The Uí Fiachrach and Uí Bríuín, to which all the rulers of Connacht from the 5th to the 12th centuries belonged, had their power disrupted by the Anglo-Norman settlement of the mid 12th century and seriously curtailed in 1227 when the English king Henry III granted Connacht to the Norman baron Richard de Burgh (or de Burgo). His descendants held the lordship of Connacht with the earldom of Ulster until the titles fell to the crown in 1461. The land of Connacht was thereafter controlled for a period by two junior branches of the de Burghs, who became known as the Clanricarde and Mayo Burkes.

As counties were formed, they were divided into baronies formed out of the territories of the Irish chiefs who were gradually forced to submit to English rule. County Mayo had nine baronies when it was created and named after the famous St. Colman's Mayo Abbey during the composition of Connacht under Sir Henry Sidney in 1595 AD. By then there were branches of the Colmáin sept (Ó Colmáin) in most of the baronies including the barony of Kilmaine which had been formed from the ancient territories called Conmaicne Quiltola.

Distribution of the surname Coleman in Ireland
According to the Appendix to the Twenty-ninth Report of the Registrar General (1894), there were 138 Colemans born in Ireland in 1890. The distribution of these births is a good indicator of the overall distribution of Coleman families throughout Ireland in the late nineteenth century (the pattern of distribution would not have changed much since the early years of that century):
Leinster (east of Ireland)
Munster (south of Ireland).
Ulster (north of Ireland)
Connaught (west of Ireland, including Co. Mayo)

The counties where the surname Coleman was particularly common, according to this report were Cork, Roscommon, Dublin and Waterford.

The earliest listing of heads of household in Mayo is the General Valuation of Rateable Property in Ireland. This source was compiled (as a basis for the levying of local taxation) through 1855 and 1856. It lists every individual who held a house or any size of property in those years, with very few exceptions. With the non-existence of pre-1901 censuses on Ireland, the General Valuation is the earliest, most complete listing of landholders (each of whom was a head-of-household) in Mayo. This source, therefore, allows one to discover the distribution and numerical strength of any surname in Mayo in 1855/56. It was compiled immediately after the Great Famine (1845-50) and reflects a population much depleted after several years of starvation, disease and emigration. However, the geographical distribution of any particular surname would not really have been all that different from before the Great Famine. A number of earlier sources exist which list landholders, voters, tithe-payers etc., but these are in no way as inclusive or complete as the General Valuation.

An index to the General Valuation for every county in Ireland was compiled by the National Library of Ireland. This gives the numbers of occurrences of landholders of every surname in each Barony, and within each civil parish, in each county in Ireland. From this source it is apparent that the surname Coleman was most common in the barony of Costello with forty-three occurrences of landholders of that name; thirty occurrences of the surname were found in the barony of Tirawley, while the barony of Gallen had eleven occurrences of landholders of that surname. There were Coleman landholders in every Mayo barony but the greatest numbers were in the baronies of Costello, Gallen and Tirawley which border counties Sligo and Roscommon. The surname was rarest in those baronies in the west and north-west of the county. This distribution pattern also lends weight to the view that the Coleman families in County Mayo and indeed Connacht descend from the Coleman families (cited above) who originated in County Sligo."(2)
2. Coleman Family History Report, p.3.

From the evidence available, the Colemans and Cliffords of Munster and Cork where they are most numerous descend from members of the Ó Clúmháin* family ( 'o-CLOO-waun','). This surname means "descendant of Clúmán" (CLOO-maun) and was a literary and bardic family in County Sligo (Refer to my comment above). They were hereditary poets and chroniclers to the O'Haras, one of the most powerful families in old Sligo. Some of the familiy migrated to south Leinster and West Munster where they anglicised their surname as Coleman and Clifford.
*Refer to my comment (click here) in page 7.

My Great Great Great Grandfather
DANIEL COLEMAN (1744 - 1818), ancestor of all the Colemans on this web site, lived and worked in the townland of Turloughmore* (Caherheamus) in the parish of Kilmolara* which was in the barony of Kilmaine. The records of the time show that he received a grant of four spinning wheels from the Linen Board in 1796. This indicates that our Coleman family was established in Turloughmore, Kilmolara, from at least that time. He married (wife unknown) and had two sons, PETER AND PATRICK. My family's ancestor is Patrick.

