster by the
Clanna Rory. The Deagades ruled for about two hundred years. The Deagades were
defeated by 'Conn of the Hundred Battles,' who was of the race of Heremonians.
Conn's daughter married Oilill Olum, the only son of the slain leader of the
Deagades who was of the race of Heremon. Thus the races of Ithians, Heberians,
Hermonians and Deagades were united by family tie.
Oilill Olum was the King of Munster, about the beginning of the third century
A.D., his will decreed that the kingship of Munster should alternate between his
two sons, Cormac Cas and Eogan Mor. The word, Dalcassian, probably originated at
that time. According to Webster, the word Dalcassian is composed of the Irish
word, Dal, meaning division; and from Cas, an early Irish King. Webster defines
the word, "One of the two great families from whom alone were chosen the Kings
of Munster, the Eoghanachts being the other family." 3
Based upon the
foregoing information, it is the opinion of this writer that all of the O'Hare
and O'Hehir families in Ireland are descendants of Ir, were members of the
Clanna Rory, and were originally settled in Ulster. The O'Hehir clan named Ui
Cormac in County Clare derived its name from the parish in which they lived. It
had previously been known as Magh Adhair and became the inheritance of the
O'Hehirs long before the reign of the Cormac Cas who was the son of OUill Olum.
Ui Cormac is still known by that name in County Clare to this day. The O'Hare
family of Ulster were descendants of the race of Ir, or Clanna Rory. Ir was the
son of Milesius who, with his two brothers, conquered Ireland in the year l000
B.C. Ir settled in Ulster and became king of
K R O'Hair PAGE-38
this province. Some of his
descendants moved to Munster territory, presently located in County Clare, in
the first century. According to O'Hart's "Irish Pedigrees," the O'Hares were
progeny of Ir. They were descendants of Ior, who was the 118th descendant of Ir.
"Michael O'Hair Family" book informs us that the O'Hehir family of County Clare
were descendants of the race of Heber, or the race of Heremon. There is
no blood relationship between the O'Hehir families and Cormac Cas, the King of
Munster, or Cormac Mac Art, the King of Ireland. As previously stated,
the O'Hehir family descended from the race of Ir, according to O' Hart and other
Irish historians. The O'Haras in the following quote are not to be confused with
the O'Hares or the O'Hehirs. "The O'Haras are an important Irish sept of
distinguished origin. They are descended from Eaghra (pronounced Ara), who was
chief of Leyne in County Sligo, a scion of the family of Oilioll Olum, King of
Munster. . . A branch migrated to Route, County Antrim. . . The
O'Haras of to-day are chiefly found in Counties Sligo and Antrim." 4
In reviewing the
preceding information, and giving due consideration to the geographical
locations of the two families of O'Hara and O'Hare, there appears to be no blood
relationship connecting the two families. There is no indication that the two
families sprang from the same source when Ireland was first inhabited by the
Petty, in his" Political Anatomy of Ireland," estimated that "the wars had
reduced the population of Ireland from 1,466,000 in 1641 to 616,000 in 1652 - so
much more than half of the population of the whole country at that time had been
exterminated. . . That, whereas before 1641 the British in Ireland were
to the Irish as two to eleven, when the Cromwellian Settlement was effected,
three-fourths of the lands, and five-sixths of the houses belonged to the
British settlers." 5 By 1668 many of the Irish ventured forth
from the barren Connacht, and as fugitives, roamed the lands that once
had been theirs.
it is known that many Catholic inhabitants of Ulster were moved to western
counties - most of them to County Clare in the Province of Munster, a census of
Ireland taken in 1659, was obtained for the purpose of locating the O'Hare
families, then spelled O'Hehir or O'Heire. This
K R O'Hair PAGE-39
census revealed the following:
"Downe County, Province of
Barony of Upper Iveagh - 21 O'Heires
Clare County, Province of Munster,
Barony of Burren - 2 O'Hehirs
Barony of Island - 14 O'Hehirs
Barony of Bunratty - 10 O'Hehirs
Barony of Tulla - 7 O'Hehirs
Barony of Inchiquine - 21 O'Hehirs, "
A barony was approximately the size
of an American Township.
just six years before the census was taken, the country was completely
subjugated after twelve years of war, famine and pestilence. The population in
1659 was further reduced to 500,091; therefore, much more than half the
population of the whole country had been exterminated at that time. Seamus
Pender, when he edited the papers comprising the census, published the words of
the Keeper of the Landed Estates Record Office in 1659, "It will not surprise me
if it yet turns out that the complaints made by Adventurers and soldiers of the
evasion (Cromwell's men) of many persons falling within the rule to transplant
into Connaught and Clare, and the consequent continuance of these persons on the
lands distributed to the Adventurers and soldiers, were the originating causes
of the census of 1659."7 Ulster, in 1659, had a ratio of one
and one-half Irish to one English and Scotch.
previously stated, the 1659 census revealed that there were 21 O'Heires living
in County Down. Whether they remained upon their lands or were living secluded
in the mountains is not made clear; however, all the available information
indicates they were in hiding in County Down and not transplanted.
census revealed that 45 members of the O'Hehir family were living in County
Clare. Other information also indicates that the O'Hehir family of County
Clare had lived there since the 5th century. This appears to be the earliest
date the O'Hehir name is recorded in history.
