The Gillespie Family of Stonebridge

The surname Gillespie is derived from the Gaelic 'mac giolla easpuig' meaning 'the son of the bishop's servant'. Giolla easpuig has been Anglicised to Gillespie over the years but there are many variants of the spelling. The first recorded family name was that of Teag Mac Giolla Epscoip, chief of Aeilabhra, in the barony of Iveagh, County Down. This was written in 1175, in the 'Medieval Irish Records', during the reign of Rory O'Conor, known as 'The High King of Ireland', 1166 - 1175.

Accurate records of Irish families are hard to come by. Most of the first four Irish Census records (1861-1891) were destroyed by fire and later ones were destroyed by the government so there are very few remnants of 19th century censuses in existence.

The loss of so many national census records is devastating, but it’s not completely the end of the world. There are some other records which can offer some excellent information. Griffith’s Valuations for instance, although not a census as such, gives an accurate listing of land owners and renters.

Pages from Griffith’s Valuation 1848-1864 show a proliferation of Gillespie lands around Stonebridge, near Clones, Co. Monaaghan. Not only do they list the names of the tenants and what they paid in rent, the various plots of land can be cross-referenced on ordinance survey maps of the period.

On this site, you will find records from Griffith's Valuations, the 1901 and 1911 Census of Ireland and various records of baptisms, marriages and burials plus interactive maps of the area.

Unlike the majority of the Irish nation, the Gillespies of Garran were Protestants. Their church was some four miles north, just over the border at Clogh, in Co. Fermanagh. There are numerous Gillespie gravestones in the churchyard but they are too recent to relate to the families above in any meaningful way. As it is a small church, its records are not kept in-situ, most are kept by The Public Records Office for Northern Ireland PRONI and it is from here that I got most of my information.