*Click on name for more information.

About two years ago, I commissioned the South Mayo Family History Centre to research and write what is called the Coleman Family History Report. It is now both interesting and timely to refer to this report as it attempts to describe the way of life of my Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Daniel Coleman's family in the 1790's. "From the Coleman genealogy we are aware that the Colemans were involved in flax growing and linen production in the 1790s. Flax growing provided sufficient employment and income in the period 1770 to 1815 to allow families to exist on small holdings. This economic boom encouraged early marriage and sub-division of land holdings with a resultant increase in population. However, peace in Europe after the Battle of Waterloo made the importation of cheap cotton possible from Egypt and America. This, coupled with industrialisation in Britain, made it uneconomical to market Irish linen in Britain. Consequently, the population who resided on small holdings were forced to subsist more and more on the produce of their holdings and on whatever occasional employment they could find. Since the potato supplied the greatest volume of food per acre it became the stable food. Oats, the most lucrative cash crop, became the main source of income and went mainly towards rent payments. Season migration to the north of England for agricultural employment also became a feature of life for small holders and their older sons."

My Great Great Grandfather
PATRICK COLEMAN (1775 - 1860) held a house, out-office and approx. 161/2 acres of land in1856 in Turloughmore(1). He married and had issue:
PATRICK COLEMAN (1775 - 1860) held a house, out-office and approx. 161/2 acres of land in1856 in Turloughmore(1). He married and had issue:

My great grandparents *JOHN COLEMAN (born 1809, died 15 March 1892 aged 83 years)(2) married Catherine Heskin (born 1831, died in 1907 aged 76 years)(3) and had issue:
  A. Winifred Coleman married Martin Hughes, (born circa 1857), a farmer of Bullaun, son of Patrick Hughes, a farmer, in The Neale RC church on 26 July 1895 (witnesses: Redmond Walsh and Bridget Coleman).(4) They had issue:
  i Mary Hughes, born 9 February 1897,(5) baptised 9 March 1897 (sponsors: Michael Hughes and Bridget Coleman).(6) She resided with her grandmother in 1901.(7)
  ii Patrick Hughes, baptised 25 April 1899 (sponsors: John Coleman and Bridget Farragher).(8)
  iii Sabina Hughes, baptised 18 April 1903 (sponsors: Peter Hughes and Bridget Conry).(9)
  iv Bridget Hughes, baptised 23 October 1904 (sponsors: Thomas Reilly and Mrs. Farragher).(10)
My Grandparents
B. *JOHN COLEMAN (born 1859, died 14 January 1932 in Cahermaculick, Shrule) resided with his mother in 1901 age understated as "30" years.(11) He married 1901 Mary Davoren (died 22 January 1932) of Inishmacatreer in St. Mary's Church, Claran, Co. Galway on 25 May 1901 and had issue:
  i *MARY COLEMAN , born 8 June 1902, baptised 10 June 1902
(sponsors: James Davoren and Margaret Holleran).(12)
My Father
ii *PATRICK JOSEPH COLEMAN, born 25 August 1903, baptised 29 August 1903 (sponsors: James Davoren and Margaret Holleran).(13)
  iii Bridget Coleman, born 30 January 1905, baptised 31 January 1905 (sponsors: John Davoren and Margaret Holleran).(14)
  iv *JOHN JOSEPH COLEMAN, baptised 25 February 1906 (sponsors: Jaines Davoren and Margaret Halloran).(15)
  v *JAMES JOSEPH COLEMAN, born 13 February 1909, baptised 14 February 1909 (sponsors: James Davoren and Margaret Halloran).(16)