An old atlas and geography published sometime before 1890, the
exact date not shown on the title page, also gave interesting information
regarding the family of O'Hehir in County Clare. "Clare anciently belonged to
K R O'Hair PAGE-40
was annexed to Munster in the
4th century A.D. It formed a portion of the ancient Kingdom of Thomond. The old
territory of Coro-Baskin included the whole of the southwestern peninsula,
namely, that portion now occupied by the two baronies of Moyarta and Clonderalaw.
. . Hy Fermaic or Kinel-Fermaic, the district of the O'deas, was in the
present barony of Inchiquin. Immediately south of Hy Fermaic was the old
district of Hy Cormac, the territory of the family of O'Hehir, lying between the
river Fergus and Slievecallan, and comprising the whole of the barony of
surnames of the counties of Antrim and Down are the subjects of a detailed
analysis made in 1857-8, published in the "Ulster Journal of Archaeology,"
accompanied by maps and statistical tables which show the location and numerical
strength of some two hundred fifty family names in Down. The majority of the
people of Antrim and Down were of British origin. The Gaelic element, however,
was numerous. Among the principal Gaelic names was the name of O'Hare. The
O'Hares were concentrated in the Barony of Iveagh. O'Hare is one of the few
surnames which resisted the general tendency in the 18th century to discard the
"O" in their name. The O'Hares outnumbered the Hares and Haires by three to one,
even before the propaganda of the Gaelic league and resurgence of 1916 - 1921
resulted in the widespread resumption of the "Mac" and "O" prefixes. The great
majority of O'Hares' were descendants of the Oriel family of Ohir or Oheir, who
were kin to the O' Hanlons and seated in the Barony of Orier, County Armagh,
where, with the adjacent counties of Antrim and Down, the O'Hares are still
found. The O'Hehir family is found in County Clare, and is the O'Hehir family
referred to by Woulfe in his book, "Irish Names and Surnames."
belonging to the counties west of the Shannon river are properly Mac Garrys. The
Mac Garry name was mistranslated from the supposed derivation from the Irish
word, girrfhiadh, meaning a hare. Haier, however, found in west County Clare is
probably a synonym of O'Hehir. The name Hare is an adopted name in England and
quite common there. They are not related to the Hares or O'Hares in Ireland.
There does not appear to be any relationship between the O'Hare and O'Hara
families. The O'Haras presently are mostly found in the Counties of Antrim and
Sligo, and the
K R O'Hair PAGE-41
O'Hares are found in County
Condensed information regarding Irish names follows, taken from the book, "Irish
Names and Surnames," written by the Rev. Patrick Woulfe who was Priest of the
Diocese of Limerick. In the preface, Father Woulfe said that he had collected
Irish names for twenty-five years and had been urged to write a book listing
those names. The results of eight years of research were published in 1906, but
was not then complete. A new edition was published in 1923. Father Woulfe claims
to have left nothing undone to make the new edition as complete and reliable as
possible. He explained that investigation into the meaning of ancient and
personal names is, in the most favorable circumstances, surrounded with great
difficulty. To give anything like a detailed history of the various families
would be manifestly impossible within a single volume.
early times, when the population of Ireland was small and scattered, one name
generally sufficed to designate each individual, and one name, as a rule, is all
that we find. A man was known to his neighbors by his personal or given name,
and as long as there was no one else of the same name in the locality, nothing
more was required to complete the identification. Surnames or family names, as
we understand them, were unknown. The Irish had, indeed, from a remote period a
well-established system of clan-names, formed from the names of distinguished
ancestors. These names were ordinarily used in the plural and as a common
designation of the whole clan. For the individual the single name was the rule.
Surnames in the modern sense are the growth of the tenth and three succeeding
centuries, and gradually began to assume the permanent and hereditary character
of a family name. Hence what had been but an occasional and irregular custom
became a fixed and general practice. Surnames first became fixed in the reign of
Brian Boru (A.D. 1002-1014) and in obedience to an ordinance of that monarch.
