O’Briens of Ballydaly

I was just inquiring about the history of the O’Briens of Ballydaly, Millstreet. My great-grandfather John O’Brien left his farm there and came to America. He later returned and married Cathleen Moynihan who used to live in a little yellow house on the main drag. Last time I was there it was a flower shop.
Matthew O’Brien
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41 thoughts on “O’Briens of Ballydaly”

  1. hmm. Don’t really remember. I was last there in 1998. I am also interested in the fate of the farm my great grandfather grew up on. When I was there in ’98, I spent time with John O’Brien (RIP), my grandfather’s cousin, and he took me around the old dairy farm. Hopefully it hasn’t been sold off.

  2. Kathleen and John lived in the house that is now the flower shop however Kathleen owned the house across the way that had the buthcher shop. Her son Larry (James) ran the shop at one time. Kathleen was a Manning and was originally married to a Moynihan. John and Kathleen married late in life. Other relatives of John in the area (in addition to John of Ballydaly) were Margaret Murphy of Millstreet(Cloghoulabeg), Connie O’Brien in Macroom and Con O’Brien in Rahalisk.

  3. Hello Matthew
    I’m pretty sure your greatgrandfather was the older brother of my grandfather. My grandmother passed away in 2002 and knew the family pretty well. She spoke about a man that fits the description of your greatgrandad. I’ve got some materials around the house somewhere. Actually I just found them. Somebody compiled info from Ireland, the USA and the UK and put together a family tree. If you were born June 4, 1980 you are included. Let me know if I’m on the right track and I’ll find a way to get you what I have.

    1. Hello Pat,
      Yes I was born June 4, 1980. The info that you have might actually have been compiled by my father. I was last there in 1998 and we had a reunion of sorts and my father had brought his family tree that he had researched. The earliest it went back was to the parents of my great grandfather, (I guess that would make it your grandfather.) If your materials date farther back it would be great to see them. If you can get them on the computer my email is <email>.

      I don’t know if you know Connie O’Brien from Macroom but if you do please tell him hello.


      1. Hello Matthew,
        I was just browsing the web and came accros this site.
        I remember your great grandfather John O’Brien and his wife Kathleen (Manley-Moynihan)
        John was the brother of my grandfather (Hugh of Rahalisk).
        John and Kathleen used to visit our home at Rahalisk frequently.
        My father (Connie O’Brien of Rahalisk) passed away in 2009 and his first cousin (Con O’Brien of Macroom)passed away in 2010.
        I have a few old photographs of John & Kathleen taken here at Rahalisk if you want to send me your e-mail address I could scan them and send to you.
        Kind regards,
        Hugh O’Brien

        1. Hugh,
          I went over with my parents in 2003 and there was a reunion of sorts in Macroom. I spoke with your dad there. I’m sorry to hear he passed along with Connie from Macroom. My grandfather, Patrick, was Hugh’s brother. My grandmother knew the family well and could recite songs and poems composed by your grandfather. She died in 2002 at the age of 100. I wanted to record her stories but she wouldn’t be comfortable with it. She lived with my uncle Connie who just passed in December. We are in the process of cleaning out the house and my sister is scanning many of the old photos that were there. I remember going over them with my grandma years ago and there were some of Hugh. If you send me your e-mail I’ll send copies when she is finished.

          Pat Sullivan

          1. Hello Pat,
            It is good to hear from you.
            Sorry to hear about the death of your uncle.
            It would be great to see those photographs my email addrss is <email>
            Looking forward to hearing from you again soon.
            Thanks and best rgards,
            Hugh O’Brien

  4. Hello Hugh,
    Im sorry to hear of your father’s passing as well as Connie’s. I don’t remembet if I met your father when I was there in ’98, but I have met Connie from Macroom a couple of times since was also my grandfathers first cousin.
    My email is <email>. It would be great to see those pictures! Im glad you stumbled upon these comments.

    Mat O’Brien

  5. Hi all, My name is Alana O’Brien and my grandfather was Joseph O’Brien, born 1897 in Ballydaly. His brothers were John, Hugh and Patrick (amongst other siblings including Margaret). He married Mary Casey and they moved to Woodside, NY – not sure what year. Could we all be related?
    Hugh – My dad was Joseph O’Brien and my aunts and uncles are Neil (Cornelius), Danny, Marie, Peggy, Dorothy and Patricia. I have heard the name Connie several times. Just thought I’d send this email in case we’re family 🙂 My email is <email> if anyone can respond. Thanks!

