Morrissey of Ballybeg

In the early 1900s, there were two Morrissey houses at the end of the Rocky Road in Ballybeg, almost at the stile that led into St. John’s Well.  The Morriseys were there from at least the 1780s or earlier. In the 1840s, Thomas Morrissey emigrated to the USA through Quebec and settled in Janesville, Wisconsin where he became a miller. His bother William also emigrated, leaving Ballybeg on 8 June 1849 and arriving in Quebec on 30 July 1849. One of the last of the Morrisseys in Ballybeg, Katie Morrissey, died on 31 December 1946. The Morrissey grave is in Killone Abbey.

The family sometimes used the surname Morris, especially when the children went to Clarecastle and Tiermaclane schools. Thomas used that form of the surname when he arrived in the USA and the name continues on in several locations in America today. In the Janesville Daily Gazette of 9 February 1929,  the following note is of interest:

“ Thomas Morris who was a native of Ennis, County Clare, Ireland, Mrs. Nolan, her paternal grandfather,  has inherited a copy of Virgil printed in 1807, which Mr. Morris used in 1832, while a student in a boys’ school, known as Ballybeg [hedge-school]. A Latin dictionary is a relic of the school days of  Thomas Morris. Mr. Morris married Sarah Berry and at the time of his death was a resident of Janesville. In Ireland, he had been a tutor.”

The Morrissey / Morris families appear in Clarecastle Church and schools records, land records and the 1901 and 1911 Census Returns.

Frank Morris of Arizona, a great-great-great grandson of Thomas Morrissey, has been in touch with us seeking information on his Ballybeg roots. He was in Ennis in 1965 and now plans to visit the Ballybeg area in 2025. He would love to hear from anyone who has memories of the Morrisseys of Ballybeg.  Frank has kindly given us copies of these family photographs and has given us permission to use them.  The one of the two Morrissey thatched cottages in Ballybeg is unique and a Parish treasure.

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