Select Walsh Miscellany

Here are some Walsh stories and accounts over the years:

Walsh in Somerset

The history of the Walsh family at Cathanger in Somerset seems to have begun with a Richard le Waleys who was lord of nearby Stowey in 1255. 

His descendant John Walsh was first reported as the master of the Cathanger estate around the year 1500.  His father Thomas and his wife Jane Broke died there.  The story goes that after his wife died, he took holy orders at the nearby abbey of Michelney and was subsequently expelled for raping Mary Clause there.  He then married her as his second wife and she gave him another son and two daughters.  

John, his son by his first wife, became Judge John Walsh, Justice of the Common Pleas in Henry VIII's time.  It was Judge John's daughter Jane who married Sir Edward Seymour, a son of the Lord Protector the Duke of Somerset.  John Walsh, the last male of the line, died in 1572 and Cathanger was sold around that time

Walsh in Mayo

A pedigree of the Walshes of Tirawley in county Mayo "from whom most of the Walshes of Mayo seem to spring" was compiled in 1588 by Lawrence Walsh.  He showed them to have been descended from Haylen Brenach or Walensis, the son of Philip the Welshman, who had arrived in Ireland in 1170. 

While the Walsh surname was widespread throughout the county, the greatest concentrations were in the central plain in which the Normans had settled.   Griffiths Valuation in the mid 19th century in fact showed a strong concentration there and particularly in the civil parish of Killedan near Walshpool. 

About ninety per cent of the bearers of the surname in Mayo now spell the surname as Walsh.  A further nine presently use the form Walshe, while an anglicized version of Breathnach – Brannick - is borne by some families.  The pronunciation of the surname is more akin to ‘Welch’ (or 'Welsh') than ‘Walsh’ in the Mayo accent.

The Walshes of Balygunner

A Walsh family was said to have been established by the 14th century at Ballygunner in county Waterford.  They held an estate of near 2,000 acres a few miles southeast of Waterford City.   The townlands of Ballgunner More, Ballygunner Temple and Ballygunner Castle marked their location.  They were known as Walsh "of the Island," as having come originally from "the Great Island" in county Wexford east of the Waterford City across the bay.  

There seems to have been a succession of knights in the family beginning with Sir Patrick Walsh around 1550.  There was a Sir Robert in 1614 and a Sir James an MP in 1634.  A later Sir Robert lost the property as an Irish Catholic in Cromwell's time, but had it restored when Charles II came back.  However, after the Jacobite loss in 1690, the estates were all confiscated

The Walshes of Cape Broyle

John and Ellen Walsh, natives of Wexford, came to Newfoundland in the late spring of 1785.  The Arctic ice had forced their vessel into Petty Harbour where John hauled his wife ashore on a home-made sled and they were made welcome.

They made their home at Cape Broyle.  Mary Walsh, who was born at Cape Broyle in 1796, lived onto 1890, dying in her 94th year.  Many in the family were involved in seal fishing.  Sadly Thomas and Richard Walsh were lost in 1818 when the schooner they were in departed Aquaforte in the spring and never returned.

During the 19th century it might be said that everyone living at Cape Broyle were in some way related to the Walsh family.  The family counted at least five priests, also many nuns, and three Christian brothers. 

There are still descendants of the Walsh family living in Cape Broyle today.  Patrick Walsh, who died in 1932, passed his 1869-built home onto his son James and it has since been passed through successive generations of Patrick Walshes until the present time.

The Career of David Ignatius Walsh

David Walsh was born in 1872, one of nine children of Irish immigrant parents.  The Walsh family was relatively poor and more so after the untimely death of David’s father, a comb maker.   His widow helped to keep the family afloat by operating a boarding house.

But David was a bright lad.  He was able to earn a law degree from Boston University’s law school.  From there the path opened to politics.

Walsh demonstrated from an early time an astonishing ability to win the votes of Republicans.  In a state where it was said “the Cabots speak only to the Lodges and the Lodges only speak to God,” this Irish Catholic’s success in winning elections was nothing short of incredible.  He served as Governor of Massachusetts once and Senator no fewer than four times.

His anti-British Irishness never left him.  In 1919 he relished the opportunity to introduce Eamon de Valera, the President of the Irish Republic, at a gathering attended by thousands at Boston’s Fenway Park.

He was apparently gay.  In 1942 the New York Post published a report about “Senator X” (later identified as Walsh) being discovered in a male brothel in Brooklyn supposedly frequented by German agents.   Was it the British who had planted this story because of his hostility to the British war effort?  In any event, this scandal effectively ended Walsh’s political career.

Father Edmund Walsh

Edmund Aloysius Walsh came from Irish immigrant stock in Boston.  Born in 1885, he was the last of six children of John Walsh, a Boston police officer, and his wife Catherine.  A bright child, he won a scholarship to a Jesuit school in Maryland where he trained as a priest.  He travelled in the years before the First World War and therein found his true metier, the world of international relations. 

In 1919 he founded in Washington the School of Foreign Service, recognizing the need for a school to prepare Americans for future roles as diplomats and business professionals.  The school predated the US Foreign Service by six years and is now named the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. 

Walsh’s international services extended over the next thirty years and were undertaken on behalf of the Vatican and, after World War Two, for the US Government.  Strongly anti-Communist, he was a supporter of Senator Joe McCarthy in his later years.

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