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O'Halloran, Ó h-Allmhurain, Halloran

O'Halloran Family Crest

Gules a horse passant argent
saddled and bridled proper, on
a chief of the second three
martlets azure.
Crest: A lizard or.

This name which means "stranger from overseas" is said to have originated from two clans who became associated with the counties of Clare and Galway and whose motto was "Clann Fearghaile abú". The Clare branch of the O'h-Allmhurain were of the same stock as the MacConmaras and their original territory embraced much of the district around Ogonnelloe in the Barony of Tulla and from which they spread southwards into Co. Limerick.

Several prominent figures emerged from the Clare branch. Michael O'Halloran, a man of means who farmed extensively near Caherdavin sent his two sons to be educated in France, Sylvester (1728-1807), the well-known surgeon, historian and antiquary, and Joseph (1718-1800) who joined the Society of Jesus, and was later appointed Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bordeaux.

Dr. Sylvester O'Halloran
Dr. Sylvester O'Halloran
An early namesake Laurence Hynes O'Halloran had a more adventerous career, described as author, teacher and poet who had a number of his poems published before he was transported to Australia for forging a letter. Nevertheless he was later on deemed suitable to take up the position of headmaster of a school in Sydney.
Ballycunneen House
Ballycunneen House

Nearer home, however, extracts from the "Common Place Book", a diary first compiled by Thady O'Halloran (1727-1798) of Ballycunneen House which stands not too far from the Hurlers Cross, provides an interesting insight into the lifestyle and vicissitudes of a prominent Clare family during the 18th century. The first entry in this extensive home journal, which was continued on by at least five of his descendants until the year 1897, relates to his own marriage on June 26, 1758 to Mary Canny, daughter of Matthew Canny of Lissycasey. He gives details of several births, of dowrys and marriages and bereavements within the household and events of importance relating to his kinspeople and with notes on other leading Clare families with whom they intermarried.

He touches on lands and properties acquired or leased in the Baronies of Tulla and Bunratty; the weather, crops and market prices and other local happenings, some of which were distressful such as storms and floods; The entry for 1st November 1815 reads as follows; "A very bad year for farmers, the best beef for 2d to 3d per lb. Mutton for 3d to 4d per lb. Oats from 5d to 6d per stone. Barley 4d to 5d per stone, Pork from 11 shillings to 13 shillings per cwt. Very few buyers, Country greatly distressed. A good year for sheriffs."

Patrick Hogan who had connections with the family edited many extracts from the "Common Place Book" and comes to the conclusion that Thady O'Halloran was a kind and humane person devoted to his wife and aware of the future needs of his large family and popular with both Catholic and Protestant neighbours.

He concludes with the following observation "One might well imagine oneself meeting him coming out of the Wells Church on a Sunday morning and congratulating him on the latest addition to the family, and of being invited by him to his large thatched cottage-mansion, walking along the tree lined avenue by the lake, and past the haunted well and on arrival at the house drinking to the health of the newcomer over a glass of whiskey or wine, for Thady kept a cellar."

Further Reading:
The Clareman, 'Sylvester O'Halloran, surgeon and antiquarian' in the "Clare Champion", 16 May 1986.
Hayes, Richard, 'Some notable Limerick doctors' in "North Munster Antiquarian Journal" vol. 1, no. 3 (1938).
Hogan, Patrick (ed.), 'The Common Place Book of Thady O'Halloran of Ballycunneen, Bunratty, Co. Clare (1727-97) in "North Munster Antiquarian Journal" vol. 7 (1956).
J.B. Lyons, 'The letters of Sylvester O'Halloran' in "North Munster Antiquarian Journal" vol. 9 (1962-65).

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Learned Families of Thomond