Saturday, July 13, 2013

Surname Saturday (Driscoll)

This is my first ever Surname Saturday post, yay!

This week's surname is...*drumroll*...Driscoll.

Driscoll is a version of the Irish surname O'Driscoll. Many in Ireland dropped the O in the 17th and 18th centuries. I've been told that our family dropped the O at Ellis Island.
The Gaelic for O'Driscoll is Ó hEidirsceoil. Isn't that fun? Yeah, I don't think I'll be learning Gaelic any time soon.

The surname O'Driscoll originated in County Cork Ireland, where I've been told our family comes from although I have yet to find hard evidence for this. In ancient times the O'Driscoll clan claimed to be descended from the High King of Ireland Lugaid mac Con.

County Cork was part of the ancient kingdom of Desmumhan (AKA: Desmond, South Munster County Cork), and home to pre-Milesian tribes of Fír Bolg such as the Corcu Lóegde, Múscraige, Uí Liatháin and Uí Meic Caille.
The O'Driscoll were the chief family of the Corcu Lóegde. By the 9th century, Milesian tribes of the Eóganacht, an Irish dynasty, dominated much of the area and the the people of the Corcu Lóegde were pushed into south-west Cork.

The first mention of a name resembling Driscoll occurs in the Annals of Inisfallen wherein the death of Conchobar Ua hEtersceóil in 1103 is reported; he was the king of Corcu Lóegde. For the next 500 years the O'Driscolls were a powerful family involved in a number of adventures and conflicts. Their lands of rocky peninsulas and islands were not well suited to farming. Thus it should be no surprise the O'Driscoll were a seafaring people engaged in fishing, trading and piracy. They constructed a number of great castles and the ruins of some may still be found.
I wonder if I can make a claim on one of these castles...

By the 1200's three lines of Driscolls had emerged. From Donnchadh Mór (d. 1229), a later king of the Corca Laoidhe descended the main line. Donnchadh's youngest brother Aedh (d. 1213) split off and moved to the Beara peninsula, probably as the result of a dispute. Apparently Aedh was killed by his own relatives. The Beara Driscolls may have extended as far as Dingle. The third line was descended from Donnchadh Mór's youngest son Amlaíbh (d. 1234 in Tralee). His line was known as Uí Eidirsceóil Óig. The Driscolls in Beara were eventually superceded by the Eóganacht O'Sullivans two to three hundred years later, a story in its own right.
So curious as to which of these lines I came from! 

By the 16th century, pressure from the Sullivans in Beara plus the other major clans had pushed the O'Driscoll Mór into Collymore and the O'Driscoll Óg into Collybeg. Their principal residences being Baltimore and Rincolisky (Whitehall, parish of Aghadown) respectively. Gleann Bearcháin (Castlehaven) was a third, smaller territory occupied by descendants of Tadhg, in turn descended from Fínghin Mór.

During the 17th century the O'Driscoll were to lose their lands. The stage was set when an attempt to take over large sections of Munster and Leinster involving the O'
Driscoll failed. The Mór chief Fínghin surrendered his lands to the Queen of England in 1573. Fínghin was later knighted and granted all the the sept-lands of the O'Driscoll Mór but in so doing he had lost his autonomy and held the lands as England so dictated. As other chieftains fought with England Sir Fineen remained loyal to the English until the Spanish entered the conflict allied with those chieftains. Even with Spanish help against them the English prevailed and in 1602 the O'Driscoll would once again lose their lands. Some family leaders took refuge in Spain and some in the Spanish armed forces. Sir Fineen himself surrendered to the English and with some other O'Driscolls of note was pardoned. However by 1629, through plantation, mortgaging, surrender and regrant, the lands of Collymore were lost.

By 1670 the lands of Collybeg were also lost. The word lost should not be taken literally and neither should the earlier statement that by the 16th century there are only two branches of O'Driscoll. These are statements of the essence of the situation and minor exceptions can be found. For example, in 1694 Dennis Driscoll of Ballnegornagh (Barleyhill, parish of Ross) was successful in his claim for restoration. There are still Driscolls at Barleyhill East in Griffith's valuation about 150 years later. There are O'Driscolls in the parish records for the Béarra peninsula despite losing this ground to the O'Sullivan hundreds of years earlier.

In the 19th century the O'Driscolls were tenants on the lands once held by their forefathers. During the famine they suffered as badly as any other impoverished tenants despite their noble ancestry. Large numbers emigrated to the United States, Australia and England. Within Ireland itself though the O'Driscolls did not stray far from South West County Cork. In the index to Griffith's Valuation there are 1,331 O Driscoll and variants; of these 1,125 or 85% are in County Cork. Matheson's surname analysis based on 1890 births yields 91%. Further, Matheson's report shows that of the 121 Driscoll births that year, only one was outside the province of Munster. A similiar analysis of the 2000 electoral rolls for the Republic of Ireland leads to the conclusion that even today about 53% of the O'Driscolls are in Cork.
My Driscolls did not leave Ireland during the famine. My 2nd great-grandfather stayed in Ireland until 1889 when he came to Boston.

So that's the history of the Driscolls. It's a long but interesting read. Now I want to talk a little bit about my own Driscolls. I'll start with my 3rd great-grandfather, as far as I've been able to get back on my Driscoll line.

Timothy Driscoll was born in Ireland, he was married to a woman possibly named Ellen Collins. Timothy and his wife had 1 son that I know of, my 2nd great-grandfather William H Driscoll.

William H Driscoll was born (who knows when) in Ireland. He immigrated to Boston MA in 1889 and married Mary J Ennis in 1890. All told they had 10 children. Charles, Helen, James, Mary, Annie, Genevieve, William (my great-grandfather), Louisa, Loretta, and Joseph.
The family lived in Boston until sometime before 1920, when they moved to Everett. William worked as a brass finisher and a machinist. In 1930 he and Mary took in their granddaughter and raised her after her father died and her mother (Genevieve) moved to New York.
William passed away on 15 Feb 1950 in Everett from hardened arteries and a blood clot in the brain.

William C Driscoll & sons
William C Driscoll was born on Christmas of 1902 in Boston. He married Margaret C Dumas in abt 1922. I kind of hate myself for not knowing when they got married. One of these days I'll get my hands on the record.
They had 2 sons, William and Donald (My grandfather). They also took in a little girl, Josephine Cader, in the 1930s.
William worked as a longshoreman and served in WWII.
He passed away on 15 Jan 1974 leaving behind his son Donald and 2 grandchildren who adored him. I still hear stories about Grampy Driscoll to this day.
His son William passed away 4 years before him in 1970. He was a veteran of the Vietnam war. His other son Donald, my Grampy, fought in Korea. A very patriotic family and I am so proud of all of them.

Hopefully I'll be able to get further back with my Driscolls than Timothy. He's been the end of the line for years now and I'm itching to find out more about him and all of the Driscolls. Unfortunately in my experience the Irish are not great record keepers. I just gotta keep on plugging away until I can reach back even further into the history of my Driscolls.

Wikipedia: Driscoll (Surname)
Driscoll of Cork - History

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