Select Connolly Miscellany

Here are some Connolly stories and accounts over the years:

Connolly, Connelly, and Variants

Connolly and Connelly are the main spelling variants.  Conolly also appears, as does Connally in America.  The table below shows the approximate current numbers. 

Numbers (000's)




New Zealand


Castletown House and The Connollys

Castletown House in county Kildare was built in 1722 for "Speaker" William Conolly, the speaker of the Irish House of Commons from 1715.  It was designed by the famous Italian architect Alessandro Galelei and it remains the only house in Ireland designed by him.  The only Irish Palladian house built with the correct classical proportions, it is said to have influenced the design of the White House in Washington.

Catherine Conolly, widow of the great "Speaker," continued to live in Castletown until her own death in 1752.  Castletown was then inherited by her nephew William.  He died just two years later and the house was inherited by his son Tom Connolly.  "Squire" Connolly, as he was known, married Lady Louisa Lennox, daughter of the Duke of Richmond, in 1758.  Louisa was just fifteen years of age at the time.

The Print Room, dated around 1765, is attributed to Louisa.  It is the only print room to have survived.   The fashion of print rooms originated in England and consisted of engravings and mezzotints being pasted onto the wall and framed with decorative borders.

Castletown House stayed with the Connollys until 1965 when it was put up for auction by Lord Carew, whose mother was a member of the Connolly family.

James Connolly's Trial and Execution

Connolly had been in charge of the General Post Office during the Easter Rising and was immediately arrested once the rebels had surrendered.  At his trial he made the following statement:

"We want to break the connection between this country and the British Empire and to establish an Irish Republic.

In this rising, we have succeeded in proving that Irishmen are ready to die endeavoring to win  for Ireland those national rights which the British government has been asking them to die to win for Belgium.  As long as that remains the case, the cause of Irish freedom is safe.  I personally thank God that I have lived to see the day when thousands of Irish men and boys and hundreds of Irish women and girls were ready to affirm that truth and to attest it with their lives if need be."

James Connolly was sentenced to death and, on May 12 1916, he was shot by firing squad.  He had been taken by military ambulance to Kilmainham prison, carried on a stretcher to a courtyard in the prison, tied to a chair and shot.  His body was put into a mass grave with the other executed rebels and given no coffin.

In death he was a martyr.  There is a statue of him in Dublin outside Liberty Hall.  There is also the Dublin Connolly railway station and the Dublin Connolly hospital. 

The Bible Record of John Connelly from Virginia

"Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth."  Gebesis XI: 1.

Milton H. Connelly was born January 22, 1810
James M.C. Connelly was born January 22, 1810
Jefferson Connelly was born November 3, 1803
Charles L. Connelly was born August 10, 1807.

"This is now bone of my bones...therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh."  Genesis II: 23-24.

John Connelly was born January 27, 1760
Married March 2, 1790
Died June 29, 1835.

Connelly Springs, North Carolina

In 1838 William Lewis Connelly was the first settler in the area later called Connelly Springs.  His pioneer settlement was called Happy Home.  Son William started a general store there in the 1860's.

His wife Elmira would wash the family clothes in water from a spring on their property.  Her white clothes always had a yellowish tint and in 1885 she had the water treated by the state chemist in Virginia.  The chemist found in his analysis that the water had a high content of bicarbonate of iron.  He told Mrs. Connelly that in his opinion the water should be beneficial for healing a large number of diseases.

Soon the news of the mineral springs spread and visitors began to visit Happy Home to drink the wonderful healing waters.  Some arrived by horse and wagon and carted the water away in five gallon demijohns. Others came by train from futher afield.  In time the town's name was changed to Connelly Springs and the town itself became a summer resort.

Philip Conolly and The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce

The Australian film The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce described the extraordinary saga of the escaped convict Alexander Pearce, tried and convicted of murder and cannibalism in Hobart in 1824 and sentenced to hang. 

Father Philip Conolly recorded Pearce's confession in Gaelic and he accompanied Pearce to the gallows the next day where it seems (although accounts vary) he made an impassioned speech condemning the harsh treatment of the prisoner. 

In the film it was pointed out that both Conolly and Pearce had come from the same parish of Clones on the Monaghan/Fermanagh border.  Like Pearce, Conolly had been forced to go to Australia.  At that time Catholic priests were barely tolerated in the colony and the hopelessness of Conolly's parish of extreme sinners apparently weighed heavily upon him.

By being a cannibal, Pearce had forced Conolly to examine the idea of what it is to be human.  As Pearce had advanced across the wilderness - starving, killing, eating - it seemed that he had been shedding the very constructs of society.  Many saw him as a monster.  But Conolly had to look beyond these judgments. Pearce may have been a terrible sinner.  But he was still a man and therefore not beyond the possibility of redemption.

Matthew Connolly Dead in Queensland

Matthew Connolly was 36 when he brought his family to Australia in 1853, leaving behind famine-stricken Ireland in the hope of finding a better life.  After joining the police force in Queensland, Constable Connolly worked as a watchhouse keeper at Gatton.

On August 25, 1861 he had finished a routine prisoner escort to Ipswich when a doctor requested that he obtain medication from Ipswich for two ill women, including the wife of a district magistrate.  However, heavy rains in the region had created dangerously high water levels in surrounding creeks and streams. Connolly, determined to deliver the medicine, attempted to cross a flooded creek on horseback with the two parcels tied across his chest.  The horse made it to the opposite bank.  But Constable Connolly didn't.  His 44 year old body was found the next day along with the medication.  He left behind a wife and six children.

In 2006 his descendants, together with police and other local community members, unveiled a plaque commemmorating Constable Connolly in Toowoomba.

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