Wednesday, 7 July 2021

The O'Conor Don


Of the O'CONOR family John O'Donovan says,
No family in Ireland claims greater antiquity and no family in Europe, royal or noble, can trace its descent through so many generations of legitimate ancestors.
It will be unnecessary here to give more than a summary of the pedigree, which is provided in detail in The O'Conors of Connaught by the Rt Hon Charles Owen O'Conor Don.

FERADACH THE JUST, a legitimate descendant of Hermon, son of Milesius, was elected King of Ireland about 75 AD.

Ninth in descent from him was MUIREDACH TIRECH, King of Ireland, whose son, EOCHAID MUGMEDON, was chosen the Hibernian monarch about 358 AD.

His eldest son, BRIAN, King of Connaught, was set aside in the succession of the monarchy of Ireland by a younger son, NIALL OF THE NINE HOSTAGES.

BRIAN died in 397 AD, leaving a son, DAUÍ GALACH, the first Christian King of Connaught.

Eighteenth in descent from him was

CONVOVAR or CONOR, King of Connaught (son of Teige of the Three Towers), from whom the family name of O'CONOR is derived.

He died in 973, leaving a son,

CATHAL O'CONOR, who is said to have reigned for thirty years but was forced to submit to Brian Boru, King of Munster, who assumed the chief sovereignty.

CATHAL died a monk in 1010, and was father of

TEIGE O'CONOR, of the White Steel, who became King of Connaught in 1015, and died 1030.

His son,

HUGH O'CONOR, of the Broken Spear, King of Connaught, acknowledged the supremacy of the Monarch of Ireland.

He was killed in battle near Oranmore, County Galway, in 1067, and was father of

RODERIC O'CONOR, called Rory of the Yellow Birch, King of Connaught, who was, after an eventful reign, blinded by O'Flaherty in 1092, when he was forced to abdicate.

He died in the monastery of Clonmacnoise, 1118.

His son,

TURLOUGH MOR O'CONOR (1088-1156), King of Connaught, and afterwards monarch of Ireland, was inaugurated as King of Connaught at the ford of Termon, 1106, and having subdued the other provincial kings, reigned supreme over all Ireland after the battle of Moin-Mor, near Emly, in 1151.

His son,

RODERIC O'CONOR, was King of Connaught and Monarch of Ireland after the death of Murlough McLoughlin.

During his reign the English invasion of Ireland occurred in 1170, which culminated in the treaty of Windsor, 1175, whereby the kings of England became paramount of Ireland, and Roderic held the Kingdom of Connaught as vassal of the English crown.

RODERIC eventually abdicated in favour of his son, Conor Moin-Mor, 1186, and died in the monastery of Cong, 1198.

Conor Moin-Mor was killed in 1189, and his son, Cathal Caragh, sometime King of Connaught, who was slain, 1202, leaving issue.

The latter was succeeded by his great-uncle,

CATHAL CROBHDEARG (1153-1224), King of Connaught, son of Turlough Mor O'Conor, who submitted to KING JOHN.

He wedded Mor, daughter of O'Brien, King of Munster, and died in 1224. His eldest son,

HUGH O'CONOR, King of Connaught, espoused Rainault, daughter of Auley O'Ferrall, and was murdered 1228. His son,

RORY or RODERIC O'CONOR, who was never King of Connaught, for during his lifetime the sovereignty was held by his uncle FELIM.

He was accidentally drowned in 1244.

His eldest son,

OWEN O'CONOR (1265-74), who for a few months was King of Connaught, was slain by his cousin Rory, son of his uncle Turlough.

His younger son,

HUGH O'CONOR, King of Connaught, acknowledged by the Irish in 1293, though the superiority was claimed by the English king and a great part of Connaught was in the hands of the De Burghs.

He married Finola, daughter of Turlough O'Brien, and was killed in 1309.

His sons, FELIM, ancestor of O'Conor Roe, and TURLOUGH, were successively Kings of Connaught.

The latter,

TURLOUGH O'CONOR, King of Connaught, married firstly, Devorgal, daughter of Hugh O'Donnell, Prince of Tyrconnell.

He divorced her in 1339, and wedded secondly, Slaine O'Brien.

Turlough died in 1342, having had issue, two sons, HUGH and RORY, who were subsequently rulers of the Irish in Connaught; and two daughters, Finola and Una.

The elder son,

HUGH O'CONOR, King of Connaught, espoused Margaret, daughter of Walter de Burgh.

He died in 1356, and was father of

TURLOUGH OGE O'CONOR, called O'CONOR DON to distinguish him from his cousin, another Turlough who was called O'Conor Roe.

At the death, in 1384, of Roderic, King of Connaught, the kingdom was divided between the two cousins, each of whom claimed the sovereignty of the whole province, and from that date the heads of each branch were called respectively O'Conor Don and O'Conor Roe.

O'Conor Don presented himself before RICHARD II at Waterford, and there as Captain of Nation, made his submission to His Majesty in 1395.