  6. Hello Alana,
    I think we must be related. My grandfather was Hugh O’Brien born 1895 in Ballydaly. I will contact you further by e-mail.

    1. Hello Alana and Hugh,

      Yes are are all related, along with Pat and Matthew. Our grandfathers were siblings. I believe that Cornelius O’Brien (1843-1927) and Margaret Crowley (1860-1927) had 14 children, 3 of who died young. Hugh, Joseph and John, our grandfathers, were 3 of them. I also knew some of Alana’s aunts and uncles when I was a child. Alana – I did not know that your mother was Mary Casey. For some reason I have the name Rosanna or something like that written next to your father’s. Any idea who that is?


      1. Hi Jim,
        My mom is Roseanna, so you have it right. Grandmother married to Grandfather Joseph O’Brien was Mary Casey from Nohavaldaly, Kerry.


  7. Hello Alana,

    We are all related. Your granddad, Hugh’s granddad, my granddad and Matt’s great grandfather were all brothers. A sister Catherine Buckley returned to Ireland but her granddaughter Maeve lives in Brooklyn. It’s a small world. I actually met your father several years ago thru a good friend of his, Bill Vanson. I met him several times after and attended the funeral. Your family are the “Woodside” O’Briens and my mom’s are the “Corona” O’Briens. I also attended St. John’s with your cousin Alice. My grandmother was from Knocknaloman and knew all of the O’Briens well.
    Got to run but I’m sure we will cross paths.


    1. Hi Pat,

      Small world indeed. So funny you know Bill Vanson. They were great friends for years. Thanks very much for attending the funeral.

      Hope we do cross paths soon,

      Take care,

  8. Hello Alana, Pat and all,

    I just stumbled upon this thread and found it all very interesting. If you are researching genealogy, I would love to hear about anything you discover. Hope to see you soon.

    Love, Alice

  9. Matthew, reading over this thread, I realize that your great grandfather was my father’s Uncle Jack. Dad loved Uncle Jack and spoke of him fondly, although he died before I was born, so I never met him. I have a photo of Uncle Jack in an album. If you like, I can look for it and email it to you.

  10. Hi to all!
    Like others, I have stumbled across this thread and realise that we are all related.
    My maternal grandmother (my mother’s mother) was Hannah O Brien from Ballydaly, a sister of John, Hugh and the others. Hannah moved to Cork City and married Dan McGrath. They had a large family. In 2012 we had a family gathering in Cork which had 40 plus of the direct descendants of Hannah and Dan. I will let my siblings and relatives know of this thread.

    As a child (1950s!), we often visited Hugh O Brien in Rahalisk, a man of great hospitality and charm (an O Brien trait I think!). There was also another lady (another sister..), Mary Ann O Brien, who lived not far from the O Brien farm in Rahalisk.

    I know that my brother, Finbarr, met a number of O Brien relatives in New York during the 1980’s.

    If any of you not aware, the Irish census records for 1901 and 1911 are available, and googling for O Brien Ballydaly (Caherbarnagh) Cork will give you a pdf of their census return. This shows (1911) also a Denis and Margaret not mentioned I think so far.
    A cousin Michael O Brien past away a few years ago (in Dublin) and there was a big attendance of O Briens at his funeral. I’m not sure which of the Ballydaly brothers was his father.

    1. Hello Diarmuid,
      I am your grand uncle Hugh’s grandson, I am living on the farm at Rahalisk along with my wife Carmel.
      I don’t remember you visiting here (I think it was before I was born). but I remember my parents speaking about you.
      I do remember your mother and father sometimes visiting us here on the farm at Rahalisk.
      Thanks for the information on the census.

      1. Hello Hugh, Thank you for the reply.I was sorry to read earlier about your fathers passing in 2009.
        Can I ask you about the tombstone in Old Millstreet Cemetery—available on the internet by googling ”Hugh O Brien Old Millstreet” (see it here) ;( this starts with Hugh O Brien deceased 1750 (!) and appears to include a number of O Brien family members, including Con and Margaret (the parents of the O Briens of Ballydaly including Hugh, Joseph John etc) although Con is listed as being from Aubane. Also Julia from Rahalisk (your grandmother?) Just wondering if I’m correct in assuming this relates to our relatives? May they all rest in peace.

