Généalogie de la famille de PRELLE de la NIEPPE

Armes de Beirne

Andrew Beirne

Andrew Beirne
Given names
MarriageMary PlunkettView this family
before 1771

Birth of a son
Andrew “Andrew Jr.” Beirne
Dangan's Hereditary Chieftain

1100 to 1500 "Fights, Frays, Threats And Courage Bold" The actual history begins in the 1100s. It may be reconstructed from The Annals of Connacht (1244-1562), The Annals of the Four Masters (to 1607), and The Book of Lough Cé (1014-1590), and to minor degrees other similar works of the times. The information therein is primarily on deeds and deaths of Chieftains, fights and feuds, and epidemics and other major natural disasters. There is little or nothing on how O Beirnes as a whole were affected by major crises as when Pope Adrian IV "gave" Ireland to Henry II of England in 1154, the Anglo-Norman invasion of around 1170, or the battle in O Beirne territory in 1270 when the English were defeated. In general, several years of "great plague" or other human epidemics were followed by periods of relative peace while years of crop shortages and livestock epidemics, and especially of famine, resulted in plundering and cattle-rustling and consequent strife. The first mention of the name was in the 1100s when an O Birn is recorded as murdering his son-in-law. Gilla Maeb O Birn, killed in 1133 or 1135, "The good, Royal Judge of Ireland" was one of the most eminent personages of his time as Royal Lawgiver of Ireland, Chief Steward to the King of Ireland, and one of three with the responsibility of guarding the King's spoils when he encamped. A DonneIl O Birn was slain in 1153. A Malachy O'Beirn was Bishop of Kildare in 1176 (but he might have been an O'Byme). The O Beirut Chieftain was one of twelve who were ordained to officiate at the coronation of the new King of Connacht in 1201. The O Beirnes eventually came out on top, essentially for the last time, in the feuding and fighting of the 1200s. But first the best men of Tir Briuin were killed in a skirmish in 1235. Gilla Crist O Birn killed a steward in 1245 who had stabbed and killed his master. A consequence was that a group that included Princes of Connacht retaliated by killing one or more O Beirnes. Gilla Crist was the father of lmar, described as a warrior and a trusted friend of the King of Connacht. Imar's son, also Gilla Crist, killed an O Monaghan and ten of his men in 1269. At this Imar withdrew from the world, renounced his wealth and children, and entered a monastery where he died after a successful repentance (it is not clear from what) in 1271. A Hugh Ó Birn was slain in 1273. In a wood at Dangan in 1280 Gilla Crist and another killed one Aed (Hugh) Muimneach who had been King of Connacht for only two weeks. Three years later Gilla Crist himself was slain "most cruelly.” The O Monaghans controlled Tir Briuin. The O Beirnes disputed this. The war between the two families probably began in 1269 when Gilla Crist killed O Monaghans. There was a battle in 1273 (the year after Roscommon became a county). In 1287 O Beirnes replaced the O Monaghans as Lords of Tir Briuin. Domnall Ó Birn who died in 1311 was described as Chieftain of Tir Briuin. An old poem, here in literal translation, described this war: "The O'Beirnes. a valiant phalanx, (in possession of) the castles of the O'Monaghans; by strife, by vigour, by threatening they have gained the land into which they have come." Another version: "Brave are the defending tribe of Muintir O'Beirne in the fortress of O'Monaghan. By strength, by shouts of war and valour. The country which they conquered still they hold." A later metrical version: “The great O'Beirnes, that bright brave band/Got o'er the O'Monaghans chief command/And since they came their lands they hold/ By fights, frays, threats and courage bold." The O Beirnes then made their headquarters in a strategically situated O Monaghan castle about two miles northeast of Elphin which they renamed Lissadorn, the Fort of the Fist, from a tradition that an O Beirne had killed an O Monaghan there with a blow of his fist. They would remain in charge of Tir Briuin for more than two centuries until forced out of Lissadorn in Elizabethan times. The seriously suppressive influences on human development of the cold climatic period known as the Little Ice Age must not be disregarded or underestimated. It began in the 1300s and was at its peak in the 1500s to 1700s which happened to coincide with the period of greatest oppression by the English and when its effects became intensified by the massive destruction of the native forests. The climate was worse than it had been for thousands of years, or since. The long, wet winters and cool summers shortened the growing season by an average one month. More critical to a population that lived off the land were the weather extremes that destroyed food sources and produced shortages or famines that increased the susceptibility of the people to epidemics of the diseases that were already favoured by squalid and unhygienic living conditions. All this explains why the O'Beirnes were so relatively subdued from the 1300s onward: they did not have the numbers, the resources, or the energies to initiate successful military campaigns. Especially suppressive were the epidemics of the Black Death in 1348 and 1349. Populations elsewhere took five or six generations to recover and there is no reason to assume that the O'Beirnes were any different. Conditions during the first half of the 1300s as recorded in the Annals of Connacht illustrate the frequency of calamities: there were various human disease epidemics in four years and great cattle plagues in four; nearly all the sheep died in one year; there were five years when extremes of snow, cold. or gales destroyed cattle, produce and buildings, sometimes also people, and caused shortages and in one following year a great famine. Donnchad Ó Birn (d. 1371). Chieftain of Tir Briuin and son of Domnall (d. 1311), was a principal ally of the King of Moylurg in his war against the O Connor King of Connacht in 1342. The King of Connacht went to Elphin to meet with Donnchad to try to persuade the O Beirnes to make restitution to a Hubert Burke whose property they had plundered. He had to take refuge in Elphin Church when a Cathal Ó Birn struck him with a stick saying "To your sty, hog" to which the King responded "May it bring no good to the swineherd." Maelschlainn and Gilla Crist, sons of Tomaltech (d. 1363) who may have been the Chieftain, were killed in the battle known as The Defeat of the Young Warriors in 1365. In 1375 somebody not named attacked Cormac Ó Birn with many killed apparently including Donough and much booty taken. The statue of Mary at Kilmore spoke miraculously in I381. What was said is not on record but in the following year Chieftain Thadeus Ó Birn found himself in jail. That was because he and three others conspired to depose King Roderick O Conor of Connacht and were found out. The attack on and capture of Dangan Castle by an O Conor in 1407 could have been a consequence. All in all the 1300s were not a good century for the O Beirnes after a fair beginning. But things would get worse. The early 1400s seem to have been relatively peaceful as all concerned had united, more or less, in submitting, more or less. to King Richard II of England in 1395; and it was a time of recurring great plagues. Nevertheless some O Beirnes prospered. One, not further identified, was described as a very wealthy yeoman when he died in 1414. Cormac Ó Birn (d. 1426), Chieftain of Tir Briuin, was described as "the hand which bestowed riches and wealth" and - rather unusual for the times - as dying at a good old age. A Ragnailt Ó Birn (d. 1417) had three notable husbands the second being a Burke who presumably was of the family that her father Donnchad plundered. Tomaltech son of Tadc was killed in a night attack in 1415 and Cairbre Ó Birn son of Brian was killed in 1430. Then O Beirnes took to cattle-raiding and plundering and often killing one another. Three sons of Maelschlainn were killed by, among others, sons of his brothers Cormac and Brian in 1451. Ten years later at a time of great scarcities sons of Maelschlainn killed Cormac Losc and plundered his property; and in 1464 another Cormac died from a javelin attack by an unknown assailant. There was an exceptionally long and severe winter in 1465 when Maelschlainn, who was the Chieftain at the time, and his son, also Maelschlainn but known as Gilla Dub, were killed and burned by his brothers and his own subjects. Another son, Cairpre, was killed by the same people a few days later, specifically by an Ó Birn, and a third son Rosa was killed with an arrow in a skirmish in the following year. The evidently disorganized and weakened O Beirnes were no match for invaders of Tir Briuin, identified as O'Raighilligh in 1467 and as Finn of Moylurg in 1468 but perhaps the one invasion. Tir Briuin was plundered and burned and a number of people were killed and "huge prey" taken. The O Beirnes evidently' had recovered by 1499 when they aided the King of Moylurg in the Battle of Curlew Pass which repelled an invasion from the north by the O Donnells. Tadc and Maelschlainn Ó Birn, sons of former Chieftain Cairbre, seized the succession in 1527 over the heads of the senior branch of the Family, the descendants of Cormac, when the Chieftain Domnall and his wife died. Tadc became Chieftain, Maelschlainn Tanist, or heir apparent. Cairbre's wife Sile, i.e., Julia (d. 1530), presumably, their mother, was described as a charitable, humane and beautiful woman who never refused a guest or stranger, poet or exile, and her daughter, also Sile (d. 1531) as the best woman of her age of the ladies of Muiredach's Race in her time. Maelschlainn was "the true foster brother" of Rory Mac Dermot, King of Moylurg. Nevertheless in 1535, a year of disease epidemics and consequent social unrest, he was killed by Mac Dermots. They and suspected collaborators were punished by being exiled from Moylurg, but O Beirnes took revenge by killing a Mac Dermot in the following year. In 1538 an O Birn was in an apparently unusual situation for the times: he and the O'Conor Don were peace-making intermediaries in a war between two Mac Dermots. Maelschlainn was eulogized in the Annals of Connacht as having had "the best name for humanity and hospitality, that scholar most widely skilled and accomplished in every art of all men living in the five Provinces of Ireland... He was the most mourned and lamented by the men of learning and art throughout Ireland" and in the Annals of Lough Cé as "a great loss for it is doubtful if there was in Erinn a better chieftain's son of his estate, in wisdom, bounty and excellence than he." Teige Ó Birn (d. 1561) was known throughout Irelandfor his skill in civil and cannon law. His son, Teige Óg (d. 1580), brother of the Carbrye who under pressure gave up O Beirne lands to the English in 1585, was described as a man of eminent learning in music and cannon law whose death was a great calamity. It would be more than two centuries until O Beirnes were again able to become known scholars in Ireland. The suppressive Elizabethan and Cromwellian invasions of the 1500s and 1600s were followed by the oppressive Penal Laws from the late 1600s through the 1700s preventing Catholics from educating or being educated or holding posts of any status. The long-standing British biased view that the Irish as a race are stupid was because consequences of enforced lack of education was misinterpreted as stupidity. 1500 to 1700 Dispossession And Decline The decline of the O Beirnes as a unit with power and as landowners began in the Elizabethan Invasion of the mid 1500s. The isolation that had protected them for so long had preserved a tribal system that was no match for invaders who had become relatively well organized and disciplined and advanced in tactics and weapons. In less than two centuries the O Beirnes went from lords of Tir Briuin to virtually nothing. The invaders were aided by the climate as all this happened at the depths of the Little Ice Age, the worst climatic period in Ireland of the past 6000 years. An Elizabethan adventurer named Crofton took ever Lissadorn and its land. The O Beirne headquarters retreated to Dangan Castle, near Kilmore in the Barony of Ballintober North. Then in 1585 the chieftain Carbrye O'Beirne attended Parliament in Dublin and under pressure and for "the real good and quiet of the country” surrendered to the English Crown most of the 4200 acres that he controlled. In return he was permitted exclusive use of them. The remainder went to a Donagh O'Beirne of Dowen under the same terms. That situation lasted less than 40 years: in 1622 those lands were forfeited to the Crown, as were the lands of William O'Beirne of Cloonglassneymore. Chieftain Donnogh O'Beirne was permitted to remain in Dangan Castle for a nominal rent because it would have been too difficult and costly to try to evict him by force. The Crown granted the lands to Bishop Edward King of Charlestown, later Bishop of Elphin. A Donach O'Birne - presumably Donnogh - was transplanted from Dangan to Kilglass in 1650. O Beirnes elsewhere in Roscommon lost their lands progressively. For instance in 1641 (the year of the great massacre of Protestants in Ulster) 38 of 40 land transactions that involved O Beirnes were in one direction: from them to people with English or Anglo-Irish names (the other two were between O Beirnes). Nevertheless in 1649, just before the Cromwellian lnvasion, O Beirnes were still listed as landowners, under seven versions of the name; and ten years later they were still relatively numerous as O Berne was the second most common name (after Mac Dermot) in the Roscommon Barony of Boyle where in the 1680s Thady O'Beirne was one of the Burgesses. Some retained their lands by dropping the O' and actually or ostensibly becoming Protestants. Some even joined the British Army, dropping the O' to do so. By 1750 only about five per cent of the land was owned by Catholics. There seems to be virtually no other specific information on effects on O Beirnes in Ireland of' the invasions, rebellions, famines, and other disasters for some 200 years starting in the late 1500s. There must have been lasting effects from the influx of new residents in the 1650s when Ballintober North was designated as a transplantation destination for Irish widows and orphans of English extraction and garrisoned by a belt of soldiers to prevent the great numbers of Irish from elsewhere in Ireland who were transported to Connacht from returning. The O Beirnes were not transplanted because they were already in Connacht. There were O Beirne priests in Roscommon in 1730 and the mid-1700s at the time of the Penal Code and presumably also officiating under cover as schoolteachers. What is known from that period is about the O Beirnes abroad who were among the first great wave of emigrants. It began in 1691 when Irish officers of the defeated Jacobite army were pertained to leave Ireland to join armies of France and Spain and in doing so established a tradition of Irishmen joining foreign wars that continued into the l940s. O Beirnes who went to Spain and France and who became notable there are discussed later. The O'Beirnes in Ireland must have been devastated also by the calamitous catastrophes of around 1650 and 1740: there is no reason to suspect that they were not; and that they were is implied by the virtual absence of information on them for about a generation after each. That of around 1650 was from the direct effects of the Crownwellian invasion and its consequent famine and the resultant disease epidemics which are believed to have reduced the population of Connacht by up to one-third. The 1740 catastrophe was from the effects of the extreme of the Little Ice Age and its consequences: the coldest winter since those of 1115 and 1434 - seven weeks of below freezing - was followed by an exceptionally cold and dry year, a snowy winter, and an unusually cold and dry spring. Effects were massive destruction of crops and produce and mortality of livestock which created a famine. The people collecting indoors for warmth and a great migration into the towns for food and the consequent deterioration in the already low standards of hygiene facilitated epidemics of infectious diarrhoea and the louse-carried typhus and relapsing fevers. According to David Dickson (in the Great Irish Famine, 1951, ed. C. Póirtéir), the total effects could have been as or more severe than those of the longer Famine of the 1840s. In any event the modern history of the O'Beirnes in Ireland does not begin until the later 1700s The history