This page is a tribute to my parents Michael and Johanna Hennigan, who were both natives of County Cork.

Both were born in 1914 and raised on small farms, a challenging lot before the bonanza of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy.

This is a copy of an original colour photograph that was taken in 1954 in Gortnamucklagh, Dunmanway, West Cork, by visiting American cousin Father John Smith, grandson of Michael Joseph Hennigan who had emigrated to the US in the 1870. Maurice, Mary and Thomas - first three children of Michael and Johanna Hennigan


The Hennigans are an ancient Irish family descended from Ithe, uncle of King Milesius of Spain. It's origins are in North-East County Tipperary, a sept of the tribe called Ui Fiachach. O'Hennigan or Hennigan is an Anglicisation of the Gaelic Ó h-Éanacháin, Ó h-Éineacháin or Ó h-Éanagáin. Spelling variations include: Heenan, Henehan, Henaghan, Heenon, Hanegan, Hannegan, Hanigan, Hannigan, Haneghan and some others. 
The surname is assumed to have been derived from the Gaelic word ‘éan’ meaning ‘bird.’ However, it may well have been derived from ‘eanach’ or ‘aunach’ meaning a ‘fair.’ ‘Eanach’ also refers to a ‘a watery place.’ While the name Hennigan is most common in the Mayo/Sligo area, its presence in Cork dates back at least 800 years. The arrival of the Normans from 1169 AD may well have resulted in a dispersal of the clan.

National Geographic/IBM Genographic Project: Tracking the Hennigan Y-Chromosome

DNA analysis shows that the ancestors of most Irish people came from the Iberian Peninsula, who moved north after the last Ice Age, which had depopulated Ireland.

Dr Daniel Bradley, genetics lecturer at Trinity College Dublin, has said that a study published in 2004, into Celtic origins, revealed close affinities with the people of Galicia, in North-Western Spain.

Historians have for long believed that the Celts, originally from the Alpine regions of central Europe, invaded the Atlantic islands in a massive migration 2,500 years ago.

However, DNA analysis debunks this theory  and conforms with the lack of archaeological evidence in Ireland, that the "Keltoi" who had invaded ancient Greece, had migrated in large numbers, to Ireland.

What did happen, was that the prominent Irish clan leadership adopted European Celtic culture from trade and other contacts. A variation of the Celtic language had been in use by their ancestors in the Iberian Peninsula.

Dr Bradley said it was possible migrants moved from the Iberian peninsula to Ireland as far back as 6,000 years ago up until 3,000 years ago.

The study found that people in areas traditionally known as Celtic, such as Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany and Cornwall, had strong links with each other and people in Ireland have more in common with Scots than any other nation.

The study, conducted by Dr. Bradley and Brian McEvoy, a Ph.D student conducted the genetic study with the support of the Irish government to determine “whether there was a large incursion by Celtic people 2,500 years ago” as is widely believed.

The scientists compared the DNA samples of 200 volunteers from around Ireland with a genetic database of 8,500 individuals from around Europe. (The Celts came from Central Europe stretching as far as Hungary).

They found that the Irish samples matched those around Britain and the Pyrenees in Spain. There were some matches in Scandinavia and parts of North Africa.

The scientists concluded that ‘the Irish’ genetic makeup stems from the onset of an ice-age around 15,000 years ago that forced prehistoric man back into Spain, Italy and Greece, which were still fairly temperate. When the ice started melting again around 12,000 years ago, people followed the retreating ice northwards as areas became hospitable again.

The TCD study produced a map of Europe with contours linking places that are genetically similar. One contour goes around the edge of the Atlantic touching Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and includes Galicia in Spain as well as the Basque region.

“The primary genetic legacy of Ireland seems to have come from people from Spain and Portugal after the last ice age.” said McEvoy. “They seem to have come up along the coast through Western Europe and arrived in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It’s not due to something that happened 2,500 years ago with Celts.” We have a much older genetic legacy.

Paternal ancestry is traced via the transfer of the Y-chromosome from father to son, which has happened over 2,000 generations, back to one male human who lived in East Africa, about 60,000 years ago.

Haplogroup and Haplotypes

A haplogroup is a collection of closely related haplotypes - groups of closely linked genes.

Each of us carries DNA that is a combination of genes passed from both our mother and father, giving us traits that range from eye colour and height to athleticism and disease susceptibility. One exception is the Y chromosome, which is passed directly from father to son, unchanged, from generation to generation.

Unchanged, that is unless a mutation—a random, naturally occurring, usually harmless change—occurs. The mutation, known as a marker, acts as a beacon; it can be mapped through generations because it will be passed down from the man in whom it occurred to his sons, their sons, and every male in his family for thousands of years.

In some instances there may be more than one mutational event that defines a particular branch on the tree. This means that any of these markers can be used to determine your particular haplogroup, since every individual who has one of these markers also has the others.

When geneticists identify such a marker, they try to figure out when it first occurred, and in which geographic region of the world. Each marker is essentially the beginning of a new lineage on the family tree of the human race. Tracking the lineages provides a picture of how small tribes of modern humans in Africa tens of thousands of years ago diversified and spread to populate the world.

In a DNA analysis that was done for the National Geographic Genographic Project, my Y-chromosome results identify me as a member of haplogroup R1b.

The genetic markers that define our common ancestral history reach back roughly 60,000 years to the first common marker of all non-African men, M168, and follow my lineage to present day, ending with M343, the defining marker of haplogroup R1b.

Today, roughly 70 percent of the men in southern England belong to haplogroup R1b. In parts of Spain and Ireland, that number exceeds 90 percent.

