Thursday, 27 July 2017

Seventh Bellew Reunion at Barmeath 2017

The seventh Bellew Reunion was held at 10 a.m. on Friday 7th July 2017 at Barmeath, Dunleer, Co Louth.


Our hosts for the day were Bryan & Rosemary and we thank them for a lovely morning and we also thank Anne, Anthony and the family for all their support too. We gathered around 10 a.m. and started with a cup of tea/coffee in the Dining Room. After some introductions and welcomes we briefly looked at the Bellew and Plunkett connections. Dawne & George who traveled from New Zealand were welcomed, they are working on the possibility that they could be third cousins to Michael Bellew from Monaveen, Michael & Noreen also managed to make the long journey from the wesst. Also welcomed to Barmeath for the first time were Thomas & Patricia from Gibbstown as well as Owny & Fidelma from Rathmore. Also joining us for the first time were Marie & Gerry Marmion from Balreagan as well as Marie Clare from Bellewstown. It was also great to see the under tens from four different families having their own fun as well as managing to get at some of the biscuits!

Some family members who died since our last gathering were remembered, Sean Bellew from Dundalk who was in Barmeath in 2007 was remembered. Sadly he died at the too young age of 41, he had been ill two years previously and had made a good recovery, the son of Jimmy & Nuala, he was nephew of the well-known T.D. Tom Bellew. Eddie Bellew also died aged 90, brother of Thomas. Sheila mother of Mike & Seamus died a few days short of her 91st. While she never attended these gatherings she took an active interest in them and always wanted to see the photos to comment on the style and who resembled who. Ar dheis De go raibh a n-anamacha dilis. 

Harry's got to be goin', along with Seamus (Bellewstown) Peter (Kiltybane & USA), Seamus (Haggardstown) and Owny (Rathmore) 

Seamus gave a brief outline of the Bellew and Plunkett connections.

Geoff Martin at our 2013 gathering in Dundalk told us that the Bellews came into England with the movement of William the Conquer around 1066. Robert de Bella Aqua held land in Yorkshire in the following decade. As Hugh de Lacy set out from the north of England, it was then likely that the Bellews came to Ireland with him. A Ralph Bellew was in Ireland as early 1290. Close associations were established in the Bellewstown and Duleek areas of Co Meath.

Sir John Bellew, knighted in 1392 married Margaret St lawrence of Howth. They had twin sons, both named John, Senior and Junior. John Senior carried on the Bellewstown line while Junior the Castletown (Dundalk) and Roche line. Junior's son, Richard married Maud Plunkett of Beaulieu. They built Castletown Tower House in 1492 with a £10 grant.

Richard's first cousin from the Bellewstown line, called Philip Bellew is buried in Duleek. The coats of arms on the tomb strongly suggest that his wife, Elizabeth Preston was married secondly to Christopher Plunkett, 2nd Lord Dunsany. At that stage, Dundany's nearby cousins were the Killeen branch of the Plunkett family. Sir Christopher Plunkett, 3rd Lord Killeen had married Genet (Joan?) Bellew of Bellewstown.

Bellew coat of arms on the ceiling at Barmeath

Plunkett Coat of arms

Duleek: The arms of Preston and Bellew (should be the other way around!)

Duleek: The arms of Preston and Plunkett

Returning to the twins, two of their great-grandsons ended up marrying the same lady, Catherine Fleming, thus reuniting the Bellewstown, Castletown and Roche properties. The son in the succeeding generation was John Bellew (1522-1600) and he was married three times, first to Margaret Plunkett, daughter of Oliver, 1st Lord of Louth. Their son, Christopher, married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Cusack, Lord Chancellor of Ireland (1550). Their grandson, Christopher Bellew married his Plunkett cousin, Frances, daughter of Matthew Plunkett, 5th Lord of Louth. Their son was John Bellew who died from his wounds in 1692 following the Battle of Aughrim in 1691. He had lived in Castletown and St Oliver Plunkett is recorded as having visited John Bellew, obviously in the early 1670s. 