        A second question is about Denis O Brien. As you know the Irish Bureau of Military History, run by the Irish Army, has recently published online the testimonies of the various people who took part in the Irish War of Independence 1916-2013. A statement by a Denis O Brien Ballydaly given in 1947 (got by googling ”Denis o Brien Ballydaly Bureau of Military History) gives a fascinating account of his (and Hugh O Brien’s) participation in events in Millstreet in Easter 1916. Other documents cover his and Hugh O Brien’s activities in 1919-1921. Do you know if this was our relative, the oldest brother then listed in the 1911 Census?
        Thanks for your help!

        1. What extremely interesting information! I recognize the names and some of the maiden names on the Hugh O’Brien grave, and I am fairly certain we visited at least once when I was a child. Given that yesterday and today we are commemorating All Soul’s Day, this is a good reminder to keep them all in my prayers.

          The Dennis O’Brien military account was absolutely fascinating. My father always told me that his father (Joseph) and Joseph’s brothers were involved in the 1916 uprising and needed to leave to avoid the law. According to Dad, my grandfather (who would have been about 18 in 1916) didn’t like to talk about it much. This always made me wonder how accurate the tale was. It is incredible to read about Dennis and Hugh and the O’Brien farm being raided. Our poor great grandmother must have been petrified. It is all so interesting.

          I can’t wait to share all of this information with my children. I have nine children ages 3 to 20, including a son named “Cornelius O’Brien Gunther.” :). There are certainly a good many Cornelius O’Briens in this discussion.

        2. Hello again Diarmuid,
          You are correct that the tombstone in Drishane Cemetery relates to our relatives. As far as I am aware Hugh O’Brien (deceased 1750) was the grandfather of our great -grandfather Cornelius O’Brien (Aubane).I believe that Cornelius O’Brien(our great -grandfather) lived in Aubane before marrying Margaret Crowley(our great -grandmother from Ballydaly)-they set up home in Ballydaly.
          The other names mentioned on the tombstone are:
          Denis O’Brien -our granduncle and his wife Winifred Philpot
          Cornelius O’Brien -our granduncle and his wife Marianne O’Sullivan.
          Hugh O’Brien (my grandfather and Julia Clancy my grandmother).
          Mary Anne O’Brien -our grandaunt.
          Margaret Courtney -our grandaunt.

          Regarding Denis O’Brien whose account of events of Easter 1916 are published by the Bureau of Military History is indeed our granduncle the same as mentioned in the tombstone at Drishane Cemetery.
          I hope this information helps you.

          1. Hi Guys,
            My name is Cornelius (Niall O’Brien. I am related to the O’Brien’s interred in Drishane. My Father was Cornelius O’Brien (died 1994) and we lived in Brookpark at the top of Aubane. I am also related to the O’Briens of Ballydaly and all those names mentioned were part of the older and younger generations

  11. Hello, Diarmuid,

    My father, Cornelius O’Brien (“Neil”), was the eldest son of Joseph O’Brien, another of your grandmother’s brothers. I never met my father’s Uncle Hugh, but have a number of photos of him–he was the best man at my grandparents’ wedding.

    Many thanks for the census information.

  12. Hello Alice,
    I am your grand-uncle Hugh’s grandson, I think I can remember your father and mother visiting us here on the farm at Rahalisk when I was very young.
    Am I correct in saying that your mother’s name was Alice also?
    I have a photograph taken in America of my grandparents wedding along with the best man and bridesmaid. I know that the best man was one of my grandfathers brothers I think it might be your grandfather.

  13. Hello, Hugh,

    Yes, those were my parents! How nice to hear from you.

    When my father was a child, my grandmother would sometimes call him “Hugh” because she thought he looked like your grandfather. (“Would you look at Hugh?” she would often say.)

    I would be very interested in seeing any photographs you have.

    1. Hello Alice,
      Thanks for the reply.
      I can forward you copies of the photographs if you can give me your e mail address.

  14. Hello,

    It is wonderful that other family members have found this thread. My great grandfather John O’Brien is buried in that family cemetary. I also remember some rumours of uprising activity and also some stories about funding a church with some “reappropriated” money? Nobody would disclose details, it was very wink wink. It will be good to read Dennis’ account.