1. General Valuation of Rateable Property in Ireland, "Griffith's Valuation", Union of Ballinrobe, p. 133
2. Ballinrobe district, deaths, vol. 9. P. 75.
3. 1901 census, district electoral division of Neale, townland of Caherhemush, house no. 4
4. Ballinrobe district, RC marriages, vol. 12, p. 33.
5. Cong district, births, vol. 1 1, p. 49.
6. Kilmaine RC parish, baptisms, vol. 2, p. 104.
7. 1901 census, district electoral division of Neale, townland of Caherhemush, house no. 4.
8. Cong RC parish, baptisms, vol. 1, p. 83.
9. Kilmaine RC parish, baptisms, vo. 2, p. 143.
10. Kilmaine RC parish, baptisms, vo. 2, p. 153.
11. 1901 census, district electoral division of Neale, townland of Caherhemush, house no. 4.
12. Cong RC church, baptisms, vol. 1, p. 93.
13. Cong RC church, baptisms, vol. 1, p. 97.
14. Cong RC church, baptisms, vol. 1, p. 107.
15. Cong RC church, baptisms, vol. 1, p. 105.
16. Cong RC church, baptisms, vol. 1, p. 114

  C. Bridget Coleman, baptised 6 January 1873 (sponsors: Patrick Coleman and Bridget Heskin). She married Patrick Vahey of Mucrossaun, son of Patrick Vahey and Ellen Rochford on 10 March 1901 (witnesses: Michael Heskin and Margaret Heskin).(17) They resided in Mucrossaun and had-issue:
  i Bridget Vahey, born 13 January 1902, baptised 14 January 1902 (sponsors: John Coleman and Catherine Casey).(18)
  ii Mary Vahey, born 21 March 1903, baptised 22 March 1903
(sponsors: John Heskin and Margaret Heskin).(19)
  iii Ellen Vahey, baptised 7 April 1904 (sponsors: Patrick Farragher and Mary Farragher).(20)
  iv Michael Vahey, baptised 13 December 1906 (sponsors: Martin Casey and Bridget Malley).(21)
  v Catherine Vahey, born 30 December 1907, baptised 31December 1907 (sponsors: Patrick Vahey and Bridget vahey).(22)

Catherine Anne Vahey, baptised 29 September 1909
(sponsors: Patrick Farragher and Julia Heskin).(23)

  vii John Vahey, baptised 26 January 1911 (sponsors: James Malley and Bridget Coleman). He married 20 January 19- to Anne Feerick of Kilconly.(24)
  viii Anthony Vahey, baptised 8 April 1912 (sponsors: Michael Farragher and Bridget Hoban).(25)
  ix Patrick Vahey, baptised 11 April 1915 (sponsors: Patrick Farragher and E.Malley).(26)
  D. Patrick Coleman, a labourer, born circa 1855/1858, died unmarried on 24 January / 20 February 1891 aged 33/36 years.(27)

17. Cong RC church, baptisms, vol. 2, p. 16 with note of marriage appended and Cong RC parish, marriages, vol. 1, p. 29.
18. Cong RC parish, baptisms, vol. 1, p. 92.
19. Cong RC parish, baptisms, vol. 1, p. 96.
20. Cong RC parish, baptisms, vol. 1, p. 99.
21. Cong RC parish, baptisms, vol. 1, p. 104.
22. Cong RC parish, baptisms, vol. 1, p. 1 10.
23. Cong RC parish, baptisms, vol. 1, p. 116.
24. Cong RC parish, baptisms, vol. 1, p. 12 1.
25. Cong RC parish, baptisms, vol. 1, p. 125.
26. Cong RC parish, baptisms, vol. 1, p. 132.
27. Ballinrobe district, deaths, vol. 9, p. 36 - age given as 33 years and date of death as 21 January 189I- and gravestone inscription no. 55 Kilmolara cemetery "O Lord have mercy / on the soul of / Patrick Coleman / who died on the 20th of February 1891 / aged 36 years / R.I.P. / Erected by his cousin / Mary Coleman / U.S.A. /"

The failure of the potato crop in the years 1845 to 1850 led to large-scale emigration. Farm holdings gradually grew in size in the years after the Famine. From the 1830s the average age at marriage increased dramatically. Consequently, family size dropped and the subdivision of holdings ceased. In the aftermath of the Great Famine more land was given over to grazing. The lot of the Irish did not really improve, and a number of very difficult years as well as the prospect of another major famine in the late 1870s led to a period called the "Land War". The success of this movement meant that the landlords were losing their power and grip on the land. Periodically though evictions continued to be carried out despite the protests and whole families, orphans and widows were forced into the Workhouse in Ballinrobe. This charnel-house of the Great famine survived still to inflict utter pain and mental torture, separating families on entry and thereafter subjecting them to hard labour and often premature death.

