The Healy Family

Healy family crest

(Crest No. 111. Plate 19.)

THE Healy family is descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of his son Heber. The founder of the family was Cormac Cas, son of Olliol Ollum, King of Munster, A. D. 177, and of Sabia, daughter of Con Kead Caha, King of Ireland, A. D. 148.

The ancient name was Eallamh, signifying “Nimble.” The possessions of the sept were located in the present Counties of Cork, Kerry, and Limerick.

The Healys were Chiefs of Domhnach-Mor-O’Healy, or Pobal O’Healy, a parish in the barony of Muskerry, County Cork.

The O’Healys were also a respectable family in the County of Waterford, and the name was prominent in the barony of Tirerrill, County of Sligo, where many of them were princely farmers, who, under the law, were compelled to keep a hundred laborers and a hundred of each kind of the domestic animals.

Many of this name were eminent in the ranks of the Irish clergy. Of these Patrick O’Healy, Bishop of Mayo, is best known. He was educated on the Continent, and in 1576 was appointed to the See of Mayo. On landing he was arrested, and, confessing his sacred office and mission, was condemned to death under the Penal Laws. With Father O’Rorke, an associate, he was first subjected to the most cruel tortures. The prisoners were first placed on the rack, their arms and feet were beaten with hammers so that their thigh bones were broken, and sharp iron points and needles thrust under their nails. They were then hanged, August 22, 1578, and their bodies were allowed to remain suspended for fourteen days.

The name is still numerous in Ireland and in the United States. The Right Rev. James A. Healy, D. D., Bishop of Portland, Me., and Rev. Gabriel A. Healy of New York City nobly represent the name in the clerical order.

George P. A. Healy, the American artist, was a descendant of this family. He was born in Boston in 1813, but passed most of his life in Europe. He is considered one of the most meritorious of American portrait painters. His productions are many, his portraits numbering between six and seven hundred. Among the most noted of these are “Webster’s Reply to Hayne,” containing one hundred and thirty portraits, and those of King Louis Philippe, Marshal Soult, Calhoun, Clay, Pierce, Webster, Sherman, Brownson, Longfellow, Cardinal McCloskey, and other eminent Americans.

John P. Healy, Daniel Webster’s law partner, was one of the ablest lawyers of his day, and served in both houses of the Massachusetts Legislature. He was not ambitious of public honors, and refused many offices. His father, Joseph Healy, was member of Congress from 1825 to 1829.