O’Clery descendants

Published in 18th–19th - Century History, Issue 4 (July/August 2011), Letters, Volume 19

A page from Louis O’Clery’s Life of Red Hugh O’Donnell. (RIA)

A page from Louis O’Clery’s Life of Red Hugh O’Donnell. (RIA)

Sir,—Would a History Ireland reader kindly enlighten me? I seek additional information about possible descendants of the literary O’Clerys of Donegal. A 16 January 1847 obituary in the Drogheda Argus reported that John O’Clery/Clarke, son of Patrick, son of Cosnamhach, son of Cairbre, son of Diarmid, son of Cucogry O’Clery (one of the Four Masters, who died in 1664), died at 10 Hamilton Row, Dublin, aged 72 years. He and his wife Alice, née Smith/MacGowan, had five children. This John O’Clery came to Dublin from Drung, Co. Cavan, in 1817. He brought with him numerous ancient manuscripts in Irish, written by his ancestor, Cucogry O’Clery, who may have been one of the famous annalists, as John O’Clery claimed, but who certainly was a learned man of books and letters. They included the biography of Red Hugh O’Donnell by Louis O’Clery. Antiquarian/scholar Edward O’Reilly ‘borrowed’ several of O’Clery’s manuscripts from him and never returned them. Some are preserved in the Royal Irish Academy. A son, John junior, and a daughter, Anne, survived their father. John junior died in 1852. What became of John’s or Anne’s children, if any? Or did the O’Clery legacy end with them? A 1986 article by Seamas P. Ó Mordha in The Heart of Breifne, ‘Seán Ó Cleirigh from Drung and his manuscripts’, does not provide answers.—Yours etc.,



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