Spurred on by the Land League movement, tenants were more than anxious to own their own land and in the spirit of Brehan Law, that for so long was part of their deeper memory, they insisted on that right. Land acts were passed poviding for a degree of tenant land purchase. The Irish were at last emerging from centuries of coercion and oppression. Co-ops were set up that became the focal point of the community. Those changes as well as the founding of the GAA or Gaelic Athletic Association and the Gaelic League breathed new life into rural Ireland as up until the late 1890's the Irish were also barred on social grounds from competing in sports and games. The Gaelic League was founded to halt the decline of the Irish language and promote a revival of Irish culture. The literary revival that followed, based on a fast growing awareness of Irish nationality and inspired by Ireland's past, led to a Celtic renaissance that revitalised the Irish psyche.

The centuries of coercion, oppression and famine which had caused so much misery and pain had made poverty endemic and the cure proved ever so elusive. By 1903 when my father was born, life was improving, albeit ever so slowly, for the people of Mayo and elsewhere. By today's standards it was indeed a very exacting and meagre existence with few comforts. Homes were cold and draughty with no indoor plumbing and little furniture. Meals were cooked in pots and pans over open fires. Most farm work was done by hand with the aid of the spade and the fork, the sickle,the scythe and the rake. The donkey and the horse were the beasts of burden. When it came to farm work, the horse was the farmer's most prized possession as it was used to pull the plough, the harrow and the cart.

But the English had not done with Ireland yet. For an account of more broken promises and the most shameful betrayal of the people of Ireland who must have felt that they were encountering the reincarnation of Cromwell in the atrocities of the infamous Black and Tans, refer to the page on The Neale by clicking HERE.

All of this in the aftermath of the Great War, World War 1, 'the war to end all wars'. All of this in the fashion of a nation's conspiracy perpetrated in the most pernicious and criminal manner. Surely one of the lowest and most barbaric chapters in England's history. Surely one of the darkest hours in Ireland's history. .... And despite the number of Irish and of Irish descent in the dominion (commonwealth later) countries, these countries supported - and not often blindly - England's brutal and inhuman treatment of the Irish during my parents and grandparents' years of the first quarter and more of the twentieth century. The dominion countries' serious discrimination against the Irish is well documented. In fact when I settled in Australia in 1958, Prime Minister Menzies and his Foreign Affairs Department were still having some difficulty recognising the ambassadorial status of the Irish Diplomat appointed Ambassador to Australia, despite the great contribution of the Irish in this country to its development and its role in the two world wars where to those soldiers Irish and of Irish descent went more than 60% of all Victoria Crosses awarded to our Australian soldiers.

The old adage and theme of many publications that 'good ultimately triumphs over evil' was more than put to its test in Ireland's case if you can conceivably see 'ultimately' as stretching over some three hundred and more years. Or was it the very nature of the evil itself that made it for so long so implacable?

As I have said earlier, Ireland has seen so much change in recent years as a member of the European Union, and most of it for the better, that it's difficult for the younger generation to perceive of an Ireland that was so very different from their own. Despite the deep scars still in the Irish psyche, gone forever are the many yokes of her past history, those yokes of servitude that fastened her to centuries of barbaric treatment and until quite recently to economic misery and stagnation. Ireland today 2004 is a very modern and vibrant nation with an unique culture and a very successful economy, and with that same indomitable spirit and sense of fun and optimism that have been the hallmarks of her dignity down the centuries and hopefully into the future.

My parents have passed on but I am grateful that they lived long enough to see the new Ireland. The land that became my grandparents' land nearly a hundred years ago is still in the family. Today it is worked by my brother Noel and his family.

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