|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)
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:
• 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
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)
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!