Tracing the Irish side of Don Pedro’s family

So is it possible to identify the Crowleys of Kilfinane who were the ancestors of Demetrius and Don Pedro? On disembarking in Cadiz in 1730, Demetrius (Diarmuid?) O’Cruadhlaoich named his birthplace as Kilfinane, Co. Limerick and that of his wife, Mary O’Donnell (O’Domhaill) as Kilfenora, (Ballymurphy is also recorded) Co. Clare. They were married in St. Michael’s Church in the City of Limerick prior to departure from Ireland. The Genealogy of Demetrius as presented to the Spanish Authorities on disembarkation is as follows:

Irish Geneology of Demetrius O’Crowley

Cormac o’Crowley, of Carbery, Co. Cork, born 1550, married daughter of O’Sullivan of Beare.

His son Charles, married Mary, daughter of John O’Mahony of Bandon, Co. Cork. His daughter Mary, married John deCourcey, 18th Baron of Kinsale

Charle’s son Maurice married Sarah, daughter of Daniel O’Sullivan Mór, of Co. Cork

Maurice’s son Timothy married Honor, daughter of Hugh O’Reilly, of Co Cavan

Timothy’s son, Charles married Helen, daughter of John Power of Drumbany Co. Limerick

Dermot, son of Charles married Mary, daughter of Edmund O’Donnell, of Ballymurphy, Co. Clare

He settled in Cadiz, Spain in 1731

Don Pedro Alonso O’Crouley was his son, born in Cadiz in 1740.

So my job was to link these Crowleys with their original family from Kilfinane – easy?

Having resisted the idea of Co. Limerick ‘Crowleys’ – everyone knows ‘the Crowleys come from Cork?’ Right? Well, maybe…..

Down to work. The year was 1730, records are hard to find and is it even possible to identify the descendants of this Demetrius? First I ‘Googled’ the Crowleys of Kilfinane and up came a picture of a drapery shop of that name in the Main Street with the Crowley name proudly displayed over the door. I phoned and spoke to the current owner – not himself a Crowley, but by luck his wife is ‘a Crowley’ and she happened to be there. She immediately assured me that Demetrius was not a member of her family, as they had only arrived in the area in the eighteen forties. She suggested I contact a local historian – Angela Hennessy – and what a great idea that was! A lady highly versed in local knowledge and very generously agreed to share it with me. She pointed me in the direction of another Crowley family – this time from Martinstown, which on the map is very close to Kilfinane and she assured me that that family had been there for a very long time. They can boast a famous relative – Mark Crowley – whose letter to the Limerick Chronicle from 1847 is preserved in the National Museum Archives. His family were tenants of the Castle Oliver Estate and he was writing to thank the then owners of the Castle – Elizabeth and Mary Gascoigne – for their generosity towards the tenants during the Famine.

  • The townlands of Martinstown and Darnstown (Darranstown) were part of the Castle Oliver estate. The estate papers show that in 1828 Patrick Crawley had a lease on 34 acres and 15 perches (half -yearly rent of £27-9-8)- folio number 247 in Darnstown.  In 1846 that folio number was held by Marcus Crowley. In 1852 the family does not appear in Darnstown but Reps of Patrick Crawley held a lease on 55 acres and 34 perches of prime farmland in the adjoining townland of Martinstown. The Crowley family own this farm at the present day.
  • References: Gascoigne Papers in National Library of Ireland and in West Yorkshire Archive Service, Leeds, Yorkshire. 

Thanks to Angela Hennessy, local historian from Kilfinane for all that information.

Crowley family farmhouse, Martinstown, Co. Limerick

So I contacted Kevin Crowley, the current owner of Martinstown Farm and told him of my interest in his family and his antecedents going back to the 1700s. He was very kind and interested in the search. He had never heard about the Spanish Branch of the family and was anxious to help trace the possible link. He has sent me his family tree going back to 1727, amazing to have that information and it is most unusual to be able to find any records before the 1830s. No mention of Demetrius (or Diarmuid) but the earliest relative listed is James Crowley, Martinstown,(no birthdate given for him), he married Briget O’Donnell whose birthdate was 1727. So as their first child was Patrick, born in 1749, I’m guessing that they married a year or two before that, in 1747 maybe. Records are hard to trace for marriages. The interesting fact here is the family name of Bridget, his wife – she is an O’Donnell as was Demetrius’ wife. The name ‘Maurice(Muiris?)’ features in the family tree and given the custom of continuity of names in families I’m encouraged to believe I may be on the right track!

