Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Laceys

Our Lacey family comes from Rossadilisk, Ireland. Rossadilisk is sometimes also spelled with two Ls: Rossadillisk. This is a very small community located adjacent to the harbor town of Cleggan, and west of Clifden in County Galway, Ireland. Historically, Rossadilisk and its neighbor towns were populated with fishermen and their families. As far back as we know, the Laceys were fishermen, making their living at sea. Upon their deaths, they were buried on Omey Island, which at high tide is cut off from the mainland by water.

The old Lacey home in Rossadilisk, Ireland

Bartley Lacey and His Descendants

Our first known Lacey ancestor was Bartholomew "Bartley" Lacey. We do not know the name of his wife, but together they had five children in Rossadilisk.

i. MICHAEL LACEY, born about 1845 in Ireland. He married Ellen in 1888.

ii. MARK LACEY, born about 1848 in Ireland; died 1908 in Rossadilisk, Ireland. He married (1) Bridget Feeney in 1873 and (2) Mary Coyne in 1880.

iii. VALENTINE LACEY, born 1850 in Rossadilisk, Ireland. He married Anne Toole in 1872.


v. MARY LACEY. She married Patrick Feeney.

Mark Lacey and His Descendants

Our line of the family descends from Bartley Lacey’s son Mark Lacey. He was born in Rossadilisk and married Bridget Feeney on January 15, 1873. The Feeney family name was common in Rossadilisk, and Bridget Feeney grew up in a seaside cottage just up the hill from the Lacey home.

Bridget Feeney’s parents are still unknown to us. The 1901 Irish Census lists two elderly Feeney men living in Rossadilisk who are of the right age to have been Bridget’s father. It seems possible that Bridget’s father was either Festy Feeney or Michael Feeney, but we cannot be certain.

Mark and Bridget Lacey had the following children:

i. JOHN LACEY, born in Rossadilisk.

ii. THOMAS MARK LACEY, born May 18, 1877 in Rossadililsk. He married Sarah Kilcullen.

Their eldest son, John Lacey, was born in either 1874 or 1876. It is believed that he went to America, but we do not have any record of him there. Their second son, Thomas Mark Lacey, was born in 1877 and left Ireland for America in the early 1900s. He is our line’s immigrant ancestor. I will discuss him further in my next post.

Bridget Feeney died young and Mark Lacey married for a second time, to Mary Coyne, sometime after 1880. Together, Mark and Mary had seven children:

i. MARK LACEY, born about 1887 in Rossadilisk; died October 28, 1927 at sea.

ii. PATRICK LACEY, born 1888 in Rossadilisk; presumably died young.

iii. MARY LACEY, born about 1890 in Rossadilisk. She married Patrick O’Toole in 1911.

iv. MARTIN LACEY, born about 1891 in Rossadilisk; died October 28, 1927 at sea.

v. MARGARET ELLEN LACEY, born about 1899 in Rossadilisk. She married Michael Hernon

vi. GEORGE LACEY, born about 1901 in Rossadilisk; died October 28, 1927 at sea.

vii. WILLIAM LACEY, born about 1906 in Rossadilisk.

Mary Lacey married Patrick O'Toole of nearby Emlagh in February 1911. They continued to live in the area. Together they had six children: Michael, Thomas, Marguerita, Anthony, Mary and Patrick. Their son Anthony O’Toole became a priest in the Tuam Diocese and died in an accident in the 1990s. Their son Patrick O’Toole married, had three children, and later died in Dublin.

Margaret Ellen Lacey married Michael Hernon, who may have been from Lettermullen in Connemara. They moved to Boston, where they had four children: Martin, Mary, Peter and Francis. We know that Margaret and Michael Hernon became naturalized American citizens and that Michael Hernon registered for service in World War I. On his draft registration card, he is listed as being tall, of medium build, with brown hair and blue eyes. He is classified as a railroad laborer living in South Boston. The descendants of this family continue to live in the Boston area.

While the sons from the first marriage, John and Thomas, both went to America to seek their fortunes, the four sons from the second marriage stayed in Rossadilisk and became fisherman, as most men in the area were in that day. Three of these four brothers were killed in The Cleggan Disaster. In October 1927, a sudden storm blew up, taking the fishermen off guard and resulting in the deaths of 25 men from  Rossadilisk and nearby communities. Mark Jr., Martin and George Lacey were among those lost.

My great-great grandfather Mark Lacey died on August 10, 1908. He and his wife Mary Coyne Lacey are buried on Omey Island. Buried in the same plot is their daughter Mary Lacey O’Toole, son-in-law Patrick O’Toole and grandson Michael O’Toole.

Mark Lacey's grave on Omey Island, Ireland


  1. Hello I am a decendant on John Lacey. I his great granddaughter. John married Nina Ruth Bailey and they had one son named James Norman. Nina passed in 1910 when my grandfather was 2. He was taken in by Nina's parents Marietta and Edison Bailey. He was later adopted by them and went by the last name of Bailey. It is said that they had the marriage anulled because John was catholic and they were protestants. James married Wanda Mae Smith and had 11 children. John married Nina in Wisconsin and that is where my grandfather was born. My dad James N Bailey Jr was also born in Wisconsin.
    I'm so glad I found your blog. There's really not a lot of history about my great grandfather. He arrives in the states in 1890. I'm still searching but I've only just begun. If you have pictures I would love to see them. The picture of Mark Lacey looks a lot like my Uncle Chuck.
    Jamie Bailey Pourier

    1. Hi Jamie, It's wonderful to hear from you! I would love to talk with you further about the Laceys. Will you email me at elaceyfield@gmail.com? I'm very excited to discuss Lacey history with you. -Erin

  2. Hello.
    My name is James Stack. I am the grand son of Patrick (known as Captian) and Maggy Coyne who lived right across the road from the Lacy's in Rosadillisk. Captain was one of the few who survived the cleggan disaster. Met and spent many a summer with the Lacys in my youth. Have a picture of Festie Lacy, Sheddy, Micheal Anthony doing the hay back at home hanging in my living room. Would Love to know where you have found the historical data. Have been trying to dig up infor on the Coynes, Murrays and Cosgroves from back there. Please email me at jpstack2@verizon.net . More than happy to share what I know.

  3. Hi,
    My great grandfather was Valentine Lacey. His son (my grandfather) Martin Lacey emigrated to the US in 1921 and settled in Pittsburgh PA.

    1. Hi there! Thanks for your comment on my blog. I communicated a number of times over the years with Beth Kelly about your line of the family. I understand that she has passed on, but I am so grateful to her for sharing information about the Laceys- both in Ireland and the USA. I'm planning to write more about the Laceys soon!