Not surprisingly, today the number of descendants of the man who gave rise to marker M173 remains very high in Western Europe. It is particularly concentrated in northern France, Ireland and Britain. and the Britain where it was carried by ancestors who had weathered the Ice Age in Spain.

The markers of most Irish define them as being in the Atlantic Modal Haplotype, which confirm the strong links with Northern Spain.

High King of Ireland - Niall of the Nine Hostages

One in 12 Irish men could be descended from Niall Nóigiallach - Niall of the Nine Hostages, the High King who ruled at Tara, west of the site that became Dublin, from 379 to 405 AD, according to research conducted at Trinity College Dublin. He was the founder of the Uí Néill (which literally translated means "descendants of Niall") dynasty that ruled Ireland until the 11th century.

Researchers at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics at Trinity, headed by Dr. Bradley, have estimated that there could be as many as 3m men worldwide descended from Niall. The highest concentration of his progeny is in North-West Ireland, where one in five males have inherited his Y chromosome.

The Trinity study examined the Y chromosome and Laoise Moore, a PhD student working on the Wellcome Trust-funded project, took DNA samples by mouth swab from 796 male volunteers and recorded the birthplace of their paternal grandfather.

Dr, Daniel Bradley, who supervised the PhD, analysed the genetic fingerprints of the samples and found the same Y chromosome in 8% of the general population, with a cluster in the North-West of Ireland where 21% carried it.

They calculated that the most recent common ancestor was likely to have lived about 1,700 years ago. Coupled with the geographical distribution centred on the North-West, this pointed to the Uí Néill dynasty.

Brian McEvoy, one of the team at Trinity said that North-West Ireland has previously been the subject of anthropological writings…and has shown a strikingly high % of men from Haplogroup R1b (98%) versus 90% in South-East Ireland. According to McEvoy, this area was the main powerbase of the Uí Néills.

The following are the Markers when a 12 marker test is applied:

DYS 393 390 19 391 385a 385b 426 388 439 389-1 392 389-2
  13 25 14 11 11 13 12 12 12 13 14 29

Irish Type III Cluster and Hennigan Paternal Line

In April 2006, American scientist Dr. Ken Nordtvedt, identified a cluster where the ancestral geographical area appears to be predominately Irish, but the haplotype was quite different from other Irish ones. It has been given the name "Irish Type III."

The following are the Markers when a 12 marker test is applied to the Hennigan Y chromosome:



























US databases of people with this haplotype, show that some 75% claim their ancestral line came from Ireland, many stating the counties of Clare, Tipperary or Limerick.

These counties are the seat of many of the Dalcassian (Dál gCais) clans, the principal one having been, the O'Brien clan.

The most famous member of  the O-'Brien clan was Briain Bóruma mac Cennétig (926 or 941 – 23 April (known as Brian Boru in English) who was High King of Ireland from 1002 to 1014. Although the exact details of his birth are unknown, he was born in the early tenth century near Killaloe (Kincora) (in modern County Clare). His father was Cennétig mac Lorcáin, King of Thomond and his mother was Binn ingen Murchada, daughter of the King of West Connacht. He was killed in a battle at Clontarf, Dublin, in 1014, between Irish, with Vikings on both sides. Like St. Patrick and the snakes, Irish historians had for long mythologised Brian Boru, as the man who drove the "Danes" from Ireland.

In the main text on the Hennigan genealogy, I had speculated that we may have moved south to West Cork with the McCarthys, who were driven out of Tipperary by the O'Briens, even though we were closer cousins to the latter.

The Y-Search US database produces 425 direct matches with Spanish, Portuguese, Mexican, Puerto Rican and Chilean names among them. There is one direct match for a McCarthy whose latest known ancestor came from Dunmanway, County Cork, in the 19th century. There are two McCarthy ancestors who came from Bandon, County Cork and another from Kilbarry, Dunmanway, whose DNA is not Irish Type III. Members of a clan may not have always held the same surname because of a biological patrilineal connection.

National Geographic/IBM Genographic Project - Tracking the first modern humans who left Africa 60,000 years ago.

-Michael Hennigan


Your Y-chromosome results identify you as a member of haplogroup R1b.

The genetic markers that define your ancestral history reach back roughly 60,000 years to the first common marker of all non-African men, M168, and follow your lineage to present day, ending with M343, the defining marker of haplogroup R1b.

If you look at the map highlighting your ancestors' route, you will see that members of haplogroup R1b carry the following Y-chromosome markers:

M168 > M89 > M9 > M45 > M207 > M173 > M343

Today, roughly 70 percent of the men in southern England belong to haplogroup R1b. In parts of Spain and Ireland, that number exceeds 90 percent.

Your Ancestral Journey: What We Know Now

M168: Your Earliest Ancestor

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence: Roughly 50,000 years ago

Place of Origin: Africa

Climate: Temporary retreat of Ice Age; Africa moves from drought to warmer temperatures and moister conditions

Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Approximately 10,000

Tools and Skills: Stone tools; earliest evidence of art and advanced conceptual skills

Skeletal and archaeological evidence suggest that anatomically modern humans evolved in Africa around 200,000 years ago, and began moving out of Africa to colonize the rest of the world around 60,000 years ago.

The man who gave rise to the first genetic marker in your lineage probably lived in northeast Africa in the region of the Rift Valley, perhaps in present-day Ethiopia, Kenya, or Tanzania, some 31,000 to 79,000 years ago. Scientists put the most likely date for when he lived at around 50,000 years ago. His descendants became the only lineage to survive outside of Africa, making him the common ancestor of every non-African man living today.

