History Book

In its early years (1996-2000) the Clan was involved in bringing to print the first Nolan family history book begun in the early 1900s by a Father John Nolan of Kirkcubbin. Unfortunately, due to an early death, Fr. Nolan never completed his history book but his manuscripts were passed on from genration to generation, the Nolans of Ballaghmore being the last family, to take possession of his manuscripts and notes.

Upon becoming a Clan member, Mary (Nolan) Fitzsimons, a Ballaghmore Nolan, made the other members of the clan aware of Fr Nolan’s notes and a project was launched to finish his book. Thanks to the efforts of the Clan and the help of Art Kavanagh, a well-known historian and author, the first Nolan history book based largely on Fr Nolan’s notes was completed and launched in 2000, the Millenium year.

The book entitled “O Nolan – the History of a People” was launched in the context of the Nolan Clan’s Millenium year gathering. Following is the sales write-up prepared for the book at the time of the book launch in 2000.

O Nolan – The History of a People (2000)

by Fr. John O’Nolan and Art Kavanagh (376 pages; ISBN number 0 9538485 0 7)

Those with a copy of the first edition (2000) should download a copy of the corrected revised index for the first edition. Copies of the first edition have sold but subsequent editions are available on Amazon.

This exciting new book, published in the Millenium year (2000), contains much hitherto unpublished material which deals not alone with the very important sept of the O’Nolans but also with other Gaelic clans, Anglo Norman dynasties and new English families of Elizabethan and Cromwellian origins.

Fr. John O’Nolan was born in Northern Ireland. He was one of a large family of boys and girls. One of his brothers, Peter, emigrated to the U.S. where he died in 1919. Another brother, Daniel was manager of the Ulster Bank in Castlerea. He had at least three sisters, one of whom was a nun. M.J. Nolan, J.P. C.C. of Galeybridge House, Listowel, Co. Kerry, was Fr. O’ Nolan’s first cousin. Fr. O’Nolan became Parish Priest of Kirkcubbin, where he was responsible for the renovation of the Catholic Church there. He died in the 1920s.

Art Kavanagh, of Bunclody, a retired teacher, is the author of “In The Shadow of Mount Leinster”, “The Wexford Gentry Books I & II” ( with Rory Murphy) and “Ireland 1798 – The Battles”, as well as numerous booklets dealing with the Rebellion of 1798.

Fr. O’Nolan painstakingly charts the ancient origins of the clan O’Nolan as it is interwoven with the history of the South Eastern area. His style is typical of the Nationalistic tone that was so prevalent in the early decades of the 20th century.
Art Kavanagh’s research has unearthed invaluable new data about the O’Nolans which has enabled him to reconstruct the pedigrees of some of the ancient dynasties. What is most remarkable is that a link has been established between the O’Nolans of the 16th century and the Nolans of the 21st century, involving many families.

In addition there is a compelling study of the social and political development of the South East, interspersed with jewels of information such as the numbers of Nolans involved in the American Civil War and the Nolan 1798 convicts. One of the most interesting stories of the book deals with John Amnesty Nolan – a Fenian who devoted much of his life to founding the Amnesty movement with Isaac Butt. Here is what Michael Davitt had inscribed on John Nolan’s tombstone, which was erected in Glasnevin at Davitt’s expense: “Erected with deepest gratitude for the memory of John
Amnesty Nolan, to whom this person owes his liberation from an English gaol.”

The new book was officially launched on the first day of the 2000 Gathering of the O’Nuallain Clan held at The Lord Bagenal Inn, Leighlinbridge, County Carlow, July 14-15, 2000. The first publication run was for 1000 copies.

COMMENT + plans for an online Nolan history book

As mentioned earlier the book is largely based upon manuscripts written in the early 1900s and de facto largely reflects the understanding of Nolan family history as it existed in the early 1900s. Since then our understanding of Nolan family history has evolved and much more is known:

  • about early family origins going back to ancient times thanks to recent findings derived from DNA analyses.
  • about the story of the Nolans who settled around the world thanks to the Internet and more sharing between descendants

Recognizing these deficiencies, Roger Nowlan, a clan member since 1997, Newsletter editor for the Clan from 2004 to 2018 and also lead for the online NolanFamilies archive initiative, has taken up the challenge of pulling together in one place our current understanding of Nolan family history in the form of an online Nolan family history book (currently in draft form and meant to be updated over time as new findings surface). Anyone wishing to partake in either of these initiatives (archive and/or book) is invited to join the online Nolan family research group which meets monthly over Zoom.