THE HICKEYS OF LOUGH GUR
Thomas and Ellen Hickey and their family lived in a small stone house with a thatched roof by Lough Gur, the Enchanted Lake, in County Limerick. The house had 2-4 rooms with two windows in the front. They also had a stable. The family leased Lot 11a, which was about 6 acres from the Count de Salis. Thomas was a small farmer with this quantity of land.
The following Hickey families are found in Knockainy
parish during the early 1800s:
John Hickey and Anne Donovan had these children
baptised in Knockainy parish:
Mary, christened 11 August 1821
Bridget, christened 26 November 1825
James O'Neill Hickey and Mary Hickey had a child
baptised in Knockainy parish:
William, christened 7 January 1816
John Hickey and Mary Slattery had a child baptised in
Patrick, christened 22 February 1817
Patrick Hickey married Sally Carroll 1 February 1815 in
Knockainy, and had these children, all baptised in Knockainy
Margaret, christened 29 June 1816
Mary, christened 26 August 1818
Catherine, christened 29 March 1820
Bridget, christened 26 January 1822
John, christened December 1823
Michael, christened 5 March 1826
Patrick, christened 4 April 1828
Edmond, christened 24 March 1830
James, christened 4 February 1832 (possible twin)
Edmond, christened 4 February 1832 (possible twin)
Edmond, christened 24 June 1833 (sponsor: Margaret Hickey)
James, christened 7 June 1835 (sponsor: Mary Hickey)
Daniel, christened 19 February 1837
Catherine, christened 27 August 1838 (sponsor: Ellen Hickey)
John Hickey and Anne McCarthy had a child baptised in
Anne, christened January 1824
Maurice Hickey married Ellen Sherwin 27 November 1823
in Dromin and Athlacca parish (a neighboring parish), and
had these children baptised in Knockainy parish:
Mary, christened 6 December 1824
Thomas, christened 29 September 1827
William, christened 1 January 1830 (sponsor: Mary Hickey)
Matthew Hickey and Eliza Cherry had a child baptised in
Mary, christened 7 August 1830
Bridget Hickey of Knockroe townland married John
McGrath 27 May 1816 in Knockainy. This is most
certainly Thomas' sister, as she is the right age, and the
McGraths are found living next to the Hickeys in the land
records. The others listed above may be brothers, or even a
father for Thomas.
The Limerick Chronicle newspaper in 1838 mentions the
Hickeys of Lough Gur:
"Limerick Chronicle 10/03/1838, report, John Hickey struck on the head with a stone by William Hawe, found guilty of manslaughter
Thomas Hickey appears in the Tithe
Applotment of 1833 in Knockrough townland. John McGrath is
listed in the next lot.
Tithe Applotment, Knockrough, Knockaney parish, 1833
The occupants of Knockrough townland at that time were:
The House Books created in
1848 in preparation for Griffiths Valuation show Thomas
Hickey in Lough Gur, with Bridget McGrath next door.
House Book, Loughgur, Knockaney parish
Thomas Hickey has a house that is 28.4 feet long by 16 feet wide, and 6.9 feet high. The house is rated 3B-. That means it is a thatched house of stone walls with mud mortar, or mud walls of the best kind. The condition is medium - deteriorated by age, and not in perfect repair. He also has a turf house that is 17.6 feet long by 13 feet wide, and 5.6 feet high. The property included a house, outbuildings, and land.
The Tenure Book created at the same time, on 16 November 1848, shows that Thomas Hickey leased the house and land from the Count de Salis. The lease was created in 1809, and was for the longer of 31 years or three lives. Since the time period of 31 years had passed in 1840, and Thomas Hickey must have been a small boy of about nine years old when the lease was created, he must have been listed as one of the lives by his father or perhaps grandfather. This type of lease had been very common in Ireland in the 1700s, but was becoming rare in the 1800s, as landlords sought short-term leases.
The other piece of property
leased by a Thomas Hickey is also found in the House Books.
It is a house only, with no land. The house is 23.9 feet
long by 12 feet wide, and 5.6 feet high. It is rated 3C-.
That means it is a thatched house of stone walls with mud
mortar, or mud walls of the best kind. The condition is old
and dilapidated, scarcely habitable. The house was leased
from Patrick Gourey, at will. This was a lease for the house
only, with no land.
