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Killimordaly Castle and the O'Daly Marriage Stone

O'Daly Marraige Store

The noted local historian and genealogist, P.J. Kennedy, was principally responsible for the location and return to Killimordaly of what is commonly known as the "Marriage Stone" of Teige O'Daly (eldest son of Dermot who died 1614) and Sisily O'Kelly. Circa 1980, Sean Connaire, Alfie Burke, Tommy Mooney and Larry Kennedy transported this priceless historic limestone record from Lusmagh (near Cloghan Castle, Co. Offaly) to Killimordaly Churchyard. The stone artist's name, for artist he surely was, is unrecorded. According to PJK, the stone was originally inserted above the entrance to Killimor Castle in commemoration of the castle's construction in 1624 where it remained during the various reconstructions of "The Castle" to a more comfortable type of residence during the 18 th. and 19 th. centuries. Teige and Sisily Daly's line became extinct, circa 1820, on the death of Hyacinth Daly Esq., of Killimer, who was, for many years, Mayor of Galway. Hyacinth's second daughter, Anstase Daly, married John Devereux Esq., of Ballyrankin, Co. Wexford and their son, Nicholas Devereaux eventually inherited the Killimor Estate but sold it (1860) to a very distant and very rich relative ----- yes to affluent Denis St. George Daly, 2nd Baron Dunsandle and Clanconal. Killimer Castle and demesne was acquired by Dunsandle following the death of Dominic J. Browne-Burke Esq., 1879.

This Lord of the Realm, recognising the historical significance of the stone, had it removed to Dunsandle House circa 1880. Sometime in the late 1930's, P.J. Kennedy was in Dunsandle House on business with the then master of Dunsandle, Major Denis Bowes Daly, a grandson of Lord Dunsandle. Mr. Kennedy gaze was instantly riveted on an unusual stone tablet ornamenting the grounds with its unambiguous message: Killimer Castle had been constructed in 1624 and this was the atchivment (achievement) of Teige O'Daly and Sisily Kelly. In 1956, Major Daly, suffering from the constraints of a diminishing income, sold the family seat and demesne to the Irish Land Commission. He took up residence in Cloghan Castle, parish of Lusmagh, Co. Offaly and luckily brought the 'Marriage Stone' with him. It remained there until he moved to another home in Co. Limerick. But wearying of carting his limestone burden he finally gave permission for its return to Killimordaly.

A unique and wonderful example of stone art, with extraordinary relief writing and detailed decoration; it is still well preserved (but weathering) 370 years on. Presently the stone is set in concrete on the left of the stepped entrance to Killimordaly Graveyard. As part of our historical inheritance and the most ancient written record extant in the locality once known as Killimor Maenmoy, it deserves greater protection from the eroding elements. The most immediate and striking impression presented by this old echo of the past is that it is written in English, again reinforcing O'Daly loyalty to Stuart England and his commitment to English as the language of "Civility". Sadly it also marks his abandonment of the language of his noble Gaelic forefathers and signals the decline of Irish among the local peasantry. Secondly, the strength of O'Daly's Catholicism (at a time when Protestantism would have been the easy and the more lucrative option) is reflected by the inclusion of implements used in Christ's torture and crucifixion. This religious symbolism clearly demonstrates the success of continental counter-reformation Catholicism and the disdainful rejection of the imposed state religion of Tudor/Stuart England.

Located at the centre, is the O'Daly coat of arms; the shield bearing a rampant lion and two right hands. The lion signifies leadership and deathless courage whilst the two right hands represent faith and justice. A helmet perched on top of the shield (a little indistinct) symbolises security in defence. The shield is surrounded by a decorative mantle drawing the viewers attention to the importance of this family and the pride taken by Teige in his family's atchivment. A large dog (hound) forms the crest and exhibits detail so perfect that its maleness is chauvinistically obvious. However, lest the mighty Teige O'Daly be accused of gender discrimination, let the reader take note of the equal prominence given to Sisily O'Kelly's name on the right hand side of the memorial, thus bearing witness to this important O'Daly/O'Kelly alliance. Up to this point, the O'Kelly chieftains must have resented the O'Daly's growing importance and wealth, yet O'Daly had become acceptable enough for integration with the once powerful princes of Hymany. Sisily Kelly/O'Kelly was the daughter of a Gaelic chieftain named Conor O'Kelly of Gallagh, (modern Castleblakeney) and no doubt, added to the growing wealth of Teige, with a generous dowry of livestock, which as we all know, is the only yardstick of real wealth.

This information was compiled and written by Mr James N. Dillon, and is presented here with his kind permission.

E-mail jamesnd@esatclear.ie

James has also created a page with some interesting details on the Dilleen family name which can be found at http://www.esatclear.ie/~jamesnd/.

 




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