Newsletter No. 71

Winter 2018

Hodson Bay Hotel Athlone
Hodson Bay Hotel Athlone




Kelly Clan Gathering 17, 18, 19 May,  2019

Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone, Co. Roscommon

(overlooking the Shannon River)

The format for the Gathering has changed this year. The cost delegates will be asked to pay will be for their hotel stay made direct to the hotel and a €20 registration fee payable to the Clan.

The hotel cost will include the Saturday evening gala dinner and bed and breakfast.

Other meals will be payable to the hotel as an extra.

The Council have reserved a number of rooms at the hotel and the cost will be:
– 2 nights B&B with Saturday night gala dinner – €190 per person sharing a double or twin room/€240 per single room

– 2 nights B&B only – €170 per person sharing a double or twin/€220 per single room

– 1 night B&B only – €90 per person sharing/€120 per single room

Make reservations directly with the hotel 9am – 6pm local time
+353 90 644 2005

Mention that you are attending the Kelly Clan Gathering

To note your registration,

email Mary Kelly
Bernie Kelly



In this issue:

Letter from the Editor
Contact Us
Our New Website 
Kelly Gathering of 1992 
Gathering 2019 – Places of Interest
General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
Sites of Interest
Copy of Flyer for 2019 Gathering

Letter from your Editor – Judy Kelly Fausch

Judy Kelly Fausch
Judy Kelly Fausch Editor

I recently came across this quote: “Families are like branches on a tree, we grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.” When we chart our families, we end up with family trees. When notes a match on different trees, they show these as leaves. The source had no idea where the quote had come from, but it made me think about our Kelly clan and the upcoming Gathering. As noted in our newsletters, there will be an emphasis on our ongoing DNA study, workshops and discussion groups on genealogy and, of course, some history.

Our Kelly Clan Gathering in 2019 will be in Athlone, Co. Roscommon. (Note: the Hodson Bay Hotel sits on the border of Roscommon and Westmeath Counties – can be confusing.) For many of us, that’s the area our Kelly ancestors came from – often referred to as “O’Kelly Country” (South Roscommon and East Galway.) Hope many of you are considering attending to share and/or explore your own personal trees and those of other members; meet old friends and make new ones; and maybe discover some relatives in a beautiful and enjoyable setting.

We send a big THANK YOU to Gerry Hegarty for successfully getting our website up and running smoothly. There is an article by Gerry in this newsletter explaining more about the site.

We have an article by Dr. Joe Kelly, long-term Council member/historian on the history of the O’Kellys of Hy Many. In 1992, before our current group was officially formed, there was a Gathering of Kellys in Tipperary. We have a review of this gathering also written by Dr. Joe Kelly

Athlone is very close to Roscommon Town, which was the site of our first Gathering in 1995, which was my introduction to this group. I did a quick search of sites of interest to Kellys in this area and was overwhelmed with possibilities. I’ve listed a few of those in case anyone would be interested.

Our condolences to: Sophia Kelly Byrne, former Council member, on the death of her husband John. As long-time members of the Kelly Clan, they both worked for and attended many Gatherings.

Members – Thank you to all who have paid their membership fees.

New Members
 Failte O’Ceallaigh (O’Kelly Welcome) to these new members:

 – Kelly Woods, Iowa, USA

 – Cory Woods, California, USA

Contact us with comments, questions, information to share.

Contact Us


Clan Chieftain, Count Robert O’Kelly

Tom Mernagh

Tanaiste, Dr. Des Kelly

Secretary, Bernie Kelly/Treasurer, Michael Kelly

Editor, Judy Kelly Fausch

Facebook Page Kelly Clan Association [Muintir Ui Cheallaigh]

Other Council Members

DNA Study; Aidan Kelly,

Dom Celsus Kelly,

Joe A Kelly,

Dr. Joe Kelly


Hello there. First of all I would like to thank Bernie and the committee of Kelly Clans for allowing me to design and build your new website. I have been quite amazed by the history and amount of information contained on the site. A complete rebuild of the website was necessary as the old one had been compromised. 

