Volume 1, No. 2 – February 1999

The Ryan Clan Association, U.S. Sept

P. O. Box 13241, Tallahassee, FL 32317

J. Terry Ryan, President

Telephone: (850) 562-6466


Web Site:


How sweetly lies old Ireland, emerald green beyond the foam

Awakening sweet memories, calling the heart back home

Ireland is located in the North Atlantic Ocean and is separated from Great Britain by Saint George’s Channel on the southeast, the Irish Sea on the east, and the North Channel on the northeast. Politically, the island is divided into Northern Ireland, a constituent part of Great Britain, and the Republic of Ireland, formerly Eire. The island is divided into four historical provinces (Connaught, Leinster, Munster and Ulster) and units called counties. The Republic of Ireland consists of Connaught, Leinster and Munster provinces totaling 23 counties. In the north are the three counties of Ulster Province. Northern Ireland consists of 26 districts, the remainder of Ulster province. Ireland is about 32,599 square miles in size. Its maximum length is 302 miles, and its extreme width is 174 miles.

The Land

The eastern coast is comparatively regular with few deep indentations. The western coast is made up of submerged valleys, steep cliffs and hundreds of small islands. The principal rivers are the Erne and the Shannon, which are actually chains of lakes joined by stretches of river. All of the principal rivers of Ireland flow from the plains.

Because of the moderating influence of the prevailing warm winds from the Atlantic, the average winter temperatures range from 40-45 degrees F, approximately 25 degrees F higher than other places in the same latitude. The average summer temperature is 59-62 degrees F, which is approximately 7 degrees lower than other places in the same latitude.

The flora of Ireland largely comes from England. Hedges, rushes, ferns and grass are the principal flora. The Irish fauna is not much different from that of England or France. The Irish deer and auk, or garefowl, were exterminated in prehistoric times. Since civilization began in Ireland, the island has lost its bear, wolf, wildcat, beaver, native cattle, and other species of animals. Remaining are the small rodents of the woods and fields and various small birds found in the fields and gardens. No serpents are found in Ireland, and the only reptile is the lizard.


See the next issue of the newsletter for Ireland - Part 2, The Early Period and The Anglo Norman period.


The following critical dates in Irish history may influence your choice of resources when researching genealogical records in Ireland:

  1. Introduction of the Old Age Pension for those who could prove they were at least 70 years of age.

1901 and 1911. The only surviving and publicly available census records.

  1. January 1. Civil registration of all births, marriages and deaths became compulsory.
  1. through 1864. Griffith’s Valuation compiled.
  1. ‘Black’ 1847. The height of the Great Famine.
  1. January 6-7. The Night of the Big Wind.
  1. Catholic emancipation. Church records for Catholics begin to be available.

1820s. Title Applotment Books compiled.


Was the storm that struck Ireland on the Night of January 6/7, 1839, the most severe the country ever experienced? Certainly, its reputation is the most enduring. That night, 160 years ago, is remembered as Oíche na Gaoithe Móire, "The Night of the Big Wind.''

Damage to shipping was estimated at half a million pounds, an unimaginable sum of money in those days. In Dublin, the Liffey rose many feet to overflow its walls, and the elms along the main road in Phoenix Park were completely leveled. Farmers throughout the country were devastated by the loss of virtually all their cattle feed. Many of Ireland’s great houses were destroyed, and more than a hundred people lost their lives, crushed by falling masonry or swept away in the floods that accompanied the raging winds.

We now know that the "Big Wind"' was caused by a deep depression that originated over the Atlantic and passed eastward just to the north of Ireland and Scotland.

In the early hours of Monday, January 7th, the storm lay over the northern Hebrides, and it was the very strong westerly winds that it generated over Ireland which caused the problems - all the more frightening because the storm was almost entirely confined to the hours of darkness.

Other views, however, were more popular. Some saw the violent storm as a precursor of the Day of Judgment- a sharp reminder on the part of the Almighty of the wrath of God which may await us all when the final trumpet sounds. Others thought the Freemasons were behind it - that they had called the devil out of hell and failed to get him back again. Still others blamed the fairies. They believed English fairies had invaded Ireland, and Ireland’s little people had to raise a ferocious wind to blow them out again.

