Research Articles

Browse using the Side/End Menu

Presence in Co. Kerry

You are here:
← All Topics
Table of Contents

Various Origin Stories for the Kerry Nolans

According to page 224 of the Nolan book “O’Nolan -The History of a People” by Rev John Nolan and Art Kavanagh published under the auspices of the Nolan Clan in the Millenium year, the O’Nolan’s were moved from county Leix to county Kerry at the behest of Patrick Crosby in 1613.

These O’Nolans were the descendants of Lucius O’Nolan who earlier had been dispossessed of his lands in Forth O’Nolan (barony) in 1550 moving to Stradbally [Co. Leix] where he married the daughter of the local chieftain, the O’Lalor.

It is widely believed that all the Nolans from Kerry and Limerick are descended from Lucius but it is quite possible that some Nolans from Co. Carlow may have come to County Kerry in the early 1300s accompanying Knights Hospitallers. At Ballymoon, in County Carlow, there had been a large Templar castle but, after the order was suppressed (1307-1312) by force, many former Templar knights joined the Knights Hospitaller order to avoid further persecution (see the article on “The Knights Templar & the O’Nolans” ).

The Knights Hospitaller first reached County Kerry around 1200, establishing a preceptory and hospital at Rattoo (Ballyduff) near Listowel. They also established an inn or guest house for travellers in Tralee and later founded a hospital in Ardfert, adding a leprosy in 1312 which, strangely, coincides with the year in which active suppression of the Templar order ended.

Another period during which Nolans (Nowlans) may have come to county Kerry is the period preceding and following the 1798 Rebellion. Historically, many Nolan families in county Carlow, most notably the chief family seated at Ballykealey, had been tenants or under-tenants of Lord Fitzgerald (Earl of Desmond) whose family also held lands in Co. Kerry. Given this fact it is quite possible that Nolans fleeing the conflict brewing in the east (Leinster) chose to relocate to county Kerry. Some of these Nolans fleeing conflict may also have been tenants of the Crosby family who also had lands in both counties Carlow and Kerry. The latter may have been the case for the James Nowlan who is listed as a tenant of the “Crosbie” estate in Ardfert for the period 1805-1812. Prior to that time Sir Edward Crosbie held the Viewmount estate near Carlow town but, in 1799, in the aftermath of the 1798 Rebellion he was dispossessed and hung for treason having been accused of helping the rebel side especially his staff and tenants during the rebellion (* see,5thBaronet *).

Signs of Nolan Presence in Co. Kerry

Moyvane area

1797-1828 – Sandes estate, Darby and John Nolan as tenants

Lancelot Sandes was granted an estate in Kerry in 1667 under the Acts of Settlement. Between 1797 and 1828, among tenants of the Sandes Estate in the Moyvane area were:

  • Darby Nowlan (2 holdings)
  • John Nowlan

NOTE: In Ireland, Darby is a nickname for Jeremiah

Ardfert area

c1796 – Ardfert, Birth of David and John Nolan

According to an early Rootschat Email posted by Mary Conway on June 21, 1999, a James Nolan and Ellen Carmody had two sons born in Ardfert around 1796 i.e. David Nolan and John Nolan.

David Nolan married Katherine O’Neil and they had five children:

  • David Nolan
  • Johanna Nolan
  • James Nolan
  • Mary Nolan
  • Ellen Nolan

Mary Conway is a descendant.

1805-1812 – Ardfert, James Nowlan on Crosbie Estate

On the list of tenants living on the Crosbie estate in Ardfert between 1805 and 1812 were the names of:

  • Rev. Nicholas Nelan (Could this be the Rev. Nicholas Nowlan who served as parish priest for the Ballon-Rathoe parish from 1782 to 1795 and then Rathvilly, Co. Carlow in the early 1800s?)
  • Patrick Nelan
  • James Nowlan (This is likely the “James Nowlan” married to Ellen Carmody who had sons, David and John born around 1796.)

1851 – Kilgulbin, just east of Ardfert, Family of Charles Nolan and Mary Griffen

Based upon information in an Email from a Frank Nolan (to a Dermot Nolan) posted to Rootschat Extra in 2010, in KIlgulbin, in the early-1800s, there lived his ancestor, a Charles Nolan married to a Mary Grifffen. By 1851, when Griffith’s Valuation, he had died and a Mary Nolan, believed to have been his wife, was a tenant on a 34 acre farm (section 4).

At the time, their two known children, Edmond and James Nolan along with others, including Costellos, were leasing the bog at the north of Kilgulbin. On the townland to the west of Kilgulbin there was another family of Nolans (believed by this family to have been the Maurice Nolan’s ).

Based upon the Email it seems that, in 1851, the author’s great great great grandfather, Edmond Nolan, was leasing 52 acres at section 3.

