County Limerick Genealogy

County Limerick Genealogy

Limerick Ancestry - County Limerick Family History

Irish name: Liatroim

Irish name: Luimneach

County Limerick is one of the twenty-six counties of the Republic of Ireland, and also one of the thirty-two counties of Ireland, located within the province of Munster. It was named after the city of Limerick (Irish: Luimneach) which has an urban population of about 100,000 people. Limerick is the tenth largest of Ireland’s 32 counties in area and seventh largest in terms of population. It is the fifth largest of Munster’s 6 counties in size and second largest in terms of population.

The River Shannon flows through the city of Limerick and into the Atlantic Ocean at the north of the county. Below the city, the waterway is known as the Shannon Estuary. Because the estuary is shallow, the county's most important port is several kilometres west of Limerick city, at Foynes. Newcastle West is the most important county town outside of Limerick city with a population of around 10,000. Other towns mainly lie along the Limerick – Tralee roads (N21) and Limerick – Cork road (N20).

It is thought that humans had established themselves in the Lough Gur area of the county as early as 3000 BC, while megalithic remains found at Duntryleague date back further to 3500 BC. The arrival of the Celts around 400 BC brought about the division of the county into petty kingdoms or túatha.

From the 4th to the 12th century, the ancient kingdom of the Uí Fidgenti was approximately co-extensive with what is now County Limerick, with some of the eastermost part the domain of the Eóganacht Áine. Having finally lost an over two-century-long conflict with the neighboring O'Briens of Dál gCais, most of the rulers fled for County Kerry and soon after that County Cork. Their lands were almost immediately occupied by the FitzGeralds and other Norman families, who permanently prevented their return. The ancestors of both Michael Collins and the famous O'Connells of Derrynane were among these princes of the Uí Fidgenti. The Norse-Irish O'Donovans, descendants of the notorious Donnubán mac Cathail, were the leading family at the time and were responsible for the conflict.

The precise ethnic affiliation of the Uí Fidgenti is lost to history and all that is known for sure is that they were cousins of the equally shadowy Uí Liatháin of early British fame. Officially both are said to be related to the Eóganachta but a variety of evidence suggests associations with the Dáirine and Corcu Loígde, and thus distantly the infamous Ulaid of ancient Ulster. In any case, it is supposed the Uí Fidgenti still make a substantial contribution to the population of the central and western regions of County Limerick. Their capital was Dún Eochair, the great earthworks of which still remain and can be found close to the modern town of Bruree, on the River Maigue. Catherine Coll, the mother of Éamon de Valera, was a native of Bruree and this is where he was taken by her brother to be raised.

Christianity came to Limerick in the 5th Century, and resulted in the establishment of important monasteries in Limerick, at Ardpatrick, Mungret and Kileedy. From this golden age in Ireland of learning and art (5th - 9th Centuries) comes one of Ireland's greatest artefacts, The Ardagh Chalice, a masterpiece of metalwork, which was found in a west Limerick fort in 1868.

The arrival of the Vikings in the 9th century brought about the establishment of the city on an island on the River Shannon in 922. The death of Domnall Mór Ua Briain, King of Munster in 1194 resulted in the invading Normans taking control of Limerick, and in 1210, the County of Limerick was formally established. Over time, the Normans became "more Irish than the Irish themselves" as the saying goes. The Tudors in England wanted to curb the power of these Gaelicised Norman Rulers and centralise all power in their hands, so they established colonies of English in the county. This caused the leading Limerick Normans, The Geraldines, to revolt against English Rule in 1569. This sparked a savage war in Munster known as the Desmond Rebellions, during which the province was laid to waste, and the confiscation of the vast estates of the Geraldines.
Patrick Sarsfield the prominent Jacobite general, features on the Limerick coat of arms.

The county was to be further ravaged by war over the next century. After the Irish Rebellion of 1641, Limerick city was taken in a siege by Catholic general Garret Barry in 1642. The county was not fought over for most of the Irish Confederate Wars, of 1641-53, being safely behind the front lines of the Catholic Confederate Ireland. However it became a battleground during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in 1649-53.

The invasion of the forces of Oliver Cromwell in the 1650s included a twelve month siege of the city by Cromwell's New Model Army led by Henry Ireton. The city finally surrendered in October 1651. One of Cromwell's generals, Hardress Waller was granted lands at Castletown near Kilcornan in County Limerick. During the Williamite War in Ireland (1689–1691) the city was to endure two further sieges, one in 1690 and another in 1691. It was during the 1690 siege that the infamous destruction of the Williamite guns at Ballyneety, near Pallasgreen was carried out by General Patrick Sarsfield. The Catholic Irish, comprising the vast majority of the population, had eagerly supported the Jacobite cause, however, the second siege of Limerick resulted in a defeat to the Williamites. Sarsfield managed to force the Williamites to sign the Treaty of Limerick, the terms of which were satisfactory to the Irish. However the Treaty was subsequently dishonoured by the English and the city became known as the City of the Broken Treaty.

The 18th and 19th centuries saw a long period of persecution against the Catholic majority, many of who lived in poverty. In spite of this oppression, however, the famous Maigue Poets strove to keep alive their ancient Gaelic Poetry in towns like Croom and Bruree. The Great Famine of the 1840s set in motion mass emigration and a huge decline in Irish as a spoken language in the county. This began to change around the beginning of the 20th century, as changes in law from the British Government enabled the farmers of the county to purchase lands they had previously only held as tenants, paying high rent to absentee landlords.

Limerick saw much fighting during the War of Independence of 1919 to 1921 particularly in the east of the county. The subsequent Irish Civil War saw bitter fighting between the newly established Irish Free State soldiers and IRA "Irregulars", especially in the city.

Previous County Limerick Genealogy Research

Some towns and villages of county Limerick where we have researched Limerick Ancestors are;

1. Limerick City 2. Adare. 3. Glin 4. Croom 5. Bruff 6. Broadford. 7. Kilmallock 8. Castleconnell 9. Galbally 10. Rathkeele

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Civil Parishes of County Limerick

If you are researching Limerick ancestors, there are many civil parishes in County Limerick and the church registries can be researched in the National Library in Dublin. They are as follows;

Genealogy Sources for each Irish County

Antrim Armagh Carlow Cavan
Clare Cork Derry (Londonderry) Donegal
Down Dublin Fermanagh Galway
Kerry Kildare Kilkenny Laois
Leitrim Limerick Longford Louth
Mayo Meath Monaghan Offaly
Roscommon Sligo Tipperary Tyrone
Waterford Westmeath Wexford Wicklow

Major Sources of Irish Ancestry

Church Records Land Records Directories
Registry of Deeds Wills Emigration Records
Newspapers

 

MY IRISH ANCESTORS FREE GENEALOGY ASSESSMENT

If you need advice from one of our genealogy research team send a message and we will be happy to help. click HERE for more information

OUR PRELIMINARY RESEARCH IS NOW REDUCED

My Irish Ancestors have reduced our Preliminary Research by 65%

Was £130 Now £49.99 CLICK HERE for more information