He married Evaine O'Kelly, and was killed, in 1406, by his cousin, son of Cathal O'Conor Roe.

He was succeeded in the chieftainship by his son HUGH, who seems to have been succeeded by his brother,

O'CONOR DON, FELIM GEANCACH O'CONOR, who wedded Edwina, daughter of O'Conor Sligo; and died 1474.

His son,

O'CONOR DON, OWEN O'CONOR from 1476, espoused Devorgilla, daughter of Felim Finn O'Conor Roe, and died in 1485. His son,

O'CONOR DON, CARBERY O'CONOR (1475-1546), died at Ballintober, County Longford, leaving issue, DERMOT, afterwards O'Conor Don, and Turlough, who died in 1582.

The elder son,

O'CONOR DON, DERMOT O'CONOR, chief of his sept after 1550, wedded Dorothy, daughter of Teige Buidhe O'Conor Roe, and had issue,
Con, killed 1563;
HUGH, his heir;
Dermot O'Conor Don, who died in 1585, was the last of the O'Conors who exercised jurisdiction over the province of Connaught.

His son and heir,

O'CONOR DON, SIR HUGH O'CONOR (1541-1627), on his father's death, compounded with the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir John Perrot, for all his estates, and was knighted by the Earl of Essex.

Sir Hugh, the first knight of the shire returned to Parliament for County Roscommon, wedded Mary, daughter of Brian O'Rourke, Lord of Breffny, and had four sons,
CALVACH, of Ballintubber, his heir, whose male line became extinct;
HUGH OGE, of Castlereagh;
CATHAL, of whose line we treat;
Bryan Roe.
The third son,

CATHAL O'CONOR (1597-1634), married Anne, daughter of William O'Molloy, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, MAJOR OWEN O'CONOR, of Bellanagare, County Roscommon, Governor of Athlone under JAMES II, who died at Chester Castle, 1692.

He married Elinor, daughter of Roger O'Ferrall, and died without male issue, 1692, when the estate passed to his brother,

O'CONOR DON, CHARLES OGE, of Bellanagare, who wedded Cecilia, daughter of Fiachra O'Flynn.

He died in 1696, and was succeeded by his son,

O'CONOR DON, DENIS O'CONOR (1674-1750), of Bellanagare, who espoused Mary, daughter of Tiernan O'Rourke, Chief of Breffny, and had issue,
CHARLES, his heir;
Roger (Rev);
Matthew (Rev);
Catherine; Mary; Eleanor; Anne.
The son and heir,

O'CONOR DON, CHARLES O'CONOR (1710-90), of Bellanagare, a learned and distinguished antiquary, married, in 1731, Catharine, daughter of John O'Fagan, and had (with a daughter) two sons,
DENIS, his heir;
Charles, of Mount Allen.
Mr O'Conor was succeeded by his elder son,

O'CONOR DON, DENIS O'CONOR (1732-1804), of Bellanagare, Deputy Governor of Roscommon, who espoused, in 1760, Catherine, daughter of Martin Browne, of Cloonfad, County Roscommon, and had issue,
OWEN, his heir;
Charles (Very Rev Dr);
Catherine; Mary; Bridget; Elizabeth Frances; Eleanor Anne; Alicia.
Mr O'Conor was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, OWEN O'CONOR (1763-1831), of Bellanagare, MP for County Roscommon, 1830-31, who, on the death of his kinsman, Alexander O'Conor Don, sp 1820, succeeded to the title of O'CONOR DON, as head of the family.

He married, in 1792, Jane, daughter of James Moore, of Mount Browne, County Dublin, and by her had issue,
DENIS, his heir;
Jane; Catherine.
O'Conor Don was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, DENIS O'CONOR JP (1794-1847), of Bellanagare and Clonalis, MP for County Roscommon, 1831-47, who wedded, in 1824, Mary, daughter of Major Maurice Blake, of Tower Hill, County Mayo, and by her had issue,
Denis Maurice, father of
Jane; Kate; Josephine; Eugenia; Dionysia.
O'Conor Don was succeeded by his elder son,

O'CONOR DON, THE RT HON CHARLES OWEN O'CONOR JP (1838-1906), of Bellanagare and Clonalis, MP for County Roscommon, 1860-80, High Sheriff of County Roscommon, 1884, Lord-Lieutenant of County Roscommon, 1896-1906, who wedded firstly, in 1868, Georgina Mary, daughter of Thomas Aloysius Perry, of Bitham House, Warwickshire, and had issue,
Owen Phelim;
Charles Hugh, father of
Roderick Joseph;
O'Conor Don espoused secondly, in 1879, Ellen Letitia, daughter of John Lewis More O'Ferrall, of Lissard, County Longford.

He was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, THE RT HON DENIS CHARLES JOSEPH O'CONOR JP (1860-1917), of Bellanagare and Clonallis, High Sheriff of County Roscommon, 1898, who died unmarried, when the title devolved upon his brother,

O'CONOR DON, OWEN PHELIM O'CONOR (1870-1943), who wedded firstly, in 1913, Mary, daughter of F C McLoughlin, and had issue,
Hélène Françoise Marie, born 1916.
He married secondly, in 1943, Gwendoline, daughter of Charles Matthew O'Conor.