But why would man have first ventured out of the familiar African hunting grounds and into unexplored lands? It is likely that a fluctuation in climate may have provided the impetus for your ancestors' exodus out of Africa.

The African ice age was characterized by drought rather than by cold. It was around 50,000 years ago that the ice sheets of northern Europe began to melt, introducing a period of warmer temperatures and moister climate in Africa. Parts of the inhospitable Sahara briefly became habitable. As the drought-ridden desert changed to a savanna, the animals hunted by your ancestors expanded their range and began moving through the newly emerging green corridor of grasslands. Your nomadic ancestors followed the good weather and the animals they hunted, although the exact route they followed remains to be determined.

In addition to a favorable change in climate, around this same time there was a great leap forward in modern humans' intellectual capacity. Many scientists believe that the emergence of language gave us a huge advantage over other early human species. Improved tools and weapons, the ability to plan ahead and cooperate with one another, and an increased capacity to exploit resources in ways we hadn't been able to earlier, all allowed modern humans to rapidly migrate to new territories, exploit new resources, and replace other hominids.

M89: Moving Through the Middle East

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence: 45,000 years ago

Place: Northern Africa or the Middle East

Climate: Middle East: Semiarid grass plains

Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Tens of thousands

Tools and Skills: Stone, ivory, wood tools

The next male ancestor in your ancestral lineage is the man who gave rise to M89, a marker found in 90 to 95 percent of all non-Africans. This man was born around 45,000 years ago in northern Africa or the Middle East.

The first people to leave Africa likely followed a coastal route that eventually ended in Australia. Your ancestors followed the expanding grasslands and plentiful game to the Middle East and beyond, and were part of the second great wave of migration out of Africa.

Beginning about 40,000 years ago, the climate shifted once again and became colder and more arid. Drought hit Africa and the grasslands reverted to desert, and for the next 20,000 years, the Saharan Gateway was effectively closed. With the desert impassable, your ancestors had two options: remain in the Middle East, or move on. Retreat back to the home continent was not an option.

While many of the descendants of M89 remained in the Middle East, others continued to follow the great herds of buffalo, antelope, woolly mammoths, and other game through what is now modern-day Iran to the vast steppes of Central Asia.

These semiarid grass-covered plains formed an ancient "superhighway" stretching from eastern France to Korea. Your ancestors, having migrated north out of Africa into the Middle East, then traveled both east and west along this Central Asian superhighway. A smaller group continued moving north from the Middle East to Anatolia and the Balkans, trading familiar grasslands for forests and high country.

M9: The Eurasian Clan Spreads Wide and Far

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence: 40,000 years ago

Place: Iran or southern Central Asia

Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Tens of thousands

Tools and Skills: Upper Paleolithic

Your next ancestor, a man born around 40,000 years ago in Iran or southern Central Asia, gave rise to a genetic marker known as M9, which marked a new lineage diverging from the M89 Middle Eastern Clan. His descendants, of which you are one, spent the next 30,000 years populating much of the planet.

This large lineage, known as the Eurasian Clan, dispersed gradually over thousands of years. Seasoned hunters followed the herds ever eastward, along the vast super highway of Eurasian steppe. Eventually their path was blocked by the massive mountain ranges of south Central Asia—the Hindu Kush, the Tian Shan, and the Himalayas.

The three mountain ranges meet in a region known as the "Pamir Knot," located in present-day Tajikistan. Here the tribes of hunters split into two groups. Some moved north into Central Asia, others moved south into what is now Pakistan and the Indian subcontinent.

These different migration routes through the Pamir Knot region gave rise to separate lineages.

Most people native to the Northern Hemisphere trace their roots to the Eurasian Clan. Nearly all North Americans and East Asians are descended from the man described above, as are most Europeans and many Indians.

M45: The Journey Through Central Asia

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence: 35,000

Place of Origin: Central Asia

Climate: Glaciers expanding over much of Europe

Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Approximately 100,000

Tools and Skills: Upper Paleolithic

The next marker of your genetic heritage, M45, arose around 35,000 years ago, in a man born in Central Asia. He was part of the M9 Eurasian Clan that had moved to the north of the mountainous Hindu Kush and onto the game-rich steppes of present-day Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and southern Siberia.

Although big game was plentiful, the environment on the Eurasian steppes became increasing hostile as the glaciers of the Ice Age began to expand once again. The reduction in rainfall may have induced desertlike conditions on the southern steppes, forcing your ancestors to follow the herds of game north.

To exist in such harsh conditions, they learned to build portable animal-skin shelters and to create weaponry and hunting techniques that would prove successful against the much larger animals they encountered in the colder climates. They compensated for the lack of stone they traditionally used to make weapons by developing smaller points and blades—microliths—that could be mounted to bone or wood handles and used effectively. Their tool kit also included bone needles for sewing animal-skin clothing that would both keep them warm and allow them the range of movement needed to hunt the reindeer and mammoth that kept them fed.

Your ancestors' resourcefulness and ability to adapt was critical to survival during the last ice age in Siberia, a region where no other hominid species is known to have lived.

The M45 Central Asian Clan gave rise to many more; the man who was its source is the common ancestor of most Europeans and nearly all Native American men.

M207: Leaving Central Asia

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence: 30,000

Place of Origin: Central Asia

Climate: Glaciers expanding over much of Europe and western Eurasia

Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Approximately 100,000

Tools and Skills: Upper Paleolithic

After spending considerable time in Central Asia, refining skills to survive in harsh new conditions and exploit new resources, a group from the Central Asian Clan began to head west towards the European subcontinent.