Staying with the Plunkett theme, St Oliver Plunkett (1625-81) was closely related to the Killeen branch of the family through his mother Thomasina Dillon. Lord Killeen's mother was also a Dillon. Anne's family in more recent generations come from Dublin but going back further the roots were in Cormeen, Co Cavan near the Meath border in the parish of Laragh. One of the earliest known family members is Jack (John) Plunkett (c. 1753-1837) who married Rose O'Reilly. There is a family tradition of family members first arriving on two white horses, possibly from Killeen or Virginia? It is probably no coincidence that Jack's son, Fr Bernard (born 1784) served as chaplain to Lord Killeen in the 1830s. There is also a Mass Rock on the Plunkett farm at Cormeen where relatives still reside. In 2015 Bishop Duffy returned to his former parish to celebrate Mass at this Mass Rock.
Then it was time for some photographs and then Bryan led the enthusiasts to the walled garden There was also time to have a look around the house and the morning was finished by a leisurely lunch at Monasterboice.

Was it worth coming from New Zealand - George

Well we don't think it'll be Armagh's or Meath's year 

Well let's see what has changed over the last ten years - Andy

Let's hope they'll behave themselves! - Bryan with two of the workers on work experience

Oh look what I see!

Oh look what I see!!

Now do ye remember when Meath used to win All-Irelands - Patricia, Thomas & Liam

Now there's a signing Stephen Kenny has missed for the Lilywhites!

Cousins Harry & Owny

Now sure the rain wasn't that bad after all!

Who's takin' the photos of whom!

Ah sure the Louth soil isn't that bad after all!

It looks as if that crowd 'll be away soon!

Now wasn't it worth coming after all!

Rosemary & Seamus

Well what do you think the weather will do?

Meeting and Greeting

Eunice, Michael, Noreen & Pat

Gerry, Rosemary and Marie

Scaling the Heights!

                                                               BLUE ANCHOR Get Together

On Saturday 8 July 2017, one hundred years of presence at the Blue Anchor Pub in Bellurgan was marked recently when three families reunited for the occasion. The pub now owned by the Keenan family was purchased in the mid-fifties by Patrick Keenan, father of the current owner, Seamus. Prior to that it was owned by McArdle, Moore & Company when it was leased to the Bellew and Rice families. Patrick Bellew from Kiltybane, Co Armagh was the first family member to reside at Bellurgan and his brother, Peter took over in 1921 and he ran it until 1937. Peter was married to likely distant cousin, Bridget Bellew also from Kiltybane. Their daughter Agnes married local man Peter Rice and Agnes carried on running the pub until the Keenans arrived. Peter who joined us for the Reunion in Barmeath, a first cousin of Agnes and a first cousin once removed of Peadar Rice, son of Peter & Agnes Rice. Peadar Rice recalled that he used to work in the pub but preferred his work at sea which marked the arrival of the Keenan family.

Patricia Gray along with her Dad, Peter Bellew at Bellurgan

Not called to the bar! Peadar Rice and Peter Bellew, both first cousins (once removed) who could have found themselves running the Blue Anchor Pub at Bellurgan?

Out in force at the Blue Blue Anchor: Joan, Patricia, Andy, Peter, Mike, Marita, Dawne, Gill, Seamus & George.

Peader Rice, Seamus Keenan and Peter Bellew whose families have had a combined 'ownership' of the Blue Anchor for more than a hundred years.

Memories from 2007

Here are the links to all the Bellew Reunions


  1. Hi Seamus, not sure if you'll see this, but I've been trying to get in touch with Lord Bryan Edward Bellew, as my family has ties to Barmeath Castle prior to Bellew family ownership. Do you happen to know how I could reach out to him, or anyone in the Bellew family with knowledge on the castles history?

    Loved going through this post, great pictures!


    1. Mark, I have some pages on the Moore's of Barmeath from an article that you are welcome to. Bryan Bellew can be contacted by writing to him at Barmeath Castle, Togher, Drogheda, Co Louth. You are welcome to email me at

  2. Hi: Can you tell me where I can get information on the 2019 reunion? I find this all so fascinating. Do people attending your reunions do an ancestry search before attending your reunion and is that suggested?
    Maureen Bellew
    New York

    1. Maureen, thanks for touching base, you would be most welcome. We haven't decided yet where the 2019 reunion will be, but could possibly be close to Barmeath. No ancestry test is required but just for interest it would interesting to explore your connections.

      You are welcome to email me further at: