O'Rourke (No.3) family genealogy

Of Innismagrath, County Leitrim

Arms, Crest, and Motto, same as "O'Rourke" (No. 1). Another Coat of Arms of this family was: Arms: Or, a lion ramp. on the left, and a spotted cat, ramp. on the right. Crest: A hand and dagger. Motto: Buagh; and Serviendo guberno.

THE following lines (author unknown), which refer to the Arms and Crest of "O'Rourke," may interest the reader:

The rampant Lion and spotted Cat,

The Hand and Dagger come next to that

Those Royal emblems may well divine

The O'Rourkes belong to a royal line.

OWEN, a younger brother of Brian-na-Mota, who is No. 126 on the (No. 1) "O'Rourke" (Princes of West Brefney) pedigree, was the ancestor of this branch of that family:

125. Brian Ballach, last lord of Brefney, died A.D. 1562. This is the man to whom Sir Henry Sydney alludes in the following passage, which has been quoted by Dr. O'Donovan: "I found him (O'Rourke) the proudest man that ever I dealt with in Ireland." This Brian built Leitrim Castle,[1] in A.D. 1540—that famous castle in which his grandson, the chivalrous Brian Oge O'Rourke,[2] son of Brian-na-Mota, who was beheaded, A.D. 1592, received the brave Donal O'Sullivan Beare after his retreat from Dunboy, A.D. 1602—a retreat described by Davis as "the most romantic and gallant achievement of the age." Besides Leitrim Castle which, most probably, was built for military purposes, this Brian possessed two other castles in Brefney: Castle Carr, evidently a military stronghold, having been built on a Crannoge (or artificial island) in a small lake in the romantic and picturesque valley of Glencarr ("The valley lay smiling before me," of the immortal Moore), between Manorhamilton and Sligo; and the Castle of Dromahaire or "Ballyrourk" as it was then called, where, on the left bank of the "Bonet" (Buaniad or lasting river), near its entrance into Lough Gill, the parents of this Brian, namely, Owen O'Rourke and Margaret O'Brien, daughter of Conor O'Brien, King of Thomond, founded in AD. 1508 the Franciscan Abbey of Crevelea, now a ruin, on the spot known to be Leac Phadric [3] or "Carrick Patrick." Here the said Margaret O'Brien, who founded it, was buried, A.D. 1512; and "The Abbey" continued long afterwards to be the Natale Solum of the O'Rourkes, and doubtless still does, for the branches of that ancient sept who live in its vicinity. In his "Records relating to the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise," p. 379, the Very Rev. John Canon Monaghan, D.D., P.P., V.G., Cloghan, King's County, says of this Abbey: "The walls of this abbey are still entire, and the altar is nearly so. There are several curious figures inserted in the walls and over some graves of the Murroghs, the Cornins—a very ancient family, the O'Ruarks, etc., etc.; The Great O'Ruark lies at full length on a tomb over the burial ground of his family."

It is only simple justice to the memory of the dead to state here, that, of the few people in Leitrim who take any interest in such matters, most of them believe that Centy (Hyacinth) O'Rourke, a gentleman who lived at a place called Carrigeenboy, county Sligo, on the border of Roscommon, and who died in the early part of the present century, was the lineal descendant of Brian Oge O'Rourke. This Centy had a brother, Hugh Buidhe (his father also was Hugh), who died in the middle of the present century, leaving one son (Hugh), who died in 1886, in the Colony of Victoria, Australia.

Centy O'Rourke was nephew to another man of the same name (Centy), who fell in a duel, about the year 1770, with one of the Percevals, of Templehouse, county Sligo. It was believed by many of his numerous friends and admirers in Leitrim, that he was murdered: that he fought with a pistol handed to him by his second, and charged with powder only. Up to the middle of the present century, when the people declined in their use of the Irish language, the valour of this popular favourite, handed down in "song and story," was a favourite topic at all social gatherings.