resumes in the late 1700s when Colonel Andrew O'Beirne of Dangan House was the Chieftain. His military rank presumably was French as his political views meant that it could not have been In the service of the English. He married Susan Plunkett of the distinguished Irish Family of Danish origins that included the martyred Archbishop OIiver Plunkett and General Sarsfield. Susan was a sister of the Chevalier Plunkett of Paris who was said to have held a high post in the French Government. Andrew lived in the style of a country gentleman, with hounds and blooded horses, one son at university and another in medical training, and a reputation of being social, generous, goodhearted, and very hospitable. That all changed about the time of the Rebellion of 1798. Andrew’s estates and property were confiscated and divided among people named King (again), Lawler (a relative of Bishop King named Lawder was murdered in Kilmore House in 1779), Kelly (related to Lawler), Blackburne (the name of a former Rector of Kilmore), Mahon (the owner of Strokestown House of that name was murdered there during the Famine), French (who According to the biographer of Andrew's second son, also Andrew, the confiscations were because his father was involved in some sort of revolutionary movement in Ireland around the time of the American Revolution. That must have been the United Irishmen movement, established in 1791, influenced by the philosophy of the French Revolution, and with active French naval and military support in Ireland up to and including the Rebellion of 1798. The objective of an egalitarian, democratic republic must have appealed to Andrew because of his strong connections with France and because, according to historian "Scrutator," he and his family "never conformed or bent the knee" to the English. There is no direct information on the extent to which he might have been directly involved in the revolutionary activities of 1790 but it is significant that the main conflicts in that part of Ireland were in the region of Dangan. In 1793 about 3600 armed defenders from Kilmore, Aughrim, and Kilglass parishes assembled at Kilmore and marched north to take over Drumsna and its bridge over the Shannon. On the way they stormed Charlestown House, then occupied by a Colonel King. They were met and defeated by a well-led, disciplined company of the Derry Militia in what became known as The Fight at Drumsna Bridge. The Battle of Ballinamuck in which the Insurgents and their allies were defeated in 1798 ended the Rebellion in western Ireland. Ballinamuck is in County Longford about 14 miles from Dangan. Irrespective of how much Andrew may have been personally involved he as Chieftain could have been held responsible. Two O'Beirnes were killed in that battle and their family's property at Eastersnow was then taken over by rackrents, a common device of the times where landlords raised rents to intolerable levels to force tenants out. A Patrick O'Beirne was Commandant of the Kildare Insurgents in the Rebellion. Its leader, Wolfe Tone, presented him with a sword as a token of trust. When the Rebellion failed those Insurgents were offered free pardons if they surrendered. This they did except for their Commandant and were all immediately executed by Hessian firing squads. Patrick was captured after several close escapes. Earlier a brother had been imprisoned in mistake for him, and died. No information was available on Patrick's fate. Consequences of his activities were that the last castle of the Kildare O'Beirnes, Cloney, and their lands at Kilberry were confiscated and sold. Whether those Kildare O'Beirnes originated from the Roscommon Family, or by name change from the O'Byrne Clan whose original homeland was in County Kildare is a matter of speculation. A consequence of the Dangan family misfortunes is that four of Andrew's six sons emigrated. Patrick (d.1820) remained in Dangan House, inherited the nominal title of Chieftain when Andrew died, and continued to protest the pretensions of the Jamestown O'Beirnes to be the leading family. The third son, Christopher, became a doctor and also remained in Ireland. Andrew (b. 1771), the second son, emigrated to Virginia. His remarkably successful business career there is described later. He emigrated in 1793 before the downfall of the family but at the time of the Fight at Drumsna Bridge. He was followed to Virginia by three others of his Dangan family: his sister Susan (d. 1817) who married a Nicholas Flanagan there, and two who if the dates are correct, which they may not be, arrived as infants, one perhaps a son of Susan; George (1779 or 1799-1832) in 1800 and Oliver P. (1806-1845) in 1806. A younger brother Francis emigrated to Australia. Bernard (Barney) of Dangan and Dr. George of Athlone. Neither had sons and the Virginia members of the family had no grandsons so the hereditary title of Chieftain of the O'Beirnes is extinct unless there is a direct lineal male descendant of Francis or the Family selects a Chieftain by the appropriate traditional procedures, whatever they may have been. The foregoing is incomplete because three sources of additional information could not be located despite extensive enquiries and library searches. “Scrutator," whoever he may have been, in a well-informed letter to the editor of the Herald - presumably the Roscommon Herald - of unknown date referred in a footnote to two “memoirs" by a Rev. J. Power entitled Dangan Castle, Otherwise Known as Dangan Bun, and O'Beirnes of Dangan, Lisadorn and Cloonglassneymore Castles, Co. Roscommon. A third so far undiscovered source is the History of Kilmore Parish by a Father Gilfillan (who was brought up in Kilmore House). He died before he could arrange for it to be published, the manuscript was lent to various people but seemingly is lost. [Subsequently found; see Journal Issue 1] 1800 to 1900 Survival, Resistance, And Progress Around 1810 the Protestant Rector of Kilmore, Rev. William Thompson, made a statistical survey of his parish. It had about 600 families, 30 of them Protestant, but only three houses had slated roofs. The peasantry lived mainly on potatoes, supplemented in Lent by salted herring and on special days such as Christmas by pork or bacon. Their dwellings were very slovenly and dirty and there was deep discontent about the high rents charged by the landlords and sometimes doubled by middlemen. In the critical eye of the Rector there was undue extravagance during the market days at Drumsna and Jamestown as the women spent the payments for the linen that they had processed buying fashionable clothing that was far superior to their social status while the men engaged in excessive drinking and carousing. Rural living conditions deteriorated over the next 35 years from the interrelated effects of the population explosion, the economic depressions, food shortages, and disease epidemics, extraordinary weather extremes such as the summerless 1816 and the famous Night of the Big Wind in 1839, and increasingly rapacious landlords and the consequent social restiveness. The opinion of a foreign visitor in 1829 was that by then there was not in Europe a more poor and wretched peasantry than that of Roscommon. About that time an Abbé Beirne of Versailles, France, gave money to support the Catholic church and school at Kilmore. Information on individual O Beirnes who were relatively well-off is in the preceding sections. How the O Beirnes as a whole of the Tir Briuin district fared during the 1800s maybe inferred from Scally's excellent history of the Barony of Ballintober North: The End of Hidden Ireland; Rebellion, Famine, and Emigration (1995). Living conditions worsened suddenly and drastically in the 1840s with the onset of the Great Famine. Again, there is little direct information on the O Beirnes but how they were affected A characteristic of the period is that, except for the land-owning families described earlier, individual O Beirnes who became noteworthy did so because of things that happened to them rather than from career achievements. The kinds of happenings illustrated conditions of their times. In 1812 Fergus O'Beirne, a shopkeeper in Tulsk, innocently witnessed the signature of the elderly widow of the O'Connor Don and thereby came to be regarded as an accomplice in a major swindle. Her nephew had borrowed from a moneylender to buy the uniform of his regiment that was required by his status as an officer and a gentleman. His aunt agreed to give him the money to repay the debt. He prepared an appropriate document for her to sign and arranged for Fergus and a priest to witness her signature. Unbeknownst to them and to her he switched documents at the last moment so that what they signed was one that deeded her estate near Strokestown and her property to the nephew. He then sold that document to the moneylender and took off with the money Father Michael O'Beirne, curate to the Bishop of Ballymahon, Longford, used his outstanding abilities as a powerful and convincing orator in attempts to reconcile Protestants and Catholics during the uncertainties that preceded the Catholic Emancipation Bill of 1829. In 1824 he arranged a discussion between three Protestant clergymen and three Catholic priests including himself and published an account of it. In a widely-reported impressive speech in I826 he noted Catholic devotion to the British Constitution and praised respectable Protestants. In 1827 he preached two or three times a week to vast assemblages of both Protestants and Catholics. One result was that some of the Protestants became Catholics and others enquired about the possibility. In 1829 he condemned as bigoted the extremist Protestant clubs that had appeared in reaction to the Emancipation Bill and ridiculed the fears of local Protestants. After that he seemingly was quiet or at least relatively so. Between 1823 and 1849 twelve O Beirnes, four of them women, were convicted of offences and transported as convicts to the penal settlements in Australia. They are discussed later as involuntary immigrants to Australia. Three of the O'Beirnes of Jamestown were county Justices of the Peace at one time or another during that period but it is not yet known whether or not any was involved in the sentencing of any of the ten who were from Roscommon or Leitrim. Roddy Beirne had some kind of food store in Frenchpark at the height of the Famine in 1846. A starving mob threatened to rifle it if Roddy would not give them food. Presumably he did because there is no information that his store was plundered. This happened immediately after the mob failed to get into the estate of the big local landowner, Lord de Freyne. who later was hanged in effigy in front of the door of his mansion but who would become the most generous of all the big Anglo-Irish landowners of Roscommon in providing money for food for the starving. Owen Beirne and a companion were hanged in 1848 for shooting fatally a landlord who had evicted tenant families. The large attendance at their funerals showed that the assassination was a popular move. The victim was Protestant clergyman, Rev John Lloyd, and the shooting was at Lissavilla, near Elphin. Those names imply that he was of the same family as the Mr. Lloyd who built the massive Lissadorn House at the site of L.issadorn Castle which was the onetime headquarters of the O Beirne Chieftain and who died the first night he slept there. The House burned down about 80 years before Rev. Lloyd was shot. Then followed a half century of social fermentation. Rural life around Drumshanbo at the lime was described in a now rare book by Bro. Kilian Beirne (1969): Me Grandfather. A Graphic Picture of Rural Ireland. No O Beirnes are mentioned in it. Father Timothus (Tim) O'Beirne (d 1869) established a National School at Castleplunkett. This led to a series of events that disrupted his parish. A popular hedge schoolmaster continued to teach and was supported by many parishioners. Father Tim offered him a weekly allowance to stop. He rejected it, challenged the National schoolteacher to a public contest of' learning, and claimed victory when the challenge was not accepted. A second hedge schoolmaster, widely feared because of his ability to compose satiric verses about those parishioners who did not invite him to their weddings or other social events, became Parish Clerk. After Father Tim died he made off with 20 years of the parish records and demanded the equivalent of two years salary to return them. The ransom was not paid and the records were never found, which caused much inconvenience in the parish then and since. He wisely fled to America. (Much of the above is from Mary Gormley's admirable 1987 history of Tulsk Parish.) Mary Beirne unwittingly triggered an extraordinary wave of religious fanaticism in the early 1880s, a time of social and religious evolution, developing revolution, and general great uncertainty in Ireland. The following is summarized from the detailed account by James S. Donnelly Jr. in 1904 in the scholarly journal Eire-Ireland. Mary and a close friend who was the parish priest's housekeeper perceived a trio of apparitions floating m the air beside the parish church of St. John the Divine, at Knock, Co. Mayo. Mary recognized them as of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, and Saint John the Evangelist, the last because it resembled a statue of that Saint which she had seen in a church elsewhere. During the next little while at least fifteen others perceived the same or different religious apparitions there. Beirnes comprised the core of the group: Mary's mother, a brother who was assistant to the parish priest, a sister, a niece, and a cousin. The extensive word-of-mouth and newspaper publicity quickly made Knock a place of pilgrimage that soon rivalled Lourdes in numbers of visitors. In the first year alone more than 600 of the sick or afflicted claimed to have had miraculous cures at Knock. The church building started to disintegrate as pilgrims took away bits of it as relics. Soon supernatural visions or occurrences of various kinds were perceived in at least six other places in Ireland in or near Catholic churches, by individuals, groups or congregations, especially on Church feast days, and often under circumstances of wild religious excitement or hysteria. The numbers of pilgrims to Knock and the supernatural occurrences there and elsewhere declined during the 1880s primarily because the Church maintained a noncommittal attitude to the various claims and happenings and did not give them ecclesiastical endorsement. What is now the Shrine of Knock is an important destination for pilgrims and is recognized as such by the Church. To facilitate pilgrims an aircraft runway was constructed in the 1980s through the masterful exertions of the then parish priest, Father Horan. It is now the Connacht-Knock International Airport. Theories that Mary and her companion had hallucinations from effects of alcohol or of pellagra can be discounted. It is more lickly that the apparitions were autosuggestive, arising from a conscious or unconscious wish to please their parish priest who was a notably pious ascetic with a special devotion to the Virgin Mary. Mary Beirne might now be famous if she had been the only person to see the apparitions and if they had given her some message for Ireland of for hmanity. But in fact she was only the first of many thousands who perceived supernatural manifestations around that time and she did not hear divine voices (some others did, including the Knock parish priest). The consequence is that she is relatively minor figure in the religious history of Ireland, now largely unremembered. Next came what was variously known as the War of Independence, the Irish Rebellion, and The Troubles. Some O Beirnes were active nationalists in the War of independence. According to Roscommon's Contribution to the Fight for Independence by M. O'Callaghan, Brian Beirne of Creeve was Captain of one of the five companies of Volunteers who attacked the EIphin barracks of the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1921 after a Jack Beirne of Cloonroughan had been savagely beaten. In the turmoil that followed Patrick Beirne of Clooncurry, Strokestown. Commandant of the North Roscommon Brigade of the Irish Republican Army, who at the lime was on the run from the British, was captured and incarcerated in the notorious Curragh concentration camp. He became one of the 70 prisoners who dug a tunnel, escaped and were never recaptured. John (Seán) O’Beirne (1900-1956) left his safe job in a bank in Edgeworthstown to join the Volunteers under General Seán McKeon. He became a Captain in the South Sligo