An individual in this clan carried the new M207 mutation on his Y chromosome. His descendants ultimately split into two distinct groups, with one continuing onto the European subcontinent, and the other group turning south and eventually making it as far as India.

Your lineage falls within the first haplogroup, R1, and gave rise to the first modern humans to move into Europe and eventually colonize the continent.

M173: Colonizing Europe—The First Modern Europeans

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence: Around 30,000 years ago

Place: Central Asia

Climate: Ice Age

Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Approximately 100,000

Tools and Skills: Upper Paleolithic

As your ancestors continued to move west, a man born around 30,000 years ago in Central Asia gave rise to a lineage defined by the genetic marker M173. His descendants were part of the first large wave of humans to reach Europe.

During this period, the Eurasian steppelands extended from present-day Germany, and possibly France, to Korea and China. The climate fostered a land rich in resources and opened a window into Europe.

Your ancestors' arrival in Europe heralded the end of the era of the Neandertals, a hominid species that inhabited Europe and parts of western Asia from about 29,000 to 230,000 years ago. Better communication skills, weapons, and resourcefulness probably enabled your ancestors to outcompete Neandertals for scarce resources.

This wave of migration into Western Europe marked the appearance and spread of what archaeologists call the Aurignacian culture. The culture is distinguished by significant innovations in methods of manufacturing tools, more standardization of tools, and a broader set of tool types, such as end-scrapers for preparing animal skins and tools for woodworking.

In addition to stone, the first modern humans to reach Europe used bone, ivory, antler, and shells as part of their tool kit. Bracelets and pendants made of shells, teeth, ivory, and carved bone appear at many sites. Jewelry, often an indication of status, suggests a more complex social organization was beginning to develop.

The large number of archaeological sites found in Europe from around 30,000 years ago indicates that there was an increase in population size.

Around 20,000 years ago, the climate window shut again, and expanding ice sheets forced your ancestors to move south to Spain, Italy, and the Balkans. As the ice retreated and temperatures became warmer, beginning about 12,000 years ago, many descendants of M173 moved north again to repopulate places that had become inhospitable during the Ice Age.

Not surprisingly, today the number of descendants of the man who gave rise to marker M173 remains very high in Western Europe. It is particularly concentrated in northern France and the British Isles where it was carried by ancestors who had weathered the Ice Age in Spain.

M343: Direct Descendants of Cro-Magnon

Fast Facts

Time of Emergence: Around 30,000 years ago

Place of Origin: Western Europe

Climate: Ice sheets continuing to creep down Northern Europe

Estimated Number of Homo sapiens:

Tools and Skills: Upper Paleolithic

Around 30,000 years ago, a descendant of the clan making its way into Europe gave rise to marker M343, the defining marker of your haplogroup. You are a direct descendent of the people who dominated the human expansion into Europe, the Cro-Magnon.

The Cro-Magnon are responsible for the famous cave paintings found in southern France. These spectacular paintings provide archaeological evidence that there was a sudden blossoming of artistic skills as your ancestors moved into Europe. Prior to this, artistic endeavors were mostly comprised of jewelry made of shell, bone, and ivory; primitive musical instruments; and stone carvings.

The cave paintings of the Cro-Magnon depict animals like bison, deer, rhinoceroses, and horses, and natural events important to Paleolithic life such as spring molting, hunting, and pregnancy. The paintings are far more intricate, detailed, and colorful than anything seen prior to this period.

Your ancestors knew how to make woven clothing using the natural fibers of plants, and had relatively advanced tools of stone, bone, and ivory. Their jewelry, carvings, and intricate, colorful cave paintings bear witness to the Cro-Magnons' advanced culture during the last glacial age.


According to legend, the ancient Irish kings were descendents of King Milesius of Spain, a grandson of the conqueror of Galicia, Andalusia, Murcia, Castile, and Portugal who was known as Brigus or Brian. Milesius sent his uncle Ithe to Ireland and when he heard that Ithe had been killed, he sent an expedition in 1699 BC led by his eight sons. Five of them perished before landing including Ir. The surviving three named the island Scotia after their mother. Later, the name Scotia was transferred to Scotland and Ireland was named as the land of Ir. 

Thomas Albert Hennigan (1882-1951) of St. Louis, Missouri, on a visit to his father Michael's homeland in 1928. To his left are his cousin Maurice Hennigan, Maurice's wife Katie (née McCarthy from Drimoleague) and Maurice's sisters Kate Hennigan -Farrell, Ellie  Hennigan-McCarthy and Minnie Hennigan. Relations Maggie McCarthy  and May Farrell are in the front row on the right.

Katie Hennigan's mother was a Hourihane and one of her brothers  was the maternal great-grandfather of the former Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern.

In the 1890 Irish Census, only 5 County Cork householders with the name Hennigan are recorded. Almost a half century before, the results of the Primary Valuation of Ireland under the control of Commissioner of Valuation Richard Griffith, were published and the number had not changed. 


This table shows the number of Hennigan households in each county in the  property survey of 1848-64.
Cork 5 Dublin 1
Galway 1 Kildare 4
Leitrim 5 Mayo 16
Roscommon 3 Sligo 16
This table shows the variants and all-Ireland totals
Heenaghan 6
Heenahan 4
Heenehan 2
Henagan 3
Henaghan 96
Henahan 34
Henakan 2
Henaughan 13
Henegan 19
Heneghan 2
Henehan 36
Henican 4
Henigan 54
Henihan 57
Hennegan 4
Hennigan 51

Source: Irish Ancestors' Site

The Hennigan family in focus here comes from Gortnamucklagh (from the Gaelic - the fields of the pigs), in the parish of Fanlobbus, two miles east of the town of Dunmanway, County Cork. There is another Hennigan family in the adjacent townland of Acres. Fanlobbus parish had a church as far back as 1199 and the area of the Hennigan homestead was also known as Carrigenia. 