Previous to that time there was no general system of family names in Erinn
(Ireland); but every man took the name either of his father or his grandfather
for a surname. Brian himself, as the originator of the system, never adopted a
hereditary surname. Nor did his sons. It was only in the time of his grandsons
that the surname O'Brien first came into existance, and it was two centuries
after the death of
K R O'Hair PAGE-42
Brian before the process of
fixed surnames was complete. The oldest surname is recorded in The Four Masters:
in the year 916 A.D. When the "O" was first affixed to a name, it was to
designate "grandson of Brien." Generally speaking, "Mac" surnames are of a later
date than the "O" surnames, but by the end of the 12th century surnames were
universal among Irish families.
sources from which names were originally derived may be enumerated under the
headings: religion and mythology; circumstances connected with birth; physical,
mental or moral qualities or defects; animal characteristics; dress; rank,
occupation or office; trees, fruits, flowers or weapons; and abstract ideas.
Animal names form one of the elements, the wolf and the bear being prominent.
[The name O'Hair was derived from the hare or rabbit and is correctly spelled
O'Hare. The name O'Hare was erroneously changed in America during the lifetime
of Michael, when someone entered his name on a public record as O'Hair.]
The 11th and 12th centuries must, however, be assigned as the period within
which the great bulk of our Irish patronymics became fixed and began to assume
the hereditary character of family names. The practice of forming surnames with
the "O" had almost certainly ceased before the coming of the English, and it is
doubtful whether any "O" surnames can be shown to have arisen at a later date.
[From this information it is reasonable to assume that the surname O"Hare arose
sometime between the 11th and 12th centuries.] Surnames grew out of descriptive
appellations, and the date at which they originated varied according to the
locality and the person's rank in life. In the south they are found at the
beginning of the 12th century. In the northern counties they were not universal
at the end of the 14th century.
distinctive mark of a real Irish surname is "Mac" or "O", according to the
well-known lines: Per Mac atque O, tu veros cognoscis Hibernos; His duobus
demptis, nullus Hibernus ades; which have been translated:
By Mac and O
You'll always know
True Irishmen, they say;
But if they lack
Both O and Mac,
No Irishmen are they.
R O'Hair PAGE-43
The only difference between a
surname commencing with "Mac" and one commencing with "O" is that the former was
taken from the name of the father and the latter from that of the grandfather
who bore the surname.
Irish system of nomenclature was a very marked one. Down to the Anglo-Norman
invasion, the personal names in use in Ireland were almost purely Celtic. The
Irish had been very slow in adopting either Scriptural names or the Latin and
Greek names of saints. The English policy once deemed it of such political
importance to force Irishmen to conform to English ways that the Irish were
forced to adopt English surnames. The matter was thought worthy of special
legislation. Accordingly it was enacted by the statute of 5, Edward IV (1465),
that every Irishman dwelling within the Pale, which then comprised the counties
of Dublin, Meath, Louth and Kildare, should take an English surname. There must
have been very few who did change, because about a century later the Irish were
as Irish as ever. After the fall of Limerick, the Irish people were
brought completely into subjection. Thenceforward an "O" or a "Mac" in a man's
name was no recommendation in the eyes of the powers that ruled the country. The
people were taught or forced to believe that they must have an English surname,
or at least an English version of their Irish surname. Hence the almost
wholesale rejection of the "O" and "Mac" during the long night of slavery and
oppression through which Ireland passed in the century of the Penal laws.
Fortunately, however, the original surname continued to live on, unaffected by
any changes in the English form, wherever the Irish language continued to be
spoken, and thus we are able to recover the Irish form of many surnames that
otherwise would have long since disappeared forever. [The O'Hehir and O'Hare
families did not drop the "O", nor did they adopt an English version of their
surnames. The record of the family in Ireland reveals that they opposed the
English intrusion into Ireland's affairs and then had to endure extreme hardship
and suffering because of such opposition .]
chapter on surnames, Father Woulfe gives this information concerning the O'Hehir
family. It is the name of a Thomond family who, at the end of the 11th
century, were lords of Magh Adhair, between Ennis and Tulla, but
afterwards settled in Ui Cormaic, on the west side of the Fergus, be-
K R O'Hair PAGE-44
tween Ennis and Slieve Callan.
Though long settled in Thomond, the family was not of Dalcassian origin, but a
branch of the Ui Fidhgheinte, in the present Co. Limerick. The name is still
common in Clare. Father Woulfe provided further information concerning the
O'Hare family who lived in County Armagh and spelled the name: O'Heir, O'Hire,
O'Heere, O'Hear, O'Hare and O'Haire. It is the name of an Oriel family who were
chiefs of Oirtheara, now the baronies of Orier, in the east of County Armagh; to
be distinguished from O'Hehirs of Thomond .