With the enactment of the Old Age Pension Act in 1909, those who could establish that they were over 70 years old or more were entitled to a generous pension of £13 a year. Since many Irish people of that generation had no written proof of age, other evidence was sometimes acceptable. Anyone who could convincingly describe the events of Oíche na Gaoithe Móire was assured of a comfortable old age.




The minutes of the last meeting were approved.

Treasurer’s Report:

Beginning Balance $330.00

16 New Members @25 each $400.00

Less Bank Service Charges (32.00)

Ending Balance $698.00

In addition, it was approved that Terry Ryan should be reimbursed $72.81 for supplies for membership recruitment (postage, stationery, and printer ink, etc.).

Terry Ryan will try to get the bank service charges waived when we obtain our Federal Tax ID number. Terry is also working on getting a tax exempt status from the IRS and, hopefully, will be able to do so over the next six months.

As of January 1, 1999, we had 29 paid members. We’ve doubled our membership since October 1998! We sent out approximately 75 Ryan Clan brochures to a list supplied by John Bradshaw, who is with the Clan Association in Tipperary. We also sent about 75 brochures to John Bradshaw to place in his Clan Association store in Tipperary Town. In addition, we sent news releases of our existence to Irish American magazine and to John Bradshaw to place in Irish newspapers in Ireland. If you have suggestions for others who should be sent the news release, please let us know.

A mailing was sent to 50 Boston area Ryan families in December. No response as yet. Paul Carroll, our Boston leader, will be developing a list of Boston genealogy and Irish clubs to contact in the near future.

We still need volunteers to help with membership recruitment!

The Ryan Clan Association was incorporated January 1, 1999, under Florida’s nonprofit association rules. Articles of Incorporation were developed along the lines of our by-laws, with a few changes that will assist in obtaining tax exempt status. The new by-laws will be sent to you via e-mail and are scheduled for approval at the next quarterly meeting, as called for in the by-laws.

The Ryan Clan Database now has over 3,000 names and over 500 Ryan names. Thank you to 11 people who have contributed to the database to date! If you haven’t sent in your information, please do so! We need someone to coordinate the database; i.e., receive Gedcom files, merge the files and put them on the Ryan clan Family Tree Maker page. Volunteers??

And…we still need volunteers for vice president, assistant treasurer, assistant secretary/newsletter, assistant to web master, and assistant to membership. These positions are to assist our current officers in each of these positions and to provide backup for them.

We discussed the Tithe Defaulter’s List and hope to develop a list of people who have the microfiche and are willing to do research and put this information on our web page. We’re close to 4,000 hits on the web page. Many thanks to Jim Ryan in California who’s done a wonderful job of putting our name on other web pages.

We discussed putting member’s names, e-mail addresses and the state in which they’re located on our web page. In the interest of privacy, it was agreed to limit the information on the web page to these items, as this information is already available on the web in other locations.

















President: J. Terry Ryan

Treasurer: RADM Jim Carey

Secretary/Newsletter: Sharon Bartholomew

Web Design: Jim Carigan


Irish Genealogical Society International

Irish Database Indices (Free!)

Gaelic Languages Information Page

Virtual Tour of Tipperary



Song of the Heath-Gatherer

By Francis O’Ryan

Originally Published in the The Southern Reporter & Cork Commercial

Saturday, October 7, 1848

Contributed by Rick O’Ryan

Frank O’Ryan was Rick’s great-grandfather’s brother.


When the morning’s first rays are dispelling the dark,

E’er the new sun is hailed by the gay little lark,

When the bird on the mountain lies close in his nest,

And e’er care-burthened man has yet started from rest,

Then I come from my cot, where the wild torrents meet,

And the dews from the grass are first brushed by my feet,

With my flushing cheek fanned by the breezes first breath,

I hie o’er the mountain to gather the heath.

How oft’ on yon proud summit’s carpet of green

I have stood in the sunbeams and felt as a queen,

When beholding the landscape all silent, alone,

I’ve enjoyed the bright picture though all were my own.