Brigade of the Irish Republican Army and in the War of Independence saw much action in the Sligo/Roscommon area (one account says in and around County Longford). After the Treaty he joined the Irish Army and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel before his premature death. He was of the O'Beirne family that settled at Cloonloo, Sligo, after losing their lands at Eastersnow when some emigrated to Australia, and was father of the architect James O'Beirne. A Tom O'Beirne was said to have been in charge of the Customs House, Dublin, when it with its irreplaceable records was taken over by Republicans and burned. The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), “the Peelers," was on the opposite side. Fifty-two Beirnes completed pensionable service in it between 1882 and 1920. Forty of them were from Roscommon or Leitrim. The remainder were from seven other counties and included, from Fermanagh, the memorably-named Sylvester Ambrose Beirne. With the one exception none served more than 27 years, 41 of them 23 or less. Patrick James (Paddy) Beirne (c. 1860-1935) served in the RIC for 43 years. He was District Inspector at Newcastle West, Limerick, at a time when the district was in effect under martial law through the Restoration of Order in Ireland Act. There was a fatal shooting. The British military, regarded it as a political crime by a revolutionary. They had him jailed and planned to execute him by firing squad. Paddy claimed that it was a civil crime from a quarrel over a girl and demanded that the military turn the accused over to the civil authorities for trial. The Colonel refused. Paddy put on his full dress uniform and marched up to the military barracks to arrest him. In the uproar that followed Paddy was suspended from duty until a British parliamentary committee had evaluated the situation. It concluded that the shooting was a civil crime. The prisoner was turned over to the civil authorities. The truth was that the shooting had indeed been political and the shooter a revolutionary, It is believed that Paddy's fairness led the nationalists to issue instructions that he should not be harmed at a time when other RIC Inspectors were being shot or left Ireland to avoid it. In any event after he retired he, a notably stubborn man, bicycled the same 16-mile route in the Dublin suburbs every day O Beirnes who became notable in Ireland since the 1920s could not 4be surveyed adequately from Western Canada, so the following doubtless are only examples Betty Beirne Craig (1894-1979), a daughter of policeman Paddy Beirne, was reputed to be one of the first Catholic women to graduate in Medicine in Dublin though this could not be confirmed from official records. That was around 1920. She worked in a Dublin hospital during the great 'flu epidemic of 1918. While in residence in a hospital in England she married a British Army doctor. His subsequent career was in India where she spent her life working without salary in various missionary hospitals. Writers appeared. Seamus Ó Beirn, Cathal Ó Beirn, Páidraig Ó Beirn and An Bearneac (Rev. Thomas O'Beirne) published in Irish. A different Padraig O'Beirne published in 1908 an account of whale fishing off the coast of Ulster; there was also a noted harpist of that name who died in 1863. Michael O'Beirne (b 1910) was author of about 200 broadcast plays, numerous short stories (the first at age 14), and books on a wide range of Irish topics. He served on the editorial boards of magazines such as Womens' Life and The Irish Digest and of publishing companies such as the Catholic Truth Society. Gerard (Gerry) Beirne (b 1962), born in Tipperary, brought up in Cavan, and a graduate in Mechanical Engineering from Trinity College, Dublin, gave up a career as a professional engineer in England to become a writer full time. He took a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University in 1993 and returned to Ireland where he continued to produce award-winning poetry and short stories and began as a novelist and as a leader of writing workshops throughout Ireland. John Beirne (1880s-1967) was elected Deputy from Roscommon to the Irish Parliament, the Dail, six times beginning in 1941 for a total of 20 years during which he was also a member of the Roscommon County Council and most of the time its Chairman. A reason for his political success was that he was highly regarded by all, including opponents, for his fairness. objectivity, and integrity. In the Dail he represented Clann na Talamh (Family of the Land, commonly known as the Farmers' Party) which was founded in 1938 because of dissatisfaction with agricultural policies of the de Valera's Fianna Fail government of the time that were regarded as inimical to the interests of small farmers. It had its main support in Galway, Mayo, and especially Roscommon where the proportion of farms under 30 acres was much greater than in most parts of Ireland. Eventually C. na T. combined with other parties to form the Inter-Party coalition government that in 1949 declared Ireland a Republic. John was defeated in the 1961 election when C. na T. began the decline to its extinction in 1965. He was a merchant in Croghan, near Boyle, Roscommon, and also was involved extensively in farming in the district. Earlier he was in business in Belfast. This account of O Beirnes who were achievers in Ireland is manifestly incomplete. There were others who either had their careers there and are not surveyed here or who emigrated to continue their careers abroad and are described in later sections. In the first category are, for example, Dublin municipal politician F. Murty Beirne, business executive and company director Tom O'Beirne, Galway Professor of Surgery Sean Fahy O'Beirn, heraldic artist Martin O'Beirne, and architect James O'Beirne (b.1931) whose designs include a Bank in Montreal a Hospital in Dublin, and various College buildings in Maynooth; in the second, computer executives Paul O'Beirne, and Patrick R. O’Beirne and entomologist Bryan P. Beirne. Bernard (Barney) O'Beirne (killed 1968), formerly of the Irish Air Corps. was the pilot of an Irish Air Lines Viscount on a scheduled flight in 1968 from Cork to London that dived into the sea off southeast Ireland killing all 61 aboard, Irish, Swiss, Belgian, and American. There was evidence that a flying object either struck the tail of the aircraft or caused the pilot to take a violent evasive action that broke off the tailplanes. At the time the aircraft was outside the authorized airlane taking a short cut through a British missile-testing area known as "Rocket Alley." Many people in Wexford heard a bang about ten minutes before the crash and Barney was able to keep flying towards the Wexford coast without controls for ten minutes before crashing. A flying object that had British military colours was seen by many over Wexford and off the coast at the time. It was emitting smoke and flying erratically and then crashed into the sea about 28 miles from where the Viscount went down. It was assumed to be either a target drone from the big British missile-testing base at Aberporth in southwest Wales or a ship-to-air radar-guided missile or target drone from one of the three Royal Navy vessels that were in the general area at the time and believed to be engaged in intensive secret missile-testing. The British Ministry of Defence maintained that Aberporth was not in operation on the day of the crash because it was a Sunday and that there was nothing relevant in any of the Naval reports, and in general operated with suspicion-promoting reticence. It went to extraordinary lengths to try to recover the Viscount. What really happened was never proven (Summarized from Tragedy at Tuskar Rock, by Dermot Walsh, 1983). Barney was a grandson of Bernard Forde O'Beirne by his second wife and thus was related to the distinguished international lawyer, described later, Cornelius Banahan O'Beirne who was a grandson of Bernard's first wife. Monsignor Denis O'Beirne Faul of the Clooneen O'Beirne family is renowned for his work in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. As Chaplain to the infamous British prison variously known as Long Kesh and The Maze he was primarily responsible for ending the hunger strike there in 1980 by counselling the families of the hunger strikers. An active opponent of violence by anybody, he has published large numbers of booklets and pamphlets about abuses by the British Army, the Irish Republican Army, and the Royal Ulster Constabulary and is a regular contributor to radio and television programs. He was the first to publish booklets about such as the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four who were imprisoned in England as terrorists on evidence falsified by the English police and who after years of agitation were determined to be innocent and were released. He is Principal of St. Patrick's Academy, Dungannon, and a brother of the specialist on the histories of the Clooneen and Feeragh families, Stephen O'Beirne Faul. Acknowledgments This report is a result of cooperation from more than 120 individuals or institutions. They provided unpublished information, leads to sources of information, copies of old newspaper stories, and the like, that otherwise would have been in practice unavailable, or made special investigations on my behalf. Some collaborated by providing worldwide information. Admiral Frank O'Beirne of McLean, Virginia, and Stephen Faul of Dalkey, Dublin, who is working out the histories of the O'Beirnes of Clooneen and Feeragh, had accumulated over the years extensive files on the history of the O Beirnes which they made fully available and also met my many requests for additional information. Patrick Lavin, White Rock, British Columbia, specialist on the origins and history of the inhabitants of Roscommon in general and in particular the histories of some of the smaller Families of the Three Tuaths, and John E. O'Beirne, Yorktown Heights, New York, specialist on the O'Beirnes of the Tulsk region, collaborated continuously and extensively in digging out facts. John V. Phillips, Ballarat, NSW, contributed much on O Beirnes in Australia and Roscommon in the 1800s as did Professor D. Randall Beirne, Baltimore, Maryland, on the histories and Irish origins of Beirnes of Virginia and Alabama. Henry O'Beirne, Huntsville, AL, and Dr. John Canning, Silver Spring, MD, obtained information in both Ireland and the United States. In Ireland, Dr. Jim Ryan, author of Irish Records and other source books for genealogists, clarified many problems and Mary Gormley, Elphin, author of the history of Tulsk Parish, provided valuable old newspaper reports. Rita Dalton, Monkstown, did voluntary library researches, and Brian Smith, Dun Laoghaire, applied his professional genealogical services to old newspapers and records. Personal knowledge was provided by Gerard Beirne, Malahide, Desmond Beirne, Dalkey, John O'Beirne, Aughrim, John O'Beirne, Roscommon Town, James O'Beirne, Mount Merrion, Father Frank O'Beirne, Four Roads, Patrick O'Beirne, Gorey, Sheila Carney, Carrick-on-Shannon, Mimi Dalton, Dun Laoghaire, Father Noel Durr, Carrick-on-Shannon, Fergus Gillespie, Irish Genealogical Office, and the late Professor E. O'Toole, Dublin, and also Doreen Birtwistle, Lancashire, England, and Christine Cullen-Koivisto, Helsinki, Finland. The National Library of Ireland, the Irish Writers' Centre, the Library of the Royal Irish Academy, and the Library of Trinity College, Dublin were at their customary levels of willing helpfulness. I list the other American cooperators alphabetically here, with apologies to those who went to extra special trouble. C Beirn, Goleta, CA; John Beirn, Menlo Park, CA; Bernard Beirne, Wading River, NY; Brian Beirne, Hollywood, CA; Daniel J. O'Beirne, Natchez, MS; Danielle Ululani Beirne, Kane'hoe, HI; David M. Beirne, Baltimore, MD; Frank O'Beirne Jr., Mystic, CT; Father Gerald Beirne, Greeneville, RI; Dr. Gilbert Beirne, Pebble Beach, CA; Horton Beirne, Covington, VA; Jim Beirne, Spring, TX; Joseph Beirne, Fairview Village, PA; Ken Beirne, Charlottesville, NC; Kenneth K. Beirne, Alexandria, VA; Lillian Beirne, Lake Charles, LA; Martin Beirne, Union City, NJ; Dr. Michael F. Beirne, Anchorage, AK; Michael G. Beirne, Franklin Park, IL; Peggy Donnelly O'Beirne, Washington, DC; Gerrada O'Beirne, Seattle, WA; Paul O'Beirne, Redmond, WA; Professor Piers Beirne, Portland, ME; Raymond O'Beirne, Westport, CA; Terrell F. Beirne, Jacksonville, FL; Terrell H. Beirne, Benton, AR; Thomas Beirne, Houston, TX; William O'Beirne, Coronado, CA; Glenn Beirne, Spring, TX; Wesley J. Beirnes, Farmington Hills, MI; Edward Birrane, Towson, MD; Bill Burns, lrmo, NC; Tim Burns, Charlottesville, VA; Robert Burns, Seaford, NY; Dr. B. Nowland Carter II, Richmond, VA; Monsignor Peter Caslin, Long Beach, CA; John Conway, (address not available); Patricia Gallagher, Allen Park, MI; Dr. Samuel Gillespie, Richmond, VA; Monsignor James Gilfillan, La Jolla, CA; Robert Gorman, Chicago, IL; Eidin Beirne Higgins, Troy, NY; John Hourican, Memphis, TN; Eileen Jones, Pittsburg, CA; Paul McNamara, Marshfield, MA; Michael McTiernan, Stafford-Wayne, PA; Michael Murphy (address not available); Nani Neal, Blythe, CA; Michael O'Laughlin, Kansas City, MO; Jason Real, Matteson, IL; Charles Waldron, Mill Valley, CA; and Joe Yuska (address not available ); also The Irish America News; The Library of Congress; and the U.S. Army Military History Institute. In Canada, Edith and Janet Friskney, Georgetown, ON; and the Library of Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC; were continuously helpful, Tom Anderson, Red Deer, AB; Brian Beirne, Toronto, ON; John O'Beirne, Nanaimo, BC; Patrick J. Beirne, Vancouver, BC; Patrick R. O’Beirne, Ottawa, ON; and D. Gordon Beirnes, Edmonton, AB, provided more specific information, and Manoj Bhakthan, Leslie Chong, Leila Nair, and Robert Finlayson, all of Simon Fraser University, assisted with literature searches. Margaret Beirne and her daughter Gill Robinson, Greymouth, NZ, provided much information on the early O'Beirnes and their histories in Australia and New Zealand. Other contributors were David Beirne, Hamilton, NZ; Joan O'Beirne, Linton, VIC; Paul Beirne, North Rocks, NSW; Thomas Beirne, Jill Gill, Lithgow, NSW; Sue Griffin, Orange, NSW; Colonel John Hunter, Maleny, QLD; John Macrossan, Clayfield, QLD; and Dr. Angus MacQueen, Chelmer, QLD; and also the New Zealand Society of Genealogists. Professor Thelma Finlayson, Burnaby, BC, provided continuous assistance in preparing and editing the manuscript and in handling the extensive relevant e-mail. Anne Beirne. Mill Valley, CA organized and supervised the printing and publishing aspects and assisted in literature searches. Ron Long, Simon Fraser University, prepared the illustrations. To all of these, individually and collectively, and to any that I may have inadvertently missed, my sincere appreciation and thanks - on behalf of myself, my collaborators, and the O’Beirne Family as a whole. Australia and New Zealand Early O Beirne emigrants to Australia were from the Castleplunkett and Kilmore districts of Roscommon and were followed by relatives or neighbours to the same destinations. The earliest known was Francis O'Beirne of Dangan House, Kilmore, Roscommon, the youngest son of the Chieftain. His older brothers emigrated to Virginia starting in 1793. Francis must have left Ireland for the same reasons: the insurrection that ended with the failed Rebellion of 1798 after which the Dangan family’s lands and property were confiscated. He settled at Lithgow, New South Wales, and, it was believed in Ireland, became one of the wealthiest landowners of Australia and a magnificent benefactor of the Church. Lithgow is in the Orange registration district of New South Wales, northeast of Sydney. Other O'Beirnes from Kilmore followed him to Orange. No positive information could be found in Australia on Francis, his family, or his descendants. Relevant NSW records of vital statistics did not begin until around 1870. In view of the custom of the times of naming a son after a father or relative and the Dangan family's pride in the name Plunkett and thus its frequent use as a second name, e.g., in Virginia, a Francis P. O'Beirne who married in Sydney in 1882 could have been a descendant, perhaps a grandson. He moved to Taree, north of Sydney, where a son Francis J. was born in 1885. Other early immigrants to New South Wales were James, William and John O'Beirn who evidently were a father and sons as they married there in 1810, 1834 and 1843 respectively, John O'Bern who arrived in 1820, and Patrick O'Beirne, a native of