126. Owen: son of Brian Ballach.

127. Tiernan Bán: his son. By referring to the Annals of the Four Masters, A.D. 1590, it will be seen that this man was in alliance with his kinsman Brian Oge O'Rourke, in resisting the encroachments of Sir Richard Bingham, then the Queen's Governor of Connaught. Doubtless, he was among "wild Breffny's warlike band,"[4] who, led "by gallant Brian Oge, turned the scale of victory"[5] against Sir Conyers Clifford, at "Curlieu's Pass," near Boyle, on that memorable Feast of the Assumption, A.D. 1600.

128. Owen: son of Tiernan Bán; fought against Sir Frederick Hamilton. Had two sons: 1. Hugh; 2. Owen.[6] This Owen had two brothers—1. Brian, 2. Con: the former slain during the events of 1641-9, and the latter executed during the same unhappy period. Tradition tells that this execution took place in the presence, or within view, of his brother Owen, and in front of, or convenient to their father's house.

This is the "Owen O'Rourke, who lived on the banks of Lough Allen, in Leitrim," for whom, according to Hardiman, Carolan, the last of the Irish bards, composed his "Dirge on the death of Owen O'Rourke," and for whose wife, Mary McDermott, he composed the song Mhaire-an-Chulfhin, or "Fair-haired Mary." The spot, "on the banks of Lough Allen in Leitrim," where Owen O'Rourke lived is about two hundred yards from the water's edge.—See Hardiman's Memoir of Carolan, Vol. I., pp. liii. and lxii.

129. Hugh: the elder son of Owen; living A.D. 1688. Before the events of 1641, these brothers Hugh and Owen lived in the parish of Drum-lease, but possessed several quarters (townlands) of land in the parish of Innismagrath, all of which were confiscated.[7] Hugh's portion having been "conveyed" to a man named Richard Barry; and Owen's to a man named Hugh Campbell. The brothers, Hugh and Owen, were soldiers, and took part in the campaign of 1688-91, ending their military career fighting under that brave man, Sir Teige O'Regan, author of an expression which has become historic, an expression which is characteristic of the man's valour. "Let us change commanders, and we will fight the battle over again."

After these events the brothers Hugh and Owen lived in Innismamagrath.[8]

130. Con: only son of Hugh. The place where he lived is still called in Irish Alla Cuinn, which means "Con's Hall," but in English it is called by the name of "Grouse Lodge." He left three children: one son, and two daughters. One of the daughters, Ellen O'Rourke, lived down to about the year 1820.

She died unmarried at a very advanced age; she died in poverty and obscurity in that parish, a portion of which was wrested from her grandfather in 1641, and the whole of which was ruled by her ancestors long before the Norman Barons assembled at Runnymede.

131. Donoch (or Denis): his only son; had four sons: 1. John 2. Frank (d. 2nd Feb., 1854), 3. Teige, 4. Michael, all of whom left families.

132. John: eldest son of Denis; d. 11th Nov. 1845, aged 80 years, leaving three sons: 1. Hugh, 2. Con, 3. Michael. Hugh d. 1866; his family have all left the country. Con. d. 1846, s.p.

133. Michael: youngest son of John; d. 13th April, 1859, leaving five sons: 1. Denis, 2. John, born 1838, and living in the parish of Innismagrath, county Leitrim; 3. Michael, born 1848, and living in Knoxville, Tenn., U. S. A.; 4. Francis, born 1851, and living in Sydney, New South Wales; 5. James, born 1856, and teacher of Tarmon National School, Drumkeerin, co. Leitrim—all living in 1887.

134. Denis: eldest son of Michael; b. 22nd Sept., 1836, and living in 1887, at Mount Allen, county Roscommon, as Teacher of the National School of that place; married, 30th June, 1860, Julia, dau. of Thomas Clarke, of Geevagh, co. Sligo, and has had issue thirteen children (seven sons and six daughters), of whom six sons and three daughters died; the surviving children are: 1. Kate, Teacher of Corderay National School, Drumshambo, co. Leitrim, who mar., 6th Feb., 1884, Joseph Nangle, Teacher of the Male Department of the same School, and has had issue (Fannie); 2. Julia-Bridget; 3. Teresa-Mary; 4. Francis-Joseph, all living in 1887.

