Spellacy Papers

This was a letter recieved by my sister in 1986, from the Clare Heritage Center, Corofin, Ireland. 

2nd May, 1986

Civil registration only commenced in 1864 andprior to this date we depend almost entirely on church records to provide details on family histories. The age and condition of these records varies very much from parish to parish, Kilrush begins  in 1828 and unfortunately we would not have baptismal information on others born here prior to this date. The Spellissey surname was quite common in the Kilrush area and because they were so numerous it is very difficult to establish exactly who was related to who. No fewer than five John Spellisey’s were married in Kilrush between 1831 and 1843. Another interesting feature is that out of 27 families of this surname in Kilrush only  four occur later than 1850.  John Spellissey’s married Nora Hartney on February 12th 1839. The witnesses were Pat and Anne Spellissey (probably brother and sister to John) and Mary  McInerney. The address for both John and Nora is given as Ballykett. The record also shows that John Spellissey’s father was also John and that Nora’s father was Denis Hartney.

John and Nora had three children baptised in Ireland-

Matt   Baptised   20-6-1841      Sponsers ; James Killeen, Anne Spellissey

Mary   Baptised 05-01-1844     Sponsers ; Pat & Mary Sullivan

Anne   Baptised 22-04-1846     Sponsers;  John Mangin , Mary Daly

It appears that all of John Spellisseys immediate family must have been born prior to 1828. Our records do however show the last two members of Nora Hartneys family. This record shows her parents as Denis Hartney and Bridget Doyle. The children on our records are Sinon baptised April 8th 1828 and John baptised April 19th 1831. There is no further record on any of this family who appear to have emigrated or moved elsewhere before 1850.

Three other Spellissey families are show in Ballykett. These are Tim Spellissey and Mary Carmody who had three children between 1828 and 1834. John Spellissey married to Mary Lillis had four children between 1836 and 1845 and Patrick Spellissey married to Bridget O’Dea had seven children between 1853 and 1868. While we have already assumed that John had a brother Patrick it is unlikely that this last family were closely related.  

Your sincerely,

Gerard Kennedy, Director


Then next we have a report compiled by my sister  “Spellacys of Ohio”

The following Spellacy Family history has been received from Margaret Spellacy Kraft

Our Irish correspondent, Sean Spellissy, Ennis, County Clare, Ireland, believes  all those  with the last name Spelliscy, Spellacy, Spellissy, or any other spelling of the name , are related if they claim any areaaround Ennis, County Clare as their Ancestral home.

1. John Spellacy, immigrated from Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland abt. 1848 with his wife Honora (Hartney). It is believed they arrived in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and John began working for the railroad. Family tradition has it that the Spellacys worked well with  horses in Ireland, and handled the horses well, so it is probable they used this talent in Canada, and America.

John and Nora (Honora) later settled in Portmouth, Ohio abt. 1860. They had six children. 

2. Timothy Spellacy;  A brother of John Spellacy who is said to have immigrated to America shortly after John

3. Patrick Spellacy; A brother of John and Timothy who also is said to have immigrated to America Shortly after John.

Note; One of the above brothers settled in California and this branch of the Spellacys was referred to as the “Gold Spellacys”, The other brother settled in Colorado, and this branch of the family was  referred to as the “Tin Spellacys”. The branch of the Spellacys which remained in Ohio and worked on the railroads, were referred to as the “Dirt  Spellacys”


And finally I have found in my newspaper archive searches so many facinating stories of Spellacys of every calling, Soldiers and Spy’s, Attorneys and Senators. Oil men and Gold prospectors. Quite a remarkable group. I think my Great Grand Dad’s obit said it best…Strong Men and Gentle Women. Look them up online you’ll be in a state of wonder…I’m related to these characters?!  You can go to “Google Books” and put the Spellacy/Spellissy name in the search engine and just be amazed at what comes up. Or, go to www.newspaperarchive.com sign up, you can look up 3 articles a day for free. Some really neat stuff out there. That’s where I found some really old obituaries, and they were just the start on other family names I needed. Happy Hunting!

11 responses to “Spellacy Papers

  1. Edward J. Spellacy Jr

    My great grandfather, Michael Spellacy immigrated to the US in 1857 and came thru the port of Philadelphia. He served in the US navy during the civil war, and lived in Chester, PA.
    I have no other background information from Ireland other than the family was from the Ennis area. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    • Dear Edward,
      If your family lore or documentation reflects the Ennis area than you need to read “Spellissy, Spellacy a rose by any other name…” here in this blog. Just keep clicking back until you get to it. The essay is about the theory of Irish Author and Historian, Sean Spellissy about the history of the Spellissy/Spellacy name in Ireland. Sean communicated with my sister by letter in the mid 80’s and I documented the letter’s Spellacy/Spellissy history here in that essay. This theory also appears in Sean’s book on Limerick almost verbatim. As far as traceing your Great Granddad, I found mention of him on Google Books, by putting michael spellacy chester pennsylvania in the search field and hitting enter, up came “Idyls of the Old South ward’ page 42 speaks highly of him and mentions his location in the town. Good Luck with you search back into Ireland, but pre-famine we were a healthy, proliferate group. Are you aware of his history here? Is he one of the Spellacy Brothers Timothy, Peter and Michael who worked in the oil field and went to mexico…if so there are other books in Google Books that cover his testimony in front of a congressional committee. Either way, welcome to the group…there are literally hundreds of us now all over the world. I like to think that those that went through so much to get here, were rewarded by large and loving families. Good Luck with you search.
      Sheila Spellacy Follman

      ps Check the responses to the essays and perhaps find a cousin or two!