O'Conor Don died without male issue, and was succeeded by his kinsman,

O'CONOR DON, REV FATHER CHARLES DENIS MARY JOSEPH ANTHONY O'CONOR (1906-81), who was succeeded in the family honours by his second cousin,

O'CONOR DON, DENIS ARMAR O'CONOR (1912-2000), who espoused firstly, in 1937, Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev Stanley P Marris, and had issue,
He married secondly, in 1943, Rosemary June, daughter of Captain James Piers O'Connell-Hewett, and had issue,
Kieran Denis;
Rory Dominic.
O'Conor Don was succeeded by his eldest son,

O'CONOR DON, DESMOND RODERIC (1938-), of Horsegrove House, Rotherfield, Sussex, who wedded, in 1964, Virginia Anne, daughter of Sir Michael Sanigear Williams KCMG, and had issue,
PHILIP HUGH, b 1967;
Emma Joy, b 1965;
Denise Sarah, b 1970. 
Garden Front

CLONALIS HOUSE, near Castlerea, County Roscommon, is a five-bay, two-storey Victorian house, built about 1878.

It has an attic storey in the late Victorian Italianate style.

There is a projecting three-stage entrance tower with pilasters and balcony to a west-facing side elevation; gabled dormers to the garden elevation flank a central pedimented projecting entrance bay.

The walls are cement-rendered with pilasters to ground floor garden elevation.

Entrance Front

The O'Conor Don family crest emblazons one side of the entrance front.

The ruins of old Clonalis House, courtyard and walled garden are to the south of the main house.

The courtyard of two-and single-storey stone stables and outbuildings is now in use as guest accommodation.

An elaborate cast-iron bridge and single-arch rock-faced stone bridge span the River Suck on the avenue approaching the house.

Ashlar gate piers supporting decorative wrought-iron entrance gates are flanked by limestone sweeps to the roadside.

Clonalis House is arguably the finest expression of the Victorian-Italianate style in County Roscommon.

It was designed by Frederick Pepys Cockerell and is one of the first concrete houses constructed in Ireland.

The use of the entrance tower with a pyramidal roof and embellishing pilasters and balconies is representative of the Italian influence that became popular in the mid-19th century.

As the seat of the O'Conor Don family it is an historically significant site.

The original Clonalis House, an early 18th-century Georgian house, survives in a ruinous condition, as a reminder of the continuity of habitation enjoyed by this estate.

An exceptional county residence, its setting is enhanced by the walled garden, outbuildings, bridges and entrance gates.

Former ancestral seats ~ Belenagare; French Park. Chambers: 1 Garden Court, Temple, London.

First published in March, 2016.


Anonymous said...

Presumably the family live at Clonalis today? Hope so.

Trish White said...

So very intriguing to have this information.Researching my genealogy...I have a John Connor born about 1700 married to Rebecca Freeman/Harrington and they had a son John Connor Jr. Born 1721 Ulster,Ireland that came to America in the 1700’s.Still researching this line,but it’s quite fascinating learning the history of Ireland and my roots-Thee O’Connors 🇮🇪

Anonymous said...

The O'Conor Don no longer lives at Clonalis house but another branch of the family currently do.

Seamus said...

Charles O'Conor of Ballinagare 'Belanagare' and his father Denis were never O'Conor Don's, see ; Charles O'Conor of Ballinagare, Life and works, Luke Gibbons and Kieran O'Conor, editors(Four Courts Press 2015), p27

"Both he and father, Denis or Donnchadh Liath, have occassionally been referred to as holding the O'Conor Don title during their lifetimes. This was not the case. Denis and then after his death, Charles were head of the senior cadet branch of the family - the title being held by the Clonalis line. As Pyers O'Conor-Nash and Diarmaid O Cathain point out, upon the death of Alexander O'Conor Don in 1820 and the failure of the Clonalis line to produce a male heir, Charle's grandson, Owen as head of the senior Cadet branch, inherited the title under the laws of primogeniture."

Unknown said...

It is truly fascinating reading about this. My name is Donald O'Connor. My Great Grandparents came to the U.S. I always heard I was linked to royalty. The more I dig into my family history. I can see where I was a very distant relative of the late Don O'Connor. As the yrs have passed the spelling of the name has change. When I was in college in my early 20s. I was in an Irish bar. Say an old map of Ireland and it had names of cities after Kings, of course one stood out. It was called Donal O'Connor. As I said the spelling has changed over the yrs. I'm a 3rd generation Irish American, I have a niece that's 7 & a nephew who's 5. Now they are 4th generation Irish Americans.

Unknown said...

Andrew Fahy from Tipperary said: 'Great to see the family having such pride in their Irish roots. They are a direct link to our past with all of its heroics, great achievements, and tragedies. I am distantly descended from the very early O'Connor stock.