Spellissy,Spellacy, a rose by any other name….

 

      First of all, this County Clare where all our Spellacy/Spellissy family branch is from is one wild and crazy place. Literally, I’m reading up on it in an old book online available through Google Books, “History of Clare and the Dalcassian Clans” by Rev. Patrick White ( the local parish priest at Kilrush) in 1893. What a eye opener. Shades of the Princess Bride and the Hobbit. There are the Cliffs of Moher, (actually the cliffs used in the Princes Bride as the “Cliffs of Despair’) and The Burrens, and a river that springs from the mountains then runs underground for miles only to reappear above ground “the Tuameens”, the Kilrush parish Priest who wote this in 1893 talks of a legend that states the land between the cliffs was sunken eons ago during an earthquake and locals say that you can sometime see the tops of old buildings down there through the water. I’ve been doing some research and re-reading old family letters to genealogist about the family. And things ( to paraphrase Alice in Wonderland), just get curiouser and curiouser.

Are we ( County Clare Spellacys,Spellissys) descended from an young man born in Spoleto, Italy (or at that time the duchy of Umbria) ? Working as a mercenary for the Spanish only to have his ship wrecked upon the coast of Clare (Spanish Point). It had been part of the Armada and wrecked on Ireland’s County Clare shores. Then he and a few others came ashore only to caught and and then hanged? What a life ? Can you imagine, being a young boy in Spoleto, Italy. Being a descendant of a tribe of “Umbri” who live in a area of northern Italy and are supposed to have survived the deluge (See Noah!) only to find yourself in 1588 working for the Spanish as a mercenary then to lose your vessel off the coast of Ireland. Well Family legend in the Clare/Ennis branch of the SpellissyFamily says that we of that  group (of the dark hair, with hearing problems in our left ears among our men) are all descended from one of these soldiers…”A man who came in from the waters, a “John Spellissy”.

Here’s the heart of the letter from a man who may be a distant relative who is also a author and genealogist in Ireland in 1982…(I recently found it) trying to consolidate papers.

“The name “Spellissy” is of Thomond (North Munster) origin and rarely found outside of Clare or Limerick. More often on the Clare side than any other region. The genealogist I prefer to quote is the Rev. Patrick Woulfe who published “Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall” in 1923. He listed five different versions of the family name.   Spellissy,Spilacy,Spillessy, O’Spealghusa and O’Spilgheasa. Curiously enough he omitted “Spellacy” which was used most frequently in his area i.e.Limerick. McLysaght’s Genealogies are less exact and I personally think a lot of his material is culled almost directly from Woulfe’s work. However they both agree that the name is derived from “Speal” “to scythe or scythe “Ghusa” energetically or with vigor thereby the name simply means, “The Strong Scythe-men”.

At this point the Geneaologist list a fellow Spellissy geneaologist who belives differently. This London Spellissy disagrees with this and claims that the name is derived from “Spoleto”, in the north of Italy, but he has no material to back up his claim. However family lore lends a certain plausibility to this story. The London Spellissy claims we are all descended from a John Spellissy who arrived in Ireland, via the north of Spain in 1540 and was subsequently hanged in Milton Malbay with 12 survivors of the Spanish Armada wrecked off Spanish Point in 1588. There is a record of this execution but no names are given. In the same year the widow and son of this Spellissy were given a grant of land in Tirmaclane, 5 miles southwest of Ennis. All Spellissy families from Ennis, Kilmaly and Ennistymon were derived from the Tirmaclane Spellissys, whose holdings passed from their possession a few years ago, in 1978. Old George Spellissy used to claim he was descended from “A Man who came in from the Water” and  1976 we had quite a conversation. We agreed that the Ennis Spellissys were decendants of the Tirmaclane Spellissys and George thought The London Spellissy’s story might have some basis in fact.

