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From several manuscripts in the collection of the Royal Irish Academy,
as well as elsewhere, it appears that the family of O'Hurly is of very
ancient and noble Milesian origin. The first manuscript to which I shall refer
is the celebrated Book of Leacan, so called from Leacan, the hereditary
residence of the antiquarians of Sligo, whose castle was situated near
the river Moy, in the barony of Tireragh, County of Sligo. This manuscript is
a compilation from many more ancient historical manuscripts, such as the
Psalters of Cashel and Tara, Book of Glendalough, ect.,and was
written about the close of the fourteenth century. (A copy of this manuscript
was made by the writer of this notice by order of his late Majesty for the
Royal Library, and which he had the honour to lay before his present
Majesty in the year 1830 at James' Palace).
At folio 214, page B, of this manuscript is the following account of the origin
of the O'Hurly family. As descended from the same stock with that of the
Thomond family, viz: "Cormac Cas was son of Oilioll Olum, King of
Munster (lineally descended from Milesius) about the year 230. This
Cormac Cas had one son named Fearcorb, who had two sons, viz., Semne and
Aengus Tireach. Aengus Tireach had four sons, Eogan, Dubros, Leascad,
Luigdeach Meand, the last-named had two sons, viz., Conall Eachluath (
i.e.,Conall of the swift steeds) and Lisceand. Conall Eachluath had two
sons, namely, Enna Airgtheach and Cas, surnamed Tal (i.e., Cas Mac Tail)
and hence the Dal Cassians of Munster). Cas had thirteen sons, of whom
Blod was the eldest. This Blod had four sons, viz., Cairthean Fionn (the
fair), the ancestor of the O'Brien family, afterwards Earls of Thomond;
Cairthand Dub (the black), Eacho, and Brenann Ban (the fair), from
whom are descended the O'Hurlys." From this account we find that
the O'Briens and O'Hurlys concentrated in Blod, from whom the district
of Aoibh Bloid took its name, according to O'Huidhrin, the Munster
topographer, who lived about the year 1400. Dr. O'Brien, in his Dictionary,
under the word Aoibh, says it is now the barony of Lower Ormond,
but from several passages in other manuscripts, it is plain that it was situated
in Thomond, now County Clare.
It has been settled beyond contradiction that
the genealogies of no families were regularly kept, besides those of the
Kings, Chiefs, and Princes, who were able to retain their bards for that
special purpose, and there can be no better proof that the O'Hurlys were
chiefs than that their genenalogy was regularly kept to so late a period,
which I shall show by a comparison in parallel columns of the O'Brien
with that of the O'Hurly, which is the general criterion by which all the
Munster families are put to the test; just as the Ulster and Connaught
families are tested by that of the O'Neills, because those were the two
principal families in the kingdom, and their genealogies are unquestionable.
By various connecting circumstances it is established beyond dispute
that the genealogy which is given as underneath from McFirbis is that
of the O'Hurlys of the O'Brien branch, whose ancient possessions are
marked out by O'Connor on his admirable map of the districts possessed
by each chief. It is distinctly shown to be on the borders of Tipperary,
adjoining the Limerick district of the O'Briens. Its ancient name was
Druim Damaghaire, but it is now called Knocklong, and is situated in the
barony of Coshlea, the most south-east barony in the county.
Adjoining this place, on the hill of Knocklong, are the ruins of a castle,
formerly the residence of Sir Thomas Hurly, whose monument stands in
the church of Emly, sixteen miles south-west of Cashel.
This Knocklong branch gave two Bishops to the church of Emly and
several clerics. Thomas, Bishop from 1507-1542; Maurice, Bishop from
1620-1649. Thomas was a very eminent Canonist. In 1543 King
Henry VIII. presented Donogh Ryan chaplain to the Deanery of the
Cathedral of Emly, vacant, inasmuch as William McBryen and William
O'Hurley, the present incumbents, hold the same by the authority of the
Bishop of Rome. In 1609 King James presented Edmund Hurly, notwithstanding
his "minority and defect of clerical orders," to the Chancellorship
of that Cathedral, with a corps of vicarages united, and in the same
year, and under similar disqualifications, to the Chancellorship thereof.—
From a passage in the Wars of Turlough, a manuscript in the Royal
Irish Academy, it plainly appears that The O'Hurly was one of the Chiefs
of Thomond, A.D. 1309. Wherein it is mentioned that the clans of
Ibh Blod, whose territories can be proved by four passages in the said manuscript
to have been on the east side of the Shannon, marched to encounter the
clans of the MacMahons on the west side of the Shannon, and amongst
the former the clan of O'Hurly is mentioned as the clan of Brennan
Baron, of which O'Hurly was Chief.
The Annals of the Four Masters relate that, in 962, the Danes took
several captives in plundering Kildare, and amongst them was Neill
O'Hurly, who ransomed himself with his own money. This is also stated
in Trias Thaumaturga, page 630. From those various and ancient most
indisputable authorities, always corroborating each other, it is most evident
that the O'Hurly family is one of the oldest in Ireland. Proof, indeed,
beyond doubt that both the name and lineage of O'Hurly are of ancient
Irish origin." Certified by me,
Dublin, March 22, 1836. OWEN CONNELLAN