Volume 1, No. 1 - November 1998
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

Fáilte romhat (Welcome!) to the first issue of the Ryan Clan Association Newsletter. The Ryan Clan Association was founded in May 1998 by J. Terry Ryan. The purpose of the Association is to actively promote knowledge of the Ryans in the United States and the discovery of links to Ireland through extensive genealogical work and, while doing so, to make new contacts and friends with the hope and aim of discovering new relatives in both places.

The newsletter will be published quarterly. A different city in Ireland, where our Ryan ancestors lived, will be featured in each issue. In future issues, we’d like to publish stories about your Ryan ancestors and include a "Classifieds" section. Please let us know what you’d like to see in upcoming issues.


(Excerpt from "Fethard-A Guide to the Medieval Town," by Dr. Tadhg O’Keeffe)

The story of Fethard begins with the coming of the Anglo-Normans to Ireland eight centuries ago. There is no evidence that Fethard was a major settlement until around 1200, when it was chosen as the location of a major settlement by a Norman lord, probably William de Braose, who had been installed by King John in 1201 as the chief tenant of a very substantial territory encompassing most of the modern county of Tipperary.

Fethard did not evolve slowly into a town in the aftermath of the Norman arrival, but rather it began its life as one. It was laid out systematically with a clearly demarcated market area, a conveniently located church and graveyard, and a regular pattern of streets. Its economy was nourished by the rich farmland in the vicinity. Approaching the town today from Mullinahone, Moyglass, Cashel, Clonmel or Kilsheelan, one travels along roads that twist around fields which have been ploughed and grazed many times, but which have hardly changed shape since the Middle Ages.

The town and lands of Fethard passed from William de Braose’s hands in 1208 following a dispute with King John. In 1215, the Crown granted Fethard to the archbishops of Cashel, and it retained part of the archiepiscopal estates until the 16th century when the townspeople stopped paying rents to Cashel.

By the time the archbishops inherited Fethard, the town’s great parish church had been built, and William, following the custom of the day, had granted the revenue which was owed to the church from the surrounding lands to a religious house – in this case, the Hospital of St. John the Baptist in Dublin. The hospital held this revenue until the early 14th century when it was passed on by the prior to the archbishops of Cashel.

The 13th century was a period of prosperity for Fethard and for other towns in Anglo-Norman Ireland. Goods sold in Fethard around the end of the century included silk, wine skins, fish, coal, nails, timbers and salt.

The Augustinian Friars came to Fethard at the start of the 14th century and established a monastery outside the town.

Life within and near the town was probably comparatively stress free in the 13th Century, but the surrounding rural areas were not particularly safe for travelers. One effect of the increasing lawlessness of the Norman colony in Ireland was the building of town walls at places like Fethard.

Wall building required financing, and this financing was usually generated by taxes. A town wall, therefore, had a great impact on the lives of the townspeople beyond simply providing security for their settlement.

In 1292, the king allowed money levied over seven years from items sold in the town to be used by the burgesses for "the inclosing of their vill and the greater security of Ireland." A record of money still being collected in the early 14th century suggests a further grant after the expiration of that of 1292, but details have not survived.

When money was first made available for the walling of Fethard, the town was probably somewhat smaller than the walled town of today. Much of the land on the north and west sides of the present walled area was only taken into the town at the time of the 15th century murage grants.

Extensive building activity inside the town shows that Fethard was a strong and fairly prosperous place in the late middle ages. Its strategic importance is perhaps reflected in the fact that from the late 1400’s Earls of Ormond were attending courts held in Fethard, and many Ormond ordinances were issued from there.

The town received a royal charter from Edward VI in 1552-3. A few decades after the charter brought positive changes, Fethard came face to face with two of the 17th century’s most destructive forces: the armies of Lord Inchiquin and Oliver Cromwell. Inchiquin had already attacked Cashel with relentless ferocity and, when news of that bloodbath reached Fethard, its citizens submitted to him. Three years later, in 1650, Cromwell marched on Fethard on his way to take Kilkenny.

The town survived the crises of the mid-17th century, but it entered the 18th century in a state of decay. Visitors invariably described it as "run down." Destruction of the medieval fabric of the town was an unfortunate feature of the 19th century. By the start of the present century all but one of the town gates had been demolished.

Fethard, home of many Ryans, is located approximately eight miles north of Clonmel.


Malo Mari quam Faedari

Translation: Death Before Dishonor
Blazon of Arms: Gules three griffin heads
Erased argent
Crest: A griffin segreant axure
Holding a sword erect

A griffin (or gryphon) is a mythological beast - half-lion and half-eagle, which represents intelligence and strength, with dominion over both earth and sky. The animal was also was a legendary symbol of "superbia- arrogant pride."


In September, 1998, the Ryan Clan Association, U.S. Sept web page was given a "Two Shamrock" award by Doras, the well-known web-based directory of Irish related internet sites. Special thanks to Jim Carigan for all his hard work.

On October 11, 1998, the 1000th person accessed the Ryan Clan Association, U.S. Sept web page – a very significant milestone! Keep telling your friends and relatives.


