© Donal G. Burke 2015

Edward MacLysaght, writing in the mid-twentieth century in his ‘Irish Families, Their Names, Arms and Origins,’ stated that ‘the true sept of O Horan originated in County Galway whence they spread to County Mayo and are now fairly numerous in those Connacht counties.’

The arms of ‘O Horan of County Galway’ were given in Sir William Betham’s transcript of Roger O Ferrall’s ‘Linea Antiqua’ as ‘Vert three lions rampant two and one Or’ and for crest; ‘a demi-lion rampant Or’.[i] No motto was given in that source. O Ferrall’s work was a collation of earlier genealogies of families of Gaelic origin compiled in 1709 and Betham’s nineteenth century transcript of this was maintained in the office of the Ulster King of Arms and later the office of the Chief Herald of Ireland. While the arms of numerous families of Gaelic origin are recorded hatched therein little additional information was included with regard to the authority for those arms.

arms of Horan of County Galway

In the sixteenth century, services and customs were due to the O Madden chieftain from the principal branches and sub-septs of the O Maddens themselves within the O Madden territory of Síl Anmchadha and from the four main constituent families within the lordship; the O Horans, MacCoulahans, O Treacys and O Larkins. Of those constituent families, the O Horans appear to have held the highest status. Their patrimony was a well-defined area within Síl Anmchadha, larger than any other of the constituent families and comprised for the most part much of the modern parish of Fahy and part of Meelick in east Galway.

In 1574 the head of the family, identified only as O Horan in a detailed list of the chief men and their residences of the barony of Longford (formerly the territory of Síl Anmchadha), was given as resident at ‘Faheioran.’ By the late medieval or early modern period a castle or tower house was erected at Fahy in the quarter of Carrowanclogha.[ii]

At an inquisition taken into the ownership of property and dues in the barony of Longford on 30th August 1585 as part of the Composition agreement, the head of the O Horans was given among the chief men of the barony as ‘Connor oge o fahy.’ This Connor oge is more correctly Connor oge O Horan of Fahyhoran, identified as ‘chief of that name’ in a pedigree of the Maddens of Derryhiveny, with whom he was connected through the marriage of his daughter Fenola with John Madden of Derryhiveny.[iii] The seven quarters of the parish of Moynterorrane or ‘muintir Uí Odhrain’ was held as an area unto itself in the 1585 inquisition of the barony and excluding the quarter of Feabegg, which was regarded separately in the 1585 indenture of O Madden’s country, Moynterorrane appears to have corresponded to the parish of Fahy as it stood in the middle of the following century.

At the start of the seventeenth century the parish of Fahy, almost in its entirety, was still held by the O Horans. The head of the O Horans, Rory O Horan of Fahy, son of Connor, was the largest individual landholder, with lands in Fahy and the later parish of Meelick. He held half of the land in the quarter of Carrowanclogha, ‘with the castle there’, which would appear to have served as his principal residence.[iv] He also held half the lands of the quarters of Carowmorederryhoran and of Carownafinoigy, of Camus, half a cartron in Gortskehy and a cartron of Lismoyfadda and held the quarter of Tully. He also held a half cartron of Kilmacshane in the parish of Clonfert. His son John O Horan of Ballynykilly held half of the two quarters of Ballynakill in the parish of Clonfert.[v] The lands of other junior O Horans all lay at this time in the general vicinity of Fahy and Meelick.

The O Horans lost possession of their lands in Fahy as a result of the Cromwellian confiscations and transplantations in the mid seventeenth century which were subsequently confirmed onto others. John mcRory mcConnor O Horan found himself allowed 69 profitable Irish acres in the parish of Donanoughta.[vi] ‘John Horan of Fahy’ was given as head of family and one of the dispossessed landowners in 1664 whose lands was confiscated by the Cromwellian authorities and whose names were submitted to the Lord Lieutenant in that year for consideration for restitution.[vii]

Under the Act of Settlement the former O Horan lands in the parish of Fahy were confirmed in the possession of others. Only two Horans were recorded as confirmed lands by grant under the Act of Settlement; John Horan, with lands of 235 profitable Irish acres in the parishes of Aughrim and Clontuskert, and Roger, with lands of 48 profitable Irish acres in Ahascragh and Killoran.[viii] Immediately subsequent to the upheaval in land ownership in the Cromwellian period, however, one of the most senior, if not the senior-most line, of the Horans appears to have been located about the parish of Abbeygormacan.

