4: Hang Loose in
1991 Visit to Killarney, Cliffs of Moher
July 30-Aug. 11, 1991
By LEWIS NOLAN
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Saturday, Aug. 3, 1991
– Visit to Cliffs of Moher, Killarney,
We left Ballinasloe for the drive to Killarney via Lisdoonvarna and the Cliffs of Moher. We made a stop at Ballyvaughn to get sandwiches and drinks to have in the car as we drove. The Cliffs of Moher lived up to their billing and were magnificent. Unlike our previous trip here, we walked down the path to the south to view and rolling Atlantic waves breaking against the sheer rock cliffs that rose 200 or more feet up from the blue sea. Hundreds of seabirds darted in and out of their nesting and resting places along the rocky cliffs. What we saw was awe-inspiring on both visits. The path to the north leads to a tiny observatory that looks like a miniature castle made of big pieces of stone.
After taking our fill of great views, we got back in our rental car and pushed on down a narrow, winding road through the limestone fields toward Killarney.
All in all, this was a good day. The nights in
Saturday, Aug. 3, 1991
– Visit to Cliffs of Moher, Killarney,
Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me until this morning at
the Ballinasloe hotel to check the Galway telephone book for listings of Nolan
families in this part of
The large number of Nolans still in the area tends to confirm the family story passed down the generations that my great-grandfather John Nolan’s family supposedly raised horses in or around Ballinasloe early in the 19th Century. I wish I would have thought about using the telephone book for leads earlier as a side trip to Athlone about 30 miles north of Ballinasloe might have been productive.
I copied down the names and addresses of the Nolans listed
as living in Athlone with the thought that I might one day write them when I
get back home to
Some time later, I wrote each of the Athlone Nolans a letter explaining my research project and asked for their help. As noted in my book, “Nolan-Miller Family History” on pages 29-32, five responded and returned my self-addressed, stamped envelopes. For ease in future research for those also rattling the Nolan name in their family history, following are the names and listed residential location of those I wrote. Included are the responses of those Nolans who replied:
She responded that, “I do not believe that our family
of Nolans is connected to your family. My father-in-law originated from
Headford in Co. Galway and he came to Athlone over 80 years ago. I am living in
the residence on
He responded that “our branch of the Nolans do
not have any connection with you. My ancestors originated from
He responded that “my wife and I come from
- He responded with a two-page letter typed on stationery emblazoned with the Nolan crest, saying “Three years ago I was invited to the Northeast UJSA on a consultative/lecturing visit and traveled north through New York State to Lake Champlain, where I pondered somewhat on the incursions of the French influence in that area, and then down the west side of the state to Cornell and Penn State Universities. One of the memorable features of the visit was the kindness of the American people to have allocated some time for me to “visit my family relations/connections” and then to watch their surprise when I could only announce that I did not have even the proverbial 50th cousin there. To receive a letter from a family member was a pleasant surprise.
- On reflection though, the Nolans must have been forced out of Ireland during the terrible 1845-53 famine period in the same fashion as others were and your reference to your great-grandfather’s emigration of 148 years ago (in 1843) no doubt refers to this awful time. I was surprised, however, by your reference to the Nolans from the Ballinasloe area. This is due to my association of the name with Co. Carlow, where I was born. Recently, I inquired from “The Historical Research Center” about the name Nolan and was told that the name was indeed mostly associated with Co. Carlow and that of the chief of the O’Nuallain (Gaelic for Nolan as you probably know) Sept was known as the Prince of Foherta. Following the Anglo-Norman invasion of the 11th Century, the power of the Sept decreased.
In the 16th Century a branch of the
O’Nuallain migrated to
- There was a Philip Nolan (1771-1801) who emigrated to America and became one of the most notorious frontiersmen and contraband traders in the West, as well as a Rev. Frederick Nolan (1784-1864), who became a famous Protestant theologian.
- The family motto, “car unum, via uno,” I suppose still meant “one heart, one way,” to all these family members.
Today, the name Nolan is among the 40 most
common names in
For the moment I hope that this gives some
information to go on and I must continue to investigate your claims of the
Ballinasloe association. The world sometimes gets very small in these matters
as recently I was in
- I am sorry if this is a rather hurried and late Sunday “off the top of my head” response but I hope that the contacts continue as one feels a sense of homeliness about these matters as well as a deep sense of history and related matters.”
He forwarded my letter to Nancy Nolan of
Ballaghlea, Ballygar, Co. Galway, who wrote me that the dentist is a native of
“The Christian name John seems prevalent in the
Nolans down to the present day. Perhaps there may be some information in the
parish records of old Ballygar or Newbridge. Fire seems to have played havoc in
the old days with parish records. Nowadays there are heritage centers trying to
sort out and computerize the records – one has been at work in
“I am sending you a little information about the
name Nolan from McLysaght’s ‘Surnames of Ireland”; O’Nulliam comes from the
Irish word nual (meaning shout). In early times they held hereditary office
under the Kings of Leinster. The chief was known as a Prince of the Barony of
Forth, County Carlow. A branch immigrated to
The letters later sent to me from Ireland Nolans indicate just how wonderfully helpful and literate the Irish can be.