These records take us to the present owner of Martinstown Farm House, Kevin Crowley, his wife and children.

So have we found the direct link to the ancestors of the Spanish Crowleys?

I need to establish when that family first settled in Martinstown and if they were there before 1730. The genealogy of Demetrius lists direct descent from Crowleys in Carbery where Crowley, Conor, married a member of the OSullivan Beara family, his niece married the heir to the title of Baron of Kinsale, a member of the deCourcy family, a famous Ango-Norman family. They were no doubt on the ‘wrong side’ in the Battle of Kinsale and it might account for their move to Limerick, maybe as the result of losing their land.

More work needs to be done. Watch this space……

Translation of Jose Maria’s Blog into English

Don Pedro

Due to the evolution of the language, the hispanization of foreign nouns, and different spelling errors, the surname O’Crowley is possible to find it written in different ways, being the most common cases: O’Crowley, Crowley, O’Crouley and even , O’Cronley. Having said that, we can begin to talk about Dermot Crowley and Mary O’Donnell who, in 1727, got married in the old Parochial Church of San Miguel, located in Limerick capital. After that and, probably, due to religious conflicts between Protestants and Catholics, as well as a period of bad harvests, they left, from Limerick itself, towards the then thriving and cosmopolitan city of Cádiz, in 1730.Both were born in the province of Munster. Specifically, in the case of Dermot, nicknamed Jeremiah, he was from Limerick County, and was baptized in the Parish of Kilfinane. For her part, Mary, who belonged to Clare County, was baptized at Kilfenora Parish. In the link did not intervene or any capital, and both lived what Demetrio, hispanic name of Dermot, managed to contribute with his work as a tailor. Fruit of this couple was born, on February 21, 1740, the Cádiz-born Pedro Alonso O’Crouley O’Donnell, the only survivor of the children they had, as the rest died at a tender age. He was baptized on the 24th of that month in the Church of Santa Cruz, also known as Old Cathedral. It studied, first, in the School of the Company, until later, in 1749, the same year in which its father died, was sent to Senlis (France), next to Augustinian monks, with which it learned Latin, English, and French with an uncommon perfection. For its part, Mary O’Donnell died in 1768.

Pedro Alonso O’Crouley, merchant by profession, made four transatlantic trips to the Port of Veracruz, corresponding to the years 1765, 1768, 1772 and 1776, being, in the course of the third of them, when he wrote his book Compelling Idea of ​​the Kingdom of New Spain. On January 27, 1784, aged 43, O’Crouley celebrated his wedding with María de los Dolores Power Gil, 19, born on July 13, 1764, and daughter of Juan Power and Eugenia Gil, close to the personal circle of Pedro. She was a young woman from Cadiz with Irish, Spanish, Belgian and Dutch ancestors. Together with her husband she had 9 children between 1785 and 1802: María de los Dolores; Juan Josef; Antonio; Antonia; Eugenia; Elena; Pedro Alonso; Katherine; and María Josefa.

One of the most important milestones in Pedro’s life was having been recognized as a noble. For this he resorted to the opening of a file of nobility, alleging that his ancestors had been squires in Ireland. Also, he managed to be part of prestigious institutions of the time such as: the Holy Brotherhood of Toledo; the Real Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del País; the Edinburgh Antiquarian Society; and the Royal Academy of History. In addition to his profession as a merchant, O’Crouley stood out especially in his activity as an antiquarian, his true passion, that earned him a greater recognition and for which he has become mostly remembered. So, he came to house, in his palace house, the current street Manuel Rancés No. 6, the well-known Museaei O-Croulianei, the result of a personal collection composed of valuable coins, cameos, sculptures and other museum pieces, where his repertoire of paintings occupied an important place, being the same as authors such as José de Ribera, Alonso Cano, Murillo, Zurbarán, Rubens, Pablo Veronese, Van Dyck, Ribalta, Castillo, Céspedes, Velázquez, Carreño, Carla Dolci, Laurent de la Hyra, Piombo, Burgundian, etc. He left a good account in the annex of a work by Joseph Addison, which he translated, adding a list with most of the antiquities he managed to gather: Dialogues on the usefulness of ancient medals.In a time of greater economic complications, marked by epidemics and successive wars, he devoted himself to collecting clippings about the War of Independence and the Cortes of Cádiz, a material delivered in the Cádiz-based Seminary of San Bartolomé, as he left reflected, the deceased father, Anton Solé. However, to this day, the current direction of the center keeps closed the doors to all kinds of investigations, denying in turn, the existence of such documentary material, which would also contain handwritten letters from Pedro himself.

