Humphrys genealogy

Genealogy research by Mark Humphrys.

My ancestors - O'Mara - Contents

  Origin of O'Meara (14th to 17th centuries)



Toomevara village

The 15th century O'Meara tombstone

The 1624 wall plaque

O'Meara of Toomevara, Co.Tipperary

A sketch of the family of O'Meara of Toomevara, Co.Tipperary, and neighbourhood.
Our family, O'Mara of Limerick, had a tradition that they were originally O'Meara of Toomevara.
Research however shows our O'Mara family came from Clonmel, Co.Tipperary (nowhere near Toomevara).


The Cronnelly material seems to be reprinted in O'Hart and in the Tuam Herald:


Sources yet to be consulted


Origin of O'Meara (14th to 17th centuries)

The old Irish O'Meara family (O'Meadhra in Irish) had lands in the Barony of Upper Ormond, N Co.Tipperary.
The chief town of the Barony was Toomevara.
Toomevara is also spelled "Toomyvara", but I will use the former since the O'Maras always did.
In Irish the town is Tuaim ui Mheadhra (or Tuaim ui Mheara), "Tomb of the O'Mearas".
Toomevara is in Aghnameadle par, E of Nenagh (on the Dublin road), N Co.Tipperary (see map).


1354 grant of land to "Alan O'Maghra" from James Butler, 2nd Earl of Ormond.
Signed at Nenagh, March 14, 1354.
Deed no.22 in Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Irish Manuscripts Commission, vol. ii (1934), pp.10-11.
The original deeds were then at Kilkenny Castle. Now in [NLI].

Location of Ballymackey (marked in blue) and to the S of it, Lissanisky.
From 1829 to 1842 map.
See modern map.

Extract from two deeds of 1578 and 1585 involving O'Meara of Lissanisky.
Entry no.307 in Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Irish Manuscripts Commission, vol. v (1941), pp.294-296.
O'Meara of Lissanisky became Protestant and held onto their property through the 17th century confiscations, when almost every family in the Barony was dispossessed, including other branches of O'Meara.




Complete list of O'Mara and O'Meara wills in [Vicars' index of wills 1536-1810].
Shows Morgan O'Meara of Lissanisky, will pr 1760.
All of these wills were burnt in 1922.

Lissanisky House.
From It is now a guesthouse.
The old Lissanisky Castle is gone.
See modern satellite view. And street view of entrance.



O'Meara may not have lived at Ballymackey until the 18th century.
At some point, a new Ballymackey House was built beside the old Ballymackey Castle.
It is unclear if O'Meara ever lived in the old castle.

Toomevara and Ballymackey in [Wilson, 1786, p.168].
Ballymackey is listed as the seat of Morgan O'Meara.

Ballymackey on the first Ordnance Survey map in the 1830s.
Ballymackey Castle and Ballymackey House are both now in ruins.

Ballymackey on 1887 to 1913 map.
The ruin of Ballymackey House is removed. The ruin of Ballymackey Castle survives.

Aerial photo of Ballymackey before the build-up of the pig farm.
View from E, looking W.
Centre RHS is the road coming down from the main road, which is off screen to the RHS.
Photo from Jim Gleeson.
See larger and full size. See other copy.

The ruin of Ballymackey Castle survives today, in the middle of a piggery.
See small square block in the middle here.
It is actually more impressive on the ground since it is higher than the other buildings.
Satellite view from
See Google satellite view. And street view of entrance.

Ballymackey Castle.
Photo 1991. See larger and full size.
See other 1991 photos: distance and wall and wall.


Toomevara village

There are two surviving O'Meara memorials in the ruined Abbey at Toomevara village.
There was also an O'Meara castle at Toomevara. Part of this may survive.

Toomevara (they use "Toomyvara") on 1887 to 1913 map.
To the NW side here is the old Dublin-Limerick road, running right past the "Church (in ruins)".
Lower down is the "Abbey (in ruins)".
[Gleeson, 1952] thinks the "Church" is wrongly labelled by the Ordnance Survey, and is not actually a church but may be the old O'Meara castle.

Street view of Toomevara.
View from SE side. On the left is the ruined abbey.
On the right is the ruined "church" (maybe the old castle).
Click to move and rotate.
From here. See also satellite view.

Extract from [Gleeson, 1952].
Discussing the ruin on the island site. He thinks this may be the old O'Meara castle of Toomevara.


Toomevara: The 15th century O'Meara tombstone

The ruined Abbey at Toomevara has a late 15th century tombstone of a "Joannes O'Meara".
It lies outside the S wall at the E end of the church, with the more modern priests' graves.

Location of the tombstone.
It is lying down in front of the grave of Rev. Thomas McGrath (died 1843).
Photo 2023. See larger and full size.
See wider shot. See closer shot.

The O'Meara tombstone.
It fills up with water. This is it when cleaned out.
See full size.
See 2007 picture filled with water.
Both from, which has more pictures.

Extract from [Gleeson, 1952].
He says the stone was then at the N wall of the Abbey (or Priory). It has clearly been moved.


Toomevara: The 1624 wall plaque

At the ruined Abbey (or Priory) at Toomevara is an O'Meara wall plaque with a Latin inscription dated 1624.
It is on the inner face of the S wall.
This is the memorial of William O'Meara of Lissanisky.
The inscription was composed by Dermod O'Meara, physician and poet.

Location of the wall plaque (on end of wall).
Photo 2023. See larger and full size.
See closer shot. See other angle.

Closer shot of the wall plaque.
Photo 2023. See larger and full size.

The 1624 wall plaque.
See full size.


Close-up of the 1624 wall plaque.
Photo 2023. See larger and full size.
See angle.

The opening part of the inscription.
Shows it starts: "Clara Meara dum tumulo jacet hocce propago ..."
Translation: "In this tomb lies the illustrious sept of the Mearas ..."

Extract from [Gleeson, 1952] about the wall plaque.
[O'Meara, 1996] quotes a 20th century reading of the date as "1641", and says that date does not make sense - it should be 1624.
Gleeson quotes an 1877 reading, when it was more legible, which indeed shows it is 1624.
Translation in [Sheehan, 1949, p.49].


3D model of the wall plaque. From Archaeological Survey of Ireland.
Click to rotate and zoom.
Looking at the last line, it is unclear where the entire line "1624. Educ. a malo." is meant to be.
We shall just have to go with the 1877 reading.

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