As a Family we have had no  prominent personages and have kept a very low profile in Clare and other parts. “The History and Topography of County Clare” written by James Frost in 1893 and still the preimeir history book on the county. In “The Incuiquin Manuscripts” a compliation of family letters of the O’Brien dynasty, Lords of Thromond, decendants of B ian Boru a lot of Spellissy is mentioned in the letter 1581 as having been granted land on the “Corcasse of Clare” in the mid century and in letter 1468 Denis Spellissy is mentioned as “a gentleman” loyal to the Lords of Thomond in the mid eighteenth century. 

Later in the letter, the author goes on to state “One characteristic of the male Spellissys is the fact that they are all dark haired with the exception of Turlough (Ennis 1928) The one trait running through the family, on the Ennis side is a slight tendancy to deafness in the left ear.”

Advertisements

45 responses to “Spellissy,Spellacy, a rose by any other name….

  1. This was great! I was looking through Google, to find some information on the Spellicy name and came across your blog. A lot of great information! I live in Australia, and this handed down a fair bit of information to me!

    • Well hello Cousin,
      I’m sure that with a name like ours, you’re related or as Dad would say, “Ireland’s and Island were all related” . I’m glad that you enjoyed finding the information, but it’s really based on the information given by a gentleman named “Sean Spellissy” (probably also a cousin to us ). He is a Bookseller and Author. His is the letter to my sister Margaret is what this piece is based on and he has written quite a few books on that area of Ireland. Thanks for you response, and good luck with the family search, may you meet the nicest people!
      Sheila Spellacy Follman
      590 Columbus Ave.
      Marblehead, Ohio, 43440 USA

    • Kate,
      I knew your cousin Sean in Innis, he’s a great man and a wonderful historian. He and his sister own the book store down town and live above it. Sean is the real Clark Kent/Super man and a patriotic man to a fault. Adventures with him will always be fond in my memory. When he took off his glass’s the full pub came to a silence- waiting to see what he was about to say or do. One look kept from him kept all troubles away. In the evenings he would take me to meet his friends who owned the castles and we’d have a pint and talk politics. Write him, he’d love to hear from his people.

      • Dear Gayle,
        This is Sheila, I’ve named the blog “thekatebook” in honor of my sister Kate Spellacy Buskirk, because just like Sean, she’s a brilliant, kind woman who people react much the same too. Your words about Sean are insightful and kind. I’ll take your advice and see if I can’t get in contact with that that terrific Sean Spellacy. Thank you for writing.

        Sheila Spellacy Follman

  2. The article is usefull for me. I’ll be coming back to your blog.

  3. Tom Spellissy

    I am the grandson of George Spellissy, Tiermaclane, Ennis, Co. Clare. Your data is fairly accurate. I spent many summers during the 60’s and early 70’s with my grandfather. He told me the story of “John Spellissy” and that we were in fact descendants from ” a man from the sea.” My great grandfather was a postman. My uncle George is living in Ballynacally, Co. Clare and my father Tom Spellissy is living in Belleair, Florida, USA. My aunt Mary lives in Chicago, Illinois, USA. I have Spellissy cousins living in Co. Clare, St. Louis, Missouri, Chicago, Wisconsin and New York. I have a sisters living in Co. Clare, New Port Richey and Clearwater, Florida and a brother living in Clearwater. My opinion is that there is no question that we are descendants from a soldier. Spellissy’s are fighters and are very loyal to each other and causes we believe in.

    • Dear Tom,
      Thank you so much for the kind words. I find it simply wonderful that the spirit and presence of our family is found in all these great places. What a wonder this group is and from what Sean Spellissy wrote about gleaning information from your Granddad (a generous and insightful soul) has helped so many in their search. Some lives just make such a difference. And now you, it must be genetic!
      Thanks so,
      Sheila Spellacy Follman

    • Dear Tom,
      I am going to post some papers my sister gave me about the family when our branch was still in Ireland. I’ll put it on today, under the title “Spellacy Papers”. Thanks so for sharing your information from your wonderful Grandfather. Lucky him to have you, and lucky you, to realize his gift to you.
      Sheila Spellacy Follman

    • George Spellissy, the teacher listed in the 1901 and 1911 census in Clonmoney, Co. Clare – was he connected ?