  15. Hi All,

    This is really interesting. That generation of O’Briens was very close and it’s good to see the descendants keeping in touch.
    Jim put together a wonderful family tree and Hugh sent me a nice picture of Cornelius and Margaret.
    Diarmuid my grandfather was your grandmother’s brother Patrick. I first met Barry and your sister Siobhan at my grandmother’s house circa 1978-80. Barry was at my wedding in 1990.
    My grandmother was great friends with all the O’Briens. She could recite songs and poems composed by Hugh. She passed away in 2002 at 100 years old. She had a terrific memory and I really should have recorded her stories. I used to stop by her house 3 or 4 times a week. One day I walked in and she was having tea with your mom Alice. They were discussing a photo of you in the Irish Echo newspaper. Another time I walked in she was entertaining Connie of Rahalisk.
    I wish we could all get together sometime and exchange photos. Alice, we don’t live far apart and should get together.
    Hugh I wonder if you ever met my grandmother’s sister Mary Sullivan? She returned to Knocknaloman in the mid 1970’s to live with her brother Dan. Two of my sisters spent summers on their farm. We called her Babe and she was a great lady.


  16. All,

    I have been watching this exchange with interest. My son Mat, who started this string, just sent me Denis O’Brien’s statement which is very interesting. It explains a couple of the stories I heard on my trips to Millstreet. Does anyone know if Margaret Murphy of Cloghoulabeg is still alive? I believe that she is the daughter of Denis and Winifred.


  17. Beautiful! I always called her “Aunt Margaret” as a child.

    Yes, Pat, we need an O’Brien reunion!

  18. Hi all.. Yes my mother Margaret is alive and kicking. As is her brother Denis O’Brien. She says hello to all her relations here and in New York. My mother spent a couple of years living in New York with Alices grand parents Joe and Mary O’Brien. She would also have known Jims family and the O’Sullivan family. She last visited New York where she spent a wonderful holiday with Alice and her parents Neil and Alice R.I.P.in 1997. She says her house is open to all of ye in Cloughoulabeg. Ye’re welcome at any time. Rita and Margaret.

  19. Hi again to all the O Briens!

    This email thread has beeen quiet so I’m not sure if still alive?

    I would like to get in touch by email with Hugh O Brien of Rahalisk if that is possible?

    Mine is <email>


  20. Hi
    Not sure if this site is still active?
    We’ve just discovered (with help from Dona and Hugh) my husband Dennis Joseph O’Brien is a descendant of Cornelius O’Brien and Margaret Crowley.
    Dennis is the son of Denis Joseph born in Newmarket in December 1939.
    We’d love to find out more about Cornelius and Margaret. What did they and their offspring do for a living. Where did they live? We’d also love to see any photos.
    Looking forward to learning more

  21. Hi my mother is Mary Fearon from Rostrevor Co. Down Northern Ireland and she married my father Donal McGrath the son of Hannah O’Brien from Ballydaly. Hannah’s grandmother was Margaret Walsh. The strange thing is my mother’s dna is matching with the O’Briens of Balldaly. Her Gt grandmother was a Rose Walsh. Could she have been one of the Walshes of Ballydaly? Was her grandfather Thomas Fearon/Feran a first cousin of Margaret Crowley of Ballydaly? Thomas married Rose in 1832 in Rostrevor.
    Dona Sfar

    1. Hi it is me again. The man that married Rose Walsh was John/Thomas Fearon. He may have been a policeman because a John Fearon from my mother’s area joined the RIC and was stationed in Carlow. There are also Fearons in Ballynaspittal. Co.Cork The Fearons originate in the Lake District in England and came with the Normans from France where they had been blacksmiths. Feran is the French for Iron. They were involved in the Linen Industry in Northern Ireland as fitters. They inter married with the Twentymans and Lightfoots and they had links to Fishsamble Street in Dublin. My mother’s dna is on My Heritage base as Mary Fearon. Mine is too. I am also in the Ancestry data base,
      Dona Sfar

  22. Hello, My name is Marybeth Toohig Pomeroy. My mom was Marie O’Brien ,daughter of Mary and Joseph O’Brien. They raised me till I was 3. Feel so fortunate. I adored them.. I lived in Dublin from fall 1960 till maybe 1964. Went to boarding school maybe 1970 till 72/73 outside Dublin. My memories of my nana and papa families is pure fun and love. Very very fortunate to have had the chance. We also w my husband career lived in Dinas Powys Cardiff Wales for three years. Equally lovely. My Uncle Neil,Alice dad called me often when we were in Cardiff. He loved we took the chance.I look forward to keeping in touch. Marybeth 3/8/2023

    1. Hello Marybeth, good to hear from you again,just saw your post now.
      We had a very successful reunion in New York in September last year,it is a pity that you couldn’t make it.
      We are having another one in Killarney next April,perhaps you might be able to attend.
      All details along with the O’Brien family tree/history is on the O’Brien Ballydaly website, as well as hundreds of photographs historic and current.
      You are already signed up as a member.
      Best regards,

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