personal names, our Irish ancestors had from an early period, and even from
pre-historic times, a complete system of fixed clan-names by which each
family-group and its subdivisions had its own distinct name. These clan-names
are of great importance in tracing the early history of families. Though long
obsolete as people-names, they still survive in many instances as baronial and
parochial designations, in the same way as Norfolk and Suffolk, which were
originally people-names. North-folk and south-folk became the names of two
English counties. 9
of many public records relating to the O'Hare, O'Hear and O'Hehir families in
Ireland, were obtained at the Public Record Office of the Government of Northern
Ireland, Law Courts Building, Belfast, Ireland. Such records included wills,
indentures, agreements, leases, deeds, bonds and assessments. Such records are
not included here because it is not known definitely which one of these families
were ancestors of Michael O'Hair. Personal inquiry among the numerous O'Hare
families presently living in County Down have not revealed the answer to this
question. It was interesting to note that the Valuation Book for the year of
1836 for Newry Parish (P.R.O., N.I. Val. IB/389) revealed that the following
O'Hare's owned land:
Jas. O'Hare, Saval Beg Townland,
Felix O'Hare, Corcreechy Townland,
12 1/2 Acres.
Small holdings, indeed, when
compared to the average size of farms in the United States. However, they were
near the average size of farms in Ireland which seldom were more than fifteen to
twenty acres. In ancient and modern times, a majority of the O'Hare families in
Ireland were farmers and
K R O'Hair PAGE-45
stock raisers; however,
presently there are many O'Hare families living in the city of Newry in County
writer requested that a researcher be employed to search the public records at
the Genealogical Office in Dublin, for any recorded information concerning the
O'Hare family. Pursuant to his request the following information was received:
AN CAISLEAN, (office of arms)
BAILE ATHA CLAITH. DUBLIN CASTLE.
Le dei-mhein an Phriomh-Arailt.
With the compliments
Reference 1.12. -
The earliest reference to the clan O haichir (now O'Hare or Hare) is to be
found in the Annals of The Four Masters . There were two distinct septs of the
name listed in the Annals - one being chiefs of Magh Adhair in the County of
Clare, and the other the "Airthera" translated "East Parties" from Ulster, and
the references are concerned with the southern sept. The Annals of Ulster are
more precise and an entry A.D. 800 describes Airthera as "a tribe inhabiting a
district the name of which has been latinized "Orientals" and "Regio
Orientalium" a territory represented by the Baronies of Lower and Upper Orior
in the east of Co. Armagh ." As the Annals of Ulster make little reference to
the Co. Clare sept it is fair to assume the following brief entries refer to
the tribe in question:
A.D. 799: "A destructive battle between the Airthea themselves in
Magh-Lingsen, where Maelochtaraigh, Abbott of Daire Eithrigh and Cormac, son
of Cernach were slain."
A.D. 820: "Devastation of the Airthera as far as Emham-Macha."
K R O'Hair PAGE-46
A search of the Calender of State Papers (1171 - 1625) proved unsatisfactory,
mainly because of the many variations (14) of the name used. Most of the
references, on scrutiny, proved irrelevant, except the following:
Fiants of Elizabeth: (No. 4897) 1586. Pardon to Rorie Ballagh O'Harre, Chief
of his name. (20 June XXVIII).
Fiant s of Elizabet h : (No.6633) 1602. Pardon to Rourie O'Hara, with five
others of his name.
The following entry may be
"The Rowte was sometime inhabited with English, for there remaineth certain
defaced castles and monasteries of their buildings. The non captain that
maketh claim thereto is called M'Gwillyn but the Scots hath well nigh
expulsed him from the whole. . . . . . . . . . till likewise
they were banished by Her Majesty's forces, but now have come back and
possessed all in usurped manner as before. The Chief Ancient followers of
this country are the O'Haires and the O'Quinns."
An entry in the Fiants of James I dated 9th April 1615, describes an examination
taken by the Provost Marshall of Londonderry of one Teage O'Lennan where there
is evidence that at that date the O'Haries (six) were with others "conspiring
with the O'Neils and O'Donnells in a plot of treason against the British.
The Index of the Prerogative Wills of Ireland contains a couple of references to
persons of the name O'Hare and as these may be of interest they are appended
hereto. Also are attached entries taken from the Hearth Money Roll for Armagh,
although here the name is listed consistently as O'Heere.
It is possible that more data could be found in a search of the MSS. in the
Registry of Deeds and in the Public Record Office which have not been used.
K R O'Hair PAGE-47
If querist wishes to have a further search made it would be helpful to have some
details re place of birth.
An Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland contains a couple of references to
persons of name of O'Hare:
(1) Daniel O'Hare of Newry, Co. Down Will dated 3rd Oct. 1757.
Henry John Daniel Philip
(2) Henry O'Hare of Ballywelland Will dated 6th June 1789. Unmarried at time of
will - but two brothers, Patrick and Daniel, 2 sisters, Judith and Mary Anne.
Hearth Money Roll for Armagh. Archurun Hibernicun - Vol. VIII.
Barrony of Orrier.
of Lands. Names.
Hugh O'Heere 1
Edmond 0' Heere
Duberne Patrick O'Heere 1
Barony of Fewes .
