The Lawlor or Lalor Family

Lawlor or Lalor family crest

(Crest +Ĝo. 242. Plate 49.)

THE Lawlor family is descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of his fifth son, Ir, and belonged to the Clanna Rory tribe, founded by Heber Donn, son of Ir. The founder of the O’Lawlor family was the famous warrior, Conal Kearnach, son of Amergin, who was the fourth degree from Rory O’More, of the race of Ir, and who gave his name to the tribe in Ulster, B. C. 87. The ancient name was Lalach, signifying “The Giant.” The possessions of the sept were located in the present Counties of Down and Queens County.

The O’Lawlors—in Irish Leathlabhair—took their name from Leathlabhor, Prince of Dalaradia, or Ulidia (now the County of Down, in the tenth century), who was their ancestor. In ancient times they had extensive possessions in Leix, in the barony of Stradbally, Queens County. Bec Ua Leathlobhair—O’Lalor—Lord of Dal-Araidhe, who died in the year 904, was one of the most renowned Irish princes of his age.

Another family of this name, and also of this race, was seated at Dysart-Enos, in the present Queens County. Major-General O’Lalor of the Spanish service, Honorary Companion of the Order of the Bath, and Patrick Lalor, Esq., ex-member of Parliament, of Tinnakill, Queens County, are given by Dr. O’Donovan, writing a few years ago, as belonging to this latter family. There have been many distinguished members of both branches of this family, both previous and subsequent to the Anglo-Norman invasion.

On the occasion of the infamous massacre of Mullaghmast, in the year 1577, when some hundreds of the most peaceable of the Irish gentry were invited on the public faith, and under protection of the Government, and then ruthlessly slaughtered by their supposed hosts, the O’Lalors were one of the families invited for extermination. The few who survived that bloody day owed their escape to one Harry Lalor, who, remarking that none of those returned who had entered the fort before him, desired his companions to make off as fast as they could, in case they did not see him come back. Lalor, as he was entering the fort, saw the bodies of his slaughtered companions: then drawing his sword he fought his way back to those that survived, with whom he made his escape to Dysart. Those murdered at Mullaghmast on that fatal day were some of the seven septs of Leix, and some gentlemen of the Keatings. The seven septs of Leix were the O’Lalors, the O’Mores, the O’Kellys, the Devoys, Macaboys, the O’Dorans and the O’Dowlings.

A well known member of this family in our time was James Fenton Lalor, who figured in the troublous period of forty-eight. He was one of the most powerful writers of the day, and his articles in the national press almost precipitated the landlord class into hysterics. A curious fact is that the very agrarian policy outlined and advocated by Lalor at that time, and which was made a part of the basis of indictment and prosecution of some of the national leaders of the day, was afterward carried out in a very great measure by Mr. Gladstone and his supporters. Lalor edited the “Irish Felon,” in conjunction with Martin, Thomas Devin Reilly and Joseph Brenan, for a few weeks, when the offices were ransacked and the journal suppressed by the castle authorities.

There are many of this name in the original family seat in Ireland. The name is also numerously and honorably represented in the United States and Canada.