      • Dear Declan, I don’t know. You will have to do the research. But being on an island and in the same county with the same last name I would think so!

      • No, I don’t think they were connected.

      • Tom Spellissy

        I did some research this morning and I do believe the George Spellissy, the teacher is connected. Clonmoney is south of Bunratty and in close proximity to Shannon. George Spellissy from Clonmoney is most likely my great grand uncle.

  4. Tom Spellissy

    Sheila,

    My great grandfather, Tom Spellissy, had two brothers, George and John. They lived close to Shannon (Shannon Airport) which is between Tiermaclane and Limerick. Both were bachelors.

    Tom

  5. What fun I happened upon this site! My great-grandfather was Michael, variously Spellicy, Spellessey, Spelissy, Spellissy, depending on the document and the immigrant. He was from Coolmeen, which I have visited and which is also close to Shannon Airport. I wonder if he was a “man of the sea” or an Italian!

    Family lore is that my grandfather changed the spelling of the name from Spellicy to Spellecy as he preferred “e”s on both sides of the “l”s. I live in St. Louis. There is a Jack Spellacy here whom I’ve not met so I’m not sure if I’m the reference in Tom Spellissy’s note above, or not. Or maybe there are others I’m unaware of. Interestingly, my father’s and grandfather’s names were Tom.

    • Dear Mike,
      Thanks for your kind comments about the piece on “Spellissy, Spellacy a rose by any other name”. I’ve just been delighted to find so many relatives all over the wide world responding to this article. It’s enough to make a wonderful book about “the Irish Diaspora” and how you can’t let it push or keep a family apart…at least not with a family name like ours! So whether it be New Zealand or Australia, New York or St. Louis, our relatives abound, and it looks like they did it with a wealth of humor and a wee bit of smarts. Start looking keep laughing and enjoy the journey!

      your cousin, Sheila Spellacy Follman

  6. hi i now live in mornington victoria and would like to find out about our name

    • Dear John,
      Thanks for your response to the article on Spellacy’s. I would suggest your search for you roots in the spellacy name start with whatever information you have on your own branch of family and build on that. The article you read here is based on a terrific geneologist in Ireland’s letter to my sister years ago and some basic research I did on the internet, but mostly on Sean Spellissy letter. All the keys are there and thanks to google books you can look online into a lot of the references he referred to. “History of the Declassian Clans”, Clare History, etc. Any book Sean has mentioned in his research run through “google books” and some can be viewed online. It’s a start and a ton of history and fun. Ireland when it was Wild…
      Let me know how you do, and thanks for the comments.
      Sheila Spellacy Follman

  7. Am off to County Clare and would like to contact Sean Spellacy.
    Any idea how to do that?
    My great grandparents were Martin and Bridget! Their daughter Josephine married Martin McGraw. One of their children was Daniel Benjamin who married Anna Cronin. Their son, Ben (Bud) is my dad.

    • Thank you Tom, and yes Shannon I spoke with my sister Margaret who says Sean is still in Ennis. Tom’s advice as always is best. Good luck with the visit.

      Sheila

  8. Shannon,
    Sean Spellissy lives in the town of Ennis, which is located in County Clare. Ennis is about 20 minutes from Shannon Airport. He used to own a book store there and it has been sold. The locals will be able to help you once you get to Ennis.

  9. I will try to find him via the locals. I heard from my Canadian cousins that Sean might have moved to Galway? If he sold his book store, he is perhaps retired? He certainly authored many books – all of which would be wonderful reads.

  10. Shaun Patrick Spelliscy

    Well done. I learned more about my name in the last few minutes than the past few decades. Thank you.
    Sláinte mhaith!

    • Dear Shaun,
      Thank you for your kind comments. I however am only responsible for putting it on the Net. The real heroes are Sean Spellissy of Ennis, Ireland who compliled the original work and sent it to my sister Margaret Kraft (the other hero) in a letter. It was she who not only sought out Sean Spellissy and his work as a Geneaologist/ Author/ Bookseller, but also passed on the information to me her sibling. Once again thanks for the kind comments.

