O’Connell Coat of ArmsO’Connell Coat of Arms


A history of the O’Connell family of New Zealand

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Edited by Seán O’Connell

Cíall agus neart
Wisdom and Strength

In a churchyard, in the parish of Knockanure, near Listowel, County Kerry, (See Map) there is a flat Flagstone, covered in lichen and moss, with the inscription:

Erected by the Very Rev. James Hennessy O’Connell PP Melbourne Australia
to the memory of his grandfather Edward O’Connell
and his father James O’Connell, died June 3 1868
who was also father of Chevelier Michael O’Connell, Knight of Pope Pius IX, died July 1864
and Sister Mary Brendan O’Connell died Nov 4 1904. Presentation Convent Listowel

Exactly who is buried in this tomb, the inscription doesn’t make clear. What we do know is that Edward is the earliest recorded name we have found of the New Zealand branch of our O’Connell Clan. This first Edward was probably born about 1760–1770 in Galey parish and, as we know ourselves as, “the O’Connells of Ballyegan” this may very well be where he was born.

Edward O’Connell’s and Fanny Walls Marriage Cert.Edward O’Connell’s and Fanny Walls Marriage Cert. The earliest record we have found of Edward is the Church of Ireland (COI) marriage record of Edward O’Connell of Gale Parish to Frances Wall, solemnised on the 25 May 1795 in Kilnaughtin Parish. Because of the Penal Laws, having a marriage within the COI was the only way a Catholic could ensure the inheritance of his Protestant wife. They would almost certainly have had a second ceremony within the Catholic church but these records no longer exist. The witnesses to this marriage aren’t that clear as the image has been cut off but they look like John Sand… and Richard W… (possibly John Sandes and Richard Wall).
There is a baptismal record for a Richard O’Connell on the 22 Dec 1802 in Listowel Parish. His parents are listed as Edmundus O’Connell and Phanit Wall and he was sponsored by John O’Connell and Margaret Wall. The use of the names Edmundus and Phanit seems to be derived from the Catholic Church’s use of Latin and relates directly to the English names of Edward and Fanny.

Hanging at the Cross where the streets meet in Newtownsands.

Told by Con Shine (carpenter).

Written by J. B. Connell (NT Moyvane)

abt 1910

My father remembers the white boys. There was a landlord in Kilbaha called Wall. There was another in Moyvane named Sands. Sands knew the names of all the white boys in the district. So did Wall. The white boys trusted Sands. But they were afraid that Wall would tell all the names. So they decided to do away with Wall.
 Wall was afraid of them. He made up his mind to take a house in Glin and went the Kerry line to Glin but he came back by Newtownsands way. The white boys watched him, they attacked his house that night and the firing went on till morning. In the morning they set fire to the house and Wall was burned to death.
 200 soldiers came from Limerick the following day. They were to kill everybody they met. But Sands met them over on the Tarbert road near Johnny Nashs and told them not to touch anybody that he would have all the white boys arrested that he knew them all. The soldiers did no harm then. They went to Kilbaha and the first they met were my father and my uncle Johnny threshing in the haggard. Sands said they are two honest boys, they’re a widow’s sons they never did harm to anybody and so they did nothing to them. My father was about 18 at the time.
 Sands gave the names of all the white boys and they were arrested and tried in Tralee. Three of them were sentenced to be hanged one of them was ordered to be brought to Newtown to be hanged. His name was Neill (Nayle). He was the ringleader he was hanged in Newtown by the soldiers. They drove 2 poles in the ground below at the cross and put another pole across. They then put him standing in a horses car, put a rope around his neck then pulled away the car and left him hanging there. He was hanging there all day. The soldiers used to come often and give him a swing for sport and leave him swing away for himself. All the doors were shut that day. You would not see a head out the door.
 In the evening they took him down and carried him to Tralee in a car. But they lost him above at Shea’s height Clountubrid. They turned back and found him again and carried him to Tralee. The other two were hanged in Tralee one of them was Mulvihill. I do not know who the other man was. Wall lived in Kilbaha where the road turns up to Kennelly’s house.
(This was also where John O’Connell’s wife Bridget Harrington lived. Con Shine, the narrator, lived next door to the O’Connells of Kilbaha West.)