The new site contains some innovations which I would like to bring to your notice. First of all the site is secure, i.e. you will notice on the address bar on the top the website address is The “s” after http indicates there is a secure certificate active on the site which increases the security of all information on the site.
The site is now located in and identified with Ireland by the .ie on the address.
All current members of Kelly Clans have an account on the website which allows them to view their membership details and to contribute to the private forum pages of the site. These two sections of the site are restricted to registered members of Kelly Clans only. 

The Forum section of the site is often used by members on sites to privately discuss upcoming events with other members.
To Login to the site proceed as follows: On the bottom left of the page there is a login section. Enter your email address and password here. This adds a “MEMBERS AREA” heading to the menu, where, as a member of this organisation you now have access to the aforementioned areas of the website which are restricted to members only. Under MEMBERS AREA is “KELLY CLANS FORUM.” This private Forum section of the website is only accessible to members of Kelly Clans. Feel free to open new topics or contribute to existing topics. Also under MEMBERS AREA you will find “MEMBERSHIP DETAILS.” Here you will find all your membership details including subscription details such as expiry date of membership. 

If anyone is having difficulty logging onto the site or accessing/using the forum, please e-mail me at 

Kind regards 

Gerry Hegarty
JTL Productions 
Mullagh Road 
Miltown Malbay,
Co Clare


taken from an article printed in the first Kelly Clan Newsletter of September 1995. Submitted by Dr. Joe Kelly, Long Term Council Member/Historian 

There is inside most people a desire to know about their antecedents. What were the people like from whom they sprang? How did they live? 

The Kellys, O’Kellys, Kelleys (Ó Ceallaigh) were eight separate groups of people who had different antecedents and settled in different parts of Ireland. 

The largest sept were the O’Kellys of Uí Máine (“Hy Many”). Their ancestor was Máine Mór, after whom their territory was called. They had migrated from the North of Ireland from an area which is now County Tyrone to a less populous area straddling the river Suck. The Suck is a branch of the river Shannon, which is the largest river in Ireland. 

The territory prior to Máine Mór’s arrival was peopled by the Fir Bolg. Their leader was called Cian. Cian quickly realised that Máine Mór and his followers were superior in number and in strength to his people, so he agreed to have peace with them and allow them to dwell in their area. They exchanged hostages. Among the hostages given by Máine was his own son. This son was housed by Cian’s principal lawmaker, or Brehon. The Brehon’s wife fell in love with Máine’s son. The Brehon was angered by this and persuaded Cian to kill all the hostages. When Cian realised what a serious crime he had committed, he decided to invite Máine Mór and all the other leaders to a feast. Máine Mór accepted the invitation, not being aware that the hostages had been killed. 

A local holy man called Greallán learned of the treachery intended by Cian for the strangers. Greallán performed a miracle and the ground on which Cian and his warriors stood quickly became a quagmire and swallowed them. Greallán was well rewarded by Máine Mór and his chieftains and later became the patron saint of the O’Kellys. 

The O’Kellys took their name from Ceallach, a descendant of Máine Mór. The name Ó Ceallaigh meant the grandson of Ceallach. The O’Kellys prospered in their new territory. They avoided many local wars and conflicts. True, they did take part in some raids on neighbouring clans but this was little more than blooding the young warriors. 

The first major upheaval was the arrival of the Norsemen. They first arrived in Ireland in 795 and by the early part of the ninth century they traversed the river Shannon and built a fortress at Limerick. They also traversed the tributaries of this great river. They raided Clonmacnoise and Clonfert monasteries. 

In the year 1014 King Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, defeated the Norsemen at the great battle of Clontarf on the North side of the city of Dublin. The O’Kelly, the King of Hy Many, was the only Connacht chieftain who participated in this great battle. He, unfortunately, was killed in the conflict. Ever since then, the name Brian has been very popular with the Kellys as a first name. The battle of Clontarf broke the stranglehold that the Vikings held in Ireland. Since then, the King of Hy Many, whose name was Teig, has been known as Teig of the Battle of Brian. 