Finally, about his descendants, it is worth mentioning some of the most famous ones, such as his own son Pedro Alonso O’Crowley Power, author of the theatrical work El padre romano; her granddaughters Amalia O’Crowley Sabater, author of El granto del verdugo, and Adelaida Riquelme O’Crouley, director of the Normal School of Teachers of Ciudad Real, Granada and Alicante, as well as of the Normal School of Central Teachers of the Kingdom (in Madrid); his great-grandson José Villalba Riquelme, Minister of Defense during the time of Alfonso XIII; and his great-great-grandson José Villalba Rubio, a Republican colonel in charge of the defense of Málaga during the Spanish Civil War.

Author: José María Millán Fuentes

About the Crowleys

Background. Who are these Crowleys and what are they doing in Spain?

In 1730 Demetrius (Diarmuid?) O’Crouley boarded a ship in the Port of Limerick with his new wife Mary O’Donnell for the city of Cadiz in Spain. One of his descendants – Antonio Castro of Barcelona – made contact with the Crowley Clan in 2014. Antonio is able to trace his ancestry back to Demetrius and Demetrius’s famous son, Don Pedro Alonso O’Crouley. Don Pedro was awarded a knighthood for his contribution to science and the arts. His house still stands in Cadiz and the street was named after him in the 1960s. His book which is still held in the Archives in Madrid contains his illustrations of the flora and fauna of The New Spain (Mexico), detailed pictures and descriptions of the evolving population of the Americas and a map of New Spain. This book is now used in university courses on ethnographic studies.

Don Pedro Alonso O'Crouley
Picture from 1812 Constitution Exhibition in Cadiz

Illustration 1: Don Pedro Alonso O’Crouley

Although Demetrius’s occupation is listed as ‘tailor’ on his arrival in Spain, his descendants soon reverted to their family occupation – fighting – ( O’Crouley is Ocruadhlaoich in Irish –it translates as the ‘Hard Warrior’) and many were officers in the Spanish army, until the time of the Civil War in the 30s when the last member to hold the name ‘O’Crouley’ was shot by the Fascist forces of General Franco near Malaga.

To bring the story up to date, contact has been made with three members of the family.

Antonio Castro of Barcelona, an artist and writer. Two members of the Irish Clan (my sister and myself and partners) visited Antonio and his family in 2015 and had a wonderful experience of reconnecting the long lost links severed for hundreds of years. It was a very special feeling of a shared history and a strong sense of sympathy or understanding, which is maybe exclusive to family. We made a good connection and look forward to a return visit by The Castro family to Ireland very soon.

José Maria Millan is from another branch of the family and lives in Cadiz. He is completing a Ph.D in the family history and is making a detailed study of the links and the stories of the individuals on the Irish and Spanish side. Carmen (‘Pamen’) is the first family member to visit Ireland with her sister and niece in 2018. She toured Dublin, Galway and Cork and plans to return soon. In the meantime she is going to take her motorbike to South America and retrace the early Che Guevara’s Motor Cycle Diary in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. Pamen, maybe you can link your blog with this page?

So Jose Maria tells me that he has found lots more ‘cousins’ – we we have just scratched the surface of the family. Let us hope that this Blog will help us make contact with each other. Too many years of silence have gone by. It is time to reconnect and talk!

Welcome / Bienvenido

This site is a chance to keep up to date with developments amongst the Crowleys connecting the Irish and the Spanish branches, from Kilfanane in County Limerick to Cadiz and the branches in Barcelona and Toledo – and no doubt many more.

Many thanks to Jennifer Fricker for the lovely image of the skyline of Cadiz on the title page. The photo was taken from Don Pedro’s house and shows the Miradors or watch towers which the merchants used to watch for their ships coming in.