Michael Mulvihill was tried in Tralee on the 3rd March, 1809. During the trial it was reported that he set fire to Walls House. He was executed on the 29th July, 1809. Danny McMahon claimed that Wall was not at home. The attackers set fire to his house took the child from the maid and tossed it into the burning house.
More than four years later, the Knight of Kerry noted that Timothy Mulvihill, the principal suspect, was still at large (National Archives of Ireland, SOC 1532/22.Ballinruddery, Listowel, 30 Sept. 1813, Maurice Fitzgerald to Robert Peel).
The apprehension of Timothy Mulvihill was reported in The Limerick General Advertiser of 31 May, 1814 ‘at Knockanure by the spirited and judicious exertions of John Sandes, Esq … aided by a party of the Waterford Militia’.
23 March, 1813. NPM; Eliza Wall, By the Rev. Mr. Ellard, at Kilmallock church, Maurice Creed Parker of Hermsbrook, Esq., to Eliza., third daughter of the late James Wall of Kilbaha, county Kerry, Esq.

(Ua hAonghusa)
London St James Chronicle And Evening Post – July 20, 1822, London, Middlesex.

Tralee, July 10.– We have just heard the following mysterious circumstances:– A woman, whose maiden name was Stonehouse, we understand, of very respectable connections, and whose family formerly lived in the city of Cork, many years since married a farmer of the better class, named Hennessy, in the barony of Iraghticonnor, in this county. Hennessy has since died, leaving one daughter, who was not long since married to a young man named Casey. Hennessy’s widow afterwards became the wife of a person named Kelly; she enjoyed a jointure of 40 pounds (or guinees) per annum, in right of the first husband, which jointure was payable from off a landed property possessed by Casey, in right of his wife, the daughter of Hennessy. It appears that Kelly, the second husband, has experienced some difficulty and opposition in receiving this jointure, and in consequence of some attempt lately made by him to distrain, a warrant for some alledged illegal act was granted against him, and he was lodged in our county gaol, where he lay when the shocking murder we are now called upon to notice, was perpetrated.
On the night of Monday last, a gang of ruffians broke into the house where Mrs. Kelly lodged, at Ballyquinmon, in this county, and cruelly murdered her, in the most barbarous manner. We have not heard of the plunder of any property, or that any other person in the house was injured. Kelly, the unfortunate woman’s husband, was yesterday admitted to bail, and passed through this town, homeward, to mourn over this dreadful scene of horror and destruction.– Cork Chronicle.


In our last we gave such particulars of this horrid assassination as had then reached us; and we have now to add, that on the first information received by John Weeks, Esq., one of the Coroners for this county, he, very early on tuesday morning last repaired to the place where the murder was committed, and on that day he held an inquest on the body of that unfortunate victim. Nothing material transpired on the inquest, the only witness examined was Honora Moore, the servant maid of the deceased (who has since been committed as an accomplice), who swore that the murder was perpetrated on the night above–mentioned, by some persons who entered at the window, very near witness’s bed; that they threatened to murder witness also, unless she covered her head with the bed clothes; that her mistress was butchered within a few feet of the bed where witness lay; that she did not know the voices of any of the assassins, nor would she know them if she heard them again. Her evidence was altogether inconsistent and inconclusive. The following verdict was returned by the Jury.–
“We find that the deceased, Elizabeth Kelly, died in consequence of several wounds received from sharp instruments, which wounds were inflicted by persons at present unknown to us.”
The corpse was shockingly mangled. Shortly after the verdict was returned, that active magistrate, John Raymond, Esq., set every engine at work for discovering the murderers; and having posted up an offer of a reward of 50L, on the neighbouring chapel, in a few hours after he received such information as led to the apprehension of the following persons, who were fully committed by Mr. Raymond, to abide their trial for the murder at the ensuing Assizes, viz.–James Casey (son–in–law to the deceased), Michael Hennessy, William Moore, Bridget Sullivan, alias Hennessy, and Honora Moore.
They were transmitted to town, and lodged in gaol yesterday evening.–Tralee paper.