And my worship of nature, expressed but in thought,

Fills my mind up with beauty, and gilds my low lot.

Ah! High born dames, I am poor it is true,

Yet I drink of some pleasure untasted by you!

To the world I am strange, of its ways I know nought,

Save, at times, when I take in my brooms to be bought;

But I’ve hear ‘tis a place both of snares and of wiles,

And where blackest deceit is masked over with smiles,

Then, whenever I come near the dwellings of men,

I oft sigh to be back to my mountains again

And when proud ones explain, "what a travail is thine?"

In my heart I rejoice that their lot is not mine.

Oh! Welcome be poverty’s hard-destined lot,

And the wild waving heath, and the low little cot,

Far removed from the crowd, where felicity reigns,

With no comforts of life, but with none of its pains.

Oh! Great ones of earth, always seeking new joys,

True happiness dwells not in bustle or noise,

You seek for new pleasures, and find but deceit –

While the pleasures I feel are both simple and sweet.

The Ryan Family

The Ryans are directly descended from Drona, who was fourth in descent from Cathair Mor, the founder of the Drona trible. The O’Riains, or anglicized Ryans, were chiefs of the tribe of Ui Drona and settled in Carlow and Kilkenney where they gave their name to the area.

In the 11th century, the Chief of Ui Drona took the surnamme of O’Ryan, and the clan continued to possess the original stronghold of the family Ui Idrone which is composed of much of the present day County Carlow and westward into Kilkenny in the vicinity of Graiguenamanagh.

In the late 12th century, Dermot O’Ryan of Idrone granted land for the building of an abbey at Graiguenamanagh, called the Cistercian Duiske Abbey. It is one of the oldest buildings associated with the Ryan family and is still intact and beautifully restored. Today it is used as the parish church.

The historian, Georffrey Keating, describes the Ryans as follows: "A Sept most free and hospitable." For their constant opposition to the English colonists, their possessions were confiscated in the Cromwellian and Williamites periods.

The ancient Leighlin Cathedral, located to the north of Graiguenamanagh and about five miles west of Leighlinbridge, was the major church in the diocese in the center of Idrone territory. The cathedral, which is still used as a place of worship, was used for many events involving the Ryan family down through the centuries.

A number of significant houses identified with the family are located near Goresbridge on the River Barrow, sixteen miles south of Carlow Town. In the 19th century, they were recorded as Ballinise, Aughtelkane Lodge and Ballycabus. Some are still occupied today.

Seskin Ryan, a hamlet south of Bagnelstown in County Carlow has strong family ties and now consists of a few houses.

Although outside the Idrone territory, Foulksrath Castle, eight miles NW of Kilkenny, was owned by the Ryan family for many years and is now a youth hostel.

The Ryans of Tipperary and Limerick (the O’Maoilriains) are directly descended from Fergus, ninth in descent from Cathair Mor, and are said to have settled in the rich pasturelands of the Golden Vale bordering Tipperary and Limerick in the 13th century.

The O’Maoilriaians, who were chiefs of Owney, settled in the area now known as the Baronies of Owney, County Tipperary, and Owney-Beg in the east of County Limerick. They later moved to the Barony of Kilnamanagh, County Tipperary, where they became very numerous and powerful.

Many of the buildings constructed by the Ryans (O’Mulryans) when they arrived in the Owney territory of Munster were demolished prior to or during the 17th century when their properties were confiscated. One of the castles destroyed in the mid-15th century by the Earl of Ormond was Cragg Castle in County Tipperary, six miles southeast of Killaloe. Situated on rocky, elevated ground overlooking the River Shannon, this stronghold was built here because of its strategic location. One mile east of Cragg in a valley is the ancient burial ground of this branch of the family. This cemetery has an interesting coffin rest (18th century or earlier), and one can easily see many Ryan graves and read inscriptions going back to the Great Famine era of the mid-19th century.

Other castles destroyed by the Earl of Ormond in the 15th century were Abingdon, County Limerick, and nearby Owney Abbey. A number of Ryans are buried in the ancient but still used graveyard surrounding the site of the ruined Abbey.