Elphin, Roscommon, who died in Sydney in 1841 at age 30. Six Beirne girls, the eldest 18, arrived in Sydney by assisted passage in 1849. Judging from their ages when they died in Sydney, Michael O'Beirne in 1865 at age 75 and Mary O’Beirne in 1872 at age 70 could have been early immigrants; Rebecca O'Beirne (d. 1858), daughter of George, may have been another. Fergus O'Beirne was listed as a householder in the Orange Electoral Records of 1869-79. He is likely to have been the farm labourer Fergus who at age 35 was one of two oldest of a party of immigrants who came to Australia by assisted passages in 1855. Emigrants tended to go to where there were friends or relatives, and Fergus, like Francis, came from Kilmore parish. Fergus' lather was Patrick as was Francis' eldest brother who inherited the Chieftainship, but he is not recorded as having had a son named Fergus. The other listed as age 35 who came to Australia with Fergus was Mary O'Beirne of Kiltoghert, Leitrim, which is about eight miles from Kilmore. She might have been the Mary Anne O'Beirne who came to Orange in 1855 or 1856 and died there in 1909. Francis O'Beirne was a farmer in Orange who married there in 1897. He might have been a descendant of the original Francis but more likely was related to those assisted immigrants as he named his eldest son Fergus and his eldest daughter Mary. The notorious Eugene Francis O'Beirne, described earlier, arrived in Australia in 1864. His activities there are not recorded. He could have been the Eugene F. O'Beirne who died in .Jerilderie, NSW, in 1886 at age 65, but in this event either the age or the date must be wrong. The convicts transported from Ireland were involuntary immigrants. Twelve are recorded in the Irish National Archives; none could be found in Australian convict lists. Except for the first they were all identified as Beirne because of the British custom of omitting the O' from names in official documents. The twelve and their sentences and offences were: Thomas O'Beirne of Dublin to life in 1823 for uttering forged notes; Daniel of Leitrim, the sole supporter of his widowed mother and six children, to seven years in 1831 for aiding his employer, who also got seven years, in taking possession of a house; Denis of Roscommon to life in 1835 for sheep stealing, while a friend, John Mc Dermot of Elphin, a 60-year-old father of 13, also got life for forging signatures on a petition which he had written on behalf of Denis' wife; Catharine of Roscommon to seven years in 1836 for larceny; Anne of Westmeath to seven years in 1841 also for larceny; 19-year-old Michael of Leitrim to life in 1845 for appearing armed, theft of arms, assault, and endangering life; and in 1847 18-year-old Patrick of Leitrim for 10 years for stealing a cow; Timothy of Roscommon to seven years for assault; another Timothy of Roscommon to seven for malicious assault; and Thady of Strokestown, Roscommon, to seven for appearing armed; 18-year-old Jane of Leitrim to seven years in 1848 for stealing bed curtains; and Anne of Leitrim to seven years in 1849 for receiving stolen property. Henry O'Beirne (b. 1824) emigrated from Ireland in 1860 to the great gold-mining centre of Ballarat, Victoria. There he worked as a laborer and in some capacity in the Ballarat Orphanage. In 1872 he established a family business at nearby Linton in buildings that he moved by bullock cart the 20 miles from Ballarat. The J. & F. O'Beirne Company - the initials were those of two of his five sons - processed sheepskins, wool, hides, and rabbit and fox skins and produced tallow and neatsfoot oil and had branches at Pitagong and Geelong for wool scouring. It operated for more than a century, to 1977. Henry, then Beirne, was son of a land surveyor and his birthplace and home was at Milltown, about a mile east of Castleplunkett, Roscommon, and near the townland of Clooneybeirne. He got into a legal dispute about the occupancy of his land, lost, and had to emigrate at age 36. He adopted the O' in Australia to be recognized as Irish. His family followed him to Australia three years later: evidently it took him that Ions to save enough to pay for their six fares. There is a tradition in the Linton family that Henry was definitely a relative, perhaps an uncle, of Thomas Charles Beirne, the Brisbane merchant. They were born about three miles apart and were then named Beirne without the O'. Another possibility is that it was Thomas O'Beirne (1860-1911) who was the relative of the family tradition. He was son of Roscommon farmer Cornelius O'Beirne and must have emigrated in 1880 or earlier because he got married in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1881. He lived in New South Wales for nine years and then in Western Australia for 18. There he operated a popular pub in the main street of Fremantle, died of liver cirrhosis, and had a street named after him in nearby Clarmont. Fergus O'Beirne (1840-1896) was an early successful cattle rancher and businessman in northern Queensland. He arrived in Australia in 1864 and by 1870 operated a store in Rockhampton. With a relative, he leased land in northern Queensland to raise cattle and took it over when the relative died. By 1885 he was listed as the owner/proprietor of cattle station Laura, about 80 miles west of Cooktown in the far north. He died at age 56, his wile a few weeks later from dengue fever, and the station was inherited by their stockman sons Fergus and Matthew. By 1898 it had 2000 head of cattle and by 1908 8000 and had expanded to include Lakefield station. Those two stations are now part of the National Park. The business included meat processing and packing. Two other sons had butchers' shops in Cooktown: John, who also became an alderman and was in the Boer War; and Roderick who died soon after opening his shop. Fergus was born at Camogue, near Tulsk, Roscommon, seventh of the eleven children of "Big" Fergus O'Beirne and an older brother of philanthropist Roderick of Denison, Texas. The Honorable Thomas Charles (“T.C.”) Beirne (1860 - 1949) became one of the few millionaires of his time in Australia. He was the founder of the T.C Beirne Company, Drapers and General Providers, which in his time and for years afterwards had the greatest turnover and profits of the three largest department stores in Brisbane. In the ten years after he established it he opened branches in Ipswich and Mackay, Queensland, managed by his brother Michael, and in London, England. The last was important to his business success as it enabled him to avoid significant harm from the Australian bank crashes of the 1890s by buying direct from England. An enormously hard worker, T.C. spent most of his working-day on the floor of his store rather than in an office, observing what was going on and making personal contacts. Probably he overworked as he took extended vacation trips in the 1890s and early 1900s on doctor's advice. Thomas Charles became increasingly influential and involved in public affairs as he prospered. He was Member of the Executive Council of Queensland, without party ties, from 1905 until it was abolished in 1922; he was President of the Brisbane Traders' Association, and starting in 1928 Warden of the University of Queensland for 12 years. He was a Director of many companies including the Australian Mutual Provident Society for 20 years, Brisbane Gas for 29 (16 of them as Deputy Chairman), Brisbane Tramway, Atlas Assurance, British Australian Cotton Growers Association, and Queensland Trustees. A close friend of the Catholic Archbishop, T.C was a strong supporter and benefactor of Catholic causes such as building the Holy Name Cathedral, Seminary, and Hospital. The T.C. Beirne School of Law at the University of Queensland was one of his more memorable benefices. In his early days in Queensland in the 1880s he was a member of the Queensland Irish Volunteers and years later of the Imperial Institute of London. In 1917 he was awarded more than 5000 pounds in a lawsuit for libel against an Orange newspaper that accused him of sectarianism. His published autobiography, Life Story of Thomas Charles Beirne, edited by a daughter, Eileen Macrossan, shows that T.C. was born at Ballymacurly, about half way between the towns of Roscommon and Castleplunkett, son of John Beirne, a small farmer. After a rather scanty schooling he was apprenticed to drapers in Strokestown, Roscommon, Ballina, Mayo, and Tuam, County Galway. He decided at age 12 or 13 that there was no future for him in Ireland but it took him a dozen years to save sufficient money to emigrate to Australia. After a year in three jobs in Melbourne he moved to Brisbane where he soon combined his resources with those of another recent immigrant from Ireland, M.D. Piggott, to open a store there. Piggott had operated the draper's shop in Tuam where T.C had been an apprentice. Why Piggott left Ireland is not clear. A surmise is that the name had fallen into bad repute there because of the sleazy journalist Pigott who attempted to destroy the reputation of Charles Stewart Parnell and was found out. The Piggott and Beirne store burned down, and T.C. sold out when the partnership expired in 1891. He then borrowed from a bank with no security other than his reputation to establish his own business, located in the Fortitude Valley area of Brisbane. The site turned out to be fortunate because the store escaped harm from the great floods of 1893 which destroyed much of South Brisbane as the main retail centre. Thomas Charles is still remembered in Brisbane, often by anecdote, for his decisiveness, integrity, fairness, and honesty. He had some remarkable precognitive dreams. He was universally regarded as a good employer and was trusted by the then infant Labour Party. He attempted to introduce profit-sharing schemes for his employees but failed because of bickering between employee groups. Five of his ten children did not survive infancy. The five that survived were daughters, so that present-day Queensland Beirnes of the family are descendants of his brothers Michael ("M.J.") and Edward ("Ned"). The grounds of T. C.'s family home, Glengariff, near what is now Brisbane airport, are now a municipal public park named after him: the T.C Beirne Park. The house was donated by T.C.'s daughters to the Catholic Archdiocese as a residence for the Coadjutor Archbishop. It is now privately-owned. What T.C. regarded as his greatest honor was being made Knight of the Order of Saint Gregory (KSG) of the Catholic Church. Dominic Beirne (b. 1954) became known in the media as “The Beirne Phenomenon" because in less than three years and at age 27 he had become the biggest bookmaker in Australia with holdings of more than a quarter of a million dollars in bets each race day, or over $30 million in the year. He had taken over the leadership from the Waterhouse family who had ruled bookmaking for three decades. The rivalry and power struggle between the two at the track even extended beyond bookmaking: when a Waterhouse became a father he gave only his staff champagne; when Dominic became a father three weeks later he had large cigars for everybody at the track. Dominic's spectacular success was for a combination of reasons: he was brilliant with figures; he began a college actuarial course which involved detailed study of probabilities and odds; he would spend eight to 10 hours before each race day becoming fully informed about each of the 16 horses in each of the eight races; and in a highly stressful occupation he operated under pressure with cool, calculating patience. His opinions were so consistently right that punters followed them increasingly. He had absorbed the subject before striking out on his own as his father Keith was a bookmaker, his brother Greg a big-time punter and his brother Paul worked for a leading bookmaker named Terry Page who also employed Dominic and groomed him for that occupation. Dominic was particular about his appearance and the opposite of the typical flashy, loud, flamboyant Australian bookie. He was always impeccably groomed and conservatively dressed and was described as having a clear-cut, flesh-laced, choir-boy look. He got out of the bookmaking business in 1988 after nine years, wealthy at age 34, when the market began to diminish. He was owner and breeder of racehorses and an investor in business enterprises. Business failures, notably of a furniture factory, created financial problems that forced him to put up for sale in 1995 some of his racehorses for an estimated $2.4 million. Edward John Keith Beirne (1919-1984), Dominic's father and known as Keith, also had an extraordinary ability with figures and in judging racehorse form astutely. An exceptionally bright and award-winning student he was forced to leave school at age 15 when his father died. Eventually he became a well-known but, relatively speaking, small-time bookmaker in Sydney. Devoutly religious, he was renowned for his generosity, especially to Catholic charities for which he was honored by being made Knight of the Southern Cross. His oldest daughter, Dominic's sister, Margaret Beirne (b. 1943) entered the Order of Sisters of Charity and became well-known for her activities in promoting a greater role for women in the Catholic Church. She appeared on ABC-TV as a specialist on that subject including the controversial topic of the ordination of women as priests, and became noted for optimism and good humor. Gifted in mathematics and languages she has studied in three countries and has university degrees in English and Pure Mathematics, Theology, Education, and, for her doctorate, Distance Education Theology. "The Janet Beirne Memorial Park” in Sydney is named after Keith's mother, Janet Ellery Beirne (1886-1961), in recognition of her involvement in the New South Wales Labor Party and her significant role in the election of Premier Cahill. Her husband Edward (1888-1934), a storeman, was a son of Joseph (b. 1858) who emigrated to Sydney in the early 1880s from Roscommon where his father Patrick was a farmer. Early New Zealand families originated from two first cousins who came from Ireland via Australia. Francis Beirne (1843-1914), son of Francis O'Beirne, emigrated in 1860 from Cartron, near Dangan in eastern Roscommon. He was forced out as the O'Beirne's land there was confiscated in 1860, leased back to them, the rent raised to intolerable levels - the rack rent system, and the land again confiscated. Francis married a girl from County Clare in Victoria in 1864 and three years later moved to new Zealand dropping the O' en route. During the next 35 years he roamed the gold mining districts of the west coast of the South Island and was at all the principal gold rushes there. Starting in 1903 he became a storekeeper, owner of houses, and operator of two hotels in the town of Greymouth where some of his descendants still live. The family split up when his youngest son, Thomas Owen Beirne, a gambler who later became respectable, married a Protestant, a daughter of a Grandmaster of the Masonic Order of New Zealand, and remained divided even after she turned Catholic. Graham Beirne, son of Thomas Owen's brother Jim, became a successful car dealer in Christchurch because of his fearlessness in taking chances and meeting challenges. Later these characteristics and a willingness to seek expert advice made him a millionaire by buying, selling, leasing, breeding and betting on harness racers. That began in 1991 when on impulse he bought a horse sight unseen; up to then he had refused for 15 years to set foot on a racecourse in the Christian belief that horseracing was evil. Hugh Gerald O'Beirne (1834-1909) was son of a different Francis O'Beirne who was an uncle of the above Francis who emigrated. The rack rents forced him out of Roscommon. He settled in Ballineer, Sligo. Hugh, his son, moved to Ballina, Mayo, and in 1880 emigrated to Australia with his five children and other relatives including at least one brother. It is not known where they went to in Australia or when they moved to New Zealand. There he came to own an extensive farm near Nelson in the South Island. He married a sister of Eugene Joseph O’Connor (1835-1912) of “Milton, Roscommon" which presumably was Milltown where Henry came from and where the O'Connors had been large landowners up to the Cromwellian expropriations and where an R.J. O'Connor still had 1500 acres. In 1879 Eugene also had emigrated to New Zealand where he became Secretary of the Nelson Provincial Council and Member of the New Zealand House of Representatives. He claimed to be a lineal descendant of Roderick O'Connor, last King of Connacht, who in 1392 threw the O Beirne Chieftain into prison for conspiring