From The Constitution or Cork Morning Post, 14 August 1822 - Tralee, County Kerry.

James Casey, Michael Hennessy, William Moore, and Honora Moore, the prisoners were put on their trial for the murder of Elizabeth Kelly, and the Prisoner Casey applied to have the trial postponed until the next Assizes, on account of the absence of material witnesses, grounded on an affidavit sworn yesterday. Mr. Lloyd, Counsel for the Crown opposing the application stated that the names of the witnesses having been communicated to the Crown Solicitor last night, he sent a carriage to the residence of the witnesses and they were brought to town this morning, and were then in attendance. The prisoners said they had no money to fee Counsel or Attorney, and the Court asked if there would be any inconvenience in postponing the trial till the next Assizes, the Counsel for the Crown, replied that there would probably be a failure of justice, but that to avoid all objection the Crown Solicitor would supply the prisoners with money to have professional assistance, and this being answered the trial was fixed for Monday next. William Moore who is deaf and dumb was then put to plead, and a witness having been examined to prove that he did not stand mute from obstinacy, but by the conviction of GOD, and that he understood signs, the nature of the charge was communicated to him, and the Clerk of the Crown was directed by the Court to record a plea of not guilty for him.

NAI REFERENCE: CSO/RP/1822/1378. 5 Oct 1822 – Petition of Patrick Kelly, Ballybunion, County Kerry, to Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquis Wellesley, Lord Lieutenant, Dublin Castle, requesting appointment to post of employment under Government: claims that he succeeded in bringing to justice the killers of his wife Elizabeth Stonehousewho had been barbarously and inhumanely murdered on the night of the 8th of July last, by her son in law, James Casey and one Michael Hennessey’ (Anna named her first son Michael), indicates that his wife had an annuity of forty guineas flowing out of lands of Lahardane, barony of Iraghticonnor, which provided the motive for her murder, and expresses fear that ‘his own destruction is already contemplated by the friends and accomplices of said murderers’. Statement signed and attested by 12 persons.

NAI REFERENCE: CSO/RP/1822/2505. 21 Nov 1822 – Letter from Mathew Barrington, (crown solicitor, Munster circuit), 13 Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin, to Henry Goulburn, Chief Secretary, Dublin Castle, reporting on petition of Patrick Kelly, Ballybunion, County Kerry, outlining case and seeking employment: confirms that Kelly ‘prosecuted to Conviction at the last Assizes for the County of Kerry James Casey and others for the murder of his Wife’ but notes in conclusion that ‘Kelly has lately died having been found dead in his bed some days back’; includes memorial of Kelly to Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquis Wellesley, Lord Lieutenant, Dublin Castle, seeking a situation under Government and making reference to case under which Casey, a relative through marriage, together with Michael Hennessey, were prosecuted and executed for murder of his wife, Elizabeth Stonehouse, who held an annuity of forty guineas out of lands of Lahardane, barony of Iraghticonnor, County Kerry.

Some time after this event the ownership of Lahardane was transfered to John Leslie Gun and leased to a Maurice Hennessy and, still later, to our James O’Connell who married Anna Hennessy

Anna Hennessy Anna Hennessy (c1806–1881) married James O’Connell (1836). Family Lore often gives Anna the double–barrelled name of “Pope–Hennessy”. On her death certificate, and the certificates of her Australasian sons, her name is written only as Hennessy. She was part of the wider Hennessy family of Cork, and a relative of Sir John Pope Hennessy who was governor of various British colonies. This branch added “Pope” to their name after what was seen as a daughter’s advantageous marriage into the Pope family of Riversdale and Causeway. The Cork Hennessys called themselves the Hennessys of “Ballyhennessy”. After serving as a mercenary for Louis XV of France, the Corcu Loígde nobleman Richard Hennessy would establish his famous Hennessy Cognac on land given him by the king in compensation. Several of his descendants have gone on to distinguish themselves in French politics, notably politician Jean Hennessy. Family lore mentions John Pope Hennessy as a possible candidate for Governor of New Zealand, and that there would be “jobs aplenty” for any family member willing to make the move, but there is no evidence that this was ever so. The Dee family of Lahardane and Hokitika have similiar family lore.

