© Donal G. Burke 2013
Alongside the O Horans, MacCuolahans, Larkins and various branches of the O Maddens, the ‘Monter trassey’ (ie. ‘Muintir Uí Treasaigh,’ ‘the people of Treasach’) were among the principal constituent families owing services and dues to the chieftain of the O Maddens in the territory of Sil Anmchadha in the late medieval period in what would later be east County Galway.[i]
The Muintir Treasaigh or O Treacys of east Galway origin are an offshoot of the wider Uí Maine family group, whose ancestor has traditionally been held to be Maine mór, son of Eochaidh feardaghiall, chief of a tribe of people who established themselves as the dominant group in the south-eastern region of Connacht by about the end of the fifth century.[ii] As such the family is distinct and separate from others bearing the same name established elsewhere in Ireland.
Maine mór and his descendants appear to have subjugated many of the existing tribes and peoples that inhabited their land and established a petty kingdom, covering much of the later east Galway named from their progenitor as Uí Maine (later Anglicised Hy Many). The senior-most family descended from this Maine was the O Kellys, from whom the rulers or chieftains of Uí Maine were drawn.
Within the greater Uí Maine kin group the O Treacys were part of the group of families who composed the Síol Anmchadha, the ‘seed’ or progeny of Anmchadh.’[iii] Descended from Anmchadh, son of Eoghan buac, son of Cormac, son of Cairbre Crom, this last, from whom most of the senior families of the Uí Maine claim descent, reputed to have flourished about the early or mid sixth century A.D. and to have been a fifth generation descendant of Maine mór.[iv]
The principal family of this family group, the O Maddens, came to rule a part of the eastern region of Uí Maine, to be known thereafter from their common ancestor as Síl Anmchadha or ‘O Maddens County’ and later as the barony of Longford in east Galway. Like the O Maddens, the Muintir Treasaigh were said to be descended from Donngalach, the eldest son of Anmchadh.[v] A poem addressed to Eoghan O Madden and written prior to his death in 1347, contained in the Gaelic manuscript ‘the Book of Hy Many,’ gave the pedigree of the Muintir Treasaigh as closely related to the O Maddens and descended from one Treasach, son of Dunadhach, son of Cobhthach, son of Maelduin, son of Donngalach, son of Anmchadh, son of Eoghan Buac, son of Cormac son of Cairpri Crom.[vi] Their common descent with the O Maddens, O Kennys and others from Cobhthach son of Maelduin is also given as such in the early fifteenth century ‘Book of Lecan.’[vii]
In the early years of the Anglo-Norman conquest of Connacht, Dermitius O Trarasay (ie. Dermot O Treacy) and his wife Margaret ni Lorcayne (ie. Margaret Lorcan or Larkin) were sufficiently prominent to have provided for the construction of the great guest room or ‘hospitium magnum’ of the Dominican Friary at Athenry, founded in 1241 by Meiler de Bermingham, Baron of Athenry.[viii] The ancillary domestic buildings of the friary were constructed over the decades following the foundation by such locally powerful individuals as Felim O Connor, King of Connacht, Archbishop O Flynn, Owen O Heyne, Conor O Kelly, Art Macgallyly and the Anglo-Normans Thomas Dolphin and Walter Husgard. Given the extent of his patronage of the friary it is likely that this Dermot O Treacy was the senior-most member of the family at that time.
The family do not figure prominently in the Gaelic annals and by the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the family appears to have had a relatively minor political presence, confined for the most part to the area about the parish of Killimorbologue in O Madden’s territory.
In the fifteenth century the family produced a number of ecclesiasts who were active in the wider diocese of Clonfert and from whom was drawn many who held the particular vicarage about their family’s ancestral lands. It was common in the medieval and late medieval period for parishes often to have had their priests or clerics appointed from those families whose ancestral lands lay within that parish, individuals from the family group thereby deriving the income from the benefices of that office.
When Nicholas Otressayg or O Treacy died the vicarage of ‘Kylleadamuyrbolga’ or Killimorbologue remained vacant until one Maurice O Treacy, clerk, of the diocese of Clonfert, was assigned in 1421 to the same vicarage in his place.[ix] The parish was, like a number of others in the diocese, without an official vicar for some time in the latter half of the fifteenth century and by 1481 was ‘so long void that its collation has lapsed to the Apostolic See.’