Lurgentul-linaboy. Hugh O'Heere.
Lower Fewes Patt O'Heere.
Annals of Four Masters.
Annals of Ulster.
Woulfe's "Irish Names and Surnames."
MacLysaght's "Irish Surnames."
Hart's" Irish Pedigrees."
Calender of State Papers (20 Vols.).
Archivum Hibernicum - Vol. VIII.
Journal Irish Memorials.
Index Prerogative Wills of Ireland.
Registered Pedigrees of Ulster, V. 469.
Unofficial Pedigrees. Vol. 470.
K R O'Hair PAGE-48
Ulster-Scot Historical Society of Belfast, Northern Ireland, provided
information that registration of births did not become compulsory in Ireland
until 1864, and prior to that date recourse must be to church records. Roman
Catholic Church registers for the town of Newry do not commence until 1818. The
name O'Hare is to be found in various estate and other records for the Newry
district for the late 18th and 19th centuries.
of Wills and tithe taxes listed the name of O'Hare many times in the 18th and
19th centuries, but there is no information to indicate a young Michael during
the years he was growing up in Ireland. The record of Administrative Bonds
revealed the following:
O'Hare died in 1762 (the year Michael left Ireland),
Timothy O'Hare died in 1767,
Bryan O'Hare died in 1779,
O'Hare died in 1789.
Without copies of the wills there
is no way to tell which, if any, of the above named O'Hares were related in any
way to Michael O'Hair. Possibly one of them could have been his father.
following copies of two letters received from the Ulster-Scot Historical Society
throw some light upon the history of the O'Hare family prior to the birth of
President: His Grace The Duke of
Abercom, H. M. L.
Chairman: Sir William Scott, C.B.E.
Law Courts Building,
Reference G. 279.
December 19, 1958.
Dear Mr. O'Hair,
requested, I have made a thorough search of all the available records and
books in the Public Record Office, Belfast, which I considered would be most
likely to be of help in connection with your enquiry about Michael O'Hare.
K R O'Hair PAGE-49
In the Burke Pedigrees formed from Wills proved in the Prerogative Court,
Ireland, I found two O'Hare references. One of these concerned a Daniel
O'Hare; a merchant in Newry - he died in 1757 but there is no mention of a
Michael amongst his children. The other reference was to a Henry O'Hare who
died in 1789 but he was not married.
Newry and a district in south Co. Down had a separate probate jurisdiction of
its own, but as you will see by the enclosed notes only three O'Hares are
mentioned in the Wills index and none of the testators belonged to Newry.
O'Hares were fairly numerous in the Diocese of Dromore which included Newry
for all but probate purposes. Some of the places given as the addresses of the
testators are not too far from Newry. Unfortunately, all the original Wills to
which the indexes refer, were lost in 1922 when the Public Record Office,
Dublin, was destroyed by fire. The same remark applies to the Dromore
It is unfortunately not possible to seek for Michael O'Hare in Church
registers since I find on consulting lists of the R. C. registers in Co. Down
that none of them in the neighborhood of Newry goes back far enough.
The Registry of Deeds documents are in Dublin. In the Public Record Office
here there is a microfilm of the index to lands only, covering the period
1708-1785. I did not consult this since there is in the same office a
manuscript index of persons who granted lands and who were registered. The
index was made by the late Mr. P. Crossle whose family was connected with
Newry and the names he listed were those of people in the Co. Down. A few
O'Hares are mentioned and those in or near Newry given in the accompanying
notes. We have no agent in Dublin who could examine the books in Registry of
Deeds but perhaps if you wrote to the Registrar he may be able to put you in
touch with someone who would be willing to do so. At the same time I should
like to warn you that these registered deeds may not be very helpful. It is
K R O'Hair PAGE-50
only when a deed takes the form of a lease for lives renewable that it may be
useful, for example, a grant of land for the life of a lessee and some of his
children who are named.
I regret that I have not been able to be of more assistance to you, but if I
hear or come across any information which might be of use in connection
with your research, I will let you know.
for Miss Embleton
ULSTER-SCOTT HISTORICAL SOCIETY
President: His Grace the
Duke of Abercorn, H. M. L.
Chairman: Sir William Scott, C.B.E.
Law Courts Building,
25, July, 1966.
Dear Mr. O'Hair,
Our research into the O'Hairs of Armagh, for an early period, is now complete
and we present our report .
The earliest reference we found of the name O'Hair in Co. Armagh occurred in
the Armagh Manor Court Rolls, 1625 - 27. Here we noted a Patrick O'Haire.
From the Census of Ireland (1659) it was noted that the name 0' Hehir was to
be found in Co. Clare and in Co. Down, in the Barony of Iveagh, where it
is stated that twenty-one of the name were resident.