Anna was married three times in total. Her first (1820) spouce’s name is unknown, her second (1824) was William Griffin with whom she had a son, Patrick Griffin (1828–1915), and her third being James.

Anna Hennessy Death Anna Hennessy DeathAnna died 28 Febuary 1881 when she was about 75 and living in Market Street, Listowel. Her death certificate names her as Anna O’Connell, female, a farmer’s widow, that she died of acute bronchitis, 8 days, and that James Horgan was present at her death.

The Tithes records for Lahardane were taken in 1826 and there was no mention of James O’Connell. Thirty years later Griffith’s Valuation lists him as a major representative of the owner, John Leslie Gun of Ballybunion. John Leslie Gun was the grandson of George Gun of Carrigafoile Castle and therefore a second cousin to the O’Connells and Raymonds of Ballyegan and Riversdale.


The next records we come across are the baptismal records for the children of James O’Connell and Anna Hennessy. Note the naming pattern. Tradition had it that the first daughter was named for the guest spouse’s mother and the first son for the host spouse’s father. The second son was named for the guest spouse’s father and the second daughter for the host spouse’s mother. The third son and daughter for their parents and any following children for their uncles and aunts. This suggests that Anna’s father would have been named Michael Hennessy and that Anna’s mother might also have been called Anna. There is a marriage record for Mary O’Connell and Patrick Downey of Lahardane in 1855. They emigrated to the US and their descendants may be an American branch of the family.

James O’Connell Senior, of Lahardane was born about 1799/1800 as his death certificate of 1868 states his age to be 68 years. We don’t know his birth parish but his brother Maurice O’Connell was known as Maurice of Newtown. Meaning Newtownsandes, now known as Moyvane. James and his father are probably buried in Knockanure graveyard, so it’s possible he was born in this general area.

James O’Connell’s Death CertificateJames O’Connell’s Death Certificate

Taken from Kerry Sentinel Nov. 12th 1904.

Sr. Mary Brendan O’Connell (Anna) a native of Ballybunion died at the Presentation Convent Listowel. Her brother Capt. (the Irish had a habit of promoting the rank of those they were commemorating) Chevalier Michael O’Connell had command position in the Papal Army and her other brother Fr. James Hennessy O’Connell a priest in the Melbourne Diocese. Cousins in Ireland:

Anna, Sister Mary Brendan, O’Connell died on the 4th of November, 1904 and was originally buried in a Presentation Convent plot but was reinterred in a communal grave in the Listowel cemetery when the convent was sold.

Maurice O’Connell (James’ brother) of Newtown was a member of the Irish constabulary. He married Ellen McElligott of O’Dorney parish on 5 February, 1853 and emigrated to Victoria in 1864. They are the forebears of our Aussie kin, the Mulcare, Ross and McMahon families.

Maurice and Ellen had the following children:

There was a Malachy O’Connell of Lahardane baptised 30 August 1839. His parents were Morgan O’Connell and Mary Flahive. Other O’Connell names of the time were Janet and John mentioned as sponsors of James’ children. Also a Michael O’Connell baptised in Lahardane on the 25th March 1857. His parents were Michael O’Connell and Honora O’Sullivan.

Family lore says the older generation spoke of Frances O’Connell and mentions that there was a second marriage in Ireland but we’re not sure who this refered to. Edmund O’Connell of Ballyegan (the names Edmund and Edward seem to be interchangable) married Bridget Costelloe about 1830 and had the following children:

If this is the same Edward who had been previously married to Fanny Wall, then he would be in his late fifties to early sixties which isn’t out of the reach of possibility. I intend to follow this line up further to see if a connection can be proven.

Brick WallBrick Wall

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© 2013 Seán O’Connell