to depose him as King. Francis Hinde O'Beirne (1827-1883), an older brother of Hugh, died on the island of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. There is no information on why he was there or about his career in Australia and New Zealand. A son of Hugh, Gerald Cecil Francis O'Beirne (1872-1942), lived with his family in Brisbane, Australia. Hugh claimed descent from the James O'Beirne who died in Barcelona, Spain, in 1678 and who was believed by some to be the father of Maria Teresa O'Beirne who became Duchess of Wharton. However, as explained in the discussion on the O'Beirnes in Spain, Maria and Teresa probably were different people and a generation apart and that it was Teresa, daughter of Henry, and not Maria, daughter of James, who married the dissolute English Duke. But this does not weaken the story that Hugh was descended from James. *************************************** This review is only a beginning. Which deserving O Beirnes are missing, or could not be identified because they became Byrnes or Burns? Who were O Beirne achievers in Latin America, Asia and Africa or in professions such as the Church, medicine, and the military in which achievements of individuals are regarded as duties and thus not widely publicized? What happened to descendants of O Beirne "Wild Geese”? What are the histories and the relationships of individual O Beirne Families and the accomplishments and occupations of their members in Ireland and overseas? Who will seek and provide answers to questions such as these and thereby assist in making the O Beirnes the first of the many small native Irish Families whose contributions to history and to humanity are comprehensively identified and evaluated? The answer: those who are justifiably proud of being O Beirnes. Europe The information here about O Beirnes in Britain and Continental Europe is mainly from the published literature. Unlike the situation in North America or Australia no local O Beirne historians or other direct sources of additional information were located. There was all exception: a family of the O'Beirnes of Clooneen. Denis Roderick (1895-198l) was translator for Royal Dutch Shell in Holland for 21 years and co-author of the 670 page history of its technical development. He also translated into English books on esoteric subjects such as the use of the chisel on Greek sculpture. His older brother John J. Regis (b 1887), a civil servant in Ireland fluent in many languages and a university examiner in Russian, published translations from Roumanian, Bulgarian, Polish and Czech, extensively about Baltic and Eastern European countries, "A Bulgarian Manual," and on how to teach oneself Serbo-Croatian and Irish. A sister, Margaret Leonitia (1899-1957), was a translator in Hollywood, California, who translated into Spanish, German, and Italian the script of "Gone with the Wind." Two brothers who were Parish Priests in the London region lived to great ages: Terence P. (b. 1891) to 89 and Stephen A. (b 1890) to 101. They were believed to be the second oldest and the oldest priests m the British Isles. The father of all five was also a Denis Roderick (1860-1935) who worked in the British Customs and Excise and retired as a Commander in the British Navy. He was a nephew of the famous nuisance Eugene Francis O'Beirne, described later. An described later. An Ivan O'Beirne wrote on Indian topics in the 1890s. Britain Much fewer noteworthy O Beirne achievers could be identified in Britain compared with North America though the total numbers of O Beirnes now in each do not seem to be greatly different, judged from listings in telephone directories. There is a combination of causes. One is the difficulty in finding out about achievers in Britain. Another is that the actual numbers were actually greater in America because of the better opportunities to achieve in the expanding economy there. A third was that Irish immigrants were resented more in Britain than in America. Catholic Irish encountered prejudice and discrimination in both countries, at least up to the mid 1900s. Britain tended to get a tower type of immigrant: the uneducated, often starving, rural poor who could not afford the fares to America. They were the basis of the longtime British stereotype of the Irish as gorilla-faced, slow-witted, ignorant, lazy, and irresponsible. They did not fit into the English social structure, except when they were Anglo-Irish and Protestant or educated in Trinity College, Dublin, or in England. The majority tended to be regarded as perverse colonials of questionable loyalty to the Crown who were ignorant of the niceties of the English language in often comical ways and suitable only for laboring or menial work. Seemingly it was difficult for O Beirnes in Britain to rise as entrepreneurs, though there was a wealthy international trader, M.S. Birrane, in London in the early and mid 1900s whose father had emigrated from Mayo. Those O Beirnes who earlier became noteworthy in Britain did so mostly in structured organizations, like Thomas Lewis in the Established Church, Hugh James in the diplomatic corps, and officers in the police and army. It was not until the later 1900s that more independent O Beirne creative achievers appeared. O Beirne service in the British army began in at least the 1600s. Captain Francis Berne of Roden and Ensign Alexander Berne of Dangan were in the Duke of Gloucester's Regiment in 1664 and a Captain Bryan Beirne was living at Dangan in 1692. There is an unconfirmed story that a Sergeant Beirne was a virtual dictator of Turkey for a day or so during the Great War: he was the most senior British prisoner-of-war in Constantinople between the time Turkey surrendered and the British army arrived. Yet to be surveyed are the O Beirnes who served with distinction in the British Government in the armed forces, the police, and the colonial service in the 1800s and 1900s. Arthur Mullaniffe O'Beirne (b. 1847) was a major in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment who became Justice of the Peace m Northamptonshire. His family home was Aghareagh House, about two miles west of the town of Longford. His father's first names John Lewis might imply a relationship to Bishop Thomas Lewis. Captain Cornelius Banahan (Cornie) O'Beirne (b. 1886) evidently had a noteworthy police career in and for Britain as he was made Commander of the British Empire (CBE). No details were available. It was said that he was in charge of the Belfast police during The Troubles of around 1920. He was a son of an excise officer m Roscommon, Bernard Forde O'Beirne (1854-1951) of the same Clooneen family as the notorious Eugene Francis O'Beirne, and the father of the international lawyer:- Cornelius Banahan (Con) O'Beirne (1915-1992) started his distinguished career as an international lawyer when, a Major in the British Army, he was seconded in 1946 to the British Embassy in Athens, Greece, as political advisor. The following year he joined what was then the Colonial Office and two years later began what turned out to be some 16 years in Africa. After four years as Crown Counsel in Nigeria he was called to the bar in Lincoln's Inns. He was successively Crown Counsel, Solicitor-General, and Queen's Counsel and Attorney-General for the High Commission Territories of Basutoland, Bechuanaland, and Swaziland, and finally Legal Counsellor to the British Embassy in South Africa. Back in England he became Senior Legal Assistant in the Lord Chancellor’s Office and was seconded to Gibraltar for four years as Attorney-General and Queen's Counsel. There he published a revised edition of the Laws of Gibraltar. He was on the Council of Tribunals in Britain for seven years and then Assistant Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and Director of its Commonwealth Legal Advice Service. In this period he published his Survey of Extradition and Fugitive Offenders in the Commonwealth which had three editions. Cornelius was educated at Stoneyhurst, qualified as a solicitor in 1940, and served through World War II in the Royal Artillery. For his services he was made Commander of' the British Empire (CBE). Thomas Hay O'Beirne (1915-1992), of the Computing Department of the University of Glasgow, Scotland, was renowned as an inventor of mathematical games and puzzles which he presented on British and Dutch televisions and published in his 1965 book Puzzles and Paradoxes: Fascinating Excursions in Recreational Mathematics, and in a weekly series of the same name in the journal New Scientist. Earlier he was the chief mathematician in the Scottish firm of Bart & Stroud which specialized in precision instruments and engineering. While there he programmed Mozart's Mixed Dice Game on the first computer to be built in Scotland, and translated from the German Sprague's book Recreation in Mathematics. He was born in Edinburgh. John O'Beirne Ranelagh (b. 1947) had his book, The Agency: the Rise and Fall of the CIA, named Notable Book of the Year 1987 by the New York Times and as the National Intelligence Book Award. Other books are on: Science, Education and Industry, (with R. Luce), Human Rights and Foreign Policy, and two on the history of Ireland; and he contributed sections to books edited by others on subjects such as the 1879-1924 revolution in Ireland, freedom of information, and Thatcher's people. He was associate producer of the outstanding television series, Ireland, a Television History (BBC-TV, 1978-81), and executive producer and writer of the series on the Central Intelligence Agency: The Agency (the series on the Central Intelligence Agency: The Agency (BBC-TV/NRK Primetime; in the U.S. on PBS). A graduate of the Universities of Oxford and of Kent, his career in television included Commissioning Editor and Secretary to the Board of the Channel Four TV Co. in England, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Programmes for TV 2 Denmark, and Director and Member of the Executive Committee of the Broadcasting Research Unit, BBC-TV. Apart from the above the most prolific authors on British subjects either wrote from Ireland or published also in North America, or both, and are discussed under those headings, notably Bishop Thomas Lewis and Professors Bryan and Piers, as well as the polemicist Eugene Francis. France and Spain O Beirnes were among the great numbers of Irish of military age who joined armies of France and Spain in the 1600s and 1700s and became known as the "Wild Geese." The first great exodus from Ireland followed the Cromwellian Invasion of 1649. The second and much greater was after the defeat of the Irish Jacobite forces in the Battle of the Boyne and otherwise when the Treaty of Limerick of 1691 gave free transportation to France for any Catholic officers and soldiers who wanted to go. All this established a tradition of service in foreign armies that would last into the 1900s. As France and Spain each had five wars with England between the mid-1600s and the end of the 1700s the anti-English, Catholic, militarily experienced Irish were welcome additions to their armies. Also elsewhere: a Colonel Bernard O'Beirne served the Czar of Russia around 1717. O'Callaghan's History of the Irish Brigades in the Service of France names O Beirnes. Among those who joined the French army after the Cromwellian Invasion were Tiege O'Birn, Teige Oge O’Birn and William Oge O’Birne. Later arrivals were Gerard O'Birn, a Captain in the Irish Dragoons in the War of the Spanish Succession (when France and Spain were allies) who so distinguished himself in battle in 1705 that he became famous for his courage and military skill, a Captain O'Berne in 1726, a Captain P. O'Berne in 1727, and a Captain Michel O'Berin, Chevalier de St. Louis in 1776. In 1704 "Sieur de Bierne, lrlandois" was overseer of labourers on the fortifications of the town of Old Brisach which the French had captured the year before. An army of 4000 select German and Swiss infantry set out to recapture it. When they learned that the town was expecting deliveries of hay 40 officers and grenadiers disguised themselves as peasants and with 50 hay carts in which their weapons and additional soldiers were hidden arrived at the town early on a very foggy morning. They were stopped by Bierne as they began to enter: the peasants and their large numbers did not took right to him. He questioned them increasingly forcibly When he got no or unsatisfactory replies he beat the peasant leader with a cudgel. He turned out to be the actual leader of the invaders, a lieutenant-colonel. He snatched a musket from the nearest hay cart and shot at Bierne. At this 15 to 20 other soldiers did the same. All 40 shots aimed at Bierne missed. He took refuge in a reedy ditch and raised the alarm. The garrison and citizens were alerted in time to mount an effective defence. The defenders lost 20 killed or wounded. The attackers lost about 200 including two lieutenant-colonels of whom one was to be Governor of the town after it was captured, a major, many captains and lieutenants, and also 500 muskets and quantities of other weapons and supplies. A consequence of their defeat was that the enemy abandoned a planned attack by water on the town of New Brisach. A Lieutenant O'Beirne took part in the Irish-led French-organized rescue of Prince Charles Edward Stuart from Scotland in 1746 after his disastrous defeat in the Battle of Culloden Moor. Charles, the “Young Pretender" to the English throne, had arrived in Scotland with seven followers the year before to try to reclaim the three crowns of his ancestors for his father, James. O'Beirne was on one of the two French ships that sailed from St. Malo around Ireland to the west coast of Scotland protected by violent storms from the active English fleet. Prince Charles was contacted eventually, reached the Isle of Skye disguised as a maid, and with 130 followers embarked on the rescue ships which arrived safely back in France aided by foggy weather and a storm that had dispersed the English Fleet. A Pablo O'Bern served in the Spanish Netherlands in 1663. In 1681 Don Dionisio O'Beirne was seeking money to transport men for the service of the King of Spain and Prince of Parma. Henry (Enrique) O'Beirne was a officer in the Spanish army in the early 1700s who sent the enemy's colours to Madrid. A superior officer, Major Crane, disputed his leadership in battle so Henry shot him, wounding him seriously. Henry was put in prison but released earlier then expected and then promoted to Major in the same regiment and later to Colonel. The assumption was that he had influence in high places. Henry (Enrique) was father of Theresa, of whom more later, and brother of Michael who was the father of Thaddeus and Eleanor. It was Henry and Thaddeus who were granted the O'Beirne heraldic arms - the version with the orange tree - by Mac Cullogh of Ulster in 1761. One genealogy implies that Henry might have been of the O'Beirne Chieftainship line as his immediate ancestors were Thaddeus, Donchaud, and Brian, though the two lines differ before Brian. The surmise that Henry could have been the Henry, allegedly son of Teig, who found the Jamestown family is weak because Henry (Enrique) died relatively young and there is no indication that he had a son, or Theresa a brother, named Hugh. Teresa O'Beirne, or Maria Theresa O'Neill O'Beirne, the "very beautiful" daughter of Colonel Henry (Enrique), came to Madrid from Ireland in 1725. She was appointed Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen of Spain, as was her first cousin Eleanor. At the time an Englishman Philip (b. 1698), who had been created first Duke of Wharton in 1717-1718, was living in Madrid as a house guest of the Duke of Lyria who described him in his diary as having "neither faith, principles, honor, or religion? lied in every word, was cowardly, indiscreet, and a drunkard, possessed of all the vices His only good quality being an admirable fawning toady." Philip's wife died, and the day after he heard of this he saw Teresa, fell passionately in love, and determined to marry her. He announced that he would turn Catholic to do so. All this alarmed the Duke of Lyria and the Duke of Ormonde who were protective of Teresa. They did what they could to dissuade and distract Philip. He kept disappearing without explanation and eventually announced "in the tone of a zealous and profound Catholic" that he had been taking instruction (true, according to the spies that Lyria had following him) and was converted and thus planned to marry Teresa in a few days. Lyria evicted him from his house and refused to attend the wedding. The Whartons went to live in Valencia. Later Philip went to France on