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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Is this where my love of poetry comes from?

I was excited about my discovery that Cowhey derives from Ó Cobhthaigh, the Irish Gaelic surname which is most often anglicized as Coffey. It appeared that our Cowhey branch of the family was more than likely from County Cork, according to Irish Families: Their Names, Arms, and Origins.

Now a new discovery, thanks to a Griffith's Valuation index in the Irish Ancestors section of The Irish Times website: County Cork is only one of several places to look for our Cowey/Cowhey ancestors.

According to the site, Griffith's Valuation, published in between 1848 and 1864 to provide accurate information for tax purposes, lists every landholder and householder in Ireland. Supposedly Patrick Cowey arrived in the United States before this, around 1820, but relatives that he left behind in Ireland would more than likely be listed.

According to The Irish Times' index of the Cowhey surname in Griffith's Valuation, there were 10 total Cowheys at the time in Ireland - 1 in Cork and 9 in...Limerick! That's right, the birthplace of the famous satirical Limerick poetry, and also a place well-known for love of poetry in general. (You've got to love a place that loves poetry this much!)

Looking down the list of similar surnames, I learned the following about residences of possible related families in the mid-nineteenth century in Ireland:
  • Cowhey - 10 total households (1 in Cork, 9 in Limerick)
  • Cowey - 4 total households (1 in Clare, 3 in Galway)
  • Cowhy - 18 total households (14 in Cork, 1 in Limerick, 1 in Limerick City)
  • Cowhig - 20 total households (17 in Cork, 3 in Cork City)
  • Couhig - 5 total households (5 in Cork)
So it looks like the origins of our Cowhey family will most certainly be found in Munster, the southernmost of the four provinces of Ireland. An Old Gaelic dinnseanchas poem poetically describes Munster and the other kingdoms of Ireland (the dinnseanchas genre is poetry about Irish place names). Here is the English translation of the description of Munster in the poem Ard Ruide (Ruide Headland):
Munster in the south is the kingdom of music and the arts, of harpers, of skilled ficheall players and of skilled horsemen. The fairs of Munster were the greatest in all Ireland.
A wonderful place to claim as an ancestral home!

2 comments:

Colleen and Izzie said...

Oh I'm soooo glad I found your blog through a link on another blog! And I am VERY interested in your McCUE surname. I have two different McHUGH surnames on both sides of my family; the maternal was very possibly spelled McCUE. (Jenny/Jane who married a DOYLE in Luzerne County, PA). Stop by my blog at www.omchodoy.blogspot.com. I'd love to chat!

Lisa said...

Thanks for your message, Colleen. I've had trouble finding help with the McCue side of my family - it's nice to hear from someone with a possible connection...though who knows how far back in the family?

For more information on my McCue heritage, check out A Light That Shines Again, my blog about the Tierney and related families of County Tipperary, Ireland and Boston & Quincy, Massachusetts (including the McCues).

The blog address is http://www.tierneyhistory.blogspot.com.

Thanks again for commenting!

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