County Tipperary Historical Society – Links

Tipperary Surname Interest List


A to Z of Irish Websites

40 Shades of Green (Irish Blessings, etc. Fun!)

Fethard, Ireland (Great page; wonderful links)

County Mayo Home Page

County Tyrone Home Page


If the person you’re tracing lived in the United States or Canada, learn everything you can about the person and his/her family from United States or Canadian records before you try searching records in Ireland. This will greatly improve your chance of success with Irish research. It is nearly impossible to trace ancestors without first knowing exactly where they came from in Ireland. Potential Canadian and United States sources include:

a. vital records, family records, old letters
b. obituaries
c. church records
d. land records
e. naturalization records
f. immigration records
g. military records
h. court records
i. historical societies
j. probate records
k. census records

Facts to keep in mind:

Up to 1850, there were no exact sailing schedules, which resulted in some people temporarily moving to a seaport town. Main seaports towns: Belfast, Dublin, Cork, and Waterford. Many small ships took people to England, especially Liverpool, to await a larger ship going to North America. Some people may have remained in England for a short period of time.

Place names may have been misheard, misspelled, or misquoted.

Traditions may be entirely incorrect.

Emigrants often moved in groups. If you cannot find the place of origin for your Irish ancestor, trace one or more of the families who may have moved with him or lived near him. They often stayed near each other after settling in North America.

Few emigration records exist for people leaving Ireland. There are no official records for emigration from Ireland to North America prior to 1815. Your best source would be United States or Canadian immigration records.

History is important because conditions in certain parts of Ireland may have been causes for emigration.

If, after exhausting all North American records, you have not determined the place of origin in Ireland, there are several general indices for Ireland that could be consulted:

Civil Registration. 1845-present.

Surname Index to Tithe Applotment Records

(c. 1830).

Surname Index to the Valuation Records

(c. 1850-55).

Registry of Deeds, Surname Index,


Probate Indices. Not always available for the entire country but available for ecclesiastical areas. Useful in locating residences.*

General books about Irish surnames. *

Index to the Collections at the Genealogical Office in Dublin*

Index to the Collections at the Public Record Office in Belfast*

*Generally available through Irish genealogical societies.

More information can be found at:

Then click on "The Records" link.

Determine the jurisdiction of your place in Ireland in as much detail as possible. The following jurisdictions will all be important and should be determined:

Province. There are four provinces in Ireland consisting of several counties each: Ulster, Leinster, Connaught, and Munster.

County. There are 32 counties in Ireland. Two counties changed their names: Leix or Laoighis or Laois, formerly Queen's County, and Offaly (Ua Failghe) formerly King's County.

Barony. A barony is usually an area of land within a county. It is based on old tribal jurisdictions. There are 325 baronies.

Diocese. An ecclesiastical division. There are 28 dioceses for the Church of Ireland. The boundary of each diocese does not always correspond to a county boundary.

Parish. A smaller division of diocese. Can contain several villages, or there may be many parishes in a large city. There were 2,447 parishes in Ireland.

City and/or Town. Civil jurisdiction.

Townland. Small parcels of land which sometimes represent small farms or acreage. There are about 60,000 of them.



The first on-line meeting of the Ryan Clan Association, U.S. Sept was held on October 8, 1998.

Treasurer’s Report. Since July 1st, we’ve received $400 from 13 paid members and have spent $70 in fees to secure our domain name.

Membership Report. We have 13 paid members and one gratis member, who is a member of the clergy.

Election of Secretary. Sharon Bartholomew was elected secretary of the Association and will also serve as editor of the newsletter.

Projects Underway. Terry Ryan is still looking for a suitable database for everyone to use to input their Ryan names, and then allow others to do searches in the hope of finding common names. We still need someone – hopefully with Access or genealogy database experience - to work with Terry on this project.

Establish Association Chapter. Paul Carroll has agreed to start a chapter in Boston, MA. Terry is working with Paul on appropriate paperwork and ideas on generating interest in the Boston area.

Member Benefits. Although we feel the major benefit of belonging to the Ryan Clan Association is the show of support for the Association and its causes and the forming of local chapters to more easily meet more Ryans, we are open to suggestions on ideas of other possible benefits. Does anyone have contact with major airlines, auto rental companies in Ireland or elsewhere, etc.?

Miscellaneous. Terry Ryan received an e-mail from an individual expressing an interest in forming a Canadian Ryan Association. Terry will keep us abreast of developments and will definitely lend as much support as possible.


Finn MacCool is one of Ireland's most famous heroes and the subject of many legends. He ate a salmon of knowledge and became very wise. He swallowed the water from a magic well that an enemy threw at him and acquired the powers of a sorcerer. He led the famous band of soldiers called The Fianna Ossin. His son was the child of a woman transformed into a deer. Finn was engaged to Gráinne, who eloped with Diarmuid and hid with him under a dolman as they fled. Finn never caught them. It is not known when or where Finn died, but Diarmuid was killed by a wild boar. Finn MacCool or Finn MacCumhaill is thought to have lived in the 3rd century AD.



President: J. Terry Ryan

Treasurer: RADM Jim Carey

Secretary & Newsletter: Sharon Bartholomew

Web Design: Jim Carigan