The Book of Soden

 History of the  Soden Family 1146 - 1950

Connollys of Roslea

                                   The Connollys of Tannaghaboy, Roslea, Co. Fermanagh.

My mother , Rose Anne Connolly , was born on 15th July,1914 in Tannaghaboy,Roslea,Co.Fermanagh.She married Seamus Soden on 20th September, 1950 in 'The Star of the Sea' Roman Catholic church in Sandymount, Co. Dublin.

 This will be a presentation in thirteen parts of all the facts I have on this branch of our family. It formed the basis of a booklet collated for the first Connolly Reunion held in Roslea, Co. Fermanagh in 2002 organised by Margaret McKenna.

Notes on the Connolly Family of Roslea, Co. Fermanagh


I. Etymology of the Name

2. Extracts from ‘The Clogher Record’

3. The Connollys of Co.Monaghan

4. The Roman Catholic Clergy

3. Livingstone on the ‘Connolly’ Name

4. Notes on Roslea

5. Pender's 1659 Census

6. Graveyard Inscriptions in Roslea, Clones Parish

9. The Tithe Applotment Books (1822-26)

10. 1901 National Census

11. Griffith’s Valuatioin (1826-38)

12. Records from the Roslea Heritage Centre

13. Notes on ‘The Connollly Family of Tannaghaboy, Roslea’ by

Rose Anne Connolly (1914-97) (Compiled by Felix Soden, Dublin ,1996)


My mother, Rose Anne Connolly, born in Roslea, Co. Fermanagh , Ireland on 15 July, 1914 was a member of this old Irish family. She and my father, James Soden were married in Sandymount , Dublin on 22nd September, 1950 and many, many happy days of our youth were spent on holidays with our cousins in Tannaghaboy, Roslea, Co. Fermanagh; Smithborough, Co. Monaghan and Pottle, Lavey, Co.Cavan. Below are miscellaneous accounts on different aspects of the family and its name from various sources.

(Felix Soden)



Since the next score of the Clogher clergy in this dictionary are listed under the surname Connolly, one feels that some comment is required on a name that has so many ecclesiastical associations with the diocese. Although the English form, Connolly, (usually deriving from an eponymous. Conghal or Conghalach), is common in various parts of Ireland, here we are only concerned with it as a family name found for centuries in Clogher.


Where did these Connollys of Oirghialla originate? The extant genealogies do not help us here. But turning to the native annals, an examination of the many entries under this surname reveals that it was first localised in two distinct districts:

            (a)             in Fermanagh, on both sides of Lower Lough Erne and around Lough

Melvin, where it is a very frequent surname today.


            (b)             in the present Co. Monaghan, in the Baronies of Dartry and Monaghan mainly, but overflowing also into Truagh. Later, of course, both of these septs spread far beyond their original confines.

(History of the Clogher Diocese)

Copyright    ©  2023  Felix Soden

Felix Soden




Extract from the Clogher Record

These appear in the annals (usually as Ua Congaile, more

rarely Ua Congalaig), much earlier than their namesakes in Co. Monaghan. Fr.Woulfe, in his Sloinnte Gaedhal is Gall, (p.478), briefly and correctly notes them as "an ecclesiastical family of loch Erne,who were connected with Devenish, Rosory and Lisgool." Dr.Mclysaght ,in his recent work on Irish Families, completely ignores these particular Connollys.


In spite of the silence of the genealogists, we can, from other sources pin-point the place of origin of these Ui Conghaile of loch Erne more exactly still. There is an important clue in an old Irish life of St.Mogue,(or Maedhog}, the friend and neighbour of St.Molaise of Devenish. We are told there:

            "             cumhdaighis Maodhocc             .