Tralee Area

c1797 – Tralee, Birth of John Nolan

Around 1797, a John Nolan was born in Tralee, Co. Kerry. By the middle of the 1820s, he was married to a Catherine and had his first child also named John.

By 1831, he and Catherine had immigrated to Nova Scotia and were living in Truro where their second child, Jeremiah (later a tinsmith), was born. Two other children follwed, Thomas William born in 1839 and Margaret born in 1840.

For further details, see .

1828 – Tralee, Peter & Thomas Nowlan charged for rioting

In Chutes Western Herald of January 30th 1828, it was reported that among those tried at the Quarter Sessions held for Tralee District were:

“Peter and Thomas Nowlan, Michael Barrett and Patrick charged with riot and unlawful assembly in Listowel penalty 3 months imprisonment and to pay among them 3 guineas expenses of prosecution”

Listowel Area

Early 1800s – Gortcurreen, just west of Listowel, Family of William Nolan and Johanna Buckley

William Nolan and Johanna Buckley lived on a 3 acre lot rented from the Earl of Listowel and located in Greenville in the townland of Gortcurreen, on the northern bank of the old course of the River Feale, just west of Listowel (see ).

Their daughter, Catherine “Kit” Nolan, married a Costello, a William Costello of Trieneragh, Duagh, Co. Kerry, just east of LIstowel. Costellos also lived in the Kilgulbin area, near Ardfert, giving reason to bel;ieve that this Nolan family may have been related to that of Charles Nolan of Kilgulbin, neart Ardfert, mentioned earlier.

1820s – Family of Denis Nowlan and Jane Dowd

In 1824, Denis Nowlan and Jane Dowd had a daughter Mary Nowlan who was baptized in Listowel parish.

By 1829, Denis was serving as a Corporal in the 89th Regiment of Foot stationed in the Trichinoploy region of India, then under the Madras Presidency. On 2nd Nov 1829 in Trichinoploy, Jane gave birth to a son William Nowlan and, a month later, on 22 Dec 1829, he was baptised, also in Trichinoploy.

In 1834, Denis was still with the 89th Regiment but seems to have been back in Ireland, his wife Jane giving birth to a second son, Maurice Nowlan, in Fermoy, Co. Cork. One of the sponsors was a Mary Nowlan, most likely his sister, by then aged 10. Denis’ regiment had returned from India in 1831 and in 1834 was awaiting reassignment, only leaving for Canada in 1835. At the time, Fermoy was also the location of the largest military establishment in Ireland.

In 1851, when Griffith’s Valuation was done, a Maurice Nowlan was listed for the townland of Dromberg, Co. Kerry but not paying rent, being a driver for Rev. Brown, owner for most of the townland. This was likely William’s brother Maurice who would have been aged 16-17 at the time. Circumstancial evidence supporting this is the fact that his assumed brother William Nowlan and sister-in-law, Mary Walsh, seem to have also been living in the area, baptismal records showing that from 1854 onward their children were born on the Drombeg townland. Further circumstancial evidence is the fact that local present-day lore asserts has it that this Nolan family came from Co. Cork, and we know that Maurice Nowlan was indeed born in Co. Cork.

Denis Nowlan and Jane Dowd seem to have had another child named Jane Nowlan who married a Thomas Fitzpatrick and lived in the Listowel area. Circumstancial evidence pointing in this direction is the fact that, in 1856 in Loistowel, a Thomas Fitzpatrick and “Jane Nolan” had a daugther Jane baptized that year. It is also known that, on an autosomnal DNA test, a descendant of William Nowlan/Nolan Sr. did indeed test postive for a match with a Fitzpatrick family .

At this point, it should be noted that, between the early 1800s to the late 1800s, the spelling of the Nolan family evolved quickly, the split being about 40-60 between “Nowlan” and “Nolan” but 5-95 by the end of the century. This explains why, on William Nowlan Sr’s death certificate, the spelling of his family name was given as “Nolan”. In the Colonies, such as in Australia and New Zealand, things evolved a bit differently, Nolan families having immigrated in the early 1800s or earlier retaining the original spelling, such Nowland or Nowlan whereas families immigrating later generally adopting the “Nolan” spelling.

William Nowlan Jr. went to Australia following an older brother. This is where he married a young woman from Co.Tipperary in Melbourne and from there, in 1892, moved on to NZ where he settled down and raised a family. Unfortunately his eldest son died aged 10 and his 2nd son another William did not have any descendants therby making it impossible to do Y DNA testing of a current-day male descendant.

The foregoing is based upon Email information
submitted by Christine Cuter of New Zealand in March 2024

Roger Nowlan
webmaster for

Was this article helpful?
0 out Of 5 Stars
5 Stars 0%
4 Stars 0%
3 Stars 0%
2 Stars 0%
1 Stars 0%
How can we improve this article?
Please submit the reason for your vote so that we can improve the article.