The Bawnaneal O'Learys.


Near this article we feature a fine sepia tint photograph taken in about 1918 and showing a family group, the Bawnaneal O'Learys from Augheras.  Who were these people, and where is Bawnaneal?

Bawnaneal is a sub-division of the townland of Augheras, and is situated in the Northern part, forming about one quarter of that townland.  We have other examples of townlands being sub-divided such as Copse in Keamcorravooly.  These are usually large townlands, and the names of the sub-divisions, whilst still well known locally, are rarely shown anywhere on a map.

Augheras has an unusual history.  It was part of the Civil Parish of Uibh Laoghaire, but for much of its time did not come under the rule of the O'Learys, the paramount chieftains.  Instead, it was peopled by McCarthy families and a McCarthy chieftain.  McCarthy of Augheras was descended from Donncha an Drumin,  the sixth son of Cormac Fionn who was MacCarthy mor in ad.1247.   By 1640 there was a separate area called Greater Augheras which was owned by this McCarthy family, and which included the present townlands of Carrigbaun, Cahernacaha, Gurteenflugh, Lackabaun, Carrignadoura, Lyrenageeha, Gurteenowen, Derreenclodig, Coomdorragha,  Derreenabourky, Gortnaloughra, Scrahanmore, Keamcorravooly, Gorteenakilla and Augheras.  Fifteen townlands in all, under the rule of McCarthy Eachruis.  Note that these Augheras McCarthys were not related to the Muskerry McCarthys, but instead claimed allegiance to McCarthy Mor in Co.Kerry.

Chris Daniel's house was the centre of Bawnaneal and is shown on some old maps as "Augheras Castle".  There is no evidence that there was ever a tower house there, but there may well have been a Ringfort, and this Ringfort was probably the home of the ruling McCarthy of Augheras.

By the 18th.c. these McCarthys had disappeared, and Augheras townland in the Griffiths Survey includes three separate O'Leary families who are substantial tenants to the landlord, William B.Hoare.  Farm 2A is shown as 78 acres and farmed by Cornelius Leary in 1854.  This Cornelius was the son of Timothy Leary and Ellen Sullivan.  He was born in 1823 and married Catherine Barry.  Cornelius died young however and there then followed a complicated series of marriages in which the widow, Catherine married John, Cornelius' cousin, and John married Mary Sullivan in 1858 following Catherines' death.  Daniel, born 1866 was the eldest child of the marriage of John Leary of Bawnaneal and Mary Sullivan.  He inherited the tenancy of the 78 acre farm and married Mary Murphy from Gortluachra in 1891.  They are the parents in the picture, surrounded by ten of their eleven children, Con having died before the picture was taken.   

These O'Learys were O'Leary Breac from Dromanalig, related to the O'Leary Breac in Glasheen. They were often known as the Barnaby O'Learys and should not be confused with the other big O'Leary family in Augheras, the Diamond O'Learys who were a branch of O'Leary Riabhach from Derryvane.
John in the picture had a family, several of whom now live in Dublin.  Danny also had a family.  Bawnaneal House was sold in recent times to Chris and Pauline Daniels from England