(Mogue built and consecrated a beautiful church in that place called Killybeg. And he left O'Connolly in the headship of the church to protect and maintain it ..... )

Now we know that the headship (cennus) of a local Celtic Church was usually the prerogative of the blood - relations of the founder,



in this case, the founder, St.Mogue, was a member of the Oirghialla sept of the Fir Luirg, whose name is preserved to-day in the North Fermanagh Barony of Lurg. We may take it then that these Connollys were also of the fir Luirg. This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that in the Barony of Lurg, in the parish of Culmaine, there was a medieval "chapple called Ballioconnell,with one tate of herenagh land, whereof  O'Connolly is the herenagh." The site of this church of Baile Ui Chongaile (Connolly's Town), is lost to-day with the place-name. But what was evidently this church was marked on Lord Belmore's "Irish Historical Atlas (1609)," which located it in the western end of the parish of Culmaine. From other indications I would place it somewhere between the Termon and Banagh rivers in this same parish, i.e. just east of Pettigo.



These Connollys then were evidently a prominent sept, centred here at Ballyconnolly among the Fir Luirg from a very early date. They controlled the local "chapple" here as well as the church of St.Mogue across Loch Erne at Killybeg. Later they were associated with the greater ecclesiastical establishments up the lake at Devenish, Rossory and Lisgool. Among the places where they left their name is Derrygonnelly : Doire Ui Chongaile,or

O'Connolly's Oakwood.



Notes: c

Throughout this work, for the sake of uniformity, we are using the English form, Connolly, to cover the many English and Irish variants of this surname like: •••••••••••••••••

Connaly, Connelly, Conley, Macconluy, macconulag, mac Connallaigh, mac Condalaigh, mac Congalaigh, Mac Congaile, Occonola, O'Condalaigh, O Connallaigh,

o Congalaigh and 0 Congaile.

(The Fermanagh Story by Fr. Peadar Livingstone)


The Connollys of Co.Monaghan:

Fr.Woulfe tells us that these were "a family of the Southern Ui Neill who were seated in East Meath, until dispossessed soon after the Anglo-Norman invasion, when they settled with Mac Mahon in Co.Monaghan where they became very numerous.


"Dr.McLysaght agrees with Fr.Woulfe. While this may account for any Connollys from Farney and the Meath brders, (where there were never many of the name!) one feels that it does not tell the whole story of the origins of the Monaghan Connollys. For if a prominent family of the name in Meath migrated to Mac Mahon's country before, say the year 1200, why is it that such a notable family is apparently unknown to the native annalists for three centuries more? Again a displaced noble family from Meath, would normally find refuge north of their borders in adjacent Farney. Then, why is it that the first  Monaghan Connollys we meet in the annals are always shoulder to shoulder with the Lucht tighe Mac Mahons in their constant wars against Farney. These, amongst other considerations,  prompt us to look elsewhere for the origins of this Monaghan sept.


While their Fermanagh namesakers frequently appear in the annals from the tenth century onwards, the Connollys of MacMahon’s County do not come into prominence in these records until the late fifteenth century. They first appear as political satellites of the Lucht tighe MacMaohons and we  find them closely associated with the ruling family of Dartry as well. The district where we first find them localised is a roughly defined area on each side of a line drawn from Clones and Monaghan.

This line cuts through the present parishes of Clones, Roslea, Killeevan and Drumsnat into Monaghan.



These parishes, plus Tydavnet and the rest of Dartry (Ematris, Aghabog and Drummully), could be called the Connolly Countr, for here they are first heard of  and here have remained concentrated to the present day.


By the early fifteen hundreds this sept has its own chief, Ua Connalaigh. ln 1591 "Tirlogh Occonola, chefe of his name, late marshal under MacMahon, "was a freeholder•. under. the Lucht Tighe leader , Patrick Mac Aid Maoil MacMahon. He held the ballybetagh of  Ballyclenagh, which contained six tates of land around the present Smithboro, some of which were in the parish of Drumsnat, some in Clones (now Roslea parish), and a smaller part of Killeevan.

