Donnelly Families - Part 1


(Original submitted by Philip Donnelly in September 2009)

(Modified on October 31, 2016 with more recent information about Peter Donnelly and Bryan Donnelly)

In the late 1800s, five related Donnelly families lived contemporaneously on farms in the townland of Greaghnadarragh, about 3 miles east of the town of Bailieborough. Greaghnadarragh is in that part of the old Parish of Moybolgue which is now known as Tierworker.
According to stories I heard as a child growing up in the 1940s, their ancestors, including my great-great-grandfather, John Donnelly, widowed from his first wife Ellin, came to Greaghnadarragh in the 1820s from Cloven Eden in the parish of Loughgall, County Armagh.
Those were the years when Colonel Sir William Young, a Director of the East India Company, who had ancestral roots in the parish of Loughgall in County Armagh, purchased Bailieborough Castle and the surrounding townlands. According to our family's legends, there was a remote connection by marriage between my great-great-grandfather, John Donnelly, and the Youngs. Consequently, when the tenancy of about 107 acres of farmland owned by the Youngs in Greaghnadarragh came up for renewal, the lease was assigned to John Donnelly and his brothers. For the next 150 years, the name of Donnelly was strongly associated with Greaghnadarragh, but before the 20th century came to an end, all traces of those families had vanished from that townland.
From my early years in the 1940s, I have personal recollections of four of the families descended from John Donnelly, his son Michael Donnelly, and his brothers Bryan (or Brian) and Peter. John was the ancestor of the branch nicknamed "The Woods" through his second wife, Catherine Clarke, and of the branch nicknamed "The Philips" through his son, Michael, who was my great-grandfather. Bryan (or Brian) Donnelly (probably NOT Peter, as was my first guess in September 2009) with his wife Rose Carolan, is the most likely ancestor of "The Blues" and "The Porras". Peter Donnelly, with his wife Catherine Reilly, is the most likely ancestor of the fifth family of Donnellys which carried the nickname "The Shinnies". This later family is entirely outside of my own memory because they had all emigrated or died decades before I was born. There is a headstone in the old Moybologue Cemetery commemorating Peter Donnelly.
jemalicedonnelly donnellyrakeevan
Parents of Philip Donnelly of Ottawa, Canada
Jemmy Donnelly, grandson of Michael Donnelly of Greaghnadarragh (nicknamed "The Philips"), and Alice, nee Tully, also of Greaghnadarragh (c1942)
Rakeevan Donnellys

(Top) Jem Donnelly, son of Patrick Donnelly and Mary Clarke (nicknamed "The Porras"); (Bottom) Mary (Eileen) Donnelly, daughter of Jem and Mary, and her husband Edward Fleming (1931)