  2. Frank Spellacy

    As perhaps of some interest my great grand father was also a Michael Spellacy, b June 1821 in Limerick, son of Thomas Spellacy and Mary Ryan. Some years ago I had correspondence with someone of the Ohio Spellacys and could find no overlap, still the name is not all that common.

    • Dear Frank,
      Thanks for your information regarding your Great Grandfather Michael Spellacy and his parents, Thomas Spellacy and Mary Ryan. I’ll tell you Frank, this is a lot bigger a family than we could ever suspect coming from such a tiny Island. There seem’s to be Spellacys to the right of me and Spellacys’ to the left of me…we’re are a prolific and curious lot. It only makes sense we would eventually all come together. Here’s a wonderful site that show the distribution of the family name with the spelling of “Spellacy” ; http://www.publicprofiler.org/worldnames/Default.aspx

      And I’m sure with a name like “Spellacy”, I shall remain your everlovin’ cousin, and don’t forget Sean Spellissy (the author/bookseller/geneaologist in Ireland) he’s written a great book on Limerick.
      Sheila Spellacy Follman

  3. Graeme Jenkins

    My grand father was Christopher Spellacy. Arrived in New Zealand in the 1920’s. Born we think in Yorkshire UK.Died 1964 Tauranga New Zealand.
    Want to know more about him.

    • Dear Graeme,
      I think your best bet in starting the search for your Grand-dad’s story would be to go to the civil records that you know exist, starting from the ship’s manifest that he came into New Zealand on and work your way back to the port he sailed from. Good luck with your search and thanks for your comment to thekatebook.com.
      Sheila Spellacy Follman ( author thekatebook)

  4. I have read with great interest your information on John Spellacy. I have started to research my family tree. My great grand-father is the Patrick Spellacy ( Ballykett), mentioned in your piece above, married to Bridget O Dea, who had 7 children, one of which, Mary, was my grand-mother. She later married a Patrick Carey who came to live in Ballykett and there by changing the name on all records which were previously Spellacy to Carey. My brother still lives on the family farm in Ballykett. I know that it states that it is unlikely that Patrick was related to John, I wounder if it is possible that they may have been? Glad that I came accross your information, which is so encouraging.

    • Dear Angela,

      Thanks for your kind and informative note regarding your Spellacy/ Carey connections. I was facinated as I had just spent the weekend at a family “Cabbage Roll Throwdown” hosted by my first cousin Eileen Carey Hewitt and walked into the kitchen as she and our joint cousin Eileen Kelly who’s mother had been a Carey, talked about how difficult it was for their sons to find nice girls that they weren’t related to by the Carey side in Cleveland. And now if I understand you correctly the Spellacy side is thrown in the mix more than once too. Damn if thse bloodlines aren’t beginning to look like a Royal Family…and that ain’t good! Anyway, thanks for your great letter and may you have nothing but wonderful luck with the family research. As far as being part of our brood, I’m sure you are. I mean how big was Ballykett in it’s heyday…500 souls? But here’s my sister Margaret Kraft’s email address and write and let her know what you have and if she can be of any help she will. She said it was alright to give this out to any curious family members…so here it is…


      that’s Margaret Spellacy Kraft, my sister and she loves this genealogy stuff and is my souce for information.

      Thanks again


  5. augustine peter salcedo

    hi and hello my name is augustine peter salcedo and my mother was ann spellacy her father christopher leo spellacy that all i now of him but would like to get to know more of him as he is my grandad

    peter salcedo

    • Dear Peter,
      My best advice to you would be to start at your local library. Also any family memories that might take you back to a paper trail, birth certificates, wedding records and the like. You don’t mention your area but really it doesn’t matter the resouces are at your fingertips and remain the same always. Get thee to a Public Library and look online with their computer through their paid for membership to “Ancestery.com”” and you’ll find just how to check the census and locate and track your family through time. Good Luck with your seach! Start at the very best of places the one with most of the answers…the library.

  6. Sally Donlon Zimmer

    My gr. gr. grandmother, Mary Spellacy, married Patrick Donlon. They lived in the small townland, Burren, and were members of the Kilchreest Parish. To my knowledge they had 5 children. I have the baptismal record for Honor. She was baptized in 1846 in Kilcreest Parish. This family shows up in Gainesville,NY in 1853 with 4 children, Thomas, Michael, Patrick and Bridget. This townland is in the Lisseycasey-Ballynacally area which is not far from Ennis.

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