The fact that Thomas Hickey leased two houses in 1848 leads to the possibility that the Thomas Hickey listed in the Tithe Applotment in 1833 was really Thomas Hickey's father, with the same name, and that Thomas Senior and Thomas Junior each occupied a house in 1848. The smaller house with no land may have been occupied by the elder Thomas Hickey, and the house and farm occupied by the younger Thomas Hickey and his family. In considering the naming patterns for the family, our Thomas' first son was Patrick, and his second son was Thomas. His first daughter was named Mary. Bridget, his sister, had a first son named Thomas and a first daughter named Mary. His possible brother, Maurice, had a first son named Thomas and a daughter named Mary. Another potential brother, John, had his first daughter named Mary. It is worth considering the possibility that our Thomas' parents may be Thomas and Mary. The three lives lease created in 1809 would provide information that may resolve the question if it can be found in estate records.
The landlord, Count de Salis has been described as a kind and lenient landlord: "The Lough Gur estate fell into the hands of the Count de Salis and he proved himself a kind and just landlord to his tenants.
He was well known for his leniency to his tenants. He built many houses in his estates and the tenants afterwards became the possession of those houses when the estate was divided." (The Landlord: Count del Salis; www.duchas.ie)
House Book, Loughgur, Knockaney parish
In Griffiths Valuation of 1851, the Hickeys are found on two pieces of property, in lot 11a and lot 35a. In lot 11a, Thomas is renting a house, office and just over six acres of land from the Count de Salis. Bridget McGrath is show in Lot 10a. In lot 35a, Thomas is renting a small house only (worth eight shillings) with no land, from Patrick Gourey. This is the old, dilapidated property shown in the House Books.
Their neighbors were the Dalys, the
O'Donnells, and McGraths. The Dalys and the McGraths were
sponsors at the baptisms of the Hickey children. Another
neighbor was Edmund English, who leased a small lot from
The land valuations continued, and
in 1862, Ellen Hickey is shown renting the house, offices
and land. Thomas must have died between 1851 and 1862, and
left Ellen as head of household. The smaller house is still
shown as being rented by Thomas Hickey. This cannot be
Thomas's son, Thomas, as he emigrated to America in 1857,
had children in Chicago, and died in Chicago in 1865.
Patrick Hickey's son, Thomas, who later inherited the farm
is still too young to be the Thomas Hickey listed, as he was
only about seven years old.
Valuation List, Loughgur, Knockaney parish, 1864
Ellen is still shown on the same property in 1864, 1865, 1870 and 1873. The smaller house is still rented by Thomas Hickey. In 1870, Thomas Hickey is lined out on the valuation, and the house is shown as down. Thomas may have died or moved in with family.
Valuation List, Loughgur, Knockaney parish, 1865-1873
In 1889 Ellen Hickey is crossed out, and the land passes to Thomas Hickey. This Thomas (born 1855) is the oldest son of Patrick Hickey, Thomas and Ellen's oldest son. Patrick had died of bronchitis in 1867.
Valuation List, Loughgur, Knockaney parish, about 1889
Lot 11a passed from Thomas Hickey to Ellen Hickey, his widow, to Thomas Hickey, their grandson. It then passed to Thomas' widow, Mary, and then to Michael Hickey. The land still belongs to the Hickey family. It is currently owned by Thomas Hickey, a great-great grandson of our Thomas Hickey. He and his family live in the house, which he says is about 200 years old. The walls are of thick stone, and a beam with hooks for hanging hams is high above the fireplace. On the hill near the house, under a berry bush, is the foundation of the old house, which Mr. Hickey says is probably 400 years old or more. The Hickey family is considered to be one of the oldest names in the town, and has been there as long as anyone can remember.
