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O'Molony, O'Moloney, Molony, Ó Maoldomhnaigh

O'Molony Family Crest

Azure, on the dexter
Side a quiver of three
arrows, on the sinister
a bow erect all or.

The Ó Maoldomhnaigh were a scion of the ruling Dal gCais who once held sway in the ancient territory of Glancullein, now in the Barony of Tulla. The prefix "maol" is said to signify a person devoted to a particular cause and if "domnaigh" is to be construed as Sunday, the day for observance, then the family may be said to have given two notable Bishops to the Diocese of Killaloe - John O'Moloney (1630-1650) and his nephew, also John O'Molony (1671-1702).

The O'Molonys were descendants of this Celtic clan once associated with Kiltannon and districts adjoining Tulla from times past, and have figured prominently in public life ever since. One James Molony, J. P., served in Daniel O'Brien's Regiment of Foot in support of James II, following his landing in Ireland.

His property at Kiltannon, however, was saved by a clause in the Treaty of Limerick which exempted serving officers within the city walls. Another member, James Molony, was a Deputy Lieutenant and High Sheriff for Co. Clare in the year 1828, when Daniel O'Connell was declared M.P. for the county. In 1878 it was estimated that the lands comprising the Kiltannon Estate numbered 10,000 acres with a rateable valuation of £2,500 then owned by Major William Mills Molony. It was his son Colonel William Malony (1875-1960) who was the last of seven generations to own this fine estate.

Kiltannon House was an attractive, pale brick three-storey mansion with stone facing which overlooked rolling parklands of mature trees, both native and imported variety. This fine residence was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1920, and with it several unique family mementos which included a marble table with an inlaid set of playing cards, one of which was torn. This classic heirloom was said to have been given to Bishop John O'Molony by Louis XIV in atonement for having once lost his temper when playing and tearing up his card.

Bishop John O'Molony ruled the diocese from 1630 to 1670 when anti-Catholic legislation was at its height, and he took up a strong position in defence of his flock in spiritual matters and in secular affairs also, since the people were seen to be victims of discrimination, deprived of any notion of liberty and toleration. His nephew, John O'Molony, who succeeded him, resorted to even more spiritied action, becoming involved in political affairs which in time resulted in an order being issued for his arrest and a price of £150 being put on his head "To cause one John O'Molony, titular Bishop of Killaloe, to be apprehended and all his papers taken." Despite a most stringent search, however, the bishop escaped capture having found shelter in the house of a poor widow in Ennis until the chase became too close and he was forced to flee to France. When in exile he was appointed Professor of St. Salpieces Seminary and later, while resident in the Benedictine Abbey of Issey near Paris, he became one of the principal benefactors of the Irish College at Rue des Irlandals, which he endowed with several bursaries in 1701, some of which were reserved for his own relatives.

Bishop John O'Molony died in 1702 and is buried in the Irish College. Part of the inscription on the tablet erected to his memory, when translated, reads as follows - "of ancient lineage, ardent champion of faith and fatherland whose death was often sought by heretics."

The Molony family vault, built in 1702, is in St. Mochulla's old church on the hill in Tulla, close to those of the Brownes, O'Callaghans and Westropps. The arms and motto are, however, finely carved and represent a quiver full of arrows and a bow, and two lions counter rampant supporting a staff or sword.

Further Reading:
"Burke's Landed Gentry of Ireland." London, Burke's Peerage Ltd.
J.S.G., 'Bishop John O'Molony of Killaloe' in "Molua" 1937.
Howard, Leonard, 'The Penal Laws in County Clare, 1677-1685 in "North Munster Antiquarian Journal" vol.13 (1970). [Contains material on Bishop John O'Molony].

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Learned Families of Thomond