Jim's Irish Genealogy Pages:

The McCluskeys

The McCluskey family take their name from a 12th Century Irishman named Bloscaidh O Cathain. (Mac Bloscaidh, pronounced MacBloskey, was worn down to McCloskey or McCluskey.) The McCluskeys, therefore, are a branch of the O Cathain family, today known as O'Cahan, O'Kane or Keane.

Donagh O Cathain, Blosdaigh's son, in 1196 assassinated the high king of Ireland, Muircheartach O Loughlin, a ruler who brought infamy on himself by blinding his rivals to prevent them from ever taking the throne. It's not clear to me whether this action was regarded as a source of pride or something that it would be prudent to dissociate the rest of the O Cathain clan from; in either case, Donagh was known from then on as Donagh MacBloscaidh, and his descendants retained the name.

Edward McCluskey, Margaret McCluskey’s nephew, sent a letter to Margaret's grandson Thomas J. Kearney in 1958, explaining what he knew of family history: "The McCluskey family, as you may know, came from County Derry, now Londonderry, in the north of Ireland, and were powerful there until 1690 when they were, with others, chased south of the Boyne."

Edward added: "The McCluskeys evidently came from pretty good stock, judging from the history books, as well as their progress in this country, but above all from the fact that they seemingly were all pretty well educated at a period when a large part of their homeland were illiterate, due to the policy of the occupying government."

The lands of the McCluskey clan were centered around Dungiven in the middle of Co. Derry. According to the Electric Scotland website, "When the English 'Plantations' forced them off their arable land in the plains, [the McCluskeys] took refuge in the hilly, less fertile hillsides of Benedy Glen which runs to the south-east from Dungiven. From there they migrated to nearby counties or overseas."

The oldest McCluskey ancestor I can trace is Owen McCluskey, who was born in roughly 1830, in the vicinity of Shercock, Co. Cavan. He can be found in the townland of Lisdrumsfad, just outside of the town of Shercock, in Griffith’s Valuation. In the Tithe Applotment Books, there is mention of Patrick, Anthony and James Cluskey in Lisdrumsfad. Their relationship to Owen is uncertain, but Owen--which in Ireland is often familiarized as Owney--and Anthony both can be used to anglicize the Irish name Uaithne, so it's probable that Anthony was Owen’s grandfather.

Owen is said to have owned a grocery store in the townland of Glasleck, a townland to the south of the town of Shercock. According to Edward McCluskey, his grandson, "Owen McCluskey had been ruined by having endorsed a note for some friend." The story was that "the note had been paid, but that through some double-dealing [Owen] had to pay the note also, and as a result was ruined financially."

Owen married a woman named Anne McLoughlin, born circa 1840. McLoughlin is another name that has two separate derivations -- one set of McLoughlins are in Gaelic called O Maoilsheachlainn, the descendants of a king better known as Malachy II, who was dethroned by Brian Boru in 1002. The other McLoughlin name comes from MacLochlainn, meaning son of Lochlainn. (Lochlainn was a Norse first name--a sign of the Vikings’ cultural influence in Ireland.)

It's not certain which McLoughlin family Anne's folk were part of; the O Maoilsheachlainns were prominent in Ulster, but in Donegal, at the other end of Ulster from Cavan; the MacLochlainns were an important family in Meath. But as Malachy and Lochlainn were both part of the Ui Neill clan, the two families are distant cousins of each other.

There were few McLoughlins in the parish of Shercock--the Tithe Applotment Book lists two families, headed by William and Isaac. Both lived in the townland of Corravilla, which borders on Glasleck.

Anne and Owen had four children: John, Margaret, Edward and Michael. Baptismal records exist for Edward and Michael, the only relatives of mine of this generation for whom that seems to be true. Edward was born on November 27, 1869, in the townland of Killcrossduff, next door to Glasleck; Michael was born October 7, 1875, in Glasleck. Michael's godparents are given as Michael and Margaret McCluskey, who are no doubt relatives of Owen; they seem to have been close enough for Owen to name two of his children after them.

All of Owen and Anne's children came to America. John drove a horsecar in New York City, had no children, and returned to Ireland to claim a small estate after his father's death. Michael worked for the New York City fire department. Edward lived in Orange County, New Jersey, and later in Englewood, New Jersey. Around 1908, he "attempted to recover some family lands which had been taken from some of his ancestors, but due to some technicality, he could not get them," his son Edward reported.

The younger Edward was his family's eldest child; he retired as a lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Army, after serving in the army of occupation in Germany after World War II. His son Edward, Anne and Owen's great-grandson, is a professor of computer science at Stanford University.

Next: Thomas Peter and Margaret Kearney.

This page was created by James Kearney Naureckas. Please email him with any corrections, suggestions or questions.