US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Patrick Street, Cork, Ireland, June 28, 1963 - - Photo: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston - - the genesis of a life-long interest in American politics and history - Michael Hennigan

The names Thomas, Maurice and Michael are common intergenerational names of the Fanlobbus Hennigans. The traditional practice was to name the first born son after the paternal grandfather. The second born son was named after the mother's father and the third born son was named after the father. For example, my eldest brother is named Maurice after his grandfather. My second eldest brother is named Thomas after my mother's father Thomas Wall and I'm named Michael after my father as I'm the third son.

In Irish Pedigrees or the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation which was first published in 1876, John O'Hart provides a detailed genealogy of the great Cork McCarthy family. Like the Hennigans, the McCarthys had moved south from Tipperary. The O'Briens became the dominant family in the Tipperary region following a long struggle with the McCarthys who then defeated the O'Mahony Clan and occupied the River Bandon valley from Enniskeane to Drimoleague. The McCarthy Glas was a branch of the McCarthy Riabhach, and ruled the Dunmanway area (named from the 'castle of the yellow river'). They had two castles, one by a bank of the river where the town developed and the other at Togher, on the banks of the River Bandon. O'Hart recounts how Felim McCarthy who had fought with King James II following his arrival in Ireland in 1689. Felim had later joined the Wild Geese in France and was killed on his return some years later. In the 1700's, one of Felim's great-granddaughter's Mary McCarthy married a Maurice Hennigan. The Hennigan daughters married as follows: Ellen to her first cousin Charles McCarthy and the other two to a Timothy O'Leary of Glasheens and a Daniel Callanan, of Caheragh.

This Maurice Hennigan was likely the grandfather of Maurice Hennigan who lived in Gortnamucklagh during the Famine of the mid-1840's and its aftermath.

In the Griffith Property Valuation 1848-1852, Maurice Hennigan of Gortnamucklagh is listed as 'Maurice Hinigan' and 'Thomas Hinigan' of Dunmanway South Green West, also in the parish of Fanlobbus. Thomas and Maurice were likely brothers. John Hennigan of Acres is listed as 'John Hinigan,' The entry in respect of Maurice Hennigan was made on Saturday, May 1, 1852. It is in respect of 67 acres of land with part of it shared with a Mary Grace and an Ellen Murray. The land was leased from a Mary Gillman. The adjacent land was in the names of Patrick Grace, Mary Grace and George Webb. A century later, the Graces were still neighbours when my parents lived on the Hennigan land.
Thomas Hennigan succeeded his father Maurice and two first cousins, Michael and Maurice who were sons of Thomas Hennigan of Dunmanway South Green West, emigrated to the United States in 1870. Michael Joseph Hennigan who was born in 1844, married Johanna Hyland and settled in St. Louis, Missouri while Maurice stayed in New York. In the 1880's, Thomas (son of Maurice) had purchased a farm in the nearby townland of Nedineagh East from a Crowley family which was planning to emigrate to the United States. Nedineagh East was located across the main road from the homestead and extended south to the Bandon River. In 1909 another Maurice Hennigan, son of Thomas Hennigan, took over the farm. Two years before in 1907, Maurice's sister Minnie emigrated to the United States at the age of 36 years and stayed at her Uncle Michael's St. Louis home for some years and later returned to Fanlobbus. Minnie is listed on the New York Ellis Island records on the web.

Michael Hennigan in the 1970's enjoying a smoke in pre-smoking ban times

Maurice had five sisters-three are in the photograph above: Minnie unmarried and the others married an O'Leary, McCarthy, Buttimer and Farrell.

The Census enumerators in both 1901 and 1911 were members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Thomas Hennigan's age in 1911 possibly should have read 70 years. He died in 1920 and is listed on the 1911 Census form as a widower. Thomas and his wife Ellen were in fact living separately. Maurice Hennigan's wife Katie's age seems to be understated by 4 years. It is interesting that the only individuals on the 1901 census who are identified as being able to speak both Irish and English, are the parents Thomas and Ellen Hennigan. In 1901, Gortnamucklagh had 20 households; Nedineagh East had 15 households and Nedineagh West had 17 households. 


Irish Census 1901 Irish Census 1911
Gortnamucklagh Thomas Hennigan 60 yrs Thomas Hennigan 76 yrs
  Ellen Hennigan 60 yrs Julia Hennigan 33 yrs
  Kate Hennigan 27 yrs    
  Annie McCarthy 21 yrs    
Nedineagh East Ellie Hennigan 25 yrs Maurice Hennigan 30 yrs
  Julia Hennigan 23 yrs Kate Hennigan (wife) 26 yrs
  Maurice Hennigan 21 yrs Harry Maybury 18 yrs
      Mollie Russell 8 yrs

Maurice married Katie McCarthy of Drimoleague in 1909 and their first child Thomas was born in 1912, followed by Eileen (Babbell), Michael, Maurice, Sheila and John (Bob). Maurice died in December 1955 at the age of 75 years and Catherine died in March 1963 at the age of 82 years.

On Michael Hennigan's birth certificate dated September 10, 1914, Ellen Hennigan is named as a sponsor. Ellen was Michael's paternal grandmother and was originally Ellen Murray. 