The Hearthmoney rolls for Co. Armagh (1664) list the name O'Heere in
three parishes. The townlands, in which those recorded were resident, are also
noted. Hearthmoney was a tax of 2s. paid on each hearth or fireplace and the
Roll lists those
K R O'Hair PAGE-51
early settlers who paid this tax.
In order to obtain an idea of the later distribution of the name O'Hare in Co.
Armagh, we consulted the Index to the Tithe Applotments c. 1824 - 1836. As you
no doubt know, Tithes were dues paid to the Established Church, for land held,
regardless of denomination.
Unfortunately, we cannot pursue our research further because of shortage of
records. Church Registers for any of the parishes in which we noted the name
have not been preserved for early times. However, we hope that the meagre
amount of information we have obtained will be of interest.
(signed) J. M. Codshere
Originally Ulster was comprised of the nine counties of Donegal, Londonderry,
Antrim, Down, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Monaghan, Armagh and Cavan. Presently six
counties comprise Ulster, Northern Ireland, which is part of the British Empire,
namely; Londonderry, Antrim, Down, Tyrone, Fermanagh and Armagh. The majority of
the population is Protestant. However, in County Down the population is closely
divided between Catholic and Protestant. The counties of Donegal, Monaghan and
Cavan were united with the Irish Republic (Southern Ireland). The public record
of the O'Hehir family goes back farther in County Clare than the record of the
same family in the counties of Armagh and Down; however, according to the Four
Masters, this family originated in Ulster, Northern Ireland, and were descended
from Ior, the 118th descendant of Ir.
writer's grandson, Richard Z. Gumm, went to Ireland in September, 1970, for the
purpose of obtaining information pertaining to the O'Hare families in Ireland.
He contacted several members of the O'Hare family in the counties of Clare and
Down, and other people who were well informed on Irish history.
Father Sennan, of
the County Clare Friary located in
K R O'Hair PAGE-52
the town of Ennis, gave
Richard considerable assistance in obtaining information about the O'Hehir
family of County Clare. Father Senan said it was "very unlikely that any Hehirs
migrated north or east if they were pure Irish." More likely that migration was
from Ulster in the north to County Clare as revealed by the Four Masters. This
tends to indicate that any relationship between the O'Hehirs of Clare and the
O'Hares of Down would necessarily date back to a very early century. Father
Sennan also said, "O'Hehirs were in the territory presently comprising County
Clare long before the Normans, even before the Dalcassian clan. O'Briens were
the Dalcassians and the O'Deas were descendants. O'Briens were the overlords and
kings." Webster defined the word Dalcassian as a division, coming from the Irish
word, dal, and from Cas, an early Irish King. The descendants of Cas comprised
the O'Briens, MacNamaras, O'Deas and various other families.
"History of Clare," on page 221, gives an account of the struggle between rival
families of the O'Brien clan under the year 1317 and names the O'Hehirs among
the septs of Thomond who came to the aid of Dermod O'Brien. According to Frost,
the O'Hehir families have lived in the territory presently comprising County
Clare since the 5th century. Frost wrote, "Shortly before the time of St.
Patrick (432 A.D.), Cas, the King of North Munster gave the name Ui Caisin to a
district in Clare. It had previously borne the name of Magh Adhair, signifying
the plain of Adhar, who possessed it in the first century of the Christian era.
was the son of Umor, the brother of Aengus who built the cyclopean fort of
DunAengus in the great island of Arainn. Afterwards Magh Adhair became the
patrimony [inheritance] of the OHeirs, but they in turn were driven westwards to
the present Barony of the Islands by the MacNamaras. " 10
Sennan had done research on this subject and gave Richard access to his notes
which revealed, "Long before the clans which claimed descent from Cormac Cas had
settled in Thomond (Thuagh Muan - North Munster) other peoples existed whose
history is lost in the obscurity of the past. Since written history in Ireland
dates only from the time when Christianity came (5th century), what we do know
of the various Irish tribes and septs has come down to us from tradition. This
tradition was handed down carefully through
K R O'Hair PAGE-53
the bards and chroniclers of
the various families, and had to be very strictly preserved on account of the
system of electing the chieftain according to ancient Irish law. The mound which
was used as the place of inauguration of the kings (overlords) of Thomond, named
Magh Adhair is still to be seen. It is some short distance from the village of
Quin - about six miles from the town of Ennis. "
the heading of Ui Cormaic, Frost wrote, "This territory was the patrimonial
inheritance of the O'Hehirs , and its name in Irish is still well known to the
natives. The parish of Kilmaley is still locally called Ui Cormaic and the
parish of Drumcliffe is called Ogormuck in ecclesiastical documents. . .