After Máine Mór settled in Hy Many, he encouraged the building of dwellings with defences. These fortresses were constructed of earth. They consisted of a deeply fossed perimeter 6 

crowned by palisades and towers of timber. They, unfortunately, were flammable and often burned down. The annalists tell us that Ballinasloe was burned down by a casual fire in the year 1131. They built these fortresses at the periphery of their territory, which consisted of the southern half of County Roscommon and the eastern part of County Galway. 

Later they replaced the earthen and wooden structures by stone buildings. Usually these were built on the sites of the old earthen dwellings. The stonemasons gradually improved their skills. Later they copied the castles built by the Normans, who arrived in Ireland in the twelfth century. The Normans had learned their skills in castle building over several hundred years on the European continent, as well as in England and especially in Wales. 

The O’Kellys built similar type structures, or often took possession of castles built by the Normans in their territory. The Kellys had approximately eighty castles at one time or another in their territory. These castles consisted of a central building with walls six to eight feet thick in the lower part. Entrance was through a door at a higher level. Surrounding this central castellated structure was a thick high wall, usually with one entrance. This wall enclosed a yard and often temporary structures were erected here when there was a large number of people in residence. Surrounding this wall was a ditch, often containing water. Prior to the arrival of gunpowder, these castles could be taken only by a prolonged siege which resulted in starvation of the inhabitants. 

Moyvannon Castle, Athlone Road, Co. Roscommon Now the property of Elan Corporation
Moyvannon Castle, Athlone Road, Co. Roscommon Now the property of Elan Corporation

In peacetime the castle acted as the seat of government for the area. Hy Many was divided into several smaller areas called tuaths. These petty kingdoms were governed by local rulers. The whole territory was governed by a type of parliament which consisted of the king, who was the O’Kelly, aided by the brehon, or lawmaker, plus the leaders of the tuaths, or petty kingdoms. 

The histories tell us that the leader of the O’Kellys was called at various times the King of Hy Many, the Prince of Hy Many, or the O’Kelly, which was an ancient Irish title. His successor was chosen during his lifetime from among his near relatives. The successful candidate was called the Tanist. 

Usually small hamlets or villages took root around these castles. At special festivals great feasts were held. These would usually last for some days. The greatest feast ever held in Irish history was one given by William Boy (i.e. “Buí” meaning “golden haired” – ed.) O’Kelly in 1351 in his castle at Galey on the shores of Lough Ree. He invited all the poets, storytellers, musicians and entertainers from all over the country to his castle. This party 7 

lasted for a month. Poems and songs of praise were composed about William Boy. And to this day in Ireland one who gives a great welcome is said to have given the welcome of the O’Kellys or, in Irish, Fáilte Uí Cheallaigh. 

The arrival of the Anglo-Normans in Connacht at the end of the twelfth century caused the beginning of the end of the ancient customs of the O’Kellys. Connacht was granted by the English King to de Burgh, a direct descendant of a half brother of William the Conqueror. The success of the conquest by the Normans in Connacht tended to wax and wane. The Normans built castles in areas that they conquered. These castles were often taken over by the O’Kellys, resulting in the retreat of the Normans. 

Hy Many remained more or less in the hands of the O’Kellys, as well as the O’Maddens and the Keoghs, whose ancestors were O’Kellys up to the end of the sixteenth century. This was confirmed by a list of castles of County Galway drawn up for the use of Sir Henry Sidney, the Lord Deputy, or King’s representative in Ireland, in the year 1574. 

From the beginning of the seventeenth century the decline of the O’Kelly fortunes began in earnest. The failed rising of 1641, the Cromwellian plantation following it and the Penal Laws of the eighteenth century succeeded in making paupers of the previously affluent members of the O’Kelly clan. 