      Sheila Spellacy Follman

  11. Interesting that I located this blog prior to a 2 week visit to Scarriff, Ireland –
    a small fishing village located on Lough Derg, 30 miles east of Ennis.
    With Irish luck while attending a musical celebration at St Cronin’s 10th Century church, the East Clare Heritage society asked if I had relatives in Ireland. I duly replied that I did indeed and would be interested in speaking to Sean Spelliscy of Ennis. Shorthly thereafter I was speaking to Sean on the cell phone. His fishing friend and heritage specialist, Ger Madden, rang him up for me. Small world! Sean no longer lives in Enis, but north of there in Gort. Ger described Sean’s new location as the “outback” of Ireland. The two would be together fishing the following weekend, so I sent my card with a note to Sean. Perhaps someday he will find the time to respond with a note to me. Ger did say that Sean was not adept with the computer, so emails are not a possibility!

    • Dear Shannon,
      Thanks for the update on Sean in Ireland. Sounds like you had an amazing time. I’m so glad you had the opportunity to go, and you continue to be such a terrific source of information for all of us. Many Thanks!

      Sheila

  12. great information.have been looking for years for something like this will read on and dig deeper.

    • Thanks for the kind words Ian. Keep your research up and enjoy every new fact you find. It’s the story of you.

      Sheila

  13. Have been looking information like this for years Great will read on.

  14. great info would like to here more

  15. philip spellacy

    Hi
    My name is Philip Spellacy and I live in Leeds, England. My brother John in Australia has already made contact with you above. I am an artist and lived in Ireland for a while. I visited Sean Spellisey in Ennis and he is a lovely chap. I also visited Spellacy’ Cross just south of Limerick, and went into the local pub Spellacy’s Arms. There is also a square in Limerick called Spellacy Square.
    I am having an exhibtion of my paintings in Leeds this July so get in touch and I will send more details of when the show opens and where it being held.

    Philip

    • Dear Philip,

      Thank you for the information regarding Spellacy Cross south of Limerick the local pub Spellacy Arms, and the square in Limerick called Spellacy Square…that I have heard of. I’d be happy to post notice of the exhibition of your paintings in the gallery in Leeds if you’d forward the information. Please include a photo of your work you’d like included in the article and I’m sure your cousins round the world will be very proud and delighted to call you one of our own. Thanks for including us!

      Sheila
      thekatebook.com

  16. My gg grandmother was a Honora Spellacy who lived in Massachusetts with her husband (Thomas Bowler) from about 1860 to 1870 and then in Rockville CT until her death in 1903. She had a brother named John Spellacy who also lived in Rockville and another brother named Patrick who lived in Springfield MA. Honora’s parents were a Patrick Spellacy and a Catherine Murphy. I found a family with all of these members, except the last name was Spillane, not Spellacy, on the Dingle Peninsula in Kerry. Honora was listed as a Spillane in her marriage to Thomas Bowler. Anyone know if Spillane was a common alternative to Spellacy?

    • Dear Kevin,

      I suppose it’s possible that the name Spillane could be an alternative for the name Spellacy or Spellissy. All it would take is one case of sloppy or tired handwriting on the part of a census taker or immigration document or ships manifest to turn and entire families name into something akin to the real name. Did this name Spillane occur
      only on one occasion?

      Just a thought. But if it did I would believe it was just an error on that one report. Good luck with your research. Hope you’ll have luck contacting Spellacy relatives through leaving notes like this one you’ve posted.

      Thanks for the comment.
      Sheila
      Thekatebook

  17. Mark R Spellacy

    My name is mark r spellacy slightly deaf in left ear father was to , I find this very interesting.

