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The SULLIVAN / O'SULLIVAN Families of West Cork, Ireland

This synopsis reviewed and fully updated by “The Geneal Geologist”, November 2017
Additional information, comments and corrections welcome.
“My Irish Genealogy” Research Blog

Almost eighty per cent of the SULLIVANs / O'SULLIVANS in Ireland today belong to the counties of Cork and Kerry, and my wife’s ancestry contains several them. They became very numerous and powerful, dividing into many branch septs of which O'Sullivan Mor and O'Sullivan Beare were the most important. The former had his principal castle at Dunkerron on the shore of Kenmare Bay, the latter was lord of the modern baronies of Beare and Bantry. Donal O'Sullivan Beare (1560-1618), hero of the siege of Dunboy was famous for his hazardous march to Ulster after the disasters of the Battle of Kinsale and the capture of Dunbly (see also LOWNEY). His nephew, Philip O'Sullivan Beare (1590-1660), was a soldier in the Spanish army, but is better known as a historian: his Historiae Catholicae Iberniae Compendium recounts the events of the Elizabethan wars as told to him by his uncle and other participants.

Depending on location, O’SULLIVAN septs may have adopted other nicknames and suffixes to distinguish themselves, and some of these may have changed to local surnames, for example: O’SULLIVAN Laune = LOWNEY, and O’SULLIVAN Boig or Bouge = BOOHIG or BOUGE

Families 1 & 2: The SULLIVAN / O'SULLIVAN (Beare) Family of Filane, Castletownbere

Head of the family is John SULLIVAN (1806-70, possibly s/o Michael SULLIVAN) & Mary SHEEHAN (1810-1878, possibly d/o Timothy SHEEHAN) of Ballusky & Ardnasciach / Ardnaskeagh in Filane West, a township east of Castletownbere, who married in January 1834, my wife’s 3xGGPs. Their known children:

·       Hanora SULLIVAN (1835);

·       Mary SULLIVAN (1837) = John (Jack) LOWNEY of Ardnasciach in 1860 Castletownbere (my wife’s 2xGGPs). In 1901 & 1911 the family is recorded as being resident in the Scart, Curryglass, just east of Filane;

·       Catherine SULLIVAN (1840-1914) = Timothy SULLIVAN (1840-1905, s/o Daniel SULLIVAN & Catherine LEARY) in 1865. The family were also in Curryglass in 1901 and in 1911 (Derreeny);

·       Michael SULLIVAN (1843-1925) = Mary CARTY (1843) of Clonakilty in 1864 Clonakilty:

o   1865-1876 baptisms for early children not found;

o   Mark SULLIVAN (abt 1876) = Bridget TWOMEY in 1901 Castletownbere and inherits the property at Filane East. Children:

§  Michael Bernard SULLIVAN (1903);

§  Mary Ann Elizabeth SULLIVAN (1904);

§  Anthony Patrick SULLIVAN (1906-1960 Queens, New York);

§  Mark SULLIVAN (1907);

§  Catherine SULLIVAN (1908);

§  Martha Mary SULLIVAN (1910);

o   Cornelius SULLIVAN (1878) of Filane East;

o   Richard SULLIVAN (1880);

o   Teresa SULLIVAN (1883);

·       Margaret SULLIVAN (1846-1913) = John MURPHY (c1830 - bef1911) of Fuhur in 1871 Castletownbere. Couple raised their family and died at Fuhur;

·       Cornelius SULLIVAN (1850-1915) – no marriage found;

John “Jack” LOWNEY, above, my wife’s 2xGGF, was the s/o Timothy LOWNEY (c1800) & Mary SULLIVAN (c1805) of Ardnascaich. Mary, his mother, is probably of the same family that Jack married into.