The family of O'Hehir was not of Dalcassian origin. They were of the race of
Daire Cearb, the ancestor of the Ui Figinthe, who were located at the other side
of the Shannon, in the present Barony of Kenry in the County Limerick. About the
year 1100 we find them seated at Magh Adhair, in Ui Caisin, but in after times
they were driven westwards by the MacNamaras. . .
clan O'Hehir is mentioned as having taken part in the battle of Dysert O'Dea, in
which battle the Normans led by De Clare were routed with slaughter, and the
threat of a Norman invasion of Clare ended for all time.
Cormac territory corresponded with the parish of Kilmaley and extended (roughly
estimating) from Mount Callan to Ennis. In the list of 'Forfeitures and
Distributions' (following the 'reducing' of the inhabitants of the county of
Clare by the Cromwellian commissioners) we find that in Kilmaley parish the
following proprietors were dispossessed and their lands disposed to others:
"Teighe O'Hehir of the
townland of Cahimore,
Conor O'Hehir of the townland of Cappalea,
Murthagh and Owen O'Hehir of the town land Derrygarruff. . . &c .
(In all more
than fifty of the clan OHehir were deprived of their lands by the English
government under this act of settlement alone).
Franciscan Abbey, built c. 1250, many of the noblemen of the County - the
OBriens, MacNamaras, Considines &c had erected monuments to commemorate their
K R O'Hair PAGE-54
ancestors. Many of these were
destroyed by the Cromwellian soldiery. Among these families that of the OHehir
is included. On the north wall of the nave is a slab in memory of Laurence
OHehir of Drumcarhin, 1622. A franciscan priest, Fr. Teighe O'Hehir was arrested
in 1666 as a member of the Franciscan community of Ennis Friary." 11
Sennan's notes indicated, "That the distance from Mount Callan is about eleven
miles. The present parish of Kilmaley doesn't extend that distance." Father
Sennan's notes of research also included information from, "Eugene O'Curry who
wrote on the topography of the County for the Ordnance Survey (1839) has this
note on the parish of Kilmaley: Hi Cormaic: The name of this territory which was
the patrimonial inheritance of the OHehir family is still well known to the
natives of the parish. They all agree that it comprises the entire parish of
Kilmaley. The parish is still locally called Ui Cormac. The origin of the name
and its history cannot be written. . . for all we know of this territory
is that its chief was called O Hehir, now Hare, and that he was not of
Dalcassian origin, but of the race of Daire Cearb, the ancestor of the Hy
Figinte, who were located on the other side of the Shannon (river) in the
present County of Limerick. "
Gumm visited the County Clare Council Library while he was in the town of Ennis,
County Clare, in his quest to obtain information of the O'Hare families in
Ireland. From an O'Hart book at that library he learned more about the family in
County Clare. "The district of Hy-Cormac, comprised the Callan mountains, and
extended to the town of Ennis. In A.D. 1094, Amlaobh O'Hehir was slain; and, in
1099, Donogh O'Hehir, lord of Magh-Adhair, died. This Magh-Adhair was the place
of the inauguration of the O'Briens as princes of Thomond, and the O'Hehirs
always assisted at the ceremony.
1197, died, Gilla-Patrick O'Hehir, Abbot of Inisfallen, in the 79th year of his
age; and, in two years afterwards, Auliffe O'Hehir, a religious of the same
establishment. By the late Dr. O'Donovan, the 'O'Hares' are set down as a tribe
of the Hy-Feigeinte, of the race of Eoghanmor...
"We believe this
family is now (1887) well represented by various gentlemen in the County Clare."
fourteen of the same book, under the heading of Families in Ireland from the
11th to the End of the 16th Century, O'Hehir was listed as chief in County
K R O'Hair PAGE-55
was listed as chief in County
Armagh. The name of O'Hare was not mentioned. On page twenty, under the heading
of Families in Ireland in the 17th Century, O'Hehir was listed in County Clare,
but no Hare or Heir.
Gumm made personal inquiry among several O'Hare families presently living in
County Down. He obtained no definite information leading to the identification
of the family of Michael O'Hair. Most of the O'Hares he interviewed had no
information about their ancestors beyond their grandparents, or in a few cases,
their great- grandparents. Most families in Ireland depend upon Church records
for family genealogy. The Church records in County Down do not go back prior to
the 19th century. Among those interviewed were two Catholic Priests who were
members of the O'Hare family, but they did not know of any O'Hare family records
dating back to the time Michael lived in Ireland. The O'Hares of County Down
stated that they have no known relatives in County Clare. Richard's inquiry at
the Courthouse of Newry, County Down, did not disclose any desired information.