The ruins of the late medieval church of Killimorbologue, viewed from the south-east.
One William O Treacy, priest, held the vicarage for a part of that time, until the authorities in Rome found that he had ‘detained it for some years, without any title or right’ and ordered his removal in 1481 and replacement by the twenty-four year old Maurice O Treacy, a canon of Clonfert. Allowance was ordered to be made for the relative youth of this Maurice, who within a year of his appointment was accusing one Hugh or Odo MacEgan, also a canon of Clonfert and rector of Duniry, of various misdemeanours and seeking permission from Rome to have the revenues of MacEgan united to his own, for his better financial maintenance. By 1487 Maurice O Treacy had been under sentence of excommunication and was the subject of accusations of misdemeanours and irregularities by one Theobald de Burgo or Burke, another canon of Clonfert, who represented himself to Rome as being ‘of a great race of nobles’.[x] O Treacy was ordered to appear before the Abbot of Abbeygormican, the Prior of Clontuskert and the Dean of Clonfert should Theobald continue with his accusations, and answer the case against him. If found guilty, the prebend of Kilteskil and the rectory of Duniry, both held by O Treacy were to be assigned to Burke. Maurice O Treacy was still serving as a canon of Clonfert in 1488.
Early seventeenth century
A number of the name were issued pardons late in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, including Owen O Trassie of Killimerboll (Killimorbologue), pardoned in 1586, Teige O Tressy of Clonecony in 1591 and one Melaghlin O Trasy of Ballinehesgrigh (Ballynaheskeragh) pardoned in 1602, all three from about the parish of Killimorbologue in the barony of Longford. (The ancestral territory of the O Maddens in east County Galway became known as the barony of Longford, its name derived from the principal castle of the O Madden chieftain.)
In May of 1603, in the first year of the reign of King James I, Brien O Trashy of Killymore-Boulge, Thomas oge O Trashy of Lishenard, Donell O Trasha of the Ingan (ie. the modern townland of Inga or Nail in the parish of Killimorbologue), Brien O Tressy of the Ingen and Brien O Trashy of Melagen were among the many individuals of County Galway to receive a pardon from the Crown.[xi]
A branch of the name was also established further to the west in County Galway, about the parish of Killconieron, between the towns of Loughrea and Athenry, with one William O Trassy ‘of Kilconerine’ also among those pardoned in May 1603.
Teige O Tressy of Ballaghill (this would appear to be the modern townland of Ballycahill, parish of Killimor) was among the many rebels killed in the rebellion of the Nine Years War and as such his estate was confiscated. Part of that estate; three cartrons in Ballintullagh and one cartron in Clonecoie, was included as part of vast lands across the country given by the Crown in 1606 to Sir John King of Dublin.[xii] The same lands were granted for a chief rent in the eighth year of the reign of King James I to the Earl of Clanricarde.[xiii]
Among the extensive lands about Ireland granted in 1616 to Sir John Everard of Knockchilly in Co. Tipperary, knight, were parcels of lands in Coragh, Clooncoury and in the half quarter of Magherimore, formerly part of the estate of Laughlin Mc Rory O Tressy, slain in rebellion.[xiv] These denominations appear to have been ‘Corry, Magheramore and possibly Clooncona in the parish of Killimorbologue.
In 1619 Tumaltagh O Tracy of Ballynehaskeragh in Galway co. gent., (modern townland of Ballinaheskeragh, parish of Killimor) was confirmed as holding five twelfths of the four quarters of Ballynehaskeragh in the barony of Longford, while Thomas oge O Tracy of Euggy in Galway co. gent. (modern townland of ‘Nail or Inga’, parish of Killimor) was confirmed with a half cartron of Euggy and one twelfth of two quarters of Clowneprasky in the same barony [xv] This latter denomination is Cloonprask, adjacent to Killimorbologue and in that parish of Tynagh in the barony of Longford.
In the late 1630s only three persons of the name Treacy were listed as landed proprietors in the barony of Longford, all in the parish of Killimorbologue. John McDonell McMlaghlin O Trassy held one third of Ballynahiskeragh and one and a half cartrons of the four quarters of Killyne. Murrogh McDonell O Trassy held one cartron of Killyne and John mcDaniell McRory O Trassy held a half cartron of the quarter of Inga.