Maurice and Katie Hennigan's Family

Thomas married Eileen O'Donovan and moved to Dublin after World War II. They had 5 children.

Eileen (Babbell) married farmer Patrick O'Neill of Ardkitt, Enniskeane, Co. Cork. They had 3 children.

Michael married Johanna Wall of Mountmusic, Toames, Macroom and inherited the farm in Gortnamucklagh when he married in 1948. Michael sold the ancestral farm in 1955 and eventually became a publican in Bandon, County Cork. His father Maurice understandably wasn't impressed with the decision but much of the land was rocky and unproductive (see below section on Dunmanway). They had 7 children.

Maurice married Eileen O'Driscoll of Coppeen, County Cork and inherited the farm and public house at Bengour, Newcestown from his Aunt Julia (Hennigan -Buttimer). They had 8 children.

Sheila married Diarmuid O'Brien and took over the family farm in Nedineagh. They had 4 children.

John (Bob) married Julianne Callanan and emigrated to London. They had 4 children.

Maurice and Katie Hennigan's family all died in the period 1970-1995.

Hennigans in the US

Michael Joseph Hennigan (1844-1920): This photograph was taken in 1870, presumably in St. Louis. I was given a copy of the photograph in 1974 by his granddaughter Catherine Hennigan-Hannigan, which was later mislaid. The above copy was uploaded on Flickr - - Michael Hennigan

Michael Joseph Hennigan prospered in St. Louis, Missouri, the Gateway of the West. In 1904, the city held a World Exposition on the centenary of the completion of the Louisiana Purchase from France. Michael Joseph died in 1920 aged 76 years and in 1928, his son Thomas Albert visited Fanlobbus (see photograph above). In the early 1950's a grandson of Michael Joseph, Father John Smith, son of Rose Hennigan Smith, visited Fanlobbus where my parents Michael and Johanna Hennigan lived. Father Smith left a legacy of the first colour family photographs. My mother Johanna who would talk the leg off a pot, was also an excellent letter writer and began corresponding with Father John's mother Rose. Following Rose's death in the mid-1960's, my mother began corresponding with Rose's daughter Virginia Roberts who lived in Denver, Colorado.


Catherine Hennigan-Hannigan, daughter of Thomas Albert Hennigan and granddaughter of Michael Joseph, with her husband Kenneth Hannigan and family in St. Louis, Missouri, September 1976.

Maurice Hennigan who had stayed in New York, had a son Michael. Following his death, his wife Winifred visited Ireland in 1969 and my parents hosted her in Bandon. She brought an inspired gift- a wall plaque with the inscription: Let All Guests Be Received As Christ. She stayed for two months. In 1972, we had a visit from a grandson of Michael Joseph, a charming David Hennigan together with his family. David was then a lawyer in Riverside, California and later became a Judge of the California Superior Court. He made subsequent visits to Ireland and we also had visits from other Hennigan cousins such as Lucy Ferris, her mother and a son of Thomas Albert Hennigan Junior.

Michael Hennigan with American actor John Wayne in 1973, at the Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs. More than a decade later, George W. Bush decided during his 40th birthday celebrations there, to go on the wagon.

When I worked as a student in the US, I met up with Virginia Roberts in Denver, Thomas Albert Hennigan Junior in Phoenix and his sister Catherine Hennigan Hannigan in St. Louis. Thomas Albert Hennigan had died in 1951, age 69 years. Catherine who graduated from Maryville University, St. Louis in 1934, died in 1998 at the age of 85 years. Thomas Albert Hennigan Junior died in 1996 at the age of 75 years. 


1870 Census Figures
Irish-Born in Major US Cities

City Total Pop. Irish-Born %
NYC 942,292 202,000 21%
Philadelphia 674,022 96,698 14%
Brooklyn 376,099 73,986 20%
St Louis 310,864 32,239 10%
Chicago 298,977 40,000 13%
Baltimore 267,354 15,223 6%
Boston 250,526 56,000 22%
Cincinnati 216,239 18,624 9%
New Orleans 191,418 14,693 8%
San Francisco 149,473 25,864 17%
Buffalo 117,714 11,264 10%
Washington, DC 109,200 6,948 6%
Newark 105,059 12,481 12%
Louisville 100,753 7,626 8%
Cleveland 92,829 9,964 11%
Pittsburgh 86,076 13,119 15%
Jersey City 82,546 17,665 21%
Detroit 79,577 6,970 9%
Milwaukee 71,440 3,784 5%
Albany 69,422 13,276 19%
Providence 68,904 12,085 18%
Rochester NY 62,386 6,078 10%


53,180 4,034 8%
Richmond 51,038 1,239 2%
New Haven 50,840 9,601 19%

One-half of the Irish-born population of the US resided in the three states of New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. These three states, in addition to New Jersey and the other five New England states, comprised two-thirds of the total Irish-born population in the United States.


US Federal Census 1870-1920
Irish Born

  Total Pop. Irish
1870 38,155,505 1,840,396
1880 49,371,340 1,822,351
1890 62,116,811 1,861,777
1900 74,607,225 1,561,904
1910 91,641,195 1,345,308
1920 105,273,049 1,032,913

Source: The Irish in New York

My parents were part of the old Ireland-generous and welcoming. My father had always the 'drop' of whiskey on offer for guests while my mother loved to chat over a cup of tea. That part of our culture has not died with the rise of a prosperous Ireland. However, it is striking today that people of wealthy countries including some Irish, can live in a very miserly way both towards others and at times, to themselves.