Family 3: The SULLIVAN / O'SULLIVAN & SWANTON Families of Whiddy Island, Bantry Bay

The son of above couple, John “Jack” LOWNEY, a coachbuilder and carpenter of Clonakilty, Co. Cork, my wife’s GGF = Ellen SULLIVAN (1860-1934 d/o Daniel SULLIVAN & Catherine “Kate” SWANTON) of Kilmore, Whiddy Island, Bantry Bay in 1890. It is not clear if the Whiddy SULLIVANs had any relationship with those in Filane to account for the marriage. Despite numerous SULLIVANs in the 1901 Irish census on Whiddy Island there is no matching Daniel (who witnessed the marriage in 1890 and was presumably deceased).

Family of Daniel & Kate SULLIVAN at Kilmore:

·      Ellen SULLIVAN (1860-1934);

·      Margaret SULLIVAN (1864);

·      Christopher SULLIVAN (1866) = Mary/Maria LEARY;

·      Michael SULLIVAN (1869-1937);

·      Elizabeth “Lizzie” SULLIVAN (1872);

·      John SULLIVAN (1874-1940) = Mary A O’BRIEN – Settled in Portsmouth, Rockingham, New Hampshire, USA;

There are few other specific references to SULLIVANs on Whiddy Island in Bantry records – only 4 marriages, no baptisms:

·       Kate SULLIVAN of Whiddy (d/o John SULLIVAN) = Daniel SHANAHAN of Whiddy in 1877;

·       John SULLIVAN of Whiddy (s/o Daniel SULLIVAN) = Anna DRISCOLL of Whiddy in 1876;

·       Margaret SULLIVAN of Whiddy (d/o John SULLIVAN) = Denis LEARY of Whiddy in 1875;

·       Anne SULLIVAN of Whiddy (d/o Denis SULLIVAN) = Floren BURKE in 1879;

Family 4: The SULLIVAN / O'SULLIVAN & BRIEN Families of Ardfield & Rathbarry / Rosscarbery, County Cork

Abigail SULLIVAN (bef 1788) = Daniel BRIEN (record suggesting a flax grower) sometime before 1809 in Cork, Ireland:

Their only known child Johanna BRIEN (1809 Ardfield & Rathbarry) = Jeremiah FITZPATRICK in 1833 Ardfield;
Her possible sister Catherine “Cat” BRIEN (based on family stories) = Daniel
FITZPATRICK in 1842 Ardfield;

Family 5: The Family of O'SULLIVAN Bouge / Boig (Clonakilty)

One of the local sept suffixes or nicknames that can be phonetically recorded as BOIG, BOIGE, BOGUE, BOUG, BOUGE, BOUGUE, BOUIGE, etc. as examples. The name was popular amongst O’SULLIVANs in the Middle Ages and is translated to Boethius. The BOOHIG and BOOIG surnames, unique to Cork, derive from it. The first person to take the name O'SULLIVAN as a surname was Buadhach O'SULLIVAN, the great grandson of Buadhach Atha-cra and 3rd Great Grandson of the progenitor Suilebhan. Hart claims that Buadhach O'SULLIVAN, took a wife from Macedonia and that the branch became Vera-O’SULLIVANs. ("Irish Pedigrees" by O'Hart (1892)). BUADHACH, genitive -aigh, Buagh, (Boetius), Victor; derivative of buaidh, victory; formerly a favourite name among the O’SULLIVANs. "Irish Names and Surnames" by Rev. Patrick Woulfe (1923). In this area of West Cork, the nicknames that distinguished O'SULLIVANs include: Bán (white or fair haired), Bouige (victorious), and Rácagh (thin/stringy).

My wife’s 3xGGF, Peter O’NEILL (farmer at Reenroe) married Mary BOUGE aka SULLIVAN sometime prior to the start of records at Darrara church, Clonakilty in 1809. Both families appear to be connected to burials at Kilnagross near Shannonvale, outside of Clonakilty. In 1840, Peter erected a gravestone at the church to his wife and one of their daughters. In Darrara records, for baptisms of the couple’s children, Mary was generally recorded as SULLIVAN, but once as BOUGE in 1813 (with Cat BOUGE, sponsor). It could have been Mary who erected the gravestone for James SULLIVAN alias BOGUE of “Knockey” (Knockskeagh) at Kilnagross. Knockskeagh is close to Reenroe.