History of the County Longford, Ireland

The following pages will, I hope, throw a long-required light on the history of the most central county in Ireland. I have endeavored to explain its ancient and modern formation; and no effort of mine has been spared to describe that transition stage when the land of Longford or Annaly passed away from the ancient to the planter owners. At very considerable expense I have secured an accurate copy of the Patent Rolls of James I., showing, as will be found on perusal, who the ancient owners of every townland in Longford County were, and to whom these lands were conveyed by Royal Letters Patent. If the reader is at all of an inquiring turn of mind, it will be very easy for him to fill up the space of two hundred and sixty years with the names of any old families in these townlands, and he has as accurate an idea as I can give of who are, and who are not, the "old stock" in Longford County to-day.

I am aware that many people, from whom better should be expected, have not hesitated to describe my previous publications on this subject as an attempt to landate the O'Farrells, as they say, "because I am a Farrell myself." Such an idea can only be harboured by the ignorant. Anyone who knows me will not doubt me when I say, as I have said often before, that were the ancient possessors of Annaly any other family or name but that of Farrell or O'Farrell, I would take as much pains, and probably more than I have taken, to put their history before the world. The illustrations will, I hope, be found interesting in any case they cannot but add to the interest of the volume.


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History tells us that we Irish are directly descended from the Milesians, who were the sixth and last body of invaders that took possession of this island in the dark ages before the Christian era. Prior to their advent Ireland had been successively the prize of five different peoples Partholans, Nemedians, Formorians, Firbolgs, and Tuatha-de-Danaans. The Partholans were the descendants of a chief named Partholanus, who was the first inhabitant of Ireland after the Deluge. They were expelled from the country by the Nemedians, who, after an occupation of nearly two hundred years, were driven out by a race of pirates called Formorians. One part of the Nemedians went to the south of Europe, where they were put into slavery as bag-carriers, from which they were called Firbolgs. Another part went northwards, and became the powerful race subsequently called Tuatha-de-Danaans. The Firbolgs were the first to turn with a longing eye to the isle they had lost, and two hundred years had not passed away until they reconquered this country, driving the Formorians into the sea. Almost immediately after the Tuatha-de-Danaans began to think of returning to the home of their forefathers, and before their cousins had been thirty years in their reconquered homes, the Tuatha-de-Danaans swooped down from the north and expelled them from the country. Even at such a remote period we see this striking example of the affection with which these rude sons of the forest and the sea regarded "the woody isle," as Ireland was then called. For one hundred and ninety years the Tuatha-de-Danaans reigned supreme in the land, during which time they organized a system of government, and divided the country into kingdoms. But in the year B.C. 3,500 a new race appeared to claim the island in the persons of the Milesians, who had been long established as a considerable nation in Spain. The Milesians were descended from Ghaedhal or G-atelus, who was the sixth in direct descent from Noah, and Noah being the ninth patriarch from Adam, Grhaedal was, there- fore, the fifteenth patriarch in direct descent from the first man. Grhaedal gave his name to his posterity, who were therefrom called Gradelians, and the ancient records of the world prove that the twelfth king of the Ghadelians was Milesius, who was the father of the three sons that headed the Milesians in the sixth and last pre-Christian conquest of Ireland. When the Milesians arrived at Inver-Scene in the present County of Kerry, the Tuatha-de-Danaans complained that they were taken at a disadvantage, and were unprepared to offer the Milesians battle. They proffered, however, if the invaders would retire the distance of nine waves from the shore to give them battle on returning, and to yield up the island peacefully if the issue was against them. To this the Milesians consented; but when they had retired the required distance, the Tuatha-de-Danaans, who were skilled in the art of necromancy, caused a great storm to arise which dispersed the Milesian ships and sunk many of them. Such of them as escaped were driven to the mouth of the Boyne, where they landed, and marching to Teltown, in the County Meath, a great battle was fought, in which the Tuatha-de-Danaans were entirely defeated, and the Milesians became masters of the island.