Field Marshall Lieutenant O’Kelly of Austria. 

Many of the O’Kellys left with the Wild Geese after the siege of Limerick in 1691 to find fame and fortune in Europe. Some of these distinguished themselves in the battlefields of Europe fighting under foreign flags, usually against the English. Others became great diplomats and a number had titles bestowed on them. Such as Field Marshall Lieutenant O’Kelly (left) of Austria.

The O’Kellys that remained found their large land holdings reduced to the size of a small farm. They now found that they were tenants of strangers who spoke a different language, professed a different faith and followed different laws. Despite these vicissitudes, their tenacity enabled them to survive. 

The next great tragedy to befall the O’Kellys was the great famine of 1845-47. Large numbers died because of the blight that had arrived and had caused the potato to rot. The potato at that time was the main staple diet of most poorer people in Ireland. Many died of starvation and even more of the fevers that accompanied this great calamity. 

The great haemorrhage of emigration now took root. The famine and subsequent emigration resulted in a drop of fifty per cent of the population from 1850 to 1900. The emigration that followed the great famine and that continued into the first half of the twentieth century has resulted in large numbers of Kellys being scattered worldwide. 

There are at present 60,000 of the name in Ireland. It is the second largest family name after Murphy. A quarter of a million people bear this name in the U.S.A. and 24,000 in 8 

Canada. There are 120,000 Kellys in Great Britain and 50,000 in Australia. The remainder are scattered all over the world. Many people bearing this name have distinguished themselves in their adopted countries. 

A number of these people would undoubtedly like to visit the home of their ancestors. It would be nice to restore one of the O’Kelly castles which could act as a mecca for these visitors. A library could be housed there with information about genealogy and history. Many of the visitors will undoubtedly bring stories of their own personal family history. 

The formation of the O’Kelly Clan Association in 1995 was a first and very significant step in this journey. 

Joseph Kelly 

Kelly Gathering of 1992 

The first International Meeting of the Kelly Clan took place in September 1992 in Tipperary. John Kelly of Cappawhite was one of the organisers. There were Kellys from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Hawaii and many corners of the globe present. The gathering began with a Concelebrated Mass in the chapel of Dundrum Castle. The celebrants were Fr. Richard Kelly of Tipperary, Fr. John Kelly, parish priest of St. George’s, Granada, West Indies and three other Kelly priests. The Mass was followed by a banquet and afterwards Radio Telefis Eireann held interviews. They interviewed Susan Kelly from Canada. Susan’s parents Reggie and Joan (Graham) Kelly live in the original homestead of William Kelly (1802-1870), her great-great-great-grand-father lived in “the Township of Osgoode, County of Rupell, and the district of Dalhousie, Province of Canada.” Among the attendance was Lorne Kelly a Canadian who was the great-great-grandson of the said William Kelly. Lorne who was on his fourth visit to Ireland, in search of his roots with a determination to find the plot of land where William was born and spent his early years before he transferred to Canada. Armed with little information he had failed to solve the mystery on his three previous visits, but like King Robert de Bruce of Scotland this only spurred him on to greater efforts. This time due to tenacity and a certain amount of good luck he solved the problem and to his great excitement he discovered the ruins of the old homestead in Powerstown, a town land near Graiguenamanagh (or Graignamanagh), in the south of Co. Kilkenny. In his short book The William Kelly Story, 1802-1870, a book that was written from the heart, Lorne relates the failures and the final success in his quest to discover his roots. This book should be put on the list of books to be consulted by others who are in search for their forbears. This book was published privately, a copy was presented to the compiler of these annals at the Annual Irish Festival in Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada in 1998. [See 1870 (6)] 

Dr. Joe M Kelly. 

Historian to the Kelly Clan Association.M

Gathering – Places of Interest

Below are a few suggestions for some more interesting places to visit when you’re in Roscommon County for the 2019 Kelly Clan Gathering. 

