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Walsh of Ballykilcavan

Some history on the Walshes of Ballykilcavan.

Ballykilcavan, located in Queens County (Laois), is shown on the old maps as McEven, which is as near as the map makers got to many of the old names. After the destruction of the Kildares (the FitzGerald Earls of Kildare), the place seems to have passed to one Hartpole, whose possessions in Carlow and Queens were extensive. Oliver Walsh bought it of him in 1640. Whether it had been a Walsh possession before that, nothing appears to show. It is not far from several places where the Walshs were rather numerous.

A hundred years later the heirs of Hartpole tried and failed to get it away from the heirs of Oliver Walsh, who at that time (1738) was Hunt Walsh of Ballykilcavan, Esquire. It was members of this family who, thirty years later, participated in elaborating the "Note and Synopsis of the Genealogy of Walsh." This synopsis was given as a certificate to two young men of the family of Walsh, of the territory of Mac Elligot in Kerry, who were officers in the army of Bradenburg, Germany. It was presented by William Hawkins, Ulster King at Arms, in 1769.

In the Synopsis is mentioned an ancient connection to Ballykilcavan, in that "Henry the Second granted to Philip [Walsh] the lands of Bally-Kilgavan in Queen's County, of Castle Hoel in County Kilkenny, and Grealaghbeg in County Tipperary; and the same year [1172] created Philip lord of Bally Carrickmore in Waterford and baron of Pildom in Tipperary and Shancaher in Kilkenny." Unfortunately no records have been found which connect the Walshs to Ballykilcavan at such an early date, but perhaps they were of the same family as Walsh of the Mountain [Kilkenny].

Other possible connections to the origin of the Ballykilcavan Walshs present themselves when comparing their Coat of Arms. The arms of Walsh of Ballykilcavan in Queens County Ireland, that is "a fess between six martlets", are similar to those of Philip of Wigorn (Worcester), Justiciar of Ireland in 1184, as well as those of a family of Walshs in Worcester, England.

A modern note on the country houses of Laois states, "Just outside Stradbally is Ballykilcavan, the home of the Walsh Kemmis family. The land was bought from the Hartepoles in 1639 by the Walshs of the Mountain, a Kilkenny clan. The present house incorporates the late 17th century house built by the second Walsh to live there but it was enlarged and modernised both at the beginning and at the end of the 18th century, though the latter improvements were never completed due to the rebellion of 1798."

In the Baronetage of Ireland in the time of George III, is a citing of Walsh (Johnson-Walsh of Ballykilcavan), dated February 24, 1775. The baronetage is listed as extinct as of 1953. The Johnson-Walsh family, baronets, of Ballykilcavan, Leix are recorded in the UK National Register of Archives.

Another reference to the family comes from the Catholic Encyclopedia, "William Monsell, Baron Emly, born 21 Sept., 1812; died at Tervoe, Co. Limerick, Ireland, 20 April, 1894. His father was William Monsell of Tervoe; his mother, Olivia, daughter of Sir John Walsh of Ballykilcavan."

In the Collieries (coal mines) of the United Kingdom at work, from 1869, is listed the mines of Kingscote and of Rushes, in Stradbally, owned by Rev. Hunt J. Walsh. In the latter part of the 1870's, a Sir Allen Walsh, of Ballykilcavan, Stradbally, owned 3,131 acres in the area.

In the letter and papers of Thomas Vesey Nugent (1807-1890), is the correspondence about the financial affairs of Sir Allen and Lady Harriet Walsh, of Ballykilcaven, Co. Leix, 1867-1868, 1878, 1882, 1885 and 1890.

An interesting note on the Kemmis family is a coat of arms described as "Vert, on a chevron argent three pheons sable." It is generally assumed that a junior branch of the early Kemeys/Kemmis family adopted the arms they bore in consequence of the marriage of Stephen de Cameis (VII) with a Welsh heiress of the family of Gwent. (see

The preceding article was compiled by Dennis J. Walsh, 2009

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Monday, 24-Aug-2009 20:26:32 MDT