The Persse Family of County Galway

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The Persse family, believed to be related to the powerful Percy family of Northumberland, England, is descended from the Revd Robert Persse, a ‘man of God’, who arrived in Ireland before 1602 ‘to preach the Gospel’. His grandson, the Revd Dudley received a grant of lands from King Charles II, and he established the first Persse family estate at Spring Garden, Tynagh, Co: Galway, in 1677.

Being of Protestant ascendancy class, Persse family members were not universally popular. However, several descendants, such as Henry Stratford Persse, Isabella August Persse – Lady Gregory, and Capt John Shawe-Taylor, proved to be atypical of their class. In time, despite bankruptcy and decades of litigation concerning the Castleboy estate, descendants of the early landed families became particularly influential in the commercial, social, sporting and political life of Galway city and county. Many other descendants emigrated to England, Scotland, Canada, the United Sates, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Today, apart from the once-renowned Persse Whiskey enterprise and the literary legacy of Lady Gregory, the intriguing and sometimes controversial history of the Persse family is relatively unknown.

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About this publication

Written by Gerry Kearney

Published by Gerry Kearney

Published here 27 Sep 2023 and originally published 2023

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