Maloney Surname Meaning, History & Origin
“descendant of a servant of the church” is an old Irish surname. Maul in fact translates as
“bald.” Early monks and priests had close cropped hair with their
trademark shaven patch. Many legends and stories relate to the
association of the name with the Moloney clan.
contributed a number of anglicized surnames, the main ones being
Maloney, Malony, Moloney, Molony, Mullowney and Malowney (but not
Malone or Mahony). The surnames are to be found in Ireland in Clare,
Limerick and Tipperary.
- Genealogy of a Country Family. David H. Moloney’s book.
- Malowney Name. Malowney website.
- Maloney Family in Tennessee. Maloneys of Greene
Moloneys, one of the oldest Irish septs, were the princes of the Dil
gCais in county Clare and held a number of castles around their estate
at Kiltannon. Kiltannon House was and
continued to be their
ancestral home (until it was burnt down in 1920 during “the
They were a strongly ecclesiastical family, contributing many
bishops. Father Donough O’Molony was tortured to death for his
beliefs in 1601. Bishop John O’Molony held the diocese of
Killaloe from 1630 to 1670 at a time when anti-Catholic legislation was
height. His nephew John continued his work at home and
The story goes that he was presented with an inlaid grey marble table
by King Louis XIV of France as restitution for losing his temper over a
game of cards.
The O’Molony family vault was built in 1702 in the
old St. Mochulla’s church in Tuila. The Molonys of Cragg in Clare
were a related family who managed to survive the subsequent
There were land confiscations in Clare in the 1690’s after the defeat
of James II’s supporters in Ireland. James Molony narrowly held
Kiltanon. But others, such as Daniel Moloney of Sixmilebridge,
lost their lands at this time. And many Moloneys moved away to
neighboring counties of Limerick and Tipperary.
The Moloneys suffered in Clare, as did other Irish families, after the
potato blight struck. Many tenant farmers like Michael Molony
Ballina were evicted from their lands. Clare overall
quarter of its population. Father Thomas Molony saw at first hand
the sufferings in Clare in his own parish of Kilmurry Ibrickane:
broken-hearted clergyman had to drag his own tottering limbs, with
scarce of interval of rest, from one corpse to another. In the
three subsequent days, overcome, feeble and faint, he had still to
continue his attendance to the dying, to pass continually from townland
to townland, to look on corpse on corpse, to behold renewed over and
over all the agonies and horrors.”
subsequently did much to publicize the plight of his
starving people to British officials.
Canada. Moloneys left, as did many other Irish
families. An early departure was William Moloney, conscripted
into the British army in the 1770’s to fight the
Americans. He ended up in Canada on Bonaventure island off
Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula. Various Maloneys settled in
Newfoundland, as place names such as Maloney beach, Maloney
Malloney river attest.
of the Maloneys in America also arrived as Moloney or Molony. This was true of Joseph Moloney who came to
Pennsylvania in 1772 and of William Moloney of Cork who came to
the 1860’s and later settled in Nebraska.
Martin Molony arrived as a boy with his parents in 1854 from Tipperary
escaping the potato famine. He made
a fortune in Philadelphia from his gasoline burner invention that was
early gas lighting companies. He then
devoted huge sums to Catholic church building and repairs around the
and was made a Papal Marquis in 1904.
Australia. The Maloney
exodus from Ireland increased after the famine, with Australia being a
favored destination. The following
were some of the Maloneys who set off for Australia in the 1840’s and
- Jeremiah (Jerry) Maloney on the Neptune from Clare to Melbourne in
Malony from Tipperary to Australia in 1845
- Daniel and Catherine Maloney from Limerick to Sydney in 1849
- Robert Maloney on the Kate
from Limerick to Sydney in 1851
- Thomas and Ellen Moloney on the Australia from Limerick to Sydney
- Thomas and Ann Maloney on the Glentanner from Tipperary to Sydney
The Seed, an account of three
generations of Maloneys, opened to great acclaim in Australia in
The playwright is Kate Mulvany and the play is based on her family
Select Maloney Miscellany
Molony Names. Molony or Moloney is O’Maoldhomhnaigh
in Irish, denoting a descendant of a servant of the Church. It is
seldom if ever found with the original prefix “O” although the name is
100 percent Gaelic.
Molony is a Dalcassian sept belonging to Kiltannon near Tulla in East
Clare where they are very numerous today. It is also found in
equal numbers in the adjoining counties of Limerick and
Tipperary. However, some families in northern Tipperary now
called Molony are notO’Maoldhomhnaigh but O’Maolfhachtna, which occasionally
has been anglicized to Maloughney and MacLoughney.
Kiltannon House. The Molonys managed to hold onto Kiltannon House in the 1690’s by a
fortunate clause in the Treaty of Limerick which exempted serving
officers within the city walls. In 1828, James Molony of
Kiltannon was a deputy lieutenant and high sheriff for county
Clare. In 1878 it was estimated that the lands comprising the
Kiltannon Estate numbered 10,000 acres with a rateable valuation of
£2,500. It was then owned by Major William Mills Molony.
His son Colonel William Malony was the last of seven generations to own
Kiltannon House was an attractive, pale brick
three-storey mansion with stone facing which overlooked rolling
parklands of mature trees of both native and imported variety.
The house was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1920. With it
went several unique family mementos, including a marble table and an
inlaid set of playing cards. This classic heirloom was said to
have been given to Bishop John O’Molony by Louis XIV in atonement for
having once lost his temper when playing and tearing up his card.