One individual of the name, one John McKeadagh mcWilliam Tressy held lands further to the west, between Loughrea and Athenry, in the townlands of Creggaturlough and Garracloon, parish of Killconieron and barony of Dunkellin.[xvi]
The O Treacys lost the ownership of their lands in this area as a result of the Cromwellian confiscations and transplantations in the mid seventeenth century. The only Treacy listed in records at this time as being required to transplant was one Richard Tressy and his wife Una, alias Swiney, who were allocated small acreages of land in the parish of Kilconieron, Killeeneen and Killogilleen.[xvii] No original address was given for the couple, who were subject to ‘local transplantation’ from elsewhere within County Galway and it is likely that they may have been of the branch previously resident at Killconieron.
Following the turmoil of that period and the restoration of the monarchy in the person of King Charles II in 1660, an Act of Settlement was passed in Parliament, in an attempt to address the complaints of those whose lands had been taken or divided by the Cromwellians and to placate those who had acquired lands at that time. Under the Act of Settlement all of the lands in the parish of Killimorbologue and in that of Killconieron, formerly in the possession of O Treacys, were confirmed in the possession of others.[xviii]
Various eighteenth century Treacys
A pedigree of one Walter Tracy, armiger, dating from the year 1703, gave his long descent from one Terence son of John son of Tadg or ‘Timothy the magnanimous.’ In the later generations of the pedigree it gave a number of marriages with O Maddens and O Kellys, but these more recent generations do not relate directly to any of the landholders of that name in the barony of Longford in County Galway mentioned in the records from the reign of King James I. The pedigree gives the subject, Walter Tracy, born in 1625,as married to Helen Sutherland of a noble Scottish family and having three children; Maria Denia, Charles and Anna. He was described as the son of one John Tracy, born in 1602, the son of Hugo and one Finola, daughter of O Kelly, son of Patrick Tracy. The pedigree, however, incorporates details relating to a Tracy family of English derivation, one of whom was created Viscount Rathcoole in the seventeenth century.[xix] It is would appear that this family bore no connection with the earlier O Treacys of Síl Anmchadha.
The Wild Geese
A number of the name from about east Galway found employment in the French army after the defeat of the Jacobite army of King James II in Ireland, those who left in immediate aftermath of the war known later as ‘the Wild Geese.’ John Tressy from Portumna served twenty-seven years in the Clare regiment and as a trooper in Dossemont’s troop, Bourbon regiment for another ten years. In later years his disabilities rendered him unfit for further service and he died on detachment at la Hogue in May of 1714. One William Trassy, a native of Portumna served for forty-two years in the company of Lieutenant Colonel ‘Schahansy’s’ (ie. Shaughnessy), Irish regiment of Clare, three of which years he served as sergeant. His wounds and poor eyesight made him unfit for service eventually and he died in February 1732.
Another, William Tressy, described only as of county Galway, served as a soldier for various lengths of time in Hamilton’s regiment, Brittany dragoons, Cahieux’s cavalry and in James Dillon’s company in Dillon’s regiment. He received a number of serious injuries during his time in the army including a sabre blow to the head and having his left leg crippled by a musket shot at the crossing of the River Theu in Catalonia, which when combined with other wounds made him unfit for service. He left the French service in 1698. Thomas Tressy, described only as from Galway likewise served in Dillon’s regiment for twenty-eight years until his injuries made him unfit for service. He died on detachment at Ardres in November of 1727. All four men applied following their service for admission to the Hôtel Royal des Invalides.[xx] One Richard Tracey from Loughrea enlisted in the French army in August 1725 and served in Skelton’s Irish cavalry troop in 1728. As an old soldier he was admitted to the Invalides in 1763.[xxi]
[i] Fiants Eliz. I, 1585.
[ii] Knox, H.T., The Early Tribes of Connaught: part 1, J.R.S.A.I., Fifth series, Vol. 10, No. 4, 1900, p. 349; Mannion, J., The Senchineoil and the Sogain: Differentiating between the Pre-Celtic and early Celtic Tribes of Central East Galway, J.G.A.H.S., Vol. 58, 2006, pp. 166, 168; O Donovan, J. (ed.), Leabhar na g-ceart or The Book of Rights, Dublin, M.H. Gill, for the Celtic Society, 1847, p. 106.