No Horan was recorded as having been granted lands in that parish under the Act of Settlement but the recipient of a large part of the lands later associated with the Horans in the parish of Abbeygormacan were granted under the Act to Nicholas Hannin, whose family had been significant landholders in that area prior to the Cromwellian period. As one Captain Cornelius Horan, who flourished in the latter decades of the seventeenth century was described as ‘of Abbeygormacan’ and was married to Catherine Hannin, it is possible that the Horans may have been associated with these lands through marriage with the Hannins.

Captain Cornelius Horan and Lieutenant Roger Horan, both of Abbeygormacan, served as officers in the Irish army of King James II in the infantry regiment of Ulick Colonel Lord Galway. Captain Cornelius Horan survived the Jacobite-Williamite war of the end of the seventeenth century and his son James Horan of Dublin City, gentleman, still retained an interest in lands in Abbeygormacan, in the early decades of the eighteenth century.[ix]

The friars at Meelick recorded the death in 1726 of Captain Cornelius O Horan and his burial in the friary church at Meelick. In addition to a son James he had at least one daughter, Penelope, who married firstly James Dillon of Rath, near Birr in King’s County, (as his second wife) a junior grandson of James Dillon, 1st Earl of Roscommon and secondly Andrew Hearn of Hearnsbrook near Killimor in County Galway. Her first husband died in 1711 and was buried in the friary church at Meelick. Penelope Dillon alias Horan died in 1729 and her daughter Catherine Dillon died in June of the same year. Both were also buried at Meelick.[x] Like their Horan predecessors the Dillons of Rath and their extended family continued as benefactors of the Meelick friars into the eighteenth century and appear to have acquired the Horan burial place by the late eighteenth century.

This senior line of the Horans disappeared from the ranks of the landed families resident in east Galway about the eighteenth century.

For further details relating to this family, refer to ‘Families.’

[i] NLI, Dublin, G.O. Ms. 146, O Ferrall’s Linea Antiqua II, p. 495; Burke’s General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, 1864, p. 507: Ó Comáin, M., The Poolbeg Book of Irish Heraldry, Dublin 1991, p.158.

[ii] O Donovan, J., Tribes and Customs of Hy Many, commonly called O Kelly’s Country, Irish Archaeological Society, Dublin, 1843, pp. 87-8. This townland was described as the 2 quarters of Carrowcloghy Tullaghanelicky als Ballyeghnagh circa 1641; Also Cal. Pat. Rolls 16 Jas. I, p.414

[iii] N.L.I., Dublin, G.O., Ms. 146, Linea Antiqua (Betham), p. 272, 298, 299. Fenola, daughter of Connor O Horan of Fahy married John Madden of Derryhiveny, who died in 1639.

[iv] Rory is given elsewhere as Rory mcConor mcDermot O Horan of Fahy.

[v]John was described as of Ballynakill in an inquisition of 1633 relating to the property of Hugh O Madden of Newtown in Lusmagh parish, deceased. John mcRory mcConnor O Horan held one quarter and a fifth of a quarter in Ballynakill in 1641. (Books of Survey and Distribution)

[vi] The Transplantation to Connacht, Simington.

[vii] The Irish Genealogist, Vol. 4, p. 275.

[viii] The Books of Survey and Distribution, Vol. III, Co. Galway, I.M.C. 1962

[ix] Land Registry, Vol. 173, p. 1, No. 114881 (1728 and later deed of 1754), Land Registry, Vol. 35, p. 25, No. 17352 (1720).

[x] Obituary book of Meelick