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WALL - de Valle, de Bhál

According to MacLysaght’s Surnames of Ireland the name Wall and its variant Wale derive from the Norman de Valle, Gaeliczed as de Bhál .

The ethnic name for a Walloon, in Middle Dutch is Wale from a Germanic word meaning ‘foreign’) + the definite article de.

It has also been claimed that de Valle is the latinized form of Dale, from which place in Pembrokeshire, Wales, the family took its name.


Johanna and Michael Hennigan in their retirement years

Whatever the origin, there is no dispute that the first de Valles landed in Ireland from the first Norman invasion in 1169 that was led by the then Earl of Pembroke,  Strongbow.

Hubert Gallwey's The Wall Family in Ireland, 1170-1970, traces the Wall family history, originally Anglo-Norman, from Normandy, Northern France, through England and South Wales to Ireland, and through the succeeding centuries after the Norman invasions to the present. It reflects land tenure systems, the effects of rebellions and confiscations, and the narrow margin often separating settler and native.

About the year 1200, three de Valle brothers were granted land charters in County Kilkenny in south-east Ireland.

The table below shows the number of Wall households in each county in the Primary Valuation property survey of 1848-64.
Antrim 2 Armagh 4
Belfast city 3 Carlow 10
Cavan 1 Clare 13
Cork 79 Cork city 7
Derry 25 Donegal 1
Down 5 Dublin 23
Dublin city 32 Galway 57
Kerry 6 Kildare 27
Kilkenny 110 Laois 61
Leitrim 2 Limerick 48
Limerick city 4 Longford 1
Louth 11 Mayo 9
Meath 38 Monaghan 5
Offaly 4 Roscommon 3
Sligo 10 Tipperary 143
Tyrone 2 Waterford 119
Westmeath 10 Wexford 26
Wicklow 22    
Leinster 31
Munster 26
Connacht 1
Ulster 0
Based on Matheson's Special Report on Surnames in Ireland (1909), which records the principal locations of birth registrations for surnames in 1890. Only surnames with more than five registrations are included.

Source: Irish Ancestors' Site

The Wall family moved to the area of Killavullen (The Church of the Mill) near Mallow in North County Cork at about 1270. They were subjects of the Lord Roche of Fermoy, who lived at Castletownroche and remained in possession of their estate until they lost it in 1642 following their support in common with  most of the 'Old English' (Normans), for English King Charles I in the Parliamentary Wars led by Oliver Cromwell, who later was immortalized as the most hated man in the history of Ireland.

Sir William St. Leger, writing to the Lords Commissioners, 30th May, 1642 states as follows; I shall give your Lordships an account of a small exploit performed by my Lord Inchiquin and Captain Jephson, two young men, as highly commendable for their courage and judgement as any under my command, with their troops and two foot company's (sent to divert Lord Roche), they fell upon a castle belonging to one Wall, a freeholder of that county and a good estate, and with the loss of three men, albeit the place of good strength and much repaired, they used means to fire and force it, putting the defenders, who were about 70 in number either to the sword or halter, only the principal and one other who was found there of equal rank and quality they sent to me'

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This 'Principal' was Richard Wall who died in Cork prison not too long after, as in depositions taken in 1653, regarding the siege of Wallstown Castle, he was noted as already dead. His son William, then a minor, attempted to maintain possession, but it was granted to a Parliamentary (Cromwellian) officer, Capt. Andrew Ruddock. James Wall tried to recover this estate in 1690, and also the portion of Robert Wall of Doonevally (The Fort of the Walls), but his efforts were frustrated by the defeat of Roman Catholic English King James II at the Battle of the Boyne, north-west of Dublin, within a few weeks.

Johanna Wall Hennigan with Michael Hennigan on her 80th birthday

South of Killavullen, Macroom Castle in the Cork town of Macroom, was captured by Cromwellian forces in 1650 and given as a gift to Admiral Sir William Penn. His son William who later founded the Quaker Colony of Pennsylvania in the US, spent his early years there.

The first settlers began arriving in Pennsylvania in 1682 and settled around Philadelphia (the city of brotherly love). In September 1682, a Thomas Wall was Master of one of Penn's ships Friends' Adventure.

The gateway of Macroom Castle, which is the only remains left of the Castle, once owned by Sir William Penn whose son founded the Quaker Colony in Pennsylvania  

We have seen that the names William and Thomas have arisen as Wall names and they recur again in addition to Edmund.

In 1827, Thomas Wall of Toames East, Macroom appears on the Tithes List of payees, who were obliged to give material support to the Anglican Church, although he was a Roman Catholic.  

In 1844, the year before the catastrophic failure of the potato crop, Thomas Wall appears on the Earl of Bandon's list of tenants paying an annual rent of £34.11.1 (pounds, shillings and pence).

In the same period, another Thomas Wall, is in practice as a medical doctor at 41 South Mall, Cork and has purchased the old family seat at Wallstown in North Cork.

In the 1840's William Wall (who was known as Bill Mór) was the tenant of two farms in the Toames area, one in the townland of Mountmusic, south-west of the town of Macroom. He was reasonably well off and in 1846 contributed 7 shillings and 6 pence to a famine relief appeal. Local landlord Benjamin Swete gave £20 to the same appeal.

William Wall's son Edmund took charge of a 33 acre farm in Cnoc Amhráin (Mountmusic) and in the 1901 Census, Edmund's son Thomas Wall is listed as being 28 years old. Another son Peter was 26 years of age. Listed also is a son Edmund aged 24 and daughter Hannah aged 22. Another brother William, had emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts some years earlier.