The territory of this O'Connolly chief, Ballyclenagh, took its name from Clenlough, a lake situated between the villages of Roslea and Smithborough.Here on its crannog O'Connolly probably had his residence. At least one other ballybetagh at this time was in the sole possession of this sept. It was a district around the

present village of Rockcorry in the parish of Ematris. It was called the ballybetagh of Ballidirrekinard, (from the present townland of Derrykinard : OS XVIII:10,11,), and was evidently freehold from MacMahon, i.e. Brian Mac Hugh Oge of Dartry. (Livingstone:The Fermanagh Story).



Connolly Roman Catholic Clergy taken from the Clogher Record:


Apparently one of the Fermanagh Connollys,we know nothing about this priest except a solitary statement in the 1731 Popery Report for the Church Hill district of the civil parish of "Innis McSaint" (corresponding to the present ecclesiastical parish of Botha). The local Protestant clergyman, Alexander Lindsay, there states that "Edmond McGragh, Prior of  Loghderg and one Connelly officiate in several parts of ye parish, in woods near ye mountains. "


                                           6.               CONNOLLY


The only references I have found to this priest are all taken From Canon McKenna’s account of the present parish of' Inis Muighe Samh. There we are told that this Fr. Connolly, (Christian name not given) became P.P. there in 1803, built and completed Garrison Church in 1805.No inscription marks his memory and his grave is unknown.

(Clogher Record)




The name CONNOLLY and its derivatives.


The Fermanagh Story by Fr. Peadar Livingstone  , page 424 fff……….



CONNOLLY, O’Conaile, also O'Connolly,Connelly.

 In an article on the Connolly family in the Clogher Record/1957 / p.172 Fr.0 Gallachoir distinguishes between (a) the Fermanagh Connollys and (b) the Monaghan Connollys. As both these Connollys are represented today among Fermanagh’s 129 Connolly voters,we will treat briefly of each (following Father O'Gallachoir).


(a) The Fermanagh Connollys belonged to the fir Lurg and were related to St. Mogue. Their centre was probably Baile Termon and Bannagh river just east of Pettigo.They were herenachs of the chapel at 'Ballioconnell. 'In addition, StMogue left them to

care for his chapel at Killybeg, in the hill country , three miles east of Garrison. Moreover, they interested themselves in other churches and supplied a number of priests. They gave their name to Derrygonnelly (O'Connolly’s Oakwood.)

(b) The Monaghan Connollys occupied the territory between Clones and Monaghan and had their centre at Clenlough, half way between Smithborough and Roslea. They were probably a branch of the MacMahons of Monaghan. They supplied many clerics to the diocese and one of these, Patrick O'Connolly, died bishop of Clogher in 1504.





Lewis (2nd edition, 1847) described RosLea as follows:-


"The place is romantically situated near the celebrated mountain of Carnmore, in a fine meadow district, several townlands of which are rich pasture land , especially those of Lisnabrack and Salloo, where vast numbers of oxen  are annually fed for the English market.


The village consists of one irregularly built street containing 79 houses and connected with a new line of road on the mountain from Enniskillen to Belfast by a bridge over the river Finn. Carnmore is a lofty elevation , rising 1034 feet above the sea, and abounds with wild and romantic scenery from its summit. There  are seen 32 lakes, including Lough Erne; and its deep glens are inhabited by a numberous class of peasantry, of singular habits, and great originality of character.


Roslea's population in 1841 was 414, in 1961 it was 203. This little village has made the headlines in the Fermanagh Story on many occasions during the last 200 years. lt was one of the first strongholds of Orangeism in the county and at the same time of the first centres of the United lrishmen.


Its peace was often disturbed in succeeding years by faction fights and parades. It took a leading role in the fight for Catholic Emancipation and Repeal. It housed famous meetings  during the Land War in 1883 and contributed more than its share to the War of lndependence. In recent years terrorists have attacked Roslea R.U.C. station on several occasions.  


(Livingstone: The Fermanagh Story)

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