At Newport, County Tipperary, six miles north of Abingdon, is one of the best-preserved buildings associated with the Ryan clan, Ballymackeogh House. For centuries, it was the home of a branch of the family that originated in the Nenagh, County Tipperary area. An ancient church and burial ground for this and other branches of the family are located beside the long driveway leading to the house.

The ruins of Cully Castle are situated less than three miles from Newport in the foothills of the Slieve Felim mountains. Confiscated from Teige Ryan by Oliver Cromwell’s forces in 1642, this large fortress was granted to Hardress Waller, who renamed it Castle Waller. It is now an ivy-clad ruin and includes two acres of orchards surrounded by high walls.

Across the River Shannon in County Clare is a cathedral erected by King Donal Mor O’Brien of Thomond at Killaloe. The castle was granted to a member of the Ryan family when the monasteries in Ireland were destroyed by King Henry VIII in the 16th century. Historical documents show that "William Ryane of Tipperary, Gent, in consideration of the sum of 6 pounds 13 shillings, was given it to hold forever" upon payment of a twentieth part of a knight’s fee and a rent of four pence. Killaloe Cathedral is still in regular use, as the Church of Ireland’s main church in that diocese.

Another building that became the property of the Ryans in King Henry VIII’s time was the old Augustine Priory in Tipperary Town. It was granted to a William Ryan for 20 pounds.

A substantial Ryan castle is reputed to have exited at Sologhead, five miles NW of Tipperary Town. Situated in the middle of some of the best land in the Golden Vale and halfway between the Tipperary hills and the county’s central range, this site was of great importance through the centuries. In the 11th century, King Brian Boru had a successful skirmish with the invading Danes at Sologhead. An ambush also took place there in the Irish War of Independence earlier this century. Although the castle and the nearby abbey are no longer visible, gravediggers often discover the latter’s ancient walls. A new church is now located on the site. Ballyryan, the town of the Ryans, is located near Sologhead and now consists of only a few houses.

The Ryans left their mark not only in the traditional Owney territories but also all over mid and north Tipperary and East Limerick where they can be found in almost every parish today.

Holycross Abbey, nine miles north of Cashel in County Tipperary, had an abbot in 1455 named Matthew O’Mulryan. One of King Donal Mor O’Brien’s great buildings, Holycross has been extensively restored.

The Ryan surname is the eighth most popular surname in all of Ireland. There are an estimated 28,000 people in Ireland at the present time with the Ryan surname. It is estimated that possibly ten times that total living outside the shores of Ireland.

News from Ireland

There's a rumor floating around that the Ryans in County Tipperary are planning a reunion of the Ryans sometime in the year 2000! Terry heard this information from a "reliable source" there and will pass along more information as it comes our way! We are also collecting names of people going there in 1999 and will soon put a listing of names and e-mail addresses so they can swap information and possibly meet up with each other while there!

We now have a wonderful source of old stories and history about Ireland just about daily on the County Tipperary Mailing List which are then passed along to the Ryan Clan Mailing List. Jane O'Brien, living in Dublin with her husband and children, has been wonderfully kind to share many stories already and giving us a keen insight into the daily lives of our ancestors. Jane is also a lecturer and writer and has promised to send us wonderfully informative and entertaining pieces.

News from Australia

The Clan Ryan (Queensland) was established in November, 1994 and at that time was the only Clan Branch outside of Ireland officially recognized by the Clan Ryan, Ireland. Toward the end of 1998 and now with members in other Australian states other than Queensland, it polled its members as to whether a national organization should be formed. Ted Ryan, President, now announces that a "Clan Ryan Australia" is now in existence! They now have representation in four Australian states (Queensland, South Wales, Western Australia, and Victoria). Congratulations to our Ryans down under on this wonderful step to making your successful organization even more successful. We wish you the very best in your future endeavors as you go national!!



Ireland – Part 2

Featured City: Thurles

Prominent Ryans Throughout History


May joy and peace surround you,

Contentment latch your door,

And happiness be with you now

And bless you evermore.

See other issues in the Newsletter Archive