[iii] O Donovan, J., Tribes and Customs of Hy Many, commonly called O Kelly’s Country, Irish Archaeological Society, Dublin, 1843, pp. 39-41.
[iv] O Donovan, J., Tribes and Customs of Hy Many, commonly called O Kelly’s Country, Irish Archaeological Society, Dublin, 1843, pp. 24-59.
[v] O Donovan, J., Tribes and Customs of Hy Many, commonly called O Kelly’s Country, Irish Archaeological Society, Dublin, 1843, pp. 39-40.
[vi] O Donovan, J., Tribes and Customs of Hy Many, commonly called O Kelly’s Country, Irish Archaeological Society, Dublin, 1843, pp. 39-42, 131-2. The genealogical tract in the Book of Lecan, reproduced by O Donovan in his ‘Tribes and Customs,’ states that Dunadhach son of Cobhthach son of Maelduin had two sons; Loingseach and Draighnen and states that from the ‘Muinnter Chobhthaigh, ‘the people of Cobhthach’ (ie. Cobhthach son of Maelduin) descend the ‘Ua Gadhra, ie. Muinter Madadhain (the O Maddens), and Muinter Chinaith (Kennys) and Muinter Tresaigh’ (Treacys), etc. However, the poem of Eoghan O Madden gives Dunadhach son of Cobhthach as having a number of sons. The poem states that his son was Loingseach and also gives three sons of his as Treasach, Ruarg and Ruaidhri. While the O Maddens descended from Loingseach, the poem states that the ‘Síl Treasaigh’ or ‘race of Treasach’ are the Muintir Treasaigh or O Treacys, descended from this Treasach.
[vii] O Donovan, J., Tribes and Customs of Hy Many, commonly called O Kelly’s Country, Irish Archaeological Society, Dublin, 1843, pp. 39-42.
[viii] Coleman, A., Regestum Monasterii Fratrum Praedicatorum de Athenry, Archivium Hibernicum, Vol. I, 1912, p. 213.
[ix] Calendar of Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 7 : 1417-1431, 1906, pp. 188-190
[x] The identity of this Theobald is uncertain but he may have been that Theobald, son of Ulick finn Burke of Knockdoe, chieftain of Clanricarde. Provision was made for an ecclesiastical career for Theobald son of Ulick finn about 1488. Hardiman, J., A Chronological description of West or h-Iar Connaught, written A.D. 1684 by Roderick O Flaherty Esq., author of the ‘Ogygia’, edited from a manuscript in the library of Trinity College Dublin, with notes and illustrations, Dublin, Irish Archaeological Society, 1846, pp. 220-1.
[xi] Calendar of the Patent Rolls of the Chancery of Ireland, 1800, I James I, Part I, pp. 18-20.
[xii] Calendar of the Patent Rolls of the Chancery of Ireland, 1800, 3 James I, p. 81.
[xiii] Cal. Pat. 8 James I, p. 179
[xiv] Calendar of the Patent Rolls of the Chancery of Ireland, 1800, I3 James I, Part 1, pp. 287.
[xv] Pat. 16 James I
[xvi] MacGiolla Choille, B. (ed.), Books of Survey and Distribution, Vol. III, County of Galway, Dublin, Stationary Office for the I.M.C., 1962, p. 238.
[xvii] Simington, R.C., The Transplantation to Connacht 1654-58, Shannon, Irish University Press, for the I.M.C., 1970, pp. 105, 107-8.
[xviii] MacGiolla Choille, B. (ed.), Books of Survey and Distribution, Vol. III, County of Galway, Dublin, Stationary Office for the I.M.C., 1962, pp. 202-4.
[xix] N.L.I. Dublin, G.O. Ms 159.
[xx] Ó hAnnracháin, E, ‘Some Wild Geese of the West’, appendix (Galway applicants for admission to the Hôtel Royal des Invalides), J.G.A.H.S., Vol. 54, 2002, pp. 22-23.
[xxi] Ó hAnnracháin, E., Two score Galway Troopers in France, J.G.A.H.S., Vol. 55, 2003, pp. 64-71.