  18. I only just found this blog, and like Mark above, find the conversation interesting, I am originally from Glasgow Scotland. My grandfather used to tell the tale of how we were descended from a sailor shipwrecked on the Scottish coast at the time of the armada. He also said the name itself was somewhat amended from its original form to be slightly more anglified. It would be most interesting to learn both the truth as to our (joint?) origins and also to determine if the name originated ex the armada in Ireland, and then some moved to Scotland, or vice versa.

    • Tom Spellissy

      Ian, I think it is reasonable to conclude that our families are decendants from the “sea.” I always thought this because my grandfather, George Spellissy would reference this fact. There is a town in West Clare called Spanish Point and it was named this after the Spanish Armada was defeated off the coast of Ireland. I truly believe that we have Spanish or Italian blood in us. Thank you for your post, more evidence for my theory and backs up my grandfather’s story.

      • Ian Spellacy

        Tom, having done some extensive research, I now draw my own conclusions which although almost impossible to prove, I find them logical and the most probable of the various possible scenarios. It is a historical fact that more galleons were wrecked off the Irish coast than off Scotland. It is also a historical fact that of the survivors who came ashore, the majority were killed by the English…with several historical associations stating that the remainder “fled to Scotland”. I therefore offer the following three possibilities:

        Our shared ancestor washed ashore in Ireland, survived the bloodletting then fled to Scotland, established a family, and at some point the family subsequently returned to Ireland. (I like this one)

        Our ancestor was wrecked off Scotland, raising a family, with the family subsequently moving to Ireland.

        He was wrecked off Ireland, somehow survived, then raised a family in Ireland. i consider this the most unlikely, due to the slaughter of the seamen and the fact survivors who fled to Scotland were aided by the irish, who surprisingly (lol) had no particular love for the English.

        Be interested in what you/others might think.

      • Tom Spellissy

        I think your third theory is very likely for my family because in those days it was tradition for the winning Naval force to execute the officer and NCOs of the defeated force and let the workers or slaves free. I believe that there were many Italians working as slaves on those Spanish ships and that our family most likely has Italian blood in us. Almost all of my Spellissy relatives could pass for being Italian or even Spanish because of our skin features and it is especially noticable after we spend days at the beach or in the sun. I remember from my youth that some even called me “Black Irish.” I find our family history very interesting. Also, in West Clare, Ireland there is a coastal town called Spanish Point which my grandfather referred to where the Spellissy’s came from.

  19. Hi. This site is really excellent. My great great grandmother was a Honora Spellacy, who first shows up in Palmer, MA, where she married a Thomas Bowler. She spent most of her life in Rockville, CT. Her sibling, Patrick Spellacy, arrived around the same time and spent his life in Springfield MA. There were other Spellacy’s in Rockville (John Spellacy) and Springfield MA (James and his kids, Patrick and Honora) and Hartford CT (James, Thomas, Bridget), who I’m convinced were cousins of some degree to Patrick and Honora. In many of this first generation’s marriage records, the name shows up as Spillane (spelled Splane, or Spellane, etc.). Is anyone aware that Spellacy and Spillane were variants, especially in the Castlegregory/Annascaul area in Dingle, County Kerry?

  20. Oops. Just noticed that I previously posted the same question. Sorry.

  21. TERENCE ROBINSON

    My grandnothers maiden name was spellacy she was born in Ireland she and her parents my great grandparents immigrated to England round about 1890s later she married my grandfather an Englisman. So if any Spellacy out there reading this we are most likely related Royalsigs2724@yahoo.com.
    Terence Robinson

  22. Has anyone ever had an ancestry DNA test? I am tempted to do this myself.

  23. Hi there, I have just read your very very interesting article and comments on our Spellacey family. We actually met Sean Spellacey whilst visiting Ireland some years ago, what a very interesting man he was and so full of historical facts. We are still trying to find information on my husbands family of Michael Spellacey who was born in Clare (a miller) and went to UK where his son (another Michael Spellacey) was born, along with others. Have hit a brick wall so to speak so if there is anyone out there who has information on that part of the family we would love to hear from you, Kevjen1969@bigpond.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s