The Bannon Family

Bannon family crest

(Crest No. 247. Plate 59.)

THE Bannon family is descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of Heremon, eighth son of that monarch. The founder of the family was Fiachra, son of Eocha Moy Veagon, King of Ireland, A. D. 350. The ancient name was Bannach, signifying “Active.” The Bannons were Chiefs of Ui Dechi, which is thus mentioned by O’Heerin:

“Ui Dechi, the fine district of hills,

The extensive land of fair fortresses,

A fruitful country which they inherit,

Is the estate of the tribe of O’Bannan.”

Ui Dechi, the territory of the O’Bannons, was situated in the north of Tipperary, where there are still many families of the name. Another clan of this name were settled in the County of Mayo. There were several eminent bishops and ecclesiastics of this name from the tenth to the fifteenth century.

This name has been changed to that of Banim—the distinguished poet and novelist, John Banim, being the first to adopt the modernized form of the name. He was born in Kilkenny in 1798. He began life as an artist, but drifted into literature, and for a time made only a precarious living. In conjunction with his brother Michael, he began the series of stories, “The Tales by the O’Hara Family,” which will always hold a place in Irish fiction. He died in 1842.

“As an Irish novelist,” writes a competent critic, “his character stands very high; second, indeed, to no one. His burning love of religion and country was traced by him in letters of fire, and his indignant sincerity gave him a power which few possessed before him. His temperament was sensitive and gloomy; hence he depicted the darker passions and more sullen traits of the character of his countrymen. His novels are strong and full of fire, replete with powerful and striking energy, both moral and physical—equally indicative of tenderness and strength. His ballads are very national, full of natural feeling, and of true fidelity to Irish character.”