|About Higgins, Devaney, Swift, Coll & O'Hara - Out of Roscommon & Mayo
Note: The family photos contained within this web site have been generously shared by
family members. They may not be duplicated or posted on any other web site without written
permission of the web site administrator. Thank you.
The tie between our Irish American family and their Irish ancestors is strong. That bond between us will never be broken. While America is the country of our birth and we we dearly love it, Ireland will always be cherished as our ancestral home.
"Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still
they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands." (Linda Hogan,
Native American Writer)
"Ireland, thou friend of my country in my country's most friendless days, much injured, much
enduring land, accept this poor tribute from one who esteems thy worth, and mourns thy
desolation." (George Washington, Founding Father & 1st President of the United States of
America) Note: Fleeing the yoke of British rule, the Irish, including many from Roscommon,
came to America. When separation from English rule was proposed, they were very enthusiastic
"If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance." (George Bernard
Shaw, Irish Playwright and Co-Founder of the London School of Economics)
Dedication: This site is dedicated to my Father, Joseph George Higgins, Sr., and to all
of his ancestors. As a small child, he often repeated stories to me that his Dad, Bernard,
shared with him. My grandfather, Bernard, died before I was born and I cherished these stories
of life growing up in County Roscommon. It was a way I felt I got to know my Grandfather.
There are two special and unique DVD's that provide insight into Ireland. I highly recommend "Out of Ireland" and "The Story of Ireland." They provide content that will help explain the circumstances that caused so many to leave their homeland and also provide much information on life in the United States for Irish immigrants. Both of these DVDs are available on Amazon.com
Need Help With County Roscommon Genealogy?
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Interesting Information on Ireland: The Island of Ireland is approximately 32,599 square
miles. It is very close in size to the State of Indiana in the USA which is 35,910 square
The population of the Island of the Republic of Ireland is approximately 4.6 million and there
are about 1.8 million in Northern Ireland.
The Republic of Ireland has 26 counties. There are six Counties in Northern Island. There are four provinces that comprise the Island of Ireland:
• Ulster (comprised of six Northern Ireland Counties & 3 from the Republic of Ireland) • Munster
County Roscommon is located in the Northwestern part of the Republic of Ireland in Connacht Province. It is approximately 984 square miles. It has a population of approximately 64,000 people (as of 2011). When the county was created in 1565, its name was taken from the major town, Roscommon. Little is known about Coman, the fifth-century saint from whom the name comes. The ruined abbey which dominates the town was founded by the Dominicans in the thirteenth century. This represents a population drop of about 70% from the 1840's. Some feel that the empty countryside conveys the feeling of the ghosts of past residents.
Bounded by the Shannon to the south and east, and by its tributary the Suck to the west, much of Roscommon is very wet, with extensive winter flooding of the lands adjoining the Shannon and many turloughs, underground lakes which rise overground from October to April.
The north of the county was included in the traditional lands of the MacDermots, while the south formed part of the territory of Uí Máine, ruled by the O'Kellys. Roscommon was little affected by the Norman invasion and was one of the counties left to the native proprietors by Cromwell in the seventeenth century. One result was that many of the old ways survived here longer than elsewhere. Another result, by the nineteenth century, was huge overpopulation and abject poverty. The fragile subsistence of the people was shattered by the Famine; in the ten years from 1841 to 1851, the population fell by almost a third, the largest single fall of any county in Ireland, and has continued to fall.
The following Barony Locations are within County Roscommon:
• Ballintober North
• Ballintober South
There are 33 Catholic Parish Locations within County Roscommon. There are 59 Civil Parish Locations within County Roscommon.
The following Poor Law Union Locations are within County Roscommon: • Boyle
• Carrick On Shannon
In addition, there are 2,060 townlands in County Roscommon (each of whom has a designated Barony, Civil Parish and Poor Law Union Parish.
Further, County Roscommon is also divided into numerous electoral districts.
