A Tipperary Sept:

The O'Ryans of Owney


The Ryan family of Boggaun was clearly an offshoot of the O'Mulryans of Owney, an important sept whose descendants are today so widely distributed throughout Tipperary and adjoining counties. From time beyond recall the Ryans occupied the tract of land west of a line joining Nenagh and Newport fronting Lough Derg until war and privation forced them far beyond the confines of their ancestral lands. The story of the Ryans of Owney is told in the "Records of Four Tipperary Septs" by M. Callanan, Galway, 1935, and there is no need to repeat here the wealth of detail contained in that book. As we traverse in spirit the wild country once called Owney, we pause for a moment at the ruined Ryan castle of Killoscully before moving southwards over the Keeper Mountains to Foilaclug in the parish of Hollford where, according to local tradition, Eamon an Chnoic or Edmond Knock Ryan, the Rapparee, is buried. Further on to the west, on the Limerick-Tipperary border we enter the now ruined twelfth century cistercian monastery of Abingdon, in a sequestered corner of which a monument to the Ryans bore this inscription:


"The most noble William Ryan, chief of the country of Owney, the head and prince of the ancient family of Ryans caused this monument to be erected to himself, his wife and his children.


"The honour of his posterity and praise of his ancestors caused William Ryan to construct this graceful work.


"Alas, how much nobility proved in peace and war, how much holy faith, virtue and distinguished fame are enclosed in this sepuchral monument of the Ryans. If it should be asked why that which is not destined to die should be shut up, the bones alone are covered in the earth but the other parts that know not death will enjoy perpetual day.


"The praise, virtue, glory and honour of the Ryan race will live forever in this honoured name. A.D. 1632."


from: Handbook on Irish Genealogy

Sixth Edition-1984

Donal F. Begley

Irish Genealogical Office