Thomas married Catherine Regan of Conagh, near Ballineen in West Cork.

Thomas and Catherine Wall in the early 1940's

Johanna Wall was born in 1914 and her siblings were Peggy, Edmund, John and Julia. Only Johanna and Julia survived to advanced age.

Peggy married John Kelliher and had two children Eileen and Kathleen. Julia married Timothy Brennan and had four children: Michael, Catherine, Mary and Gerard.

Johanna's uncle Peter lived on an adjacent farm in Mountmusic and two of his children - Mary and John - are the only surviving Walls in the Toames area.

Michael Hennigan Jnr, Katie Hennigan and Michael Hennigan in August 2007

Bandon and Dunmanway, County Cork

It was no surprise that one of the most significant English settlements in the south of Ireland from late Elizabethan times was the walled town of Bandon. It was built in the most fertile area of the Bandon River valley. Ten miles west of Bandon on the main road to Dunmanway, the land quality noticeably changes. Christ Church, the first Protestant church to be built in Ireland, was completed in 1610 and it was said throughout Ireland that even the pigs were Protestant in Bandon. It was also said that the main gate to the town had a sign which read: A Turk*, a Jew or an Atheist may enter this town but not a Papist. A local who had some béarla (English) apparently wrote under it: Whoever wrote this, wrote it well /For it's the same that's written on the gates of hell! In 1650, a Richard Cox was born in Bandon and his ambition was to build a town to the west of Bandon, on McCarthy land. Oliver Cromwell, the most hated Englishman in the history of Ireland, had been in Bandon about that time and land had been confiscated in the parish of Fanlobbus. Cromwell was on a visit to Ireland to put some manners on the natives who had become unruly during the 1640's, when English attention was focused on the civil war between him and King Charles I. 

It was not until 1807 that a Catholic dared set up a business in the centre of Bandon: Extract - History of Bandon, George Bennett 1869-It was about this time that the first Roman Catholic shopkeeper ventured to reside in any of our principal streets. For several years previously some Roman Catholics had crept into the town, but they were content with the humblest habitations within the walls, and in the most out of the way places. The name of this adventurous pioneer was Paddy Gaffney. He was a resolute sort of fellow, and a very good-tempered fellow at the same time; but he was as ugly as if he was made to order. Nothwithstanding his lack of personal attractions, he was a light-hearted soul. (My father used to often talk about Bandon's most notorious hanging judge Captain John Nash who was known to the Irish as Shane Dearg Nash. He died in 1725 and is buried in a tomb in front of Christ Church on North Main Street. 'Dearg' is the Irish language word for 'red' which likely refers to blood -read about him here).

In the aftermath of the defeat of Catholic King James II of England by his successor Protestant King William of Orange, at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland, in 1690, Richard Cox was appointed Governor of Cork. Cox was given the right to develop an English settlement in the area of Fanlobbus which became known as Dunmanway. A century and a half later in the first year of the Famine, the Cox family was still enjoying the fat of the land as confirmed by this extract from a report in the Cork Examiner, September 1845:

A PRECEDENT FOR LANDLORDS - We have been informed by a respectable correspondent that Miss Cox, of the Manor House, Dunmanway, and proprietress in fee of an estate comprising that town, and almost the entire of the picturesque neighbourhood, has granted long renewals of leases now depending on old lives, generally of 100 years, and in some instances for still longer terms. These renewals are given at a moderate rent, a rent that affords every inducement to the tenant to work with energy animated by hope – that will allow the tenant to live, and ensure to the owner of the soil a certainty of the payment of the tenant’s rent. No increase of rent will be demanded for the unexpired term, so constantly the practice in this county when the old lease is emerging into a new grant….’


Irish Census 1841

Irish Census 1851


Houses Occupied


Houses Occupied






During the decade, the Potato Famine had a serious impact on the population. In 1851, 815 people were in the Work House in the Dunmanway Poor Law District. The Work House system was a bleak response to provide for what were termed 'paupers.' A family which entered this institutionalised system had to be at the end of all hope. The conditions were universally squalid. A visitor to one workhouse wrote: 'In the bedrooms we entered, there was not a mattress of any kind to be seen; the floors were strewed with a little dirty straw, and the poor creatures were thus littered down as close together as might be, in order to get the largest possible under one miserable rug - in some cases six children, for blankets we did not see.' An inspector to Lurgan workhouse, in County Armagh, in February 1847 wrote: 'the supply of clothes was quite inadequate, and it had hence become necessary to use the linen of some of those who had died of fever and dysentery, without time having been afforded to have it washed and dried; and that, from the same cause, damp beds had in many instances been made use of.' (Dudley-Edwards, R; Williams, TD; The Great Famine, Studies in Irish History 1845-52, Lilliput Press, 1956, (Reprinted 1997)

In 1841, the population of the area which comprises the present 26 county Republic of Ireland (excluding the 6 counties of Northern Ireland) was 6.53 million. In 1961, following a decade when an estimated 500,000 emigrated, the Irish population fell to a low of 2.82 million. The total population in April 2004, is estimated at 4.04 million - the highest figure since 1871 when the census for that year recorded a population of 4.05 million. The population is predicted to rise to 4.57 million by 2031.

*In the European Middle Ages, the term Turk was commonly interchanged with Mohammadian, a follower of the Prophet Mohammad. The term Papist was used by English settlers to refer to the native Catholics - followers of the Pope, Bishop of Rome.

National Geographic/IBM Genographic Project

Editor Michael Hennigan produced this page. Gerard Hennigan provided census and Griffith valuation material on the Wall family. 

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