business, and the Whartons apparently never returned to Spain. Philip died in 1738; the Dukedom died with him. (Most of the foregoing is summarized from Lyria's diary as quoted by Micheline Walsh in an Irish Radio broadcast in 1991.) Now Philip espoused the cause of the “Young Pretender" to the throne of England and fought for him in the Spanish army in a siege of Gibraltar which the English had captured in 1704. There he was wounded. "showed his cowardice" in some unspecified way, and then was commissioned Brevet Colonel by the King of Spain. His disloyalty to England had him outlawed there as a traitor of sorts. Teresa discovered this when as the widowed Duchess of Wharton she went to England with her grandmother to claim his estate and found that it had been forfeited to the Crown. Teresa's widowed mother married a Comerford in Dublin and Teresa adopted that name for herself. She was living in London in 1761 and died in 1777. The Maria Theresa who died in Catalonia in 1731 and was assumed by some to be that Teresa probably was Maria O'Beirne, daughter of James (Diego) O'Beirne, a lieutenant in the regiment of the Earl of Tyrone of the Spanish army. There is no indication that he was related to Henry (Enrique). Introduction The O Beirnes (not to be confused with O Byrnes) are only one of hundreds of small and relatively insignificant Irish Families of Celtic origins. They have inhabited northeastern County Roscommon beside the Shannon for two millennia. Their history is in three phases: existence, suppression, and development Their existence was favoured up to the 1300s by a relatively warm climate and by the usual absence of major destruction by invaders from abroad. But their population was regulated by tribal feudings and by effects on health and mortality of the primitive and unhygienic living conditions. The suppression phase had two primal causes: effects of five centuries from about 1350 to 1850 of cold and wet climate - the Little Ice Age; and direct suppression by invaders from Britain from the 1500s into the 1800s. Apart from the direct effects of these on mortality they combined to favour famines and epidemics that in each of their extremes around 1350, 1650, 1740 and 1845 carried off perhaps one-third of the population. The O Beirnes began to develop when and where the climate was favourable and suppressive invaders missing: by emigration beginning in the 1600s to countries where such conditions existed, with the consequence that two-thirds of the O'Beirnes now live outside Ireland; and within Ireland in the later 1900s as the climate became increasingly warm and the invaders and the causes of famines and epidemics controlled. This is a report of a survey of the history of the O Beirnes and of the achievements of its individuals worldwide. It is not a scholarly study (such as that on the Mac Dermot Clan) because unavoidably it had to be based partly on second- or third-hand information instead of only on primary sources. As it is not a scholarly study it includes surmises and speculations. It has four main purposes:- To provide a framework of information that would indicate by its deficiencies where scholarly, or at least more detailed, studies are needed. Errors of fact and of speculation or surmise need to be corrected. Omissions undoubtedly include the many notable individuals that were overlooked because their achievements are recorded, if at all, only in local newspapers or in specialized journals rather than in works of reference. Information on others often is unavoidably unduly, and doubtless often unfairly, scanty. To form a basis for studies in depth. Aspects that especially need investigation because they are dealt with here only sometimes or not at all include: genealogies and relationships of individual families and the occupations or accomplishments of their members; full histories of the O Beirnes of particular regions or occupations and their Irish origins; descendants of the O Beirne "Wild Geese" in Spain and France; and O Beirnes elsewhere in continental Europe, South America, and Asia. To illustrate by example what could and should be done for each of the other similarly small and apparently relatively undistinguished native Irish families. Introduction To assess the actual and relative importance of the Family from the achievements of individuals. Two general conclusions: no O Beirne has left a lasting mark on the history of any country; but so many have been constructive achievers that the aggregate of their accomplishments entitle O Beirnes to be proud of their Family name.The achievers were predominantly in occupations that inform, lead or manage people constructively, as distinct from exploiting them. Named after some are enduring memorials such as a lake and a mountain peak, a community and a townland, public parks, a research tower, a law school, a research foundation, a charitable trust, several awards, a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and new species of insects and of a fungus; and there are numerous technical books and other enduring publications authored by O Beirnes. It became very obvious during this investigation that many O Beirnes are keenly interested in others of the Family and in history and relationships. This raises the question of whether an O Beirne Family Association should be established, perhaps with regional chapters. It might produce an O Beirne Report or Newsletter by print or computer network that could publish genealogies and information on histories and achievements that otherwise would not be generally available, and arrange personal contacts or wider O Beirne get-togethers. John E. (Seán) O'Beirne has agreed to explore the feasibility of this and seeks comments, suggestions, advice, and offers of assistance to e-mail address, Tulskone@aol.com. Family Characteristics The O Beirnes are predominantly (Milesian) Celts but with blood of the Fir Bolgs (Belgae) and probably of those Norwegian Vikings who settled on the banks of the Shannon where the O Beirnes were and who supposedly gave them their surname. From historic times some also must have blood of the French or Spanish and many of the English. Despite these mixtures there is a belief in the existence of a characteristic “Beirne Look,” largely indefinable but including a straight nose. This could have some basis in fact because, as shown below, the O Beirne Sept was geographically isolated for longer than most other small septs and thus could have retained distinctive have physical characteristics more readily. Personal characteristics that have been attributed to them are actually more generally Irish than specific to the family: a liberal and amiable integrity, better abilities at handling people than money or properly, tendencies to be stubborn when they believe themselves to be in the right and to remember injustices and humor. The validity of these perceptions may be judged from the portraits and biographies of the individual O Beirnes. More factually, some have remarkable abilities with foreign languages and many have writing abilities. The O Beirne homeland was Tir Briuin, or Úi Briúin, na Sinna, or Sionna, an area of 30 or 35 square miles in the Barony of Ballintober North in northeastern County Roscommon, between the Shannon and Elphin. It approximates the parishes of Aughrim, Kilmore and Clooncraff. It was more or less cut off by water: to the east and north by the Shannon and its lakes; to the west and southwest by an extensive region of connecting lakes, rivers, marshes and bogs known as the North, or Great, Swampy Plain. It supposedly was named after Brión, son of Eochaida Mugmedon, King of Connacht around the year 400 and himself son of a King of Ireland. Muirheadhach Muillethan, King of Connacht who died in the year 701 was a descendant of Brión and the founder of a dynasty known as Sil Muirheadhach, or Sil Murray, which in Tir Briuin included the O Monaghans, O Hanlys and Mac Brenans, who claimed descent from Brión, and the O Beirnes, who may have moved into Tir Briuin later. Others of Sil Murray were the Mac Dermots (Kings of Moylurg who were supported by the O Beirnes), the Roscommon branches of the O Conors (Kings of Connacht and sometime of Ireland when the O Beirnes were their supporters), O Mulconry, or Conry (who were later arrivals), O Flanagans, Mac Manuses, Mac Geraghtys, O Flynns, and others. Fiachra, brother of Brión, was the origin of the eventually more powerful dynasty of Ui Fiachrach which included an O’Beirne sept. The legendary, Niall of the Nine Hostages (d. 405) was a half brother of those two. O'Beirne Country Tir Briuin was a tuath which was a petty kingdom controlled by a particular sept or tribe, in this case first by the O Monaghans (O Mannachain) for some five centuries until they were ousted by the O Beirnes around the year 1300. The O Monaghans had taken control of two adjoining tuaths: that of the O Hanlys to the south along the Shannon and including the Slieve Bawn Hills; and that of the Mac Brannans (O Brennans), and earlier of the O Mulvihills which included the North Swampy Plain. This made the O Monaghan Chieftain the Lord or ‘”King” of the Three Tuaths, a descriptive courtesy title that the O Beirne chieftains inherited in 1287. Tir Briuin was part of a Gaelic enclave consisting of Roscommon and parts of Galway and Sligo that was regarded with justification by the English as remote, primitive, lawless, and much given to tribal feuding and plundering. Consequently it was largely ignored for some 300 years while most of Ireland was, relatively speaking, subdued and colonized. Tir Briuin was a backwater within a backwater where the O Beirnes were isolated by terrain, by politics, and by poverty for longer than most Irish septs. The lifestyles, habits, customs, and beliefs of the inhabitants of the region are described in Dermot Mac Dermot’s comprehensive and scholarly history Mac Dermot of Moylurg (1996). There was a small but well-off separate Sept in Mayo in the 1400s to 1600s, the Ó Birns of Ciera and of Faichrach’s Race which had extensive estates in Robeen parish (also noted for a ford that was haunted by fairies) north of Ballinrobe. They seemingly became Byrne or O’Byrne and disappeared. Rathlin-O’Beirne or Rathlin O Birne is the name of an island in the Atlantic off the extreme southwest point of Donegal in what was Mac Sweeney territory. How it got that name could not be discovered but it may be significant that both O Beirne and Mac Sweeney heraldic arms feature a lizard. Two early O Beirne colonies in eastern Ireland may originally have been O Byrne: those in Kildare in the 1100s and 1700s and of whom more later; and a family in County Down in the 1600s. The O Beirnes were a Sept when they were confined to Tir Briuin. They evolved into a family as they dispersed outward. The Sept or Family was headed by a Chieftain. This position was usually hereditary but not necessarily or always. The purported genealogy of O Beirne Chieftains as given in the Annals of the Four Masters begins with Aodh Balbh, or Hugh the Stutterer, who was either a son of the 23rd King of Connacht or himself the 26th King. Early branches from the main O Beirne line became Balfe, Wood, Hoban, and Barnewell as western Ireland names (they also had separate origins elsewhere in Ireland or in Britain), and Fallon. By the 1600s the O Beirne Chieftainship had status as one of the 86 then recognized as such according to C.E. Swazey in The Irish Chieftains (1974). But it is not one of the 16 that are recognized today. The genealogy of the early O Beirne chieftains in the Annals of the Four Masters evidently is partly contrived as it differs from the dated references to deeds or deaths of specific individuals in, e.g., the Annals of Connacht. Information from most of the 1600s and 1700s is only fragmentary, though three genealogies were found:- That in the Heremon Genealogies in O'Hart's Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation was based on that in the Annals and gives this sequence: Tiege Oge (23rd in line after Aodh and grandson of the Carbre who under pressure gave up O Beirne lands to the English in 1585) - Donagh - Brian - Donoch -Teige - Henry -Hugh of Jamestown and his descendants who are discussed later. The corresponding genealogy of what ended up as the leading Spanish O'Beirne family parallels that of O'Hart’s for the four generations Brian to Henry, allowing for variations in the spelling of first names. It was found in New Zealand on the back of a coat-of-arms. As it includes names of wives and of their fathers it can be assumed to be more accurate than O'Hart’s. The sequence is: John (m. Mab d. of Imar Magenis) - Henry (m. Honoria d. of Brian Balloch O'Rourke) - Brian (m. Eleanor d. of O'Connor Don) -Donchaud (m. Mary d. of Fiaera O’Fynn) - Thaddeus ( m. Honora d. of Alien McDowell) - (1) Henry (m. Henrietta (d. of John O'Neill) father of Maria Teresa (m. Philip, Duke of Wharton); and (2) Michael (m. Bridget d. of Capt. O'Kelly of Gort) father of Thaddeus (m. sister of Lewis O'Moore of Balyna) and of Eleanor (Maid of Honour to the Queen of Spain). The available genealogy of the last valid Chieftain, The O'Beirne of' Dangan-l-Beirne. begins only in the late 1700s, with Andrew (m. Susan Plunkett) - (1) Patrick (m Rosanna Coyne of Clogher) father of Bernard (m. Nanno Burke - sister of Dr. Burke of Drumsna) who had no sons and of Christopher who was unmarried; and (2-4) Andrew, George and Oliver who emigrated to Virginia and (5) Francis to Australia, all discussed later. The origin of the name O Beirne is obscure. One suggestion was that it originated from a Beirin who was about the sixth Chieftain in line after Aodh and whose son thus was Ó Beirin. This is improbable because the spelling O Beirn or O Beirne did not appear until the 1700s, five or six centuries after the original Beirin and evolved from Ó Birn into Ó Birne and Ó Berne. Another suggestion was that its origin was from Björn, the name of a Viking who supposedly settled on the banks of the Shannon and gave his name to a sept already there. Norsemen from Norway are said to have controlled the Shannon and its lakes for a time; and they evidently occupied Tir Briuin as in the 930s they plundered Moylurg, a Mac Dermot territory to the northwest that approximated the present Barony of Boyle, and the Slieve Bawn area to the south of Tir Briuin. This raises the possibility that the O Beirnes were originally of Viking origin rather than Celts. Perhaps O Beirnes derived their name from that of the district where they settled: Birn from Brión or Briúin. O Beirne is used in this memoir as the generic name for the Family and for individuals who are not specified as having other versions of the name. Beirne is now so widely used that it would he futile to try to replace it with the more correct Gaelic Ó Beirn. There are many variants. The prefix may be Ó (originally Ua), O', O, missing, or combined with the name (as in Obeirne). The first vowel may be an e (as in Bern or Berne which has origins additional to O Beirne, Beren, Beirn, Beirin, Beirne, Beirnie, Berrane, Beryne), an i (as in Biern, Bierne, Birn, Birne, Biranne, Bireen, Birrane), an a (as in Barn), or a y as in Byrns, Byrane, Byron). The middle letters may be fused (as in Beimes). There may be a terminal s (as in Beirnes, Beirns) or ss. The whole name may be changed into a similarly-sounding one such as Hoban, Oberon, Bruin. It may be replaced by a more generally familiar and similar-sounding one such as the Irish O'Byrne, Byrnes or Byrne (frequently), the Scots Burn or Burns, the English Barnes, or the Jewish Bernie (commonly when misread and then spoken). Other names that are not variants of O Beirne include the English Bruen or O'Bruen as a West of Ireland name, the Scots Birnie and the German Behrens. Apart from by marriage, non-O Beirnes sometimes adopted the name: mercenaries and servants in early Ireland customarily took their leader's name; and evidently some slaves in the Southern States of America took the name of their Beirne owners and Australian aborigines the name of their Beirne employers. All this illustrates the impossibility of making a comprehensive and balanced review of O Beirne accomplishments as too many who were originally O Beirnes cannot now be identified as such. One example of what could happen: three sons of a Francis O'Beirne from Carrick-on-Shannon became in America Byrnes, Byrne, and Burns. Predominantly it was recorders who changed spellings. Early recorders of births, marriages and deaths in rural Ireland who were semi-literate or worse tried as best they could to write down what they heard. Early English recorders who, to give