The Lucey and Lucy Family History Web Site


Lucey and Lucy Family History



Lucey and Lucy Family History Web Site

..The Family of Lucey in Ireland



Home Page
History of Surname
Ancestry Database
Early de Lucy History
Sigournay Surname
Earliest Records
Irish Lucey Origins
Check Database
Historical Information
View Cork Map
Request Manual Search
Link to Related Sites
About Rickmansworth
Site Search
Sign Guest Book


Lucey: People and Places

This webpage provides information on the origins of the Lucey surname.

Ballyvourney 1797Evidence shows that the Lucey surname in Ireland, or Ó Luasaigh in gaelic, emanates from an isolated single location; from Ballyvourney, seven and a half miles west of Macroom in co. Cork.

It is said that all newly born babies in Macroom are traditionally faced in the direction of Cork City, either as the direction to aspire to, as this was the direction many travelled en-route to England, Canada, America or Australia; or alternatively it has been suggested that facing Cork signifies their ancestral homeland and rightful inheritance after the expulsions of August 1644, when all Irish inhabitants of Cork City were expelled and fled west.

Either way, the Elizabethan Fiants of 1601 provide clear evidence that the Lucey surname was associated with Ballyvourney before this date.

Prior to 1600, there had been many waves of various clans moving westward and displacing the previous landed occupants; particularly after the influx of Anglo-Normans to Cork City in 1171. At this time Cork continued to be subjected to attack by hostile natives, but the occupation took hold and it was declared a Royal Borough in 1177 and received it's first Charter in 1185.

Therefore our Lucey ancestors may have been driven west with significant clans such as the O'Donoghues, who were driven out of co. Cork by the O'Mahoneys (descended from the same clan) in the 12th century and then later with the MacCarthys.

On the 1st January 1603, Donnell O'Sullivan Beare with one thousand followers marched to Ballyvourney and was pursued by Thady MacCarthy, who was by then, the local lord.

It may be possible to make an assessment of when the initial member of this clan or source occurred, based on the known number of Irish Lucey births around 1900 and interpolating it against the population of Ireland as a whole.


Analysing this estimated data, concludes that the family took the name Lucey, or Ó Luasaigh, around the beginning of the 14th century. Was there any specific event at this time that may have influenced a move of a Lucey ancestor to Ballyvourney? Well the period corresponds with the bubonic plague that hit Cork City in 1349, when almost half of the 1500-2000 occupants died. The City was also severely damaged by fire in 1354. The plague most affected the Anglo-Norman towns, rather than the native Irish in their dispersed rural settlements. The plague pit field in Ballyvourney can still be identified. The aftermath resulted in a period of gaelic resurgence and the former Anglo-Norman counties fell into gaelic hands and families became assimilated.

Interestingly this also corresponds with the period when Anthony de Lucy of Cockermouth, Justiciar of Ireland took a force of men into Cork between January and 2nd May 1332 in pursuit of the Earl of Desmond - possibly just a coincidence!

His army consisted of 156 men-at-arms, 589 hobelars (mounted light infantrymen) and 771 foot soldiers. On 15th June, that same year, he captured and repaired the castle at Clonmare (between Dublin and Waterford) and later held an inquisition at Cork to hear the claim of Thomas de Carew on 31st August.

Another possibility is that the name is derived from the MacCarthy clan; possibly from Dermot MacClausagh around 1400. This is also the period when the name is recorded in the Gormanston Register, as that of a resident in Carlingford in 1305, although this is considerably further north and may be a mistranscription of deLacy (a significant local name). More significantly, a grant was made at this time to a Thomas Ó Lousy of the Archdeaconry of Cashel (1302-1307). The "Annals of the Four Masters" state that various monasteries were founded by the MacCarthy Mor (chieftain of the clan) over this period, such as Oirbealach, Kerry in 1340.

