© Donal G. Burke 2013

While the name is found elsewhere about Ireland, a family of the name O Farrell maintained a minor presence within the O Madden territory of Síl Anmchadha in the late medieval period, based it would appear about the parish of Killimorbologue and Tynagh.

William O Farrell of Fahye, described as a kern, was among a small group of men pardoned about 1570 alongside ‘Cornelius or Conogher roo O Horan of Fahye (ie. modern parish of Fahy) in Sillamchi, in Co. Conaghe, gentleman.’[i] The accuracy of the description of O Farrell as a kern is unclear in this set of pardons as a number of others mentioned in the same list are also so described but are landed men of property and are defined elsewhere as gentlemen.

During the troubled period in the latter half of the sixteenth century, one William O Farrell was appointed constable of the castle at Meelick. In correspondence dated about 1572 between Lord Deputy Fitzwilliam to Lord Burghley, ‘Upon occasion between ourselves Robert Mostien reported that he heard Shane McFerres[ii] say that although William O Farrell Constable of Meelick had kept the castle from the Earls sons he would do so no longer because Williams servant, named William O Hanen had been lately at Dublin to know the Earls pleasure what he should do with the castle and brought answer that he should give it to his sons. And for token thereof O Hanen, being in company with the Earls boys at breakfast, left his knife in gage the same time. Hugh O Devin confessed that after Whitsuntide, William O Hanen came from William O Farrell to the Earl and was with the Earl in Marquis Barnewalls house at Dublin and at the same time he, with Nicholas Lynchs boy, Edward Whyte’s boy and the said O Hanen broke their fast together at a tavern in Cooke street, where Nicholas Lynchs boy left his knife in pawn for his part of the breakfast.’[iii]

In a set of ‘articles of Sir Edward Fitton laid in against Richard Burke, Earl of Clanricarde’, dated 8th May 1573, it was stated ‘William O Hanen, servant to William O Farrell, Constable of the Queen’s castle of Meelick, went to Dublin to know the Earl’s pleasure what he should do with the castle, and brought word that it should be delivered to his sons and so it was, and thereupon razed to the ground.

Proof; Mr. Mostiens report that he had heard and the circumstance confessed by Hugh O Devin, servant to William Whyte, the Earl’s chief man.’[iv]

Redmund O Ferralla and William O Ferra of County Galway were pardoned in 1583 alongside various Burkes and MacNevins, O Treacys and others.[v] In 1586, Owen O Farrell was one of those pardoned in that year by the Crown.[vi]

About 1618 Dermott O Farrell of Culebane (ie.  modern townlands of Coolbaun and Coolbaun West, parish of Killimorbologue) in Galway co. gent, was confirmed as holding one quarter of Crahie in the barony of Longford, and the same Dermott O Farrell, together with one Terlagh O Farrell of Coratanvally in Galway co. gent. jointly held three eighths of one quarter of Rahinn in the same barony.[vii]

Ross McTurlough McRoss O Ferila, in the late 1630s, held a half cartron of land in ‘Carrowerra Skehanagh and Raghine’ in that part of Tynagh parish that lay within the barony of Longford, while one ‘Dermot O Ferila called Rohine Farrell’ held another half cartron also in Raghine.[viii] Also at that time the Culbane or later Coolbaun, identified as Colebane, being one cartron of the quarter of Shragh in Killimorbologue parish, was in the possession of one ‘Dermot McOwney McDermot’, who may have been Dermot O Farrell. Carrintanwally was held at that time by Ulick 5th Earl of Clanricarde and Nicholas son of John Hanyne, the former holding three cartrons and the latter one cartron called Ballagh, both lying in the parish of Killimorbologue.

One of the name, James Farrell junior, of Clonfert, County Galway was one of eight young men who enlisted in the Francis Nugent cavalry troop in the service of the Catholic King of France on the 5th April 1728, alongside such local men as Peter England from Portumna, John Hogan from Eyrecourt, Daniel Donnelly from ‘Enniseirkagh’ (Incherky, parish of Meelick), Mark Madden of Meelick and Owen Timmes of Clonfert.[ix]

Dalyston, parish of Leitrim

A family of the name O Farrell came to be seated in the early nineteenth century at Dalyston in the parish of Leitrim, barony of Loughrea in the person of Dr. Charles O Farrell, who was born in Minard, County Longford in 1774 and who took his medical degree in Edinburgh in 1798. Having spent many years in the East, he returned to Ireland and acquired Dalyston. He was succeeded at his death in 1855 by his nephew Charles Carroll, son of John Carroll of Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford, who, in acquiring the estate, assumed by Royal Licence the name of O Farrell that same year. This particular O Farrell family bore no direct connection with the O Farrells originally based in the barony of Longford in east Galway and claimed descent from the O Farrells ‘of Mornyng and Bawn, County Longford.’[x]


[i] Fiants, Eliz. I

[ii] Possibly Shane McOliverus Bourke, who, with James Fitzmaurice and Ulick Mac an Iarla Burke ‘and a great force passed the Shannon with O Maddens assistance (probably Owen O Madden, referred to on at least one other contemporary English despatch as O Madden) (G. Fanynge, Mayor of Limerick to the President of Munster, 1 September 1572.

[iii] O Dowd, M. (ed.), Calendar of State Papers Ireland, Tudor Period 1571-1575, Kew Public Records Office, I.M.C., 2000.

[iv] O Dowd, M. (ed.), Calendar of State Papers Ireland, Tudor Period 1571-1575, Kew Public Records Office, I.M.C., 2000. In 1574 in a list of the chief men of the barony of Leitrim, William White is described as ‘the Earls man of Kilmacragh.’

[v] Calendar of Fiants Queen Elizabeth I, The thirteenth Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records in Ireland, 12 March 1881, Dublin, A. Thom & Co., 1881, Appendix, Fiants, Eliz. I, p.204, No. 4140.

[vi] Fiants, Eliz. I

[vii] Cal. Pat. Rolls, 16 James I.

[viii] MacGiolla Choille, B. (ed.), Books of Survey and Distribution, Vol. III, County of Galway, Dublin, Stationary Office for the I.M.C., 1962, p. 201. Carrowrea, Skehanagh and Raghine are taken together at that time as jointly comprising two and a half quarters.

[ix] Ó hAnnracháin, Two score Galway Troopers in France, J.G.A.H.S., Vol. 55, 2003, pp. 64-71.

[x] Burke, B., A Genealogical and heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, London, Harrison, 1858, Vol. I, p. 372.