Also, the Roman Catholic Church has organized Ireland within designated Archdiocese, Diocese and Parishes. My understanding is that these to not conform to the established boundaries of Counties within the Republic of Ireland; so, you have multiple Archdioceses and Dioceses within County Roscommon.
The History of Ireland: History of Ireland
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The first known settlements in Ireland began around 8000 BC, when mesolithic hunter-gatherers migrated from continental Europe. Few archaeological traces remain of this group but their descendants and later Neolithic arrivals, particularly from the Iberian Peninsula were responsible for major Neolithic sites such as Newgrange. On the arrival of Saint Patrick and other Christian missionaries in the early to mid-5th century AD, Christianity began to subsume the indigenous Celtic religion, a process that was completed by the year 600. From around AD 800, more than a century of Viking invasions wrought havoc upon the monastic culture and on the island's various regional dynasties, yet both of these institutions proved strong enough to survive and assimilate the invaders. The coming of Cambro-Norman mercenaries under Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, nicknamed Strongbow, in 1169 marked the beginning of more than 700 years of direct English, and, later, British involvement in Ireland. In 1177, Prince John Lackland was made Lord of Ireland by his father Henry II of England at the Council of Oxford. The Crown did not attempt to assert full control of the island until after Henry VIII's repudiation of papal authority over the Church in England and subsequent English Reformation, which failed in Ireland. Questions over the loyalty of Irish vassals provided the initial impetus for a series of Irish military campaigns between 1534 and 1691. This period was marked by a Crown policy of plantation, involving the arrival of thousands of English and Scottish Protestant settlers, and the consequent displacement of the pre-plantation Catholic landholders. As the military and political defeat of Gaelic Ireland became more pronounced in the early seventeenth century, sectarian conflict became a recurrent theme in Irish history. The 1613 overthrow of the Catholic majority in the Irish Parliament was realized principally through the creation of numerous new boroughs which were dominated by the new settlers. By the end of the seventeenth century, recusant Roman Catholics, as adherents to the old religion were now termed, representing some 85% of Ireland's population, were then banned from the Irish Parliament. Political power rested entirely in the hands of an Anglican minority, while Catholics and members of dissenting Protestant denominations suffered severe political and economic privations at the hands of the Penal Laws. The Irish Parliament was abolished in 1801 in the wake of the republican United Irishmen Rebellion and Ireland became an integral part of a new United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland under the Act of Union. Although promised a repeal of the Test Act, Catholics were not granted full rights until Catholic Emancipation was attained throughout the new UK in 1829. This was followed by the first Reform Bill in 1832, a principal condition of which was the removal of the poorer British and Irish freeholders from the franchise. The Irish Parliamentary Party strove from the 1880's to attain Home Rule through the parliamentary constitutional movement, eventually winning the Home Rule Act 1914, though this Act was suspended at the outbreak of World War I. The Easter Rising staged by Irish republicans two years later brought physical force republicanism back to the forefront of Irish politics. In 1922, after the Irish War of Independence and the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the larger part of Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom to become the independent Irish Free State; and after the 1937 constitution, Ireland. The six north eastern counties, known as Northern Ireland, remained within the United Kingdom. The Irish Civil War followed soon after the War of Independence. The history of Northern Ireland has since been dominated by sporadic sectarian conflict between (mainly Catholic) Nationalists and (mainly Protestant) Unionists. This conflict erupted into the Troubles in the late 1960s, until an uneasy peace thirty years later.
In the 12 year period during and following the Confederation revolt, from 1641 to 1652, over
550,000 Irish were killed by the English and 300,000 were sold as slaves.
In 1650, 25,000 Irish were sold to planters in St. Kitt. During the 1650s decade of Cromwell’s Reign of Terror, over 100,000 Irish children, generally from 10 to 14 years old, were taken from Catholic parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In fact, more Irish were sold as slaves to the American colonies and plantations from 1651 to 1660 than the total existing “free” population of the Americas!
