‘The sept of the O’Phelans is recorded in the earliest annals of Ireland. They were styled Princes of Desies, a territory comprising the greater part of the County of Waterford, with a portion of Tipperary. Malachy O’Phelan was their chief at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion, and his was the principal native force that, in co-operation with the Danes of Waterford, sought, but unsuccessfully, to hold that city against the newcomers. Malachy was taken prisoner, and condemned to die, but his life was spared on the intercession of Dermod McMurrough, who had on that day come down from Ferns to celebrate the marriage of his daughter with Strongbow.’
‘A King of the Desies was long after recognised, and was summoned, as such, in 1245 to aid Henry the Third in the Scottish war; but the sept, having been subsequently expelled from their old homes, some, after a brief sojourn in Westmeath, crossed the Shannon into Connaught, where they spelt their name, O’Fallon, and a district in Roscommon, between Athlone and the County of Galway, was hence known as O’Fallons’ country, while the sept was distinguished as the O’Fallons of Clanhudach.’
‘In the time of Queen Elizabeth Redmond O’Fallon was the Chief. Of his estates Edmund O’Fallon had livery, as his son and heir, in 1606, of which in the ‘unsettling’ settlements of James the First, he thought it prudent to take out a fresh patent. It bore date in 1612, and confirmed to him the manor, castle, town, and land of Miltown, in the barony of Athlone, with sundry lands and a water-mill annexed; part of Ballyforan near the Suck, its island and fishing weir, the castle of Turrock, ‘moieties’ of the castles of Newtown and Ballyglass, with lands and chiefries in the County of Roscommon, and markets and fairs at Miltown, besides other premises at Balrath, in Westmeath. These interests he was obliged to claim on petition to the Commissioners at Athlone after the civil war of 1641, as were eight other proprietors within the O’Fallons’ country, the claims of all seeking restoration as to their ancient ancestral estates. The Supreme Council of Catholics in 1646 was attended by two members of this sept, William Fallon of Miltown and Stephen Fallon of Athlone. In 1677 another Edmund O’Fallon, styled of Mote, passed patent for 344 acres in Galway, as did a John Fallon for 131 in Roscommon.’
Text taken from King James II’s Irish Army List, 1689 by John d’Alton (published 1855). Pictures show the now-ruined – and thoroughly pillaged – remains of Cloonagh, County Roscommon, an early 18th century house which was built and occupied by a branch of the O’Fallon family. James O’Fallon, who was Roman Catholic Bishop of Elphin for thirty years, lived in the house, dying there in December 1786. A pity to see this link with the area’s history about to be lost.