Boyle is the maiden name of one of our paternal great-grandmothers, Johanna Boyle (1866-1954) who married William Ramsdale in 1891. The sequence of surnames in the three generations between us goes Boyle-Ramsdale-Dwyer-Dwyer.

As with many Irish names there is both a native Irish and an English origin for the Boyles. The English Boyles came to Ireland in the 16th century and became the Earls of Cork, making it unlikely that this was the family of our Boyles.

The native Irish Boyle, with variants including Boyall and O’Boyle, derives from an Irish chieftain named Baoighill, possibly a nickname meaning “rash pledge” (baoth geall).1 The Boyles were a strong clan in County Donegal:

The sept’s territory covered from Donegal Town right around to Kilmacreannan along the west coast.  In the thirteenth century, they gradually became isolated when the territory split into Tir Ainmireach (about Ardara) at one corner and the Three Tuatha at the opposite end (about Falcarragh and Kilmacrennan) with the O'Donnell sept, their lords, filling in the area between.  The O'Donnell's squeezed them even further in the fourteenth century when they were introducing their gallowglass supporters, the McSweeneys.  While never being dislodged fully anywhere, the O'Boyles set up their sub-chieftainship in Tir Ainmireach.  This area they called Boylagh or `O'Boyles Country'. Even though the site was located in McSweeney territory at this stage, the O'Boyles nevertheless retained their traditional chieftain's inauguration place at Dunkineely.  They also held on to a small castle near Donegal Town.  Their principal seat was at Loughros near Ardara.

During the sixteenth century the O'Boyles were involved in a great contention for their sept's chieftainship. The numbers of descendants of Turlogh O'Boyle who were killed over a few generations was dreadful. It was only with the coming of the great Ulster Plantation that it came to an end. The O'Boyles were then forced to scatter.2

The only geographic locator we have for our Boyles is John Boyle’s death record and Ethel Ramsdale’s notes, which says he was born in  Thurles in County Tipperary. Samuel Lewis described Thurles in his A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837):

…a market and post-town, and a parish, in the barony of ELIOGARTY, county of TIPPERARY, and province of MUNSTER, 24 ¾ miles (N.) from Clonmel, and 75 (S. W.) from Dublin, on the road from Tipperary to Templemore; containing 10,031 inhabitants, of which number, 7084 are in the town. This place, originally called Durlas-O'Fogarty, is of great antiquity, and in the 10th century was the scene of a memorable battle between the Danes and the native Irish, in which the former suffered a signal defeat…

The town is pleasantly situated on the banks of the river Suir, by which it is divided into two nearly equal parts, connected with each other by a low bridge; and consists of one spacious street, from each extremity of which smaller streets diverge in various directions. In 1831 it contained 1210 houses, most of which are neatly built and several are of handsome appearance: there are infantry barracks on a small scale. The environs in every direction are pleasant, and are enlivened by richly varied scenery: the surrounding country is extremely fertile, and the town is the commercial centre of a populous and highly cultivated district, and is rapidly increasing in wealth and importance. A considerable trade is carried on in corn, which is sent by land carriage to Clonmel; it has also an excellent retail trade, and contains a large brewery and a tannery.

The market days are Tuesday and Saturday; and fairs are held on the first Tuesday in every month, on Easter-Monday, and on the 21st of Aug. and Dec. The market-house is a neat building in the western part of the main street. A chief constabulary police force is stationed in the town; general sessions for the county are held twice in the year, and petty sessions every Saturday. The sessions-house is a neat modern building; and near it is a well-arranged bridewell, containing 22 cells, 4 day-rooms, and two airing-yards.

The parish comprises 7290 statute acres, of which 5670 are arable, 810 pasture, and 810 bog and waste: the land in cultivation is of very good quality, producing abundant crops, and the system of agriculture is improved. An abundant supply of fuel is obtained from the bogs, and from the Slievardagh coal mines, which are about eight miles distant...3



1 ; ;;;

2 (source cited on this website could not be accessed and the information is therefore unverified).



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