52,000 Irish, mostly women and sturdy boys and girls, were sold to Barbados and Virginia alone. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were taken prisoners and ordered transported and sold as slaves. In 1656, Cromwell’s Council of State ordered that 1000 Irish girls and 1000 Irish boys be rounded up and taken to Jamaica to be sold as slaves to English planters.
Although the Africans and Irish were housed together and were the property of the planter owners, the Africans received much better treatment, food and housing. In the British West Indies the planters routinely tortured white slaves for any infraction. Owners would hang Irish slaves by their hands and set their hands or feet afire as a means of punishment. To end this barbarity, Colonel William Brayne wrote to English authorities in 1656 urging the importation of Negro slaves on the grounds that, "as the planters would have to pay much more for them, they would have an interest in preserving their lives, which was wanting in the case of (Irish)...." many of whom, he charged, were killed by overwork and cruel treatment. African Negroes cost generally about 20 to 50 pounds Sterling, compared to 900 pounds of cotton (about 5 pounds Sterling) for an Irish. (Riocard Sainmhíniú O'Cruimin)
According to Ptolemy, this region was inhabited by the Auteri, who occupied also the present
county of Galway. Among the native septs by whom it was afterwards occupied, the O'Conors
enjoyed the supreme authority in the central districts, the Mac Dermots in the northern, and
the O'Ceilys or O'Kellys in the southern. Later the O'Conors of Roscommon were divided into the
families of O'Conor Raudh or Roe, "the Red," and O'Conor Dhunne, or Don, "the dark or brown,"
from two rival chieftains thus distinguished by the colour of their hair, who were generally at
war with one another; the chief seat of one was Ballynafad castle, and of the other that of
Ballintobber. The country of the Mac Dermots was named the barony of Boyle; that of O'Conor Don
forms the barony of Ballintobber; that of O'Conor Roe, the barony of Roscommon; and that of the
O'Kellys, the barony of Athlone and the half barony of Moycarnon.
Hibernia, Ireland, Erie
Hibernia is the Classical Latin name for the island of Ireland. The name Hibernia was taken
from Greek geographical accounts. During his exploration of northwest Europe (c. 320 BC),
Pytheas of Massilia called the island Iérnē (written Ἰέρνη). In his book Geographia (c. 150
AD), Claudius Ptolemaeus ("Ptolemy") called the island Iouerníā (written Ἰουερνία, where "ου"-
ou stands for w). The Roman historian Tacitus, in his book Agricola (c. 98 AD), uses the name
Hibernia. The Romans also sometimes used Scotia, "land of the Scoti", as a geographical term
for Ireland in general, as well as just the part inhabited by those people.
Iouerníā was a Greek alteration of the Q-Celtic name *Īweriū from which eventually
arose the Irish names Ériu and Éire. The original meaning of the name is thought to
be "abundant land". (Source: Wikipedia)
The Irish Potato Famine, also known as the Great Hunger, began in 1845 when a fungus-like organism called Phytophthora infestans (or P. infestans) spread rapidly throughout Ireland. The infestation ruined up to one-half of the potato crop that year, and about three-quarters of the crop over the next seven years. Because the tenant farmers of Ireland—then ruled as a colony of Great Britain—relied heavily on the potato as a source of food, the infestation had a catastrophic impact on Ireland and its population. Before it ended in 1852, the Potato Famine resulted in the death of roughly one million Irish from starvation and related causes, with at least another million forced to leave their homeland as refugees. Ireland in the 1800s
With the ratification of the Acts of Union in 1801, Ireland was effectively governed as a colony of Great Britain until its war of independence in the early 20th century. Together, the combined nations were known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. As such, the British government appointed Ireland’s executive heads of state, known respectively as the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary of Ireland, although residents of the Emerald Isle could elect representation to the Parliament in London.
In all, Ireland sent 105 representatives to the House of Commons—the lower house of Parliament— and 28 “peers” (titled landowners) to the House of Lords, or the upper house. Still, it’s important to note that the bulk of these elected representatives were landowners of British origin and/or their sons. In addition, any Irish who practiced Catholicism—the majority of Ireland’s native population—were initially prohibited from owning or leasing land, voting or holding elected office under the so-called Penal Laws.
Although the Penal Laws were largely repealed by 1829, their impact on Ireland’s society and governance was still being felt at the time of the Potato Famine’s onset. English and Anglo-Irish families owned most of the land, and most Irish Catholics were relegated to work as tenant farmers forced to pay rent to the landowners.
Ironically, less than 100 years before to the Famine’s onset, the potato was introduced to Ireland by the landed gentry. However, despite the fact only one variety of the potato was grown in the country (the so-called “Irish Lumper”), it soon became a staple food of the poor, particularly during the cold winter months.
Great Hunger Begins (The Irish Potato Famine)
When the crops began to fail in 1845, as a result of P. infestans infection, Irish leaders in Dublin petitioned Queen Victoria and Parliament to act—and, initially, they did, repealing the so-called “Corn Laws” and their tariffs on grain, which made food such as corn and bread prohibitively expensive.
Still, these changes failed to offset the growing problem of the potato blight. With many tenant farmers unable to produce sufficient food for their own consumption, and the costs of other supplies rising, thousands died from starvation, and hundreds of thousands more from disease caused by malnutrition.
Complicating matters further, historians have since concluded, was that Ireland continued to export large quantities of food, primarily to Great Britain, during the blight. In cases such as livestock and butter, research suggests that exports may have actually increased during the Potato Famine.
In 1847 alone, records indicate that commodities such as peas, beans, rabbits, fish and honey continued to be exported from Ireland, even as the Great Hunger ravaged the countryside. The potato crops didn’t fully recover until 1852. By then, the damage was done. Although estimates vary, it is believed as many as 1 million Irish men, women and children perished during the Famine, and another 1 million emigrated from the island to escape poverty and starvation, with many landing in various cities throughout North America and Great Britain.
Legacy of the Potato Famine
The exact role of the British government in the Potato Famine and its aftermath—whether it ignored the plight of Ireland’s poor out of malice, or if their collective inaction and inadequate response could be attributed to incompetence—is still being debated.
However, the significance of the Potato Famine (or, in the Irish language, An Gorta Mor) in Irish history, and its contribution to the Irish diaspora of the 19th and 20th centuries, is beyond doubt.
Tony Blair, during his time as British Prime Minister, issued a statement in 1997 offering a formal apology to Ireland for the U.K. government’s handling of the crisis at the time.
Irish Hunger Memorials
In recent years, cities to which the Irish ultimately emigrated during and in the decades after the event have offered various commemorations to the lives lost. Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Phoenix in the United States, as well as Montreal and Toronto in Canada, have erected Irish hunger memorials, as have various cities in Ireland, Australia and Great Britain. In addition, Glasgow Celtic FC, a soccer team based in Scotland that was founded by Irish immigrants, many of whom were brought to the country as a result of the effects of the Potato Famine, has included a commemorative patch on its uniform—most recently on September 30, 2017—to honor the victims of the Great Hunger.
A Great Hunger Museum has been established at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut as a resource for those seeking information on the Potato Famine and its impact, as well as for researchers hoping to explore the event and its aftermath. (Source: History.com)
Higgins/Devaney Heritage: This site was lovingly created to honor our Irish heritage and
the memory of our patriarchs, Michael Higgins and Luke Devaney. There is a strong bond between
the Higgins and Devaney families in County Roscommon. Our patriarch, Michael Higgins, married
Anne Devaney (daughter of Luke Devaney) in Roscommon, and my father always spoke of his Devaney
cousins. The Higgins and Devaney families have long inter-married, both in Ireland and in New
Jersey. Michael Henry Higgins, grandson of our patriarch, Michael, spoke of John Devaney
(grandson of Michael Devaney & Mary Noone) as being his second cousin. The definition of a
second cousin is someone who shares a set of great grandparents. This is reinforcement that
Michael Devaney and Anne Devaney Higgins were brother and sister. Right now, we only know that
Luke Devaney was their father. In addition, there are numerous occasions where members of
Michael Devaney and Anne Devaney Higgins families were baptism sponsors and witnesses at
weddings for family members.