Strokestown Park House and Famine Museum 

Strokestown, Co Roscommon, Ireland Strokestown Park was the family home of the Pakenham Mahon family from the 1600s until 1979. The house retains virtually all of its original furnishings. The Irish National Famine Museum is also housed here. 
Click Here to visit their website

Co. Roscommon Heritage & Genealogical Centre 

Church St, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon, Ireland This Centre houses an Interpretative Display on Pagan Celtic Society in Pre-Christian Ireland, on the monuments of Rathcroghan and the Display also focuses on the epic tale of the Tàin Bò Cuailgne, and also a Genealogical Centre. 

Click Here to visit their website

Roscommon Arts Centre 

Circular Road, Roscommon Town, Co. Roscommon, F42 YX61 

Click Here to visit their website

Elphin Windmill 

Windmill Road, Elphin, Co. Roscommon, Ireland This 18th Century windmill was perfectly located to harness the winds sweeping over the plains of Boyle. Unusual features are a thatched revolving roof and sails that are turned into the wind using cartwheels on a circular track. 

Click Here to visit their website

Lough Key Forest Park 

Boyle, Co. Roscommon, F52 PY66 

Click Here to visit their website

King House 

Main Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ireland, F52 WR26 This restored 18th Century mansion is now home to an award winning interpretative centre where the visitor can step back in time to the ancient kingdom of Connacht. 

Click Here to visit their website

Sacred Heart Church 

Abbey Street, Roscommon Town, Co. Roscommon 

Click Here to visit their website

Arigna Mining Experience 

Enterprise Centre, Argina, Co Roscommon, N41 YP78 10 

Click Here to visit their website

Clonalis House 

Castlerea, Co. Roscommon, Ireland This 45 room mansion was built in 1878 and contains a priceless collection of over 10,000 archival documents illustrating a tradition going back 60 generations. Also preserved in Clonalis is O’Carolan’s harp. 

Click Here to visit their website

The County Museum 

Roscommon Town, Co. Roscommon, Ireland, F42 KT02 The County Museum houses several original artifacts including a 9th Century inscribed slab and a dug-out canoe as well as Dominican Priory and Old Jail Histories. 

Click Here to visit their website

Boyle Abbey 

Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ireland 

An impressive and well preserved Cistercian Monastery which was founded in the 12th century under the patronage of the local ruling family, the MacDermotts. 

Click Here to visit their website


Tulsk, Co. Roscommon 

Rathcroghan Visitor Centre is located in the medieval village of Tulsk, within the royal complex of Cruachan, the oldest and largest unexcavated Royal Complex in Europe. 

Click Here to visit their website


Payable Annually

Family – €30.00 Single – €25.00 Lifetime – €250.00

Payment can be made by PayPal at

New members can join here
Existing members; we will be in contact with you shortly with information on how you are able to renew via the website.


with a cheque, in the currency of your country, to:

Bernie Kelly, Aisling, Tyrone, Kilcolgan, Galway, IR H91AD78

Check Exchange rates:

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Individuals have privacy rights in relation to the processing of their personal data.

This is a European Union-wide framework which changes the rules on data protection. It provides for a more uniform interpretation and application of data protection standards across the EU.

The Data Protection Act 2018, which was signed into law on 24 May 2018, changes the previous data protection framework, established under the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003. Its provisions include:

–Establishing a new Data Protection Commission as the State’s data protection authority

–Transposing the law enforcement Directive into national law

–Giving further effect to the GDPR in areas where member states have flexibility (for example, the digital age of consent)

The above is taken from

Further information is available at: or Privacy Policy is GDPR compliant and can be viewed here. PRIVACY POLICY

Sites of Interest (especially for those involved in Irish genealogy):

Ireland Reaching Out

Irish Lives Remembered

2019 Gathering Flyer.

Click here for a copy of a flyer giving basic information about the 2019 Kelly Clan Gathering.
Please share with anyone you think may be interested.

Click on the download link to copy flyer to your computer and share on Social Media.
Click on the Title to open in your browser.

Feel free to make copies.