the most acceptable explanation, were unfamiliar with the accent on the Ó assumed that it was a misplaced apostrophe and thus made each Ó an O'. Officials in Ireland in the 1800s and early 1900s deliberately tried to Anglicize Irish surnames by omitting the O' and the Mac from birth certificates. Overworked, undereducated or indifferent North American immigration officials wrote down what they thought they heard from immigrants speaking English with thick accents or not at all or deliberately Americanized names that looked too foreign for their liking. And even now some supposedly more literate authors and editors do not appreciate that a maxim of English spelling, i before e except after c, is not applicable to names of Gaelic origins and thus convert Beirne into Bierne. Individual O Beirnes changed their own names. Some did so in Ireland (and often also turned Protestant) by dropping the O' in an attempt to be perceived by English invaders as not antagonistic and thus to avoid being expropriated. Many dropped the O' while emigrating to try to avoid being recognized as too obviously Irish and Catholic in destinations where there was prejudice and discrimination, which is the main reason why most O Beirnes in Britain and America lack the O'. After emigrating some gave up trying to spell out their unfamiliar name, or their employers did, and accepted being called Byrne or Burns. But in the early 1800s in Ireland and the later 1900s in both Ireland and America some O Beirnes have reclaimed lost aspects of their heritage by resurrecting the Ó, O' or O and sometimes also reverting to early Gaelic spellings; and some whose surnames are not O Beirne but who have had a Beirne in their ancestry have adopted it as a first or middle name. Heraldic arms belong to the individual who was granted them and his descendants and can be exhibited by his supporters. According to the definition used by the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland (in the Irish Genealogical Office, established in 1943), the arms of a Clan or Family are those of the last Chief of the Name who was duly inaugurated under old Gaelic laws. On that basis it is not at this time possible for the O Beirne Family heraldic arms to be identified unequivocally, as seemingly it is not now known who was the last so inaugurated O Beirne Chieftain; anyway the known genealogy of the Chieftains has too many gaps and inconsistencies to enable lineal descendants to be identified positively. What might be assumed reasonably to be the most valid version was used into the 1800s by the O'Beirne Chieftains of Dangan. It was described - no illustration could be found - as having on the shield an oak tree, a creature that is either a wyvern, which is a type of mythical winged dragon, or a cockatrice, which is a legendary monster with a deadly glance, with its wings raised as if about to fly. What is the most distinctive was allowed, i.e. given permission to use by Mac Cullogh of Ulster in 1761 to Henry and Thaddeus O'Beirne, officers in the Spanish army. It has on the shield an orange tree, a lizard, and a St. Andrew's or saltire cross, and in the top section a sun and the medieval symbol for water, all symbolic of the warm climate of the Spanish connection. The lizard symbolism is that a hero was awakened by a lizard in time to escape his enemies. It is not known who Mac Cullogh was? but between 1522 and 1943 the Ulster King of Arms had the jurisdiction over the arms of all Ireland. It is not clear whether or not Henry and Thaddeus were in the Chieftainship line but as shown above their pedigree has certain parallels to that of the O'Beirne Chieftains as given in the Heremon genealogies. At one time Mac Lysaght, the first Chief Herald of Ireland, accepted this version as of the O Beirne Family and it was illustrated in Grehan's Irish Family Names. In any event this is the valid version of the Spanish O Beirnes. The version currently accepted by the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland is similar except that there is an oak in place of the orange tree to demonstrate the O Beirne former loyalty to the O Connor Don whose symbol was an oak. But which came first: did Mac Cullogh change an oak to an orange tree to make the arms more appropriate for use in Spain; or was the orange tree converted to an oak to make the arms relate to the affiliations in Ireland? And was the lizard originally a wyvern or cockatrice? This so far unresolved situation is illustrated by an obviously indecisive version that has the tree shaped as an orange tree and not as an oak but with the oranges blotted out. A reputed early version had on the shield a bow and arrow and, curiously, three legs. No illustrations were found. The motto was "Fuimus" supposedly meaning "We have been," which is also the motto of the Bruce clan. An earlier motto was "Sapere Aude lncipe" meaning something like "Begin to dare to be wise" or “Be daring, begin to cultivate wisdom." A war cry was “Here is another O'Beirne." The war cry of the Beirnes of Clooneyquin in their constant faction fights with the Carneys of Elphin was '"Twelve o'clock and no blood spilt yet," more recently and more widely used as “…and not a blow struck" to mean “Time for the first drink." While most Families and Clans have specific heraldic arms the O Beirnes clearly do not. This could be a reason why they are not figured in Grenham's Clans and Families of Ireland (1993). Apart from the four known versions each can have variations on its basic pattern, as figures here show. To be realistic there is in fact nothing to prevent any O Beirne from displaying any version to which he feels affiliated, provided that it is not the arms of a different Family or Clan. Extreme examples are a recent Canadian version which has in place of the tree and lizard a maple leaf and beaver and the motto Dissentio Urbanitas, and an Australian one with a gum tree and kangaroo and the motto Dies Commodus, Propinquus. The O Beirnes showed no significant abilities to enrich and augment themselves and their property in the internecine feuds except once in the later 1200s at the expense of the O Monaghans. Constantly suppressive to their health and survival were effects of the primitive living conditions, poor nutrition, especially before the time of the potato, and worse hygiene and the frequent extremes of natural disaster, famines and epidemics. These were aggravated and intensified by the cold, wet climate of the Little Ice Age of the 1500s to 1800s which happened to coincide with the times of greatest oppression and suppression by the English. All this meant that especially from the 1500s onwards O Beirnes had to concentrate their energies on defending, subsisting, and surviving. The centuries of natural and enforced population suppression meant that those who survived had to be tough. This doubtless contributed to the ability of their descendants to succeed when given the freedom and opportunities overseas. Emigration has determined the history of the O Beirnes more than any other single influence. About two-thirds now live outside Ireland. From the 1600s into the 1900s O Beirnes emigrated primarily to escape from intolerable living or political conditions in Ireland and in the hope of finding better conditions abroad. As they became increasingly well educated in recent years it has been more in the expectation of finding better employment and career opportunities abroad than were available to them in Ireland. Ireland they spread south and southeast in Roscommon to the Strokestown, Tulsk, and Castleplunkett districts, west via Elphin to Frenchpark and beyond, north and east into southern and western Leitrim and northeastern Longford and further eastwards to the Dublin district via Westmeath and Meath. Emigration to Britain was especially at times of economic stress and food shortages in Ireland. It continued through the 1800s and 1900s. Much of it was temporary. Military O Beirnes -the so-called Wild Geese - went to France and Spain in the 1600s and early 1700s; and O Beirnes joined up for all Britain’s wars up to and including World War II. O Beirne emigrations to North America did not begin significantly until the 1800s, then increased, and after the Famine of the 1840s became a flood that continued into the 1900s, dampened every now and again by American economic depressions, wars, and immigration restrictions. The patterns to Australia and Canada were similar. North America The earliest known O Beirne immigrant, Abbé Bierne, in 1733, was not a voluntary emigrant from Ireland but was sent by his Church from France to Canada. The earliest assumed to be direct from Ireland was Nathaniel Beirn who was listed in the colonial census of 1781 as a resident of Middletown Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey. The next known, and the first to be well documented, was Andrew Beirne who emigrated (as O'Beirne) from Dangan in 1793 to Philadelphia and on to Virginia. O Beirne immigration seems to have been only intermittent before the Irish Famine of the 1840s after which it became virtually a tradition. The usual stimulus to emigrate was to get away from bad living or political conditions in rural Ireland in the hope of finding work and relative freedom in urban America. Later in the 1900s it became increasingly by the trained and the educated in the expectation of finding better opportunities for employment and advancement than in Ireland. As compared with emigrants from Continental Europe, Irish emigrants returned relatively rarely to live permanently in their homeland. O Beirnes were no exception. In the United States the O Beirnes were and are concentrated in the northeast: judged from listings in telephone directories about 37 per cent live in New York or New Jersey and 80 per cent east of the Mississippi. States outside the northeast with significant numbers are Florida (which gets retirees from the northeast), California, and Texas. That concentration is from a combination of historical reasons: the great majority of the immigrants arrived in New York, earlier in Philadelphia and Boston; new immigrants tended to settle where there were already relatives or friends in Irish communities centered on Catholic churches. There they often had large families, for instance uillean piper Martin P. Beirne claimed that a granduncle in East Orange, New Jersey, had 22 sons; and 1833 immigrant John Ferris Beirnes is primarily why that name (with the terminal s) is the most common version in Canada. Those communities were visible targets for the anti-foreign, anti-Irish and anti-Catholic prejudice and discrimination that began seriously in the 1850s and continued into the 1900s. It was in attempts to avoid being recognized as obviously Irish that so many O'Beirne emigrants of those times dropped the O' in the Atlantic. The name Beirne outnumbers O'Beirne by about three to one in the United States as a whole. However O'Beirne predominates in Massachusetts and Wisconsin and the two names are about equal in Michigan and Virginia. That O Beirnes in Irish and Catholic communities could have been repressed in the past by discrimination is implied by the relatively high proportion of the more notable achievers that were of different religions or locations or both. By the later 1900s the Irish, including the O Beirnes, had become fully accepted as Americans and Canadians, though immigration had become restricted. The Bishop and the Graduates Evidently O Beirnes were not in any position to take higher education in Ireland between the Cromwellian times of the mid 1600s and the late 1700s - later for most Catholics - and few from the time of the Famine of the mid-1800s to about the end of that century. A few could afford to be educated abroad. Notable among those were two brothers who became clerics. Thomas Lewis O'Beirne (1747 or 1748 -1823), the brilliant and ambitious Protestant churchman, controversial political pamphleteer, and successful cultivator of influential people, is the most famous O Beirne. Different biographical notices give different and sometimes contradictory versions of parts of his career often depending on whether they were written with a Catholic or a Protestant bias. He was of the branch of the Family that was known as the Roscommon King O'Beirnes of the Three Tuaths. His immediate family owned much land at a time when the Penal Laws made it unusual for Catholics to do so. The most likely explanation was that they were successful in having the authorities perceive them as Protestants and were in an area remote from close notice. Nevertheless they lost some of it to a land-grabbing "discover." Their land was in the district of Lough Hyrrell or Erril midway between Drumsna and Mohill, Leitrim. Thomas' birthplace was said to have been Farnagh, Longford, but there is no location of that name in that county; more likely it was Farnaught which is about two miles from Lough Erril or less likely Farnaght about six miles away, both in Leitrim. He had a brother named Denis (John in some accounts). The two were sent to be trained for the Catholic priesthood at the Irish College of the Lombard's in France, St. Omer's. Denis eventually was ordained but Thomas's studies were terminated prematurely and he became a Protestant and ultimately a Bishop. There was a statement that Thomas passed a considerable portion of his early life in America. Certainly he was there in 1776 at the time of the War of independence. Two Howe brothers of the Irish peerage family were leaders on the English side: General Howe of the British troops in America: and Admiral Howe of the British Navy. Thomas worked for both, either as chaplain and secretary to General Howe and then a chaplain to the Fleet or as a Fleet chaplain on loan to General Howe because of his possible special prior knowledge of America. In either event he spent much time on land there during the War. This brings up an intriguing possibility: was he basically sympathetic to the American revolutionary cause? His Catholic Irish upbringing and later strongly liberal political outlook and his support for some degree of Irish independence indicate that possibility. If he was indeed sympathetic he might have subtly influenced decisions by General Howe that contributed to the English losing that War. His next important post was back in Ireland as chaplain and private secretary to the Duke of Portland who was then the Viceroy, or Lord Lieutenant. That was in 1782; what he did in the five or so years before that is not clear. When Portland went back to England in the following year to become First Lord of the Treasury, Thomas went with him as his private secretary. It was there that Thomas married the daughter of General Francis Stuart who was a son of the Earl of Moray and began his studies at Cambridge. After Portland was defeated in an election he and Thomas went to the Duke of Richmond's retreat at Aubigny in France where Thomas remained for two years for reasons unknown. There are differing stories about why and where Thomas became converted. One, originally in The Sham Squire by W.J. Fitzpatrick, was especially imaginative. Ill-health caused Thomas to suspend his studies temporarily and to return to Ireland for two years to recover. On his way back to France or on his way to Ireland - stories differ - he stopped overnight in a small inn in Wales where he shared his dinner with two English gentlemen. One of them turned out to be the Duke of Portland. He was as so impressed with Thomas’ intellect and his fluency in French that he invited him to visit him in London where he persuaded him to postpone further religious Studies and instead become his private secretary when he went to Canada as Governor-General. It was en route to Canada that Thomas made his First act of apostasy by reading a Protestant service at the burial of a sailor and it was in Canada that Thomas deserted the Catholic religion. The facts are that there is no other indication that Thomas was ever in Canada. Portland was never Governor-General there, and Thomas did not meet him until years later, through the Howes. A story that while Thomas was in the seminary he investigated the grounds for the Catholic religion and found reasons to reject it could have been, like the Canada story, to cover-up the disgrace of his involuntary expulsion There are two stories about why he was expelled from St. Omers’s where he evidently was much liked. He became consumptive and was ordered to the south of France to recover. There he fell in with medical students and other had companions and became dissipated. Back at St. Omer's he again became ill and was sent back to Ireland - a loan from one