How the Towey Clan Got Started
How Long Has The Towey Clan been Formalized?
The Towey Clan was formally registered by authority of the Clans of Ireland during the year 2000. Toweys attending the first clan gathering accepted this status on Easter Sunday, 15 April 2001 at the Foxhunter, Lucan, Co. Dublin, Ireland.
Mike (Hauly) Towey was the driving force and leader of many Toweys in Ireland and America to secure recognition for the Towey Clan and setting up reunion gatherings in Ballaghaderreen. Mike is a native of Attiantaggart townland near Ballaghaderreen and is presently residing in Dublin, Ireland.
Mike Towey of Dublin was elected Clan Taoiseach at the 2001 Gathering and re-voted to that office at many later Gatherings. His Deputy or Tánaiste was Mary Towey Ratto of California, whose great great grandfather Paddy Towey was the last operator of the Towey mill in Derrynabrock. Both of these positions are honorary; however, Mike continues to be busy in preserving and promoting the existence of the Towey Clan organization.
Mike’s family is part of the “Miller Toweys” of Derrynabrock, so designated in view of their traditional occupation as operators of the mill in that townland. With Mike’s prompting, and aided by contacts through the Internet and conventional means, an informal network of Toweys grew during the first year of the new 2000 millennium.
Our first Towey gathering was April 14 and 15, 2001, with about half of us from America. Over 60 Towey cousins were in attendance. More might have participated except for the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in England as 2001 began. The Irish government imposed rural travel restrictions to limit (quite successfully) the spread of that scourge within Ireland. Subsequently, there were even larger gatherings in Ballaghaderreen in August 2004, August 2007, May 2010, then in August 2012 at Rochester, MN. We returned to Ballaghaderreen in August 2014 and August 2017.
|Chairperson||Cathaoirleach||Pat Towey, Ballaghaderreen, Ireland|
|Vice Chairperson||Iar Cathaoirleach||Niamh Towey, Dublin, Ireland|
|Secretary||Runai||Caroline Hassett Power, Quinn, Co. Clare, Irleand|
|Treasurer||Cisteoir||Mike Towey, Dublin, Ireland|
|Genealogist & Historian||Seanchai & Stairtheoir||Jacqueline Towey|
|Webmaster||Líonfhoirbreoir||Luci Towey Glahn, Elk Grove, CA|
|Assistant Webmaster||Iar Líonfhoirbreoir||Alex S. Fishman, Tampa, Florida|
|Committee Member||Coiste||Helen Towey Phares, Haughton, Louisiana|
Where is the “Home Area” of the Toweys?
People bearing the Irish surname of Towey trace their ancestry to Ballaghaderreen and nearby townlands, primarily those in four parishes — Castlemore, Kilcolman, Kilbeagh and Kilmovee. These four parishes are roughly co-extensive with the ancient territory known as Sliabh Lugha (now much of Co. Mayo) ruled by the O’Gadhra Dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries. After the Norman invasion in 1170, these parishes became part of the Barony of Costello in the 13th century.
- The various Ireland land divisions are identified at Ireland Land Divisions.Many maps relating to land divisions such as parishes, dynasties, baronies, etc. are beginning to be available on the Internet.
- Historically all of these were part of Co. Mayo, with the exception of a small portion of Kilcolman parish which was in Co. Sligo when County boundaries were specified by English invaders in the year 1570. Thus Sliabh Lugha became the northern half of Costello Barony, at just about the time when predominant ownership of the land was passing from the Costellos to the Dillons. (The Sligo portion became part of the Coolavin half-barony).
- Following passage of the Irish Poor Law in the late 1830s, Castlemore, Kilcolman and five townlands of Kilbeagh became part of the Castlerea (sometimes Castlereagh) Poor Law Union (PLU), and the rest of Kilbeagh and Kilmovee were assigned to the Swinford PLU. The Sligo townlands went into the Boyle PLU.
- There have been a few additional border shifts affecting individual townlands, and some Toweys crossed into Tibohine parish to the east of Ballaghaderreen.
- Then in 1898 a border change for governmental convenience shifted Castlemore and Kilcolman (including Ballaghaderreen itself) from Co. Mayo to Co. Roscommon. Most of the older records of the Toweys may still be listed under Co. Mayo, while those which pertain to 1898 and thereafter are mainly found under Co. Roscommon. The GAA sports competition still accepts the old boundary which leaves Ballaghaderreen in Co. Mayo.
How did the family surname become spelled as Towey?
The Towey surname originates in the ancient lands of Connacht in the north of Ireland where O’Toghdha was chief of Bredagh, a small territory lying in Co. Mayo, the Sept being a branch of hy Flachrach.
When our forefathers of the early 20th century began to compare family legends, O’Toghdha’s name was seldom if ever mentioned. Rather, some – from Kilcolman and Kilbeagh parishes – recalled having been told that their ancestors were originally Touhys who had fled northward from the bloody fighting in Co. Cork between the English and the Irish during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. These Touhys from southern Munsterare generally regarded historically as a sept of the Tuohy family in the border area between Co. Clare and Co. Galway. The ancient name in Gaelic was Ó Tuathaigh.
One can say that virtually all Irish surnames were anglicized at some time during the past four centuries. Touhy and Tuohy are anglicized names, but the later change to Towey around Ballaghaderreen may suggest that the local English establishment placed little importance on their asserted Munster origins. Indeed, the English may have sought to distinguish local families from those living elsewhere.
How is the Towey Surname Pronounced?
Nowadays the Towey surname is probably most often pronounced with the long “o” similar to “towel”. Older cousins who grew up around Ballaghaderreen sometimes revert to pronouncing the name in this way but with a modified ending which becomes ” Tow-ah” . But the pronunciation is often rhymed with “who” or “two” and this is also widely accepted in view of the connection with Touhy and Tuohy. But anyone who chooses to say our surname as rhyming with “hoe” or “toe” is unfamiliar with us. When one examines 19th century ship passenger manifests and subsequent documents where variant spellings of Towey, Tuohy, Touhy, etc. emerge, it would appear that many of our own ancestors must have pronounced their surname to rhyme with “two”.