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Genealogy of the O’Cormacain Family of Thomond by John P. McCormack

Abbey Gormican, Holy Cross Abbey

Abbey Gormican
From "Letters to the Ordnance Survey, County Galway" by John O'Donovan, 1837:

The parish of Abbey Gormagan is between the parishes of Killimer and Kilreekill, and is called in Irish, Mainistir Ua gCormacain, which means the Monastery of the O'Cormacains. The Monastery was in existence before the year 1309.

"The O'Gormacan who founded it before the year 1309 must have been a man of some importance in Hy Many at the time and still I do not find the name among the petty chiefs of Hy Many (Ui Maine) in the tract of that territory preserved in the Book of Lecan, folio 92, nor in any other authority."

"The name still exists in the neighbourhood of Abbey Gormagan and it would appear from an inquisition quoted by Archdall at Clonfert that they were a family of the Sil Anmchadha (see below) and of some importance at the period of the general suppression of the monasteries:

'Henry O'Gormacain was Abbot at the time of the general suppression of the monasteries. He never surrendered the Abbey (Clonfert) but continued seized of the temporalities of it till his death, notwithstanding the King had on the 24th of November in the XXV year of his reign, united them forever to the Bishoprick. Immediately on the death of Henry, William O'Gormacain, supported by the sept of the O'Maddens, procured the Abbey from the Pope and kept quiet possession therof till about the year 1567'"

NOTE on the SIOL ANMCHADA: The tribe name off the O'Maddens. Co-extensive with the Barony of Longford (called O'Madden's Country) and the parish of Lusmagh (in Co. Offaly, across the Shannon, but part of the Diocese of Clonfert), and nearly co-extensive with the Diocese of Clonfert. The diocese is slightly larger and extends Westward and Northwestward further.

From "History of the Catholic Church in Ireland" by Rev. T. Walsh, 1875:

"Abbey Gormican (or Gormogan) lies in the Barony of Longford, nine miles East of Loughrea. Founded under the invocation of the Virgin Mary for Canons Regular of St. Augustine by O'Gormican (or O'Gormogan). On July 1st of the 34th of King Henry VIII, the Abbey was granted to Ulick Bourke, First Earl of Clanrickard. "

I have always thought it reasonable to believe the Abbey Gormican O'Cormacains were part of the Dalcassian O'Cormacains of Thomond. They were only a few miles away from Moynoe and Lough Derg, the original heartland of our family. I believe they were all from a common stock, Dalcassian stock. I can't prove it, of course, but I believe it. Lough Derg and the River Shannon provided the path and the link.

John O'Donovan, in "The Tribes & Customs of Hy-Many," states: "The enslaved tribes of Hy-Many for servitude are these, viz, the Dealbhna from Ath liag (Lanesborough), to where the River Suck springs from the well in Sliabh Formaili (in Roscommon)." He explains this in a footnote: "The River Shannon formed the eastern boundary of Hy-Many from Clontuskert, near Lanesborough, to Lough Derg below Portumna. ...DEALBHNA - There were seven tribes of this name seated in different parts of Ireland. They were of the Dalcassian race, and derived their patronymic name of Dealbhna from their progenitor, Lughaidh Dealbh-aedh, the third son of Cas. The tribe alluded to in the text were generally called Dealbhna Nuadhat and were seated in the present county of Roscommon, between the rivers Suck and Shannon."

Tribes and clans that, for whatever reason, were forced to leave their home place and live in another place were formally considered to be unfree slaves to the chiefs of their new home. Some O'Cormacains crossed into Tipperary during the Dalcassian clan wars of 1307 to 1318, to land already held by Clan Ui mBloid. They remained free. I think it entirely possible that others moved northward along the Shannon into Hy-Many, where they were formally unfree, but not without resources and still dynamic and vigourous. Hence Abbey Gormican and their gradual rise to prominence. They might even have joined others who had gradually moved northward many years earlier, as O'Donovan says. Seems reasonable to me, anyway. Re-read what Cronnelly says in "History of Dal-Cais" at the bottom of Page 4, in the Genealogical Extracts section: "They were chiefs of a district on the borders of Clare and Galway; also of an estate in the principality of Siol Murray in Co. Roscommon. About the close of the 13th century, a branch of the Roscommon family settled in the present Barony of Longford in Co. Galway and became possessed of the tract forming the parish of Abbey Gormagan, where the chief of this religious family founded an establishment."

Holy Cross Abbey
From "The heritage of Holy Cross" by Geraldine Carville, 1973:

"Abbot Cogan was buried in the Abbey church in 1700. Abbot Bernard Lahey succeeded him. Some say he just remained a simple monk and called himself a parish priest. He received the habit from Abbot Cogan in November 1671 and was ordained priest by Dr. Brirgatt, Archbishop of Cashel in 1672. He registered himself under the Act of 1703 at Nenagh and claimed to be the parish priest of Holy Cross and Templebeg.

"In his will he left 'all that he had got by Father Thomas Cogan to Fr. Edmund Cormick.' Father Edmund Cormick was the last monk of Holy Cross and was probably in Spain when Father Lahey died. On the death of Fr. Lahey the Archbishop of Cashel appointed Fr. John Doroney as parish priest, but Fr. Cormick claimed that he was the Abbot of Holy Cross and the faithful accepted him. In the report on the State of Popery in Ireland 1731, Fr. Doroney is not mentioned but Fr. Edmund, called Abbot of Holy Cross, parish priest of Holy Cross, Ballycahill and Templebeg is mentioned. Fr. Cormick must have died before 1752 for in that year Archbishop Butler of Kilcash made an episcopal visitation of Holy Cross and returned the effects of the cistercian Fr. Edward (Edmund?) Cormick. He had been living in the ruins of the old Abbey church where he had a little cell. His death severed the last link of Holy Cross with the Cistercian Order and marked the end of a story which began in 1142."

One of the two relics of the Holy Cross possessed by the Abbey was in the possession of Fr. Edmund Cormick when he died. It was shown by Fr. Dorney (Doroney) to Most Rev. Dr. Butler in 1752. "The cross is about 3 inches in length and bears evidence of being originally gilt ... the relic enclosed in the silver cross is of dark and apparently old wood and completely fills the cavity in which it is placed." This relic is now in Mount Melleray Abbey, Co. Waterford.

"With the death of Fr. Edmund Cormick, the last monk of Holy Cross Abbey, the buildings began to fall into disrepair and decay. The one time 'guest house of Uactar Lamhann', its 'gold and variegated tapestries' and rich vestments were things of the past."

A yearly fair was held at Holy Cross on 14 September. "The fairs continued to be held long after the last monk had left Holy Cross Abbey. I asked a parishoner of Holy Cross whether he remembered the fairs or not. 'Yes' he said, 'The last fair was held on the day when the McCormacks were hanged at Nenagh for killing a land agent... There were so many cattle they stretched as far as Dwyers in Glenbane.'"

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O'Cormacain Clergy in the
Medieval Diocese of Killaloe
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Execution of Cormack
brothers 1858