Land Valuation list of 1933-1940, showing Lot 11 passing from Thomas Hickey to Mary Hickey and then Michael Hickey
Lough Gur is a flat, silvery lake of about four miles in circumference. It has two beautiful islands. The ruins of a castle, Bourchier's Castle can be found in a farmyard next to the lake. A description of Lough Gur is given in the book "The Farm by Lough Gur" by Mary Carberry. This autobiographical book describes the life of a young girl, born in 1858, who grew up by Lough Gur. Her father was John O'Brien, a close neighbor of the Hickeys. Tom Hickey, Thomas and Ellen's son was the head man on the O'Brien's farm. She describes Lough Gur in this way: "When I think of home I see first Lough Gur, lying in summer sunshine like a bright mirror, in which are reflected blue sky, bare hills, precipitous grey rocks and green pastures dotted with cattle and sheep; then a small white house, half-hiding the farm buildings behind it. Lough Gur with its ruined castles; Knockadoon and Knockfennel with their caves ancient forts; the stone-circles, the cromlechs and gowlauns were enchanting places to play in. The green hills were covered with sheets of ragweed and willow herb, loosestrife and furze, tiny pansies in the short turf, and bog cotton. Lough Gur dominates the scene. It was to us a personality loved, but also feared. Every seven years, so it is said, Gur demands the heart of a human being. Drownings were not infrequent and, as the bodies of the drowned were sometimes not recovered, Gur was said by some to be a bottomless lough. In the lake is Knockadoon hill, joined to the land by a causeway built on the isthmus, once guarded by two fortresses where now only one, the ruined Black Castle, remains. Sometimes we children climbed by a steep and stony way to the summit of Knockadoon, where, when father was a boy, eagles made their nest and flew about the hills searching for leverets and newborn lambs to feed their young. From the top of Knockadoon we could see Garret Island, interesting for its prehistoric remains which were visited from time to time by antiquaries who gave my mother curious implements of the stone age in return for her hospitality."
Lough Gur is the site of a major
archeological find. A Neolithic (about 3000 B.C.) settlement
site was found in the light limestone soils around Lough
Gur. In Lough Gur, farmers from Neolithic into Bronze Age
times, and herdsmen, lived on the same sites in dwellings of
stone and sticks. Other Lough Gur finds include Bronze Age
pottery, and Irish ritual circles, and pillarstones. In
Lough Gur townland is a National Monument, a wedge-shaped
gallery grave, in which were buried more than twelve
individuals. Mary Carberry recounts local beliefs about
ancient peoples: "Lough Gur has been called the Enchanted
Lake; some say that in ancient days there was a city where
the lake is now, before an earthquake threw up the hills and
filled the hollow with water so that the city was submerged.
The hills round Gur are bare of trees, but once they were
covered with forest. Great giants, who were among Ireland's
first people, hunted in the woods. On Baile-na-Cailleach one
of these giants lies buried in a stone coffin with a long
gold sword beside him. Old people who lived on the shore
believed that the giants built the stone circles which stand
near the lake, for who but giants could move such great
Lough Gur townland is in the parish
of Knockainy. Knockainy (or Aney) is a parish in
Smallcountry Barony, in County Limerick. In 1837, Knockainy
had a population of 4542 inhabitants. Knockainy takes its
name from Cnoc Aine, which means the hill of Aine. In Irish
mythology, Cnoc Aine is the Otherworld seat of the
sun-goddess, Aine. Until 1879, men used to bring flaming
cliara (bunches of hay and straw on poles) to the summit of
Cnoc Aine. Then they would visit villages, fields, and herds
to bring good luck. The cemetery sits atop the hill
overlooking the ruined castle of the Ormonds.
Lough Gur had its own legend.
Gerald the Rhymer, Earl of Desmond, who disappeared in 1398,
is said to sleep beneath its waters. Every seventh year he
emerges to ride the moonlit ripples of the lake, on a horse
with silver shoes.
There were also many local beliefs
and superstitions associated with holidays. May-Eve was
supposedly a night when evil powers were most powerful. Mary
Carberry recounts the stories she heard on a May-Eve from
Tom Hickey (Thomas and Ellen's son):
"Tis not the Good People I'd be in
dread of in the dark of night," Tom told them, "but to hear
the cry of the Ould Kings. There's them that thinks they'll
be on the move once more. The last time was in '48. My
father was on the top of Knockfennel, tending the Bel-fire
with a score of the neighbors when the cry of the Ould Kings
struck upon them. It came rolling like thunder over the
mountains from south to north, from east to west it rolled,
from sea to sea! And the ground heaved and broke, and rising
from the clay came the army of the dead. Ould warriors were
there with their ould war-horses; foot soldiers and
trumpeteers and drummers and all, waiting for the word of
command! Up the Shannon it came, along the rally and over
Lough Gur, loud as judgement-day, so everyone, living and
dead, must hear the cry of the Ould Kings. Then the army
gave an answering shout, clashing their shields and rattling
their swords, and letting out the ould war-cries of the
people." "Whatever for?", asked Bridgie, who was rather
matter-of-fact. "There's but the one thing," Tom answered,
"and that's Ireland! 'Twas to encourage the living to fight
for her like them ould warriors fought."