135. Francis-Joseph O'Rourke: only son of Denis; born 17th Sept., 1880, baptised in the Catholic Church, Keadue, co. Roscommon, on the 18th Sept., 1880, and living at Mount Allen, in 1887.


THE Owen O'Rourke, to whom Hardiman refers in his Memoir of Carolan, Vol. I., pp. liii. and lxii., was not Owen (No. 128), son of Tiernan Bán, as some readers might suppose from reading pp. 752-753, supra; but his younger son Owen, brother of Hugh, who is No. 129 on that pedigree. The said younger son Owen, who "lived on the banks of Lough Allen," is the man whose name appears on the souvenir referred to in Note, p. 752; his father Owen (No. 128) lived in the parish of Drumlease.


[1] Leitrim Castle: To the rear of the Constabulary Barrack in the village of Leitrim, four miles north of Carrick-on-Shannon, an ivied wall about nine feet high may be seen the ruin of this once powerful stronghold. The appearance of it to the "mangled and bleeding fugitives" of Donal O'Sullivan Beare is thus described by A. M. Sullivan, in his Story of Ireland, p. 322: "When they saw through the trees in the distance the towers of Leitrim Castle, they sank upon the earth, and for the first time since they quitted Beara, gave way to passionate weeping, overpowered by strange paroxysms of joy, grief, suffering, and exultation."

[2] Brian Oge: Of this Brian Oge O'Rourke, the son of Brian-na-Mota, the Ven. Archdeacon O'Rorke, P.P., in his History of Ballysadare and Kilvarnet, p. 345, says: "A father and son that bore as persevering hostility to the English as Hamilcar and Hannibal did to the Romans." The reply of Brian-na-Mota to the apostate Archbishop Miler Magrath, who had been sent to afford him spiritual consolation on the scaffold, is characteristic of his fidelity to his creed and country: "No; but do you remember the dignity from which you have fallen? Return to the bosom of the ancient Church, and learn from my fortitude that lesson which you ought to have been the last man on earth to disavow."

[3] Leac Phadric: So called from having been sanctified by the presence of our National Apostle, St. Patrick, in his Missionary tour through Connaught.


"With nodding plumes of emerald green before his fearless clan,

O'Donnell stands with dauntless mien and marshals Erin's van;

While Brave O'Ruairc commands the rear (wild Breffny's warlike band),

Bold mountaineers, with swords and spears, embattled for the land.

'Twas then O'Ruairc, with Breffny's Clan, came thundering to the front,

Unheeding blade or bullet they faced the battle's brunt;

Against the Saxon column they rushed with might and main,

And hurled them back with slaughter, upon the open plain."

—Irish World (America), 11th April, 1874.

[5] O'Brennan's History of Ireland, "Vol. II., p. 304.

[6] Owen: It is believed that this Owen's issue is extinct. A souvenir of him preserved with jealous care in the family, and made of cast iron, having thereon the armorial bearings of the O'Rourkes, and dated A.D. 1688, is now (1887) in possession of Denis O'Rourke, who is No. 134 on this pedigree.

[7] See Book of Survey and Distribution for "Leitrim, Sligo, and Tyrawley," deposited in Public Record Office, Dublin.

[8] Innismagrath: This parish is called in Irish Muintir Ceann Aodh, or, as it is mentioned in some works on Irish history, "Muintir Kenny." The popular account of the origin of this name is that it was called so after (No. 129) Hugh O'Rourke, or from people of Hugh's name Muintir Ceann Aodh, "Hugh the chief's people." If it were called after a man of that name it is not probable that it was this Hugh; but that it was called after some Hugh who had lived previously, as the term Muintir was scarcely applied for the first time, so late as 1641, or 1688.