Father Thomas Molony’s Testimony on the Effects of the Potato Famine. It was against a background of public concern and Government inaction that
Father Molony was called before Poulett Scrope’s Select Committee at
Westminster in 1850.
the Committee that many of those evicted in the famine years were
previously holders of small farms of 10-20 acres for whom the failure
of the potato crop forced their default on rent payments, leading to
eviction. But many were also evicted despite having paid up all
the rent due. Many more were forced to level their own homes in
order to be eligible for relief under the poor law.
stoppage of outdoor famine relief has produced the worst food crisis
since the famine began. He himself had been appealing from the
altar for parishioners to “keep their neighbors alive” until such time
as relief were restored. With supplies of cabbages, turnips, and
other alternative foods already exhausted, “the people’s sufferings
A Molony Eviction in Clare. This article appeared in the Clare Journal of June 1899:
the hardest cases of evictions which has taken place in West Clare for
some time past was that of Michael Molony and his family on the Annally
estate at Ballina near Labasheeda.
Owing to the losses of cattle
and other reverses, Mr. Molony, one of the hardest working farmers in
the whole countryside, fell into arrears of rent. After his
cattle and other effects were seized from him in satisfaction for the
landlord’s high rent claim, the final step of dispossessing him was
being resorted to.
sympathy is felt for Mr. Molony. His friends and fellow tenants
in the parishes of Killofin, Kildysart, and Kilfiddane have promised to
stand by him until a settlement is made. A number of other
tenants on the estate are under notice of eviction. To show
practical sympathy with them steps are being taken to hold a monster
meeting at Kildysart.”
Maloneys on Bonaventure Island. As William Maloney had fought against the Americans in their war of
Independence, he was eligible for grants as a United Empire
Loyalist. He applied for land, shipbuilding rights, and a tavern
license and was told that he was eligible as long as he signed the Test
Oath. In this oath, one swore to repudiate the papacy, the mass,
and something about the Blessed Virgin, William – according to his
descendants – told them to stick it and ended up with a land grant only.
This land on Bonaventure island remained in the family until 1971 when
the Quebec Government expropriated it as a bird sanctuary and the last
descendant, Sidney Maloney, moved to Coin du Banc – leaving the largest
gannet colony in the New World to the gannets.
Moloneys To Newfoundland. The following were the Maloneys recorded as coming to Newfoundland during the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century:
- Walter Molony (from Waterford),
in Little Placentia (now Argentia) in 1732
- Andrew Molony, in Trinity in 1772
- Andrew Maloney, in St. John’s in 1782
- James Molony (from Tipperary), married in St. John’s in 1808
- Elizabeth Malowny, in Harbor Grace in 1812
- and Thomas Molony, in Witless Bay in 1847.
Reader Feedback – Johanna Malony from Tipperary to Australia. My great-great-grandmother
Johanna Malony, came to Australia with her sister Catherine we believe
from Tipperary, and have had huge problems trying to trace where she
There is not a lot of information we can glean from records, and
her death certificate only states Tipperary, whilst the wedding records
time give no information of where she came from. Are you able to
give me some
directions that I may be able to follow-up?
Colin Lehmann (email@example.com)
Moloneys from Limerick in Australia. The year 2003 marked the 150th year anniversary of the arrival of the
Moloney family from Knocklong in Limerick, Thomas and Ellen Moloney and
their five children, to Sydney. Their descendants duly celebrated.
John Rafferty, one of these descendants, wrote of their early times in
“The family spent some years searching
for a place to settle but eventually decided on the area of Bumble
near Moree NSW, a small town on the northwest plains some 400 miles
To get there they had to cross the mountains of the
great dividing range, presumably on foot and wagon train with all their
personal belongings. On arrival, however, they found some of the
best sheep and cattle grazing lands in the world. And the town of
Moree was being developed.
In 1861, Mr. Moloney paid £40 for the land on which he built The
Limerick Hotel and became the postmaster. The mail-coach route
developed considerably after 1871 and the hotel flourished.”
Many Moloneys still remain in the area.
The Seed and Three Generations of Maloneys. The play opens with Rose Maloney, an Australian journalist travelling
to England to meet her Irish grandfather for the first time. Rose
is accompanied on the journey by her father Danny, a ten pound Pom and
a subsequent Vietnam conscript. When they reach the poor
Nottingham terrace house of Granda’ Brian, an IRA soldier in his
younger days, it is to gradually uncover the most common of family
secrets – that memories in fact bear no resemblance whatsoever to the
From the initial intimate reunion, the play opens itself up over and
over again until a silent family battle becomes a national story about
finding new life amongst the rubble of old wars.
- Bishop John O’Molony from
Clare promoted the oppressed Irish Catholic Church
in the late 17th century by re-establishing the Irish College in Paris.
- Paddy Moloney is a member of
the Irish musical group The Chieftains and the main composer and
arranger of its music.
- Father Francis Moloney is an
adviser to Pope Benedict and is widely considered to be the leading authority on the Gospel of St. John.
Select Maloney Numbers Today
- 8,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 15,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
- 26,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)
Select Maloney and Like Surnames
The Irish clan or sept names come through the mists of time until they were found in Irish records such as The Annals of the Four Masters. The names were Gaelic and this Gaelic order was preserved until it was battered down by the English in the 1600’s.
Some made peace with the English. “Wild geese” fled to fight abroad. But most stayed and suffered, losing land and even the use of their language. Irish names became anglicized, although sometimes in a mishmash of spellings. Mass emigration happened after the potato famine of the 1840’s.
Some surnames – such as Kelly, Murphy and O’Connor – span all parts of Ireland. But most will have a territorial focus in one of the four Irish provinces – Leinster, Munster, Ulster, and Connacht.
Munster in SW Ireland covers the counties of Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, and Waterford. Here are some of the Munster surnames that you can check out.
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