of his professors, a Dr. Plunkett, paid his fare - and told that he would not be readmitted without a certificate of good conduct from his parish priest there. He was asked to withdraw when he could not produce it. The other story is that Thomas, who liked a drop, had a drop too much in a Paris wineshop and was seen by a College prefect walking on the boulevard with a young lady. As the seminarians were strictly forbidden such associations he was immediately expelled. Dr. Plunkett and the Catholic Bishop of London interceded unsuccessfully on his behalf. Thomas, determined to serve God in some capacity, then gave up drink for life and went to the Protestant Bishop of London for advice. It is believed that he studied for the Protestant Church at Trinity College, Cambridge University , and became a deacon in 1772 and a priest in 1773 at about age 26 and four years after he left the seminary. A story that he was granted the Bachelor of Divinity degree by Cambridge in 1783 evidently is wrong as it is not in the Trinity College records. Another probably wrong story is that he was never ordained in either Church so that when he became Bishop he was to as "the mitred layman." He was said to have served as vicar to Grendon in the Peterborough diocese, England, in 1772 to 1776 when he left to become a naval chaplain. Whether he ever reached the top level, as sometimes believed of Chaplain of the Fleet is not clear though the levels of his associations with the Howes imply that he did, or at least to a level of seniority close to it. Back in England in 1785 Thomas became involved with influential people: the Prince of Wales who would become Prince Regent, when his father King George lll went mad and who later became the extravagant and vilified George IV; assorted Earls, Dukes, Lords and others of the nobility; and political and literary leaders such its Pitt, Fox, Sheridan, and Holland. Portland arranged for him to take over two valuable parishes in Northumberland and Cumberland in the North of England. It was then that his brother Denis first became noticed. He was reputed to be the Catholic priest who married the Prince to his mistress, the twice-widowed Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert, in a secret ceremony in France in 1785. While it is possible that Thomas arranged for Denis to travel to France to perform the ceremony, it is more likely that he made up the story to cover-up the facts. The real story seems to be that they were married in the drawingroom of Mrs. Fitzherbert's house in London by a clergyman who was reputed to be Thomas, among others. Possible Church of England ministers either disclaimed responsibility or were excluded by the fact that they would not have been acceptable to Mrs. Fitzherbert who was a strong Catholic. The minister must have been acceptable as Catholic to her; and the marriage was recognized as valid by the Catholic Church - one account says the Pope - which advised her that in its eyes she might lawfully live with the Prince even after his subsequent marriage to Princess Caroline of Brunswick. Thomas would have been acceptable to the Prince because of his identification with the opposition of which the Prince was an influential member; and his education In the Catholic seminary could have been sufficiently far advanced -there was a suggestion that he was a deacon - for Mrs. Fitzherbert and the Catholic Church to have sufficient expedience to accept him as a priest for this politically important incident. The only reliable source of the identity of the officiating cleric was a letter from him found in Mrs. Fitzherbert's effects but with the signature torn off presumably by her to avoid compromising him - which would not have been necessary if the officiating cleric had been Denis. The marriage was illegal under English law because Prince was underage and did not have the King's permission. If it had been legal the Prince would have had to forfeit his right to the Crown by marrying a Catholic. By 1791 Thomas had left England to be pastor of the parishes of Mohill and Templemichael in Leitrim where his brother Denis was the Catholic parish priest and near where he had been born and brought up. A story that is still told is that somebody seeing the two walking together in Mohill commented that “One is running the Devil up the street and the other is running him back." Three years later Thomas gave up being a country clergyman to become chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant, Earl Fitzwilliam, whose liberal ideas of Catholic emancipation in Ireland caused him to be recalled and dismissed after only a month in office. Before he left Ireland he arranged for Thomas to be appointed Bishop of Ossory (the Tuam district in County Galway). He was ordained as such in 1795 and also became Dr. O’Beirne by virtue of a special D.D. degree from Trinity College, Dublin. Three years later he became Bishop of Meath where he remained until he died after a quarter century of service. The English government took advantage of the strong anti-Catholic feeling that was a consequence of the Irish Rebellion of 1798 to propose a devious plan to control the Irish clergy through their Bishops: it would relax the Penal Law if the Bishops would accept that the King would have the power of approval and veto over appointments to Catholic bishoprics. Thomas opposed and denounced this publicly and privately. While the matter was being debated it was proposed that Denis be appointed Bishop of Kilmore, the idea being that having a brother a Protestant Bishop would discredit the status of the Catholics in both dioceses. The Catholic bishops rejected the proposed plan before that proposal could be implemented Thomas' direct involvement in Irish politics was relatively minor. It was between 1795 when his status as Bishop made him a member of the Irish House of Peers and 1800 when the Act of Union abolished the Irish Parliament and instituted rule direct from London. He spoke and voted against that Act. It changed the basis of British oppression from racial to nationalistic and thus tended to make Anglo-Irish more pro-Irish than hitherto. The English General Cockburn who fought against the rebels in 1798 rated him as among the "very mischievous men, and enemies of liberty.” He was politically cautious as Bishop of Meath: perhaps he took warning from the murder at the palace, Ardbraccan, in 1793 of the chaplain of his parsimonious and unpopular predecessor. He did however publish a sermon in which he attributed to Providence the storm in Bantry Bay in 1796 that dispersed the French fleet and delivered “the Kingdom" from a threatened invasion. His publications were influential and controversial. He defended patrons loyally: when the Howe brothers were under severe criticism about what happened in America he published an extensive vindication of their actions: and he defended Fitzwilliam's conduct as Viceroy to the Irish House of Peers in a speech that was highly applauded. While in England he became an enthusiastic and vocal supporter of the Whig cause which advocated liberal principles and reforms including subordinating the power of the Crown to Parliament and the upper classes. He published his earlier political commentaries under pseudonyms such as Consistent Whig, Independent Whig, Melancthon and, for Most of his other publications, especially, after he became Bishop, were on religious topics and under his name. Many of his sermons were published individually but also collected in three volumes. Others of his religious writings advocated reforms. They included subjects such as Catholic emancipation (he was against it) and needs to control the education of Catholic clergy, need for stricter examination of candidates for ordination in the Church of Ireland, advocating the union of the Church of Ireland with the Church of England, tithes, vice, systems of trade and commerce, "this distracted empire," the coronation of Bonaparte, the "no popery riots," and the state of Ireland. His literary attempts were less significant. The longest of his several poems which was on The Crucifixion "did not augment his reputation." He adapted French plays for the English stage, one entitled The Generous Impostor and dedicated to Whig ladies and two in collaboration with the Duchess of Devonshire. All failed when staged. It was said that as Bishop of Meath he was regarded as exemplary by both his Church and the inhabitants of his diocese. He built 72 glebehouses - houses on Church land - and 57 churches, raised the income to over 8000 pounds, revived the office of rural deans, appointed on merit, and was a convincing preacher with a voice of “exquisite modulation. " Local folklore had it that all his salary of 700 pounds went to the poor irrespective of their religion and that he had only three pounds when he died, that he traveled around every day visiting and lodging mostly at Catholic houses, that he was on close terms with the reforming Catholic Bishop of Meath, the Dr. Patrick Plunkett who had been a professor and his mentor in the Paris seminary, that he joined his Catholic housekeeper in saying the Rosary every night, and that when with Bishop Plunkett he used holy water if nobody else was looking. He was even remembered as having more sanctifying grace in his little finger than his brother Denis had in his whole body, which was manifestly unfair to Denis who was remembered as being an exemplary priest. Bishop Plunkett hoped to convert him back to Catholicism but Thomas died before this could happen This brilliant, loyal, complex, courageous, constructive, and enigmatic achiever and opportunist clearly was motivated by the need to be liked, admired and respected: in the first half of his career by important and influential people: in the second half by the inhabitants of his diocese irrespective of their status or religions. Opportunities for higher education had existed in Ireland at the university, Trinity College, Dublin (TCD), since 1592 and for lawyers at the King's Inns, Dublin, since 1607. Student lists are available for each from its beginning, usually giving also parents' names and for TCD in the 1800s identifying the Catholics as "RC”s. The chief Catholic seminary, at Maynooth, was established in 1795 but the early student records were destroyed in a fire. A few O Beirnes were able to take advantage of those educational opportunities in the early 1600s. Patrick Birne was admitted to King's Inns in 1622 to become the first known O Beirne lawyer. James Bern was the first known to become a Protestant cleric. He was admitted to TCD in 1625 and became Rector of Ulimaly and Vicar of Boressonill (Tuam, Galway). Nothing ix known of the fate of George Birne who was admitted to TCD in 1629. There was then a great hiatus until the late 1700s during which O Beirnes probably could not afford higher education for their sons. Catholics had additional restrictions in that they were not permitted to practice law before 1792 and mostly could not accept graduation from TCD up to 1794 because to do so required an oath of loyalty to the Established Protestant Church. Anyway, the Penal Laws that operated through the 1790s forbade Catholics to attend university or to educate their sons abroad. It was not until 1782 that Catholic colleges were reopened. The next with higher education, some 140 years after George Birne, was Andrew O'Beirne who was the second son of the Chieftain and who became a millionaire in Virginia. He was known to have studied classics at TCD up to about 1773 though his name could not be found in the College records. A Charles Beirne who was admitted in 1773 was son of a County Leitrim farmer named Denis Beirne. He could have been a younger brother of seminarians Denis and Thomas Lewis. A family that produced four Protestant clergymen began with an Andrew Birne of Dublin, described as a carrier and a gentleman. His eldest son, also Andrew, entered TCD in 1785, obtained four degrees, and became a clergyman. That Andrew changed his last name to O'Beirne, a name that had prestige in Protestant circles at the time because of the influential Thomas Lewis and the wealthy Jamestown family. He became master of the Royal School, Portora, County Armagh, where he had sons Andrew who entered TCD in 1820 and became a clergyman and Charles who entered TCD in 1825. He then became head of a school in Fermanagh. Where he had two sons, William Michael who entered King's Inns in 1827, and Stewart who entered TCD in 1839 and also became a clergyman. The second son of the original Andrew Birne of Dublin was Michael, admitted to TCD in 1789. He also changed his surname from Birne to O'Beirne. He became a schoolmaster in Dublin where he was father of Richard who graduated from TCD in 1825 and was admitted to King's Inns in 1827. Michael then became a schoolmaster in Armagh where he was father of Henry who graduated from TCD in 1830 and became a physician. Presumably he was the Dr. Henry O'Beirne who was in practice in Elphin in 1853. Possibly related to that family was Rev. Charles O'Berne of Dublin whose son Charles was admitted to TCD in 1808 and who in turn may have been related to James Berne who was son of Roscommon merchant Charles and who graduated from TCD in medicine in 1782 and changed his name to O'Beirne. A Catholic legal family began with Edmund Beirne, son of Patrick Beirne of Strokestown, Roscommon. Edmund was admitted to King's Inns in 1808. It is safe to conclude that be became the Dublin attorney Edmund O'Beirne whose son James Lyster O’Beirne was admitted to TCD, identified as RC, and to King's Inns in 1832. James Lvster eventually went into politics and was elected Member of (the British) Parliament for Cashel, County Tipperary in 1865 as an Independent Liberal "in favour of greater privileges being granted to Ireland by tenant-rights, emigration, and financial legislation." He was defeated for re­election by the Fenian leader O’Donovan Rossa who was in prison in England at the time. Because of that, the election was declared void and Cashel was disenfranchised. Also Catholic and possibly related to this family were: Francis O'Beirne, son of Henry of Leixlip, Dublin, who was admitted to King's Inns in 1840 on an affidavit by James Lyster; Peter Edmund O'Beirne, son of Roscommon surgeon John, who was admitted to TCD in 1820 and identified as RC; and Edmund or Edmond O'Beirne who had a daughter named Agnes Lyster. That Edmund was born in “Carrick,” son of a John O'Beirne and said to be a cousin of Lord Netterville of the County Meath Anglo-Norman family. Edmund worked in a bank in Kells, Meath. After his wife died in 1884 he emigrated with some or all of his nine children, lived in Dallas, Texas, and died in California in 1911. Different and probably unrelated was a John O'Beirne who was a merchant in Carrick-on-Shannon and married an O’Beirne and whose son, also John O’Beirne was admitted to King’s Inns in 1805 and apprenticed to the Protestant elder Francis of Jamestown. The religion of Connell O'Beirne, admitted to King's Inns in 1782, could not be deduced. He was son of John of Sligo town who was of the O'Beirne family of Cloonfadda, Roscommon. Identified in the TCD records as "RC"s were: Henry D. O’Beirne, son of Carbry who was a tax collector in Roscommon, admitted in 1831; Eugene Francis O'Beirne, son of a Longford farmer and later to become author of anti-Catholic polemics and a general nuisance, admitted in 1834 (his younger brother Thomas, d. 1860, was a doctor); and Theobald O'Beirne, admitted in 1839, son of the Dublin surgeon James O'Beirne who was the author of the earliest known scientific publications by an O Beirne, a book entitled New Views of the Process of Defecation …, and six other works on a range of medical topics. This analysis shows that only very few O Beirne families and individuals were able to take advantage of the 70-year window of opportunity for university and legal education in Ireland, and that about two-thirds of those that did so were among the minority of O Beirnes who were Protestant - legacies of the effects of the Catholic expropriations and expedient conversions to Protestantism of the Cromwellian times more than a century earlier. Source: http://vpbeirne.webspace.virginmedia.com/index.html
Media objectArmes de BeirneArmes de Beirne
Format: image/gif
Image dimensions: 350 × 491 pixels
File size: 34 KB
Type: Coat of arms
Highlighted image: yes
Note: O'Beirne (Dangan)
Media objectCastle of DanganCastle of Dangan
Format: image/jpeg
Image dimensions: 440 × 179 pixels
File size: 8 KB
Type: Photo
Note: Dangan Castle was one of the main residences of the O'Beirne clan but was badly decayed by the …