The Walsh Family

Walsh family crest

(Crest No. 2. Plate 67.)

THE Walsh family is of Welsh origin, and came from Wales to Ireland in the year 1169. Branches of this family settled in the present Counties of Cork, Limerick, Kilkenny, Waterford, Tipperary, Wicklow, Wexford, Dublin, Queens County, and Down. The ancestors of the Irish Walshes were two noblemen, named Philip and David Walsh, who accompanied the first invaders in the above-mentioned year.

Walsh family crest

(Crest No. 7. Plate 67.)

Both were noted for their gallantry, the former having signalized himself in 1174 in the naval engagement against the Daws of Cork by boarding the vessel of Admiral Turgesius, and killing his son Gilbert; and the latter at the crossing of the Shannon the following year, on the occasion of Raymond Le Gros’ attack on Limerick. The Walshes in course of time became very numerous, so much so that Camden, writing of them, declares that “their numbers were equal to the nobility of their origin.”

Walsh family crest

(Crest No. 14. Plate 69.)

Like many of the Anglo-Norman families, they adopted an Irish surname and title, and were called by the Irish Branaghs, from Breatnach, which in Irish signifies a Briton, in allusion to their having come from Wales with Strongbow and his followers. They acquired extensive possessions, especially in Waterford and Kilkenny. They possessed the palatinate title of Baron Shanacher, and, with the Butlers and Graces, were the most powerful family in Kilkenny, where a range of mountains is named after them. “Walshe’s Country,” as it was called, contained twenty-seven castles, Castle Howell being the principal residence. Thomastown was founded by Thomas Fitzanthony Walsh shortly after the arrival of the Normans, and still contains many remains of antiquity.

The Walshes contributed largely to the list of officers in the Irish army of King James the Second during the Revolution of 1688, and, in the privateering hostilities against English commerce that continued after the conclusion of the war, they were also represented. Count Anthony Joseph Philip de Walsh-Serrant became colonel-commandant of Lord Roscommon’s Regiment in the Irish Brigade in the French service in 1766, and subsequently changed the name of that corps to that of Walsh’s Regiment. He was created a count by the King of France, and attained the rank of major-general. His brother conveyed Prince Charles Edward, the Pretender, into Scotland in 1745, for which service he was granted the title of lord.

Many members of this family were eminent ecclesiastics. William Walsh, Bishop of Meath, was born in the early part of the sixteenth century, and appointed bishop of that see in 1554. He was a man of vast learning, and possessed great influence with his countrymen. Hence many efforts were made to induce him to conform to the Established Church of England and Ireland. Refusing to take the oath acknowledging the Queen’s spiritual supremacy, he was cast into prison in 1560, and again, after being liberated, in 1565. After an imprisonment of seven years he escaped to France, and subsequently went to Spain, where he was suffragan to the Archbishop of Toledo. He died at Alcala in 1577.

Nicholas Walsh, Protestant Bishop of Ossory, 1577, is noted as having been the first to introduce Irish types into Ireland.

Peter Walsh, D. D., born in the middle of the seventeenth century at Moortown, in the County of Kilkenny, was educated at Louvain, and on his return to Ireland espoused the cause of Ormond, and bitterly opposed Rinuccini and his policy. He wrote a history of the celebrated “Remonstrance,” which is the most valuable historical production treating of the important events of that period, and of the actions and motives of both parties during the existence of the great Catholic Confederacy. The “Remonstrance” being condemned by a synod of priests, Walsh and a number of them were imprisoned, Walsh being excommunicated by the Pope. He was subsequently restored, and died in London in 1687.

Rev. Robert Walsh, born in the middle of the eighteenth century, was the author of many works of merit on various subjects, the most valuable of which, perhaps, is his “History of Dublin.” He died in 1852.

Edward Walsh, born in Londonderry in 1805, was one of the most meritorious of modern Irish poets. His father was a native of Cork, where the family had lived for centuries. He was a contributor to the magazines for many years, and published two volumes of poetical contributions from the Irish distinguished for their beauty of diction and fascinating melody. His translations possess all the beauties and peculiarities of the old tongue, which he spoke and wrote with vernacular fluency. He died in 1850.

Many of this name have acquired distinction and honorable position in America. Michael Walsh, an eminent educator, born in Ireland, 1763, taught for many years in Marblehead Academy, Massachusetts, among his pupils being Joseph Story and others who afterward became prominent personages. He wrote several educational works. He died in 1840.

Michael Walsh, a prominent New York politician, was born in Cork in 1810, and came to America at an early age. He was for many years the leader of the Democratic party in New York City, where he founded and edited two newspapers. He sat in the House of Representatives from 1853 to 1855, and acted on two occasions as confidential agent of the Government with foreign countries. He was a vigorous writer and speaker, and of universally acknowledged integrity of character.

Robert Walsh, an eminent lawyer and journalist, was born in Baltimore, 1784, and was educated at the Jesuit College of Georgetown, Md., where, in 1796, he delivered a poetical address to President Washington. He founded the first quarterly review in the United States in 1811, and edited many reviews and journals, besides publishing many valuable works. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society and of the Royal Spanish Academy of History. He was consul to Paris from 1845 to 1851. His son, Robert M. Walsh, was secretary of Legation to France, and filled many other diplomatic positions. His grandson, William Shephard Walsh, is the present editor of Lippincott’s Magazine and the author of numerous historical and scientific works.

Among the clergy in America may be mentioned Dr. William Walsh, first Bishop and first Archbishop of Halifax, N. S., 1852, a man of profound learning and the author of several religious works, and the Most Rev. John Walsh, present Archbishop of Toronto, Canada.

In New York and Brooklyn there are many prominent representatives of this name, among them Dr. Michael Walsh, editor of the New York “Sunday Democrat,” an eloquent and learned writer, and Judge John J. Walsh of Brooklyn, a man of acknowledged ability and legal learning and son of the late Judge Andrew Walsh of that city.