(O) Crowley

The history of the Crowley name presents an example of a junior branch which emigrated to a distant province prospering and multiplying in its new territory while the main stem dwindled and almost disappeared from its original homeland. The sept of O'Crowley began as an off-shoot of the McDermots of Moylurg, County Roscommon. Their eponymous ancestor was one Cruadhiaoch (cruadh - hard, laoch - hero) hence the Irish form of the surname Ó Cruadhlaoich. The branch referred to settled in the territory near Dunmanway, county Cork and in due course became a distinct sept with a recognized chief residing at Kilshallow. Many of the sept were employed as professional soldiers, like the MacSheehys and MaeSweenys. The O'Crowleys usually fought for the MacCarthys.
By the middle of the seventeenth century the extensive estates of the O'Crowleys had nearly all been forfeited. A large proportion of them fell into the hands of Richard Boyle, first Earl of Cork. So much are they now identified with Cork that seventy-five per cent of Crowley and O'Crowley births are registered in that county and most of the remaining twenty-five per cent in other Munster counties. Only three per cent are registered in Connacht where the name originated.
The claim that the Munster O'Crowleys are really Mac Roghallaigh seems to have little foundation; and in this connection it is interesting to note that the coat of arms, long officially recorded, is the same for O'Crowley of Connacht and O'Crowley of Munster.

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