St.Gobnait's Church, Ballyvourney - click to viewIn this area, all the settlements are centred on fortified stronghouses, known as 'fortalice' or tower castles, of the type built throughout Ireland during the medieval period. They were the fortified homes of local lords and chieftains, both native Irish and Anglo-Normans and are often guarding river crossings. They were originally built by the Anglo-Norman colonists, particularly along the Cork coastline and frontiers to protect their lands from the native Irish enemy. Ballyvourney has the remains of a later 15th century castle. This was the home of the O'Hierleys. When the Irish counties were introduced c1300, many Irish towns were prefixed with 'Bally-' which derives from the French 'bailiwick'. Ballyvourney was undoubtedly a Norman frontier settlement. When they established the parish system, hundreds of new churches were built between 1172 and 1348. However while the native Irish were numerous in the lower levels of diocesan clergy, they were excluded from the ecumenical hierarchy

St. Gobnait's Church, Ballyvourney - click to viewMervyn Archdall (1723-1791) states that St. Abban, who died in 650, built a nunnery at Ballyvourney and presented it to St. Gobnait who was descended from Connor the Great, Monarch of Ireland. St. Abban made St. Gobnait Abbesse of this nunnery of Regular Canonesses of the Order of St. Augustine of Hippo. It is said the land was donated by the O'Herliby family, who have a tomb near the alter in the old church. A statue to St. Gobnait by Seamus Murphy was erected outside the graveyard in 1951.

In 1645, Dionisio Massari, on a mission from Rome, held Mass in St. Gobnait's church, when he visited the shrine. Only four years later (1649-50), the roof timbers were dismantled when Cromwell's forces past through, to feign dereliction. Gazetteers confirm that the church remained a ruin in 1818. The existing protestant church was built alongside, just prior to 1826 to seat about a 100. In 1834 the population of Ballyvourney recorded 30 protestants and 3,782 catholics. By 1846 the church steeple was close to collapse.

John Lucey of Bolamore - click to viewToday the most significant number of gravestones for the Lucey family are located in the old graveyard at St. Gobnait's church, Ballyvourney. The oldest are located within the walls of the derelict old church at the western end; such as that of John Lucey of Bolamore (see photographs) who was born in 1779. Today there is evidence of over 110 Lucey family members buried there, although there are probably many more unmarked or obliterated Lucey headstones.

Always restricted to a very small isolated area near the Cork/Kerry border, by the early 1700's the surname had spread to surrounding townlands in Kilnamartery, Inchigeelagh and Kilmichael.

Inchigeelagh Old Church - click to viewBallyvourney became a staging post on the Cork/Kerry road with stage coaches arriving around 1800 and tar metalled roads around 1920.

Close to Ballyvourney, but even more isolated, lies Inchigeelagh. The ancient name is Iveleary, or home of the O'Leary's. Again Lucey tombstones can be found close to the old derelict church, which dates from 1814.

The ruined castle at Inchigeelagh (Carrigncurra, a mile east), dates from circa 1480. The castle was lost by the O'Leary's in the 1641 war.

Macroom CastleIn the 17th century, the nearby castle of Macroom was held by Bishop MacEgan, the Bishop of Ross, on behalf of the MacCarthys. He was captured here in 1650 by Cromwell's troops and hung in front of Carrigadrohid Castle (five miles east of Macroom) with the reins of his own horse. Carrigadrohid was also built by the MacCarthys and kept for them by the O'Learys. It was damaged by Cromwell and by 1861 lay in ruins. Many catholic Irish were rounded up and sold as Caribbean slaves after Cromwell's 1650 campaign. All lost their ancestral lands. Following its capture, Macroom castle was granted by Cromwell to William Penn (father of the Quaker) in 1654.

Macroom CastleThe original castle had been built by the O'Flynns in the 12th century and was replaced during the reign of King John (1199-1209). It was finally burnt down on 18th August 1922 and part of it later demolished in the 1960's as unsafe; the remains can still be seen.

By 1762, a list of Cork City middle class catholic gentry and residents, recorded both a Thomas Lucey (merchant tailor) and Maurice Lucey (merchant). Rural migration continued to swell Cork City's population from approx. 57,000 in 1796 to 80,000 by 1821.

Today, although a very rare surname, even in Ireland, the largest number of Luceys still reside around Ballyvourney.

View the gravestones at Ballyvourney, Inchigeelagh and Kilnamartery

Map illustrating Lucey townlands near Ballyvourney in 1827 and 1848-53

Further information on the genealogy of the ancient de Lucy family

Return to Homepage

Published by Norman Lucey
© Copyright 2009, Norman Lucey. All rights reserved.

Page created 6th May 2009