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The Frosts of County Clare, Ireland by Janet Frost


It is helpful to understand some of the history of Ireland when tracing this family.

Map of County Clare
Map of County Clare

Extracted from ‘Irish Records – Sources for Family and Local History by James Ryan
This county of Clare occupies the area between the lower parts of the Shannon River and the west coast. It contains the towns of Ennis, Kilkee, Killaloe and Kilrush.

In the old Gaelic system the county was part of the Kingdom of Thomond. The major families were those of O’Loughlin, McNamara, and McMahon and the chief family was the O’Briens. Together these families are generally referred to as the Dalcassion families.

Following the Norman invasion, the area was granted to Norman knights, but the Clare chieftains kept them from holding any substantial power in the county. In 1275 it was granted to Thomas de Clare, who attempted to take control of the county but was totally defeated by the O’Briens. When the boundaries were established by the English administration in 1565, the county was still named after the Clare family, regardless of his defeat. In 1602, the county was joined with the province of Munster.

The major Norman settlements in the county were at Clare town and at Bunratty. The Norman castle at Bunratty was captured by the O’Briens in 1355 and held by them until the seventeenth century. In the fifteenth century, the O’Briens rebuilt the castle on the same site, and this castle, restored and refurbished is now open to the public.

The county was badly affected by the Great Famine in 1845-7. The population was 285,000 in 1841, and in 1852 had been reduced to 212,000. Over 50,000 people died between 1845 and 1850 and thousands emigrated, many to Australia. Current population about 88,000.

This additional information is very simplified:-
After Henry VIII had broken with the RC church in 1530, there was a fear that the Irish would ally themselves with France so becoming a threat to England. From the late 16th century onwards the English colonised Ireland and took land from the Roman Catholic native Irish and transferred it to English landlords. During the 17th century Cromwell continued this process and about 6,000,000 acres of Irish land was distributed among three thousand Cromwellian supporters. Many people were moved to Co Clare from other parts of Ireland onto land which Cromwell had taken from the owners.

During the time of the Spanish Armada, some ships escaped the English fleet by fleeing up the West coast of Ireland. It is said that at least one ship was wrecked off Clare and that the dark-haired Spanish sailors left descendants there.

This history of this Frost family has been constructed from the following sources.

  1. The memories of Aunt Kit (Kathleen Frost) and Lola Flanagan, (Tom Frost’s mother’s cousin).
  2. Correspondence from Sheila Lamb, (daughter of William Frost), Tom’s cousin in London.
  3. Correspondence from Kathleen Gibbons, (daughter of Leonora Frost), Tom’s cousin in New Zealand.
  4. Flan Enright in Newmarket on Fergus; (an Enright ancestor married a Frost).
  5. Chris O Mahoney who was the archivist for Limerick and Clare and interested in the Frost family.
  6. Trips to Co Clare to look at tombstones, see buildings known to have been occupied by Frosts and talk to Frost descendants.
  7. Letters from the few families of Frosts currently living in Clare.
  8. Letters from Frosts in USA and Australia and records in Australia.
  9. Records held in Dublin.
  10. Reference books and papers.

Spelling of Irish Place Names
Most of the names of places were Gaelic names and when these were written for the English they were written phonetically so there were different interpretations of the names. For example:-

Rosmanaher, Rosmanagher, Rossmanagher. Ralahine, Rathlahine, Rathlaheen, etc.

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The Early Frosts