History of the Brassil Name

A history of the Brassil name has been compiled by Sean Wallace of Dublin to whom I am grateful for permission to print this extract. It would appear from this that the Brazil family under its various spelling are the same family as that of Brassil.

Origin Of The Name

There are various accounts as to the origin of the name Brassil though all agree to its ancient gaelic roots from earliest times. There would appear to have been two main septs one in the North and one in the West and one smaller sept of Mc Brassil in the East Galway area which borders County Offally (Kings County). The sept in the North seems to have moved as no trace remains in later history but the name is plentiful in Leinster and Munster up to the present day. It would appear that our branch arrived in Kerry from Co Offally then known as Kings County. Two sources of family history mention this one placing our ancestor as having been already living in Kerry by 1750 but the other source thought it was much later. There were a few families of Brassil/Brazill in Kerry by the mid seventeen hundreds. They were most prominent in Tarbert and Ballylongford which suggest they may have been the same branch originally. The older members of the branches in Tarmon and Lislaughtin claimed they were related but didn't hear of any connection with families further west in Kerry like Listowel and Ardfert.

According to O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees published in New York in 1915 by John O' Hart one can supposedly trace their origins back to the beginning of time. According to the legend Noah divided the world among his three sons; to Shem he gave Asia within the Euphrates to the Indian Ocean;to Ham he gave Syria.Arabia and Africa; and to Japhet, the rest of Asia beyond the Euphrates, together with Europe to Cadiz. Japeth was the eldest son of Noah. He had fifteen sons amongst whom he divided Europe and part of Asia which his father had allowed to him. Magog, son of Japeth, was the first planter of Ireland. about 300 years after the Flood. Anno Mundi 3046 or 310 years after the birth of Abraham and 2153 years before Christ. This first colony in Ireland lasted about 217 years in turn until Anno Mundi 3500 whe Ireland was conquered by the Milesians or Scotic nation. This Milesian or Scotic Irish nation possessed and enjoyed the Kingdom of Ireland for 2885 years For the next 454 years other descendants of Magog succeeded, under 183 monarchs until their submission to King Henry II of England. Heremon was the seventh son of Milesius of Spain who found the island of Ireland. We then follow the generations down to the 81st generation, Art EanFhear, monarch of Ireland in the second century. Fiachrach Casen. younger brother of Rocadh, who is 86 on the O'Hart pedigree, was the ancestor of Clann Brassil a quo O'Brassil in the County Armagh and some say of the empire of Brazil. Breasal a brother of Tuathail Cruinnbheal who is 88 on the O'Hart pedigree was ancestor of O'Brassil West, anglicised Brassil and Brazil. Breas in Irish means prince and the "ail" means proud or mighty.

Edward Mc Lysath who was Chief Herald of Ireland did extensive research on family names which he published in several volumes. Surnames of Ireland, Irish Families and More Irish Families. From Surnames of Ireland O'Brazil; Brassil from O'Breasail probably from "bres" meaning strife. Mainly a Co.Waterford name. From More Irish Families (O)Brazil, Brassil, These two anglicized forms of the Irish surname O'Breasail are now about equal in number; they are found mainly in Waterford and Offally, but are not confined to those counties. A century ago they were located also in Counties Tipperary, Kilkenny, Limerick and Kerry, but more recent statistics indicate that the names become rare outside of Co.Waterford. The name O'Brasil occurs there as early as 1308; the old name for Lysathstown in Co. Cork near Waterford was Baile Ui Bhreasail and O'Bressyl occurs in Cork in 1265. Sixteenth century and seventeenth century records are rich in reference to the name. The prefix "O" now quite obselete with Brazil, is retained in the Tudor Fiants. but as early as 1537, when Brassell occurs among the commoners of Kilkenny, and in 1551 Mahowne Brassill, a kern was convicted at Clonmel of having stolen cattle, the "O" is omitted. In the Census of of 1659 Brassell is returned as a principal name in Co.Waterford in the barony of Upper Third; as such it occurs 10 times in the Hearth Money Rolls of Tipperary in 1665/1667 in various spellings without the "O". The Hearth Money was a tax on the number of fireplaces in the house. Other seventeenth century men of interest: John Brassil of Ballycargin Co.Wexford who was High Constable of the Barony of Gorey in 1608 and Denis Brazil of Ballyduff in the same county attained as a Jacobite ie a supporter of King James after the failure of the cause. West Offally was one of the homelands of the Brazils. However he was probably a MacBrassil a name which occurs in the Elizabethan Fiants for Co.Galway and is that of a smaller sept almost if not quite extinct. It should be noted that the sept O'Breasail has no connection whatever with the Clann Bhreasail which was the tribe name of the Ui Bhreasail of Oriel i.e counties Armagh Louth Monaghan.

O'Donovan and O'Curry Report for the Ordnance Survey circa 1841 reporting on the parish of Killaghten in East Galway "in this parish is situated the old castle of of Ballydonnelan which is now and has been for 4000 years the seat of the O'Donnelan head of the Clann Breasail a very respectable tribe of the Hy-Many who have retained their respectability and a considerable portion of there lands through all the storms and rebellions which deprived the greater number of the Irish Chiefs of their rank and property."

According to the tract on Hy-Many, there were seven Flahs or chiefs in Hy-Many, who were tributary to the O' Kellys who was the Arch chief or King. O'Donnelan chief of the Clan Brazil/Breasail had the keeping of the arms and military dresses of Hy-Many and it was their duty to respond to every general challenge of combat sent from external territories. Could this be the clan mentioned by Mc Lysath?

Townlands with the name Breasail/Brassil.

Attibrassil, place of the Brassils, Parish of Clontuskert, Co.Galway

Ballybrassil; town of the Brassil, (1) Parish of Templerobin, Co.Cork and (2) Parish of Pollrone, Co.Kilkenny

Ballybrazil; townland of the Brazil, Parish of Ballybrazil, Co.Wexford

Rathbreasail which was the venue for a Synod in 1111, is in Co. Tipperary close to Kings County (Offally) although it is not listed in the townland index.

Hy-Breasail "The Isle of the Blest" was the name of a mystical island some place out in the west. St Brendan the Navigator is supposed to have set out to discover it and landed in America!

Even the ancient maps mention it and some people went further and called it Brassil's Island. On this island no one grew old and everything was in abundance. It eventually passed out of folklore when regular contact was established with America, and voyagers discovered there was nothing out there but lots of water.


[ Home Page ]


Last Modified 30 October 1999