On Halloween night chairs were set
out for deceased family members to return to their old homes
in comfort. Mary Carberry remembers, "Father read the litany
for the Dead. We made the responses in hushed voices as if
we were listening for the rustling of home-faring souls.
Father prayed for his own dead and for mother's by name. He
prayed for Tom Hickey's father:
rest grant to them, O Lord
And may perpetual light shine upon them."
The Hickey family
gravestone in New Church, Lough Gur
The first person on the stone is Thomas Hickey, born about 1853, died 1931.
This is most likely where the other Hickey family members are buried.
The O'Hickeys were formerly Chiefs of a district in the vicinity of Killaloe, County Clare, also a cantred in the barony of Upper Connello, County Limerick. They were hereditary physicians to the O'Briens, Kings of Thomond, to the MacNamaras, lords of Hy-Caisin, and to the O'Kennedys of Ormond. Several of them are said to have compiled and translated valuable medical works, including a Latin Medical work, "The Rose". The O'Hickeys possessed a copy of "The Rose", a celebrated medical work compiled in 1344. The Hickeys are one of the Milesian families of Ireland, and it is said that a banshee attends the death of a member of the family.
This ordnance survey map shows the area of Knockroe in Lough Gur, where the Hickeys lived. The names of their neighbors have been added from Griffiths Valuation. Griffiths Valuation was a land census taken in 1851. This shows what the neighborhood was like when Maurice Hickey was a boy, at about 12 years old. Many of his neighbors acted as witnesses for family christenings. The Hickey family is found in Lots 11A and 35B, and also leasing to neighbor Edmund English in Lot 5A. Bridget McGrath, Thomas' sister occupied lot 10a. John O'Brien, whose daughter wrote "The Farm by Lough Gur" is found in Lot 1.
The occupants of Lough Gur townland in 1851 as found in Griffiths Valuation were:
John Brennan (son of Patrick)
Michael Daly (son of Tim)
James Daly (son of John)
James Daly (son of James)
Michael Daly (son of John)
Michael Raleigh (son of Edmund)
Michael Raleigh (son of James)
Patrick O'Brien (son of Patrick)
John O'Brien (son of Patrick)
John Brennan (son of John)
Denis and Mary Halvey
John Brennan (son of Patrick)
James Leo (son of Patrick)
James Leo (son of James)
John Hayes (son of Charles)
Patrick O'Brien (Hannan)
Patrick O'Brien (son of John)
Edward J. Croker, Esq.
Thomas Hayes (Batt.)
Thomas Hayes (Michael)
Edmund Connolly (son of Edmund)
FAMILY GROUP RECORD OF
THOMAS AND MARY HICKEY
This family group is speculative. Based on the family naming patterns, and the property occuped by Thomas Hickey, it is possible that the parents were Thomas and Mary Hickey. Their children would be:
1. Bridget, born in about 1795; married John McGrath 27 May 1816 in Knockainy, listed as being of Knockroe township; had children Mary (1817), Bridget (1820), Thomas (1822), and Ellen (1825); died between 1851 and 1862.
2. Thomas, born in
about 1800; married Ellen Allen 8 August 1823 in Bruff; of
Lough Gur; died between 1851 and 1862.
3. Maurice, born in
about 1802; married Ellen Sherwin 27 November 1823 in
Dromin and Athlacca; had children Mary (1824), Thomas
(1827), and William (1830).
4. John, born in
about 1804; married Anne Donovan; had children: Mary
(1821) and Bridget (1925); died of head injuries from a
fight in Lough Gur 7 March 1836, brother Maurice testified
at trial in 1838.
Applotment; Griffiths Valuation; Valuation Lists; 1901
census; The Lough Gur & Districk Historical Society
Journal, 1988; Knockainy parish register; Limerick
Ancestry at www.limerick.brsgenealogy.com; Limerick