Without knowing the exact location of any land Michael's parents might have
owned, the clerks were unable to offer any assistance.
information Richard Gumm did obtain in Ireland, it remains the opinion of this
writer that the O'Hare family originated in Ulster, Northern Ireland, and were
descendants of Ir; that a branch of Ir's descendants migrated south to territory
presently included in County Clare in the 1st century, and these people were the
progenators of the O'Hehir family of County Clare; that a branch of the O'Hare
family of Ulster migrated to the territory presently included in County Down,
from their clanlands in territory presently included in County Armagh in the
16th century during the reign of Elizabeth, when a complete break-up of the
clans took place. During her reign the Munster Plantation was instigated which
confiscated six counties in Ulster, including the County of Armagh, but not the
County of Down.
months after writing the foregoing conclusions, this writer employed a certified
genealogist in Washington, D.C. to examine a book at the DAR Library compiled by
a writer employed by Mrs. John Jelke of Chicago. Mrs. Jelke, a great great
granddaughter of Michael O'Hair, employed the services of many genealogists to
K R O'Hair PAGE-56
used in the book. The O'Hair
chapter of this book contained the following: "The name O'Hair appears in
different forms very early in Ireland. It seems to have first been spelled O'hir,
and to have later been modernized into such spellings as O'Hir, O'Hayer, O'Hare
and O'Hair. According to the traditional Irish pedigree, the family is descended
from Slioch Ir, who was the son of Ior and the grandson of Cathal Ruadh, who was
killed in 1401. The pedigree is carried back in their typically careless manner
by the Irish genealogists who state that Cathal Ruadh was fifteenth in descent
from Biobhsach, who, in turn, was sixty-fourth in descent from Milesius of
Spain, the Irish monarch." 13 The notes from O'Hart's book,
"Irish Pedigrees," made by my grandson, Richard Gumm, while he was in Ireland
disclosed the following: "The surname O'h-Ir is derived from Slioght Ir, a
branch of the Reynolds family." Richard's notes traced the line of Ir starting
with Eimhin, #101 on the line of Ir, who had three brothers one being Biobhsach
who was the ancestor of MacRadhnaill (anglicised MacRannall, Macgrannell,
Reynolds). The line stemming from Biobhsach starts with:
after whom his part of the territory of Conmaicne Rheine was called Muintir
Eoluis (eolus being the Irish word for knowledge),
Iomhar, had eleven sons, one of whom was,
Radhnal, (or Randal) a quo Mac Radhnaill (radh: a
saying) was first anglicized MacRannall,
Cathal Mor, first of this sept who assumed the surname
MacRannall, who had four sons, one of whom was,
Raghnall, the second MacRannall, who had four sons, one of whom was,
K R O'Hair PAGE-57
Iomhar, had seven
sons, one of whom was,
Terge, slain in 1328, and who had six sons, one of whom was,
Cathal (Charles) Ruadh, who was slain in 1401, and who had six sons,
one of whom was,
Ior, a quo (from which) Slioch Ir, a quo (from which) O'h - I r,
Research, by both the professional
and amateur genealogists, does indeed confirm the fact that O'Hares are
descendants of Ir.
Philip MacDermott map depicting the origin of Irish families during the 11th to
the 17th centuries, locates the O'Heir clan in the southeast part of County
Armagh. This location is a few miles west of the City of Newry, County Down. The
map also locates the O'Heir clan in the Barony of Orier in the eastern part of
County Armagh. This map does not locate any of the O'Heir or O'Hehir clan in
The census of
1659, taken after the Cromwellian Settlement, reveals twenty-one O'Heire
families in County Down. This census does not reveal any O' Heir families in
County Armagh. Therefore, it must be presumed that the members of the O'Heir
clan migrated to localities in County Down when their lands were confiscated in
the 16th century. The same census located only forty-five members of the O'Hehir
family in County Clare. The spelling of the name in County Down was slightly
different from the spelling in County Clare. It is reasonable to believe the
clan in County Armagh were descendants of members of the Clanna Rory, the
original clan of Ir, to which the O'Heirs belonged.
the ancient Irish, according to the Irish historian O'Donovan: 'even the lowest
in rank of a great tribe traced and retained the whole line of their descent
with the same care which in other nations was peculiar to the rich and the great...
for it was from his own genealogies that each man of the tribe, poor as well as
rich, held the charter of his civil state, his right of property in the cantrel
in which he was born, the soil of which was occupied by one family or clan, and
in which no one lawfully possessed any portion of the soil if he was not of the
same race with the chief. '. . .
K R O'Hair PAGE-58
For one thing the Irish
system, though the oldest, has no snobbery in it: an Irishman regards his
coat-of-arms as a sentimental heirloom rather than a claim to some inscrutable
kind of fame. . . Irish heraldry is not supervised by a government body.
While the Irish family groups are often called clans, 'Sept' is a better word to
describe the Irish practice. One of the Chief Heralds of Ireland, Edward MacLysaght, defines the Irish sept as simply 'a group of persons who bore a
common surname and inhabited the same locality.' Unfortunately, many Irish
coats-of-arms have been lost forever in successive invasions of which Ireland
was victim. As recently as 1922, an immense amount of genealogical lore -
particularly from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries - was lost when the
Public Record Office in Dublin was destroyed." 14