Count William O’ Kelly


1. Count William O’Kelly (1670 – 1751 ) of Aughrim, “Lord of Cullagh and Ballynahown”, in County Galway, died in 1751. O’Kelly was born in Ireland in 1670, either in Co. Galway, or in Dublin (both locations have been mentioned ), and left Ireland with King James II, in 1690, and studied humanities at Louvain and philosophy at Paris, and lived in Paris until 1697. In 1698, he went to Prague and entered the Emperor’s service. “As a member of the old Irish nobility, he was able to make contact with other noble families”. He became professor of philosophy and heraldry at the Vienna Academia Nobilis. He was also Empire Herald which was a great honour for a foreigner. He was knighted by the Emperor in 1707, and in 1708, he received the honour of being created Comes Palatinus (count palatine). At the time of his death, he was Privy Councillor to Emperor Charles VI. His most famous literary work was written in Latin,Historia Descriptio Hiberniae. This work was written in both prose and verse. and divided into four sections dealing with Logic, Ethics, Physics and Metaphysics. He signed himself “William O’Kelly, of Aughrim, chevalier of the Holy Roman Empire, hereditary Lord of Culagh and Ballinahown, Count Palatine Imperial and Inspector of Arms of His Imperial Royal Majesty.” Usually he signed in Latin. Rev. Dr. Patrick K. Egan, the historian feels that O’Kelly’s claim to the title of Lord of Cullagh and Ballinahown, perhaps was “borrowed”, to improve his standing with his hosts on his arrival in Prague. Other O’Kellys used this same rouse, e.g. the O’Kelly Farrells in France.

Ware in volume 3 in his Sir James Ware on Ireland refers to a letter that he wrote to O’Kelly and the reply received on February 12, 1741. Ware was amazed that O’Kelly never kept copies of his works. Occasionally one of his works in Latin is sold by the Antiquarians. De Burca Rare Books had a copy for sale a few years ago. [ See 1698 (1), 1699(1), 1701(1), 1750(1) also Ware page 287]

2. Edmund Kelly of Woodmount, (Tonelig), Beagh, Co. Roscommon, a few miles east of Ballinasloe, died. He was in possession of The Book of Hy Many, which he left to his son, Laughlin Kelly. The Book of Hy Many also known as The Book of the O’Kellys, was written for Bishop Muirchertach O’Kelly who at the time held the see of Clonfert (1378-1394 ). It was written for him prior, to his translation to the to the arch bishopric of Tuam. Later it was in the hands of Mael-Mhuire Ua Uiginn, chief professor of poetry in Ireland, who died in 1488. Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh had access to it about the middle of the seventeenth century, and signed his name on it, and made an index of its contents for Sir James Ware. On one page is the partly obliterated note in a seventeenth century hand ‘. . . Walter Kelly.’ There is no clue as to who this Walter was, but a carton in Dunlo (old name for Ballinasloe), was held in 1641 by Walter and James O’Kelly. On other pages is the name of Edmond Óg McEdmond (O’Kelly). On another page is the following note :

“This book Belongs to Mr. Laughlin Kelly of Tonelig. Left him by his father Mr. Edmond Kelly. Deceased 1754”.

The Book of Hy Many is an important medieval manuscript compilation consisting genealogical and historical material, and both secular and religious poetry.

3. Walter Kelly, a sailor, was hanged and quartered, near St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin, for the murder of Vastin Turnburgh, a Dutch skipper in 1734. Kelly’s speech from the dock, was published soon afterwards.

“I am brought here this Day, to Dye a base and ignominious Death, for the murder of Vastin Turnburgh, a Dutchman, nor can I say that I was innocent, since all persons that are present at the Transaction of so horrid a deed, are guilty alike according to the law; therefore I can make no excuse for myself, yet I will lay before you my spectators.

Mr Tobin, my present fellow sufferer, and I being intimates, and but just returned from a voyage, we both agreed to go to Bagnio Slip, in order to get a whore; and there being some Dutchmen there who had a falling out among themselves; we alas! Very presumptuously went to their room and took both their pipes and candles from them, I must confess it was very ill done; but they being reconciled went their way, but one of them took the bar of the door with him, in order (as I suppose) to defend themselves, in case we should follow them, but as God is my Judge we had no such thought until one of the cursed women cried out, ‘one of the Dutchmen has taken the bar of the door, pray follow them and take it off them.’ We being in Liquor, and hot-headed with all, pursued them to Aston’s Quay, among us there arose a quarrel in which the Dutch skipper received his death; but how or by what means I know not, for my part I had neither sword nor knife, nor am I any way sensible that I struck anyone. But Oh! My God, I must confess I deserve this death, for many innumerable offences I have committed otherwise against Thy Divine Majesty; but will not despair of thy mercy, and I do firmly hope you will say to my soul as you did to the penitent thief ‘this day though shall be with me in Paradise; grant this O most Heavenly Father, through the intercession of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ amen.

Having no more to say, but beg all your prayers to God for our poor souls, I dye an unworthy member of the Church of Rome, in the 25th year of my age, Good Lord have mercy on my poor soul amen.

Newgate July 26, 1734.

4. John Kelly Irish carver died c.1773. He was born in Ireland and flourished 1739-1773, and probably was a pupil of John Houghton whom he assisted in the carving of the coat of arms and other decorations in stone on the pediment of Carton House, Co. Kildare. He worked chiefly in wood, and carved the beautiful carved woodwork, on the doorways and window casings, cornices and staircase in Dr. Mosse’s house, in No. 9 Cavendish Row, Dublin. Mosse was the founder of the Rotunda Hospital Dublin, which was the first Lying In Hospital ( Maternity ), in the world. One of his doorways is illustrated in the Georgian Society’s 1st Volume, Plate XXVII. He also did a carved bedstead “done in the Corinthian order in mahogany,” for Dr. Mosse for which he paid £19 – 8 – 6 ½ on September 15, 1759. This be now belongs to Lady Stokes of Carrigbreac, Howth. The receipts for payment of these works are preserved in the Rotunda Hospital. In 1765 he was living in Eustace Street, and sent to the exhibition of the Society of Artists in George’s Lane a bas-relief in wood of “Hibernia” and one of “The Element of Fire.” He also contributed carvings to the Society’s exhibitions in William Street in 1768, 1769 and 1773 and was awarded a premium by the Dublin Society in 1768 for a bas-relief in wood. There is no further mention of Kelly after 1773.

5. John Vise Kelly, Captain of the Huntington Militia, died. He was married to Julia, daughter of the Rev. R. Smyth, Rector of Straggoud, Huntingtonshire, England. They had no family. John Vise Kelly was son of William Kelly and his wife Charlotte Vise and was grandson of Michael Kelly of Carraroe, near Dunsandle, Co. Galway.

6. Peter Browne, son of Peter Browne M.P. for Castlebar and later the Earl of Altamont and ancestor of the Marques of Sligo, married Elizabeth only daughter and heir of Chief Justice Denis Kelly of the island of Jamaica and formerly of Lisduff, County Galway. Her fortune helped to replenish the Browne coffers that were beginning to dry up. He assumed the additional name Kelly and before he succeeded to the title he was known as Peter Browne Kelly. [Peter became the second earl in 1776, and Elizabeth became Countess]