How You Can Help: It is the information provided by family members (names, marriages,
births, deaths, pictures, stories, etc. that bring the site "alive" and make it fun to visit
and learn of our heritage. If you are related, please contact me and update your family
information! The "Welcome" paragraph at the top of this page has a "contact me" link. Just
click on it! Once I hear from you, we'll exchange email addresses and any other contact info
that you are willing to share. My pledge is to upload every piece of information you provide
in a timely manner. Let's keep the Higgins/Devaney heritage alive for future generations!
DNA Update: Shane Higgins (Michael's great great grandson) and Vince and Joan Higgins
have been in communication. While DNA testing has not been able to link Vince and Joan of
Brielle, NJ to our Higgins family, more information is being analyzed and due to Vince's focus
on mapping, he is able to plot out where specific Higgins family groups originated. The DNA
testing will continue.
Research Update: We rely on family members to continue to provide updates to our site
(births, deaths, photos, marriages, obits, etc. We also are trying to fill in gaps in some
"twigs" on our heritage tree. If you see missing or incorrect information on your branch of
our heritage tree, please email the webmaster (that's me!) with corrections additions or
I am reaching out to family members I locate on Facebook, Reunion.com, and other sites in order to try and fill gaps in our family tree. If you are able to contribute additional information on your branch of the family (including pictures), please contact me! I can't do this alone. The contributions that each of you make will enable our heritage to be preserved for future generations.
Where This Research Came From:
There are many people who have made significant contributions that enabled our heritage and
ancestry to be traced back to our roots in County Roscommon. Let me first and foremost
recognize the contribution of my father, Joseph George Higgins, Sr. (grandson of Michael) who
repeatedly discussed stories that his father (Bernard) told of living in County Roscommon and
immigrating to America. Irish records are organized by county and, without this knowledge,
research is sometimes impossible.
Also, the contribution of The County Roscommon Heritage & Genealogy Company significantly contributed to our ability to trace our roots back to Roscommon. Our sincere thanks to Mary Skelly and all of the other researchers.
Next, numerous Higgins relatives provided support, including Jim Higgins and Patty Higgins who provided copies of many cherished pictures; our cousin Denis Higgins and his family in Roscommon who has provided more pictures, gracious hospitality to visiting Devaney cousins and the treasured gift of his friendship, and our Devaney cousins, Mary Lou & Bill Sutphen and Judy & Conrad Terrill, who took more pictures and spent the day visiting with our Higgins family.
Please note that while it is not possible to record on this site every source for each fact, no information has been recorded for which there is not specific documentation. If you have an interest in the source for a certain fact, please contact me. I will be happy to provide you with this information.
May we all continue to share in the joy of learning about our heritage!
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There are several ways to browse the family tree. The Tree View graphically shows the relationship of selected person to their kin. The Family View shows the person you have selected in the center, with his/her photo on the left and notes on the right. Above are the father and mother and below are the children. The Ancestor Chart shows the person you have selected in the left, with the photograph above and children below. On the right are the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. The Descendant Chart shows the person you have selected in the left, with the photograph and parents below. On the right are the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Do you know who your second cousins are? Try the Kinship Relationships Tool. Your site can generate various Reports for each name in your family tree. You can select a name from the list on the top-right menu bar.
In addition to the charts and reports you have Photo Albums, the Events list and the Relationships tool. Family photographs are organized in the Photo Index. Each Album's photographs are accompanied by a caption. To enlarge a photograph just click on it. Keep up with the family birthdays and anniversaries in the Events list. Birthdays and Anniversaries of living persons are listed by month. Want to know how you are related to anybody ? Check out the Relationships tool.
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